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Thread: Ptarmigan gun

  1. #1

    Default Ptarmigan gun

    Is the .22 the best way to go for a ptarmigan rifle? Or are some of you using 17s. Is the 17 too much for birds?

    Also what power scopes do you have on your ptarmigan guns?

  2. #2


    I don't imagine it'd make too much difference whether you used a .22 or a .17 if you were to head shoot them. That's the main reason I use a .22 for grouse, ptarmigans and rabbits is so I can make a head shot and not worry about ruining any meat. My rabbit rifle back home in MT is a Ruger 77/22 with a 4x Leupold compact on it and that's about all the scope I think you'd need for a small game .22. It was also plenty of scope for shooting prairie dogs out past 100 yards. Then again, that was shooting off a bench and when I shot many more rounds per year than I do now.
    NRA Life Member, Prior F-16 crew chief.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Anchorage, Alaska


    I only use a 10/22, shooting solids rather than hollow points. I mostly head shoot them, but sometimes can't pull it off. If I whack them in the body the meat damage is not bad. The soilds don't usually drop them in thier tracks like a hollow point...but I've never been charged by a wounded one yet. You'll hear them hit and the bird does die. Me and my family really like eating them, and I take my legal limit of birds on several snow machine trips each year.

    I wouldn't use a .17 if you want to eat them. I have head shot them with a .30-06 once...actually three birds in a row on the same trip without missing or friends were amazed That experience gave me confidence, so I tried it again with an Encore pistol in .22-250 during a predator hunt. My first shot went high, so I aimed slightly lower it. When I walked up to retrieve my bird, there was nothing left but two legs and a lot of unidentifiable material and feathers. It was as if the ptarmigan had eaten a hand grenade. I felt badly, and I won't be doing that again.

  4. #4


    For me rifles are head shot only on ptarmigan. Therefore it doesn't really matter which you choose, so long as it's really accurate and you shoot it well. Heck, I've probably shot more with my 375H&H and cast bullets as I have with a 22. Whatever rifle I'm carrying for big game or protection in ptarmigan county, I also carry a bunch of reduced velocity cast bullet loads. Dandy arrangement no matter what the caliber.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Southwest Alaska


    Ruger 10/22 massaged with floated barrel, Randy's blueprinted bolt, Ti firing pin guide rod, and Kidd 6 oz. trigger. I love it.
    Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

    Better living through chemistry (I'm a chemist)

    You can piddle with the puppies, or run with the wolves...

  6. #6
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up Ptarmy w/out shotgun

    You asked about .22 LR & .17 (guessing you are talking rimfires)

    You'll find Ptarmigan in many areas throughout Alaska. All these spots have a few things in common for potentially good hunting.

    #1 the favorite food sources,
    #2 some water source,
    #4 small gravel or bits of rock,
    #5 landscape providing cover/hiding/camouflaging etc. with observation posts, sleeping strategies, and escape patterns while on the run or by flight.

    By identifying these areas - you'll then be able to develop hunting and shooting strategies of your own.

    Accurate .22 LR guns are an excellent choice... w/ good sights or quality scopes all the better. Ranges likely kept to 65 yards or so in most field conditions. Solids or HP and various velocities does not matter so much as what ammo is most accurate and reliable in your gun.

    Accurate .22 Mags are another fine choice and offer a bit better range out past the 65 yards into the 75 just shy of 100. Here however... go w/ a jacket/solid.

    The .17 hmr is one of the most error free 25-125 yard shooters, is highly accurate, and offers the highest performance. Get to know the round first!!! Do not take body shots!!! Most every brand gun shoots well. Same pretty much goes for the .17 Mach II. In .17 rimfires 17 gr. V-max bullets are generally producing the best precision... tho' there is a FMJ available.

    I do not suggest centerfire anything in handguns and rifles as the go-to Ptarmy gun. Yes - most seasoned hunters have done it... perfectly good shots can be made,,, yet a mistake will leave you w/ feathers and feet.

  7. #7

    Default whatever works.

    You have some really good advice already. I will add my two bits worth.
    I would suggest not using the .17 rimfires unless you are up for headshots and virtually nothing else. Solids in .17 might be more flexible. I sometimes carry a .22 Ruger MkI target with CCI or Rem. Hi-speed solids. Head shots work with this. If the bird is pecking gravel or alder seeds, a body shot is necessary, and sometimes the bird dies, sometimes he flies up in a spruce or alder and just sits there, like nothing happened. If you wait long enough, he will fall out of the tree, stone dead, eventually. Don't use hollow points if you must take a body shot. I have done head shots with .45 auto, .38 special, .41 mag., .44 mag. and .454 Casull. If you hit low, bye bye birdie. I have used center fire rifles and the results are the same as the larger pistols. Shotguns are ok, but I don't like biting shot. Two pistol rounds have been the best. The .380 Browning md. 1922 auto with fmj. bullets is great. If you aren't close enough for a head shot, a body shot will give you a dead bird on the ground with almost no meat damage. Pick a few feathers out of the meat and cook it. The .38 special with 148 gr. hollow-base wadcutters at absolutely minimum velocity is usually superbly accurate, and the results are roughly the same as the fmj. .380s. I know people who have tried various pistol shot cartridges on ptarmigan and grouse, but results were terrible. Accurate .22 rifles work about the same as .22 pistols. Stick to solids, not hollow points, and range is extended to 50 to 75 yds. With body hits, some will fly up and you'd better look sharp to track their flight. They will die, but where?

    If you have a bird or three, you can cut the meat into 3/4" cubes and stir fry it in butter with green onions and have a wonderful meal. Add bacon if you like. It only gets better. While backpacking, carry flaked onion and substitute it for the green onion. A royal treal on the trail. With eggs and a bit of Romano or Parmesan cheese grated over it, it is great for breakfast.


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