.22-250: History, Ballistics, Applications, and More

.22-250: History, Ballistics, Applications, and More
May 10, 2022 Edited March 24, 2023 12761 view(s)
.22-250: History, Ballistics, Applications, and More

From a beloved wildcat cartridge to a competitive shooting champion to a blazingly fast modern varminting round, the venerable .22-250 has more than earned its stripes over the years, and remains one of the most popular centerfire .22 cartridges in production. We’re going to explore the history of this cartridge, analyze its ballistic performance, and cover some of its most useful applications, so if you want to see whether a .22-250 is right for you, you’re in luck!

 

A Brief History

Though it has enjoyed almost 60 years of enduring popularity as a commercial cartridge produced by Remington, the true origins of the .22-250 cartridge can actually be traced all the way back to the late 1930s, when a series of wildcat cartridges based on a necked down .250-3000 Savage case gained a dedicated following among small game hunters.

Accounts of these early wildcat days differ, and few agree on all the details, but most historians agree that one of the earliest and most successful pioneers involved in the process was Grosvenor Wotkyns. After significant testing of every variable from case taper to shoulder angle, Wotkyns settled on a cartridge that was intended to be adopted as a factory round by Winchester under the name of .220 Swift.

The exact details of what followed are murky – Winchester did indeed release a .220 Swift cartridge, but instead of using Wotkyns’ design for a necked down .250-3000 case, they based it on a modified version of the 6mm Lee-Navy cartridge instead. Why Winchester made this change is unclear, but the decision angered Wotkyns enough to cut ties with Winchester and strike out on his own.

This time, Wotkyns sought out some help from an experienced handloader named J. Bushnell Smith, along with a professional gunsmith and shooting champion named Jerry Gebby. Together, they designed, tested, and eventually perfected a cartridge that they would name the .22-250 Varminter.

Ironically, the choice to trademark the Varminter name is part of why it took so long for the cartridge to be adopted for commercial production, despite its significant popularity. To avoid legal issues, gunsmiths building rifles chambered for this cartridge simply called it the “.22-250,” and because there was no system of standardization, many of these rifles had small variations in chamber design and tolerances. This lack of standardization made many firearms manufacturers wary of producing it as a factory round, fearing that all of the variations could present some legal issues if a rifle that was supposedly chambered for .22-250 could not reliably or safely fire their ammunition.

The release of the popular .222 Remington cartridge made many manufacturers lose interest in .22-250, even as the wildcat cartridge proceeded to outperform .222 Remington in formal benchrest competitions.

But in 1963, the Browning Arms company made an unprecedented decision to sell a version of their Browning High Power Rifle chambered in .22-250, the first time that a major firearms manufacturer had offered a rifle that no factory ammunition was being produced for. It took another two years for Remington to finally formalize the cartridge, submit it for SAAMI approval, and offer it for sale alongside their new Model 700 rifle, firmly establishing the .22-250 Remington cartridge’s reputation as a top-tier varminting round.

 

Ballistics

.22-250 Remington has consistently proven itself to be an incredibly accurate and fast-moving round – in fact, the 35-grain Superperformance cartridge offered by Hornady has the distinction of being the fastest production cartridge on the planet, clocking in at a blistering 4,450 feet per second. 40-grain bullets are also quite popular, especially among prairie dog hunters in the western United States, who have to contend with strong crosswinds that would wreak havoc on heavier, slower-moving rounds.

However, 50 and 55-grain bullets tend to the most common and widely available, so to keep things simple we’ll look at how they stack up:

22-250 Ballistics Chart

As you can see, .22-250 is a flat-shooting cartridge that maintains its trajectory over an admirable distance. With even a 55-grain bullet clocking in at 3,680 feet per second, a rifle chambered in .22-250 is more than capable of bagging small game all the way out to 1,000 yards, though optimal performance starts to taper off at about 550 yards when the bullet drops to a velocity of roughly 1,600 fps, which is about as far as you’d want to shoot to reliably harvest coyotes.

22-250 and 5.56 bullet on workbench

 

.22-250 vs. .223/5.56

Of course, no matter how popular any other centerfire .22 cartridge is, the elephant in the room and the yardstick by which all competitors are measured will always be .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO. So how does .22-250 Remington stack up? As it turns out, pretty well!

22-250 vs 223 ballistics chart

There’s no two ways about it: .22-250 shoots flatter, moves faster, and hits harder than .223 does. Even if we compare it to a .223 rifle with a 24-inch barrel, .22-250 still boasts roughly 12% more velocity and 20% more foot-pounds of energy on impact. When it comes to small game, those numbers make a big difference – especially if your shot placement is anything less than perfect.

Does that mean it’s time to ditch .223 and buy a .22-250? Well, that depends on what kind of shooting you do. .223 does still have some advantages: it’s cheaper to shoot, the ammunition, rifles, and aftermarket parts are more widely available, and the wide array of different bullets available for a rifle chambered in .223 does give it some additional versatility, especially if you do most of your shooting within 300 yards.

On the other hand, if you’re chasing tighter shot groupings, want a dedicated varminting rifle, or live in a state where most of your hunting occurs at longer distances or in stronger winds, .22-250 simply outperforms .223 in every metric that counts. It’s also a dream cartridge for reloaders, as it is extremely flexible in terms of powder load - the legendary outdoorsman and firearms writer Jack O’Connor recounted a time that he saw a shooter simply dunk a handful of .22-250 cases into a can of powder without any kind of measuring, seat a bullet on top of each one, and proceed to shoot a 1-inch group.

22-250 Benchrest Shooting

 

Applications

Small Game Hunting and Varmint Control

Unsurprisingly for a cartridge that was originally designated .22-250 Varminter, Remington’s commercial version of .22-250 is also a world-class varmint hunting or ranch gun option. It is especially popular among coyote and prairie dog hunters, but it it more than capable of handling any other small game as well, and has been used to bag many a rabbit or raccoon even at distances out to 1,000 yards. It has even seen success as a deer hunting cartridge, though ethical kills require skilled shot placement.

 

Target Shooting

In addition to its high velocity, .22-250 is also an exceptionally accurate cartridge – enough so that both the British and Australian Special Air Service purchased Tikka M55 rifles chambered in .22-250 to be used as sniper rifles during counter-terrorism operations. If you want a tack-driving rifle more than capable of sub-MOA groups, .22-250 is more than up to the task.

 

Competitive Shooting

.22-250 was a dominant cartridge in the early days of formalized benchrest shooting, and for a time it actually held the majority of officially recognized benchrest records. While more inherently accurate factory cartridges have come along to edge out .22-250 for the throne, it’s still a reasonably popular choice for competitive shooting, and a great option for shooters who want a versatile all-in-one rifle that won’t break the bank.

 

Final Thoughts

.22-250 was a revolutionary cartridge when it was first introduced, and modern improvements to powders and bullet technology have ensured that it has lost none of its luster after all these years. While other cartridges can outperform it in specific niches, the fact that .22-250 has retained its popularity for so long largely comes down to just how versatile it is – it can handle bullets ranging from 35 to 64 grains, and can be loaded to velocities ranging from 1,500 feet per second to over 4, 400 using a wide array of specialized bullets, all while maintaining consistent accuracy and long-range performance and without any of the downsides that many niche cartridges deal with.

The bottom line: if you’re looking for a reliable, soft-shooting varmint rifle that can harvest game out to 1,000 yards while also giving you sub-MOA groups off of a benchrest, .22-250 Remington is in a class of its own.

[See the teaser for Bear Creek Arsenal's .22-250]

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Thomas Bolden
May 11, 2022
I cannot WAIT for this upper to be released. 22-250 is one of my favorite cartridges in a bolt gun, especially for dispatching hogs. Having it in a AR10 platform will only make it better for that purpose.
Daniel Bingham
May 11, 2022
Build the upper and take my money!
Cody Little
May 13, 2022
I second that!!!
Robert Hill
May 11, 2022
I have a Remington 788 in 22-250… it is one of my favorite cartiages to shoot, so put me on your list for the first one BC produces .
CaptJ
May 11, 2022
Yeah it's a tack driver for sure but you have to go to an AR10 platform, you can get almost as hot of a round with a. 204 ruger& fit in a AR15-.204 is wicked fast-a prairie dogs worst nightmare!zero recoil with a. 204 also,feels like a 22mag but more than twice the range! Have several predator hunter friends that swear by the. 204 ruger- here in the FL panhandle we rarely get over a 200 yd shot,but they still want a fast clean kill&.204 fits the bill perfectly! But regardless either round is a great varmint round! Just a matter of which platform you prefer. CaptJ
Jonathan
May 13, 2022
Don’t get me wrong. I love my 22-250s but I couldn’t agree more. The .204 is a nasty cartridge and I would love to see them come out with it on the ar15 plateform. I already have a .243 in ar10 so I don’t see much reason to go with a 22-250
Arthur Petersen
May 11, 2022
Love the 22-250. Is BCA's 22-250 built for an AR-15 or AR-10 platform? If a AR-10 platform, can it use the same buffer and buffer spring as the 6.5 Creedmore and the .308?
john@customerservice
May 12, 2022
Yes it is on the AR-10 platform and yes that buffer will work on the 22-250.
MJulian
May 11, 2022
When will BCA be offering an upper in this cartridge
Troy Leber
May 12, 2022
ok, what are you waiting for BCA, you should have had it out before printing all this hype, right? I want one yesterday
Troy Leber
May 12, 2022
I don't see how a comparison can be done between a .223/5.56 and a 22-250. The 22-250 out performs in every single way the test is put. Shooting quarters at 200 yards all day with the 22-250 compared to grapefruit at the same distance with the 5.56. Is that really a comparison? Not really.
Doug Shillingburg
May 12, 2022
Sounds great! When are you going to offer it in a AR platform?
john@customerservice
May 12, 2022
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNziI8DXaz0&ab_channel=BearCreekArsenal
Capt . Don Mull
May 12, 2022
I would like to buy a 22.250 complete upper and also a .243 complete upper. Let me know when you start making them please.
Edward megonnell
May 12, 2022
can i get a 22.250 a.r. upper?
Ilmakemoneytobuy
May 12, 2022
Hell yessss, next on the list 243 or 6mm arc
Joe
May 13, 2022
I hope you make a barrel in a 1:9 twist which will stabilize from about 45-50gr all the way to the 90 grain. This would be the real differentiator. Then it becomes a 1400+ yard gun and will top the Valkyrie. That would be my biggest hope in this development. This is the only round so far that would tempt me to the ar10 platform and only in a fast twist. The lighter weight of the ammunition vs 6.5C and .308 is attractive. And you can do anything you have to with a 90 grain .224 bullet.
Joe
May 13, 2022
...and I hope it is a lightweight AR-10 version.
Josh Starling
May 13, 2022
Just bought one of y’all’s 22 magnum uppers and would love to see a 22-250 and a 243, would get both from y’all.
Daniel Garner
May 13, 2022
And NOBODY makes 6mm creedmoor ar10 complete uppers, its like 2 people in the nation and there ALWAYS sold out ..22-250 & 6mm creedmoor please
Cody Little
May 13, 2022
I've been wanting a .22-250 for years now but I have yet to purchase one. Mainly want it for shooting Yotes at our farm but also have some buddy's who use them for deer hunting with huge success. That being said if BCA drops a .22-250 in a AR platform I will most definitely be buying one!
Paul Ryan
May 13, 2022
I can't wait for a .22-250 upper to come out it 22" or 24" heavy barrel. I have a Ruger M77 bull barell in .22-250. A real tack driver 55 gr HPBT match.
Mason A.
May 13, 2022
Very excited about these new uppers coming out in the 22-250 as well as the 224 Valkyrie! Couldn’t be anymore excited
Robby Akins
May 14, 2022
Iam ready to try out this caliber in a BCA upper . BCA has provided very affordable Ars and looking forward to this 22-250 one of my favorite calibers that I have been reloading for for years .
Ryan Ashley
May 15, 2022
I'd love to see them in Ar platform here on you website! Really I'd rather have a .243 I. AR Platform
Randy Morrow
May 16, 2022
sound's Great i would like one in 243 and 22 250. Let me know when they are available
Tom Miller
May 16, 2022
A fun round with interesting ballistics with a cost factor! The money per Round price, With the cost of Ammunition there’s a small draw back. Then there’s the fun factor and you just put the cost per round aside . And another riffle something to hunt or to take to gun range target practice or to show the latest build - why not. - I will look out for the pre order list myself
Lance Scott
May 16, 2022
What barrel Twist would you use fast twist for heavy bullets or slow twist for 35 -40 grain
Dave Blakeman
May 27, 2022
The bigger the bullet the faster the twist. This is what happened to the M16. The military sent the M16 to war with a 1 in 12 twist - 55grain bullets. It did not nock down the enemy it just went on through. So they decided to go to heavier bullets. The 62-65 grain. Bullets started tumbling at 30 to 60 yards. One reason M16 became a piece on junk. As you might notice the 5.56 now uses a 1 in 7 twist. and bigger bullets. Other side used AK 47 and 150 grain bullets. Almost the same as 300 BO. The 220 swift and the 22-250 started out with 1 in 14 twist and used 40 Grain bullets. I have a 22-250 improved with a 1 in 9 twist barrel. It has a custom throat for a nosler 55 grain buller. I used for predator control for 35 yr. It will keep a 1/2" group at 200yds. 4000fps. or arround that.
Shane King
May 17, 2022
This will be yet another BCA upper to add to my collection but unless you reload your own casings your not going to find any ammo in stock online or in stores, if you do it is right at $2 a round so a lot of people need to think about this before purchasing this caliber upper. It will not be just a plinking caliber.
Jeff
May 17, 2022
Shoots pretty straight!
MD GAVIN
May 18, 2022
The 1 in 14 twist rate being offered is too slow to be of interest to me!!!! Too bad you didn't pick a faster rate.
Tom Miller
May 18, 2022
OK some of us pulled the trigger and pre-ordered the 22-250 today. I will have to order some ammo. Like some other people that have pre-ordered will also have to order some ammo. How about some recommendations for some starter ammunition . I’m looking forward exploring this new caliber for me Thanks Bear Creek Arsenal for adding new products to your line-up and keeping your pricing down at the same time and quality up let’s find some Ammo
Robert Hill
May 18, 2022
Q: Is your AR10 lower the recommended lower for the your new 22-250? Also what mag is compatible with the lower.
John@customerservice
May 20, 2022
Yes we recommend using our Ar-10 lowers for the 22-250. Your purchase comes with a modified Ar-10 10 round mag suitable for the 22-250.
Dale Pruitt
May 29, 2022
Build an upper in 1-7 or 1-9 twist ,they will out sale any of the 1-14 twist.
Charles Sanderson
June 1, 2022
Great caliber but how about a 6mm ARC. to hunt deer in my state the caliber has to be 6mm or greater and the ballistics are great for long range, out to 1,000 yards if I remember correctly. The OAL of the case and mag capacity are close to the same as the .223/5.56 so it is compatible with the AR 15 platform, 27 rounds in a 30 round mag if I remember correctly. That would be a great addition to the BCA lineup IMHO.
Michael
June 1, 2022
1-7 8 or 9 please I want to shoot heavy projos
Norman Young
June 12, 2022
Are extra mags for the 22-250 going to be available
John@customerservice
June 15, 2022
we currently are offering 1 magazine with a purchase. We will announce if any changes are made to the current system.
John@customerservice
June 15, 2022
Right now we offer a free magazine with a purchase , we will announce if this changes.
Roger Hendricks
December 27, 2022
I'm looking for 22-250 upper in left handed
Jack Lynch
December 28, 2022
Let me know when you start building 22 creedmoor 24” 1/8 twist … willing to pre order
Mike
January 16, 2023
Any chanced you guys will developew a bolt action upper for both 10-&15???
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