THE .22-250 FOR VARMINT AND COYOTE HUNTING
With the widespread use of the 5.56x45mm and the .223 Remington (especially in the form of an AR-15) in a field use capacity for hunting of small and medium game, the other rifles and cartridges you would normally go for are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. But there is a valid argument to not pass up on the .22-250 Remington cartridge for game between 15 lbs. and about 175 lbs.
The cartridge is capable of taking out game much larger than 175 lbs. but the sweet spot is in the long range dispatching of game this size or smaller. In some states the minimum caliber requirements preclude the .22-250 from being used for big game, so check your state and local regulations before you hunt this type of game with it.
Once upon a time the .22-250 was a very hotly desired round, when, for a time it was the de facto standard for bench rest shooting owing to its uncanny flatness in trajectory and the significant accuracy when loaded consistently. The 6mm PPC unseated it eventually as the king of bench rest, but the .22-250 remained the vastly more versatile round while the 6mm PPC was just barely better at bench rest work.
The .22-250 is also in a way, partly responsible for the very round that threatens its existence now: the .223 Remington round. The .22-250 factored heavily in the evolution of the .223 Remington and the military “equivalent” the 5.56x45mm’s development as a primary rifle cartridge for the armed forces.
For coyotes, there really isn’t a better gun
You won’t hit a coyote at 500 yards with a .223 Remington or a 5.56x45 with any legitimate consistency if you actually have environmental factors like wind or rain. Over several changes in wind streams and uneven terrain that changes your perception at distance, you will be losing that coyote. With a .22-250 that coyote is dead where it stands, every time.
If you want a gun to shoot varmint and coyote at 100-300 yards, you probably should just get an AR and tailor the loads to your liking and your specific terrain and environmental variables. There is nothing wrong with that. With a great scope you’ll likely hit what you are aiming at most of the time under ideal conditions.
If you want a gun that can take a coyote in windy conditions at 500+ yards however, the .22-250 is the vastly superior choice. Here’s a good reason why these last two sentences make sense:
At 300 yards the .223 will drop 5.25” MORE than the .22-250 will at the same distance. When you are talking about the giant furballs that we call coyotes, you may need that 5.25” difference to even hit it in the breadbasket.
A further point: the .22-250 seems to absolutely turn a coyote inside out. The velocity and energy delivery ensure an instant kill, every time, regardless of range, generally.
Variability in grain weights and being able to tailor the rounds to your liking
The ability to work with the huge variance of loads from the .22-250 is very important, even though they are admittedly more expensive from factory due to the relative volume differences between it and the .223 Remington.
With a .223/5.56 you are generally relegated to a 55, 62, or 69 grain projectile for the most part, or you are paying substantially more for the other loadouts. These loads will net you about the following performance (at the muzzle):
· 3200 fps and 1275 ft. lbs. (55 grain)
· 3000 fps and 1250 ft. lbs. (62 grain)
· 2900 fps and 1325 ft. lbs. (69 grain)
With a .22-250 you will be able to reasonably select a factory load at around the same price point for each offering, at 40 grains, 50, 55, 60 and 64 grains with others also pretty readily available. You can expect the following approximate static ballistics from the similar projectiles (at the muzzle):
· 3775 fps and 1750 ft. lbs. (55 grain)
· 3500 fps and 1740 ft. lbs. (64 grain)
Hornady loads a 35 grain “Superformance” .22-250 Remington load that reaches 4450 feet per second velocity and 1539 pound feet of energy at the muzzle.
The .22-250 trumps just about anything that attempts to copy it in the field. Sure, there is a bit more expense for some of the loads, but the enhanced performance in wind and the improved accuracy and potency on impact is well worth the small uptick in per shot costs.
If you need a cartridge capable of 500+ yards that can still maintain MOA accuracy on small and moderately sized game, including hard targets like groundhogs and coyote at long ranges, the .22-250 is a superior performer.