220 Swift

We have covered a lot of ammo on our blog in an effort to help people learn about different calibers and cartridges. When I took a deep dive into learning about 220 Swift I was really surprised at the fact it’s been around since 1935 shocked me.

I’m going to talk about the history of the round, its purpose, its performance, a few guns that shoot it, ammo availability and where to buy it, and some of the most frequently asked questions.

History

The .220 Swift was released by Winchester in 1935 and was developed as a wildcat of the 6mm Lee Navy cartridge.

The cartridge is considered a semi-rimmed bottleneck cartridge and uses a large rifle primer.

The 22 Swift is a smaller cartridge that the 5.56/.223 NATO round that people often compare the Swift to.

.220 Swift was one of the standard calibers offered in the original Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifle and continued to be until 1964 when the rifle was discontinued. The Model 70 was reintroduced in 2009 and the .220 Swift was not offered in the line up once it was reintroduced.

Purpose of .220 Swift

The main purpose the Swift is used for today is varmint and/or small game hunting.

However, there is some controversy surrounding the 220 Swift since it is such a small caliber round many claims that the round shouldn’t be used for deer hunting. Some states have gone so far as to outlaw the cartridge for Deer hunting.

The claim is that the Swift cartridge only wounds deer if the shot placement isn’t near perfect and that most hunters don’t have the ability to take shots that would incapacitate the deer more quickly. This leads to the deer suffering when a larger caliber round would have otherwise neutralized the deer and allowed for a larger margin of error for shot placement on the deer’s vital organs.

Performance

The .220 Swift was the first factory rifle cartridge, sometimes called “mainstream,” to have a muzzle velocity in excess of 1,200 m/s.

That might not sound like much in the 21st Century, but the Swift was extremely impressive in 1935.

.220 Swift vs .223 Remington

220 Swift vs .223 Remington
.220 Swift (Left) vs .223 Remington (Right)

Here’s the quick and dirty comparison of 220 Swift vs 223 Remington along with some comparison pictures.

Speed

Side by Side Photo of .220 Swift and .223 Remington
.220 Swift (Left) vs .223 Remington (Right)

55 Grain .220 Swift travels at 3,680 feet per second and 55 Grain 223 Remington travels at 3,240 feet per second.

Verdict: .220 Swift travels faster than 223 Remington to the tune of about 240 feet per second.

Power

Headstamp and Diameter picture of .220 Swift vs .223 Remington
.220 Swift (Left) vs .223 Remington (Right)

.220 Swift has 1,654 foot pounds of muzzle energy and the 223 Remington has 1,282 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

Verdict: 220 Swift has a significant increase in muzzle energy.

.220 Swift vs 22-250

220swift 22 250 remington

Looking for a quick and simple head-to-head comparison of these two rounds? I have you covered. Here are the quick facts and some side-by-side comparison photos of these two rounds.

Speed

220swift 22 250 sidebyside

55 Grain .220 Swift travels at 3,680 feet per second and 55 Grain 22-250 Remington travels at 3,786 feet per second.

Verdict: The 22-250 cartridge slightly edges out the speed of the Swift.

Power

220swift 22 250 headstamp

.220 Swift has 1,654 foot pounds of muzzle energy and the 22-250 Remington has 1,751 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

Verdict: The muzzle energy of the 22-250 just barely beats out the Swift.

Guns that Shoot 220 Swift

Very few guns are chambered to shoot 220 Swift, so finding a gun that fits your needs might take a little time.

If you have a .220 Swift rifle and don’t see yours on our list be sure to comment on what rifle you have!

Remington 700

Remington 700 chambered in .220 Swift

One of the most common rifles in the history of bolt action rifles is the Remington 700. It has probably been chambered in almost every modern round.

It is a very versatile and affordable platform, so many people are driven to the Remington 700 platform.

Typically the rare chambers like the .220 Swift are more expensive than the more commercially popular calibers.

.220 Swift Ammo

Most people who shoot 220 Swift Ammo are likely reloaders. So if you are considering this round you may want to consider taking up reloading as a hobby.

It is much easier to get 220 Swift ammo components than it is to get factory Swift rounds.

Price

The price currently sits at around $2 /round. The Swift round is sold in 20 round boxes.

Most of the ammo available runs between. $40-60 per box.

Availability

It’s not wildly available, but Sportsmans Warehouse and Grab-A-Gun have some available.

You may be able to get your hands on a few boxes are your local gun store but that could be extremely difficult in small stores.

FAQ

Here are some of the most asked questions about this cartridge.

Do they still make a 220 Swift rifle?

Yes, the 220 Swift is still chambered in a number of different rifles one of those being the Remington 700.

What is a 220 Swift good for?

220 Swift is really geared toward and developed for varmint hunting.

This is a really solid option for hunting small game and varmints like groundhogs.

How far is a 220 Swift accurate?

The 50-grain 220 Swift round travels at 3,947 ft/s and has 1,800 ft-lbs of force at impact and is accurate out to 350 yards.

Is a 220 Swift a barrel burner?

The Swift is known to have extremely high velocity and cause premature throat erosion of the bore.

However, modern metal and metal treatments have increased the barrel life of a .220 Swift. But the fact remains that 220 Swift rifles require rechambering and/or re-barreling sooner than other cartridges.

One comment

  1. Fact check. The Swift case capacity is considerably greater than the 5.56/.223.
    As regards the Swift and the .22-250 velocity comparisons…they are so close as to be
    disregarded and in some instances the same bullet is loaded to higher velocity in the Swift than the .250 by the same manufacturer (Nosler).
    As far as reloading goes, the .250 is a little easier but both cartidges gain if the are given the Ackley Improved treatment. Case stretching and neck thickening are virtually eliminated and
    they gain useable if unnecessary case capacity.

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