If you ever want to start an argument, a surefire way to drop the gauntlet is by making absolute declarations about guns. For example, saying a .270 is all you need or my favorite elk rifle is a .243 can be blood boilers. As a culture, blessed as we are with so many “best” choices, it’s hard to find common ground with such different experiences and backgrounds. It seems like no matter the merits or misgivings of any cartridge, people either love it or hate it. Case in point, the .22-250 Remington.
Standardized in 1965, the .22-250 was divined in 1937 as a wildcat round. The popular .250 Savage case was necked down to take .224 caliber bullets, hence the moniker “.22-250.” While hardly an overnight sensation, it eventually outclassed its competitors. An efficient, accurate load, it is nearly perfect for what its progenitors intended.
Here in Eastern Oregon, I think there are more “truck guns” chambered in .22-250 than anything else. I learned of the deadly potential of this classic round at a young age. My father never misses a chance to sing its praises. It’s definitely one of his favorites and mine too. It’s popularity is well warranted; a flat-shooting varminter, it also is an adequate deer rifle in the hands of a good shot. Adequate as in it will work under the right conditions but isn’t the best choice in all conditions. The controversy over this application isn’t unfounded as many have heard of or witnessed mixed results using .22s on big game.
These naysayers aren’t wrong, per se; the factories load their ammo with thin-jacketed, rapid-expansion bullets perfect for vermin, but not so reliable on bigger critters. Sticking with the heavier 55 grain bullets for all-around use is strongly advised.
Bullet performance is just as important as shot placement in my experience; your bullet must have enough integrity to penetrate to the vitals even when you put it in the “right spot.” Knowing that .22 bullets are “soft,” hunters must restrict themselves to broadside shots into the lungs, avoiding the front shoulders. Handloading premium bullets aids in attaining the desired performance as these have thicker jackets. While these boutique bullets will give greater penetration, they do not increase the killing power of your weapon. The class of game animals for which a .22-250 should be applied does not enlarge by using “hard” bullets.
Some recommend head or neck shots as an additional alternative, and I leave this up to you to decide for yourself, though I personally don’t endorse it. The “pie plate” sized vital area behind the front shoulder is a much better target. Believe it or not, head shot animals can survive if the brain or spine does not take a direct hit. Poor shot placement leads to a slow, painful death. No creature deserves that.
Precautions aside, for varmints and big game animals under 100 pounds, a .22-250 works great. Recoil is minimal, rifles and ammunition abundant and accuracy top notch. Remember to pick a heavier, quality-made bullet and place your shots just so. Of course, if you own a .22-250, you already know exactly what it’s capable of.
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