When you first get into shooting, it never takes long before the 22-250 Remington gets a mention. Often considered the best Varmint cartridge around, it’s little wonder that the 22-250 is perfectly suited to our conditions. Using a light 40gr projectile, speeds can reach 4000fps which is flat shooting and explosive in performance. Yet the cartridge is still versatile enough to use heavier projectiles of up to 70grs (Speer) in a standard twist barrel. Speed the twist rate up a bit and we improve the 22-250 capabilities even more, but we won’t go into that just yet.
Like many great cartridges, the 22-250 started life as a wildcat. Based on the .250 Savage, the case was necked down to .224 Calibre and has been around in one form or another since the late 1930’s. In 1963 Browning first chambered their high powered rifle in 22-250 and it wasn’t until 1965 that Remington added their name to the cartridge and started chambering their model 700’s in this neat little round. At the same time they started producing ammunition which finally gave the 22-250 Remington the commercial status that it deserves.
I’ve owned several rifles in 22-250 over the years but probably my favourite and most used was my Weatherby Vanguard Special Varmint. I brought the Vanguard thinking it would make a great Roo shooting rifle when I first got into pro-shooting. The short heavy barrel was ideal for moving around inside a vehicle and as I later discovered, it was the most accurate 22-250 I had ever owned. Everything was about cost those days (pretty much like the present too) and from memory I purchased my Vanguard for less than $800 brand new.
My reloading experience with the 22-250 is more limited than I would have liked. I did experiment with a few different loads, but with pro-shooting it was a matter of keeping costs as low as possible, so my projectile choice was the 55gr Nosler Shots. I brought these in bulk and as it turned out my rifle shot them extremely well. I used 36grs of 2208 to produce 3420fps from the 22inch barrel. This load was the same as Remington’s factory load and just a touch slower than Highlands Blitz Kings. Although not a fast load from such a short barrel, it was accurate enough to average just over .6moa. The Nosler Shots also performed very well on game up to the size of medium pigs. On the one pig that I decided to dig for the projectile, I found it had penetrated into its chest and it had held together much better than expected.
The 22-250 is better suited to a longer barrel length of at least 24 inches, preferably 26 inches in a Varminter setup. Most standard twist rates are 1-14 but I’d prefer a 1-10 option if it were available. Having the ability to use heavier and longer projectiles offers a real advantage when moving up to medium game performance. Every major rifle manufacturer produces a variety of rifles in 22-250 Remington, ranging from Sporters to Varminters.
Ideally I’d like to have two 22-250 chambered rifles in my safe. One as the ideal Varminter and the other as a sporter with a 1-10 twist barrel on it. The sporter would be great for a general carry about rifle capable of taking the odd pig and goat whilst still being user friendly for the smaller critters that you’re more likely to bump in to.
Whilst doing some research for this article, I discovered that the 22-250 was used by the Australian SAS for Counter Terrorism purposes in the 1980’s. The idea was to reduce over penetration and ricochets. Just another interesting bit of information in the 22-250 Remington’s history.