I have carried a 22 in the woods for years. On my trapline and while hunting, my 22 has put an end to more varmints than I can count
The best 22 LR ammunition for coyotes is the CCI Stinger, CCI Velocitor, and the Aguila Interceptor. For a 22 magnum, federal Gameshock JHP and CCI Gamepoint are reliable options. For headshots, a copper jacketed round nose bullet will be the most reliable.
Best 22 Ammo for Coyotes
Most hunters familiar with the .22 LR will advise you to use either the CCI Stinger, the CCI Velocitor, or the Aguila Interceptor. These three rounds use the latest in ammunition technologies to produce a more powerful and effective round.
The CCI Stinger is one option most will be familiar with. It has a lightweight, 32-grain hollow point bullet. the advertised velocity is 1600 fps. That’s insane for a .22 LR. The stingers don’t work well with all guns. The brass cartridge is a tiny bit taller than the standard and it causes issues in a gun with a tight-fitting chamber. Nothing dangerous it just might not eject well.
The CCI Velocitor has a heavier 40-grain bullet and is going up to 1400 fps in a rifle. It penetrates better than the stinger, which tends to flatten out quickly. The Velocitor usually has more recommendations from hunters who’ve tried both it and the Stingers
The Aguila Interceptor is on par with the Velocitor, pushing a 40-grain solid bullet around 1400 fps. Aguila is a fine manufacturer of ammunition. It’s still a bit new for some people. Most shooters weren’t buying it until the ammo shortage a few years ago. As people used it, they found they liked it.
22lr is a small, slow bullet. To make your 22 rifle a coyote killing machine, you want a fast bullet. But, you also need a heavier one. A heavy bullet in a 22 works well on coyotes. 40 grains going 1400 fps is actually not too bad for a coyote.
.22 LR, or 22 Magnum for Coyotes?
The 22 is more popular, but the 22 Magnum, sometimes called 22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rifle) is literally twice as powerful. They are both the same caliber, but the magnum, with its higher powder capacity, has a big edge on speed.
The .22 LR (Long Rifle) has been a classic companion of woodsman since it was developed in 1887. The standard bullet weight is 36 grains, but most vary between 32 and 40 grains. This is the most popular cartridge in the US for small game. But it is low-power.
The velocity and energy of the .22 LR are dismal. A standard bullet is a 36-grain bullet going 1260 fps and 127 ft/lbs. of energy. A 40-grain bullet is generally 1080 fps. The Popular MiniMag line from CCI is a hotter load than most, loaded to a bit higher pressure. Still, it’s not very impressive.
The 22 Magnum is a better choice. A 40-grain bullet in a 2 Magnum is generally just under 1900 fps, and over 300 ft/lbs. of energy. It’s a clear winner, but most people don’t have one. If you have a .22 LR, it’s probably going to be what you use. And it will work if you do your part.
Both cartridges will penetrate adequately for a coyote. Ten to twelve inches is all the penetration you need for a pass-through, and they can both do that. I need to clarify one point though. With either of them, you need to wait for a good shot. A good shot is with the animal broadside to you.
If you shoot a coyote at a bad angle, the bullet may have too far to go before reaching the vital organs. Since neither a .22 LR nor the 22 Magnum is very powerful bullets, you need to be a good hunter and pick your shots. Now, if you are trying to get a coyote before he gets in the hen house again, then, by all means, let lead fly. But if you want to recover the animal for its hide, choose your shots.
How Far can I Shoot a Coyote With a 22?
Generally, hunters will advise you to keep all your 22 shots within a hundred yards. Both the .22LR and 22 Magnum are accurate enough to hit a mark at further distances, but they lack the power to do the job. Let’s compare two bullets of the same weight side by side at some distance.
A 40 grain LR and Magnum will be 1235 fps, and 1875 fps at the muzzle. That’s 135 and 312 ft/lbs. of energy. At 100 yards, they are 1385 fps and 992 fps. To clear it up, here’s a table.
|.22 LR||At muzzle||50 yards||100 yards|
I didn’t put it in the table, but at 150 yards, the 22 Magnum is to the velocity the .22 LR starts out at. The most effective distance of the 22 Magnum is within a hundred yards because the bullet drops sharply after that and it’s tricky to compensate for.
With the .22 LR, you should try and keep your shots within 50 yards for the best performance and ballistics. It is low power, very low. but it will do its job if you do yours. Wait for a good shot and get close.
Where to Shoot a Coyote With a 22
You can’t just aim at the animal, that’s not good enough. Like I said before, kiki for a broadside shot for the shortest path into the vitals. The vitals are the upper chest cavity where the heart and lungs are. The heart is directly behind the shoulder blade. The lungs are from the shoulder to 5 inches back.
Your best bet with a 22 is a lung shot. Aim halfway up from the belly, two inches behind the front leg. That’s the sweet spot. A shot outside of the sweet spot may kill it after a while, but it will run and you will likely never find the carcass.
If you want to make a headshot, you need a good rest for your rifle. you can use a bipod, a stump, or a hunting blind window, but you need a rest. You will have to hit a ping pong ball-sized target to kill it with a head shot.
The good news is with a headshot, it can be any angle. For a good headshot, have to know what part of the head to aim at. with a broadside shot, aim in the back crook of the ear, where it meets the skull. If the animal is facing you, it’s even simpler. Aim directly between the eyes.
You can even take a headshot if the animal is facing away from you. If a coyote is back end to you, shoot the head right in the middle, about where the bottom of the ears are.
Should I Use a 22 Pistol or a Rifle for Coyotes?
A rifle has a large ballistic advantage over a pistol. A 22 rifle is approximately 50 percent more powerful in foot-pounds (ft/lbs.) of energy than the same bullet fired out of a pistol. The 40 grain CCI MiniMag that does 1235 fps in a rifle will do about 1000 fps in a 4-inch pistol barrel. That drop in velocity translates into an even greater drop in energy.
In a short, pistol-length barrel, there isn’t enough time for all the gunpowder to burn and speed up the bullet. With both 22 caliber bullets, the optimum length for maximized velocity is usually 16 inches. The 40 grain Maxi Mag fired out of a 4-inch barrel is going about 1350 fps and in a 6-inch barrel, it will do about 1400 fps.
That means that on average, the 22 Magnum pistol is a notch above the power of a .22 LR rifle. So, if you are a good enough shot, you can certainly take a coyote with a 22 Magnum pistol out to 50 yards no problem. Personally, I’m not that good a shot.
A shot like that would take a good sight and a steady hand, and lots of practice. I would rather take my Ruger 10/22 rifle in .22 LR than my 22 Magnum pistol because I can actually hit my mark with a rifle.
If you want to know more about hunting with the 22lr, I wrote an article where I cover the animals it can be used to hunt and the max practical distance for each. Here’s the Link.