22-250

Remington

The parent case for the 22-250, the 250-3000 Savage — generally known today as the 250 Savage — was introduced in 1915. Some years later, especially in the 1930s, various cartridge experimenters were messing around with the 250 in efforts to create a varmint round rather than one for medium-sized game. Without getting into the specific history of events that led up to the development of the 22-250, it's enough to say that the job was done quite well. Although some of the experimenting was done with 16-inch-twist barrels, a 14 twist won out. It was during this same era that the 220 Swift was developed, and Winchester chose it for chambering in their Model 54, predecessor to the Model 70. Having a ready-made, flat-shooting varmint rifle was enough at the time, so the Swift carried on. The 22-250 also continued, but with the bunch that prefers to mess with a "wildcat" (non-standard) cartridge rather than a factory round. During the following years, the 22-250 was primarily known as the 22 Varminter. Some 30 years later, in the mid-1960s, Remington decided to offer the 22-250 as a factory round. When doing this, a shoulder angle of 28 degrees was chosen; just slightly sharper than the 26 1/2 degrees of the 250 Savage.

The 22-250 Remington is a superb cartridge. It's flexible, in that it performs well with a wide variety of loads. Most 22-250s have been produced with a 14-inch-twist barrel. With that, best performance tends to come with 52- to 55-grain bullets, but there are exceptions. Among them is the 63-grain semi-spitzer by Sierra, which many shooters have found to still perform quite well in a somewhat shot-out barrel. Also, the extra weight produces additional thump on heavier varmints. Another exception is the new 64-grain Bonded Solid Base by Nosler, which has a flat point to keep the length and ballistic coefficient down enough (.231) to work in a 14-twist barrel. But rather than the regular run of varmints, this bullet is tough and is designed for use on smaller big game (deer, pronghorn, etc.) where legal. The 22-250 can move it along at a comfortable 3400 fps.

Savage, T-C, and some other manufacturers have chosen a 12-inch-twist barrel as standard. The advantage is that a 12 twist will stabilize somewhat longer bullets, such as Hornady's fine 60-grain V-Max. With its ballistic coefficient of .265, the varmint hunter can gain some effective distance. And there are exceptions to the 12- and 14-inch twists. Examples include Savage offering a 9-inch twist in their Model 12 LRPV. I have witnessed near astounding performance from one of these out-of -the-box rifles shooting 75-grain Hornady A-Max bullets at around 3300 fps. At 300 yards, it was continually shooting silver dollar and smaller groups in less-than-perfect conditions. Another exception is the offering of 8-twist rifles from the Remington Custom Shop, and other custom rifle makers. At Northwest Magnum, 8-twist 40-X rifles are regularly in stock or on order for those folks who appreciate the great pleasure of shooting 80-grain MatchKing and similar bullets at far-away targets with amazing accuracy and essentially no recoil.

With all of that being said, it still doesn't come around to my favorite use of a 22-250. I see it as the ultimate all-around cartridge for varmints in its usual form of 14-inch twist in either a varmint-weight or sporting rifle. In fact, unless it's a shot-after-shot situation, the sporting-weight rifle that can drive tacks tends to be more fun and satisfying. Years ago, I thought you just couldn't beat a skinny-barreled, walnut-stocked Remington 700 in 22-250 that shot three-shot groups in the half-inch (plus or minus a little) range. Thing is, I still think that today, almost 50 years later. Here's what we like to do...

Tune up the rifle. Make sure there's a little "up-pressure" on the barrel in the appropriate location. (We will get into this in another section, or phone the shop to visit about it now. We prefer this harmonics-dampening method over free-floating.) Next, develop a load using either Hornady's 55-grain SPSX (#2260) or Sierra's 55-grain medium-velocity Blitz Varminter (#1345). Neither of these bullets is constructed for full-throttle loads out of a 22-250. Shooting them too fast (much over 3500 fps) will result in their in-flight destruction by blowing apart due to centrifugal force. Therefore, don't shoot them at loads shown in loading books that exceed 3500 fps. Also, don't shoot them out of a 22-250 rifle that has a twist rate of faster than 14. Twist rate refers to how many inches it takes for the rifling to rotate a bullet a full 360 degrees. A 14 twist rotates the bullet a full turn in 14 inches. A 12 twist does the same thing in 12 inches; some 16 percent "faster" than a 14 twist. A 12-inch or faster twist will blow the SPSX and Blitz Varminter apart in mid-air at 3500 fps. I stay a little under the 3500 fps mark when developing a load for each rifle with either of these bullets. It is amazing that such loads with these bullets result in vastly extended barrel life than what is normally expected from a 22-250. Further, these bullets are far less expensive than some of the bells-and-whistles varmint bullets on the market. Their very thin jackets seem to be an asset when it comes to accuracy. And finally, the difference in trajectory at 150 or so feet per second slower than steaming the same weight of bullet out of the barrel has almost no noticeable effect on trajectory; just a wee little bit at 300 yards.

The 22-250 has slipped in popularity over the past several years, as so many shooters have turned to the much-inferior, Pentagon-compromised 223. That's how it can be with military-based cartridges. The so-so 223 killed the superb 222 Remington Magnum, and probably even the legendary 222 Remington, but that's another story.

JDC

224 Wby, 225 Win, & 22-250
  • Three competitors of the 1960s. Only the 22-250 (the nickel-plated round) survives. It is shown here loaded with the fabulous 55-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw which, if placed correctly, could probably bring down a T-Rex. Federal loaded them for awhile. The belted case with the double-radius shoulder is a 224 Weatherby Magnum. It's so pretty. The 22-250 was only a little bit faster. The semi-rimmed case is a 225 Winchester. The author believes this may be the most accurate large-primer factory cartridge ever developed.

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