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The .225 Winchester is an underrated varmint cartridge

April 25, 2009
By KENNETH COBB, For The Inter-Mountain

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company created the .225 varmint cartridge in 1964 to replace the older .220 Swift. The .220 Swift is a very powerful round, but it had a reputation of burning out rifle barrels prematurely.

The .225 Winchester is a cartridge based upon the obsolete .219 Donaldson Wasp. It is classified as a semi-rimmed cartridge that headspaces on the shoulder. It has a small rim to permit its use in custom single-shot rifles.

All commercially manufactured rifles chambered for the .225 Winchester have been bolt actions such as the Winchester Models 70 and 670. The inexpensive model Savage 340 was also chambered for this round.

The .225 Winchester was handicapped by two factors at the time of its introduction. In 1964, Winchester made several changes in its classic model 70 bolt-action centerfire rifle in efforts to cut costs. Many gun writers at that time called this new version a very ugly rifle.

I have handled a few of the older model 70 Winchesters, and I have to agree with the writers. The older versions have a more elegant appearance. The second blow to the .225 came in 1965 when Remington started manufacturing the 22-250, which was a popular wildcat cartridge among target shooters and varmint hunters. The 22-250 simply had a 30-year head start on the .225 Winchester.

The .225 Winchester (a well-engineered cartridge close to becoming obsolete) never achieved the popularity of the 22-250 Remington. The initial factory velocity of the 225 Winchester was 3,570 feet per second using a 55-grain bullet. The velocity of the 22-250 Remington was 3,730 with the same grain weight bullet. For all practical purposes, this difference is insignificant.

In the accuracy department, the two cartridges are equal to about 250 yards. People who have purchased a .225 Winchester really have no reason for worry. In fact, it might be well to keep your .225 in good condition because of the possible collector's value. It clearly has the velocity edge on the .222 and .223 Remington for long-range varmint shooting.

If you are one of the owners of a .225 Winchester, start handloading for it. Reloading dies are available from Hornady and RCBS. Once you tailor an accurate load for your .225 Winchester, head for the fields and meadows and never look back.

Three handloads for the .225:

1. Case Winchester

Primer Winchester 8 1/2-120 (Large Rifle)

Bullet Sierra 50-grain Soft Point

Powder & Weight IMR 4064; 33.5 grains

2. Case Winchester

Primer Winchester 8 1/2-120 (Large Rifle)

Bullet Sierra 55-grain Soft Point

Powder & Weight IMR 4895; 32.6 grains

3. Case Winchester

Primer Winchester 8 1/2-120 (Large Rifle)

Bullet Hornady 60-grain Spire Point

Powder & Weight IMR 4895; 32.0 grains

Note: Good coyote load out to 200 yards



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