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.22-250

History


Prior to the advent of smokeless powder the most effective calibers were those of a large diameter using heavy weight projectiles. These projectiles worked in much the same way as the broadhead of an arrow, cutting as wide a wound as possible to maximize blood loss. However, by the turn of the 20th century, smokeless powder had added a new factor to the game killing equation - velocity. High velocity produced flatter trajectories and wider, faster killing wounds. As cartridge designers pushed velocities up, bullet weights and bore diameter came down accordingly to compensate for the added recoil. 

Charles Newton, a keen fan of high velocity cartridges, was responsible for some of the earliest high velocity hunting cartridges. In 1912 Newton created the .22 Hi Power cartridge for the Savage rifle company. This .22 fired a 70 grain bullet at the then, extremely fast 2790fps. The Savage rifle company believed that the .22 Hi Power would be ideal for medium game, however Newton was unconvinced. Soon after, Newton created what he considered to be a more effective .22 based on the 30.06 case shortened by 1/4 of an inch and necked down to take a long 90 grain bullet. Historically, this cartridge, the .22 Newton was the inspiration behind the .22-250. 

After a period of experimentation, Newton lost interest in his proprietary cartridge. The .22 Newton lay dormant until his friend, gunsmith Jerry Gebby took an interest in it's obvious varminting potential. 
During the time Charles Newton was developing his cartridges another story was unfolding. Captain Grosvener Watkyns was a ballistician contracted to Winchester during the 1930's. At that time, the big .22 cartridges of the day were the .218 Bee (46gr bullet at 2690fps), the .22 Hornet (45gr bullet at 2690) and of course the .22 Hi power. Most were rimmed cartridges and the market was getting hot for a new high powered .22. Watkyns was looking for the ultimate balance of power versus performance, he decided to base his .22 on the .250-3000 case. What followed was several years of testing as Watkyns looked for the optimum dimensions of case body taper, shoulder angles, velocities and pressures. Nevertheless, when it came time for Winchester to adopt a new high velocity .22, they instead picked up another design using the 6mm Lee navy case, for what we now know as the .220 swift.

The dejected Watkyns continued to work on his wildcat, which was originally called the Swift. It was about this time that Watkyns began working with gunsmith Jerry Gebby who had been experimenting with the .22 Newton. Finally a design decision was reached and Gebby copyrighted the design as the  ".22 Varminter".  The .22 Varminter was praised for it's high performance and accuracy at all velocity levels along with excellent case life. Because the name "Varminter" had been copyrighted, gunsmiths wanting to build rifles for the hot new .22 made slight alterations in chambers or simply called it the .22-250 to avoid any litigation.

The .22 Varminter was still waiting to see the light of day when WW2 broke out and hindered it's progress further. Still more trouble occurred in 1950 when Remington introduced their .222. The .222 quickly gained a huge following as well as earning a reputation in the new discipline of bench rest shooting. The only cartridge that threatened the popularity of the .222 was the wildcat that would not go away - the .22-250.  Finally in 1963 Browning decided to chamber rifles for the wildcat .22-250, a risky move considering no ammunition was available. That step was all that was needed and in 1965 Remington officially adopted the wildcat as the .22-250 Remington, they chambered it in the Model 700 rifle and began production of ammunition.
 

Performance


The .22-250 is essentially a Varmint / target cartridge but is commonly used on lighter medium game where ever its use is allowed. This cartridge is best suited to game weighing up to 40kg (90lb) and up to a safe maximum of 60kg (130lb). Heavier game of up to 80kg (180lb) require very careful shot placement. The ultra velocity .22’s produce their most dramatic performance inside 125 yards with wound performance tapering off thereafter. The .22-250 produces cleanest killing inside 275 yards (above impact velocities of 2600fps). Readers are referred to the .220 Swift for a more in-depth discussion regarding the performance of .224” projectiles at high velocity.
 

Factory Ammunition


Current loads from Remington include the 45 grain UMC hollow point at 4000fps, the 50 grain UMC hollow point at 3820fps, the 50 grain Accutip at 3725fps, the 55 grain hollow point Power-lokt at 3680fps and a 55 grain soft point bullet also at 3680fps. As previously stated, these are varmint loads and should be utilized for precise meat saver or neck shots. 
 
Winchester loads include the 40 grain Ballistic Silvertip (BST) at 4150fps, a 45 grain soft point at 4000fps, the 50 grain BST at 3810fps, the 55 grain BST at 3680fps  and a 55 grain soft point at 3680fps, all quoted from a 24 test barrel with true velocities being much the same. Again, all are varmint loads and should be used accordingly.
 
Hornady likewise, produce some very soft, fast expanding loads. These include the 40 grain V-Max at 4150fps, the 50 grain V-Max at 3800fps, the 55 grain V-Max at 3680fps and lastly, a 60 grain soft point at 3600fps. The 60 grain soft point, although heavy for caliber, is actually a very soft projectile. It is faster in expansion than Remington’s 55 grain soft point so again, should be used with caution at close ranges where velocity is highest.
 
Federal currently produce the most versatile range of .22-250 loads. That said, these loads are not always or easily available world wide. Current loads include the 40 grain hollow point at 4000fps, the entry level 55 grain Hi-Shok at 3680fps, the 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3680fps, the 55 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw at 3600fps, the 55 grain Sierra BlitzKing at 3680fps, the slightly stouter 55 grain hollow point Game King at 3680fps and finally, the 60 grain Nosler Partition at 3500fps. Both the Bear Claw and Partition are well suited to light bodied game weighing less than 60kg (130lb) out to moderate ranges. Readers are advised that the Partition is prone to bullet blow if pushed beyond its limitations, i.e. on heavy round bone at high impact velocities.
 

Hand Loading


Optimum powder burning rates for the 22-250 are those in the 4064/Varget range although slower H414 has gained a following in recent years. Most published velocities obtained from hand loads are as varied for this cartridge as they are for it's competition, the .220 Swift. This stems from the differing barrel lengths used on individual varmint rifles ranging from 22 to 28 inches. From 24” barrels, 50 grain bullets can be driven between 3650fps and 3700fps while carefully developed hand loads or longer barrels can achieve well over 3800fps. 55gr bullets can safely be driven at 3600fps in most rifles with top loads giving velocities just over factory specs at around 3700fps. 60 grain bullets produce 3500 to 3600fps.

As stated in the .220 Swift text, hunters should steer well clear of 40-50 grain bullets when targeting lighter medium game. Each of the major manufacturers produce heavy projectiles such as the Sierra 65 grain GameKing, the 70 grain Speer, the 60-80 grain Hornady A-Max bullets and the 60 grain Nosler Partition. The Partition is the stoutest of this group, however at close ranges, due to .22-250 velocities, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between brands. Entry wounds can show signs of surface bullet blow up with all designs, vitals are scrambled, a central wound path is difficult to determine and bullet recovery can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, kills from the .22-250 utilizing any of these bullet designs tend to be emphatic.

As ranges increase, bullet performance does of course become more uniform. The .22-250 tends to show more balanced performance on light bodied medium game at ranges of between 200 and 300 yards.
The Barnes 53 grain TSX is quite different from conventional .224” bullet designs utilized at ultra velocity. Wound channels are almost always uniform and centralized. This does not mean that wounding is limited; the TSX is in no way lacking and wounding through vitals is thorough. Heavier options from Barnes include 55, 62 and 70 grain TSX bullets.
 

Closing Comments


The .22-250 is not a common sight on the second hand racks of gun stores world wide. People who buy rifles chambered for the .22-250 generally fall for this cartridge. Most .22-250 owners would agree that their cartridge is adequate for medium game, some hunters will no doubt find the .22-250 ideal for particular species of local medium game out to ranges exceeding 300 yards. There are simply dozens of species of game whose body weights fall into the 40kg (90lb) weight category, ideal for the .22-250. 
 
For my own part, I generally try to influence hunters to set low expectations of the .22 centerfires on medium game. With this attitude, the hunter is much more likely to pay careful attention to shooting habits and loads. This ultimately leads to much greater success but more importantly, consistently clean kills over time, in the field. If I could summarize the secret to success with ultra velocity .22’s it would be this; for best results, never trust a .22 centerfire.

 
Suggested loads: .22-250 Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL 55gr Remington SP .157 .197 3650 1627
2 FL 55gr Hornady V-Max .157 .255 3650 1627
3 FL 55gr Federal TBBC .157 .201 3600 1583
4 FL 60gr Federal Partition .171 .228 3550 1680
5 HL 53gr Barnes TSX .151 .231 3650 1567
6 HL 55gr FMJ .157 .272 3650 1627
 
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths         
1 Yards 100 150 236 272 300 325 -350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -4 -7 -9.5
2 Yards 100 150 246 285 300 325 350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -3 -5 -7
3 Yards 100 150 234 270 300 325 350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -4.5 -7 -10
4 Yards 100 150 236 273 300 325 350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -4 -6 -9
5 Yards 100 150 242 280 300 325 350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -3.5 -5.5 -8
6 Yards 100 150 248 287 300 325 350
  Bt. path +1.7 +2 0 -2 -3 -5 -7
 
 
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 300 13 2200 590
2 300 9.3 2490 756
3 300 12.6 2187 584
4 300 11 2295 702
5 300 10.5 2384 669
6 300 9 2506 767
 
 

 22 250 final.jpg
 
  Imperial Metric 
A .473 12.01
B .469 11.93
C 28deg  
D .414 10.52
E .254 6.45
F 1.514 38.48
G .249 6.32
H 1.912 48.56
Max Case 1.912 48.56
Trim length 1.902 48.3
 
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