Here in the United States, we have developed a passion for overbore magnum calibers — calibers designed to drive mid-weight bullets to velocities exceeding 3,200 feet per second. These overbore calibers provide the shooter with a flatter trajectory and lower exposure times as the bullet moves from muzzle to target.
Roy Weatherby is probably most famous for producing his proprietary line of cartridges, starting back in the 1950s.
Up until a few years ago, the firearms industry as a whole had sort of forgotten about the .224 caliber, as most other cartridge diameters in this hyper-fast class were and still are 6.5 caliber and up. Of course, there are and have been wildcats that have delved into small diameters, but ever since the introduction of the .22-250, the industry just stopped trying to build a better .224.
Nosler was the first company to launch a new super .22 with the release of the 22 Nosler. It boasted “close to .22-250 velocities” in a short case that could fit into a standard AR magazine. This cartridge was soon followed by Federal’s release of the .224 Valkyrie, which took on a bit of a different appeal. You see, the 22 Nosler was designed as a super-fast varmint caliber with 1-in-8-inch twist or 1-in-10-inch twist barrels offered to stabilize bullets closer to those of the .22-250. This provides a distinct advantage over the 5.56 with similar weight bullets. The Valkyrie addressed more of the long-range interest with its attempt to push 70-90 grain bullets past 2,800 fps.
These velocities are respectable, especially considering that neither has an overall length of more than the standard .223 Remington. There will be many who point out that the .220 Swift was the original king of small-bore magnums, but it really needed a fast twist barrel and long action to make it shine. We have finally seen the shooting sports embrace long, heavy-for-caliber bullets. It has been long awaited, but as I am writing this, Hornady Manufacturing is pushing to get yet another super-cartridge through the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute process, just as the sport has been chasing smaller, lighter calibers to perform further down range.
The 22 Creedmoor is the newest of the overbore magnums to hit the market. With the capacity of the now famous 6.5 Creedmoor, the 22 Creedmoor is just a necked down variation on the same cartridge. So, what can it do that the others can’t? To be honest, it is not that much different than, say, the .22-243 or the .22-250 AI, but what all but a few custom builds have lacked, the 22 Creedmoor has embraced. It was never designed to shoot lightweight bullets at 4,000 fps. Though it will do that easily, the 22 Creedmoor was built with long, heavy .224 bullets in mind. The 22 Creedmoor will come standard with a 1-in-7-inch fast-twist barrel, and combined with the increased volume inside its case, you can push those long pills over at 3,450 feet per second! This is a distinct step up in performance. The ability of the heavy .224 bullets to retain both velocity and energy at long distances makes this cartridge a realistic deer and varmint rifle.
If you are like me and love hunting predators, this new era of super-fast .22s will be a welcome addition to the hunting and shooting industry. Your comments are always welcome. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.