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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

New member here, hoping to learn more about varmint hunting in preparation for a trip to South Dakota in June of 2019. I'll be going with a group of about 12 and it will be through an outfitter, which is probably best as none of us is local.

I am putting together a lineup of rifles I'll need. Originally I planned on taking a 22LR, an AR in 223 for the bulk of shooting inside 300yds and a Ruger Precision Rifle also in 223 for longer stuff. However, I am not sure a 223 bolt action really gets me anything the AR cannot already do, plus both will be equally susceptible to the wind. So this is what I am thinking now:

  1. Ruger American Rimfire Target - closer shots
  2. AR in 223, 18" Wylde chamber
  3. 308 bolt action for longer shots and if the wind kicks up.
What I've been reading about varmint hunting is that it is nice to be able to see your hits, and the 308 makes that difficult. So in looking around I found a Ruger Precision in 6mm Creedmoor which seems interesting. It should be better in wind than the 223 but lighter recoil than the 308.

  1. How does this selection seem in general? Overkill? Just about right?
  2. Will the 308 be impractical?
  3. How is recoil on the 6mm CM? Is it light enough to see hits? Will that be a better option than 308?
Also, we'll all be shooting suppressed, which should help to keep the dogs up as much as possible (from what I understand). Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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My choice of calibers is 17HMR, 223 with 60gr v max, 22-250 with 50 gr v max, 243 Win with 75 gr v max and a 243AI with 87gr v max.
As far as wind goes, it never stops blowing in the PD fields.It only takes a couple shots to determine your hold for windage. Each location you shoot from will be different.
You need to pay attention to how hot your barrel becomes. It is easy to forget when your having fun. Many barrels have been ruined in the PD fields. With multiple rifles you can warm one up while the other ones are cooling down.
 

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I would pretty much agree with what toiville2feathers said. Until you are very early in the season, I wouldn't bother with the 22lr. For me, anything over a 243 or 6BR is too much recoil. I would also add a lighter weight loading for the 223, like a 40 gr VMAX or NBT. I would bring a second 223, rather than an AR, as losing brass down a PD hole and the constant presence of snakes. Bring plenty of ammo, at least 500 rounds per day, good binoculars and a laser rangefinder. Add a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and DEET containing bug spray for the fleas.
 

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Well, since you aren't going until next June you have some time to kick this around.

I've been going west since 2001. Everybody won't agree with my POV and that's fine, but I do have some experience and I know a little.....I can guess the rest.
Since you are going with twelve you will be spread out. A decent outfitter won't put you all together, but even so it's likely most of your shots will be over 100 yards, probably well over. Forget the 22LR, but you might consider a 17HMR. Also, forget the 308, for this it's worse than worthless. 223 is good. I don't particularly care for the AR's, but that's just me. My friends like them. I suggest nothing larger than a 223. Everything else heats up the barrel too quick. Consider a 204 Ruger in a Savage. If you reload, get a used one and consider a prechambered barrel from Criterion or Shilen. Check with Northland Shooter Supply. Consider all the 20 cals. 20 Vartarg is sweet. I shoot a minimum of 500 VT every trip.


Glass should be 6.5x20, 6x24 etc. No fixed power glass. If you don't already own good glass, buy used, but buy those with a lifetime warranty. Luepold, Bushnell, Burris etc.

Currently there is a Rem 700 223 AI listed on Accurate Shooter.com. Seller has a great rep. If I didn't already have more stuff than I can shoot I'd be on it like a duck on a junebug.


That's probably enough for now.

Rick
 

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Yup

Well, since you aren't going until next June you have some time to kick this around.

I've been going west since 2001. Everybody won't agree with my POV and that's fine, but I do have some experience and I know a little.....I can guess the rest.
Since you are going with twelve you will be spread out. A decent outfitter won't put you all together, but even so it's likely most of your shots will be over 100 yards, probably well over. Forget the 22LR, but you might consider a 17HMR. Also, forget the 308, for this it's worse than worthless. 223 is good. I don't particularly care for the AR's, but that's just me. My friends like them. I suggest nothing larger than a 223. Everything else heats up the barrel too quick. Consider a 204 Ruger in a Savage. If you reload, get a used one and consider a prechambered barrel from Criterion or Shilen. Check with Northland Shooter Supply. Consider all the 20 cals. 20 Vartarg is sweet. I shoot a minimum of 500 VT every trip.


Glass should be 6.5x20, 6x24 etc. No fixed power glass. If you don't already own good glass, buy used, but buy those with a lifetime warranty. Luepold, Bushnell, Burris etc.

Currently there is a Rem 700 223 AI listed on Accurate Shooter.com. Seller has a great rep. If I didn't already have more stuff than I can shoot I'd be on it like a duck on a junebug.


That's probably enough for now.

Rick
What Rick said! We shoot .223, .204, .17 Fireball (nearly extinct), and .17 HMR. The wife and I take one of each of the above for each of us..........and lots of ammo. I'd rather bring some home than run out!
 

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Lots of good advice from everyone agree 22 LR is pretty much worthless for PD's if you want to shoot many of them, 17 HMR is minimum. Do like to shoot a AR15 IN 223 with a 18 inch barrel with 40 or 50 grain V-max bullet. If you want to save your AR brass E & L makes a rigid AR15 brass catcher that have been using for years holds up to 80 rounds of brass no problems just dump when full.

Picture of catcher

 

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These guys won't steer you wrong. I have been once....because I took a few rifles along on a vacation to MT a few years ago...so I'm still a rookie. I'll be going on a dedicated trip in about 3 weeks.
I'm taking .223,.221fireball,20VT,20tac,and a .204 roger. My 260ai will probably go to just for the hell of it in case I want to shoot way out there.
Keep an eye out for Cabelas sales, they have the 12fv on sale now and then for $319 roughly then you get a $100 rebate from Savage. I bought 2 at Christmas time in .204 and 6.5 creedmoore.....wish I had made them both .204. But for $219 a pop after rebate it ain't gonna get any cheaper than that.. put a nice one piece rail on it and your choice of scope.
I put a one piece rail on most of mine just in case I need to swap scopes for some reason all I have to do is pop it on another rifle and rezero if need be....cause crap happens!
 

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I have shot them with just about every rifle I have from rimfire to a wildcat 50 caliber based on the 300 rum. Something based on the 223 case usually works really well and is cheap to shoot. 308 works but unless you are shooting 110s and are fairly close a higher velocity smaller caliber gives better air time.

When I go to Montana to shoot I usually take a 22lr for shooting from the truck into the ditches but not much else

Suppressed doesn't keep the dogs up much longer when you are sending super sonic cracks over their heads and blowing up mounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the info guys. I'll be reading and re-reading through your posts. Seeing as this is my first trip I'll probably try to keep it simple, maybe take the AR and a bolt 223. Probably better to get accustomed to one caliber and how it is behaving in the wind than an assortment.

As the suppressed shooting, good point about the sonic cracks, but at least it will be more pleasant for us! :)
 

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Seeing as this is my first trip I'll probably try to keep it simple, maybe take the AR and a bolt 223. Probably better to get accustomed to one caliber and how it is behaving in the wind than an assortment.
I know most of the guys who've responded and don't have much to add, except to affirm that they've all "been there, done that" many times and are steering you right. Your plan to pare it down to one caliber for your first trip makes a lot of sense and simplifies things in terms of both ammo and cleaning supplies.

Instead of trying to "buck" the wind with a bigger caliber or faster bullet, you need to learn to read the wind and hold off accordingly, as someone else mentioned. I take along a set of homemade cross-sticks with a 2-3 foot strip of surveyor's tape tied to the top. When you set up your table, set up your windflag 10-15 feet in front of it. It's almost always so dry and dusty out there that between the flag and the dust kicked up by a miss, you'll be able to tell how to hold off. The wind tends to be pretty steady in terms of both direction and speed, so after a while you should get more first-shot kills.

Have fun!
 

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Going over the replies, one question that is unanswered was the 6 Creed.
Iirc, a good bud who has taught a couple hundred K rodents to fly told me they would wgt their 22-250 & AI to high mid teens and still couldn't see the launches...
Sooo, the 6 Creed would be out with that parameter.
Maybe consider the heat strips to monitor bbl temp, full length heat deflectors for bbl mirage. Also a method for cooling your bbls. Take enough brushes. They're small and will always be used. On If you want some time proven cooling methods, pm me and I'll hook you up.
OBTW Welcome to the board.
 

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Maybe consider the heat strips to monitor bbl temp,
Here's what I ordered prior to my trip back in late May. These register temps from 86 to 140. I found posts on several boards suggesting you let the barrel cool when the temp hits about 120. Number of shots to hit that temp will vary based on caliber, barrel weight, ambient temp and other factors. These strips were easy to read and seem pretty durable. Without something like this, you're just guessing. I have a hand-held IR thermometer, but that's just one more thing to keep up with.
 

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Something else just came to mind. Since you have plenty of time to plan for this I would urge you to plan for a minimum of three rifles. From the size of the planned group I'm guessing you expect to be out there several days. Speaking from experience you should expect to have at least one malfunction. It might be a scope, rifle or ammo. Could even be all three. If you get into a good town you will quickly heat a barrel past where you want to be. If it is a really good one two barrels will heat quickly. It's not hard to have three or more, on a hot day, get too hot to shoot. When you read about folks shooting 300+ rounds per day, divide that up into hours, water breaks and such and you will see that it's a lot of shots per hour. I never go with less than four, usually five.

I'll think of more if this conversation continues.

Rick
 

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IF you have it, take a .22 LR handgun - there will be targets of opportunity when driving through big dog towns - vermin control can be a 35 yard shot as well as 330 yards.

You gotta watch for them no-shoulder fellows as an aroused rattlesnake won't care whether you are a prairie dog... or uninvited guest.

Stay hydrated and have fun....an after-action report IS required.

Best.
 

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Here's what I ordered prior to my trip back in late May. These register temps from 86 to 140. I found posts on several boards suggesting you let the barrel cool when the temp hits about 120. Number of shots to hit that temp will vary based on caliber, barrel weight, ambient temp and other factors. These strips were easy to read and seem pretty durable. Without something like this, you're just guessing. I have a hand-held IR thermometer, but that's just one more thing to keep up with.
Thanks for that I just ordered some of those! I also went ahead and got the 140-192 as well.
 

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I guess it's not essential, but for a group the size you're planning it sure is nice to have a couple of guys who not only know how to cook, they even enjoy it. It's not all about the beer, pretzels and jerky. :D

 

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Heat

I use my fingers for heat strips. If I can't leave 'em on the barrel, it's time to switch guns. That would almost always be the barrel of the gun Julie's shooting. :D
 

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Also, forget the 308, for this it's worse than worthless. 223 is good. I don't particularly care for the AR's, but that's just me. My friends like them. I suggest nothing larger than a 223.

Rick
What he said! My son wanted to take an AR - but he wasn't buying the ammo! On my first trip, my brothers buddy wanted to tag along but had no rifle so he borrowed one - in .270! Good thing he got sick and had to cancel. I could only imagine what it would be like being next to that cannon all day!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
What he said! My son wanted to take an AR - but he wasn't buying the ammo! On my first trip, my brothers buddy wanted to tag along but had no rifle so he borrowed one - in .270! Good thing he got sick and had to cancel. I could only imagine what it would be like being next to that cannon all day!
I imagine the potential for chewing up a LOT of ammo is there with an AR; one would need to be disciplined. Also I am going to order some of those heat strips for me and other members of the group.
 

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Going over the replies, one question that is unanswered was the 6 Creed.
Iirc, a good bud who has taught a couple hundred K rodents to fly told me they would wgt their 22-250 & AI to high mid teens and still couldn't see the launches...
Sooo, the 6 Creed would be out with that parameter.
Maybe consider the heat strips to monitor bbl temp, full length heat deflectors for bbl mirage. Also a method for cooling your bbls. Take enough brushes. They're small and will always be used. On If you want some time proven cooling methods, pm me and I'll hook you up.
OBTW Welcome to the board.
By that do you mean weighting the rifle down?

I think ultimately my original post boils down to the recoil of the 6mm CM, and whether it was too much for this application. With muzzle brake or suppressor on a very heavy rifle I wondered if the recoil could be tamed to still be able to see hits. It is sounding like no, and that other 6mm rounds could serve well.

The problem with a lot of the more specialized rounds is that I do not reload; it's just not in the cards and that is unlikely to change in the next year. So my preference has always been to stick to a few widely available factory rounds; in fact all of my rifles to date are 223 and 308. A 6mm would be a departure from that, whether in PPC, XC, .243, etc. and I would need to stick to something with available factory loads. I'm still considering all of these options.

Well, since you aren't going until next June you have some time to kick this around.

I've been going west since 2001. Everybody won't agree with my POV and that's fine, but I do have some experience and I know a little.....I can guess the rest.
Since you are going with twelve you will be spread out. A decent outfitter won't put you all together, but even so it's likely most of your shots will be over 100 yards, probably well over. Forget the 22LR, but you might consider a 17HMR. Also, forget the 308, for this it's worse than worthless. 223 is good. I don't particularly care for the AR's, but that's just me. My friends like them. I suggest nothing larger than a 223. Everything else heats up the barrel too quick. Consider a 204 Ruger in a Savage. If you reload, get a used one and consider a prechambered barrel from Criterion or Shilen. Check with Northland Shooter Supply. Consider all the 20 cals. 20 Vartarg is sweet. I shoot a minimum of 500 VT every trip.


Glass should be 6.5x20, 6x24 etc. No fixed power glass. If you don't already own good glass, buy used, but buy those with a lifetime warranty. Luepold, Bushnell, Burris etc.

Currently there is a Rem 700 223 AI listed on Accurate Shooter.com. Seller has a great rep. If I didn't already have more stuff than I can shoot I'd be on it like a duck on a junebug.


That's probably enough for now.

Rick
The guy coordinating the trip has been in touch with the outfitter, and reports that most of the shots this season in June have been between 150-300yds, perfect AR territory. However, the same guy coordinating says on his trip 2 years ago there was almost nothing inside 500yds and that he didn't kill a single PD with his AR, but resorted almost exclusively to his .308. I am not sure how successful he was. So I am hearing a lot of conflicting first-hand accounts, and I guess a lot of it has to do with how things are at the time and place.

As for optics, I have a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56 on the .308 right now that I will move over to the AR or bolt gun if I get one. For a second or even third rifle I'll have to get additional optics.

I know most of the guys who've responded and don't have much to add, except to affirm that they've all "been there, done that" many times and are steering you right. Your plan to pare it down to one caliber for your first trip makes a lot of sense and simplifies things in terms of both ammo and cleaning supplies.

Instead of trying to "buck" the wind with a bigger caliber or faster bullet, you need to learn to read the wind and hold off accordingly, as someone else mentioned. I take along a set of homemade cross-sticks with a 2-3 foot strip of surveyor's tape tied to the top. When you set up your table, set up your windflag 10-15 feet in front of it. It's almost always so dry and dusty out there that between the flag and the dust kicked up by a miss, you'll be able to tell how to hold off. The wind tends to be pretty steady in terms of both direction and speed, so after a while you should get more first-shot kills.

Have fun!
I have to confess I am something of a data geek and have accumulated some gear that I'll be bringing along. I actually have a kestrel w/ ballistics but I am not sure how practical that will be out in the PD fields; we'll have to see. Another uber-geeky thing I have is this:



On top of the scope is a Radius rangefinder by SWR. It has been great so far. On the phone is the data for the Kestrel.
 
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