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22-250 Remington

22-250

In the 1930s, wildcatters began necking down the popular 250 Savage to create a 22-caliber varmint round.  They gave it several names; 22 Varminter seems to have been the most popular.  In 1965, Remington standardized the necked-down 250 with no other changes.

Folks often compare the 22-250 to the 220 Swift, which has somewhat greater capacity.  Ballistically, these are not far apart.  With a higher SAAMI pressure limit and greater capacity, the Swift has a modest ballistic edge but would give up barrel life to achieve that advantage if it did not have a significantly longer neck, which is beneficial toward increasing barrel life, all else being equal. 

Varmint and predator hunters have long considered the 22-250 an ideal choice.  Varminters who use it incautiously will overheat and rapidly destroy the barrel, just as with most other high-performance varmint rounds.


Compared to the semi-rimmed Swift, as a true rimless design, 22-250 rounds are easier to load into a box magazine and cycle through a repeating action more smoothly.

As with any high-performance round, barrel heating is a significant concern.  Allowing plenty of time for barrel cooling can significantly increase barrel life.  Conversely, overheating the barrel by rapid firing can render a barrel uselessly inaccurate after surprisingly few shots.  For a varmint hunter, especially those hunting prairie dogs and smaller ground squirrels where it is possible to fire a hundred shots per hour, this can be a significant concern.

One could well argue the 22-250 is the most successful wildcat ever created.  Certainly, while it remained strictly a custom option for a good long time, when Remington finally standardized it, folks started buying and using factory-chambered guns and have not stopped yet.

A good way to judge just how successful it is, is to recognize that when folks are out varminting and someone asks, “What’re you shooting,” most folks using the 22-250 will simply reply, “A 250.”  Everyone knows what they mean.  In that context, nobody even thinks about the immediate progenitor of the 22-250, the genuine article 250 (Savage).

My late friend, Bob Bell, owned an early 22-250 built on a small-ring Mauser action.  As a teenager, he used the then standard recommended load in his fine custom rifle.  That load generated what would today be considered excessive pressure, not patently dangerous if used in a strong rifle but almost certainly exceeding the modern pressure standard for the 22-250.  More importantly, it generated pressure far exceeding what the action used to build that custom rifle had been proof tested for.  As such, his load entirely circumvented the proof-test, rendering it useless.  Every shot Bob fired was proof-testing the gun.  As such, that load was overstressing the action.

One Saturday Morning while he was home alone, he opened his bedroom window and set up to shoot crows in the adjacent field.  The first shot that day proved to be the last for that rifle and could well have been his last.

He told me: when he awoke, many hours later, there were little chirping birds fluttering around over my head, the room was spinning, lights were flashing, and things were just a bit disconcerting and confusing; I’d have been far more confused if I had known who I was, where I was, what I was, etc.

Fortunately, none of the fragments took out an eye, tore an artery, or entered his skull, so he made a full recovery.  He carried several pieces of that Mauser to his grave.

The Moral of this story:  Proof testing has a purpose, circumvent it at your own peril.

Heritage of this case dates to the 1870s with the introduction of the 40-70 Ballard case.


The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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