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Best Caliber Rifle for SMALL Small Game

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Old 11-01-2017, 05:10 PM
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Default Best Caliber Rifle for SMALL Small Game

My heart's set on a rifle for this, so please don't say "get a shotgun" or
"get an air rifle" lol.
Okay, so I don't handload or reload. I want a rifle (<$500 if at all possible) that shoots accurately with the crosshairs dead-on, no hold-over (sighted in at 70 yards) from 10 yards out to 100 yards, shoots well on inclines (both from the ground high up, and from a treestand down), and won't obliterate a squirrel or crow if I shoot them with it, yet will kill a goose or groundhog.

My current leading candidate is .17HMR. Does anyone have a better suggestion? If at all possible, I want to be able to be accurate enough to take headshots. If not, I want the rifle not to destroy the meat, skins, or feathers (too badly).

Also, can anyone recommend good rifle models and scopes in the caliber they suggest (or .17HMR if you agree with me)? A suggested brand and model of ammo I can buy online would be great too.

Thanks,
Riverhawk
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Old 11-02-2017, 12:25 AM
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17HM2, ammo can be tough to find at times.
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Old 11-02-2017, 02:41 AM
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I grew up with a 22 rim fire and got everything under the sun from squirrel, rabbit, skunk, coon, woodchuck, grouse, fox, etc. Ammo is fair price and easy to find,

As for a model I have a Browning BL22 and a T-bolt. Love them both. The Ruger 10/22 has a lot of people who like them.

Good luck.
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Ridge Runner View Post
17HM2, ammo can be tough to find at times.
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I've actually just done some research on it and essentially decided on it, and specifically on a CZ 452 chambered in that caliber. Which model do you shoot? Do you know a scope that's good for this rifle?

Also, is it accurate enough to take headshots with? Does it shoot well with elevation differences? If not, I may go back to .17HMR
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Old 11-02-2017, 10:29 PM
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Well that didn't take long... 16hrs and decision is made...

The 17HM2 does everything you need, without anything you don't. HM2 ammo, as Ridge mentioned, ain't easy to find, and won't get any easier in the future, since other than CZ, I'm not sure of anyone chambering rifles for the 17HM2 anymore - heck, I was surprised to hear CZ is!

IF you decide away from the HM2, then the Savage 93 in 17HMR would be my go-to choice, but frankly, any 22LR will do what you need (hence the 17HM2 being so suitable). I spent most of my fall so far shooting a 22LR Savage Mark II, plinking out to 300yrds. The CZ is a more accurate rifle, by a touch, but until they make stainless rifles, whenever I'm not competing and can sacrifice just a bit on precision, I favor the Savages.
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Nomercy448 View Post
Well that didn't take long... 16hrs and decision is made...

The 17HM2 does everything you need, without anything you don't. HM2 ammo, as Ridge mentioned, ain't easy to find, and won't get any easier in the future, since other than CZ, I'm not sure of anyone chambering rifles for the 17HM2 anymore - heck, I was surprised to hear CZ is!

IF you decide away from the HM2, then the Savage 93 in 17HMR would be my go-to choice, but frankly, any 22LR will do what you need (hence the 17HM2 being so suitable). I spent most of my fall so far shooting a 22LR Savage Mark II, plinking out to 300yrds. The CZ is a more accurate rifle, by a touch, but until they make stainless rifles, whenever I'm not competing and can sacrifice just a bit on precision, I favor the Savages.
Since I'm going for headshots, I'll probably favor the CZ. Do you think that the .22LR is significantly worse than the .17HM2? Is it flat shooting? Is it accurate dead-on out to 125 yards, sighted in at 80? If yes I might go with an LR for the sake of ammo.
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by riverhawk View Post
My heart's set on a rifle for this, so please don't say "get a shotgun" or
"get an air rifle" lol.
Okay, so I don't handload or reload. I want a rifle (<$500 if at all possible) that shoots accurately with the crosshairs dead-on, no hold-over (sighted in at 70 yards) from 10 yards out to 100 yards, shoots well on inclines (both from the ground high up, and from a treestand down), and won't obliterate a squirrel or crow if I shoot them with it, yet will kill a goose or groundhog.

My current leading candidate is .17HMR. Does anyone have a better suggestion? If at all possible, I want to be able to be accurate enough to take headshots. If not, I want the rifle not to destroy the meat, skins, or feathers (too badly).

Also, can anyone recommend good rifle models and scopes in the caliber they suggest (or .17HMR if you agree with me)? A suggested brand and model of ammo I can buy online would be great too.

Thanks,
Riverhawk
Walmart has a Henry lever action in .22 for $274.00 , And go with .22 CCI 32 grain Stingers hp
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Old 11-03-2017, 08:27 PM
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Savage 93 in 17HMR. You won't regret it. Super accurate and with the money saved you can put a very nice piece of glass on it.

https://grabagun.com/sav-93r17-f-17h...bl-syn-at.html
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Old 11-04-2017, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Tufrthnails View Post
Savage 93 in 17HMR. You won't regret it. Super accurate and with the money saved you can put a very nice piece of glass on it.

https://grabagun.com/sav-93r17-f-17h...bl-syn-at.html
Accurate enough for a headshot on a crow at 100yd sighted in at 80? Essentially, is it going hit a quarter at 100yd if I aim dead on? And I've read about magazine problems; is this mag a necessary investment?

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Old 11-04-2017, 09:07 AM
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Headshots with a .22LR is an ammo selection issue, not typically a rifle issue. Even a Ruger 10/22 or Marlin 60 will be able to do what you are asking in the field. The difference between the CZ, Savage, Marlin, or Ruger in precision will not make any difference at all for headshooting squirrels out to 125yrds. With good ammo and a bench, all of them will succeed, with junk ammo and off hand, none will.

Squirrels don't have big heads, you're talking about a 2" target, which isn't much margin for error when you consider even a 1moa rifle and ammo, then shoot it in the field instead of a bench. Asking for a "Maximum Point Blank Range" of 125yrds from a 1200-2000fps cartridge on a 2" target, for field shooting, just isn't realistic.

That said, you will NOT be able to hold dead on for headshots on a squirrel from zero to 125 yards with a .17HM2 or 22LR. With a 100yard zero in the 17HM2, you'll be an inch high at 60yrds, and 1.8inches low at 125yrds. With an 80yard zero, you'll be an inch low at 100, and 3" low at 125yrds. They just don't have a flat enough trajectory to reach that far with such a small target. You will have to learn to hold over (and under) to make it to 125yrds. Of course, doing so is not difficult - I personally zero at 100yrds, hold the crosshairs sitting at the chin/jaw from 50-75yrds, dead on at 0-50, 75-105, top of the head at 110, inch above the head at 125. If you limit your shots to 100yrds, then an 80yrd zero works, then from 90-100, just hold at the top of the head.

A 22LR only has a Max Point Blank Range - meaning hold dead on and hit target - of about 75yrds for a 2" target, which corresponds to a 65yrd zero. You will HAVE to hold over with a 22LR to get past 75yrds if you're headshooting squirrel, and for it I would zero at 50, then learn to hold for every 10yrds from 70 on out. And of course, you're going to have to shoot premium ammo only, as you're NOT going to get bulk junk ammo to group small enough to make headshots at 125yrds, even if you do know your trajectory.

A .17HMR zeroed at 110yrds will give you a flat enough trajectory to make headshots on squirrels out to about 130-135yrds, but again, you'll be lucky to deliver that kind of precision in the field (2" groups at 130yrds with a rim fire, NOT fired from a bench). The HMR is pretty close to over powered for squirrel, but if you're shooting that far, you'll need that much horsepower to get there.

So if you're dead set on 125 yard headshots and don't want to fuss with trajectory management, then a 17HMR or 17WSM are your only realistic options. Personally, I'd get a 22LR and limit my range, or get a 17HMR and deal with the excessive damage, in that order.
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