Derrick says that when it comes to choosing the “ultimate predator caliber” you first need to think about what you are wanting to do with the animal afterward. Will you be selling the fur or not? Derrick says down in Texas where he hunts that furs aren’t worth much, if anything, so putting a decent sized hole in the fur isn’t a problem. In those instances, where hunters are just trying to knock coyotes down and are relatively unconcerned with the condition of the fur Derrick says that fast, big, heavy .22’s work great. However, in regions of the country where fur is valuable, hunters largely try to be more conscientious of the size of hole they are putting in the hide so that it doesn’t affect the value. In these cases, something like a .22-250 or a 220 Swift have their merits.
Yet another factor to consider when choosing a caliber is handling. You need something you can be consistently proficient with, where you can stay on the scope. Derrick says in predator hunting it’s all about follow up shots and if your gun recoils off your sticks it can leave you fumbling and ill prepared for taking a follow up shot or possibly taking a double if you’ve called in more than one coyote. Reasonable recoil and the ability to quickly swing on your rest to your next target is important.
Your stock also plays a role in all of this and Derrick knows a thing or two about stocks. In addition to making custom rifles, Derrick also heads up a company called iota and they make rifle stocks as well as scope mounts and anti-cant devices. Side bar: It’s okay if you have a little man crush on Derrick, I know I do. He makes guns, stocks and is a bona fide firearm guru – talk about the total package. I might just audition for the role of his new best friend J Anyway…back to stocks. Derrick will talk about how they design their stocks to handle recoil, so you don’t get as much muzzle flip which will ultimately increase your proficiency. He’ll also talk about the benefits of restocking rifles. Derrick notes that predator rifles get used and abused so they have to be tough and while wood stocks are great, that kind of action can tear up a wood stock over time. For that reason, synthetic stocks which last a long time make a lot of sense. Caliber choice is only one piece of the equation, pairing it with a good stock is important and Derrick will explain why and how.
Because predators are often thought of as less significant than their big game counterparts, many times hunters take that same tact with choosing a predator rifle. However, Derrick says that predator rifles shouldn’t be throwaways or cheap after thoughts. In actuality, because of long seasons, this rifle may get far more action than your big game rifle, so it makes sense to invest in something that you’ll be shooting regularly. This holds true for Derrick as he says his predator rifle has all the bells and whistles because it is his go-to gun. Listen in as he explains why you should put some thought and investment into your predator rifle. He’ll highlight the 22 Creedmoor, its performance and the high points of this cartridge. Plus, he’ll dive into the 6.5 Creedmoor, some of the new specialty varmint loads that have recently hit shelves for this popular caliber, and the overall versatility it provides. Derrick notes that many people don’t have several different rifles so if a person is looking for a chameleon that can bounce between big game and predators, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a good go-to.
Sticking around for an extended, two-part interview, Derrick kicks off the second half of our predator caliber talk with a special focus on larger predators like bears. Terrain and country can be determining factors in choosing a large predator caliber. If you are hunting in thick country where you could possibly encounter difficult wind situations, Derrick says that a 6.5 PRC, some of the big 7mm cartridges or even the new .300 PRC are good choices. For closer range situations, big bores like the .375 H&H or .458 are very effective.
The .300 PRC is a relatively new offering to hit the mainstream and it is garnering mixed opinions throughout the gun world. Derrick has built a few custom .300 PRC rifles and he weighs in with his own thoughts. Derrick says that the .300 PRC takes advantage of the heavy 300 bullets, the 212’s and 220’s and sends them screaming at 2800-2900 fps. When it comes to shooting, Derrick says the .300 PRC is reminiscent of your grandfather’s .300 Win Mag, not so much in recoil, but in percussion and notes that it just feels tough. As such, he says he thinks it will be a fantastic big game cartridge. Derrick also says he appreciates how non-sensitive it is and explains the testing they did by varying the powder and the seating depth, but still achieved solid results. While the jury is out on this .300 PRC and will be determined by customer demand among firearm buyers, Derrick says that the .300 PRC is shining a bright light back on the 30 calibers where they have been taking a backseat to a lot of the 7 calibers.
Make sure to listen as Derrick Ratliff, President and Founder of Horizon Firearms dives deep into predator rifles and calibers. Plus, check out their Instagram and Facebook pages to see all of their awesome rifle builds.
Smoke some coyotes