Choosing coyote ammunition is a personal thing. While everyone wants accuracy, only some of us want frangible bullets that don’t exit and blow holes in beautiful pelts. Hunters taking care of depredation problems are less concerned with pelt damage. For them, any round that kills quickly will suffice.
Fortunately, the most effective pelt bullets these days are also the most efficient terminators. Sleek, long and sharply pointed, they minimize drift, maximize trajectory and deliver the goods.
I first discovered the effectiveness of the Barnes X bullets on coyotes while deer hunting. On the philosophy you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I applied the 150-grain 7mm X-Bullet to a cooperative coyote’s chest with useful results. The coyote plopped over and the exit hole was neatly rounded about the size of a 50-cent coin. Easy to repair. But X-Bullets aren’t cheap, so Barnes offers the Varmint Grenade, a thinly jacketed bullet stuffed with a compressed mix of secret metallic ingredients that virtually explode on contact. In .20 there’s a 26-grain Grenade. A 30-grain is tailored for the 22 Hornet. The .22 gets a 36-grain and 50-grain, but the length of the latter requires a fast-twist barrel to stabilize. My Custom .22-250 Ackley with 8-inch twist rifling clusters these well under MOA. Finally, try the 62-grain Varmint Grenade in your .243 Wins. and 6mm Rems.
Black Hills Ammo
Start small, build right and you earn a loyal following. This is what Black Hills Ammo has done beautifully. And they continue with factory new and reloaded brass. In .223 Rem. alone they offer 14 different loads from 32-grain Barnes Varmint Grenade through 77-grain Sierra MatchKings. There are traditional soft points, full metal jackets, Hornady V-Max, Barnes TSX, Match Hollow Points and some moly options. There’s a reason Black Hills is called the .223 Specialists!
In .22-250 Rem. choose between 50-grain Hornady V-Max at 3,700 fps or 36-grain Barnes Varmint Grenade at 4,250 fps. There are four loads in .243 Win., with Nosler, Hornady and Barnes bullets. A couple of .25-06 Rem. loads with 100-grain Barnes TSX and Nosler Ballistic Tips look effective. Both step out at 3,200 fps.
I don’t recommend the .17 HMR and .22 WMR as ideal coyote getters, but there are hunters who love ’em. For them, CCI is a go-to ammo maker because they offer the widest variety of rimfire fodder on the planet. Choose from 10 different loads in .17 HMR and .22 Mag. In addition to the original 17-grain V-Max in the .17 HMR, CCI offers a 20-grain GamePoint designed to expand like a big game bullet for deeper penetration. There’s also a Full Metal Jacket, but I’d discourage it for anything but brain shots. Finally, there’s the 17-grain TNT Jacketed Hollow Point.
In .22 Mag. choose from 30-grain and 40-grain Jacketed Hollow Points; 30-grain TNT Jacketed Hollow Points, TNT Green Hollow Points and V-Max; and 40-grain Segmented Hollow Points designed to break into three parts on impact. Then there’s the 40-grain GamePoint with its dimpled bullet for controlled expansion and deeper penetration.
For the largest selection of bullets/loads/calibers, see Federal. You can get their Premium V-Shok loads with Nosler Ballistic Tips, Sierra Blitzkings, Sierra Gameking Boat-Tail Hollow Points, Speer TNT Green and traditional Jacketed Soft Points in all the usual varmint cartridges, plus the increasingly hard-to-find .222 Rem., .220 Swift and .22 Hornet. Some shooters like the punch-through consistency of the Barnes Triple Shock bullet in .223 Rem., .243 Win., 6mm Rem. and .25-06 Rem. These non-explosive bullets seem to do less hide damage in larger calibers than do explosive bullets. Another worth trying is the Nosler Partition. Both of these are loaded in Federal’s Premium Vital-Shok ammo.
In the budget aisle, check out Federal’s American Eagle brand with Jacketed Hollow Points and Full Metal Jacket Boat-Tails in .223 Rem. The mid-priced Federal Power-Shok line offers traditional Soft Points and Full Metal Jacket Boat-Tails in .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 6mm Rem. and .25-06 Rem.
Innovation has been the buzzword at Hornady in recent years. They’ve been creating new bullets, new ammo and some great new cartridges such as the .204 Ruger, .17 HMR and Ruger short magnums. They still carry a strong line of traditional Soft Point and Jacketed Hollow Point bullets from .17 through .308, including the Super Explosive bullets designed to stay inside a coyote for minimal pelt disturbance. Their V-Max varmint bullets have been accurate and deadly on coyotes for years now, and show no sign of slowing down. You can load your own from .17 through .308 or buy factory-loaded Varmint Express ammo. The V-Max is a soft lead core, thin-metal jacket, poly nose bullet that squeezes every smidgeon of ballistic potential from every explosion of powder. Factory loads are available in a variety of bullet weights in .204 Ruger, .22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .220 Swift, .243 Win. and even 6.8 SPC. Many are offered with moly coated bullets, too. The stouter Interlock and SST Interlock “deer loads” in .243 Win., 6mm Rem., .257 Roberts and .25-06 Rem. offer alternatives worth checking out. Hornady ammo has a reputation for being extremely accurate.
This ammo company proves the Swedes make more than great bikini swimsuit teams. Handloaders have long considered Norma brass the best, and an increasing marketing presence in the United States is providing that brass in some fine factory ammunition ready for firing. While concentrating more on big game ammo, Norma currently offers 13 loads in traditional coyote cartridges. The .222 Rem. is well covered with four loads from 50-60 grains using Soft Point, Full Jacket and Oryx bullets. The Oryx is a controlled expansion, bonded-core bullet that should shoot through with minimal explosive impact. It is also offered in .223 Rem. loads, along with a 55-grain Soft Point. The same two bullets are in .22-250 Rem. loads and .220 Swift loads. The .243 Win. uses the same two bullets in 100 grains, plus an 80-grain Full Jacket bullet.
Norma loads Nosler, Barnes and Swift bullets in many big game calibers, so I’m watching for them to expand their varmint offerings, too.
Initially famous for its premium big game bullets, Nosler has long been equally famous for its explosive, accurate Ballistic Tip varmint pills. I’ve taken my fair share of coyotes with a partition bullet in big game calibers, but for serious work in small calibers, I stick with BTs. There are now three kinds of Ballistic Tips: thick skinned in .243 Win. on up for big game; thinner skinned Varmint for explosive impact; and the just announced Lead Free with a Fragmenting Copper Core. The BT started the poly tip craze and is famous for accuracy. Lead Core Varmint BTs are made from .20 to .25 caliber. There are 32- and 40-grain options in .20; 40-, 50-, 55- and 60-grain offerings in .22; 55-, 70- and 80-grain pills in .24; and an 85-grain bullet in .25. Lead Free BTs come in 35- and 40-grain weights in .22 only.
If you prefer the punch-through effect of a big game bullet, look to the bonded, poly tipped AccuBond in .25 caliber on up, and the Partition from .22 on up. For something really different, you might experiment with the Custom Competition Nosler bullets in .22, .24, .26 and .30 calibers. These are all long, sleek Hollow Point Boat Tails.
If you don’t handload, check out Nosler Custom factory loaded ammunition. It starts with Norma brass and comes in some oddball flavors such as .221 Fireball, .222 Rem. Mag., .220 Swift, .240 Wthby. Mag. and .257 Roberts, as well as more popular cartridges.
Your go-to coyote loads from Remington are the Premier Accutip-V, featuring a soft lead core in a thin gilding metal jacket tipped with a gold polymer nose that cuts through the air to minimize drag, then wedges back into the lead core to fragment the bullet. These are loaded in everything from .17 Fireball and .22 Hornet through .243 Win.
A new option this year is the Premier Disintegrator Varmint, a lead-free frangible bullet with explosive expansion. They use a compressed, powdered iron core in a hollow-point design. Since the material is lighter than lead, fairly long bullets weigh only 45 grains in .223 Rem. and .22-250 Rem. but they’re screaming at 3,500 and 4,000 fps respectively.
Finally, don’t overlook the Power-Lokt Hollow-Point loads. They are super accurate in many rifles. Available in .222 Rem., .223 Rem. and .243 Win.
Handloaders know Sierra for consistent, accurate bullets in traditional soft-point designs that Sierra calls “spitzers” and “spitzer boat tails.” There are also traditional hollow points, but the most ballistically efficient are the BlitzKings with their soft lead cores, thin metal jackets and sharp, polycarbonate tips. The 32- and 39-grain BlitzKings in .20 caliber are ideal for the .204 Ruger and .20 VarDog. In .224 there are 40-, 50- and 55-grain Blitzkings and a host of hollow point and soft point Varminter bullets from 40-65 grains. The 50- and 55-grain Blitz is a sharp-nosed sleek, traditional soft point designed with thin jackets to be super explosive. They aren’t recommended for velocities of more than 3,600 fps.
The .243 Win. clan includes an 80-grain Blitz, plus 55- and 70-grain BlitzKings. Varminters come in 60, 75 and 85 grains. You can always try heavier MatchKing and GameKing bullets in this and larger calibers. The Varminter hollow points are built in lighter weighs for the .257, 6.5mm, .270 and even .284s, so experiment to create your most effective loads.
Rumor has it that Speer, one of the oldest bullet makers in the United States, might be about to create a hot new bullet. For now, look to its traditional line of Varmint Soft Points and Hollow Points plus the explosive TNT hollow point and TNT Green no-lead hollow point. The Target Match line provides the highest ballistic coefficients in the line.
The traditional TNT comes in 33, 50 and 55 grains in .22; 70 grains in .243; 87 grains in .25; 90 grains in 6.5mm and .27; 110 grains in 7mm; and 125 grains in .30. The Green version of TNT is limited to 30, 43 and 50 grains in .22 caliber.
Varmint Soft Points are all .22 in 40, 45, 46, 50, 55 and 70 grains. Varmint Hollow Points run from 52 grains in .22; 75 grains in .24; 100 grains in .25 and .27; 115 grains in 7mm; and 130 grains in .30. The old 52-grain Hollow Point is one of the most consistently accurate in many of my .22 caliber centerfires.
Swift started out making superior dangerous game bullets, and they still do concentrate on big game, but their poly tipped, bonded-core Scirocco bullets are so aerodynamically efficient that many coyote shooters prefer them. This is a controlled-expansion bullet, so expect an exit hole, but probably not a huge one. Because these bullets are long, they might not stabilize in slow-twist barrels. Try the 75 grain in fast-twist .22 centerfires. My .22-250 Ackley drives this one nearly 3,400 fps, ideal for reaching far with minimal wind deflection. In .243 there’s a 90-grain model; in .257 a 100 grain; and in 6.5mm a 130 grain.
The go-to predator loads from Winchester continue to be Supreme Elite with Ballistic Silvertip bullets. These are essentially Nosler Ballistic Tips with soft lead cores, thin jackets and sharp polycarbonate tips for ballistic efficiency and explosive terminal performance. BSTs shoot fast and flat, minimize wind-drift and hit hard. In lighter weights/calibers they usually break up inside the game without a messy exit hole. Varmint weight Ballistic Silvertips are loaded in .204 Ruger, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .223 WSSM, .243 Win., .243 WSSM, .25 WSSM and .25-06 Rem.
The less-expensive Super-X line from Winchester includes traditional hollow point and Soft Point bullets in most of the above cartridges, plus .218 Bee, .22 Hornet, .220 Swift, .222 Rem., .225 Win. and .25-20 Win. These bullets often shoot extremely accurately in many rifles. The newest offering is a 55-grain, lead-free Pointed Soft Point TIN bullet in .223 Rem. at 3,240 fps. The budget-priced USA Brand from Winchester has proven remarkably consistent and accurate in my .223s and .22-250 Rems. Choose among Jacketed Hollow Point, Full Metal Jacket and Pointed Soft Points.
The marketplace for coyote ammunition is crowded. Choosing the perfect load might be a challenge, but this increases your odds of finding it. And even the also-rans are so good that it really doesn’t matter if you never find the absolute best. In fact, you might never notice the difference.