22-250 vs. .223: 11 Different Things You Must Know

When varmint hunting or getting rid of coyotes comes up in shooting forums or at gun shops, the debate over 223 vs. 22-250 quickly heats up.

You can’t go wrong with either of these two centerfire rifle cartridges, which are usually used to kill furry pests from a long distance.

Even though both the 223 Rem and the 22-250 can fire bullets of the same diameter, the pros and cons of each should be carefully weighed before deciding on a varmint load.

The 22-250 Remington is a popular choice for long-range varmint shooting because it has a fast speed and a straight path.

With the AR-15, the 223 Remington has become one of the most popular centerfire rifle cartridges on the market. This is because the US military and NATO both use the 223 Remington as their main caliber for combat rifles.

We’ll compare two of the most popular varmint cartridges to help you decide which is best for your new semi-auto or bolt action rifle.

What is the Difference Between 22-250 and 223?

The 22-250 is different from the 223 Rem because it shoots faster out of the barrel. The bullet diameter of both rifle cartridges is the same, but the 22-250 will be fired faster because its case is bigger.

A Note on Nomenclature

It’s important to know that the 223 Remington (223 Rem) and the 5.56x45mm NATO round will be used interchangeably throughout this text. In our article “.223 vs. 5.56,” we show how these two terms are different.

You can safely shoot a 223 Rem from a rifle or pistol chambered for 5.56, but you can’t do the same thing in reverse.

 22-250 vs. .223

Cartridge Specs

It’s helpful to compare and contrast the specs of two centerfire rifle cartridges that are designed for shooting at long distances at high speeds.

The width of the 22-250’s cartridge case is much wider than that of the 223. The 22-250 and the 223 Remington are very different in size. The 22-250 has a base diameter of 0.47 inches, while the 223 Remington’s is 0.376 inches.

This is because the 22-250 cartridge has a bigger case than the 223, giving it an advantage in this area (44.6 gr vs 31.4 gr, respectively). Since both the 22-250 and the 223 Remington use bullets with a 0.224-inch diameter, we can assume that the 22-250 has faster muzzle speeds.

The last thing that sets the 22-250 apart from the 223 is the length of the case. The 22-250’s casing is 1.912″ long, which is longer than the 223’s 1.76″ length. Because of this difference, the 22-250 is longer than the 223, measuring 2.35 inches instead of 2.26 inches in total length.

The 22-250 is bigger than the 223, so it can hold more powder and fire heavier bullets.

Recoil

Neither the 223 nor the 22-250 have a problem with recoil, which is a big plus when hunting small animals. Because these guns don’t have much recoil, new shooters won’t have to worry about jerking back to prepare for the force of the shot.

Even though both cartridges have little free recoil, the 223 Rem has about 4 foot-pounds less than the 22-250.

Mathematically, there is a 67% difference between the two, but only the most sensitive shooters will notice a change of that size.

Most shooters shouldn’t care much about the difference in recoil between the 22-250 and the 223, but people who are very sensitive to recoil should go with the 223 Remington.

Muzzle Velocity and Kinetic Energy

The 22250 Remington is known for being very fast. For a long time, it was the fastest round on the market. Even though it has been passed by the 220 Swift and the 204 Ruger, the 22-250 is still a powerful cartridge.

The 223 Rem is by no means slow; it’s actually a very fast round. The 22-250, on the other hand, is generally faster because its case is bigger.

The 55-grain Hornady V-MAX is a popular varmint bullet, so we’ll use it to compare the two cartridges.

The muzzle speed of the 22-250 is 3,680 feet per second, and the muzzle energy is 1,654 foot-pounds. The muzzle speed of the 223 Remington is 3,240 feet per second, and the muzzle energy is 1,282 foot-pounds.

Even though the numbers for the 223 Rem are great, the 22-250 is faster and hits harder with the same weight bullet.

Trajectory

The “trajectory” of a bullet can be measured in inches by how far it falls downrange.

Long-range shooting requires a cartridge that shoots flatter, since the shooter will have to make fewer changes to their optics to account for bullet drop at greater distances. A cartridge with a flatter trajectory will also be more forgiving of range errors.

Because of its very high muzzle velocity, the 22-250 is known for having a similar flat trajectory to the 6.5 Creedmoor.

If we use the same 55-grain bullet we used in the last section and assume a zero at 100 yards, the 22-250 will have dropped a total of -38″ at 500 yards, while the 223 Remington will have dropped a total of -53″.

At the same bullet weight, the 22-250 has a flatter trajectory than the 223 Rem, making it the better choice for long-range shooting.

Ballistic Coefficient

The ballistic coefficient measures how resistant a bullet is to wind drift and air resistance (BC). Simply put, it’s a way to measure how well a bullet moves through the air. A higher BC is better because it makes the bullet more resistant to the effects of the wind.

Since it takes more energy to stop a bigger bullet than a smaller one, bullets that are heavier tend to have a higher BC. The ballistic coefficient of a bullet is affected by a number of factors that are beyond the scope of this article, such as its design, weight, and other parts.

 22-250 vs. .223

Since both the 223 Remington and the 22-250 use bullets with the same diameter, 0.224 inches, there isn’t much of a difference between their ballistic coefficients.

The 22-250, on the other hand, has a faster muzzle speed, so it will get to the target faster and be less affected by wind drift than the 223. A 10 mph crosswind will cause the 22-250 to drift 29 inches at 500 yards, while the 223 will drift 35 inches.

Even though both cartridges for the 55-grain V-MAX have the same BC (0.255), the wind will affect the 22-250 less.

When using bullets of the same weight and shape, the 22-250 always has less wind drift than any other caliber.

It’s important to note, though, that the 223 Rem may be able to shoot heavier rounds than the 22-250 because 223 rifles usually have a faster barrel twist rate (more on this in another section of this article).

This means that the 223 can shoot bullets with a higher ballistic coefficient (BC), like the Sierra 77 grain open tip match (OTM) with a BC of 0.372, while the 22-250 can only shoot bullets that weigh up to about 60 grains.

Sectional Density

The Sectional Density of a bullet tells how far it can go into an object (SD). To hunt big and medium game, you must be able to shoot through thick skin, bone, and muscle.

The diameter and weight of the bullet are used to figure out the sectional density. If the SD is bigger, the bullet will make a bigger hole in the target. Even though the bullet’s size and speed also play a role, this is a simplified way to think about penetration.

Since the 223 Remington and the 22-250 are both compatible, the sectional density numbers for these two rifles will be the same. For example, the standard deviation for the 55 g V-MAX is 0.157 for both 223 and 22-250.

A hunter probably won’t notice a difference in penetration between the two rounds when shooting at small game, coyotes, and other pests.

Barrel Life and Twist Rate

The term “barrel twist rate” is often used in the shooting world, but it is sometimes misunderstood.

The bullet spins as it goes down the barrel because of the rifling inside the barrel. Now that the bullet is turning, it will fly more steadily and accurately.

The twist rate of a rifle barrel is equal to the number of turns divided by the length of the barrel. For example, a barrel with a twist rate of 1:7 will make a bullet spin once for every 7 inches of its length.

The general rule is that a barrel with a faster twist is better for lighter bullets and a barrel with a slower twist is better for longer, heavier rounds. So, the best bullet weights your rifle can shoot depend on how fast its barrel twists.

AR-15s with 16″-18″ barrels chambered in 223/5.56 NATO often come with twist rates of 1:9, 1:8, and 1:7. But 22-250 rifles usually have longer barrels that are 24 to 26 inches long and have a twist rate of 1:12 or 1:14.

To be clear, the 22-250 is best for stabilizing light to medium bullet weights, making it ideal for shooting small game, while the 223 Rem is best for stabilizing medium to heavy bullet weights, making it ideal for shooting small to medium animals like coyotes.

Online discussion boards often use the term “barrel life” to rate the quality of a rifle cartridge, even though it is notoriously hard to measure because there are so many factors that affect how fast a barrel “gets shot out.”

The main danger to the contents of the barrel is the heat inside. The number of times a barrel is exposed to high temperatures, which causes the rifling to wear out too soon, is directly related to how long it will last.

With more powder and a bigger case, the 22-250’s barrel life should be shorter than that of a 223, according to theory. But few people who use a 22-250 say that their barrels have been shot out.

The 22-250 is often used with a bolt-action rifle. With this kind of gun, it is possible to fire quickly, but most shooters prefer to take their time.

Because of this, the barrel life of a 22-250 hunting rifle shouldn’t be a worry, and it’s probably safe to pass down.

Hunting

When choosing a caliber for your new hunting rifle, it’s important to think about what kind of game you want to hunt.

The 22-250 is one of the best guns for hunting small game. Its lighter bullets are very good at killing varmints in a humane way that keeps the meat and hides, and its flat trajectory lets you shoot from farther away.

Even though varmint hunters have used the 22-250 a lot since it came out, small game hunters have found that the 223 Rem works just as well.

The 223 is the best choice if you want to hunt medium-sized animals like feral pigs or coyotes because it can handle larger rounds.

Coyotes won’t stand a chance against a 60-grain Barnes TTSX or Nosler Ballistic tip. Since the twist rate of a 223 Remington is faster than that of a 22-250, it will be able to shoot more stable larger rounds.

It’s important to remember that the 22-250 is a good coyote hunting caliber that is often overlooked in favor of the more versatile 223.

But neither the 22-250 nor the 223 should be used to hunt big game, even though they are great for hunting small and medium game. They don’t have enough power to kill big game in a moral and legal way.

People argue a lot about how to hunt whitetail deer in a responsible and legal way with a 22-caliber cartridge around campfires, in sporting goods stores, and in online hunting groups.

Even though rumors say otherwise, it is neither unethical nor more practical to hunt whitetail with a rimfire like a 22 Hornet or.22 LR just because some survivors have done so and killed a deer.

Whitetails can be killed in a moral way with a 22-250 or a 223, but a 308 Winchester or a 6.5 Creedmoor is a better choice for wounding. Large animals are much more likely to be stopped by these calibers because they cause bigger wounds.

Several states and provinces have banned 22-caliber bullets for deer hunting and instead require a minimum bullet diameter of 0.243″.

Ammo and Rifle Cost/Availability

When it comes to price and availability, the 223 Remington is the better choice.

Since the 223 Rem/5.56 NATO is still a popular military cartridge, there is a lot of extra ammunition out there, making rounds cheap for everyone. Also, the 223’s popularity has skyrocketed thanks to the huge success of the AR-15.

All of the major ammunition makers, like Hornady, Nosler, Sierra, Federal, PMC, Wolf, and Remington, make a lot of factory loads for the 223.

Before the round was standardized, people used wildcat loads for the 22-250, but it was never as popular as the 223.

You can get cheap steel-cased 223 ammo for as little as $0.40 per round, and good hunting ammo for as little as $1.20 per cartridge.

It’s a good idea to stock up, so check out our 223 bulk ammunition.

Target ammo for the 22-250 costs anywhere from $1.60 to more than $2.20 per round for high-quality ammo.

Most rifle shooters who specialize in the 22-250 caliber can only use bolt-action rifles. Bolt-action rifles for the 223 caliber can be found, but most shooters prefer the AR-15.

Both calibers can be found in rifles made by all the top brands in the industry, such as Savage, Remington, Winchester, Weatherby, and Sako.

The price of ammunition and rifles for the 223 Remington is much lower than for the 22-250 because it is so popular. This makes it impossible to beat in terms of price and availability.

Reloading

One way to cut down on the cost per shot is to handload your own ammunition. For the 22-250, this helps make up for the high price of factory ammunition.

Both the 223 Rem and the 22-250 are good choices for reloaders because they use bullets with the same diameter. This means that you can buy bullets for both rifle calibers at once and easily reload them.

When you load your own shots by hand, both your rifle and its bullets may be as accurate as they can be.

When you’re fine-tuning your reloads, you’ll find that most bullet makers, like Hornady, Sierra, and Nosler, offer different options for 0.224″ diameter rounds.

If you want some brass, it is embarrassingly easy to find 223 cases. Since it is still used, many people sell both used and brand-new military caliber brass at reasonable prices. Brass for 22-250 is not as common as brass for 223, so the price of these cases will reflect this.

The best way to save money on shooting or to shoot more for the same amount of money is to handload both types of cartridges yourself. I think that in this case, everyone would come out on top.

Ballistics: 223 vs 22-250

Here at Ammo.com, we’ve looked all over the web for ballistics tables for both calibers to give you the most accurate information possible.

See how the 22-250 and 223 Rem compare in terms of muzzle velocity, kinetic energy, and bullet path based on weight in the charts below.

22-250 Ballistics

Please remember that the manufacturer only gave you this information to help you learn.

You should know that the ballistics of your gun might be very different from what is written. Also, even between lots of the same brand and type of load, ballistics can be different.

22-250 Bullet WEIGHTMuzzle VELOCITY (fps)Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.)TRAJECTORY (in.)
35 Grain44503736312825982125153910857615243516.50-4.1-13.4
40 Grain40003320272022001740142098066043026521.8-3-16
40 Grain41503553303325702151153011218175874110.60-4.4-14.2
45 Grain Green40003293269021591696159810847234662871.71.7-3.2-15.7
50 Grain37253264264124552103154011838966694910.890-5.23-16.3
52 Grain368031372656222218321654120186160341021.3-4-17
55 Grain368031372656222218321654120186160341021.3-4-17
60 Grain3600319528262485216917271360106482362722-2.4-12.3
64 Grain34252988259122281897166712699547055111.20-6.4-20

.223 Rem Ballistics

Please remember that the manufacturer only gave you this information to help you learn.

You should know that the ballistics of your gun might be very different from what is written. Also, even between lots of the same brand and type of load, ballistics can be different.

223 Bullet WEIGHTMuzzle VELOCITY (fps)Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.)TRAJECTORY (in.)
35 Grain37503206272522911899109279957740828010-5.7-18.1
35 Grain4000335327962302186112438746074122690.80-5.3-17.3
40 Grain36503010245019501530118580553534026521-6-22
40 Grain3800330528452424204412829707195223710.840-5.34-16.6
45 Grain Green3550291123551865145112598475543472102.52.3-4.3-21.1
50 Grain3300287424842130180912099176855043631.370-7.05-21.8
52 Grain33302882247721061770130597872252236920.6-6.5-21.5
53 Grain33302882247721061770130597872252236920.6-6.5-21.5
55 Grain Green3240274723041905155412829216484432951.90-8.5-26.7
55 Grain3240274823051906155612829226494442962-0.2-9-27
60 Grain31002712235520261726128097973954739720.2-8-24.7
62 Grain30002700241021501900124010008006354951.60-7.7-22.8
64 Grain2750236820181701142710747965784112892.40-11-34.1
64 Grain3020262122561920161912969777235243732-0.2-9.3-23
64 Grain3020262122561920161912969777235243732-0.2-9.3-23
69 Grain300027202460221019801380113592575060020.8-5.8-17.5
75 Grain27902554233021191926129610869047476172.370-8.75-25.1
75 Grain27902562234521391943129610939167626291.50-8.2-24.1
75 Grain27902562234521391943129610939167626291.50-8.2-24.1
75 Grain Super Match293026942470225720551429120910168487031.20-6.9-20.7
77 Grain27502584235421691992129311109488046791.930-8.2-23.8

A Brief History of 22-250 Remington

In 1937, the 22-250 Remington cartridge started out as a “wildcat.” Gunsmiths of the time shortened the neck of the.250-3000 Savage so that it could hold 22 caliber bullets. This is how the cartridge was made.

 22-250 vs. .223

The 22-250 has a muzzle speed of about 3,800 feet per second, which is second only to the 220 Swift among 22 caliber centerfire cartridges.

Throughout its history, the 22-250 Rem has also been called the 22 Varminter and the 22 Wotkyns Original Swift.

Even though the new cartridge had a lot of potential, it didn’t become popular until 1963, when Browning used it in the Browning High Power bolt-action rifle. Browning took a big chance when it sold rifles that could use ammunition made by a rival company.

In 1965, when Remington saw how useful the 22 Varminter cartridge could be, they put it in their Remington 700 and 40 XB rifles and changed the name of the cartridge to “22-250 Remington.” They also made their own line of 22-250 ammo, which helped the 22-250 become a popular choice for varmint hunting.

The slower barrel twist rate of the 22-250 makes it perfect for shooting prairie dogs at distances under a thousand yards with a fantastically flat trajectory and pinpoint accuracy with lighter 22 caliber rounds in the 30- to 60-grain range.

For more information about the 22-250, you can read about its history on our 22-250 history page.

Check out our article that compares and contrasts the 22-250 and the 224 Valkyrie to see how these cartridges compare.

A Brief History of 223 Remington

Remington Arms began making what would become the 223 Remington rifle cartridge in 1957. By 1962, they had sent the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute their final design (SAAMI).

The United States worked together to make the 223 Remington cartridge, which was a success.

The Continental Army Command used a gun that was made by Fairchild Industries, Remington Arms, and Eugene Stoner of Armalite. It was based on the 222 Remington.

The neck of the 222 Remington was made shorter, and the case was made 0.06″ longer. Because of these changes, the new 223 Remington ammunition could hold 20% more powder than its predecessor.

Eugene Stoner was asked to change his AR-10 rifle so that it would work with the new.223 Rem round (originally chambered in 7.62×51 NATO).

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M16, which the military uses. Since it came out, the AR-15 carbine has become more popular in the US than any other sporting rifle.

The M16 is great for firing in full auto because it is light and has little recoil. Its ammunition is also much lighter than that of the 308 Winchester, which means that troops can stay in the fight longer without losing mobility, since they can bring more ammunition into combat for the same weight.

Since then, both the M16 and its shorter-barreled sibling, the M4 Carbine, have become symbols of American military power around the world.

The original 223 Rem ammunition used by the U.S. military. The M193 was a military-issued gun that could fire a 55-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet at 3240 feet per second with a muzzle energy of 1282 foot-pounds.

The new 223 Remington cartridge is accurate out to 500 yards and can fire bullets that weigh anywhere from 35 to 77 grams.

The 223 Rem was available to the public a year before it was officially adopted by the U.S. military. Both the military and varmint hunters liked the new cartridge because it had low recoil, high accuracy, and less pressure.

 22-250 vs. .223

As soon as the 223 Remington cartridge came out, every major gun company made both semi-automatic and bolt-action rifles for it.

Read the articles below to see how the 223 Rem compares to other calibers:

  • 223 vs 308
  • 223 vs 5.56
  • 223 vs 300 Blackout
  • 224 Valkyrie vs 223

Final Shots: 22-250 vs 223

Because of their versatility and manageable recoil, centerfire cartridges like the 223 and 22-250 are some of the best for both long-range shooting and getting rid of pests.

The 22-250 Remington has a long history of success as a top-tier varmint cartridge, and it is much more effective than the 223. The 22-250 is more powerful and accurate than the 223, thanks to its flatter trajectory and higher muzzle energy.

The worst problem with the 22-250 is that the 1:12 and 1:14 twist rate barrels can’t keep heavier bullets stable. On top of that, the 22-250 has more recoil and costs more per round.

But the 223 is the standard chambering for the AR-15 platform, so it costs less per round and is easy to find. The 223 is often used for target shooting because it has low recoil and is easy to shoot for long periods of time.

Heavy bullets, like those used to hunt coyotes and pigs, work best with the faster 1:7 twist rate barrels used for 223 Rem. The AR-15’s semi-automatic design and light weight make it a great choice for killing these medium-sized varmints because it has little recoil and lets you shoot quickly after the first shot.

What you want to hunt is the most important thing to consider when choosing a cartridge for your new hunting rifle. If you like taking long shots at small animals like prairie dogs, you can’t go wrong with the 22-250. On the other hand, you might want to go with the 223 if you want to shoot a lot, save money, and hunt semi-automatically.

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