BEST CHOICE FOR PREDATORS?
Q: I'm 13 years old and have two questions about hunting predators. First, would a .22 Long Rifle loaded with Remingtom High Velocity cartridges be enough to kill foxes or should I purchase a .22 Mag.? I was also wondering if a 20 gauge loaded with slugs would be powerful enough to hunt coyotes. What type of gun would you recommend?
-Garrett Ogren, Marcus, Iowa
A: Wecome to the exciting sport of hunting predators, Garrett. You couldn't have picked a more challenging and exciting quarry. While the .22 LR provides a good starting point for young marksmen such as yourself, and is a favorite for target shooting and small game hunting, it lacks the knockdown power needed to consistently anchor even medium-sized predators such as foxes and bobcats. The .22 Mag. would be a better choice. Pushing a 40-grain hollow-point bullet, it delivers about 180 more foot-pounds of energy and an additional 600 fps of velocity than a bullet of the same weight shot from a .22 LR.
To answer your second question, there's no doubt a 20 gauge slug would anchor even the most stout coyote. I wouldn't, however, consider it a good choice for a couple of reasons. The lack of pinpoint accuracy beyond 50 or so yards and the damage the huge 250-plus-grain slug would do to a coyote's pelt make it impractical. I'd suggest one of the many fine centerfire calibers more suited to the task, such as the
.223 Rem., .22-250 Rem. or even the .243 Win. -Gordy Krahn
BIG ENOUGH FOR BROWN BEARS?
Q: I'm planning a hunt for brown bear on the Alaskan Peninsula. I plan to shoot a Browning A-Bolt chambered for .300 Win. Mag., and am trying to select the best cartridge for this hunt. I realize that my rifle is at the lower end of acceptable calibers for hunting brown bears, so I need a cartridge that will give me maximum energy and weight retention.
I've examined ballistic tables from Winchester, Remington and Federal, and have eliminated all bullets under 180 grains. After looking at the ballistic tables, I find the Winchester 180-grain Partition Gold retains 280 fps more velocity and 315 more foot-pounds of energy than the Remington Swift A Frame cartridge (200-grain) at 200 yards. Is there anything in this comparison that I'm missing? Would you choose the Partition Gold or go for a different cartridge altogether?
-Walter Brocker, Moncure, North Carolina
A: While your .300 Win. Mag. has enough energy for brown bear hunting, its bullet diameter and weight is on the bottom edge of recommended cartridges for this type of hunting. Most guides recommend .338 or larger with at least a 225-grain bullet. Brown bears or any other dangerous game should not be shot at long ranges, so down-range energy is not a big factor here.
I think you should look at two things: bullet construction and weight. In this case the 200-grain Swift A-Frame used in the Remington 200-grain load is a better choice. I'd also consider the Federal load with a 200-grain Trophy Bonded bullet. In 180-grain loads I'd consider the Federal 180-grain Barnes X-Bullet or the High Energy load with Trophy Bonded bullets. Also consider the 180-grain Winchester Fail Safe, as this is a deep-penetrating bullet.
As for a different cartridge all together, that depends. Your .300 Winchester will get the job done, and if you shoot it well you probably should stick with it for this hunt. If you think you can shoot as well with a new gun and don't mind the expense, then a bigger cartridge might not be a bad idea. Brown bear hunts are not something you do every day, so why risk the outcome with something you can control?
A .338 Win. or even a .375 H&H might be a better choice. If you can handle the recoil, the new .338 Rem. Ultra Mag. is an outstanding cartridge. The most important thing, though, is a gun that you can shoot well and have confidence in, as bullet placement is always the most important factor. -Bryce Towsley
Q: I'm interested in the purchase of a new bolt-action rifle, chambered in either .308 or .30-06. I've narrowed it down to three selections: the Browning A-bolt Composite Stalker w/BOSS, Savage Varminter Model 112VSS with composite stock and the Winchester Model 70 Black Shadow. I plan on hunting varmints and deer in open country. Could you provide any information on these guns?
-Frank Kucka, Lawton, Oklahoma
A: The Browning Stalker and Winchester Black Shadow differ significantly from the Savage 112VSS, which is much heavier and, with its steep-grip thumbhole stock, built mainly for varmint shooting. For deer hunting, I'd stay with the Browning or Winchester. The A-Bolt, on average, delivers better accuracy. I've always preferred the stock and trigger of the Model 70.-Wayne van Zwoll
Read more Shooting Q&A: Sighting In Rifles, Bullet Weights, and Cross-Dominance Issues