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10 Best Rifles for Predator and Varmint Hunting

varmint rifle

These are ten of the top varmint rifle choices on the market right now.

While there's no reason you couldn't use your deer hunting rifle for some varmint or predator control, many hunters prefer to use a dedicated varmint rifle of some sort.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of varmint and predator rifles out there that will fit the desires (and budget) of almost any serious varmint hunter.

While many of them will get the job done, having the best possible varmint rifle can really make your life easier regardless of whether you're hunting for fun or dealing with a serious animal issue on your land.

In this article, I'm going to talk about why these are the ten best varmint rifles that you should consider taking afield for hunting coyotes, bobcats, prairie dogs or even feral hogs.

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Remington 700 Varmint SF

Best Varmint Rifle remington 700 varmint sf
Remington

No discussion about the best varmint rifle would be complete without including a version of the ubiquitous Remington Model 700. The Varmint Stainless Fluted (SF) model is specifically designed for predator hunters and is available in a number of popular varmint calibers. It's also chambered in the much heavier hitting .308 Winchester cartridge for hunters needing to deal with larger pests or even big game like feral hogs, deer, and bear.

Sporting a 26-inch, heavy contour barrel that's conducive to both long-range shooting and rapid cooling, the Varmint SF is a great varmint rifle for hunters who need excellent accuracy during the course of a long day of predator hunting. It also has a synthetic stock and a stainless steel barrel for weather resistance.

  • Available Calibers: .223 Remington, .220 Swift, .22-250 Remington, .308 Winchester
  • Barrel Length: 26 inches
  • Overall Length: 45.75 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 4 (.220 Swift and .308 Winchester) or 5 (.22-250 Remington and .223 Remington)

Ruger 77/22

Not every varmint or predator hunter needs a long-range varmint rifle. Indeed, for hunters working in more populated areas where noise and bullet ricochets are a bigger concern, high-velocity cartridges like the .220 Swift aren't ideal choices. The Ruger 77/22 is a wonderful varmint rifle for those varmint hunters.

Firing the venerable .22 Hornet cartridge, this rifle is extremely accurate (capable of sub-MOA accuracy with the right loads), has a relatively flat trajectory out to around 200 yards, and it'll really do a number on small game and predators without making as much noise and without as much danger of a bullet ricochet as higher velocity cartridges.

  • Available Calibers: .22 Hornet
  • Barrel Length: 20 inches or 24 inches
  • Overall Length: 39.25 inches or 43.25 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 6

Browning X-Bolt Eclipse Varmint

Chambered in the new, extremely high velocity .204 Ruger cartridge, the Browning X-Bolt Eclipse Varmint has a solid reputation for accuracy and is specifically built for predator and varmint hunting. For these reasons, it's one of the best centerfire rifles for long-range shooting at very small targets like prairie dogs.

Pair this rifle with a quality scope (like a Leupold or a Maven) and ammunition (like the Hornady 24-grain NTX bullet), and you've got an ideal platform for tack-driving accuracy with a flat trajectory and minimal recoil. If you hunt in an area where long-range shots are necessary, you could do a whole lot worse than the X-Bolt Eclipse Varmint for your varmint rifle.

  • Available Calibers: .204 Ruger
  • Barrel Length: 26 inches
  • Overall Length: 45.625 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 5

Ruger American Rimfire Compact

Best Varmint Rifle ruger american rimfire compact
Ruger

The Ruger American Rimfire Compact is perfect for a varmint hunter on a budget, as well as any hunter looking for a really lightweight, easy-to-carry rifle. It's also really hard to beat that price tag or the fact that it's available in inexpensive and sweet shooting rimfire cartridges like the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (also known as .22 Magnum) and .22 Long Rifle.

Sporting a short, 18-inch barrel, this is a quality bolt-action rifle, but it's not intended for varmint hunting at long range. Instead, it's an ideal choice for hunters who need to clean pests out of the garden without making a lot of noise and those who need a rifle to carry around in the truck just in case they have to deal with an unexpected problem critter.

  • Available Calibers: .17 HMR, .22 WMR, .22 LR
  • Barrel Length: 18 inches
  • Overall Length: 35.75 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 9 (.17 HMR and .22 WMR) or 10 (.22 LR)

Remington R-15 Predator Rifle

Best Varmint Rifle remington r-15 predator
Remington

Nothing beats an AR-15 or other modern sporting rifle for high-volume predator control. Designed from the ground up as a predator/varmint rifle, the semi-automatic Remington R-15 is chambered in what many hunters consider the best coyote caliber: the .223 Remington. Accurate enough for longer-range coyote hunting, it's built with quick shots on multiple animals in mind.

With a flattop receiver and a Picatinny rail, the R-15 will accommodate most AR-15 sights and accessories, but it's also intended specifically to be legal in most states since it lacks a flash suppressor and an adjustable stock. While the R-15 comes with a detachable five-round magazine, it will also accept standard AR-15 magazines

  • Available Calibers: .223 Remington
  • Barrel Length: 22 inches
  • Overall Length: 40.25 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: Varies (uses standard detachable AR-15 magazines)

Savage 110 Varmint

Best Varmint Rifle savage 110
Savage

So, what if you're on a budget but still want a nice coyote gun for medium-to-long-range shots? Well, the Savage Arms 110 Varmint might just fit the bill here. Though more expensive than the Ruger American Compact Varmint, it's still very reasonably priced and has some capabilities and features the Ruger American lacks.

Equipped with Savage's "AccuTrigger" and "AccuStock," the shooter can adjust the trigger-pull weight as well as the stock comb height and length of pull. These features help users customize the rifle for a personalized fit right out of the box. Available in .204 Ruger, .223 Remington and the .22-250 Remington, the Savage 110 is also well-suited for coyote hunters who like using cartridges with a really high muzzle velocity and the flat trajectory possible.

  • Available Calibers: .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington
  • Barrel Length: 26 inches
  • Overall Length: 45 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 4

Henry Varmint Express

Best Varmint Rifle henry varmint express
Henry Repeating Arms

Built with varmint hunters who love lever-action rifles in mind, the Henry Varmint Express is a compact and lightweight rifle chambered in .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire. It's not a long-range varmint rifle by stretch of the imagination, but similar to the .22 Hornet, the .17 HMR is a relatively quiet- and flat-shooting cartridge that's ideal for prairie dogs, foxes and other small varmints at short-to-moderate range with less chance of a ricochet than higher-velocity cartridges. You should still wear ear protection while using this rifle to prevent hearing loss though.

Similar to the Henry Small Game Rifle in many respects, the Henry Varmint Express is also fast-pointing and really easy to carry, regardless of whether you're on foot, on horseback, or in a vehicle.

  • Available Calibers: .17 HMR
  • Barrel Length: 19.25 inches
  • Overall Length: 37.5 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 11

Winchester Model 70 Coyote Light

Best Varmint Rifle winchester model 70
Winchester

Similar to the Remington Model 700, no list of the best varmint rifles would be complete without a Winchester Model 70. Chambered in the high octane .22-250 Remington cartridge, this rifle is designed for taking long-range shots on coyotes. Incorporating a fluted, 26-inch barrel and a high-end composite stock, the Model 70 Coyote Light will deliver high-end performance under a wide array of demanding conditions when using the right varmint ammo

  • Available Calibers: .22-250 Remington
  • Barrel Length: 26 inches
  • Overall Length: 45 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 4

Nosler Varmageddon AR

Best Varmint Rifle nosler varmageddon ar
Nosler

Built in partnership with Noveske, Magpul and Leupold, the Nosler Varmageddon AR is an AR-15 rifle system designed to be the best varmint rifle ever manufactured. The rifle is chambered in the potent .22 Nosler cartridge, which Nosler developed to be the most powerful .22-caliber cartridge that would function in the AR platform. It has a 300-fps advantage over the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge.

The Varmageddon AR isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination (it's the most expensive varmint rifle on this list), but it's also an incredibly capable predator rifle. Suitable for taking prairie dogs or coyotes from long distances, this rifle would also be effective in conducting high-volume hog control.

All things considered, Nosler may very well have accomplished their goal of designing the best predator and varmint hunting rifle ever.

  • Available Calibers: .22 Nosler
  • Barrel Length: 18 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 25

Ruger American Predator

best varmint rifles ruger american predator

Ruger made a few modifications to their proven bolt-action Ruger American line of rifles to develop the Ruger American Predator. These rifles feature a heavier taper barrel, a one piece scope rail, and a moss green synthetic stock. Chambered in a wide variety of extremely popular varmint cartridges, the new Ruger American Predator is highly regarded for great accuracy, which helps hunters get the job done at longer range. 

While it's a little bit more expensive than the base model Ruger American, this rifle is still pretty affordable. So, it's a great choice for hunters wanting a very capable heavy barrel varmint rifle without having to spend a bunch of money.

  • Available Calibers: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem, .243 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Winchester, 350 Legend
  • Barrel Length: 16.38 inches (350 Legend), 18 inches (.308 Winchester), 20 inches (350 Legend), 22 inches (.204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem, .243 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem, 350 Legend)
  • Magazine Capacity: 3 (6mm Creedmoor) 4 (.22-250 Rem, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Winchester), 5 (350 Legend), 10 (.204 Ruger, .223 Remington, 6.5 Grendel)

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on The Big Game Hunting Blog. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, & Instagram.

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10 Best Rifles for Predator and Varmint Hunting