Opinions are like elbows. Most everybody seems to have a couple of them. And when it comes to opinions on the ultimate predator gun, well, you’ll find at least a few no matter who you ask. It’s the never-ending debate when it comes to predator hunting across the country. This article is not likely to settle the issue once and for all, but we will, however, look at the factors that push several guns to the top of the list when it comes to the ultimate predator gun.
If you were looking for a one-size-fits-all solution for all your predator hunting needs, you’re out of luck. That’s because the ultimate predator gun is largely dependent on what part of the country you are calling predators. I was born and raised hunting in Tennessee, but I also lived in Montana for a handful of years. I quickly learned that the ultimate predator gun for hunting the northwest tends to differ from the ultimate predator gun when hunting the southeast. My shots on coyotes out west were typically much longer shots and at targets that were often standing still. Predator hunting in the south is often fast and furious. Targets are often quick and close. So, let’s break down the ultimate predator gun for several geographic regions.
Ultimate Predator Gun for the West
Big country typically calls for bigger guns. When you’re talking about hunting the west, you’re usually looking at a number of odds stacked against you. You can literally see for miles out west. Shot opportunities from 200 yards out to as far as you care to shoot are the norm. Do you have the gun and load to get you there? You’ll also be competing with windy conditions out west. Again, you better have the bullet that can handle the range as well as cut the wind. Big, open country is where the bolt-action rifle has earned its keep. It’s super accurate and about as dependable as they come. Bolt-action rifles are also typically much less expensive than the AR option that has become so popular in recent years. And let’s not confuse a predator gun with a varmint gun. Some hunters inadvertently lump them as one in the same. But that’s simply not the case. Varmint rifles are the big, heavy-barreled guns suitable for shooting from a bench at ground squirrels and prairie dogs. They are not exactly what you’ll want when packing a rifle over miles and miles of terrain in search of predators. The lighter bolt-action rifle, like the Mossberg MVP Predator rifle, with sporter-style stock and light or medium-contour barrel around 20”-22” is the gun of choice for big open country. Caliber choices vary widely, depending on who you ask, but the standards continue to be the .223 and the 22-250. However, for the take-no-prisoners predator hunter that wants a gun to buck the wind, elements, and stomp every coyote in their tracks, the .243 is a solid choice.
Is the AR the Best All-Around Predator Rifle?
The rise of the AR platform for predator hunting has been interesting to watch. The popularity of these guns is staggering. Every gun-totin’ man (and lady too) loves the feeling of power that comes with slinging lead as fast as he can pull the trigger. It’s just in our nature. But the ability to quickly send lead down-range, coupled with the accuracy of the .223 bullet, have pushed rifles in the AR platform toward the top of the list among predator hunters. These guns are short, light, and deadly accurate. They are rugged, having proven themselves through military use in some of the harshest conditions in the world. Their compact size makes target acquisition on moving targets at closer ranges all the easier, yet they have the mojo to reach out and crunch targets 200-300 yards away.
Predators are tough targets. Hunt them long enough, and you’ll be thanking the Lord for the opportunity to quickly send bullets downrange without having to lift your face or finger from this semi-auto gun. The best all-around coyote hunting gun for anywhere in the country just might be the .223 in the AR platform.
Ultimate Predator Gun for Close Encounters
My predator hunting roots can be found in the south. Tennessee coyotes were the focus of my attention in the early days – and to this day they provide one of the greatest challenges of any critter I pursue. We hunt a lot of small fields, pastures, and even timber. We also use a decoy pretty much every set. The decoy has allowed us to pull coyotes in really close. I’ll never forget a coyote I filmed charging the decoy several minutes into the calling set a decade ago. The decoy was just 12 yards from our setup. The coyote ran between the decoy and three of us hunters. My buddy rolled the big dog at just 8 yards. The gun? It was a 12-gauge shotgun packing #4 buckshot.
That hunt opened my eyes to the realities of bringing coyotes in close with the decoy, as well as the need for a predator gun designed specifically for close encounters. For shots 50 yards and under, there is no better option than a shotgun. A shotgun loaded with #4 buckshot or T-shot provides a devastating punch on predators at close range.
The shotgun allows for quick target acquisition on predators charging the decoys. You can swing the gun quickly and smoothly without the use of shooting sticks or a bi-pod. A new favorite for me is the new Mossberg 930 – Turkey with a pistol grip. The gun features a 24” barrel so it’s super easy to maneuver in tight quarters and brush. The 930 is a semi-auto chambered to 3” and weighs in at 7.5 pounds. The gun features a XX-Full choke and adjustable fiber optic sights. Mossy Oak camo on this gun ensures that you’ll stay concealed when predators get in close. I really like the feel of the pistol grip for swinging on hard-charging coyotes. This truly is a sweet shooting gun for predator hunting.
So what is the best coyote gun? That’s up to you and where you’ll be hunting. Bolt action, AR, or shotgun – go with the gun that improves your odds for success the most when coyotes come running to the call.
Brodie Swisher is world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website at www.thrutheseason.com.