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Thread: 222 Remington versus 223 Remington - why one over the other?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    222 Remington versus 223 Remington - why one over the other?

    I didn’t really know where to post this but figured I might get some good info and responses from members if I post it here. My background is that I have cast and shot black powder for over 55 years – only got interested in cartridges and reloading maybe 15 or so years ago – as far as rifle, have reloaded 30-30, 8 X 57 Mauser and 308. A short while ago, here in AZ where we winter, I got acquainted with a nice young fellow and we go shooting once in a while. He has a number of ARs and I had the opportunity to shoot them – not my cup of tea but we all like different things. However, he has one set up for bench shooting and I fell in love with the .223 cartridge as I was amazed at what he could do with it out of his AR that he has set up for bench shooting – he’s a good shooter and I really believe he could shave a flea at 600 yards with it without blinking an eye – impressive.

    So, I posted a thread about various .223 rifles as I wanted a bolt action primarily for plinking and paper punching at a variety of distances (we shoot out in the desert) Long story short, I bought a Ruger American Ranch bolt action rifle, have put a Leopold scope on it as I am “older” and have some vision issues. For starting out I think it's a good entry level rifle and who knows what it it might lead to down the road. Anyway, when I made the post looking for a rifle, one member responded that I should look for a good used bolt gun in 222 Remington. By then, I had already committed to the Ruger and have no regrets, but it has peaked my curiosity about the 222 Remington cartridge as well. I have always cast and shot them in my bottlenecks but for the Ruger Ranch, I will be using FMJ.

    In my reading, I know the .222 Remington (5.7 X 43) came out earlier than the .223 Remington (5.56 X 46 for all intent and purposes) and that the 222 was popular in Europe for hunting, etc. The 222 evidently didn’t pass the military trials, but the 223 did and of course, was used in the M16.

    In looking at the specs on a 222 case and a 223 case, there is very little difference other than the overall length and the shoulder angle for the most part, which I am sure also interprets into a difference in case volume, but for the most part, they appear to be very close. Not being that familiar yet with either of them other than the 223 that I have reloaded, I would guess that if I picked up 222 brass and 223 brass at a range, I would have to look at the headstamp just to make sure which was which (I have not handled a 222 casing).

    So, my question/s is/are this/these. If you had two identical bolt action rifles – same barrel length, etc. but one chambered in 222 Remington and one in 223 Remington . . . which would you choose and why. If you shot the two side by side, is there any real difference as far as shooting at reasonable ranges? Both cartridges seem to be popular for shooting from a bench as well as hunting varmints close up or at longer ranges whether it be smaller prairie dogs or larger coyotes, etc. Does one of the cartridges really out-perform the other in some significant way whether it be bench shooting, plinking or varmint elimination?

    If a person was starting out and looking at both a 222 and a 223, are there other factors that influence leaning one way or the other? Just from general looking, brass for both the 222 and 223 are readily available – Starline and others offer them – perhaps the 223 might be favored a bit because the 5.56 range brass is easily found that can be used for the 223 but to me, that is a minor thing and it appears that both can utilize the 55 grain and under jacketed rounds (or cast).

    As I said, I’m just getting my feet wet on the 223 and the bolt action rifle and I think I will be perfectly happy with the 223 for what I want it for. Perhaps I am missing something in regards to reading and why a person would go with one over the other? I would love to hear from those who shoot either the 222 or 223 in a traditional style rifle (not AR) as to why they went with the cartridge they did for the purpose they use it for.

    Not trying to start a debate over the two cartridges, just trying to understand the two and their general performance.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
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    The answer would depend on the yardage you are shooting. If bench rest give me my 222 everytime. If longer distances i might pull out my 223 bolt rifle. Yes i have a 24" match heavy barreled AR that is quite accurate. But i hate preping brass and chasing it or having a brass catcher hanging off my rifle. My AR and bolt 223 both shoot good but my groups up to 200 are better with my 222. Just my opinion.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Based on 24" barrels, the .223 will basically out run the .222 by 2-300 fps. A 16" .223 is basically a .222 ballistic wise. The 14" twist of the .222 maybe better for cast but I dont know that for fact. Both of these;and the .221 and .222 magnum are all excellent cartridges.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    222 I have been prairie dog hunting for over 30 yrs. I have a Rem 788 in 222 have only shot 52gr hp bullets and 50gr. cast through it still has original barrel doesn't shoot as well as it used to. Have had and have been with many others with 223's they can't reach any farther and are always amazed that that little 222 gets them that far out have hundreds of kills over 600 yds no they don't spray they just get taken. fun to be able to watch in the scope. Hand loading is needed for P Dog hunting just shiver thinking how much it would cost to buy ammo. and that long neck sure don't hurt barrel life. I also shoot a 6mm Rem and have had several 243's with the long neck. It's a personal preference for me. Nope no cheap ammo but a lot of 223 brass to resize to 222 trim and inside ream. I also have an AR-15 in 222 with 24" bull barrel because I can. All rifle rounds can be accurate some just don't stay accurate as long as others. Mostly it's about personal preference. Oh and by the way the 50gr cast can do it well out to 200yds again no spray. but will take them or a ride off the mound.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    22-250, hands down.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    You wouldn’t have trouble yelling a 222 from a 223, 222 has a notably longer neck. I can tell without bending over, I won’t bend over for a 223 case. If you want to shoot bullets heavier than 55 gr the modern crop of 223s will do it better, lots better, due to differing twist rates. For me, 222 for cast and it’s plenty fast enough for varmint hunting in my world. If you like buying cheap blasting ammo for coke cans at 50 yards go 223, not much 222 ammo generally available. Either will make you smile with their accuracy in a decent rifle.
    “You don’t practice until you get it right. You practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Jason Elam, All-Pro kicker, Denver Broncos

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I like my bull barreled .222 Rem. 700 BDL. At 100 yards you get change back from a dime with my 5 shot groups! None of my .223s will do that, not even my single shot! And the .222 loves cast as well.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have had both and they are very close performance wise for shorter range work. The .222 is more efficient for closer work where you don't need the max velocity of the .223. Both do well with light bullets at moderate ranges.

    What I have now is a cheap Savage Axis in .223 with a heavy barrel. It is a 1/2 MOA rifle and I can keep all the shots inside MOA out to 600yd if I dope the wind right. IMHO, a 7 or 8 twist would be best but the 9 twist I have now works just fine. It has given me 1 1/2 MOA at 1000yd.

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    PS I am not that good a shooter so this rifle could probably do better in the hands of someone who really knew what they were doing.
    Last edited by charlie b; 03-19-2020 at 08:47 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    You have a .223. Just play with it and see if it meets your needs. Would you really buy a new gun to shrink groups 1/4 MOA? There is so much variation gun to gun that even in the same caliber, accuracy varies.

    You are over thinking it. I had a .222. It was a great rifle. But all I have now are .223/5.56...two bolt guns and four AR’s. I have no desire or need for a .222. .223 brass is free or cheap. Tons of cheap factory ammunition if optimum accuracy is not needed. No desire to ever cast for it but could if I wanted to.

    Unless you want to invest in a custom rifle, and have the ability to shoot it well, I doubt a used .222 will shoot better than a new factory .223.

    Just out of curiosity, what accuracy are you getting with the Ruger using match bullets?
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Nailed it, dangitgriff

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    The .222 Rem on average is more accurate than the .223 Rem. I'm guessing your not going to see a big difference between the 2 calibers unless your shooting rifles that are at the higher end of the price ranges. If our looking for another accurate bench shooter look at something in the 6mm class.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    The triple duce held most of all the benchrest records until the PPC cartridges came out. I had a single shot 40x in 222 rem. Although quite younger back then it out shot just about anything especially with the 52-55 grain match core-lokt bullets Remington sold back then. I had absolutely no problems selling it when it came the time. The 223 Rem is probably one of the most popular cartridges due to the many rifles chambered for it,availability of mil surp ammo and like just all the previous U.S. military cartridges '06,308,M1 carbine and now the 223/5.56 and the hoards of brass and bullets abound. My favorite load for the 222 was R-P case, 19 grains IMR 4198,7.5 R-P copper colored primer and any good 52-55 grain bullet. Sierra makes some darn good bullets,that's all I use. Frank

  13. #13
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    Inside of 300 yds either will do the same on paper or varmits . Longer ranges I pick the 223 with heavier bullets . I can say I've never had a 223 rifle or any rifle that would out shoot my older Rem varmit BDL in 222 with 52 gr match bullets .
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your kind responses - an interesting "education".

    In regards to the comparison of the 222 and 223 casing - what I was looking at was the general dimensions of the two and the one thing I overlooked was the length of the neck on the 222 - so I can see how you'd distinguish then easily enough if picking them up off the ground.

    As far as "overthinking" it - that's not what my intention for posting was about. I was just comparing the two and really, trying to figure out why you would go with one over the other as far as such things as plinking, shooting what i would consider normal distances (based on my background) and for varmints - and those were answered very well.

    The "22s" are new to me. I was brought up in Michigan where most of our hunting on the farm was not at great distances - lower Michigan. "High Powered" rifles weren't allowed below a certain line across the state - I did hunt in the UP with my father-in-law but most was woods hunting (he was a state Forester and knew where to go) - and that was with his Win. 94 30-30 or a 8mm Mauser I had. Even then, I would not have taken a shot at probably more than 75 yards because fo the terrain we hunted in. Where I was brought up on the farm, deer hunting was by shotgun with slugs. Most of my hunting was done with original muzzleloaders and for many years, all I shot was .58 caliber rifled muskets - mostly original 1861 Springfields and then, only a few times at distances further than 100 yards. As far as varmint hunting - when I was a kid, that was pretty much limited to fox hunting on the farm and the distances were not that far either. Out here (AZ where we winter), where I shoot with my friend, longer distances are the norm. I always enjoyed reading about hunting prairie dogs, etc. at long distances but that was to when we experienced where I was fought up. When I saw what the .223 was capable of, it really intrigued me and thus my interest in getting one.

    I know the 222 was popular in Europe as well as here and that it pre-dates the 223. I'm sure the 222 ha survived due to o many rifles being made in it, etc. and if I am not mistaken, they still are being made. Some cartridges do become obsolete over time though - look at5 the 38 special which replaced the 38 Colt long which came about due to the 38 Colt short - I still reload the 38 Colt Long and Short as I like shooting historical cartridges in my 1851 Uberti R & M conversion - but back to the 222 and 223 - not having a whole lot of experience with either, I was curious as to why one over the other and in reality, I wonder if at some point in time the 222 will die a slow death since the 223 might out perform it a little better - or quite possibly it will never die out.

    I am not anticipating owning a 223 and a 222 - but then again, one never knows what they will run across or what will eventually appeal to them - that's why we all have more than one rifle and many have gun safes stuffed full of rifles they need shoot! LOL I am sure that the Ruger rifle with 223 will do everything I want it to - probably a lot more but will be limited by my abilities. Like I said . . . I'm "older" and I was brought up where we had a gun cabinet with Winchesters, Remingtons, Ithacas, etc. that were good solid firearms with beautiful walnut stocks - so buying a rifle such as I did with a tupperware stock on it took some thought - but I also realize that "form follows function". When I picked up my rifle at the LGS, the owner was telling me about a good customer of theirs that has the same rifle - he hunts coyote on a regular basis and he was telling me that he often takes them at 300 to 400 yards with his hand loaded 223s - not being used to shooting at those distances, I find that and what some of you do to be pretty amazing with either the 222 or 223. My shooting friend also has a couple of suppressors - I have never had the opportunity to use one until I met him and while they never interested me, I have to admit I found them interesting and can see how a person would put them to good use for not only general range shooting, but hunting such things as coyotes, prairie dogs, etc. so in the end, an "old dog" can learn "new tricks".

    I appreciate the kind responses and the good information provided as it cleared up a lot of questions I had -it's like anything in life - if you don't ask you won't learn. -) Many thanks to all

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  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    There was a time, not so long ago, that the 222 was considered one of the most inherently accurate cartridges ever made.
    Lots of new stuff out there now making the same claim. I suspect the new barrels and better bullets have something to do with that.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



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    I shoot the .222 Rem. The .223 was developed from the .222 case. The .222 shoulder was moved up which shortened the neck.
    This gave more space for powder which is why the .223 has more velocity. For my needs the extra velocity wasn't a requirement. The .222 fits my needs and is a very accurate round. My rifle is a Remington with a 26" barrel and it is very accurate.
    Just my thoughts and opinion, but I would take a good bolt action .222 anytime.
    atr
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  17. #17
    Boolit Man
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    Within the last couple of years I bought a nice older BSA .222 rifle with a good Leopold scope. The bonus was after the rifle sold at auction , the next lots was the handloads with the load data. This saved me a lot of time and money. The rifle shoots wonderfully. I am seeing a lot more .222's at auction more recently, I figure the old shooters are moving on and these rifles are coming on the market.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    The 222 vs the 223?

    It all comes down to what you want to accomplish with the cartridge.

    Plinking?

    General varmint hunting?

    Then the 223

    Bench rest?

    The 222, however the PPC would be an even better choice.

    Pay attention to the twist with your Ruger Ranch as that will tend to flavor what bullets and boolits you should be loading for best performance.

    Three44s
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Somewhere I read a comment that the good old 30-06 was a perfectly proportioned and balanced cartridge, and that Browning scaled the dimensions up to make the .50 BMG cartridge, and if you study the .222 Rem it appears to be just a small 30-06 case!

  20. #20
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    The longer neck of the 222 is more cast boolit friendly.
    If you do your job of reloading with a cast boolit correctly, the 222 will be more accurate than the 223.
    CZ makes some awesome bolt guns in 222.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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