The AR-15 for Coyote Hunting: Is it really a good option?
The AR-style rifle is becoming the most popular type of gun for coyote hunting, and I’ve bought into it. I absolutely love my AR setup for coyotes.
The Ar-15 is an excellent choice for coyote hunting. Its easy handling makes shooting a moving coyote simple, and its general low recoil makes follow-up shots fast and practical. AR-15 calibers like .223 Rem, .224 Valkyrie, and 6.5 Grendel are popular and effective AR-15 calibers for coyote hunting.‘
Yes, it works. But, there’s a lot more to talk about. What makes it so good, what accessories do I need, and which caliber should I get? Let’s talk.
Why the AR is Awesome for Coyote Hunting
The AR rifle is popular because it is modifiable without a gunsmith. There are hundreds of options and accessories that will customize your rifle with no tools needed. It’s incredibly easy to custom fit an AR to your personal preference.
For example, most AR rifles today come with an adjustable position stock. It will adjust to fit well with any size hunter. It will fit regardless of if you are wearing a t-shirt or a very thick winter coat because you can just lengthen the stock an inch or two so the rifle comes up in the same spot every time.
Even changing up shooting positions can change the way the rifle comes up. when shooting low-prone, you usually need a shooter stock than when shooting in an upright position. Having the option to adjust things kames you more comfortable, and thus more accurate.
Most AR-style rifles have long rails on top for attaching whatever strikes your fancy. First and foremost is a scope or red dot sight. Most of them also have universal M-lok attachment points along the sides and bottom of the handguard. You can attach literally anything to them because it’s standardized.
Various bipods, lights, slings, and more can be attached to almost any in dozens of positions along the rifle. Set it up according to what you like and what feels comfortable. People like the AR because as time goes on, you can customize it with whatever strikes your fancy.
Then there’s the pistol grip. ARs some with a pistol-type grip which makes shouldering the rifle faster and more natural for a lot of people. It also makes it easy to hold while moving. Pistol grips give a more secure hold than a traditional rifle. I’ve really learned to like a pistol grip.
Finally, ARs tend to be compact. The compactness of most AR rifles makes them awful handy. Mine has a 16-inch barrel and is only 31-inches long from nose to tail. Compact rifles are easy to carry and swing faster to allow easier following of a moving target.
And hey, let’s not forget about the fact that ARs are semi-auto so you can get that second shot quickly if you need it. I know AR-type rifles have become a popular trend, but it really only because of the utility they offer.
They’re not too expensive, not at all complicated, and let you do whatever you want with them. Add to that the fact that most calibers are incredibly low-recoil and you can buy them one off the shelf at any gun store. It’s no wonder why the younger generation is grabbing them up like hotcakes.
Which Caliber AR for Hunting Coyotes
The Best AR caliber for coyote hunting is .223 Rem. The .223 has the most abundant ammo selection, most affordable ammo prices, and is fairly flat-shooting to 250-yards. It also has very low recoil which lets you shoot faster and keep your eyes on your target.
My coyote rifle is a .223. I like to shoot Hornady Superformance Varmint, but I usually get cheaper Hornady soft point ammo. I like the 223 because it’s standardized as the most common rifle cartridge in the country these days. I can get some sort of ammo at any store in my travels.
The .224 Valkyrie was supposed to be the next great thing, but it didn’t really offer that much that the .223 didn’t already do. And, the Valkyrie is more expensive. It just never took off, so ammo can be hard to find the Valkyrie is more common among coyote hunters, but it’s still not very common.
Finally, we have the 6.5 Grendel. The Grendel is an awesome utility round, more so than the .223 and Valkyrie. It fires a 123-grain, high ballistic coefficient bullet at moderate velocities, with low recoil. I’ve been writing a lot about the Grendel on my website, GunTradition.com.
It works great for coyotes, and even deer and bears, but once again it’s not common. This one is just a crying shame. It’s my all-around most favorite cartridge, except that I can hardly ever find ammo for it. I’m trying to lead the charge in popularizing the Grendel, but it’s not working so far.
We are left with the .223 simply because it’s the best caliber that we can actually get ammo for. And it does work very well for coyotes.
Is a Basic AR Okay, or Do I Need a Fancy One?
A basic AR will work, but it should have a scope. You don’t need a $1,000 rifle to hunt coyotes. A $500 AR and scope will work well. Plus, you can customize it down the road as you learn what you like. Many basic AR rifles will need the front sight altered to fit a scope, but that’s quite simple to do.
My AR isn’t basic. It’s a stainless steel, Bull Barrell, (extra thick) and I spray-pained it camo. It has an old-school A-2 style fixed stock, and everything internal is industry standard. I traded three days’ labor for it. I’ve done a DIY trigger job on it but may get a nice trigger at some point.
I recommend something with a flat top (long rail with no iron sights) like the Great lakes Outdoor 223 WYLDE Rifle as a great beginner rifle. It’s well-built, well-tuned, and ready for a scope. Plus, they have unbeatable customer service.
You can go with something like the Ruger AR556, but to add a scope, you need to cut off part of the front sight post or replace it with a lower-profile gas block. and, since it doesn’t have a free-floated handguard it won’t be all that functional past 100-150 yards on a small target.