Nosler puts varmints on notice

Chris Redlich

As the name suggests, Varmageddon bullets have put the varmints of this world on borrowed time and the distressed-looking groundhog wearing a sandwich board proclaiming ‘The End is Near’ is a light-hearted but effective way of Nosler marketing their projectiles specifically for high-volume varmint hunting.

Importantly, unlike the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets which I’m sure every hunter in Australia at some stage has had success with on all manner of thin and thick-skinned game, Varmageddon bullets are designed to be used on thin-skinned game only.

Nioa forwarded a box each of 53gr tipped and 55gr tipped and hollow point .224 diameter projectiles for testing in my .22-250 Rem and .22PPC, two calibres I use frequently for destruction of varmints and the ideal choice to test these bullets. Varmageddons come with a choice of black polymer-tipped projectiles or hollow points in the .224 calibre range of bullets though not all have the hollow point option.

Reloaders will be familiar with the boat-tail design of Nosler Ballistic Tips but Varmageddons have a flat base and consist of a lead-alloy core encased by an ultra-thin copper jacket designed to have what Nosler refers to as ‘violent  expansion’ on impact, expansion initiated by either the black polymer tip or hollow point with a large cavity separating the lead-alloy core from the projectile tip.

This is where the Varmageddon design really distinguishes itself from its ballistic tip cousin. Nosler developed these bullets for hunters who shoot for pelts and fur skins and maintain accuracy out to long ranges. In theory the bullets penetrate the soft-skin varmint and self- destruct rapidly inside without destroying the skin on the off side with an unsightly exit wound. In Australia we don’t have woodchucks or coyotes roaming the land but these bullets are suitable for wild dogs, foxes, feral cats, hares and rabbits and for professional marksmen are ideal for head-shooting kangaroos.

Load testing

I loaded both the 55gr hollow point and black tip projectiles for my Maddco-barrelled Remington Model 700 in 22-250 Rem and, working my way up, settled on 32gr of ADI BM2 powder for both. At the 100m range it was hard to split the groups as most loads performed beautifully, averaging .550 MOA, the 32gr ADI BM2 marginally edging the others. Both the hollow points and black tips printed equally on paper which gave me plenty of confidence to batch load the rest for hunting, on one occasion I even managed to put two bullets through the same hole. The Varmageddons weren’t fussy with varying powder weight loads.      

The 53gr black tipped projectiles proved a good choice for my .22PPC (mongrel) a custom Zastava in a Boyds thumbhole stock with Remington barrel. Working my way up from 27gr of AR-2206H with three-shot groups at 100m, I settled on 27.5gr printing an awesome .224 MOA group. Achieving this kind of accuracy with little fuss, I couldn’t wait to field test both calibre/load combinations on varmints.  

22-250 field test

My son Carl and I headed to our hunting property for an evening of spotlighting and soon discovered how effective Vamageddon bullets really are. In no time we’d made light work of the local hare population’s dinner plans and with 20 shots and 20 confirmed kills the bullets were proving their worth, both hollow points and black tips equally effective though I did find that anything around 100m or less was left with a large exit wound.

An audible thud on impact (a Varmageddon trademark) and puff of hair drifting on the night breeze confirmed their ‘violent expansion’ design, understandable as a 22-250 Rem spitting a bullet at 3700fps is no diesel engine at a drag race. I suspect the same 55gr bullet from a .222 Rem travelling at 3000fps wouldn’t be as destructive but I wasn’t in a position to whinge about horsepower and wasn’t shooting for skins.

Interestingly, anything I shot at 150-180m was left intact and apart from a drop of blood indicating an entry wound, the rest of the pelt was unharmed reinforcing the Varmageddon’s suitability for skin-shooting. The furthest shot that night was around 235m and I successfully dropped the crop raider on the spot with a single head shot, the extraordinary accuracy gained during range testing giving me the confidence I needed to take long range kill shots.

Reinforcing the ammo’s popularity was my mate who has a permit to cull kangaroos on his family property. He loaded 55gr tipped projectiles for his 22-250 Rem and reported a spectacular 400m kill. Using a rangefinder he made the necessary height adjustment and the roo dropped on the spot, numerous rounds that night providing similar devastating results.

With the drought and exploding kangaroo numbers having a major impact on dwindling crop yields, farmers are always looking for the edge in controlling pests and with Nosler advertising the Varmageddon’s credentials for long-range varmint shooting, my farmer mate attests they live up to that claim.

.22PPC (mongrel) field test

More recently I field tested 53gr tipped Varmageddons in the .22PPC and again was suitably impressed by their accuracy. A hare crossed my path at 100m but made me work to take a shot, darting back and forth before pausing at 190m, long enough for me to feel comfortable with a head shot. At the report he dropped on the spot.

In the neighbouring paddock a feral cat on the move grabbed my attention and at an estimated range of more than 200m I took the shot. Again, the range testing accuracy achieved on paper gave me the confidence to take such a shot and I had rid the area of another native animal killer.

Conclusion

As with all Nosler bullets I’m not surprised by the Varmageddon’s performance, accuracy every bit as good on varmints as it is on paper. I couldn’t split the performance of the black tip polymer and hollow point projectiles in.22-250 Rem, using both loads in the field test and at various stages of the shoot they were mix-matched in my magazine.

If you’re restricted by overall length, the hollow point projectiles offer a slight reduction in length, the lighter projectiles loaded in my .22PPC also proving a top performer. Whether you’re a professional culler or recreational varmint hunter after a premium, value-for-money bullet, these will not disappoint.

Nosler Varmageddons are available .17, .204, .224, 6mm, .308 and .310 calibre and now in 6.5mm bullets and come in boxes of 100, 250, and 500 quantity (calibre specific). Contact your local retailer for latest prices.

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