best caliber for squirrel hunting

Best Caliber for Squirrel Hunting: My Top Picks

As a seasoned squirrel hunter, I have firsthand experience with various calibers and rifles well-suited for this unique and engaging sport. Over the years, the timeless .22 Long Rifle has remained my all-time favorite for its affordability, moderate noise levels, and consistent performance. Rifles like the Winchester Model 190 and the Henry Lever Action have proven to be reliable companions in the field. However, I have also explored other effective calibers for squirrel hunting, such as the .22 Magnum and the .17 Mach 2. In this article, I will share my insights on some of the best rifles for hunting squirrels, drawing from my personal journey and experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • The .22 Long Rifle is a popular choice for its affordability, moderate noise levels, and consistent performance.
  • Winchester Model 190 and Henry Lever Action are favored rifles for squirrel hunting with .22 LR.
  • The .22 Magnum, such as the Savage B22, offers a flatter trajectory for longer-range shots.
  • More specialized calibers like the .17 Mach 2 cater to hunters with refined marksmanship skills.
  • Choosing the best caliber for squirrel hunting is dependent on individual preferences and ethical harvesting abilities.

Why Caliber Matters in Squirrel Hunting

The art of squirrel hunting demands the correct rifle and caliber selection, where specific traits such as cost, noise, and range capability play a significant role in the hunt’s success. Choosing the right caliber for squirrel hunting is essential because it can greatly impact the results of your hunting trip.

The .22 Long Rifle (LR) is a popular choice due to its lower cost and quieter report, which contribute to squirrel hunting strategies where minimizing disturbance can lead to more opportunities. In contrast, the .22 Magnum provides a flatter trajectory for longer shots in more open areas, enhancing your chances of nabbing elusive squirrels.

Rimfire cartridges, such as the .22 LR, .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR), and .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR), offer flat trajectories and increased velocity, assisting in estimating distances and hold-over—essential factors for precise squirrel hunting. To better understand the impact of caliber on your squirrel hunting experience, let’s delve deeper into the attributes of these three popular cartridges:

Cartridge Cost Noise Range Capability
.22 LR Low Low Short to Medium
.17 HMR Medium Medium Medium to Long
.22 WMR Medium Medium Medium to Long

Choosing the right caliber for squirrel hunting is essential, as it can greatly impact the results of your hunting trip.

When selecting the recommended caliber for squirrel hunting, it’s important to consider your personal preferences and hunting environment. Quiet calibers like the .22 LR are perfect for hunters who value stealth and a minimal disturbance approach. In contrast, the .22 WMR and .17 HMR are better suited for hunters who need to make longer shots in open areas or when squirrels are more elusive.

In conclusion, squirrel hunting rifle selection is crucial to achieving success in the field. While there is no “one size fits all” solution, taking the time to carefully evaluate the attributes of different cartridges will help ensure you make the best decision for your personal hunting style.

The Top Calibers for Hunting Squirrels

As a seasoned squirrel hunter, I have come across various rifle calibers in my journey to find the most suitable one. In this section, I will be sharing my thoughts on some popular calibers for hunting squirrels. The top calibers for squirrel hunting include the .22 Long Rifle (LR), .22 Magnum, and .17 Mach 2. Each caliber caters to different hunting requirements, making it essential for you to consider your personal preferences and hunting scenario before making your decision.

Caliber Pros Cons
.22 Long Rifle (LR)
  • Affordable
  • Minimal meat damage
  • Widely available ammunition
  • Limited range
  • Not suitable for larger game
  • Wind sensitivity
.22 Magnum
  • Extended effective range
  • Versatile for small and large game
  • Flatter trajectory
  • Higher cost
  • Can cause excessive meat damage if not careful
  • Louder report
.17 Mach 2
  • High velocity
  • Pinpoint accuracy
  • Low recoil
  • Relatively expensive
  • Can damage meat with body shots
  • Not suitable for larger game

The .22 Long Rifle has long been a staple for squirrel hunting. It delivers adequate performance without causing excessive meat damage, and with commonly available ammunition, its affordability adds to its appeal. However, its limitations include a shorter effective range, sensitivity to wind, and a lack of suitability for larger game.

“The .22 LR has always been my go-to caliber for squirrel hunting, providing a balance of cost-effectiveness, availability, and effectiveness”

For hunters seeking versatility in their rifle calibers, the .22 Magnum has become increasingly popular. This caliber is capable of bridging the gap between squirrel hunting and predator hunting, as it can handle larger prey within its effective range. Its flatter trajectory and extended range make it particularly suited for open-field hunting, but users must be cautious about the potential for meat damage if not precisely aiming for headshots.

Lastly, the .17 Mach 2 is a caliber that demands a confident marksman. Its lethality is highly dependent on precision, as body shots can lead to ruined meat, rendering it unsuitable for those who are still developing their skills. Nonetheless, with a high velocity and low recoil, this caliber can reward experienced hunters with capable marksmanship.

When selecting the best caliber for squirrel hunting, it is crucial to weigh each caliber’s potential for specific shots and consider the Maximum Point Blank Range (MPBR) – the farthest distance at which a projectile remains within a specified target size without adjusting the point of aim. Understanding your environment and personal preferences, combined with an evaluation of each caliber’s capabilities, will ultimately lead to a chosen caliber that caters to your hunting needs.

My Personal Experience with Squirrel Hunting Rifles

When it comes to squirrel hunting, choosing the right rifle and ammunition plays a pivotal role in the success of the hunt. I have spent a considerable amount of time hunting with different types of rifles, and I am happy to share my experiences with you. In this section, I will discuss two popular rifles for squirrel hunting, the .22 Long Rifle and the .22 Magnum.

Discovering the Precision of the .22 Long Rifle

My journey as a squirrel hunter began with the .22 Long Rifle, which remains one of my favorite choices to this day. There is something deeply gratifying about hunting with the best ammunition for squirrel hunting that offers both affordability and precision. Utilizing the .22 Long Rifle for squirrel hunting allowed for consistent accuracy, even at ranges up to and beyond 50 yards. This proved invaluable as I took to the woods under the wide-open Tennessee skies.

My time with the .22 Long Rifle has been deeply gratifying, punctuated by the joy of clean shots and hunts under the spacious Tennessee sky.

Through years of experience and countless hunts, I have come to appreciate the .22 Long Rifle for its cost-effectiveness, quieter operations, and minimal meat damage. The ability to retain more of the squirrel’s meat when compared to more powerful rounds offers a significant advantage, making it an ideal choice for meat hunters.

Extending the Range: My Take on the .22 Magnum

As my passion for squirrel hunting grew, I sought to expand my arsenal by exploring different firearms and calibers. Transitioning to the .22 Magnum was prompted by a number of factors, such as tighter groupings at the range and superior trajectory stability. I decided to gear up with the popular Savage B22, which quickly demonstrated its potential in open hunting grounds.

  1. Extended Effective Range
  2. Superior Trajectory Stability
  3. Improved Versatility for Larger Prey

The extended effective range of the .22 Magnum allowed me to take shots beyond the comfort zone of the .22 Long Rifle, making it a more versatile option. However, it is essential to balance the caliber’s power against the risk of meat damage, as the increased power has the potential to over-penetrate and ruin the squirrel’s meat if not used precisely.

Caliber Effective Range Meat Damage Risk
.22 Long Rifle Up to 50 yards Low
.22 Magnum Up to 100 yards Higher

Overall, my experiences have taught me the importance of selecting the right rifle and ammunition for squirrel hunting. Both the .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum offer unique advantages, and choosing the best option comes down to personal preference, skill level, and hunting environment. Ultimately, finding the perfect balance between precision and power is crucial to enjoying a successful and satisfying squirrel hunt.


After extensive research and experience, I have come to the realization that the most suitable caliber for squirrel hunting is truly dependent on the individual hunter. The ideal firearm must strike a balance between personal enjoyment and ethical harvesting ability. As for my own experiences with rifles and calibers like the CZ 452 series, I consistently find that the .22 Long Rifle excels due to its accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and minimal meat damage.

In the ongoing debate between calibers such as the .22 LR and .22 Magnum, it’s important to remember that a hunter’s preferences may evolve over time, and the ultimate goal should always be a fulfilling and rewarding hunting experience. Implementing tools like suppressors or fine-tuning your rifle’s accuracy can contribute to more effective squirrel hunting adventures.

In conclusion, a squirrel hunting caliber guide can serve as a valuable tool in selecting the best caliber for squirrel hunting. Nevertheless, the final decision remains subjective and tailored to the preferences of the individual hunter. Whether you choose the tried-and-true .22 Long Rifle or venture into the realms of the .22 Magnum or even the .17 Mach 2, the art of squirrel hunting should ultimately celebrate the harmonious blend of skill, passion, and ethical hunting practices that lead to a bountiful harvest and a memorable experience in the field.

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