Favorite Firearms: The Big, Heavy Gun That Shoots Little-Bitty Bullets Really, Really Fast

posted on February 17, 2024
Ruger Model 77 in .220 Swift right-side view wood stock bolt-action rifle with sling on white background

For more than 150 years, my family and my ancestors have been fighting a war with coyotes that kill our sheep and calves. We’ve used everything available: traps, poison, rifles and even airplanes. The rifles have been ever-present, and many types have been employed.

In 1975, my dad ordered a Ruger Model 77 in .220 Swift with a bull barrel to replace the Remington Model 700 in .30-’06 Sprg. that he had been using. He never liked the Ruger for shooting coyotes; at 46" long and 10 lbs., 8 ozs., it was too big to be easily gotten out of the cab of a pickup and too heavy to be easily shot offhand. Still, he loved “the big, heavy gun that shoots little-bitty bullets really, really fast.”

We ranch in open country, so almost all shots are more than 100 yards. We carried our rifles on our horses, pickups and now ATVs, and we shoot coyotes when the opportunities present themselves in the course of our work. The .220 Swift shoots very flat out to 300 yards, and with a muzzle velocity of more than 4,000 f.p.s., it gets there very quickly with a hell of a punch. Sighted in at 200 yards, and coupled with the extreme speed, it allows me to make snap shots without having to do any doping on drop or much lead on a running coyote. Put the crosshairs on the coyote and I have a good chance of killing it.

I’ve lost count of how many varmints the Ruger has taken over the years, and there have been many occasions when I killed a coyote in the act of killing one of our sheep. That is why our sheep and I love that gun. Dad passed away last winter, but I’ll keep carrying his .220 Swift, and it will be taking varmints for many years to come.

—Mike Robie


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