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Hunting Illustrated Fall 2001: Guns

Home > Magazine > Fall 2001 Issue > Guns
The .222 Fading Away But Not Forgotten
by "Wild Bill" Gammell
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For me the greatest and most accurate midrange varmit caliber is still the .222 Remington

My first association with the .222 began almost 40 years ago. I had read much about its accuracy and decided it was time to step up from the .22 Magnum I had been using on varmints and extend the range and improve my accuracy.

The first .222 I bought was a plain model 700 ADL Remington. Out of the box the stock fit me perfectly. The trigger, after some minor adjustment, was good. It shot like a dream and as I remember it cost just over a $100.

In the beginning the .222 wore an old Weaver K-6, 6X scope, which was ok for some casual target shooting but the cross hair was so fine it was difficult for running targets. I switched to a Leupold 4x and found it was perfect for the type of shooting I was doing.

I soon found that with the amount of shooting I was doing the only way I could afford to continue was to start reloading. After some experimenting with several loads, I settled on 20 grains of IMR 4198 with a 50-grain bullet. Accuracy was outstanding, cases lasted for several loadings and reloading made it very economical. This is the load I have kept through the years.

This rifle soon became my constant companion whenever and wherever I went. I have the good fortune of living near a lot of areas where rabbits, rockchucks and ground squirrels abound and I took it upon myself to keep their numbers in check. During those years the desert abounded with rabbits in numbers that when telling my kids about "the good old days" they think I am making the whole thing up. Shooting the .222 at these speedsters was a great sport and I soon found that my percentage of hits was becoming very high. Compared to the .22 long rifle and the .22 Magnum that I had been using, the .222 was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was able to reach targets that were impossible before, kills were spectacular, recoil was just a kiss.

The .222 is at its best out to 225-250 yards. Beyond this is stretching it some but still very possible. One of the longest shots I have ever made was with that old .222. I was hiking in a favorite canyon one day when a varmint of the feathered variety caught my eye as it landed in the ledges. I laid down for a steady rest, thinking this was impossible, and touched one off. Luck was with me that day for I scored a direct hit.

For several years I was fortunate to be able to commute to work for 40 or so miles through the mountains. I soon became familiar with about every rockchuck den along the way. The .222 was perfect. Its great accuracy made difficult shots seem common place. The accuracy of that old Remington and the .222 caliber always amazed me. Even as an out of the box sporter it brought home Thanksgiving turkey several times in holiday turkey shoots.

I have heard some people say that the .222 is lacking in power when comparing it to their .223. After having shot thousands of rounds through both calibers and having taken a fair amount of small and medium game with both, I have found little difference. I doubt if the varmints could detect a lot of difference either.

With the popularity of the .223 as a military and sporting cartridge, the .222 has lost part of its shine. Very few arms manufactures have it in their offering today. Too bad.

While I shoot and enjoy the .223 and the more powerful 22.250, for me the greatest and most accurate midrange varmint caliber is still the .222 Remington.

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