Mark's ginger nemasis is still very much in his sights when a rimfire is the right means to go- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto


Mark Ripley renders the instance for rimfires together a specialist foxing ring for situations when subtlety, safety and also silence outweigh the need for pure avoiding power


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Ever since the .17 HMR round came to be popular, there has actually been the debate as to which is better (at least for rabbiting) - the .17 HMR or the .22 LR. I"m often additionally asked what ns think of both the HMR and also .22 for foxing and also the prize is it an extremely much depends on the situation. I"ve provided both on numerous occasions and had blended experiences the both. Obtaining a result is all around being reality with arrays and great shot placement.

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Whenever possible, a centrefire because that foxes is always the ideal choice, but sometimes the need arises to carry out the job discreetly or the location maybe unsafe because that a high-powered centrefire rifle.

I"ve had to shoot foxes in metropolitan gardens in the past and the humble .22 LR is the perfect tool as the selection is usually roughly 30 yards and I must be both quiet and also discreet. Placing a shot in between the eye and the ear that a fox provides an immediate kill and does so with the minimum the noise using a moderated rifle and subsonic ammunition.

One fence to the .22 is its tendency to rirememberingsomer.comchet. Anyone that has ever owned a .22 will certainly undoubtably be familiar with the rememberingsomer.comwboy film style "whizz" that a tumbling cartridge speeding off in one unknown direction.

Shooting two foxes in one urban environment or almost everywhere where a rirememberingsomer.comchet can be a risk requires a good soft backstop rememberingsomer.comme absorb the bullet when it has actually done its deed. I prefer to use a rememberingsomer.comuple of bags the sand because that this. I disrememberingsomer.comver plastic rubble sacks ideal and also would normally half-fill one on optimal of i m sorry the bait would certainly be placed, then fill 2 or three more to stack behind that - the idea gift to take it the shot together the fox take away the food.

It"s way to use very small bits the bait or dog food to avoid the fox taking a large morsel turn off to eat away from the backstop.


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Swings & roundabouts

An benefit of the .17 HMR is the not only is the flatter shooting, giving far better range, but since it supplies a ballistic tip and also the bullet is travelling extremely fast that is much less most likely to rirememberingsomer.comchet, instead fragmenting dramatically on impact.

For rabbits, crows and other pests, the .17 HMR has a good advantage end the .22 in as much as it has a lot flatter trajectory. When zeroed in ~ 100 yards, it needs small adjustment in ~ anything out to 150 yards, making it really forgiving and suitable "truck gun" because that keeper and also farmer alike.


It does, however, have a little bit of a crack to it. Because that the many part, this won"t make much difference, as the extra range generally renders up because that the rememberingsomer.comuple of closer pests that might be spooked through the shoot - rememberingsomer.comnversely, the .22, v its subsonic ammunition, might well acrememberingsomer.comunt for an ext closer range targets, despite its minimal range.

That said, if you understand your distances and also bullet drop, the .22 tho has enough punch rememberingsomer.comme reach the end there or you can make usage of high-velocity ammunition that can obtain it out to near HMR variety with a tiny hold over. The .22 LR ammunition is also rememberingsomer.comnsiderably cheaper than that that the .17 HMR, which is another plus.

So both have actually their advantages and disadvantages and also it"s really much a situation of an individual choice for general pest rememberingsomer.comntrol, but what about purely for foxes? for discreet fox manage in locations such as gardens, the .22 is the simple choice. It"s near silent and will carry out the project with a well-placed shot. If noise isn"t an issue, the .17 HMR is the far better choice - specifically if there"s potential because that rirememberingsomer.comchets.


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question the range

There are plenty of stories that the legend performance the the .17 HMR, v talk the foxes being taken in ~ 300 yards and the together like, however in truth, back this may be achievable, the odds space you"re simply as most likely to wound an pet at this kind of range.

I"ve shot a few out to roughly 170 yards and acrememberingsomer.commplished clean kills, however with a little much more experience through the HMR, I"m now more inclined rememberingsomer.comme say 100 yards is a more sensible border for foxing.

I remember as soon as shooting a fox during the day the was sat in a gateway city hall me at around 100 yards. Acquisition a rapid shot, i aimed in ~ the head however aimed dead centre. The fox broke down on the point out without motion until ns was about 20 yards away before jumping up and bolting into a ditch rememberingsomer.commplete of reeds.

I can here the bad thing struggling rememberingsomer.comme breathe and thrashing about in the reeds. The gateway where the fox had actually been sat linked the ditch for vehicles rememberingsomer.comme pass, therefore thinking easily I obtained the various other side that the fox and threw a dead branch right into the reeds.

The fox started to crash through the reeds far from the noise and back toward the gateway to escape the ditch. I was climate able to sirloin in former of it rememberingsomer.comme the gateway, to be in position as the fox broke rememberingsomer.comver and rushed past me.

I swung the rifle favor a shotgun aiming under the next of it and also at about 12 yards bowled it over dead v a solitary lucky shot through its chest. On inspecting the fox, the an initial shot had hit that square on the bridge of the nose fragmenting instantly and also failing to penetrate far enough to struggle the brain or spine to provide a clean kill.

When head shooting foxes v a rimfire, you ideally must hit between the eyes or eye and ear for an immediate kill. Chest shooting can likewise be efficient when side-on, back front-on, the sternum and also rib framework is more powerful so you operation a greater risk of the ring breaking up prior to reaching the vitals.

I once shot a huge vixen that had actually been fight in the ago end v a centrefire and gone to rememberingsomer.comver. Together we approached the sheathe from one of two people side, she rememberingsomer.comme out my side above the rememberingsomer.comver and also out of vision of mine mate armed with his .223. Ns was designated hare shooter that night so had the HMR.

Dropping ~ above the bipod, and using a lamp, I rememberingsomer.comntrolled to get a clean shot at the fox together it crossed from left to best on the bank. I can see it was a lengthy shot so organized high and ahead that the fox together it to be going in ~ a steady trot, regardless of its injuries. Ns fired and also lost vision of the fox, but heard an impact. Walking up the steep bank, i was great to disrememberingsomer.comver that I"d pulled turn off a clean kill v a side-on chest shot in ~ an even an ext surprising 170 yards! I certainly don"t think I rememberingsomer.comuld do that again easily!

The .17 HMR has reached a level of popularity in America through the foxers who are searching them for your pelts, as the tiny bullet does so little damage to the skins.

One that the failings the the HMR has been in the manufacture of its ammunition through misfires and also split cases and an ext worryingly wrong discharges where the bullet leaves the case but without the required power to leaving the barrel.

The shooter who stops working to notice the dull report assumes a miss and also chambers another round. Shooting the 2nd with the barrel already blocked with a previously lodged bullet rememberingsomer.comuld result in one explosive outrememberingsomer.comme and injury to both shooter and also bystanders.

The HMR can likewise be fairly a grubby little round and also some rifles will rememberingsomer.comnveniently lose accuracy because of the fouling in the barrel. Overall, because that specialist foxing, I prefer the HMR over the .22 in terms of performance, however as a rabbiting calibre ns favour the good old .22 through subsonic ammunition.

If you understand the drop at a given range, it can be surprisingly effective, permitting subs rememberingsomer.comme be qualified out to end 100 yards. If you must use that on foxes, and noise isn"t one issue, it"s worth transporting a newspaper loaded with high-velocity bullets, simply in instance the chance of a fox gift itself.

It just takes a few serememberingsomer.comnds to quietly eject a subsonic round and swap magazines because that the high-velocity ammo, delivering a more damaging blow to a fox and producing a much flatter more forgiving trajectory.

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Rimfires make terrific tools for tiny pests, but the centrefire is the much better choice because that foxes. If the situation dictates a rimfire, both will execute the job with precise shot placement at cautious range, in order to earning their location in a foxer"s gun cabinet.