I’ve spent the past few days in beautiful Casper, Wyoming shooting prairie dogs. I have nothing against prairie dogs–I actually find them kind of cute and once had a couple as pets with my practice wife. But the fact is that man uses land where prairie dogs live and prairie dogs are very destructive. I personally feel better about going out and shooting several hundred in an afternoon than seeing some other indiscriminate killer like poison used to keep the numbers down.
Our group had several of Legacy Sport’s new Howa Mini bolt-action rifles in camp chambered for .204 Ruger, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington and a couple in 6.5 Grendel. I’m positively nuts for 6.5-caliber guns, and this was my first chance to use the 6.5 Grendel.
I can see why it has such a following in the AR crowd. The 6.8 SPC is an overrated and underperforming cartridge in my opinion, but the Grendel is nothing short of badass. Out of the 20-inch barreled guns, the 123-grain Hornady A-Max and SST loads were turning out velocities in the 2,500 fps range and the longest shot made on a ‘dog with one was 539 yards. My best shot with this load was 535 yards and while I did have to compensate for bullet drop, doping for the wind was much less than I was used to.
Howa’s Minis are so awesome that I even bought one earlier this year in .223 as my coyote/truck rifle. Howas are inherently accurate, and the Mini is no exception. Sub-MOA groups are common. Chambered in the Grendel, this combination would make a great little deer rifle out to about 200-250 yards for those sensitive to recoil. Literally as we were shooting ‘dogs I got word that test Minis chambered for 7.62×39 were available, so I requested one to test before we had even left the field. It was in the office within a week, and it shoots one-inch three shot groups with Hornady’s steel-cased ammo.
If you’ve never shot a Howa, the actions are fast. And when you make one into a Mini, which has about an inch less bolt travel than a normal short-action bolt gun, things get really fast. With the Grendel or 7.62x39mm chamberings, they’re dandy deer rifles and, in the smaller bore chamberings, fantastic coyote rigs that also have the accuracy for long-range prairie dog shooting.
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”
In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.