222

Remington
The 222 Remington is in the center, shown loaded with a 53-grain Sierra MatchKing. Compare the proportions of the 222 to that of the 30-06 at the left. This is a Federal factory round, Gold Medal Match, with the 168-grain Sierra MatchKing. At the right of the 222 is a 223 Remington, which is the reason that few commercial rifles are chambered for the 222 today. The 223 is a Federal factory round, Gold Medal Match, with the 69-grain Sierra MatchKing. General factory specifications over the years have had the 222 at 3200 fps with a 50-grain bullet, and the 223 at 3300 fps with a 55-grain bullet. Most 223 rifles being made today have barrels shorter than the 24-inch standard, and the 222 is significantly more accurate.
 
At a recent trip to a public range, a skinny-barreled 222 (old BDL) of mine was shooting 1/3- to 1/2-inch groups with 53-grain MatchKings. A pair of fellows with 18 or so inch barrels on AR-type rifles were shooting groups that averaged about an inch and a half to two inches with 55-grain military-type ammo. I'd bet that the 222 was putting out quite a but more energy than the 223s. Now let's think about the area of the groups, rather than the diameter. A half-inch group, if shot into a circle rather than a triangle, has an area of about two tenths of a square inch. The area of a two-inch group measured the same way is over three square inches. The two-inch group is 15 times larger in area than a half-inch group, even though at first glance someone might think it is only four times larger. Which would you rather have?

The absolutely superb 222 Remington would still be around in full force today if the 223 hadn't showed up. It has been said that Remington's Merle (Mike) Walker got the idea for the 222 by imagining a scaled-down 30-06. Before the 222 arrived in 1950, in the Model 722 Remington that had been introduced just two years earlier, the 219 Donaldson Wasp and variations of it tended to rule at benchrest matches, probably followed closely by the 22-250. Virtually overnight, the 222 changed all of that. The 722 action, sometimes fitted with a "sleeve," was capable of shooting five shots in under a quarter of an inch, consistently, in good conditions. I have, sitting maybe 50 feet from this computer, a 222 that was custom built three years ago, which shoots 100-yard groups in the 0.17-inch range with boring regularity. The trouble is, it does this indoors but will not do it outdoors. It's at its best with two powders that produce only about 3100 fps in their most accurate loadings with 50- to 53-grain bullets and the 24-inch barrel.

Two other cartridges were also responsible for shoving the 222 out of the way; the 22 PPC and 6mm PPC. In a direct comparison of 22s, the PPC is a comfortable 200 fps faster than the 222, and that makes a huge difference in outdoor competition, especially at 200 yards. And the 6mm PPC... it shoots 60-grain bullets as fast as the 22 PPC shoots 52s. Some competitors opt go for a little heavier bullet, which means a little less muzzle velocity but improved ballistic coefficient. After all the sorting out, the 6mm PPC of 1975 continues to dominate the sport.

So, back to the 222 Remington. Why would anyone want to continue to use it today? Well, it's economical to shoot, and it provides somewhat of a challenge to shoot it as well as other people shoot the 6mm PPC. You look at the scores of the matches, which are posted on the internet. Then you take that delicious 222 and go to the range. Set up at 100 yards with the official targets and all, and see what you can do. Hmmm, ended up with groups today of (example) .193", .177", .198", .211", and .188". Aggregate is .1934". Okay; came in 7th in that match (if I would have been there). Yeah, it's more fun than it sounds.

Even the great Walt Berger, the famed bullet maker who won National titles with the 222 Remington, has quite recently said that he believes the 222 is still accurate enough to be competitive. The problem is that the PPCs have a physical advantage: velocity, bullet weight, and sometimes ballistic coefficient. Again, in the tunnel, the 222 shoots right along with them. Benchrest scores don't change very quickly, and today's results aren't all that much smaller than when I was in the thick if it in the 1970s. In the early '70s there were no PPCs. I used a 222 Remington Magnum and bullets made in the basement. IMR 4895. That 20-inch wonder with a Hart barrel on a 40-XB action would still be competitive today. Absolutely.

I use to notice that most 722s chambered for the 222 had a circle etched in the bolt face around the firing pin hole. The same size as the primer. Primers leaking was a problem in those days, especially with handloaders trying to squeeze a little more speed out of the round. That isn't a problem today, or shouldn't be, because primers have been improved and because there is so much loading information available. Anyone not following good practice is a moron.

Remington ought to again offer the 700 BDL, or perhaps the CDL, in 222. Better yet, both. It's a sad day when the developer of the cartridge, especially a cartridge this good, has lost their way so overwhelmingly that they think it's okay to abandon one of the most important things that got them to where they are. Next year they'll be 200 years old. Time to wake up, Rip.

JDC