Firepower for Furbearers

Though sometimes frowned upon by meat hunters and some factions of survivalists, a very pragmatic reason for hunting is for pelts. Fur is great for warm winter-time clothing, and while the price of furs rise and fall with supply and demand (as well as international markets), a decent pelt can run anywhere from an average of $300 (bobcat), to $70 (coyote). Smaller critters fetch smaller pelt prices, such as raccoon ($5) and muskrat ($3).

When it comes to shooting furbearers, as opposed to trapping them, size matters. Particularly the size of the rifle cartridge you use. The goal is to find the perfect balance between lethality and pelt damage. Simply put, you don’t want to be hitting your target with a round that is so large it destroys the fur and renders the pelt useless. You also don’t want to use a round that is so small it will fail to deliver a quick and ethical kill. Here are some of our picks for pelters.

.22 Magnum

Inside 100 yards, for game such as coyotes or foxes, this is an excellent cartridge. Usually married to rifles that are a bit more on the compact side of the size chart, the .22 magnum will stop a critter in its tracks, provided that the shooter takes shot placement and distance into account. These bullets do not always exit, even on proper broadside shots, and do not leave a large wound when they do.

.243 Winchester

This cartridge will handle almost any scenario when it comes to wind drift and mid-range shooting. Primarily used by deer and antelope hunters, a 55-grain, .243 bullet can do about 3,900 fps depending on the length of the rifle barrel being used. These rounds have decent ballistic coefficients, which makes them great at close to mid-range distances, though not ideal for long-range shots. While exit wounds are likely when using the .243, they are not large enough to risk damaging a pelt.

.223 Remington

A solid all-around varmint cartridge, made popular by the AR platform of modern sporting rifles, the .223 Remington when paired with such a gun is a great choice for pelters who engage multiple targets at once. A 55-grain bullet will perform perfectly inside 200 yards. This cartridge can also reach out and touch furbearers at distances of up to 500 yards if using something like a 69-grain round out of a longer barrel.

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