When the .220 Swift was brought by Winchester it was a big hit. The fastest centerfire rifle cartridge made and sold by a factory. Velocities for the Swift are still impressive now a days and was like magic in its day. Muzzle velocities over 4,000 fps was possible. The swift was used for all manner of game even though it was meant to be a varmint round. Some gunwriters of the day claiming it was good for everything from deer to Alaskan brown bear. It’s a pretty good round but I wouldn’t go that far. Especially with the bullets then available.
The problem with the 220 Swift was it gained a rep for burning out barrels at an alarming rate. That and the light weight thin jacket bullets some times coming apart and not making it to the target. Now, I think it’s debatable just how many barrels got burned out as opposed to the more likely problem being the barrels fouled out. Copper and carbon fouling from the use of the high pressure, high velocity round would have done a number on barrels made in back in the day and I wonder how many shooters, even serious ones, had anything that could truly clean up a copper fouled barrel.
Winchester decided to bring out something dialed back just a hair to remedy the “barrel burner” and still keep the velocity up. They picked the wrong time to introduce it as it was brought out with the all new and much loved post 64 Model 70…. The answer being the .225 Winchester.
Winchester took the older case of the .219 zipper ( more on that another day) and reduced the rim diameter.
|40 gr (3 g) SP||4,020 ft/s (1,230 m/s)||1,436 ft⋅lbf (1,947 J)|
|50 gr (3 g) SP||3,768 ft/s (1,148 m/s)||1,577 ft⋅lbf (2,138 J)|
|55 gr (4 g) SP||3,643 ft/s (1,110 m/s)||1,621 ft⋅lbf (2,198 J)|
|60 gr (4 g) SP||3,428 ft/s (1,045 m/s)||1,566 ft⋅lbf (2,123 J)|
These are velocities from modern loads with modern powder.
Back then, getting to 4,000 with the .225 WCF was a lot harder. You can read about some of the older gun writers doing it, but that was a lot of guessing in my opinion. The handloaders of the time did not have chronographs to test their loads. Now with modern components its doable.
The .225 was a good round and pulled back of the .220 to make the barrel last longer and give nearly the same performance. Problem for Winchester was, the .22-250. did that too, and did it earlier The .22-250 was a very popular wildcat for years before remington brought it out as a commercial round the year before the .225. The .22-250 is an excellent round and if you want a high velocity .22 varmint round it’s hard to beat. It’s easy to load for and get accurate loads and you can approach the velocities of a Swift if you are careful. The round was so well liked by Hogden himself, he named his favorite powder after his pet load for the .22-250. That is, H380. The 380 coming from his pet load of 38.0 grains of the military surplus cannister grade powder. See what kind of useless information I’m full of?
The extremely popular .22-250 and the post 64 Model 70 really put a hurting on the chances of the .225WCF ever being popular. Even the personal approval of Harvey Donaldson didn’t help the .225 much and to this day is rarely heard of and even rarely encountered. Factories to crap out a few offerings ever so often and hand loading components can still be purchased. Use of modern powder and high performance .22 caliber bullets would make the .225 an excellent round for handloaders and anyone who wants a high velocity .22 round for varmint hunting. But, ti be honest with you , there are other choices just as good and you would only be using the .225 to be different and it would take a large investment to track down a rifle chambered for it or to have one made. But, if you are a gun hipster/vintage snob like some one I won’t mention ( me) then it’s a very good round.