Best Varmint Rifle – Top 5 For Those Pesky Critters

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If you have land, livestock, or crops, you may want the best varmint rifle to deal with local pests.

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A varmint rifle is used to kill non-game animals that are destructive to domestic plant and animal life, such as field rats, skunks, jackrabbits, and gophers.

Using the large-caliber ammunition from a traditional hunting rifle will certainly get the job done. However, since these animals are so small, doing so will result in overkill… literally.

If you happen to have a free Sunday afternoon and do not mind the challenge of hitting a jackrabbit with a .308 Winchester, GO FER’ it (pun intended).

Most people prefer to avoid this messy process. Considering the price of hunting ammunition, that would be one expensive rodent.

Of course, if you plan on hunting large game, consider getting something good like a 300 Win Mag rifle.​

With all of that said, I went out and did a lot of research. In this article, I have rounded up the top 5 varmint rifles so that you get the right gun for the job.​

Disclosure:   Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Factors To Consider

Calibers

While most hunting calibers suffice, rimfire cartridges such as the ever-popular .22 long rifle are not powerful enough to rid you of these pests.

Consequently, other center-fire calibers were developed in the .22-caliber category to bridge the gap between the two.

Modern varmint rifles come in many different calibers. Fast, lightweight ammunition tends to have a flatter trajectory and less bullet drop over distance.

This increases the probability of hitting small targets.

For long-range varmint shooting, calibers like .220 Swift, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, and .204 Ruger are the best varmint calibers with muzzle velocities over 3,000 feet per second.

For close-range varmint shooting (less than 100 yards), calibers such as .17 Hornady Magnum, .17 Mach 2, and .22 Magnum are often used. However, most varmint hunting is done from distances of 100 yards or greater.

Design

Varmint rifles differ from common small-caliber hunting and “plinking” rifles because they often incorporate heavy, free-floating barrels, precision triggers, and magnifying optics.

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Since varmints are hunted from a fixed position, weight is not typically a concern with varmint rifles.

Heavier rifles absorb recoil and allow the shooter to take accurate follow-up shots. Varmint rifles are popular in bolt-action and semi-automatic configurations.

For those who want a rifle that will fulfill multiple purposes including varmint shooting, the AR-15 platform, does a great job.

While traditionally viewed as a tactical weapon, it makes a great rifle for varmints because it shoots the lightweight, fast-moving .223 round.

Aftermarket upgrades and accessories are readily available, allowing you to convert the basic black rifle into a tricked-out, varmint-killing machine.

Everything from precision triggers and free-floating quad rails to ergonomic grips and high-end optics can be added. Part compatibility is rarely an issue because AR manufacturers adhere to design standards.

Best Varmint Rifle - Top 5​

The following are five excellent choices to consider when purchasing a rifle for varmint hunting. Remember that the best varmint gun is the one that fits your preferences and your budget.

1. Savage Model 12 FV

The Savage Model 12 Varmint is a great bolt-action rifle for taking out those pesky predators.

Featuring a 26-inch free-floating heavy barrel, AccuTrigger, synthetic stock, and four-round internal magazine, the Model 12 FV provides MOA accuracy at a low price.

The receiver comes drilled and tapped for scope mounts and can be purchased in .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, or .308 Winchester.

You can usually grab one at Cabela's for a great price, making it the best varmint rifle for the money. Or if you prefer to upgrade to a detachable magazine, you can check out the upgraded Savage 12 FCV, which is almost twice the price.

2. Ruger American Rifle

The Ruger American, a budget-friendly bolt-action rifle, is a great varmint gun that will not break the bank.

With an MSRP under $500, this entry-level bolt gun has a surprising number of features, including a cold hammer-forged barrel, Marksman adjustable trigger, ergonomic, lightweight stock, and rails for mounting a scope.

The Ruger American Rifle is offered in a number of calibers, including .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, and .22-250 Remington.

3. Mossberg MVP Varmint

The Mossberg MVP is a great choice for those who own an AR-15 but want a different weapon for varmint shooting.

This unique bolt-action rifle is chambered to accept either .223 or 5.56mm. For a reasonable price, it offers some great features including a fluted, 24-inch bull barrel, laminated bench rest style ergonomic stock, and adjustable trigger system.

The rifle comes with scope mounting rails and a 10-round magazine.

4. Any Entry-Level AR-15

An entry-level modern sporting rifle chambered to accept either .223 or 5.56mm ammunition is a great base for building an accurate, reliable semiautomatic rifle.

Features will vary, but most come with a standard tapered AR-15 handguard, pistol grip, railed upper receiver, and traditional six-position telescoping stock.

A Mil-Spec AR accepts almost all aftermarket AR parts and accessories. Modifying it to suit your specific needs can be done easily. An optics-ready AR variant is ideal.

Since varmint shooting requires a scope, you will want to pick one with a railed gas block instead of one that has a built-in front sight.

Once you purchase it, some recommended upgrades include a 2-stage trigger, 18-inch or greater bull barrel, and a comfortable stock for long-range shooting, such as a Magpul PRS, TacStar AMRS, or Luth-AR modular buttstock assembly.

5. Nosler Varmageddon

Coming in at the extreme high end of the varmint category, the Nosler Varmageddon is exactly what it sounds like – Armageddon for any predatory pests that have the misfortune to be in its crosshairs.

This high-end, bobcat-blasting black rifle is built by Noveske for the Nosler company. While it is an AR-platform rifle, it is chambered in .22 Nosler.

This gives it a 300 foot-per-second increase in muzzle velocity over the more common .223 or 5.56mm.

Because the Varmaggeddon is chambered in a different caliber than a standard AR, it takes a proprietary 25-round magazine.

It features an 18-inch barrel, a two-stage precision trigger, 15-inch keymod handguard, Magpul PRS stock, MOE grip, and MBUS Pro iron sights.

While this rifle has a ton of great features, it also comes with a price tag to match – over $2800 MSRP. It is the most accurate varmint rifle that money can buy.

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