It's a showdown of 22-caliber cartridges as we explore the differences between 22-250 vs 223. Which one of these calibers will meet your needs best?
If you want a cartridge for accurate target shooting and effective small-to-medium-game hunting, there are many rounds you could choose. Two of the most popular are the .22-250 Remington and the .223 Remington, and while these cartridges pack strikingly similar bullets, the difference in cases makes for distinct performances.
Which one should you choose in this 22-250 vs 223 22-caliber clash? It all depends on your goals for the round and how you prefer to shoot.
|.22-250 Remington||.223 Remington|
|Bullet Diameter||.224 inches||.224 inches|
|Rim Diameter||.473 inches||.378 inches|
|Case Length||1.912 inches||1.76 inches|
|Total Length||2.35 inches||2.26 inches|
|Bullet Weight||Roughly 30 to 60 grains||Roughly 30 to 60 grains (Standard 55 grain bullets)|
Most shooters are concerned with pricing, and while neither of these cartridges is extremely expensive, it seems that the .223 Remington may be slightly more affordable on a per-round comparison. However, the .223 Remington also tends to be a high-volume cartridge used in semiautomatic rifles, while the .22-250 is commonly fired from bolt-action rifles, which take longer to fire. Therefore, you could easily argue that .22-250 is more affordable to shoot because (in most cases) you won’t shoot as many rounds.
The bottom line is simple: most shooters won’t select one or the other based on price.
Clear Differences in Width and Length
If you look at both cartridges side-by-side, you’ll notice that 22-250 ammo is wider and a bit longer. It has a larger case, although the bullet diameter is the same. This difference will become important when we start to look at statistics, as the .22-250 tends to be faster and more powerful.
Although it’s not a specific characteristic of the cartridge, these two rounds are usually loaded into different rifles. While the .223 Remington is the go-to round for AR-style semiautomatic rifles with 16 to 20 inch barrels, the .22-250 is fired from bolt-action rifles where 22 to 26-inch barrels are the norm.
Ballistics: 22-250 vs 223
|Caliber/Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||200 Yard Velocity (FPS)|
|22-250 - Hornady 35 Gr. Superformance||4,450||3,080|
|223 - Hornady 35 Gr. Superformance||4,000||2,795|
|22-250 - Federal 43 Gr. Speer TNT||4,000||2,618|
|223 - Federal 43 Gr. Speer TNT||3,600||2,325|
|22-250 - Remington 55 Gr. High Performance Rifle||3,680||2,654|
|223 - Remington 55 Gr. High Performance Rifle||3,240||2,304|
|22-250 - Federal 60 Gr. Nosler Partition||3,500||2,630|
|223 - Federal 62 Gr. Fusion||3,000||2,313|
Of all the stats you can reference, few have such a profound impact on all other aspects of the cartridge’s performance as speed. Velocity impacts shot trajectory and accuracy, as well as the bullet’s performance at the target. Especially with cartridges intended for long-range target shooting and hunting, speed is essential.
As you can see from the stats above, the .22-250 is generally the faster round. In all four comparisons, it was the faster round, usually with speeds about 400 to 500 fps faster than its comparable .223 Remington. Downrange, it also has excellent speed, as all four .22-250’s that we looked at maintained speeds over 2,600 fps at 200 yards.
223 Remington ammo is no tortoise, but it simply can’t keep up with the blazing speed of the .22-250.
Winner: .22-250 Remington
22-250 vs 223 Energy
|Caliber/Load||Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs)||200 Yard Energy (ft-lbs)|
|22-250 - Hornady 35 Gr. Superformance||1,539||737|
|223 - Hornady 35 Gr. Superformance||1,243||607|
|22-250 - Federal 43 Gr. Speer TNT||1,528||654|
|223 - Federal 43 Gr. Speer TNT||1,237||516|
|22-250 - Remington 55 Gr. High Performance Rifle||1,654||860|
|223 - Remington 55 Gr. High Performance Rifle||1,282||648|
|22-250 - Federal 60 Gr. Nosler Partition||1,632||922|
|223 - Federal 62 Gr. Fusion||1,239||802|
If you are target shooting with these cartridges, energy is only a passing concern. But if you are hunting with either of these rounds, you want the best possible energy delivered to the target. Once again, we see that the .22-250 Remington has stronger statistics, with higher energies, both for muzzle and at 200 yards, than the .223 Remington. In all four comparisons, it was more powerful, with muzzle energies ranging from just over 1,500 to over 1,650 ft-lbs. All four .223 Remingtons, however, were in the 1,200’s. The .22-250 was also faster downrange, winning in all four comparisons.
Winner: .22-250 Remington
While manufacturers release consistent and comparable velocity and energy statistics, they don’t always provide consistent trajectory information. This makes lining up the numbers in a clear, useful table more difficult.
However, we can look at each set of rounds to make some clear comparisons. For the 35-grain Hornady Superformance rounds (first two in the tables above) we find that when sighted to 200 yards, the .22-250 drops 4.2 inches once it reaches 300 yards. Under the same conditions, the .223 Remington drops 5.3 inches. Mark one for the .22-250.
The next pair, we see similar results. When zeroed to 100 yards, the .22-250 drops 1.8 inches, while the .223 drops 2.7 inches.
The rounds from Remington (55-grain PSP) shows the rounds zeroed to 200 yards. At 300 yards, the .22-250 drops 6 inches, while the .223 drops 8.2.
The .223 Remington is considered an accurate medium range caliber, but it appears that the .22-250 has a straighter trajectory, likely due to the higher muzzle and downrange velocities. Again, it all goes back to a larger case for a similar bullet.
Winner: .22-250 Remington
You might be reading this and wondering – so why is the 223 so much more popular than 22-250? Well, the answer may lie in the cartridge’s versatility. Most of our collective 223 rifles have a 1:7 or 1:8 twist rate. 22-250 rifles are commonly equipped with a 1:14 spin rate. The 22-250’s faster spin rate limits the weight of the bullet you can reliably use with it. So, if you’re hunting prairie dogs on Tuesday but need something more substantial on Wednesday, .223 Remington might be your more logical pick.
Choosing the Right Cartridge for Your Pursuit
With more speed, higher power, and better trajectories, the .22-250 Remington seems to be a superior cartridge. So why do so many people own rifles that fire the .223 Remington? Because they are perfect for high-volume shooting with relatively-light recoil. The .223 Remington is a balanced cartridge with a reputation for accuracy and versatility, and because they are the standard cartridge for AR-style rifles, they have become extremely popular among the shooting community.
But if you want a more precise cartridge, one that flies with a straighter trajectory and places more energy to the target, the .22-250 will fit your preferences.
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