Like lots of folks, I get lazy in the summer. That means I was glad to take Scott Milkovich of SDRifles.com up on his offer to post an article up on comparing the .22 Nosler to the tried and true .22-250. I like to shoot as much as the next guy, but my expertise is nowhere near what Scott’s is, so I’m glad to feature him as a Guest Blogger on a really cool topic. With so many calibers to choose from these days, it’s nice to have a knowledgeable opinion presented. Thanks again Scott! ~Desert Rat
The 22-250 Remington, the most successful .22 caliber centerfire, has a long history of being the top dog in the predator hunting world. With the introduction of the 22 Nosler, how do the two compare?
The 22-250 cartridge is one of the easiest rifle rounds to shoot as far as recoil. Its versatility is unmatched and it has been the staple in predator hunting cartridges for many years. The downside to this American predator icon is that it usually comes in slower twists like 1 in 12” and 1 in 14”, with a few rare factory rifles having 1 in 10” twists. This means it’s only able to effectively shoot the lighter 22 caliber bullets. Lighter bullets mean more wind drift at greater distances.
The 22-250 in a bolt action rifle is a great tool for small varmints, but serious predator hunters know the advantage of a semi-automatic rifle. Shots at moving bobcats or having multiple coyotes come in to a call are common. The ease of staying on target and quick follow-up shots make the AR-15 an ideal predator hunting platform. While it’s not impossible to find the 22-250 in the AR platform, it’s definitely rare. There are a few out there, but the only true production rifle company is closing its doors.
Enter the 22 Nosler. The shortcomings of the 22-250 mentioned above are why the 22 Nosler has gained so much interest in such a brief period of time. It was just introduced at the 2017 SHOT show and hunters are already embracing the cartridge. Nosler’s campaign, “Supercharge your AR in two steps”, is a simple and cost-effective concept. Many hunters already own at least one AR-15, so if they want to use the 22 Nosler it’s not expensive for them. Simply change the barrel and purchase a new magazine. That’s it.
The barrels are becoming available through many sources, but Midway USA was the first to offer them as a drop in. With a few simple tools that any AR-15 owner should have and 15 minutes of time you can switch your barrel to the 22 Nosler. The magazine needed is the same one used for 6.8SPC or 6.5 Grendel, they are very common and can be found for less than $15 each.
The 22 Nosler is its own parent case, similar to a 6.8SPC, but with a rebated rim. The case has 25% more capacity that of the .223 and 35% more energy on target. One thing that one must considered, with the rebated rim you’ll need to use a 223 bolt. There’s more surface area, which means less chance of failure from the bolt than that of the wildcat cartridges using the 6.5 or 6.8 brass/bolt.
Approaching 22-250 velocities in a smaller cartridge, the 22 Nosler makes the round capable of pushing a 55gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet at 3,400 fps out of an AR-15 fitted with a 20” barrel. Now, some will say that you can get almost 4000fps out of a 22-250, but the norm is closer to 3600-3700 fps. Another upside is the ability to use heavier bullets and the versatility they provide. Most barrel makers are using a 1-8” twist, which still stabilizes the 55gr bullets and allows the shooter to use a wide variety of heavier bullets as well.
Comparing the 22-250 and the 22 Nosler with the same 55gr Ballistic tip bullet from Nosler, the data shows how impressive the smaller cartridge really is. The chart below shows how similar they really are at 200 and 300 yard, with 100 to 200 yards being the most common distances for coyotes, fox and bobcats. Beyond 300 there’s a little more drop for the 22 Nosler, but nothing that can’t be dialed or held for by a competent hunter.
Speaking of versatility, the 22 Nosler has been used in the PRS Gas Gun Series by a few competitors and it’s gaining popularity in that venue. Running a heavy bullet such as the Nosler 70gr RDF and up to 77gr bullets, this caliber can be competitive with the heavier, more cumbersome AR-10 style rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor or the 6mm Creedmoor.
The new cartridge relies heavily on the overwhelming popularity of the modular AR platform. It’s cost effective to upgrade existing setups through the swapping of an upper, or even just the barrel, and a magazine. It may never match the 22-250 in speed, but the versatility of the 22 Nosler has already turned many heads in the predator hunting and precision rifle community.
Scott Milkovich is the author and is the owner of Specialized Dynamics, a custom AR-15 shop who specializes in predator hunting rifles and also shoots precision rifle matches. Checkout his work at www.sdrifles.com