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22-250 vs 5.56: What’s the Difference & Which Is Better?

Dakota Potts | Updated August 22, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of 22-250 vs 556 showing side by side photos of 22-250 and 556 bullets

When it comes to choosing the right cartridge, there’s a never-ending debate between several options. Among those, the .22-250 and the 5.56/.223 cartridges are popular picks for many reasons. 

Before you buy one of them and possibly regret it, take a look at this comparison that examines their capabilities and performance and make sure to get the right one for you.

For more on ammo, see our guide to the different AR calibers for hunting and home defense.

Key Takeaways

  • The .22-250 and 5.56/.223 are both popular cartridges with different strengths
  • While the .22-250 offers higher velocity, the 5.56/.223 is lower cost and more versatile
  • Before making a decision, consider the intended application you’ll be using it for and the benefits of each cartridge

22-250 vs 5.56


The .22-250 Remington offers higher velocities and flatter trajectories compared to the .223 Remington (5.56x45mm NATO). With average muzzle velocities of 3,787 FPS for the .22-250 and 3,148 FPS for the .223, the .22-250 can provide longer reach and improved accuracy, particularly in windy conditions.

22-250 held in two hands

Varmint Hunting

When hunting varmints, such as coyotes or other small game, the .22-250 excels due to its flat trajectory and explosive bullets. Bullet selection for varmint hunting with the 22-250 has proven over time to provide minimal pelt damage and reduced ricochets

In contrast, while the .223 Remington can also be used for varmint hunting, it might require more shot placement and could cause more damage to pelts.

Medium Game

For medium game like deer, neither .22-250 nor 5.56x45mm are considered ideal calibers. 

While some hunters may use them for such purposes, other calibers like .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, and 6.5 Creedmoor are better suited due to their higher energy levels and larger bullet diameters.

Fun Fact

The use of hunting dogs can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where greyhounds were used to track gazelles. Source: factretriever.com

Large Game

When it comes to large game, the same case holds true – neither cartridges are recommended. 

Both cartridges lack the necessary bullet weight and energy to ethically and effectively take down larger animals. Calibers like the .308 or 450 Bushmaster are better options in this category.

A pile of 450 Bushmaster cartridges

Home Defense

For home defense purposes, the .223 Remington (5.56 NATO) is often preferred over the .22-250. The .223’s lower recoil energy, availability in semi-automatic rifles, and increased versatility make it a more suitable choice for home defense scenarios. 

In fact, it’s a cartridge with military origins and is often offered at a lower cost. 

556 caliber bullets and its box


Is a 22-250 a good long range rifle?

Yes, the 22-250 can be a good long range rifle. It’s known for its flat trajectory and high velocity, which makes it effective for shooting at long distances. While not as popular as the 5.56, the 22-250 can provide impressive accuracy and less bullet drop.

What is a 22-250 caliber good for?

The 22-250 caliber is good for varmint and small game hunting. The caliber’s high velocity and flat trajectory make it an excellent choice for hunting coyotes, rabbits, and groundhogs, among other small animals. Additionally, it’s sometimes used in target shooting and benchrest competitions due to its accuracy and performance at long ranges.

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