Best Bullets For Coyote Hunting: Top 9 Options Compared

Coyote hunting is a game of marksmanship, stealth, and waiting. Being able to make your shot count is the difference between a successful hunt, and a miss or lost canine. Looking for factory ammo, or bullets for handloading? I’ll cover them both here. You’re going to want to read it all; there’s a lot of good information here.

*Note the boattail (skinnier at back) design to reduce drag.

Hornady V-MAX

Hornady demands a high expectation from hunters and shooters across the US and the V-MAX does not disappoint. According to avid coyote hunters, including myself, this one is the cream of the crop. These are by far my favorite bullet on the market!

The Hornady V-MAX line of bullets ranges from .17 caliber bullets for the micro-rimfires to .30 caliber bullets for the .308 rifle, making it one of the widest bullet lines in the varmint hunting category.

V-MAX are polymer-tipped; smooth copper-jacketed, swaged lead core bullets intended for critters up to 50 pounds, so perfect for a coyote. They are called “explosive” by many hunters.  Hornady Designed V-MAX to rapidly expand to the point of massive fragmentation shortly upon impact.

This is the fastest expanding polymer tipped bullet due to Hornady’s specially designed cavity. There is a small empty void under the polymer tip. After striking a target, the tip slides into the bullet, building up momentum before hitting the bottom and forcing it apart at a great speed. That’s the Hornady magic.

These Bullets have match-grade accuracy, the highest ballistic coefficient of any common options, and will reliably fragment, creating a violent shallow wound at velocities down to 1600 fps. If fur saving is your thing, V-MAX is your best bet to put down a coyote without leaving an exit wound.

Nosler Varmageddon

Nosler is a world-class bullet maker with an eye on precision. Many experienced hunters consider the Varmageddon a close second to the V-MAX. It’s equivalent in accuracy (dependent on if your rifle likes it), and a reliable performer for a lot of hunters every day.

They do have a slightly lower ballistic coefficient than V-MAX, so they will have just a bit more wind play past 200 yards. you may notice a small difference, but you very well may not. Nosler’s Varmageddon line of bullets is smaller in offerings.

They do have options from .17 to .30 caliber but focus mainly on the common 22 caliber (.224) and 6mm (.243) options. They also have one of the few quality varmint bullets for the 7.62x39mm. You’ll hardly ever hear anything negative from anyone who has actually used the bullets.

A lot of predator hunters have noticed a small difference in penetration compared to the V-MAX, wherein Nosler’s bullet completely penetrates, leaving an exit wound. But this is still, hardly a noticeable difference to most.It’s not all that common.

They look like they have a slightly thicker base, ever so slightly slowing the fragmentation of the bullet. But like I said, you really almost can’t tell a difference when shooting them.

Broadside is the perfect shot angle for shallow penetrating bullets.

Sierra BlitzKing

A little less popular, but highly precise and violently effective on small animals, BlitzKing bullets Hold a great reptation at the top of the table of good coyote bullets. They have a pretty high ballistic coefficient, so not too bad on a windy day or at long ranges.

Sierra BlitzKing has one of the best .25 (.257) caliber varmint bullets on the market. so, if you’re looking for options for your 25-06 or .257 WBY Magnum, be sure to give them consideration. They have bullets ranging from .204 caliber, up to the .25 caliber ones.

Speer TNT

Speer TNT is time-tested and works well. They work great on even the biggest northern coyotes, but a good shot angle is uber important on the big ones  Speer TNT is favored by many old-timers in the field, and for good reason; it never let them down.  It’s not the highest ballistic coefficient, nor the fanciest looking.

They are a full lineup of common calibers from .204 up to .277 (270) caliber. They Have multiple options in 6mm (.243) and .257 calibers.  

Still, the ultra-light copper jacket and perfectly formed hollow-point tip have proved to be both accurate and deadly on coyotes. They just flat out function well. if these group well in your rifle, then by all means shoot them. Just remember, the lighter bullets will have significant wind play after 200 yards.

Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint

This Nosler line of bullets uses a boat tail (skinnier in the back) design, giving it a pretty decent ballistic coefficient. It also as a thicker, solid copper base to help avoid bullet damage during the bullet seating process. It helps to maintain a uniform bullet, but increases the chances of an exit wound.

Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint is a wider lineup. Its offerings start out with 32 and 40 grain 20 caliber (.204) bullets that look pretty nice really. They have a good lineup of 22 caliber (.224) bullets in 45 ,50, 55, and 60 grain to cover all applicable twist rates of the various 22 caliber varmint guns. There’s a lot of them.

They’ve also got 6mm (.243) bullets in 55, 70, and 80 grain, as well as one of the hard to find 25 caliber options: an 85 grain Spitzer ballistic tip with a diameter of .257 and boasting a ballistic coefficient of .329!

 About the design, the front half of the bullet is a lot like the Hornady V-MAX with its ballistic tip and light copper jacket. Examining animals shot, this bullet has a slightly more elongated wound channel with the solid copper base passing well through the main stretch cavity of the wound.

On coyotes, I’d expect a small exit wound on a good broadside shot at reasonable hunting distances. now, this function also helps if you are taking a less then straight through the side shot. if you are shooting at a bit of an angle, it will actually help.

The point of the design is to handle the fastest twist-rates and highest velocities that any handloader can crank up. All in all, it’s a reliable performer for the many non-ideal shooting angles that present themselves during a hunt.  I’d not feel bad about using them through my coyote rifle.

Barnes Varminator

This line was originally discontinued and replaced by a newer bullet, but popular demand brought it back.  That right there tells you something. People really like it! it’s a classic lead core hollow point design, with a scoured cavity to induce breakup and fragmentation win shallow penetration.

The Varminator is a smaller line of bullets, with a 32 grain .204 as well as 40 and4 5 grain .224 bullets. then there are two 6mm (.243) options: a 58 grain and a 72 grain. None of them have an impressive ballistic coefficient, relying on speed to overcome the physics of wind and gravity.

These bullets are not known to over-penetrate a coyote and will wreak havoc on smaller animals, much like Speer TNT. The Varminator has a strong following, that absolutely loves it for 20 and 22 caliber varmint rifles.

Sometimes this bullet will be a bit “splashy”. In other words, hitting the shoulder bone and disintegrating without much of any penetration. This is more so with hyped up handloads in 220 Swift or 22-250. Personally, I feel it’s more an issue of people trying to simply push a bullet faster than they should.

Ths shot angle requires more penetration than many varmint rounds offer.

Hornady Varmint

There is nothing more traditional in coyote bullets than a light-jacketed, soft-lead pointed bullet. Hornady Varmint combines modern manufacturing with a highly effective, highly economical option. These are not as shallow penetrating of a bullet as the V-MAX or Varmageddon.

Hornady makes these in a wide range of 22 caliber (.224) from 45 to 60 grain for all the common barrel twist rates of 223 and 22-250. There’s also a 6mm (.243) lightweight hollow point, and some impressive .308 options for a classic and reliable varmint bullet.

While they are rapidly expanding to the point of violent fragmentation, a desirable trait, they are slower to “open up” and end up penetrating deeper. If your goal isn’t necessarily to save pelts, then it’s a great choice. For the record, I use this one a lot because it’s cheap.

If you really want to slay coyotes, this bullet will work at any angle you are given. Even an up the butt shot, aka the Texas Heart Shot”. They will Most definitely penetrate through, leaving a decent exit hole in many cases.

Barnes Varmint Grenade

There aren’t a lot of offerings in this line, but thy are all awesome!  Barnes made the Varmint Grenade as a lead-free hollow point, and stuffed the thin but stout copper jacket with a compressed tin powder. the result is a bullet that will completely fragment in less than an inch of penetration.

This one is one of the tops for saving coyote pelts. It’s not really ever known to leave an exit on a coyote. It’s a highly accurate and functional round.  On smaller targets like squirrels, it literally disintegrates them. It’s offered in .20 and .22 caliber, and 6mm (.243).

These sorts of bullets are not for bad shot angles. To work, you need to avoid heavy bone, and only take decent broadside targets in order to maximize its effectiveness especially on larger coyotes. It’s a lightweight, flat base bullet with a non-impressive ballistic coefficient.

Bullets like this rely on speed to stay ‘flat shooting” and to try and beat out the wind. On a windy day, you’re going to have trouble out past 150-200 yards because they just aren’t the best balanced, most aerodynamic design. In other words, they have more air resistance.

Hornady NTX

Hornady, king of bullets in the US, has yest another line of specialty varmint bullets. The NTX product line was developed for use in places that restrict the use of lead bullets, like Commie, I mean Cali-fornia. The NTX bullet is made of a copper jacket and a copper alloy frangible core.

In essence, it’s a combination of Hornady’s V-MAX and Barnes Varmint Grenade. It has the Hornady “magic tip” type design and a core of highly frangible material. The result is a bullet that is lightning fast and uber deadly, but also significantly lightweight.

With bullets, when we make a caliber lighter, we reduce the ballistic coefficient.  That means it doesn’t retain its energy as well. It means that it will give more to wind drift, drag, and gravity. But for a brief while, it will be a screaming beast of insane velocity.

Like I’ve mentioned before, we can use velocity to beat out physics for a while, but they catch up all the sudden. The worst force of all on these lightweight bullets is a crosswind. We can work with drop because it’s fairly consistent, but as wind fluctuates so, does the bullet’s impact point.

Many of the bullets above are used in multiple factory loadings, often by other companies. Be sure to read the boxes at the gun store to see if they use any of these awesome bullets!

Now, The Best Factory Ammo for Coyote Hunting.

If you want the best coyote huntig ammo fromthr gunstore shelf, these options are sure to make you happy. Generally, the best practice is to pick two or threegood optionsthen try them out at the shooting range to see what works best with your specific rifle. The most accurate ammo willl often be different from rifle to rifle.

Hornady Superformace Varmint

The general best factory ammo for hunting coyotes is Hornady Superformance Varmint. Loaded with V-MAX bullets, it has the highest ballistic coefficient, highest velocity, and superior performance to velocities as low as 1600 fps, or 450 yards from their lightest .17 caliber load.

It’s also a proven consistent top performer in accuracy, very seldom shooting over 1 M.O.A. (1 inch) at 100 yards. there’s a chance it won’t be the best possible option for your specific rifle, guns are funny that way, but you need to at the very least give it a try.

Hornady Varmint Express

Varmint Express has all the common coyote calibers, and goes into the smaller world of rimfires like the 22mag, and 17hmr. Varmint express use the same sort of bullets as Superformance Varmint, but at slightly lower velocities, so it’s cheaper and easier on your gun.

The best buckshot for coyote hunting is the #4 buckshot from Hornady’s Varmint Express product line. It’s a lead alloy, for density and economy. The shot groups incredibly tight from all chokes due to their unique shot cup, and will knock down a coyote at 70 yards.

Nosler Varmageddon

Nosler also comes as a factory load, from Nosler. The velocity is equivalent to Varmint Express, and the bullets are hard to beat. They’re just pricey but darn awesome! Noser has loaded ammo available with every one of their Varmageddon bullets, from .17 fireball to 7.62×39 and .308.

They also carry ammo for their signature 22 Nosler varmint rifle. If you are looking for some of the more obscure varmint calibers, check them out.

Federal Varmint And Predator

Ferdral loads qualty ammo and hunters know it. Their Varmint And Predator line is loaded with Hornady V-MAX bullets from and is available in calibers from .204 Ruger up to .308. these are very popular and quite comparable to Fedaral Varmint Express loads.

In fact, I just talked to a man who could find the Varmint Express so he picked up a box of this intead. he was nervous to change but needed ammo for the weekend hunt. He showed me pictures of three coyotes he’d shot that weekend and said the bullets had the same function and nearly the same point of impact on paper.

That’s pretty much the consensus I’ve found. Federal Varmint And Predator is an acceptable replacement for Hornady Varmint Express.

Best Budget Ammo for Coyotes

Hornady Frontier is a line of ammo topped with Hornady bullets, but made at the Lake City military manufacturing plant.  They make 223, 5.56, 300blk, and 6.5 Grendel. They all use Hornady’s signature precision-made bullets.

It’s bulk produced, military primed, and sold in a cheaper, brown cardboard box. Hornady states that all .223/5.56 Frontier ammo is adequate for varmints. Sure, most of them are FMJ and won’t break up as violently as other options, but they will kill a coyote.

It used to be fairly common to use military FMJ ammo to avoid a large exit hole in the hide. You’d get an exit for sure, but it will be a small one from a still intact bullet.

The Frontier line does have a 223 in a 55 grain Hornady Varmint bullet. It is loaded with Hornady’s spire point (pointy) soft lead tipped traditional Varmint bullet. The stated velocity is 3240 fps. it’s a solid 300-yard coyote killer. It’s also the factory ammo I tend to go with for all my small game.