Top foxing calibres

Top foxing calibres

The .22-250 Rem (pictured right) was once the undisputed king of the cailbres for fox control. Not any more. There's a host of pretenders lining up - and some have been around for more than a century. (Photos show the rounds in the correct proportions - courtesy of Hornady)

Photo: Nick Ridley

.223 The Warrener uses a Tikka M595 in .223 Rem. 'Nuff said. but if it needs another plug then remember there's more work done on this calibre than most others because this is the army round. The .223 Rem is the same as the 5.56mm NATO round, which replaced the old 7.62mm NATO round (.308 Win). For foxing, it's almost as fast as the .22-250 Rem but doesn't burn out the barrel so quickly. If you are loading your own, the heavy 87-grain V-Max bullet can be a usefully "slow" bullet for a windy night. If you are buying factory ammo, try the Titan 3 brand in.223 calibre from RWS.

.223 WSSM The Super Short Magnum round is Winchester's new, short, fat cartridge that was designed to exceed the same company's own Short Magnum series. Launched in 2003, the new 1.76 in WSSM cases are 0.47 inch shorter than the WSM cases, necked for .224- and .243- calibre bullets, while maintaining the same case-head and body-diameter specifications as the .300 WSM. In the Supreme line, the .223 WSSM has a 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip at a normal 3,850fps muzzle velocity - faster than the .22-250's 3,680fps. In the Super X line there's a 55-grain Pointed Soft Point at 3,850fps and a 64-grain PowerPoint at 3,600fps. The WSSM shoots flatter and hits harder than its rivals, delivering 1,147ft/lb at 200yds compared to the .22-250's 861ft/lb and the .223 Rem's 648ft/lb with the same 55gr bullet.

.204 Ruger This round was developed by Hornady Ammunition and Ruger; they launched it at the 2004 Shot Show in Las Vegas. It's basically a .222 Rem necked down to a .20 bullet. Some say the little .20 cal bullet is too small but it boasts impressive ballistics. The factory load incorporated a 34-grain hollowpoint bullet, launched at 4,025fps for muzzle energy of 1,223ft/lb. Recoil is less than a .22-250 and fan's say it's good for small game out to 400 yards.

.17HMR The .17HMR is a fashionable round, but for foxes BASC favours bigger cartridges. The smallest cailbre it recommends is the.22 Hornet. There's no doubt that the .17HMR offers a fast bullet, good accuracy, and a relatively flat trajectory out to 150yds. It's also quieter than many and cheap to shoot.

.220 Swift You can't read an article about foxshooting without somebody praising orputting down the .220 Swift. Launched by Winchester in 1935, it was built as a long range varmint cartridge. Ammunition is relatively expensive and Swift barrels don't last as long as other calibre barrels. But Norma's 50-grain .220 Swift bullet will touch 4,110fps at the muzzle.

6mm PPC Inverness-shire keeper Ian Davidson uses this round and recommends it. His rifle is a Ruger M77 MkII VT custom and he also uses a 6mm Tikka custom. The 6mm bullet is the same as a .243, but the samller PPC case was developed from the Soviet military 7.62 x 39mm cartridge. It's noted for accuracy, and popular in benchrest competitions. Ian loads his own. For long range work, he recommends a 58-grain V-Max Hornady bullet with 29.2 grains of N133 propellant. It gives a muzzle velocity of 3,250fps

6 x 47 Swiss Match Continental fox shooters love this. It came to the fore as a 300m target round and has remarkable accuracy - but won't bruise your clavicle when you use it in the field. The 6mm bullet is the same calibre as the .243 Win, but like the WSSM it comes in a short, fat case that gives it plenty of punch. Ruag's 6x47 Swiss Match will knock out a 105gr bullet at 3,000fps.

.22 Hornet The.22 Hornet is a popular choice for fox shooting, with an effective range of 175-200 yards and good stopping power with 35gr or 40gr bullets. It's an accurate round, and a good choice where you don't need the extra range of a .223 or.243. This calibre has been around for a long time - it was developed by wildcatters from the old .22WCF case. Winchester introduced the .22 Hornet as a commercial varmint round in the 1930s and it has remained popular ever since. Rifles in this calibre can be picky over ammo, so experiment to find the one that gives the best results.

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