The 222 Remington represents little advantage over the 223 Remington. Even though they have both been in circulation for more than 50 years, the 222 is still asked for by name by many established shooters. With the standardising of the 223 Remington cartridge as the 5.56×45 NATO you would think the 222 would die a natural death as an inferior calibre – so why is it still so well-known and highly regarded?
It is almost certainly because it was used so heavily by the bench-rest competition shooters for so long. The 222 Remington was always known for its accuracy over shorter ranges where raw velocity meant little. The 222 Remington has a longer neck than the 223 Remington, which provides more support for the projectile and straighter alignment with the bore, hence better accuracy.
Typically 222 Remington rifles were fitted with one turn in fourteen twist barrels (1/14”) – slightly slower than the 1/12” twist barrels of the 223 Remington. This twist rate is suited to the stabilisation of projectiles around the 50 grain to 52 grain in weight. Federal manufacture a 222 Remington cartridge with a 50 grain soft point projectile, propelled at 3140 feet per second. When sighted in at 100 yards, the 222 Remington has 13.1 inches of drop at 300 yards – approximately 8% more drop than the 223 Remington cartridge firing a 55 grain projectile. Rifle manufacturers have almost entirely dropped the 222 cartridge in favour for the much more popular 223 Remington, however there are still some manufacturers who will make rifles in this calibre (albeit with an extensive waiting period for delivery). Any 223 chambered rifle can be rechambered to take the 222 cartridge, but unfortunately many 22 Hornet rifles cannot – the 222 generates considerably more pressure which causes rifles such as the Martini falling block to fail.
If you are interested in a mild, accurate 22 bore centrefire rifle, the 222 may be worth a look.