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By Colton Bailey of Wide Open Spaces

Predator hunting has really seemed to take on a life of its own over the past decade. It is an extremely fast-growing pursuit with plenty of cool toys and trinkets to experiment with along the way.

It’s essential to have a reliable gun and a quality optic, things that are going to stand up against the abuse that the equipment will take out in the field.

Knowing I was wanting to take predator hunting a little more seriously this year, it was time that I put together a coyote killing combo that was light, reliable, and effective. I think I hit a home run with this 22 Nosler rifle from CMMG and the Leupold VX Freedom 3-9X40.

CMMG 22 Nosler

To set the scene a bit, I should inform you that I am not a die hard predator hunter, nor have I ever claimed to be. I love the challenges of all things hunting, and if it’s in season, I will give it a try.

My bread and butter is whitetail hunting and turkey hunting in the Midwest. If you love hunting those things, you know how important predator control can be to a local herd or flock. It didn’t take long for me to realize that every hunt I see a coyote on should quickly becomes a coyote hunt, whether or not I was looking for them.

CMMG 22 Nosler

I wanted a go-to predator hunting gun and devote a good amount of time to it once deer season wraps up, and share my thoughts on the combination I put together.

CMMG 22 Nosler

CMMG Mk4 S in 22 Nosler

First thing’s first; let me break down the rifle itself. I went back and forth for what seemed like forever trying to decide exactly which caliber and which gun I wanted. After many hours of debate and research, I finally settled on the 22 Nosler CMMG Mk4 S.

CMMG 22 Nosler

There were a few reasons for this. First off, the AR is extremely light and very compact. The lightweight characteristic was something I really wanted in my hunting gun. I deer hunt many small tracts and properties, so I figured I would likely be on the move from property to property in the hopes of practicing some predator management.

In short, I wanted something that wasn’t a chore to carry around. This AR is a great size to tote and be mobile without fearing you’ll lose accuracy from the bumps and jostles.

The 22 Nosler from CMMG weighs only 6.5 pounds empty, so it’s great in the transport department.

CMMG 22 Nosler

Choosing a caliber was tough too, but I wanted something other than the typical 5.56. The buzz around the 22 Nosler had been incredible, and after what I was seeing the cartridge do to coyotes and varmints through my research, it was a done deal.

CMMG 22 Nosler

CMMG 22 Nosler

Here are the specs of the rifle I chose.

Barrel: 18 inches, 1:8 Twist, 22 Nosler, Medium Taper 416SS
Muzzle: A2 comp., threaded 1/2-28
Hand Guard: CMMG RKM14 KeyMod
Furniture: A2 pistol grip, M4 butt stock with 6-position mil-spec receiver extension
Receivers: Forged 7075-T6 AL M4 type upper, standard AR-15 type lower
Trigger: Single stage mil-spec style trigger
Weight: 6.5 lbs (unloaded)
Overall length: 34.5 inches (stock collapsed)

CMMG 22 Nosler

Overall it’s a really well-built gun, and the flat dark earth Cerakote makes it, in my opinion, look like an almost-perfect predator gun.

CMMG 22 Nosler

It passes the eye test with flying colors and pretty much anyone who looks at my gun collection always ends up holding this gun the longest.

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40

Leupold has always performed really well for me on my whitetail guns, so I decided it was a great fit to go on a predator hunting rig as well. With the style of predator hunting I would be doing and the properties I would be hunting, long distances wouldn’t necessarily be a focal point.

CMMG 22 Nosler

For the most part, I didn’t foresee myself having to shoot at anything over 300 yards very often. Because of that, I wasn’t looking for a four-figure scope with all the long distance bells and whistles. I needed a quality scope with great glass that would help me put some fur on the ground. The affordable VX Freedom seemed to be the perfect fit.

CMMG 22 Nosler

It’s reliable, extremely accurate, holds zero well, and does great in low light. For what I was needing and wanting, the VX Freedom has surpassed my expectations. From what I’ve seen, the entire Freedom line from Leupold would make a good pick if you are in the market for a quality affordable scope.

Nosler Ammunition

This was my first go around with Nosler Ammunition. After using it with this CMMG rifle, I’m even more of a believer. When I first got the rifle and was sighting it in and doing some plinking, I was using their 22 Nosler 62 gr FBHP from the Varmageddon series. I was left really impressed.

At 100 yards, the 62 gr FBHP were coming in at 2,731 feet/second.

Once I had the gun sighted in, I wanted to get a round that I was going to actually use while predator hunting. The Varmageddon series would have done the job, but I wanted to try more from Nosler.

So, I will be predator hunting the rest of this season and years to come with their Trophy Grade Varmint 55gr Ballistic Tip. Below is the ballistic chart for the round on an 18″ barrel. I’ve been blown away by the knockdown power of these Nosler bullets from the CMMG.

CMMG 22 Nosler

Simply put, I couldn’t be happier with this little setup. If you want gun that is super light and accurate, this CMMG is the ticket.

CMMG 22 Nosler

The combo of a CMMG 22 Nosler, a Leupold VX-Freedom scope, and Nosler Ammunition is a predator hunting setup to be reckoned with. I see a lot of coyotes hitting the dirt in my future.

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  1. Going to look into the Leupold VX series as I need glass for two rifles.
    Why did you go with the mil spec trigger when so many better options exist?

  2. I have 6 Firedots and got most of them when the old VX-6 and VX-R lines went on clearance 1-2 years ago to make room for the new HD line.

    I think you can still find some of the old Firedots new and cheap if you look around.

    I can’t recommend them enough. There is nothing like having a bright, motion activated 0.34MOA dot in the middle of your 12x or 18x glass!

  3. The combination of a long range cartridge in a sub-optimal barrel length and mid range optic seems strange. I’m sure it shoots laser straight over that 300yd distance and does what you want it to.

    • .22 Nosler was not designed to be a thousand yard cartridge. You’re thinking of the .224 Valkyrie. The Nosler cartridge was designed to extend the range of the standard AR for longer range than you can get with the .223. You can use the same weight of bullet as the .223, but push it way faster and get an extra 200 useable yards over the original varmint cartridge the gun was designed for.

      • Everything I have read seems to indicate that obtainable muzzle velocities are just about the same for .224 Valkyrie or 22 Nozler (for a given bullet weight).

        Apparently, opinions vary on that.

        All the same, I’m not seeing much of an advantage for either of them (compared to .223 REM) if your maximum distance is 300 yards. I will acknowledge that a faster bullet will have a flatter trajectory and thus allow for less precision in distance estimates.

  4. Coyotes are to noble of a creature to be shot with a rifle like that. Sharps Blackpowder in 6.5 Creedsmokes with a vernier peep sight set up to 12,001yards is all I’d use. .


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