The 222 adventure begins


Jun 30, 2019
So my latest reloading journey is getting back to the basics of rifle reloading. I started with shotshell loading then expanded to pistols and then rifles. I feel I am good at making safe and serviceable ammo for all, but I’ve never really played with the finer points of accuracy.

It all started when I inherited my great grandfather's 25 caliber rifles and equipment (my grandfather was a shotgun guy). I didn’t want to learn the ropes on a 80+ year old 250savage. So I wanted an easy to load rifle and had a pile of 223 brass. I was going to buy a bolt action to learn, but the AR siren song called. Loading for the AR isn’t hard but it’s different as an auto loader.

Now, years later, I’ve come into a Savage 340B in .222. This is the rifle I didn’t know then that I was looking for. It’s ugly but functional, and it burns powder modestly in a caliber I already stockpile for. First though, I need to test shoot it.

Normally,I just buy 20 rounds of factory ammo and check the scope, but that’s been hard to find. So I loaded up some basic sight-in loads and a simple work up. I had no clue if the rifle was shot out or where the scope was pointed. So I loaded up some bulk 55 gr fmj bullets and mixed brass with H335.

They shot well considering the 1980s 4x Simmons and cheap Remington bulk bullets with inconsistent length and weight. I was pleased enough to plan on using better bullets and brass, but I did find these loads worked the full course of pressure/primer signs within published data. I finally felt a heavy bolt lift at hogdon’s max load (but a grain under Hornady and Speer’s). That’s why we do work ups.

I also had primer setback on the lighter loads. Heavy loads were flattening but light ones were protruding a bit. It wasn’t noticeable until I put them in the comparator to find a baseline headspace.

Anyway, I feel like there is always a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to the next phase with better components. The Winchester might provide some distractions too.

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I think you will find that the gun is very accurate once you find a load it likes. The barrels on those guns were very accurate in all the calibers they came in. I had one years ago that truly loved the 55 grain Hornady SX over 19 grains of IMR 4198 and CCI 400 primers.
With the .222 the trick is Hornady 50gr FB bullet, either regular or TNT.
BLC2 @25.0gr is what the Senior Joyce Hornady used to test production runs of .22” 50gr bullets.
I’ve owned a Savage 340 in .30/30. It was decently accurate.
I always wanted one in .22Hornet or .222.
Never ran across an attractive deal...
The only .222 I had was a Savage/Valmet O/U. It was accuracy challenged. Parted ways with it...
I figure I’ll try some 50 or 52 grain bullets next. Those 55 gr fmjs do about the same in a 1-9 5.56 barrel. Those are destined for 223 steel shooting loads.
I have a 340B in 222. It is not particularly pretty. The trigger is abysmal by modern standards. Yet, it is very accurate. As suggested above, given the 1:14 twist rate, 55 grs is definitely a la limite. Mine will not reliably stabilize 55grs but the Speer 52 grs flat base hollow point is ideal. I use N133 and my favorite load with that bullet is 22.2 grs ;-) Fun rifle -great cartridge. Enjoy!
I have had a bunch of .222s over the years custom built, Sako, 788, mod 70 custom shop. Powder is like salt and peper they will shoot many of them 4895, 335, 322, 748, Varget, N133, 8208. I have always had best luck with 52 or 53g Sierra Matchkings.
I have been reloading since 1970 for the ugly sister caliber of the .223 using BLC2 with Sierra 53 grain MatchKings. When first working up loads, I used 4895 as well as BLC2 both of which were shooters in my Remington 700. Stuck with BLC2 ever since. The ugly sister caliber was/is a .222 Rem Mag.
Best of luck and good shooting with your Savage.
By the way, if you still have any of those .250 Savage's left, I'll bet someone out there might pay a pretty price for one of them regardless of age..
My reloading got derailed by a mild but annoying week of the flu with the youngest kids (not sick enough to slow him down, but just enough to have to stay home. I picked up some 50 gr Hornady sp bullets so I’ll give those a try after the holidays maybe.
I've always been a big fan of the Remington .222 cartridge.

I still have two rifles chambered in 222, a Remington 788 and also a 12ga./.222 that I've shot a pile of small game with. I swaged .224" bullets using spent 22RF cases for the jacket, putting them in the swage die backwards to swage a FMJ bullet.

I loaded them at around 1800 fps, and they did a decent job on small game.

The 222 is a cool little cartridge. Mine is in a 600 Remington. Kind of rare because so many of them have been converted to 223. I use mostly BL-C2 in mine with 50 grain plastic tip bullets. The 222 was a favorite in the Benchrest game years ago before the 6PPC started breaking all of the records.
When I bought my Deuce (also a Savage 340) back in 2019 I had to learn to reload for it, since no ammo was available locally. I started on an old Lee Loader, one cartridge at a time at the kitchen table before moving up to a Rock Chucker, 6 more cartridges, and a now-crammed bench. I've tested several loads since then, and have settled on a 50gr Sierra SP, over 22.2 grs. of H322, in Winchester-Western cases and CCI SRPs. My rifle doesn't like anything larger than 50gr bullets, so there's that to consider. I tried 55s and couldn't get anything better than 1.5" at 50 yards.

I feel like the 52 gr Barnes Match Burner needs some more love. I use it for 223, but I'm sure it would work in 222 as well. It's the most accurate bullet I've tried in my 20" AR, with a possible recent exception that needs to be proven first.
My Sako seems to work well with 52gr or 53gr match bullets, Accurate 2015 powder, and Remington 7 1/2 primers.
The 222 rem is an extremely accurate cartridge. I tried working uploads with IMR 4198 and H335 and then realized I had a pound of IMR 4895. With a 52 grain match king sitting on top of 23 grains of IMR 4895 with Starline brass and a Remington 7 1/2 primer I shot .315 Center to Center five shot group. Cooper model 21 Montana Varminter. Shot at 100 yards off a sandbag at 16 X


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.222 Remington was my first centerfire rifle and the first round I reloaded. Back in the 60's the .222 Remington was the 800 pound gorilla in the forest as far as winning bench rest competitions. Sierra 50/52 grain bullets with IMR4198 or IMR3031 gave me the best accuracy. I'm a big fan of the .222 Remington.
another savage 340/840 shooter. both in hornet and 222. the 222 kicks the hornets butt. i have the price tag with the hornet. it was 67 dollars in 1967, lol.
...if you see one of the weaver anniversary scopes (the one in the yellow box along with the timex watch) grab it. good combo. 4198 with a 50/52 in the 222 rules. fwiw.
Any mention ot the .222 Rem. takes me a long and happy trip down memory lane: all the way back to when I was a lad of 14 and bought a Savage 340, the second centerfire rifle I was to own, and to a year later when I bought a Pacific reloading press and began handloading my .222 ammo. (I still have the press and dies, mounted on a trophy wall like sacred relics.) I've lost count of all the .222's I had in the half-century plus since then but I still have five on hand in different flavors that I occasionally shoot to sooth my spirits. One being a HV Class benchrest rifle I had built by Ed Shilen back in the 1960's when the .222 was the reigning king of benchrest competitions. Another is a sweet Mannlicher style SAKO Vixen, and there is also a Remington M-722, which, chambered for the then new .222 became accuracy legends. Also a seldome seen or even known .222 "Hornet" which is a Pre-64 M-70 Winchester that was originally a .22 Hornet converted to .222 Rem. I don't remember what I did with that first Savate 340, but I'd happily pay ten times what I originally paid for it just to see if it is as accurate as I thought it was. IMG-3106-3.jpg 21A_3413 (2).JPG DSC_0001.JPG 21A_2333 (2).JPG DSC_1433.JPG
I've always been a big fan of the Remington .222 cartridge.

I still have two rifles chambered in 222, a Remington 788 and also a 12ga./.222 that I've shot a pile of small game with. I swaged .224" bullets using spent 22RF cases for the jacket, putting them in the swage die backwards to swage a FMJ bullet.

I loaded them at around 1800 fps, and they did a decent job on small game.

Very cool. It was so great that over the years Savage upgraded its over/under from 410/.22 so something more powerful.
Also like the George Orwell quote.