The Nifty .22-250 Remington

By Chuck Hawks

.22-250 Remington
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

The .22-250 Remington is perhaps the best of the large capacity .22 varmint cartridges. Developed during the 1930's as a wildcat, it is based on the .250 Savage case necked down to accept standard .224" bullets. It became known as the .22 Varminter after that name was trademarked by Jerry E. Geddy, one of the early experimenters with the cartridge. The .22-250 Varminter was probably the most popular wildcat cartridge ever devised. It has proven to be an excellent round for use on game weighing less than 50 pounds.

In the early 1960's, while it was still a wildcat, Browning started chambering their bolt action rifle for the Varminter. In 1965 Remington legitimized the wildcat by adopting it as the .22-250 Remington. It has become a very popular varmint cartridge, and outsells all the other big .22's, including the .220 Swift, .225 Win., .223 WSSM, and .224 Weatherby. It is about the ninth best selling CF rifle cartridge in the U.S. on most sales lists. It is popular on a world-wide basis, and .22-250 ammunition is loaded in Europe, Australia, and Africa as well as in North America.

All of the big .22's mentioned in the paragraph above have fairly similar performance. Rifles for the .22-250 usually have 1-14" twist barrels and can stabilize bullets as heavy as 70 grains (SD .199), depending on shape and velocity. The .22-250 has a reputation for excellent accuracy, long case life, and being easy to reload. Its popularity with reloaders is probably what gives the .22-250 the edge in sales.

The .22-250 case, as standardzed by Remington, is a conventional rimless, bottleneck case with average body taper. It has a standard .473" rim diameter, a .467" head diameter, a 28 degree shoulder, and a 1.912" case length. The Varminter uses standard .224" diameter bullets and large rifle primers. The maximum cartridge overall length is 2.35".

The Hodgdon Data Manual, 26th Edition shows that 35.0 grains of H380 powder can drive a 50 grain bullet to a MV of 3499 fps, and 38.0 grains of their H380 powder will drive a 50 grain bullet to a MV of 3719 fps. The pressure of the latter load was measured at 48,900 cup in Hodgdon's 26" test barrel.

A 55 grain bullet, perhaps the optimum weight for the .22-250 cartridge, can be driven at a MV of 3416 fps by 34.5 grains of H380, and a MV of 3654 fps with a maximum load of 37.0 grains of H380. Hodgdon measured the pressure of the maximum load at 50,400 cop. 32.0 grains of IMR 4064 is good for a MV of 3380 fps, and 34.0 grains of IMR 4064 is good for a MV of 3540 fps, also with a 55 grain bullet. The pressure of the latter load is 50,200 cup.

As factory loaded, the Varminter drives a 55 grain spitzer bullet (SD .157, BC about .255) at 3,680 fps with 1,654 ft. lbs. of energy. At 300 yards the velocity is 2,222 fps and the energy is 603 ft. lbs. The free recoil energy in an 8.5 pound varmint rifle is only about 4.7 ft. lbs.

The maximum point blank range (+/- 1.5") for a typical 55 grain spitzer bullet at a MV of 3600 fps is 254 yards. The trajectory of that load looks like this: +1.3" at 100 yards, +1.5" at 135 yards, +0.6" at 200 yards, -1.5" at 254 yards.

The .22-250 is an excellent 250+ yard varmint cartridge--if the wind is not blowing. For the weakness of all the .22 varmint cartridges for long range shooting is the excessive wind drift to which their light, relatively short, bullets are subject.

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Copyright 2001, 2015 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.