Keep the Change
One of the things for which I have been taken to task is a statement I made in, I think,...
One of the things for which I have been taken to task is a statement I made in, I think, a Nosler reloading manual to the effect that the .222 is a 200-yard gun, and if you want to shoot farther, you need something more powerful like a .22/250.
This is, of course, arrant nonsense, and when I’m done writing this post I will go and kill myself by way of apology. But that notwithstanding, I think the reason I made that statement was as follows: The things you learn early on retain their force, despite change, and despite massive evidence that they are no longer true.
I got my first .222 in 1960, and because I didn’t handload, I shot only factory ammo. This was the Era of Rotten Bullets when we had big-game slugs that didn’t hold together and varmint bullets that didn’t expand. When the .220 Swift came out, the ammo industry had experience only in making bullets for varmint loads like the .22 Hornet, and the Swift, with its then-incredible velocities, tore Hornet bullets apart. Finally, the ammo companies were able to come up with slugs that stood up to 4,100 fps.
So, when the .222 came out in 1950, engineers beheld its very respectable velocity of 3,200 fps and determined that they were not going to make the same mistake that they had with the Swift, so they made those .222 slugs tough. Unless they had most of their muzzle velocity still behind them they didn’t expand, and I can recall seeing woodchucks that I shot at over 200 yards dragging themselves to their holes because of bullet failure. (I believe this bit of bullet history is accurate, but the people in the industry who could confirm it are all gone. If anyone knows differently, and for a fact, let’s hear from you.)
So, when I wrote that bit about the .222, my early experience was much on my mind, despite the fact that it was no longer true.
In the mid-1970s, I made a trip to the range with Warren Page. He had a brand new Champlin rifle in 7mm Remington Magnum, and on it was a Leupold 2X-7X variable. Lefty, who had hunted his entire career with 4X scopes, looked at that Leupold as I now regard the computer screen on my car’s dashboard: “WTF is this, and what am I supposed to do with it?”
For his entire hunting career he had used only fixed-power scopes because optical sights were so unreliable, and because variables were the worst of all. By the time of our range trip scopes were pretty foolproof, and all the bugs had been worked out of variables, and I couldn’t understand what his problem was.
But now I do.