225

Winchester

In 1964, Winchester disappointed long-time fans of the Model 70 by introducing a complete redesign of the rifle; an act that also created an instant market for elevated prices on what became known as "pre-64 Model 70s." That market is still quite strong, despite the fact that the Model 70 has essentially returned to the previous, Mauser-like, "claw"-type extractor, as well as a number of other features that are generally superior to the original rifle: better metallurgy, considerably improved and more uniform tolerances, and so on. Doesn't seem to make a difference to the old holdouts. No matter how fine the jewels, someone ticked off for half a century isn't likely to open his eyes to take a close look, because they don't want to find out they're wrong.

I was well into shooting when this took place. At the time, my favorite rifle was an M14 and my favorite range was on a military base, so I wasn't too concerned about the whiny gun writers  who knew absolutely nothing about corporate survival and thought they knew absolutely everything about how things should be. I figured that Winchester, with such a brilliant history, should be given a chance to let their products be tested by the public before a small number of typewriter jockeys further took down the company. That's what I did when I got home.

By then, the new Model 70 Varmint Rifle had come out in a brand new cartridge, the 225 Winchester. You could also get a regular sporting rifle in 225, and I eventually owned two of them, but I was very interested as to why Winchester would discontinue the old favorite 220 Swift for this kind of in-between performer. Before I even shot one, I disassembled a few factory rounds and sawed the cases in half lengthwise. Hum, sturdy case. Built tough. But they could have easily gone in several other directions to get more velocity; wonder why they settled on this? Firing the heavy-barreled varmint rifle answered that question; I had never seen such accuracy from an out-of-the-box new rifle and factory ammunition. Never before, and not since. I'm not the only one. Over the years, I've visited with several other 225 owners, and most of them got around to the astounding accuracy at some time during the conversation. Here's where I'm going to make a pretty brash statement... I believe that the 225 Winchester may well be the most accurate factory cartridge ever developed that uses large rifle primers. So, where is it today? Obsolete. Well, not with me. Before he stopped building rifles a few years ago, Ed Brown was kind enough to build me two of them on single-shot bolt actions with Shilen barrels. Beyond that, they work just fine out of a 40-X action, or any other single-shot (I like the rigidity) bolt action you might have lying around. However, the 225 also works fine in a repeater. That little "semi-rim" causes no problem with smooth feeding, just as it has never been a problem with the 220 Swift.

I doubt that the 225 was designed specifically for the use of IMR-4064, but it seems like it was. It's the only powder I use, and in reasonable amounts. If another 100 fps is a very important factor to the shooter, then switch over to the slightly larger capacity of the 22-250. As for me, I'm content with about 3500 fps using Sierra's 53-grain (flat-base) MatchKing, or similar bullets from other makers. For varmints, I choose the less costly lead-tipped bullets of 55 grains. Either Sierra's 55-grain Blitz or Hornady's 55-grain SPSX does the job. I have what I consider to be a lifetime supply of brass, that I won't share, which is a good thing because I'm thinking about trying the 225 necked to 6mm with a 14-twist barrel. Why not?

JDC

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