The centerfire world is filled with small-diameter chamberings in .17 and .22 calibers. Yet, when it comes to .20-caliber ammo, the .204 Ruger stands alone when it comes to factory production .20s. There are well over a dozen factory ammunition offerings, though we’ve yet to sample them all. 

Through the course of several years of hunting and target shooting, we have found a number of trusted rounds. Here they are, in no particular order. 

Hornady Superformance Varmint

Superformance Varmint .204 Ruger ammo
It's only natural that one of the top contenders in the .204 Ruger ammo game is Hornady given that it helped develop the round. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

With the round born from a partnership between Ruger and Hornady, it’s only natural the latter dominates ammunition offerings. The Superformance Varmint family alone carries three ballistic-tip options. There’s the hefty 40-grain V-Max, a mid-range 32-grain V-Max, and the light newbie 24-grain NTX. The NTX represents a non-lead, California-compliant projectile. 

In general terms, Hornady’s Superformance line of ammunition advertises increased performance “up to 200 fps without extra chamber pressure, recoil, muzzle blast, temperature sensitivity, fouling, or loss of accuracy.” In the case of the .204 Ruger, speed is already the name of the game. The zippiest Superformance is the 24-grainer with a muzzle velocity rated at 4,400 fps. 

Nosler Varmageddon

Nosler .204 Ruger Varmageddon Ammo
Nosler brings a potent round with a potent name to the table. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Nosler may well win a tight ammunition naming game when it comes to varmint hunting. The Varmageddon line includes one of our favorite .204 Ruger factory loads. The 32-grain FB Tipped projectile uses a metallic black polymer tip and flat-base design. Muzzle velocity is 4,000 fps, and we’ve found them to be stunningly accurate. 

On the receiving end, the bullets do indeed expand violently, as intended. Prairie dogs are certainly not as big of fans as we are, nor are coyotes. Zero your rifle at 200 yards, and that’s just slightly more than a half-inch high at 100 and 4.8 inches off at 300. 

RELATED: .204 Ruger Ammo Review: Tiny Round, Big Performance

Federal Premium Varmint & Predator


Federal V-Shok .204 Ruger Ammo
Not to be out down, Federal brings its own options as one of the kings of modern ammo production. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Some companies simply keep cranking out quality hunting ammunition, and Federal remains at the top of that list. Its vintage V-Shok varmint rounds have now become Varmint & Predator, and despite any naming changes, they keep knocking out bullseyes – and vermin. 

Shooters have a choice of either 32- or 40-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip projectiles with a boat-tail design. Muzzle velocity on our 32-grainers is advertised at 4,030 fps. The thin jacket is intended for less penetration and increased energy transfer. All that adds up to devastating results on vermin from prairie dogs to coyotes, the latter hopefully with less pelt damage for furriers. 

Sierra Prairie Enemy

Sierra Prairie Enemy Ammo
Prairie Enemy from Sierra offers less drop and drift downrange. (Photo: Sierra)

Prairie Enemy is another serious contender in both naming creativity and downrange performance. Sierra uses nickel-plated casings, which it claims cycle better in semi-automatics. While we can’t say whether that is true or not, we do like nickel cases for reloading. Prairie Enemy loads a 36-grain BlitzKing bullet. 

It’s muzzle velocity of 3,840 fps is the slowest of our class, but it’s surely difficult to tell the target that. There is, however, a higher ballistic coefficient of .255 as well as less drop and wind drift over 500 yards when compared with most of the other rounds.  

RELATED: Fearsome Foursome of .204 Ruger Rifles

Fiocchi Extema


Fiocchi Extrema
It might surprise some readers to learn that Fiocchi also has an offering with V-Max bullets in nice 50-round packs. (Photo: Fiocchi)

Fiocchi’s ammunition and primer production footprint continues to grow in the United States with a new factory in the works. Few hunters know the company offers varmint rounds, though they roll some Hornady V-Max projectiles into their own Fiocchi Extrema loads. They offer a choice of either 32-or 40-grain V-Max bullets sitting atop a brass case. 

The former is faster with muzzle velocity of 4,125 fps. In a thoughtful move, Fiocchi packs these rounds in 50-round boxes instead of the standard 20 from other manufacturers. Trust us, more ammunition is always a good thing, especially when you start pulling the trigger on the .204 Ruger. 

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