If it’s true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then a little prototype 22 caliber centerfire cartridge from Remington in 1949 certainly can be proud.
Even before the first Model 722 Rifle found its way to gun store shelves in 1948, Remington was looking at the rifle as the foundation for a new live-varmint cartridge, something that would fill the gap between the 22 Hornet and the 220 Swift. Rather than try to modify one of the existing cartridges, Remington R&D decided to develop a completely new case. The prototype looked very much like todays 221 Fireball. It was 1.450" long and loaded with a 48-grain soft-point bullet. Different primers, powders, and powder charges were tested for velocity and accuracy. Mike Walker, the designer of the 722 action, thought the cartridge was too short to feed reliably through the 722 and so he recommended a slightly longer case. His proposed change was adopted, and the new .222 Remington was introduced in early 1950.
But the shorter case didn’t quietly go away. It would rise again in several very similar forms, for sporting, military, and law enforcement use. Here are a few of them.