Skip to main content

10 Best Predator Cartridges Ever Made

10 Best Predator Cartridges Ever Made

Due to a decline in trapping and the banning of poisons, predator populations are at record highs in most areas. And while coyotes, bobcats, and foxes can have significant negative effects on game animal populations, they are a lot of fun to hunt.

We broke down the top 10 predator cartridges of all time.

8. .22 Hornet

There's nothing sexy about the velocity numbers of the .22 Hornet, but it's about perfect for predators at under 200 yards. The mild-mannered hornet doesn't pound the shooter's eardrums with muzzle blast, and its unlikely to do much pelt damage. With maximum handloads, the Hornet is capable of nearly 2,800 fps with a 45-grain bullet, which will stop any coyote, bobcat, or fox that walks the planet.

9. .45 Colt

I love to hunt with a six-gun and I'm also likely to have one on my hip when I'm out working in the woods during the off-season. The .45 Colt is my favorite handgun hunting cartridge and has probably been used for more opportunity shots at predators than any other handgun cartridge in existence due to its near universal use on the American frontier. Big, slow bullets won't win any long range matches, but they'll get the job done with little fur damage at the right distances.

3. .220 Swift

If it's velocity you're looking for, the .220 Swift is the way to go, though trying to push bullets over 4,000 fps is probably what gave the cartridge a somewhat undeserved reputation as a barrel-burner. 50-grain bullets at around 3,800 fps are mild and accurate in the Swift and will take all nine of a cat's lives in an instant. Super flat trajectories make the Swift a point and shoot proposition at anything but the furthest shots at predators.

10. .30-06 Springfield

Sometimes the best predator cartridge is the one that you happen to be carrying when you spot one — if it's while you're out hunting big game, that rifle may very well be chambered in .30-06. I shot my first coyote with a .30-06 while deer hunting in Florida years ago. We weren't even sure there were coyotes in the area until I saw one enter the food plot at dusk. 150-grain bullets aren't ideal if you're trying to sell hides, but that coyote didn't eat another quail.

7. .243 Winchester

The .243 was designed to bridge the gap between a big game cartridge and a varmint round that puts predators square in the middle of its useful spectrum. Though it's generally used as a deer and antelope round these days, it does a nice job on predators if longer shots are necessary. Though probably overkill for foxes and smaller bobcats, the .243 is ideal for big coyotes in wide-open spaces with lots of wind.

6. 6mm Remington

Anything that can be said about the .243 can be said about Big Green's 6mm. Though never the commercial success of the .243, the 6mm will do anything the .243 will do. The 6mm Remington pushes the predator-slaying 70-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3,600 or so fps, which drops less than 15 inches at 400 yards. You certainly don't need this much power for 30- to 50-pound animals, but it doesn't hurt to have it — unless you're the coyote, and then it only hurts for a second.

4. .204 Ruger

Though designed with varmints like prairie dogs in mind, I wouldn't hesitate to hunt predators with the .204. Hornady's 45-grain Superformance load has a muzzle velocity of 3,900 fps and is still moving at over 3,700 fps out at 300 yards. Like the Hornet, bolt-actions built for the .204 can be made light and handy, which is ideal for all day walks in search of predators.

2. .22-250 Remington

If I were going to build a bolt gun specifically to hunt predators, you'd have to convince me not to chamber it in .22-250. With 55-grain bullets moving 300 to 400 fps faster out of the .22-250 than the .223 Remington, there's some serious power at your disposal. If you're a serious rifle nut and handloader, the .22-250 Ackely Improved version will buy you another 100 to 150 fps of velocity with 55-grain bullets. The best part about the .22-250 is that even though it pushes bullets with impressive speed, recoil is still minimal when compared to any big game cartridge.

1. .223 Remington

The AR has emerged as one of the best predator hunting rifles available. When we tested a spectrum of predator rifles for a recent issue of Petersen's Hunting, the Rock River Arms Fred Eichler reigned supreme. Besides being a great cartridge, the .223's greatest asset may be that it is the primary chambering of most predator-appropriate Modern Sporting Rifles. With fast-twist barrels such as the 1:8-inch twist on the Eichler, hunters can use bullets across the weight spectrum, from the fast 40-grainers to the high-BC 77-grain match grade bullets. Brass and bullets are cheap and, politically motivated shortages aside, widely available. The .223 is also available in the broadest spectrum of factory rifles imaginable, so you don't have to worry about not finding a factory gun that suits your needs.

5. 12 Gauge

Not all predators are shot at long range, and when shots are close and fast, there's nothing better than a scattergun. Plenty of hardcore predator hunters take both a rifle and a shotgun afield so they're ready for any scenario. It's not uncommon to find a bobcat or a coyote stalking your turkey decoy and a heavy turkey load will usually end the fight quickly.

Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

Cedar Break Bucks

David Draper is with Dory Schoby talking about the benefits of using red dots for hunting and taking a look at the Aimpoint Micro H2.

Aimpoint Red Dots for Hunting

David Draper is with Nathan Robinson of Winchester talking about the 6.8 Western Cartridge. It offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range shooting and hunting.

Winchester 6.8 Western

Joe Ferronato is joined by Luke Thorkildsen from Weather by to check out the Backcountry 2.0, which builds on the classic steel Mark V action — with some key updates.

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

Nosler has some exciting new products. Mason Payer of Nosler shows our own Joe Ferronato new suppressors, 21 Chassis Rifle and Trophy Grade Ammunition.

New from Nosler!

Shawn Skipper of Leupold explains their Custom Dial System to Petersen's Hunting's Joe Ferronato.

Leupold CDS

Kevin Steele gets a chance to test this impressive rifle at Roundtable 2022.

CZ 600 Range

Petersen's Hunting's Dale Evans is with CJ Johnson of Bushnell checking out their new Elite 4X.

Bushnell Elite 4500 4X Scope

Tim Herald shares tips on how to best use a ground blind.

Trijicon Tip: Ground Blinds

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now