Whether you’re protecting peas, alfalfa, tomatoes or the shed roof from gnawing varmints—or even the chickens from a wily fox—you need a rifle that’ll deliver pinpoint accuracy at long range with minimal chance for ricochet. Something that shoots extremely flat so you don’t have to worry about shooting over or under tiny targets. Something like a .204 Ruger.
No, exactly a 204 Ruger.
This skinny little .20 caliber was born of an old .222 Rem. Mag. case necked down and with the shoulder pushed slightly forward to increase powder capacity. That doesn’t mean there’s huge capacity. Just 29 grains of Varget powder will fill the reservoir. Cap that with a 32-grain Ballistic Tip Varmint bullet (BC .206) and, according to the Nosler Reloading Guide #7, it’ll depart a 26-inch barrel going about 4,040 fps. A comparable bullet (similar BC) in the .22-250 Rem. would be a Nosler 50-grain Flat Base Spire Point (BC .195), but that one burns 41 grains of H380 to hit 3,897 fps.
You can mess around with different bullets for each, but the outcome is about the same for the varmints. Poof. Plop.
The .204 Ruger (left) alongside the .22-250 Rem. (right).
The .204 Ruger and .22-250 Rem. scribe nearly identical trajectories. You’ll deliver a bit more energy at long range with the .22-250 Rem., especially with heavier bullets, but that’s rarely an issue with varmints. A .22 rimfire kicks out less than 150 f.p. energy at the muzzle and it’s terminated countless varmints up to the size of coyotes throughout the years.
Handloaders, you can shoot bullets as heavy as 50 grains in the .204 Ruger. Berger even sells a .204 Boat Tail Long Range Varmint bullet weighing 55 grains. BC is rated .381, comparable to a 70- or 75-grain in .224 Wthby. Mag. You’ll need a 1/8 twist barrel to stabilize it. Velocity will drop down to about 3,200 fps, drop will increase to 15 inches at 400 yards, but energy at that range should stay just over 600 f.p.
Felt recoil? Forget about it. However, if you keep rifle weight above 8 pounds, you should be able to keep targets in the scope, even at high powers, to watch hits or misses, and that’s a big advantage over the .22-250 Rem.