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.22-250 vs. .223 - Which is the Best Coyote Cartridge?

So which is the best rifle cartridge for coyotes, the .22-250 Remington or the .223 Remington? Our experts weigh in on their preferred rifle cartridge.

.22-250 vs. .223 - Which is the Best Coyote Cartridge?

.22-250 Remington

A rodent cartridge is invading Coyoteville. Due to the popularity of the AR-15 rifle and the fast stream of follow-up shots it affords, coyote hunters that commonly miss more than they hit are embracing a sub-strength caliber. But let's pause a moment and get back in touch with the purist inside us. Let's be loyal to what may be the finest predator cartridge currently available: the .22-250 Remington.

Offering almost 3,700 fps of predator-dropping velocity with a 55-grain projectile, a .22-250 gives around 12 percent more speed and 20 percent more ft-lbs of impact energy than a .223 with the same bullet. And that's giving the .223 the benefit of a 24-inch barrel and all the velocity it can milk out of it - many guys hunt predators with 16-inch barreled AR-15s.

Insignificant, you say? Not so. The .22-250 carries over 550 ft-lbs of energy at 500 yards, opposed to the .223, which carries only 402 ft-lbs at best. As the late, great, legendary Jack O'Connor taught, speed kills (especially on thin-skinned predators). Where less-than-perfect hits are concerned, more is better.

Known for inherent accuracy and for being mild-mannered to handload, the .22-250 has one other advantage: During these crazy times of frenzied buying and ammo hoarding, it's much easier to find on store shelves than .223 ammo.

Protest all you want. There's no denying the facts. The .22-250 shoots flatter, hits harder, and is more accurate than the .223. Factor in those better hits, coupled with more impact authority, and this cartridge makes more dead predators. Ditch the .223 and opt for the bigger, stronger, superior .22-250 Remington.

-Joseph von Benedikt

.223 Remington

I'll come right out and say it: The .223 Remington is the most balanced predator cartridge in existence. From small fox to northern coyotes, if you know how to coax a predator within range, it's all you'll ever need.

There is a reason most successful predator hunters sight their rifles dead-on at 100 yards.  It's because most misses are over a dog's back. Despite the wet dreams of long-range fanatics, predators are seldom shot beyond 300 yards.

And for those that are, realize this: A bolt-action .22-250 and an AR-15 .223 firing the same 53-grain V-Max have a difference in drop of less than 2.5 inches at 300 yards (6.7-inch drop vs. 9-inch drop).

Those that claim the .223 lacks killing power are either delusional or they adhere to the Geneva Convention. Ditch the full metal jackets and place expanding bullets in the vitals of even deer-sized game and its lethality will shock you.

Not to mention the vast majority of .22-250s have 1:14 twist barrels, which limits bullet selection to around 50 grains, forcing predator hunters to forego the high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets that excel as the ranges stretch. This gives the .223 and its common 1:9 or faster twist barrel ready access to modern, high BC bullets, significantly upping its power, versatility, and range.

Can the .223 compete with the speed of the .22-250? Nope. Nor can it equal the .22-250's ability to transform high-dollar bobcats into hideous rags of fur, flesh, and bone. The mild-mannered .223 offers plenty of lethality without excessive pelt damage or muzzle blast. It's simply a more all-around predator cartridge.


-David Faubion

CZ-USA 527 American

true micro-length Mauser-style action.

CZ-USA 527 American

Detachable 5-round magazine.

CZ-USA 527 American

Best Group | .62 Overall Length | 40.4 Barrel Length | 22 Unloaded Weight | 5.9 Twist Rate | 1:12 Trigger Pull AVG. | 3.12 Chronograph Velocity | 3,134 Magazine Capacity | 5+1 MSRP Price: $711

CZ-USA 527 American

Adjustable single-set trigger.

CZ-USA 527 American

This little Czech rifle is the most traditional among our choices with a mini Mauser action and a checkered walnut stock. CZs have the reputation as being a tad rough out of the box, and this rifle was no exception. The bolt throw was scratchy, and though the rifle functioned reliably, it took some effort to get the cartridges out of the magazine and up the feedramp. The single-set trigger is fantastic for precision shots and our benchtesting, but the trigger has a lot of creep. Most users will find the safety catch a bit odd as it operates in reverse to what we're accustomed to. This rifle showed signs of serious accuracy potential, with two shots from each group landing in a single hole, but the slow twist rate handicaps the rifle from taking full advantage of the .223 cartridge.

Kimber Montana

Stainless bolt with Mauser claw extractor.

Kimber Montana

Stock features pillar and glass bedding.

Kimber Montana

Best Group | .65 Overall Length | 41.25 Barrel Length | 22 Unloaded Weight | 5.37 Twist Rate | 1:9 Trigger Pull AVG. | 3.12 Chronograph Velocity | 3,188 Magazine Capacity | 5+1 MSRP Price: $1,359

Kimber Montana

Very repeatable adjustable trigger.

Kimber Montana

The Kimber is the best-finished and sweetest-handling rifle in our test. This rifle is slim, trim, and lightweight, and the rugged Kevlar synthetic stock design is excellent. The fit and finish of both the metal to metal and metal to stock are superb, and the pillar- and glass- bedded synthetic stock and stainless-steel construction make it ideal for harsh weather conditions. It has a very good, and very repeatable, trigger pull, and the accuracy was excellent. For a 'walking varminter, ' it would be hard to beat this little Kimber. It handles like a wand and points like a dream. Not surprisingly, it is the most expensive bolt-action rifle in our test. There always has to be a downside.

Mossberg MVP Flex

Drop-Push bolt design accepts AR-style magazines

Mossberg MVP Flex

Synthetic 6-position adjustable FLEX stock.

Mossberg MVP Flex

Best Group | .64 Overall Length | 37.25 Barrel Length | 20 Unloaded Weight | 6.5 Twist Rate | 1:9 Trigger Pull AVG. | 3.12 Chronograph Velocity | 3,135 Magazine Capacity | 30 MSRP Price: $928

Mossberg MVP Flex

LBA Adjustable Trigger System.

Mossberg MVP Flex

The Mossberg MVP Flex was a sleeper. The unorthodox stock design and rather poor stock-to-metal fit had me doubting this rifle — that is, until I shot it. The MVP is accurate on paper and handled fine on the steel speed course. The rifle consistently had one of the best triggers in our test. The safety's position made it easy to access, and the protruding AR-style magazine made the rifle comfortable to carry one-handed. While we question the ruggedness of the unique bolt design that allows it to feed cartridges from an AR magazine, we did not encounter any problems. The MVP's threaded barrel would make attaching a suppressor simple, and when not in use, a cap covers the threads. Despite a rather utilitarian appearance, this rifle is a performer.

Rock River Arms Fred Eichler

Free-float handguard with full-length top rail.

Rock River Arms Fred Eichler

Durable scope rail mount.

Rock River Arms Fred Eichler

Built-in storage compartment.

Rock River Arms Fred Eichler

Best Group | .36 Overall Length | 34 Barrel Length | 16 Unloaded Weight | 7.6 Twist Rate | 1:8 Trigger Pull AVG. | 4.1 Chronograph Velocity | 3,185 Magazine Capacity | 30 MSRP Price: $1,510

Rock River Arms Fred Eichler

This Rock River tricked-out AR is obscenely accurate — so much for the old myth that bolt guns are more accurate than semiautos. This was by far the fastest rifle for engaging multiple targets — not only do you not need to cycle a bolt, but also you never lose the sight picture between shots. The only downside to this rifle is that it's a pound heavier than the other competitors, but at 7.6 pounds, it's not a beast to carry by any means. Thanks to the effective but noisy muzzle brake, this rifle is also the loudest. With the 1:8 twist, stainless-steel, free-floated barrel, this is an incredibly versatile rifle that could do duty as a hog-hunting or home-defense carbine when it's not slaying coyotes. Despite having the shortest barrel in the test, it produced among the highest velocities.

Browning X-Bolt Composite Stalker

Smooth 60-degree bolt lift.

Browning X-Bolt Composite Stalker

Textured pistol grip and adjustable feather trigger.

Browning X-Bolt Composite Stalker

Detachable Rotary polymer magazine.

Browning X-Bolt Composite Stalker

Best Group | .63 Overall Length | 41.25 Barrel Length | 22 Unloaded Weight | 6.18 Twist Rate | 1:12 Trigger Pull avg. | 3.84 Chronograph Velocity | 2,998 Magazine Capacity | 5+1 MSRP Price: $860

Browning X-Bolt Composite Stalker

The X-Bolt was a solid performer in every respect and is a good option for chasing coyotes. This rifle is trim and lightweight but feels more like a big game rifle, which I intend as a compliment. The X-Bolt had the only flush-fitting detachable box magazine in our test, and the tang safety is the most user-friendly of all of the bolt-action designs we tested. The much-celebrated 60-degree bolt throw offered no real advantage on the steel targets, but in fairness, this was the first rifle shot on the course, so I may have got slightly faster with practice. The rubbery surface on the synthetic stock makes this rifle easy to hang onto in foul weather. My only real complaint about this rifle is the 1:12 twist, which prevents the use of today's excellent heavyweight bullets.
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