22-250 for Deer Hunting

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I was not surprised when I came to learn that the 22-250 is one of the most popular rounds across all rifle fanatics. This 4000+ fps varmint slayer is widely used across the world for various purposes. This full usability has led to its chambering in all major rifle makers in the market. And really the 22-250 for Deer Hunting is just fantastic, which is why we wrote this article.

Due to its vast pool of manufacturers, there is a wide selection of factory-grade ammo offered in the .22-250 range. Its bullets range from 35-75g. The Hornady is one of the brands that provide this cartridge, and they recently introduced record-breaking ammo versions for it. These 50-grain bullets move at incredible velocities that will leave a wide grin on any great shooter’s face.

The efficiency of this rifle, however, depends on the bullet type selected. With the right bullet, this load will take down deer and other medium-sized game easily.

A Brief History of the 22-250 

It would be a shame if I was not to include the rich history of this rifle in this article. Initially known as the .22-250 varminter, it boasts of a fascinating history that kicked off in the late 1930s up to date. 

These cartridges’ first breakthrough was in 1963 after it was factory chambered in browning rifles. This development was the turning point for this item, and it caught the attention of most rifle enthusiasts. In 1965, Remington officially standardized this cartridge, adding its name to the title of the round. The name changed to .22-250 Remington. 

This move is said to have established itself as a dominant high-velocity cartridge. The use of these rounds is deeply embedded in varmint hunting; however, recent research shows that there is an increase in its use in deer hunting.

.22-250 Remington Components


The brass is one of the main components in a cartridge. Most of them contain 70% copper and 30% zinc. A standard 22-250 cartridge needs to be reliable and consistent to achieve maximum penetration. However, the quality of it varies with the manufacturing company.

Brands like Lapua promise multiple reloads and still be in good shape. I believe that this is the brand to go with, especially for deer hunting. Other brands seem to lose primer pockets after several shots. Even after numerous shots, you will still attain maximum penetration on tough animal coatings with Lapua 22-250 Remington brass cases.

Manufacturers like Nosler and Remington are also at the forefront of coming up with long lasting and reliable brass covers for their rounds. An advantage that the Remington has over its competing manufacturers is that they are cheaper and offer better quality than other expensive brands.


With my years of experience, I concluded that for these rounds, it is best to use a slow-burning powder. The powder extends your barrel life incredibly, and guess what? Carbon build-up and copper fouling increase the heat and pressure in the barrel of your gun. However, if you are using a slow-burning powder, you can barely feel the effect as it is greatly minimized. 

Hunting fields also vary in temperature. Regardless of your region, ensure that you use a powder that is not too sensitive to temperatures. Hodgdon powders have proven to work perfectly under different temperatures for most users. 

With the 50-60 grain, which is familiar to deer hunters, you have a vast selection to choose from. As the bullets increase in weight, so should the powder burn slower.


These centerfire rounds employ the use of large rifle primers. Its success in the cartridge depends on the other components of the series. The internal dimensions of the rifle to use also play a role in primer selection.

If using factory grade rifles, I suggest you start with CCI 200 primers. They are severe and harder than the average cups. These rounds have ample clearance around the firing pin, promoting early primer cratering. 

For maximum efficiency, I recommend you try out as many brands as possible when tuning your loads. This testing will help you choose the best primer for your rifle. Similar to the powder, it is also susceptible to temperature changes.

Deer Hunting with 22-250 Cartridge

A Field Test

For a long time, all the knowledge I had on these rounds was theoretical. I decided to put the cartridges into the test one evening and headed for the fields equipped with my rifle and several 40-grain bullets. It took some convincing from my buddies to go with these grains, as I was not sure if they would deliver what I expected.

To my surprise, the performance of the cartridges did not disappoint. My first target was a doe 170 yards away, the first shot penetrated the deer at an angle. As soon as the shell hit the deer, it sprung and sprinted away. However, it only moved for about 50 yards before falling. This result was pretty impressive as the deer faded away, life escaping its breath.

The bullet did not come into contact with the deer’s shoulder; its entry point was just behind the front shoulder. I was not able to recover the round as it exited on the opposite side of the body, in front of the hind leg.

After dissecting the deer, I was able to observe that the bullet passed through one lung and the stomach, finding its way to the exit point on the other side of the animal. It completely shattered two ribs on entry, creating a two-inch hole piercing in the penetrated lung. The overall path from the entrance to exit was a sweet two inches.

This result led me to conclude that with these rounds, it is all about placement and the bullet used. In this hunt, the shell did not come into contact with the deer’s shoulder. However, other hunters can attest to its bone penetrating capability. The fact that it was able to shatter the ribs on entry is enough to convince me that if it were the shoulder, it would still give the same performance.

Bullet Choices for the .22-250 Remington

One outstanding feature of these rounds is the vast pool of bullets that marry to it. These bullets range from 35 grains to 90 grains. Your choice will depend on your purpose for the cartridge. Since this piece aims at proving the efficiency of these rounds on deer hunting, we will limit our discussions to it.

The most common bullets in deer hunting are the 35-60 grain. They are best for short, and mid-range targets and are designed to survive very high RPMs. These rounds detonate explosively in your target immediately after penetration. 

What is the Best 22-250 Bullet for a Deer?

From a deer hunter’s perspective, the best is the Nosler 60 grain bullet. This bullet is not too lightweight and at the same time not too big, just the perfect size to tackle deer and deer sized game. Nosler products are known for their effectiveness and efficiency in the field. The 60-grain bullet is able to maintain high velocities even on windy periods, giving you maximum penetration all through.

The Hornady 22-250 35 grain bullets are also pretty lethal and very good rounds to take down deer.  Their copper-tin composite blows up to tiny pieces inside the animal. In addition to the frangibility of this bullet, it also reaches the target at very high velocities. The animal drops before even knowing what hit it. For most large animals, there is no exit wound visible.

Heavier bullets offer more exceptional penetrating abilities. However, for the use of these rounds, you will require a 1:9 inch twist rate for your piece to stabilize faster. These heavy rounds are mostly suited for long-range shots.

How to Pick the Right Bullet

There is no professional approach to predict a deer’s reaction; at the same time, no cartridge promises of dropping you a deer with every shot. It all comes down to the skills of the shooter and the bullet type used. A clear shot at the right trajectory will drop the deer immediately on impact. The deer may sprint for a short distance of fewer than 100 yards, depending on the damage caused.

When selecting the type of bullet to use in hunting, it is vital to consider the aspects discussed below.


Every object in motion is acted upon by several forces, the main forces being gravity and atmosphere. However, the effect these forces have on the trajectory depends on its weight, density, shape, and overall diameter. The sleeker and denser the bullet is, so is its ability to travel further before gravity and the other forces start working on it.

Their overall shape also plays a significant role in the bullet’s penetration on your target animal. The deer, which is our primary focus, does not have a tough coating. However, if the shot does not hit it at the right speed and angle, then the damage inflicted on this animal will not be enough to undermine it.


A deer is not a massive creature, and your hunting bullet should be a fast expander. Such that the round will have expanded enough to cause enormous damage within before exiting the animal. On the box of the cartridges, they usually draw or indicate the primary purpose of the round.

Most of the rounds used in hunting deer have deer or antelopes drawn on their boxes. The 22-250 is explicitly designed for varmints; its use however found its way to deer hunting.

Premium Rounds

Most cartridges are available in the standard factory specifications. However, some manufacturers create premium rounds that offer better performance than the standard versions. These rounds are available at slightly higher pricing than the other cartridges.

As a hunter, having a premium grade cartridge in the field will serve you significant advantages over other hunters. These rounds boast of better velocity and penetration power. Their front half is frangible, while the rear half is solid enough to keep the trajectory stable at the high speeds attained.

What is the Effective Range of 22-250?

Factory specifications claim that this cartridge can take down animals at 1000 yards. On the field, this is very difficult to obtain and may require a skilled shooter to achieve it. It is mostly chambered in rifles using a 1-8 inch twist rate; it can handle heavy grains favoring long-range shots. The heavier the bullet, the further it moves.

.22-250 vs .243

I have not had the chance to directly compare the performance of the .243 against that of the 22-250; however, if what I hear from my buddies is true, both these rounds are excellent and well respected. Fans across the globe substantially follow each of them due to their die-hard components. Despite this, the rounds are not that much alike since their differences outweigh their similarities.

Velocity and Weight

In regards to velocity, both of these trajectories leave the barrel at lightning speeds. However, the ability to maintain these high velocities vary. The .22-250 is greatly affected by wind because of its lightweight nature. 

On the other hand, the .243 passes the 400-yard mark at a higher velocity than its counterpart since it is less affected by the wind. The accuracy of this round on a windy day is superb in comparison to the .22-250.


Less recoil pressure is felt when shooting the .22-250 cartridge, and this makes shooting several shots very comfortable. The .243 being denser will give the shooter a greater recoil force.

For a user with weak limbs, it may leave marks on his shoulder, making it very uncomfortable in taking multiple shots.


It is more economical to purchase and maintain the .22-250 than the .243 cartridges. Maintenance cost involves powder and primer expenses. The number of reloads in regards to powder application is lesser.

Most Popular Deer Hunting Accessories

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Although this round was not specifically made for hunting down deer. Its use in hunting this species has led to its massive following. It is perfect for deer-sized game and does not allow much room for error. Do not be shy to try out your .22-250 on a deer when you find yourself head on with one.

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