Shooting Times Article Segment: Most hunters will agree the best round for shooting a coyote is the one you have when you spot Wile E. Cartoon jokes aside, what cartridge would you choose for a dedicated predator-hunting rifle? Most fast varmint-type cartridges work just fine, but there are a few that excel. Though weeding just one out of the pack and dubbing it the very best is risky business, that’s what we’re here to do. I recently conducted an informal poll among a bunch of buddies passionate about predator hunting, and came up with a list of contenders. But first, let’s look at the attributes that make for a top-performer.
Coyotes aren’t a very big target. Even a large, mature western male will weigh only about 45 pounds—though the rare northern male has been known to top 70 pounds. Their vitals range from about the size of a large apple on a small coyote, to the size of a large grapefruit on a big one. Throw cold, wind, snow, distance and jumpy nerves (both yours and the coyotes) into the scenario, and you’ve got a difficult target under less-than-optimal circumstances. A good predator rifle will shoot under 1 MOA, while the best ones shoot groups of ½ MOA under ideal conditions.
Often hunters don’t have time to range a coyote—it’s a “take it now or loose the shot” opportunity. To minimize errors in range estimation, a good coyote round offers blazing velocities—which in turn provide flat, forgiving trajectories. Knowledgeable coyote men choose cartridges that push bullets at 3,400 feet per second or faster—sometimes much faster.