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.22-250 vs .223

Ballistics Performance Comparison of .22-250 vs .223 Cartridges

If you're looking for an effective cartridge for target shooting or small-to-medium-game hunting, two of the most popular options are the .22-250 Remington and .223 Remington. While both cartridges use similar bullets, they perform slightly different. Which one is best for you will depend on your goals, preference and shooting style.

22-250 vs 223 Cartridge

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .22-250 Remington vs the .223 Remington based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

.22-250 40 gr vs .223 40 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

.22-250 .223
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 4,150 ft/s 3,800 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 3,553 ft/s 3,249 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 3,033 ft/s 2,763 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,570 ft/s 2,326 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,151 ft/s 1,931 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 1,774 ft/s 1,582 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 1,530 ft-lb 1,282 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 1,121 ft-lb 937 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 817 ft-lb 678 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 587 ft-lb 481 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 411 ft-lb 331 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 280 ft-lb 222 ft-lb
Hunting Usage @ 0 yds Large Game Medium Game
Hunting Usage @ 100 yds Medium Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 200 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 300 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 400 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 500 yds Not recommended Not recommended
Recoil Energy 4.1 2.6
Recoil Velocity 5 4.5
Recoil Score* 1.52 1.38
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures takend from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.

.22-250 50 gr vs .223 50 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

.22-250 .223
Bullety Velocity (Muzzle) 3,800 ft/s 3,335 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 3,339 ft/s 2,872 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,925 ft/s 2,455 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,548 ft/s 2,074 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,201 ft/s 1,730 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 1,882 ft/s 1,434 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 1,603 ft-lb 1,235 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 1,238 ft-lb 916 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 950 ft-lb 669 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 721 ft-lb 477 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 538 ft-lb 332 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 393 ft-lb 228 ft-lb
Hunting Usage @ 0 yds Large Game Medium Game
Hunting Usage @ 100 yds Medium Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 200 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 300 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 400 yds Small Game Small Game
Hunting Usage @ 500 yds Small Game Not recommended
Recoil Energy (ft-lbs) 4.1 3.2*
Recoil Velocity (fps) 5 5.1*
Recoil Score 1.5 1.46*
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil data taken from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10. .233 recoil score based on 55 grain bullet.

Velocity

Bullet speed is unquestionably one of the most important performance metrics to consider when selecting a cartridge. Velocity impacts round accuracy, trajectory and usage. This is especially true for cartridges intended for hunting or long-range target shooting.

As shown in the above table, the .22-250 is generally about 200 to 300 fps faster than the comparable .223 Remington. At 500 yards, the 40-grain .22-250 maintains a bullet speed of 1,774 ft/s compared to 1,582 ft/s of the slightly slower .223 Remington. The .223 is by no means slow, but it can't keep up with the .22-250.

The increased velocity of the .22-250 can lead to shorter barrel life. You can prolong barrel life by not overheating the barrel, but ultimately the faster bullets of the .22-250 will have an impact on your firearm. If you use it for hunting and just shoot a few times a year, it may take many years for you to notice this damage.

Energy

While bullet energy isn't as important for target shooting, it's vital if you are hunting. In order to ensure a quick and humane kill, you want the most energy delivered to the target as possible. When it comes to bullet energy, once again the .22-250 outshines the .223 Remington with higher bullet energies at every distance between 100 and 500 yards.

However, both of these calibers are well-equipped to bring down game. Each starts with over 1,000 ft-lbs right out of the muzzle, and the 40- and 50-grain bullets in our comparisons are popular choices for varmint hunting.

Recoil

The .22-250 and the .223 have very similar recoil. You’ll experience just a bit more recoil energy with the .22-250, which is not a surprise based on its increased velocity and increased energy over the .223. However, the difference is very small, and both rounds offer well under 15-20 ft-lbs of recoil energy, which is where most shooters start to report discomfort. The recoil of either of these calibers should be just fine for beginning shooters, sensitive shooters, or those looking to fire a large number of rounds per day.

Trajectory

Although velocity and energy statistics are readily available and fairly consistent for the .22-250 and .223 Remington, consistent trajectory information isn't nearly as easy to find. This makes comparing cartridge trajectory performance a bit more challenging and unreliable.

When sighted to 200 yards, a 35-grain .22-250 bullet drops 4.2 inches at 300 yards. When sighted to 200 yards, the same grain .223 bullet drops 5.3 inches. When sighted at 100 yards, we see similar results. The .22-250 drops 1.8 inches, compared to 2.7 inches for the .223. When sighted to 200 yards, using a heavier 55-grain bullet, the .22-250 drops 6 inches at 300 yards, while the .223 drops 8.2 inches.

Both the .223 Remington .22-250 are considered accurate medium range calibers. Yet again, when it comes to trajectory the .22-250 outperforms the .223 hands down. The .22-250 has a flatter trajectory than the comparable .223 Remington.

Versatility

So if the .22-250 outperforms the .223 in velocity, energy and trajectory, why is the .223 so much more popular than the .22-250? The answer lies in the .223 cartridge's greater versatility. 223 rifles generally offer lower spin rates than 22-250 rifles. .223 rifles commonly have a 1:7 or 1:8 spin rate, where .22-250 rifles are generally equipped with a higher 1:14 spin rate. What does this mean? The 22-250's faster spin rate limits the weight of the bullet weight that the rifle can use. So if you want to use a light weight bullet for hunting squirrels one day but something more substantial for hunting coyotes another day, the .223 is a more logical pick for many hunters.

Many hunters disagree about using .22 caliber rounds for deer hunting, but it is certainly true that many whitetail have been taken with these rounds. Heavier bullets are a better bet for deer hunting, and the .223 Remington can be found more easily up to 80 grains. The .22-250 Remington is more frequently loaded in 40-50 grains, which is best for varmint hunting.

Price

The .223 Remington is an inexpensive, readily available cartridge, in part thanks to its use in semi-automatic sporting rifles. It can be found at most ammunitions dealers, usually for well under $1 per round. The .22-250 is a bit more expensive and difficult to find, sometimes costing twice as much as the .223. If you’ll only be shooting for infrequent hunting trips, and you’re sure you can find .22-250 wherever you’re going, this difference in price may not be important to you. But if you’ll be shooting frequently or in remote areas that might not carry the .22-250, the .223 Remington might have the advantage.

Width and Length

When you visually compare the .22-250 cartridge with the .223 cartridge, you'll notice the .22-250 is wider and longer. Although the bullet diameter is the same for both cartridges, the .22-250 has a larger case. This is what provides the .22-250 greater bullet velocity, more power and flatter trajectory than the .223 Remington.

Rifle Type

The .223 Remington is a more popular choice on the AR-15 platform. These are usually semiautomatic rifles with 16-20” barrels, and of course are extremely popular for a variety of applications in the United States. If you are looking for the more classic feel and hunting advantages of a bolt action rifle, you’ll be able to find solid options chambered in either the .223 Remington or the .22-250.

Which Caliber is Best?

So which cartridge is Best? Again, the answer is 'it depends'. When it comes to overall ballistics performance the .22-250 cartridge appears to be the clear winner. The .22-250 is faster and more powerful than the .223. However, because the .223 Remington can be used in high-volume shooting with relatively-light recoil, and has a reputation for versatility and accuracy, the .223 is still the more popular of the two rounds.

If you want a faster cartridge, with more energy and a flatter trajectory, the the .22-250 will probably best meet your needs. However, if accuracy and versatility are at the top of your hit list, or you're considering an AR-style rifle, then you'll be best served by the .223 Remington cartridge.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.