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Ruger 204, performance observations
By Popular Demand: Discussions related to Varmint Hunting
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Super Member
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Joined: Aug 22, 2005
Posts: 1032
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:18 pm    Post subject: Ruger 204, performance observations Reply with quote

Bottom line: the 204 Ruger is a spectacular round on prairie dogs, but, has limited usefulness on coyotes.

For three weeks I have been testing a Remington and Savage in 204 Ruger. I bought the LVSF and borrowed the Savage. Working up loads that approximate actual factory velocity proved to be challenging, but, the 40gr bullets managed to keep up with Hornady factory at 3,772 from the Remington and 3,755 from the Savage. With handloads ready, it was off for some prairie dogging and coyote calling.

For the former, this was a superb round. Flat shooting, as advertised, low recoil, allowing sight picture on impact. Both rifles were shooting in the .5MOA range. If I were a dedicated prairie dog shooter I would be tempted to build to spec a 204. Shooting coyotes proved problematic.

On coyotes I tried Hornady's VMax, Nosler's 40gr BT, and Berger's 40gr BT Match. Noslers were the most accurate as well as the fastest with the same powder charge as used on the other two. None performed to satisfaction levels on coyotes, often requiring a follow up shot. No bullets exited, except in two cases. Those were exit wounds no bigger than the entry point. Two coyotes shot over 200 yards away almost escaped recovery eventhough shot placement was good. OTOH, sewing hides due to the performance of the Swift isn't a problem here. If you are tanning or stretching hides and this distance is short, the 204 may be a good choice.

Perhaps Barnes will introduce a Triple Shock in 20cal that would overcome some of the problems with the bullets I tried.

The borrowed Savage is back with it's owner after cleaning it and the LVSF. Cleanup is easy and requires nothing more than normal proceedure, other than buying a 20 cal rod and brushes.

For me, its back to the Swift and 223 Rem; both have proven themselves hundreds of times on coyotes with rarely a second shot required. I'll put up with the sewing.

The problem with a post like this one is that it is based on a rather small sampling. While I believe it is indicative of performance, I would like to hear from others what experiences they have had with Ruger's darling.

Me? My LVSF is for sale at a good price. With dies, brass and bullets, too. PM if interested.
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Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 269

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:23 am    Post subject: Re: Ruger 204, performance observations Reply with quote

I have (2) .204s that are 'dedicated' prairie dog rifles and I agree with your observation. They have not proven to be effective as a long range coyote stopper. Understand that I have good reason to have "dedicated prairie dog rifles" and only when confronted with targets of opportunity did I have a chance to test them on larger game. Thats what I have a 22-250 AI as long as you use the .204 within its limits it is the premier pd gun.
My son shot his last coyote at 23 yds. and closing in the front right shoulder with a 32 gr. Sierra .20 cal bullet. Made a huge mess on the surface but little penetration.......won't ever do that again. Just happen to be what we had at the time. Word is that the Berger bullets are a far better choice for that duty than anything currently available.

this is the Sierra result and although the coyote died is was not instantaneous and I was not impressed.
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Joined: Aug 22, 2005
Posts: 1032
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Ruger 204, performance observations Reply with quote

skb2706: thanks for your post and added information.

You mention the 22-250 Improved. As a long time lover of the Swift for coyotes, deer and antelope, I've been attracted to similar capacity 22 cartridges such as the 22-250 Improved. Allow a few questions.

Have your chronographed your loads? Powder? Bullet? Did you rechamber an existing 22-250 or did you rebarrel?
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Posts: 269

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Re: Ruger 204, performance observations Reply with quote

not a problem...........mine is a rebarreled Savage that was originally cut for an AI. This means it didn't have to be set back to be correct for headspace.
The loading data I have for it came from several sources including my old Nosler loading manual and several websites.
My barrel is a 24" 1-14 twist which limits my bullet selection.... but not much over what I would shoot out of it anyway.

Favorite load

52 gr. Hornady Amax
H-380 42.0 gr. (not a max accurate one)
CCI 200
fire formed WW brass
3950 FPS

Also had great results with RL-15 and IMR 4064. The H-380 meters better for quicker loading.

A couple of things I really like about the AI. Virtually eliminates case trimming, you can use standard 22-250 ammo with excellent results and any .220 Swift loading data is perfectly safe in it.
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Joined: Dec 20, 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Safford, Arizona

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Ruger 204, performance observations Reply with quote

Just within the last year, I have began hunting coyotes with the 204. I would have to agree with you on one point. The 204 is not a long distance coyote killer. I have taken coyotes up to 150 yards out, with the 204, and they dropped dead in their tracks. Beyond that is iffy at best, and I have had coyotes get up on me again with even closer shots. Shot placement is crucial, as with all hunting, with the small weight bullet. I use 40 grain bullets and have only had one coyote get up since I started with the heavier bullet. I still use the 204 on coyotes, I know it's limitations, and shoot accordingly. I would take the shot out to 200 yards on a standing dog. Probably not any farther, those ranges are for prairie rats. This coyote was taken at 50 and was dead before he hit the ground.
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