222 Remington


#1

In 1948 Remington introduced their new Model 722 rifle. The first “short action” Remington, it was chambered in 300 Savage and 257 Roberts and advertised as a new, lighter weight, big game rifle. But even before the first 722 found its way to gun store shelves, 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 today’s 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 action and so he recommended a slightly longer case. With the redesigned cartridge in hand, he and F&S Gun Editor Warren Page set forth to test it in the field. They found the bullet to be too hard, resulting in ricochets and unreliable expansion and recommended the weight be increased to 50 grains, the jacket thinned, and the velocity increased to 3200 fps. All three changes were adopted and the new 222 Remington was introduced in early 1950.

Both Page and Walker were Benchrest shooters and saw the potential of the new cartridge for 100 and 200-yard benchrest. It was first used in competition in 1951 and started winning everything in sight, dominating for more than 20 years. But there’s not a Benchrest shooter alive who doesn’t think a good cartridge can be made better and even it was wildcatted. Shown below are six cartridges from my collection. A 222 Prototype, a standard 222 Remington varmint load, a 222 Remington Benchrest load, and three wildcats, the 222-35, 222-40, and 222 Haney.

The 222 Remington case became the basis for an entire generation of small caliber, high velocity cartridges, including the 17 Remington, 221 Fireball, 222 Rem Mag, 223 Remington, 5.56 x45, several US military experimentals and countless wildcats of many calibers .


#2

The 222 Prot. looks like a 221 Fireball with a longer neck


#3

Ray,

Another nice “mini-article”! Does the prototype have any headstamp?

Dave


#4

Pivi

Yes, the prototype is very much like the 221 Fireball. I’m sure that Rem simply made a few changes to the proto when they decided to introduce the Fireball some 13 years later.

Dave

The hs is REM-UMC 222 REM. Several of these are known to exist including a dummy and a proof cartridge. Contemporary Remington advertising shows an artists rendering of the prototype. Warren page mentioned it in some of his writings as did Mike Walker. Mike is an old Benchrest shooter and I asked him about it many years ago. In his usual modest way he said he had a small part in it’s development but would not presume to take credit.

I believe that the bullet used in the first 222 Remington cartridges was the standard Swift 48 grain SP which accounts for it’s poor performance. I have at least one 222 Remington cartridge with the Swift bullet and I’m confident that it is one of those first tested.

Most of what I have in my 222 Rem collection (except the wildcats) came from another Benchrest shooter (now gone) who shot a lot with Mike and Warren. He probably got all of it from Mike.

For those who do not know who Mike Walker is, he is Mr. Remington. He designed the M721, M722, and M700 rifles, the Remington BR rifle scope, the 222 Rem Mag, 222 Remington, 7mm Rem Mag, as well as several WWII military experimentals. Unfortunately, he is now in his 90s and cannot remember most of what he did back in those old days. A lot of it is lost to history. He still shoots Benchrest, believe it or don’t.

Ray


#5

Hi Ray
A most excellent article. Thank you.
The 222 Prot. is also known as the .22 Remington 1 7/16", and the cartridge was pictured in some of Remington’s printed advertising.


#6

My dad built an unlimited class benchrest rifle back in the late 70s (I think)
it was chambered in a caliber called 222 1/2 Shilen.
It is based on 222 Magnum brass and is about half way between the two cases


#7

Craight - I did a little bench rest shooting in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as I recall. I used a .222 Remington Stock Model 40XB-BR, 20" barrel, light varmint class, for about everything. A great shooting rifle. At that time, while my own rifle was just 222, the 222-1/2 was very popular and one of the calibers “to beat.” I could shoot very, very well on a day with just about zero conditions, but I never could dope wind very well, and mirage not at all. It actually made me decide eventually to turn to NRA pistol shooting. I really admire the great bench rest shooters - good bunch of guys, and great cartridge innovators. I shot some pretty tight groups, like I said, on days (our range was open at night, and I did the best then - it was semi-enclosed, and at night, little wind and almost no mirage in the cool Bay Area), but when there was wind and mirage, I was all over the paper, so to speak!

The plain old .222 was capable of near one-holers, but some of the wildcats seemed to have it beat. I still like the small case .22s, although all I have left is an iron sight target rifle in .223, made from an otherwise stock Sako Vixen fitted with Redfiled International sights and altered for stripper clip loading. I don’t shoot it as well as I used to, but still take it out about once every couple of years and shoot it from the bench, still iron sight. Fun! For a short neck cartridge, a .223 in properly selected and tuned cases is capable of damned good accuracy too.


#8

Some have suggested that the requirement of a long neck for accuracy is a myth. For instance, the late Gale McMillan insisted that longer case necks actually hampered the accuracy potential of a cartridge. Back in the early '70s, Robert Hutton stated that the long necks compensated for the limitations of older loading equipment, but manufacturing improvements had long since eliminated these problems. I’ve wondered if it didn’t come from the use of cast bullets. If the base of the bullet protruded below the case neck, you risked having the bullet lube contaminate the powder.


#9

Daniel

I have to wonder if Gale really held that opinion. One of his pet projects, the 50 FAT MAC, had very little neck. More recently, the 30 WOLF PUP has won more than its share of fake-wood trophies at benchrest tournaments, in spite of its short neck. Or maybe because of its short neck??

I think the real emphasis on cartridge necks should be toward uniform neck tension rather than length. (I suppose its time to re-print my article on stepped neck cases.)

None of these comments apply to military cartridges BTW.

Anyway, below are the FAT MAC and the WOLF PUP.


#10

Ray, I guess I didn’t make that clear. Gale came out in favor of short necks, arguing that longer necks hampered accuracy.


#11

Sorry Daniel. I think I mis-read your original post.

Ray