How To Choose A Varmint Bullet

By Jace Bauserman

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22 caliber TNT bullets in a hand

If you're new to the reloading and varmint games, you might be pondering what bullet to fit into your favorite brass. The list of choices is long, so let’s focus on .224-diameter bullets. The versatile class of projectiles covers some of the best and most popular cartridges to ever end a prairie dog’s day. Here are some of my favorites and why.

Speer Varmint Hollow Point

I love the performance I get with this bullet. With my choice of powder, primer, and the like, the 52-grain bullet leaves the muzzle at 3,336 fps and provides solid downrange accuracy. The hollow-point design provides exceptional terminal results on coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other predators.

Keep in mind the bullet does produce explosive results, so if you plan to sell pelts, this probably isn't your best option. Also, although I have killed coyotes past 200 yards with this bullet, this might not be your choice if your goal is ultra-long-range shooting. The flat-nose hollow point design married with the rounded base does create some drag (the bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .168), which slows the bullet at a more rapid rate. But at $16.99 per 100, the price is reasonable, and if you're looking for a great all-around bullet that will smash prairie dogs and put down a wide variety of predators, this is a solid choice.

224 Caliber Varment Jacketed Hollow Point Bullet
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Speer TNT

When loading for true long-range varmint killing, I go with the TNT. It has the look of a match-grade rifle bullet, but make no mistake, it's a pelt puncher. The bullet features a smaller hollow point compared to the Varmint Hollow Point, which helps the 55-grain bullet maintain downrange velocity and still achieve terminal results.

22 Caliber TNT cartridges on a table in front of a Speer TNT box

When married with the hollow point, the thin precision jacket and internal fluting don’t blow massive holes in pelts, and if you're a fur seller, this bullet is a great choice. Speed will depend on your powder, primer and other factors, but I've used this flat-shooting projectile to down song dogs beyond 400 yards. It has a .233 ballistic coefficient, and 100-pack only sets you back $20.99.

224 Caliber TNT JHP Bullet
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Speer Varmint Soft Point

Some of my favorite varmint bullets over the years have been soft points. I like the expansion I get, and most well-designed soft-point bullets penetrate deeper than comparable hollow points. That said, I'm a fan of Speer's Varmint Soft Point. The 50-grain bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .231, and I get incredible speed from it. More speed means less drop, and the bullet has proved exceptionally accurate. It penetrates well, and the soft-point design produces large exit holes—but it's nothing a needle and thread can't fix. In fact, the bullet's controlled expansion makes it my choice when shooting predators wearing pelts I plan to skin and sell. It minimizes pelt damage, and the Spitzer tip ensures great downrange accuracy.

224 Caliber Varmint Jacketed Soft Point Bullet
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Make The Choice

There you have it—three great bullets for loading the most popular cartridges. You can test and tinker with different combinations and load up all three, or make one pick based on your specific needs. Either way, varmints had better beware.