Best Varmint Rifle: The Perfect Tool When You’re out of Season

Predator hunting is a great pastime for hunters who don’t want to stop hunting when deer season is over which is why the best varmint rifle must be a part of your arsenal. It also is an excellent way to help keep the pests from your property.

Coyotes, for instance, can wreak havoc on people’s livestock and land. They have expanding populations and destructive natures, making them a popular hunting target. However, coyotes are not the only ones that are considered vermin.

Keep in mind: varmint is just another word for vermin, and it involves the hunt of small mammals for purposes other than consuming the meat for food. While the type of varmint is going to depend on where you live, here are some examples of commonly hunted predatory animals:

  • Badger
  • Bobcats
  • Coyotes
  • Opossum
  • Raccoons
  • Snakes
  • Wolverine
  • Weasels

The Most Important Features of A Varmint Rifle

Before you purchase a rifle you intend to use for varmint hunting, you need to know about the features you should consider. There are certain guns and characteristics that are ideal for efficient and effective kills. Typically, the animal you are hunting is going to determine the firearm you pick to use since vermin are defined by region and are covered under specific laws.

Rifle for vermin hunting

You may be up against some very fast mammals. Animals that take off quickly and can escape with ease pose a higher level of difficulty so it is best to use a long range rifle for most pest control operations. Here are some features to consider.


The most important element to consider is the rifle caliber you chose. For most purposes, a varmint rifle is going to use a smaller caliber. They are typically reserved for the purpose of varmint control. One of the best sizes of caliber would be the .22 caliber long rifle rimfire weapons.

Varminter caliber

You will find the most common rimfire weapon, which is the .22 long rifle, is perfect for vermin. However, depending on what you are dealing with, it could be underpowered and not be able to take down a predator. Then, you have a wounded animal on your hands which is a highly dangerous scenario.

Fast Trajectory

If you have spent any time hunting vermin, you know they are fast. Some breeds can disappear underground in a flash, leaving you no chance for the kill. One characteristic you should look for in a varmint rifle is a flat trajectory. This just means that the actual, physical path the projected bullet follows is flat.

It produces a shell expelled at a high velocity, allowing you to catch the animal before it disappears again.

Fast Trajectory

As you are searching for a rifle, look for ones that have speeds faster than 910 meters per second or 3,000 feet per second. You will find some weapons, like the .220 Swift rifle, can go 1,200 meters per second, making it an awesome option.

Top Varmint Rifles that Could Be Perfect for You

Below we selected the best rifles that are known for their great features when it comes to vermin hunting. Take a look and let us know if you agree with our top.

Remington Model 783

Remington Model 783

Weight: 7lbs

Dimensions: Barrel length – 22 inches

Specific Features: Budget Friendly, Bolt Action, Varmint Rifle, Scope

Description: The Model 783 is Remington’s first 21st-century rifle. The price is relatively inexpensive for a gun (under $500). Sure, it has some problems like a less than excellent trigger, but the gun can shoot wonderfully.

The Model 783 is made with a nylon fiber reinforced synthetic stock. They included a recoil pad on the butt and two aluminum pillars under the receiver. You can load four standard calibers.

The Model 783 is a no-frills bolt action rifle, but frills aren’t necessary for taking down vermin. The rifle comes with a 3 9×40 mounted and bore-sighted scope. For a lower price range, the scope has remarkable accuracy. You will have no issues with moving targets at 200 yards. The Remington Model 783 is an excellent budget rifle.

Nosler Varmageddon AR

Nosler Varmageddon AR

Weight: 8.5lbs

Dimensions: Barrel length – 18 inches,

Specific Features: 18-inch barrel, extended feed, varmint rifle, .223 or 5.6mm ammunition.

Description: When you first look at the Nosler Varmageddon AR, it is easy to assume it just another AR. However, if you spend some time shooting the rifle, you will figure out why people enjoy it as a varmint rifle.

First, it starts with the stiff, 18-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist. The handguard is small and gives you an excellent grip for different shooting positions.

The trigger is a two-stage, straight trigger, perfect for a hunting rifle. The chamber will accept low pressure .223 Remington or high pressure 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.

Hunters can purchase the package with the Leupold scope, increasing the value and performance of the Varmageddon. You can slay vermin with this high-end series rifle.

Montana Rifles American Vantage Rifle

Montana Rifles American Vantage Rifle

Weight: 9.5lbs

Dimensions: Barrel length – 24 inches

Specific Features: Larger Vermin, Good Cost, Heavy Cartridges

Description: It is hard to find a rifle for a large cartridge in a budget friendly range. However, the Montana American Vantage Rifle fits the bill, coming in under $1,500. Buyers have a few options for colors and designs.

The barrel is 24 inches. One of the nice features of the American Vantage Rifle can take several cartridges such as the .35 Whelen, .375, .416 and .458.

These are heavier rounds than you would typically need for most small vermin. However, in areas with larger problems such as coyotes or wild feral hogs, the larger cartridge sizes would be convenient and more useful. If you are aiming to take down larger predators, the Montana AVR will pack quite a punch, while doing so in style.

Ruger Guide Gun

Ruger Guide Gun

Weight: 8.12lbs

Dimensions: Overall Length – 41 inches

Specific Features: Bolt Action, Stainless Steel, Heavy Caliber, Larger Game

Description: The Ruger Guide Gun is a stainless steel bolt action carbine designed to handle any harsh conditions hunters can encounter when they are waiting for larger game or predators.

The Guide Gun takes heavy caliber ammunition, the .375 Ruger. With this ammo, you can take down bears and other larger game. The chamber can hold up to seven calibers, making it a formidable weapon to face.

While most vermin hunters don’t need such a heavy caliber, some regions may call for more of a punch. With a scope, you could take down at problems on your property with no issues. Ruger is known for making excellent quality firearms, and this is one is no exception.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Weight: 7.50lbs

Dimensions: Barrel Length: 20 inches, Overall Length: 38.50 inches

Specific Features: Stainless Steel, Varmint Rifle, .22 LR, Target Trigger

Description: The Ruger Model 10/22 was designed as a light varmint target rifle, requiring .22 long rifle calibers. The barrel is 20 inches in length, meant for light targets, such as smaller mammals.

Remington finished the rifle with stainless steel and a matte finish. They added a rubber butt pad and walnut stained hardwood stock.

Ruger has their target trigger installed which is ideal for hunting. It comes with scope bases and is perfect for scope usages. The magazine holds ten rounds and could use any .22LR ammunition. Overall, the Ruger 10/22 is an attractive option as a varmint rifle. It is light, has an excellent trigger, uses a conventional ammunition and works great with a scope.

Marlin 39A

Marlin 39A

Weight: 6.5lbs

Dimensions: Barrel Length – 24 inches, Overall Length – 40 inches

Specific Features: .22 Rimfire, Accurate, 24-inch barrel.

Description: No doubt, one of the most popular .22 lever action rifles would be the Marlin 39A and has been in production for longer than most rifles.

The 24-inch barrel holds 19 .22 LR cartridges, or you can use 26 rounds of the .22 Short. Although the 39A is far from compact, it handles beautifully and functions smoothly. There isn’t much else you can ask for from a rifle.

The Marlin 39A is a firearm you can hand down for a generation to come, or you can use to knock off a variety of small and medium vermin. It is believed to be one of the most accurate rifles because of the micro-grooved rifling. If you want accuracy and dependability, the Marlin 39A is the way to go.

Smith & Wesson.M&P15-22

Smith & Wesson.M&P15-22

Weight: 6.45lbs unloaded

Dimensions: 32 inches collapsed, 35 inches extended

Specific Features: Semi-automatic, .223 caliber, High Performance, Small Game

Description: If you are interested in the style and function of the modern AR-15, Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15-22 is designed to handle and fire nearly the same. This .223 model is a high-performance rifle.

It is a great option for new AR shooters, perfect for plinking, squirrel hunting, or small varmint. They designed this AR with newbies wanting a quality, yet easy to use a rifle.

The M&P 15-22 is a very popular rimfire AR, proving the quality is top notch, as expected from Smith & Wesson. One of the nice design features is the 1/8” gain twist in the barrel; the twist tightens to 1/8” at the end of the barrel, which helps stabilize the bullet. The M&P uses .223/5.56 NATO caliber.

Browning BL-22 Micro Midas

Browning BL-22 Micro Midas

Weight: 4lbs 12oz

Dimensions: Barrel Length – 16.25 inches, Overall Length – 31.5 inches

Specific Features: Young Shooters, Lever Action, .22 Rimfire, Small Game

Description: If you are searching for a varmint rifle for your beginning adolescent or a new shooter, the Browning BL-22 Micro Midas is a great option. It fires and functions like a breeze, while still providing a lot of fire powers.

The weight is lighter than most other rifles, so it isn’t cumbersome to carry or hold while waiting for the pesky vermin you are hunting.

The BL-22 is a lever-action .22 rimfire rifle known for reliability and quality. It has a shorter barrel, making it great for new shooters. The tubular magazine holds .22 LR and .22 Shorts. If you are looking for a varmint rifle for your youngster, the Browning BL-22 is the perfect beginners.

Ruger 77/22

Ruger 77/22

Weight: 6.5lbs

Dimensions: Barrel Length – 20 inches

Specific Features: .22 Rimfire, Reliability, Bolt Action

Description: Here is another .22 rimfire bolt action rifle that is loved by thousands of hunters and gun owners. In particular, those who have property to defend against predators like the precision and reliability provided by the Ruger 77/22.

Even big game hunters love this firearm because it reminds people of a heavy hitting rifle.

Just like another .22 rimfire, you can do a lot with this style of rifle. While it won’t take down the huge game, you can knock out a lot of pesky vermin with a Ruger 77/22. It would serve you best for smaller mammals instead of the larger game.

How to Keep Your Varmint Rifle Clean

A rifle used for frequent hunting needs to be cleaned to maintain its accuracy and functionality. So, regardless of the fact that you are hunting vermin or deer, you will need to know a thing or two about cleaning your gun. We put together a few tips and tricks that we hope will be helpful in time of need.

First, you will need a cleaning kit – this will have almost all the necessary elements for cleaning. For instance, a kit should have:

  • Lubricating oil
  • A rod and a jig for the end of the rod
  • Solvent
  • A patch holder and other patches

You will also have to purchase a bore cleaning brush separately. These come in many different sizes and you have to choose one according to your gun caliber. This is quite easy to do since the caliber will be listed on the package.

Steps to Properly Clean A Rifle

First, you have to safely unload the rifle. Remember to point the rifle in a safe direction, and treat it as if it was loaded. Never put your finger on the trigger.

Next, you should empty the chamber – to do this, pull the bolt back. You need to make sure there aren’t any cartridges in the magazine well or the chamber. To do this, visually check and use your finger to be sure.

Properly Clean A Rifle

Once the rifle is unloaded, you can strip it down according to the instruction received in the user manual. As you field strip your rifle, you need to identify what parts you will clean: the barrel or the receive and action. The receive and action are the bolt, chamber, and trigger.

The purpose of the bolt is to hold the ammunition in the chamber while the trigger starts the process of firing the ammunition. Proper cleaning of this area helps ensure the reliability of your firearm, but it also can reduce accuracy.

Using a paper towel wipe down all the pieces. You want to try to remove the crud off that has built up from usage. Make sure you remove all of the old oil and unburnt powder.

Cleaning the bolt and chamber:

  1. If your rifle has a magazine well, make sure to wipe the inside as well and all areas around the chamber. You may find you need more than one towel. Rifles can get dirty quickly!
  2. Next, apply the solvent to the dirty pieces of the rifle. It is best to use solvent designed to be gentle on your skin, but use gloves on the step even if you are. Always read your owner’s manual first to make sure there aren’t types of solvents you have to avoid. Don’t be afraid to use too much solvent; too much is better than not enough.
  3. Once you have liberally applied the solvent, you should let it rest for a few moments. During this time period, the solvent is going to work, soaking in and cleaning all the grime and dirt off of the pieces. After a few moments have passed by, it is time to scrub your gun with a brush. Don’t use metal bristles for this step; a toothbrush can work great! The brush is going to work the solvent in and remove all the grime. Get into all the small areas!
  4. After you have scrubbed with the brush, wipe the gun clean, either with a paper towel or a lint-free cloth. An old shirt works great for this step. You need to wipe everywhere you have scrubbed.
  5. Now, wipe down the whole gun, inside and out, with a cloth soaked in solvent. This helps find any area you may have missed before. Pay attention to when you find some dirt and thoroughly clean the area.

Cleaning the Barrel:

Once your bolt and chamber are cleaned, it is time to move onto the barrel. Cleaning the barrel is one of the most important steps, so be sure to take care as you work. For this step, you need your bore brush that attaches to the rod in your cleaning kit. Insert the bore brush and rod into the barrel. You should run the full length of the barrel five or more times.

Cleaning the Barrel

Next, clean the barrel with solvent, soaked into a cloth. You will need a number of clean cloth and should repeat this process as many times as needed. For a really dirty barrel, it could take more than 20 passes to completely clean the barrel. A great note is to use a rod made from aluminum because hard metals could scratch your barrel!

Finishing Up:

Before you are done cleaning your rifle, you should run a dry cloth down the barrel, regardless if you oiled it or not. This helps give consistency throughout the barrel and will neutralize the solvent. Once you have properly oiled your rifle, it is time to reassemble it and make sure all the parts go together nicely.

What Varmint Rifle to Pick?

There are so many great options for varmint rifles, and making your final decision is sure to be difficult. The first thing to consider is your budget range. Some of these rifles are over $1,000, and that may be above your price range. However, some of the rifles, such as the Remington Model 783, are below $500, making them easier on the pocketbook.

Remington model 783

The next factor to consider is the type of vermin you are dealing with. Every region has different problem animals so that you may need a higher caliber than a .22LR. However, you could use any .22 rimfire for smaller mammals. It would perform wonderfully.

Remember to check the weight of the firearm to be sure it is a comfortable weight because hunting for vermin can take an extended period. Also, consider the amount of work you need to put into maintenance – a rifle that requires special cleaning  techniques may prove too expensive in time.


Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.


  • I’m a fan of 223. It’s a bit expensive than a 17hmr but it’s worth the price because it’s more flexible than any other rifle. Remember that it would be better if you would be carrying the rifle all day long so you should take that into consideration when deciding on the barrel weight.

    • When a rifle offers you the versatility that you need, it makes it more worthy for its price. The 223 is definitely worth it and I have used this before and I have nothing but good words to say about it.

  • The Ruger 10/22 is my first rifle and personally, I think it’s a pretty darn good gun. It is very easy to carry and store as it’s not overly bulky or heavy and seems to hold the zero well in between taking it down and putting it back together.

    The main reason I bought it, however, was for its ease of maintenance, as they’re an awful lot easier to clean when broken down than other rifles on the market.

    Perhaps the only downside to the Ruger is the 3rd party upgrades, especially stocks and barrels, compatibility is limited and they’re often expensive.

    • Maintenance requirement is often overlooked when it comes to long arms. A lot of hunters and hobbyists miss the importance of ease of maintenance, and they end up accelerating the wear and tear of the rifle because of this.

  • Ruger 77/22 is also my favorite. I made some adjustments to it to make it even better, like adding extended mag release and installing a target sear, which was recommended by some people online. I watched a video on Youtube showing how take up the slack in the 2-piece bolt with bolt shims. When I googled ‘the best 22 hornet’ I noticed that most people give advantage to other 22 hornets and it was surprising to me.

    • Great insights, Eugene. The Ruger 77/22 is very customizable and you can adjust its settings based on your preference. This is a very reliable varmint rifle and it is something I would recommend.