What defines a varmint rifle? The most popular are often bolt actions for their track record of reliability and pinpoint accuracy, though levers and even modern sporting rifles are building a following as well. While there are many solid options in varmint hunting rifles, the following are not only some of our favorites for everything from prairie dogs to coyotes, but all are well proven and guarantee to leave hunters happy in the field.
Savage 110 Predator
The Savage 110 Predator and the new 110 models, in general, are some of our favorite bolt action hunting rifles — period, not just varmint-specific. They feature “Accu”-everything—AccuTrigger, AccuStock and AccuFit systems. These rifles fit, shoot, and look good doing it. The 24-inch heavy barrels are fluted and threaded, while dropbox magazines allow quick reloads. The adjustable AccuTrigger is a dream.
Calibers run the gamut from the smallest vermin to the larger predators: .204 Ruger, .22-250 Rem, .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem and .308 Win. Accuracy matches that of custom-grade rifles in a factory-production gun.
The Howa Model 1500 from Legacy Sports International is pretty well underrated, with very capable accuracy for a reasonable price. The bolt guns in this series are available in a slick range of calibers ideal for varminters, from .223 on up. Further, the 1500 action comes in a variety of configurations and stocks, like the Axiom chassis-style or Hogue furniture.
GameKing scoped packages are sweet, and for winter hunters, the SnowKing is even better with its Kryptek Yeti camo paired with a like-coated Nikko Stirling optic. Take the Howa’s right out of the box and into the field, with a short stop on the range, of course.
Henry Long Ranger
Few varmint and predator hunters think of lever-action rifles, but the times are changing. When Henry introduced the Long Ranger lever-action rifle in .223, .243 and .308, hunters were quick to embrace the platform for big game. With the addition of the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering this year, the hot just got hotter. While the bigger calibers are fine, either the .223 or .243 Long Rangers make ideal varmint rifles with their five or four round capacity, respectively. Best of all, every Henry is “Made in America or not Made at All.”
Those desiring lever-action small game and vermin-slayers in the rimfire family will adore the other offerings from Henry Repeating Arms. While any of the rimfires will do, give the Henry Varmint Express a try in .17HMR. Its Monte Carlo stock is ideal for scoped hunting, though the included fiber optic Williams Fire Sights are sweet, too. Henry brings a modern flair to old-school lever varmint hunting.
Mossberg MVP Predator
The made-in-America Mossberg MVP Predator bolt action rifles were obviously built specifically with such hunters in mind. Calibers include 5.56/.223, .224 Valkyrie, 6.5 Creedmoor and .762/.308. Barrels run 18-20-inch bull weight, threaded and fluted. Laminate stocks make them durable in harsh conditions, while 10+1 round capacity means plenty of firepower on shifty predators. One of the coolest features is the MVP Predator’s ability to feed from any standard AR-15/AR-10 magazine.
One needn’t even opt for Mossberg’s varmint-specific model. In fact, any of the Patriot line of rifles, which are an incredible value for the price, will be accurate and devastating on varmints. Choose a caliber like .22-250 Rem, .224 Valkyrie or .243 Win and get you some fur. If a little heavier caliber is desired, Mossberg’s Patriot Predator amps up to .450 Bushmaster.
While most any semi-automatic, modern sporting rifle platform will get the job done just fine on varmints and predators, we love Savage’s MSR family of rifles for their combination of superior features and available calibers. Whether hunters want a plain old 5.56/.223, 7.62 /.308, or prefer to step-up to something newer and more exciting like 6.5 Creedmoor or .224 Valkyrie, the American-made MSR’s have things covered. Best of all, they are reliable and accurate, a necessary combination for hardcore varminters.
It’s difficult to nail down a single AR-platform brand for varmint hunters, with so many great options. Honorable mention here to Nosler’s Varmaggedon rifle in .22 Nosler. Built in Oregon by Noveske, they exude both cool-factor and long-range hunting accuracy. In addition, any of the CMMG Mk3 or Mk4 rifles in calibers like .5.56/.223, .22 Nosler, .224 Valkyrie, or even the bigger hitters will be sure to please.