Building the Ultimate Coyote Gun

What does it take to create the ultimate rifle or shotgun for hunting coyotes?

Building the Ultimate Coyote Gun

Ask predator hunters about the best rifle, shotgun and ammunition and you'll get myriad answers ranging from "Anything that works" to "This souped-up stud that drops 'em dead right there!"

And that's fine, too. Not a single problem with either of those thoughts or anything in between. Everyone's tastes are different.

Some waterfowl hunters want a 3 1/2-inch semi-autoloader and ammo reaches out to the heavens. Others prefer calling them in closer to knock down with their old A5 and 3-inch steel. Ditto for turkey hunters and deer hunters. Even upland bird hunters have preferences.

I love all of it, too. I love the manufacturers pumping out ammo, guns, optics, chokes and accessories and the guys who are traditionalists with their 40-year-old guns, leather sling and favorite ammo. Variety makes the world go round.

If you're a predator hunter, you're probably in the in-between camp seeking something that might reach out in open country or a shotgun load for thick cover. Perhaps a scope for your modern sporting rifle. A specific choke and ammo. There's nothing wrong with trying to improve what you have, unless perchance you're just locked-in dead-set on what has worked and don't have any desire to change.

I used to hunt turkeys with a guy who carried an old, beat-up Browning humpback 12-gauge and 3-inch lead No. 5 shells. He didn't care about the latest and greatest because what he had worked. He killed a lot of turkeys. He also was a savvy woodsman and solid caller. Both of those contributed a lot, of course, but he still had to put them on the ground — and did.

If you're going to build the ultimate coyote rifle or shotgun, though, you need these things:

Know Your Ammo

Testing ammunition is expensive but nececessary to ensure the best results. What brand or grain for your friend with the same rifle might not, for whatever reason, work best for yours. I'm talking about accuracy and precision on target out to whatever your acceptable range is, because that's what matters. Summer predator hunting is tough with the heat so it's a good time to head to the range. Load up your gear, call some buddies, maybe split the cost on different ammuntion so everyone can try some, and see what works best.

Get the Right Choke

This is for shotguns, of course, but it's important to dial in this element of your gear. You want the pellets to hit the target — the coyote or bobcat — and not scatter like hornets after bumping their nest. Whether that's with a load of buckshot or other ammunition, testing this at your acceptable range is critical. If you have a hankering for a new choke and pattern, Carlson Choke Tubes, Trulock and Kicks offer chokes specifically made for predators. You also could get one specially made if you're of the mind to do so.

What Stock Works Best?

Obviously, the answer to that question is whatever works best. However, you may want to accessorize your modern sporting rifle with an adjustable stock. That gives you options for cold- and hot-weather apparel. You may be able to switch the stock on your bolt-action rifle or shotgun for an adjustable model, too. If you travel to other states, be sure to check regulations about adjustable stocks or those with pistol grips. It's easy today to find stocks for just about anything from hunting to PRS from Stocky's Stocks, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks and others.

The Barrel's Important

You don't have to have a molecularly cryo-frozen soupled-up barrel or something honed with deer antler and a voodoo chant. But you want to make sure the ammo you're shooting works properly. If you're shooting a 3 1/2-inch shotgun you don't want to put in 3-inch shells and have the shot cup possibly get akimbo in the chamber. That could throw off the pattern. You also want to make sure your barrel is seated properly and there are no internal flaws. A bit much? Perhaps. But if accuracy is your goal it never hurts to check everything.

If you have switched barrels, make triple-sure that everything is aligned. Several years ago I was hog and turkey hunting in Texas with the then-new Mossberg Flex 12-gauge shotgun. After limiting on two Rio gobblers I switched the barrel to shoot slugs for hogs. I missed a giant boar, the biggest the guide said he'd ever seen on the ranch and the biggest I'd ever seen, with a chip-shot as it was crossing a road. At the range we couldn't get it dialed in. After head-scratching, I realized I didn't seat the barrel properly but didn't notice my mistake. My mistake. That made me furious at myself, cost me a giant boar and taught me a valuable lesson.

Whatever you're shooting — rifle or shotgun — check the barrel, screws, stock, rails, everything.

About Those Optics

It's hard to beat a traditional 3-9x40, perhaps the most popular hunting riflescope size ever made, for predator rifles. It works for everything from elk and moose to coyotes and varmints. I can't and won't tell you that X-brand is the best for two main reasons: I haven't tried all the 3-9x40 scopes on the market, and your budget likely will dictate what you buy. From Swarovski, Meopta and Burris to Riton, Styrka and Bushnell, you have a plethora of choices.

Build Your Custom Rifle

If you're of the mind for a new, nifty and cool rifle that you create, visit the Shaw Custom Barrels site to create a traditional bolt-action or modern sporting rifle. Scads of calibers are available for varmints, predators and big game. The builders have decades of experience and everything is hands-on, from the raw steel to final check before shipping. Quality control is a popular catchphrase with some companies but it's one of the bedrock foundations at Shaw.

Whether you want a rimfire, something like the .300 Ham'R for hogs and big game, the popular 6.5 Creed or something else, Shaw offers it. With more than 100 years of barrel-making experience, you won't regret the investment.


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