The .22-250 started life as a wildcat cartridge developed from the .250-3000 Savage case necked down to take a .224 caliber bullet. In the early days of the cartridge there were several different versions that varied only slightly from one to the next, including one developed in 1937 by Grosvenor Wotkyns, J. E. Gebby and J. B. Smith who named their version the 22 Varminter.
The .22-250 is similar to but was outperformed by the larger .220 Swift cartridge. However, it is in much wider use and has a larger variety of commercially available factory ammunition than the Swift. This makes it generally cheaper to shoot. The smaller powder load also contributes to more economical shooting for users who load their own ammunition. Due to its rimless case the 22-250 also feeds from a box magazine more reliably than the Swift, a semi-rimmed cartridge susceptible to rim lock.
In 1937 Phil Sharpe, one of the first gunsmiths to build a rifle for the .22-250 and long time .220 Swift rifle builder, stated, “The Swift performed best when it was loaded to approximately full velocity,” whereas “The Varminter case permits the most flexible loading ever recorded with a single cartridge. It will handle all velocities from 1,500 ft/s up to 4,500 ft/s.”
Sharpe credited the steep 28-degree shoulder for this performance. He insisted that it kept the powder burning in the case rather than in the throat of the rifle, as well as prevented case stretching and neck thickening. “Shoulder angle ranks along with primer, powders, bullets, neck length, body taper, loading density and all those other features,” he wrote. “The .22 Varminter seems to have a perfectly balanced combination of all desirable features and is not just an old cartridge pepped up with new powders.”
Accuracy was consistently excellent, with little need for either case trimming or neck reaming, and Sharpe pronounced it “my choice for the outstanding cartridge development of the past decade.” He finished by saying he looked forward to the day when it would become a commercial cartridge.