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The Best AR-15 Calibers For Predator Hunting (Page 2)

Here is a look at several of the mainstream predator-hunting cartridge options for the AR-15 platform.

.223 WSSM
There are a very limited number of manufacturers making AR-15s in the Winchester Super Short cartridges, so options are few. The future availability for the ammo is also in question, as Winchester and Browning no longer make guns in any of the WSSM cartridges. My guess is that it is just a matter of time before Winchester Ammo decides to drop the cartridges from its lineup of factory ammo.

Now that I have completely discouraged you, let me point out that the .223 WSSM has the potential to be the best coyote cartridge available in an AR.

I said before that I think the best rifle for coyote hunting is the AR-15. But the best cartridge is something else. I much prefer a .22-250 Remington or a .220 Swift, which for the most part are not AR-15 cartridges. While at least one company, Olympic Arms, is offering a .22-250 in an AR, the lower has to be modified, so you cannot just use your gun and add the upper. But they also make ARs in .223 WSSM. Factory loads drive a 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip bullet at 3850 fps. If you handload, it can move a 50-grain bullet well over 4000 fps. Those are serious coyote hunting ballistics that will stomp them flat where they stand.

.243 WSSM
The .243 is similar to what I said about the .223 WSSM, just with bigger bullets. The 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip goes 4000 fps. It’s tough on coyotes, to be sure.

6.5 Grendel
Designed by Bill Alexander from Alexander Arms, the 6.5 Grendel is designed for precision work and has gained a following with long-range shooters. But it turns out it’s also a very good coyote cartridge.

Ammo is offered by Alexander Arms, Hornady and Wolf, so availability is not an issue. Hornady has a 123-grain A-Max bullet that moves at 2620 fps. I have shot some coyotes with this load and it killed them just fine in spite of the bullet being designed for targets and not hunting. Bill Alexander says he has had the best luck on coyotes with his ammo using a 100-grain Berger bullet around 2800 fps. Handloaders can push a 90-grain Speer TNT bullet close to 2900 fps.
My rifle is a delight to hunt with; the diminutive package weighs only 5.25 pounds. It features a thin, 16-inch fluted barrel. The gun is just the ticket for calling in close cover where a small rifle is easy to maneuver. Also, a lot of my winter calling is done while wearing snowshoes, so every pound less I have to carry is a blessing.

6.8 SPC
The 6.8 SPC is a confusing cartridge with a varied history and fanatic disciples. Just writing about the 6.8 SPC in an honest article will bring down the wrath of the keyboard ninjas of the secret society of the Internet forum.

As far as I can tell, there are currently four different chamber designs for the 6.8 SPC. But this is subject to change because of a never-ending quest to make this cartridge perform beyond the rules of physics.

Many of the reported results on the Web and other places are from loads that exceed safe SAAMI-accepted pressure standards. I’ll limit my discussion here to the SAAMI-accepted chambering and the mainstream ammo products that are loaded to the accepted pressure standards.

The 6.8 SPC was designed to bring a bit more hitting power to the AR-15 for military applications, but the government took a pass. It lives on as a hunting and self-defense cartridge. It uses a .270-caliber bullet, which is probably right on the tipping point between predator cartridges and big-game cartridges.

The Hornady load with a 110-grain V-Max bullet has an MV of 2550 fps from a 16-inch barrel. The few coyotes I have shot with this load played by the rules and politely fell. While my experience with the 6.8 on predators is limited compared to some of the other cartridges, I think this would be a good choice, particularly for hunters looking for a dual-use cartridge.

Predator hunters were using ARs long before it became “cool,” and I suspect that with the ever-expanding cartridge and ammo options they will be using it well after the fad has faded. With the right cartridge it’s simply the best choice.

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2 Responses to The Best AR-15 Calibers For Predator Hunting (Page 2)

Mike wrote:
September 27, 2013

/\ Gee, I wonder if he likes the 6.8, haha!

6.8 Keyboard Ninja wrote:
May 05, 2013

Bryce, Instead of fostering an academic discussion through questions and research, an especially classy alternative would be to imply that all 6.8 SPC owners are keyboard ninjas and lunatics trying to defy the laws of physics. After ten minutes of online reading, (I believe) the four chamberings are a result of Remington submitting the 'wrong' dimensions to SAAMI. The various chambers differ mostly in throat dimensions, freebore and leade, and tactical and handloaded 'hot' loads can be shot through any of the three newer chamber designs. Seeing the confusion, an objective writer might use a more popular military/civilian caliber with similar chamber variation as an analogy for the 6.8 SPC. That objective writer might already have explained the difference between .223 Remington and the 5.56mm military round earlier in his column, so that the uninformed do not injure themselves or damage their rifle by shooting 5.56 tactical loads through a .223 chamber. That writer might even include information about the .223 Wylde chamber (and several other variations) and note that the freebore and leade differences are exactly analogous to the differences in 6.8 SPC chambers. That important information would then be available to prospective consumers and new 6.8 SPC owners and would keep everyone safer and better informed. But somewhere between multiple .223, .308 and 6.8mm chambers, it just gets too complicated and much easier to invite the wrath of the keyboard ninjas. Here's a hint: internet wrath is invited not by criticism of a particular caliber, but by poor and lazy research, subjective opinions, and personal attacks. Sincerely, John Fritzke