The Top 5 Coyote Hunting Cartridges

   02.24.22

Wile E’s Worst Nightmare: The Top 5 Coyote Hunting Cartridges

If you’ve ever seen groups of deer walking around with one or several of them having bloody legs and haunches then you’ve likely also seen coyotes wandering around in the same areas. While there is no one simple answer to the coyote population issue, one thing for certain is that in certain areas coyotes are often feeding on or attacking either our own livestock or wild animals that we hunt or trap for meat and fur. Coyotes are also insanely popular for their pelts which can be harvested and sold for reasonable prices compared to other small game pelts. In certain states, bounties still are paid for controlling the numbers of this prolific varmint.  Coyote hunting is something that I think most Americans are familiar with but that doesn’t mean that a lot of people out there still think they can get away with simply using 22LR for all of their varmint and pest species dispatching. Today we’ll go over my top 5 coyote hunting cartridges.

Wile E’s Worst Nightmare: The Top 5 Coyote Hunting Cartridges

Wile E's Worst Nightmare: The Top 5 Coyote Hunting Cartridges
Wile E’s Worst Nightmare: The Top 5 Coyote Hunting Cartridges

If you’re new to coyote hunting or want some basic refreshers, we have a great article in our archives on that exact subject.

coyote hunting

1. Hornady Superformance .17 Hornet 15.5-grain NTX

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Hornady Superformance .17 Hornet 15.5-grain NTX

Speed Kills

For top-notch rifle ammo, get Hornady Superformance Centerfire Rifle Ammunition. The bullets offer a range of features, which can easily be controlled. This company has remained popular over the years because of the reliable ammo they produce, known for its deep penetration. They are also compatible with most pistols that are used today. The 15.5-grain projectile shoots extremely fast and extremely flat which is very useful for nailing those pesky yotes that have been around for a couple of seasons and like to keep their distance from you.

Pros/Flat shooting

Cons/High cost per round

Bottom Line/A great all-around choice if you’re aim is population control or pelt collecting

2. Federal Premium Fusion 62-grain .223 Remington

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Federal Premium Fusion 62-grain .223 Remington

Molecular science meets ballistics, and the result is Federal Premium Fusion Rifle Ammo – the next generation of high-performance hunting ammo. Years in the making, Fusion bonds the copper jacket to the lead core at the molecular level to totally eliminate component separation. The result is a superior downrange transfer of terminal energy and outstanding bullet weight retention. These rounds will most assuredly blow right through a coyote at reasonable ranges (provided you don’t hit any of its bigger bones) and that feature makes it perfect for furbearers. A perfect pairing with your favorite AR-15. As a coincidence, 223 would also be my selection for a good all-around cartridge as its affordable, and has a wide variety of bullet selections to choose from depending on your desired task.

Pros/Bonded copper/lead projectile ensures minimal damage to pelts

Cons/Poor Shot placement runs the risk of your prey running off

Bottom Line/The perfect cartridge for those heavily focused on harvesting Coyote pelts

3. Federal American Eagle Varmint & Predator 308 Winchester 130-grain JHP

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Federal American Eagle Varmint & Predator 308 Winchester 130-grain JHP

With outstanding terminal ballistics and explosive expansion at the impact site, these Federal American Eagle Rounds are specifically constructed to eliminate your Varmint and Predator concerns, at a fantastic value. By combining accuracy, reliability, and consistency shot after shot, this Ammo is a must-have for avid hunters and high-volume shooters. If you’ve got a pack or two of coyotes attacking your livestock, this stuff will give you the extra range you need to clear them out as they retreat.

Pros/Extended Range, Great stopping power on this small of a Target

Cons/Expensive, Requires a larger, often heavier/expensive rifle to use. Will cause far more damage to pelts

Bottom Line/Great for clearing out pest populations of Coyotes at any Range

4. Federal Game-Shok 22 WMR

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Federal Game-Shok 22 WMR

Federal Game-Shok Rimfire Ammo delivers consistent accuracy and terminal performance for small game hunting, as well as plinking, varmint hunting, and informal target shooting. Federal’s advanced manufacturing technology eliminates variables that cause inconsistencies in priming, propellant, and projectiles. Copper-plated lead bullets minimize fouling in barrels and are also excellent at retaining mass while expanding. If you’re hunting coyotes in a more crowded situation, the decreased report of the 22 WMR cartridge makes for a more comfortable pack elimination tool at ranges of about 150 yards or less.

Pros/Economical – perfect for thinning out packs of Coyotes or collecting pelts

Cons/Limited on range, Requires excellent shot placement

Bottom Line/A great inexpensive all-around cartridge for closer ranges

5. Wolf WPA Polyformance 7.62x39mm HP 123-Grain

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Wolf WPA Polyformance 7.62x39mm HP 123-Grain

The King of Budget Coyote Culling

7.62x39mm has exploded in popularity over the years and I know from personal experience that a lot of ranchers who have a lot of pests to control love this stuff because it’s cheap, reliable, works in a lot of different guns, and can kill everything from groundhogs to wolves with ease. These hollow points will provide some expansion which will knock down a coyote flat with a vitals shot, but at the same time, it won’t do so much damage as to ruin the pelt. This is another good “all-around” option and I find it quite ironic that two of the most popular semi-automatic rifle cartridges also happen to be really good all-around coyote hunting cartridges.

Pros/Great all-around performance with great characteristics for either those looking to cull or for those looking for petls

Cons/None

Bottom Line/Cheap, accurate, reliable, and deadly.

Are FMJ or Hollow Point bullets better for Coyote Hunting?

This will entirely depend on your goal. In general, Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) projectiles are great for punching through a target. This has two benefits. Usually, FMJ ammunition is cheaper than their comparable hollow points, and secondarily, FMJ bullets are more likely to pass clean through a target without creating a ghastly exit wound which would most assuredly ruin the pelt. FMJ projectiles that don’t expand or shatter on impact are much better for those looking to collect pelts.

Meanwhile, expanding bullets, hollow points, or fracturing ammunition is much better for those who aren’t so much worried about collecting pelts but are instead looking to clear out a local pest population of coyotes.

Are Coyotes a pest Species?

This is somewhat of a complicated question and will largely depend on where you live. Coyotes have surpassed the survivability of the North American Wolf in many respects. North Americans have been hunting coyotes for nearly as long as we’ve occupied the continent and despite this, coyotes continue to find new niches to fill. In many parts of the country, however, coyotes live harmoniously with the other local species. For hunters, homesteaders, farmers, and ranchers, coyotes have become pests as they often attack small and large livestock a lot including cows despite them being much larger than their normal diet of small rodents. Most often, these populations are part of an invasive species and often need to be culled quickly before they overpopulated the area.

How much are Coyote Pelts worth?

You probably aren’t going to get filthy rich off of selling Coyote pelts but if you have a pest population, it could be a good way to take care of an immediate problem and make your money back on the time and ammunition spent. Typically, Coyote pelts sell for about $20 for some lower-end samples and up to $100 for high-quality samples that you bring in. These are typically sold at auction in several different conditions but I honestly think they are worth the most when you skin and tan them yourself. I find that keeping them for your friends, family, or yourself is a great way to have meaningful gifts or decorations.

About the Author

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Luke is currently a full-time writer for TheFirearmBlog.com, OvertDefense.com, AllOutdoor.com, and of course, OutdoorHub.com. Luke is a competitive shooter, firearms enthusiast, reloader, outdoorsman, and generally takes an interest in anything that has to do with the great outdoors.
Luke is also a private certified pilot and is currently pursuing his commercial pilot’s license in the hopes of becoming a professional pilot. Some of Luke’s other interests include anything to do with aviation, aerospace and military technology, and American Conservancy efforts.
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