Q: I’m planning to hunt coyotes, and I need to figure out what gun I should use. I own a Winchester pump-action .22 LR and a Ruger semiautomatic .22 LR—both with open sights. I also own a Remington 20 gauge shotgun. I don’t want to purchase a centerfire rifle unless it’s absolutely necessary. Is using this shotgun my best option? If so, what types of shotshells would be best for the job? If not, what caliber of rifle should I purchase to take down a coyote?– NAHC Member Luke Horneck /VIA E-mail
A: Luke, the .22 LR will terminate a coyote if the bullet is properly placed, but rarely beyond 75 yards. This small game round just hasn’t the energy/expansion for consistent, reliable terminal performance on coyotes—which can take a drumming and keep on running. A 20 gauge shotgun could be a more effective killer, but its effective range will be restricted to a maximum of 40 yards, depending on choke constriction and shot size. Use a full choke or an even tighter extra-full choke. Even with that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find pellet sizes large enough to handle coyotes in factory-loaded 20 gauge shells. No. 2 shot is the largest I’ve seen, and this is about the largest shot size that flows efficiently down a narrow, 20 gauge barrel anyway. Coyotes are best hit with a dense charge of BB or T-shot. This leaves slugs in the 20 gauge, but you’ll need a rifled barrel or at least a rifled extended choke tube to gain sufficient accuracy past 50 yards for these critters.
Luke, if you like to hunt, you are going to love coyote hunting—so why not set your sights on a centerfire rifle? I prefer regular weight and even lightweight “deer hunting” rifles. Think Remington M700, Winchester M70, Savage bolt actions, Weatherby, Mossberg, Browning, Tikka, Ruger, etc. For coyotes and smaller critters, get one chambered in .204 Ruger, .223 Rem. or .22-250 Rem. If you think you’ll hunt deer some day, get a .243 Win., .240 Wthby., .25-06 Rem., .260 Rem. or something in that class; they make great dual-purpose rifles. But if you can’t afford a new rifle this year, use what you’ve got. It’s quite possible to call coyotes within 20 yards where your .22 LR and even 20 gauge shotgun with No. 2 shot will light ’em up.