Browning T-Bolt Target/Varmint: Recently introduced to the shooting public, the new Browning T-Bolt series has arrived with both synthetic- and wood-stocked models. For my use, I like the T-Bolt Target/Varmint with its clean-looking design and heavier barrel, which is ideal for the rimfire shooters. I am partial to wood-stocked guns, so naturally the wood T-Bolt, with its medium target-contoured barrel, adjustable trigger and match chamber, is most to my liking.
Browning X-Bolt: Moving up along the price index, we find the very handsome Browning X-Bolt. Chambered for the .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington, and based on Browning’s Super Short Action, the X-Bolt is almost field ready right out of the box. Simply tune the adjustable trigger, attach Browning’s new X-Lock mounting system (with four mounting screws on each base rather than two) and a good scope, and you are good to go.
Browning X-Bolt Varmint Stalker: For those who like to sit and snipe at varmints from a camouflaged position, Browning provides the X-Bolt Varmint Stalker, a gun made for the four-season hunter, complete with a stout barrel and synthetic stock.
Browning A-Bolt Micro Hunter: What made Browning famous is the A-Bolt. Here, again, the choices are lengthy. For woods game like the flighty squirrel, the A-Bolt Micro Hunter, chambered in .22 Hornet, is a winner.
Browning A-Bolt Target: Moving on, you have the 28-inch-barreled A-Bolt Target (in .223 Remington).
Browning B-78: Over the years, I’ve grieved over the fact that I couldn’t find the long-discontinued Browning B-78. Well, it was brought out in limited numbers, and I got one. In .223 Remington, it will group under an inch at 100 yards and is a pleasure to use in the field.
Kimber 84M Classic Select Grade: Over the years, Kimber has made a real effort to satisfy the wishes of small-game hunters. The result is the company’s extensive line of Model 84M short-action rifles fitted with select wood, weather-resistant laminates or durable synthetic stocks and chambered for hard-hitting varmint cartridges. Models include the Classic Select Grade in .223 Remington; the Varmint in .204 Ruger; the Pro Varmint in .204 Ruger, .223 and .22-250 Remington; and the popular SVT in the .223 Remington (next photos).
Kimber 84M Varmint
Kimber 84M Pro Varmint
Kimber 84M SVT
Remington Model 700 SPS Camo: I’ve always had good luck with Remington products, and stacked on my gun rack beside several of the company’s production guns are a few Custom Shop guns. Among Remington’s most recent varmint offering is the Model 700 SPS Camo in the “Compact” version chambered for the .223 Remington. Decked out in a Mossy Oak Break-Up pattern, the stock features overmolded panels for a secure grip regardless of the weather.
Remington Model 700 Varmint SF: Other Remington varmint rifles include the Varmint Stainless Fluted (SF), which features a heavier barrel with flutes to keep it cool while reducing overall carry weight.
Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint: The Model 700 Special Purpose Synthetic (SPS) Varmint is chambered in .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington and .223 Remington and has a 26-inch-long, heavy-contoured barrel.
Remington Model 700 VLS: Finally, among Remington’s lineup of varmint rifles is one of my favorites, the heavy-barreled, two-tone-laminate Model 700 Varmint Laminated Stock (VLS). Mine is chambered for the 6mm Remington (which is no longer made) and has a black forend tip to complement the whole rig. If it’s any testament to the accuracy of Remington’s rifles, my handloaded VLS will punch three holes downrange to create a touching group measuring just 0.25 inches.
Ruger No.1 218 Bee: When Bill Ruger Sr. was alive and running the Ruger plant, sporting rifles were available in such a long list of cartridges that you had to the take time to sit down to read about them. Today, with a new crew at the helm, the sporting line has been significantly trimmed, and the classic .218 Bee (pictured) and .220 Swift are no longer featured on Ruger’s list of centerfire rifles, bolt or otherwise.
Remington Model 77/22: With the Model 77/22, you get a bolt-action rimfire rifle with a rotary magazine. Available in walnut and synthetic versions, the 77/22 comes chambered in .22 LR, .22 WMR and the high-stepping .22 Hornet.
Ruger M77 Hawkeye: The Ruger M77 Hawkeye is a somewhat modified version of the 77/22, featuring a slimmer design, most notably in the forend.
Ruger Predator: Even more handy are the .223 Remington Compact and a rifle Ruger calls the Predator. With its tri-colored laminate stock, the Predator is chambered for the .204 Ruger, .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington. Specially designed for varmint hunting, it comes equipped with a two-stage adjustable target trigger, a stainless action and, like all other Ruger rifles, a set of Ruger rings.
Ruger M77 Mark II Target: If you like heavy-barreled guns, the Ruger M77 Mark II Target rifle may be for you. Sporting a full-length laminate stock, the Mark II features Ruger’s unique two-stage trigger, the famed Mauser-type bolt action and plenty of extras to keep the dedicated varmint hunter happy. I for one like this gun so much that I had it re-chambered for the .220 Weatherby Rocket. The Rocket is now defunct, having given way tothe .220 Swift, but chambering it brought back memories of when Roy Weatherby had this cartridge in his lineup.
Savage Arms Model 11 Hunter XP: For those who are just starting out in varmint hunting, the 22-inch-barreled Model 11 Hunter XP, coming complete with a Nikon scope and chambered in .204 Ruger, .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington, offers customers great value for their hard-earned dollars.
Savage Arms Model 11 Lightweight Hunter: For your son or daughter along for the hunt, Savage offers the 20-inch-barreled Model 11 Lightweight Hunter chambered in .223 Remington. It includes a wood stock and weighs just 5.5 pounds.
Savage Arms Model 10 Predator: The Model 10 Predator has a Realtree camo synthetic stock, a 24-inch fluted barrel and Savage Arms’ world-famous AccuTrigger.
Savage Arms Model 12 LRPV: The unique Model 12 LRPV features a right-handed bolt action with a left-side ejection port, enabling you to reload the rifle with your left hand and hold the same position for repeat shots downrange.
Savage Arms Model 12 Varmint Low Profile: A special Model 12 Varminter Low Profile, chambered in the popular .224 Remington as well as the classic .22 Hornet, has a classic styled stock with a wide forearm for “benchresting” in the field. Like all of the guns in the Varmint series, it comes equipped with the Savage AccuTrigger for a crisp, light, nearly-two-stage trigger pull.
Savage Arms Model 25 Lightweight Varminter: Finally, we come to the Model 25 Lightweight Varmint series, available in three models: traditional classic, unique thumbhole and what Savage calls a “Walking Varminter” in black synthetic. In addition to the .22 Hornet and .223 Remington, the Model 25 Lighweight series is chambered for the .17 Hornet, which launches a 20-grain bullet at 3,650 fps.
Weatherby VarmintMaster: Years back, Weatherby offered a perfectly designed short-action varmint rifle chambered for the company’s .224 Weatherby Magnum called the VarmintMaster. Sadly, both the gun and the cartridge were overshadowed by Remington’s .22-250 and have since been discontinued. I love the VarmintMaster and use it whenever I can in the field.
Weatherby Vanguard: The VarmintMaster gone, the Weatherby Vanguard has taken over as the company’s bread and butter series. At the forefront is the next-generation Series 2, which comes with a match-quality, two-stage trigger, a three-position safety and a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. With a synthetic stock, the Vanguard Varmint Special has a 22-inch, #3-contour barrel and is chambered for the customary .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington. An interesting variation is the Vanguard Series 2 Range Certified (RC) Varmint, which comes with a wide and ventilated forearm, a 22-inch barrel, a CNC-machined aluminum bedding plate, an “RC”-engraved floorplate and a test target signed by Ed Weatherby himself.
Winchester Coyote Light: With its main factory in New Haven, Connecticut, having been shut down and the company having merged with Browning, Winchester has limited its production of dedicated small-game rifles to a single model called the Coyote Light. With a textured Bell & Carlson stock with forend vents, an aluminum bedding block tied to Model 70 action and a fluted, medium-heavy barrel, the Coyote Light is built for enhanced accuracy. Features abound, including controlled feeding with a blade-type ejector, a recessed target crown on the 24-inch barrel and a refined trigger. Presently, it is only available in .22-250 Remington.
For me, varmint hunting is the one sport that can be done at all times of the year. Best of all, however, is a balmy summer’s afternoon. Spotting a woodchuck on the north 40 on a warm sunny day, in the thick of the season’s green, is to my mind just about the closest thing to heaven on earth. Varmint hunting is a challenge—one seldom had hunting any other kind of game—but with the right rifle, cartridge and scope, and a touch of luck, one rarely ends the day empty-handed. Shooting distances vary, so one’s choice of weaponry can range from the .22 LR to, for taking longer-range shots, the upper echelon of .22-caliber rifles (including the .204 Ruger). It’s always enjoyable to purchase a new varmint hunting rig, so let’s review some rifles as they might pertain to your particular segment of the sport this season.
For more information about the varmint hunting rifles featured above, please visit the following sites.
This article was originally published in “Gun Annual” 2018. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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