22 Creedmoor, What, Why & How?

by Admin | Last Updated: September 29, 2020
22 creedmoor fired

What is a 22 Creedmoor

First off, what is a 22? The 22, not-so-obvious to some and obvious to others, stands for the bore diameter of the barrel, more specifically actually a .224″ or 5.7mm bullet diameter. The bullet diameter is .224, the same as any other .22 centerfire cartridge like the 223 Rem., 22-250 Rem., 224 Weatherby Magnum, 223 WSSM and 220 Swift. The Creedmoor in 22 Creedmoor denotes the fact that it comes from a 6.5mm Creedmoor which has been necked down to accept a .224 bullet, the Creedmoor in 6.5mm Creedmoor in turn comes from Creedmoor Sports, for whom the 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge was developed by Hornady and Creedmoor Sports jointly.

The Creation

The 22 Creedmoor or 22CM as some call it, was bound to happen at some point as almost every new caliber or cartridge created, gets necked down to a wildcat with a lighter bullet for more speed at some point in time, however the exact person to first do it is still to be confirmed. In our research though, it seems to have been made first either by George Gardner of GA Precision or by Tim McWhorter of McWhorter Custom Rifles.

22 creedmoor ammunition

The oldest mention and claim of a rifle chambered in 22 Creedmoor, is a comment made on 24 October 2013 on a SnipersHide post where user KYS claims to have suggested a 223 bullet faster with more reliable feeding and George Gardner of GA Precision and Josh Lapin of Copper Creek Ammo joked about the 22 Creedmoor, and this comment was in response to the post highlighting the image on GA Precision’s Facebook page showing a 22 Creedmoor earlier the same day. The same user claimed in another post comment on 29 October 2013 that GA Precision built his 22 Creedmoor rifle more than a year and a half earlier, which if true would make their 22 Creedmoor rifle the first one created in early half of 2012, possibly unlikely as the same user was still asking about a custom 22-250 action rifle and mag feeding ammo out of it in a 13 December 2012 post, showing that it has possibly not been made by then yet.

The oldest actual proof of the 22 Creedmoor caliber in a rifle, being an image uploaded on a McWhorter Custom Rifles blog post about the 22 Creedmoor caliber round and the speed achieved by one shot on 22 September 2012. The oldest actual talk or mention of a 22 Creedmoor caliber or cartridge being a comment suggestion made by Chad Dixon from Long Rifles Inc. on another SnipersHide post on 19 September 2012, in response to another user wondering about shooting 90gr bullets from a 220 swift. This so far is the oldest actual documented mention of it, but with the image of the cartridge loaded and shot on range from McWorter Custom Rifles showing them as the oldest actual documented builder of a rifle able to shoot it. Possibly GA Precision could prove to be the oldest if they can provide documented evidence of their 22 Creedmoor reamer, or rifle being made before then as SnipersHide user KYS claims, but we are merely going on evidence found through search so far.

Regardless of who the actual pioneer was, the caliber was created, and with it, possibly the all-time best 22 caliber rifle cartridge ever. We would even recommend it above 6mm competition calibers in precision shooting matches under 800 yards other than PRS matches with their 3,200 fps limit.

What the 22 Creedmoor has succeeded in doing though, is dethrone the venerable 22-250 as the king of varmint and coyote calibers, offering more speed, and the ability to shoot heavier and longer bullets with better ballistic coefficients.

There are not yet 22 Creedmoor SAAMI specifications, however with the popularity of the cartridge and how it’s use has become widespread, we should soon see SAAMI release drawings a specifications for it. Peterson Cartridge has released their own drawings for the cartridge. There are SAAMI specification available for the 22 Creedmoor parent case, the 6mm Creedmoor, and in turn also the 6mm Creedmoor parent case, the 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Brass

22 Creedmoor brass

Initially to create brass for 22 Creedmoor cartridges, one would simply neck down high quality 6mm Creedmoor brass with a good full length sizing die and enough case lube, or by fire forming 22-250 brass. Thankfully though, there are many companies now including Hornady, Peterson, Alpha Munitions and a few more, making 22 Creedmoor brass cases.

New Cartridges

In the recent few years, it feels like a new rifle cartridge is coming out almost monthly. Why is this? With the exponential advancement in technology and growth of information it is only natural the shooting industry is using this information and technology to unlock more cartridge and bullet performance.

A chronograph for example, mostly only a rare expensive piece of laboratory technology a few decades ago, is now part of almost every precision shooter and reloaders equipment, and a very affordable one at that.

Make no mistake, as precision rifles are becoming so common that shooters and custom rifle builders have had to turn to customizing calibers and cartridges for more performance, so too has the consumer marketing side of ammunition manufacturers also started creating more calibers and cartridges to further fuel the yearly upgrade and new purchase trend of rifles similar to other tech and cellphone industries.

Most shooters first roll their eyes when hearing you say you have a 22 Creedmoor, just hearing the word Creedmoor, but they often do a double take a second or two later and ask, ’22?’.

The fact that gun owners are becoming more advanced than before is another reason we may be seeing so many new cartridges. Within the shooting industry, there are all kinds of niche markets today. The typical American had just a few all-purpose guns a few decades ago. We have shooters today who are highly specialized in their shooting niche. They could be into competition shooting and need a cartridge that will give them a competitive advantage. There are hunters, also within the hunting culture, who specialize in one element of hunting or another. Some specifically concentrate on varmint hunting, or coyote hunting, while others concentrate on high volume deer hunting or major game like elk and moose. The need to find a cartridge that performs better under that very particular scenario comes with this niche emphasis.

22 creedmoor load

Shooters Decide

No matter the reason why they are developed, but whether or not new cartridges stay and become accepted in the shooting community, depends on the shooters, and if they are requested from rifle builders and manufacturers, and used in competitions or in the field. There have been many new cartridge designs, that came, and just died again silently, the 22 Creedmoor however seems to be here to stay, and has only just started gaining momentum.

Most shooters first roll their eyes when hearing you say you have a 22 Creedmoor, just hearing the word Creedmoor, but they often do a double take a second or two later and ask, ’22?’. Interest is then sparked. But the popularity of this round, although not gaining momentum as fast as the 6.5mm Creedmoor, or the new 224 Valkyrie has (admittedly because it is not marketed as much by manufacturers because it means normal current Creedmoor rifles can easily be converted to 22 Creedmoor), is starting to gather speed. Especially when shooters experience the high speed and low drop these 22 Creedmoor rounds offer, and in a cartridge that can cycle in almost all standard short action magazines.

Create Your Own

Creating a 22 Creedmoor chambered rifle is also fairly simple, you simply use the action of a rifle, or a rifle with a compatible bolt face and action length as can be seen on our bolt face database, and then have a gunsmith chamber and fit a .224 barrel to it. The gunsmith would need to preferably have a 22 Creedmoor reamer to create a chamber in the barrel for it, however some advanced gunsmiths can turn a chamber based on a 22 Creedmoor brass case. We used a Tikka T3 Stainless Action from a rifle originally chambered in 308 Win, fitted a .224 Krieger barrel on it with the chamber cut for a 22 Creedmoor, and now we have a superb Tikka 22 Creedmoor.

22 Creedmoor dimensions
Credit: petersoncartridge.com

22 Creedmoor Twist Rate

Heavier 88, 90 or 95gr .224 will deliver even more energy down range with the 22 Creedmoor, but you will need at least a 1-7″ or 1-6.5″ twist to stabilize them properly as we found our 1:8 twist Krieger 28.1″ barrel was just not enough to stabilize the 88gr Hornady ELD-Match bullets (even though Hornady recommends 1-7″ minimum we still had to try), and the sweet spot was the 75gr Hornady ELD-Match for our 1:8 twist rate.

22 Creedmoor for Hunting

Depending on size of the game hunted, but generally you will often hear most industry authorities recommending 6mm, 243 Win, 270 Win for any smaller CXP2 type antelope, and 30-06 Spingfield or larger for CXP3 medium to large game. These general guidelines apply more to the older traditional calibers when speeds were much lower, and with modern cartridge advances, the velocities achieved by modern smaller calibers make up for the energy lost in mass of the bullet, and the modern twist rates allows low drag bullets to carry those velocities and energy further down range.

The 22 Creedmoor can comfortably take down most CXP3 size animals with well placed shots in the head or heart, if the bullets are expanding type bullets in 75 grain or larger size, however, for general recommendations, we would keep to CXP2 animals up to the 300 pound class, and you will be withing safe limits. Our one member has personally taken a large Zebra stallion with a 22 Creedmoor, shooting a Hornady 75gr ELD-Match bullet at around 3650fps, with a well-placed clean head shot as can be seen below, with a tiny entrance and quarter sized exit wound, and blood streaming out the ear showing a good brain expansion.

22 Creedmoor Zebra Sensored
Warning, graphic content, click at own discretion.

What is does excel at though, and arguably better than any other cartridge ever made, is for taking down coyotes and other varmint. With super light recoil, and speeds exceeding that of a hot 22-250 by 150-200fps, the 22 Creedmoor takes down coyotes at any distance, fast. There has even been confirmed coyote kills out to over 1000 yards with with the 75gr ELD-Match bullet. At a muzzle velocity of 3550fps the Hornady 75gr ELD-M bullets produces around 2099 ft.lbs of energy, taking it close to medium 6mm bullets or light 308 Winchester rounds. A 22 Creedmoor for deer will work as well as any 6mm or 6.5mm caliber, and sometimes even beter out at longer distances.

A word of caution though, at the speeds delivered by the 75, 80 or 90gr bullets in this cartridge, combined with the expansion ability of ballistic tipped bullets, you should rather aim for head shots to prevent meat damage when hunting deer or other animals for meat, and not at all when hunting for trophies, we have seen this same 75gr bullet that cleanly took down the Zebra above, also remove the top half of a Impala’s head on another occasion. Clean kill yes indeed, but not a pretty sight. On coyotes and varmints on the other hand, fire away!

Want to know why speed matter for Coyotes and Varmints? Watch below as the kill is only thanks to the speed of the 22 Creedmoor, and another split second of air time would have been too long.

22 Creedmoor for Competition

Personally for most other field competition shooting for distances below 1000 yards, we recommend the 22 Creedmoor above almost all other cartridges. It has wide forgiving sweetspots, which makes it inherently accurate even for the most novice reloaders, and the velocity combined with the ballistic coefficients of the .224 bullets in 75, 80, 88 and 90gr are so good, that wind does not bother it as much as even larger calibers. Just take a look at one of our groupings below at 219 yards without even working on the jump yet, almost 1/4″ MOA.

22 Creedmoor Grouping
22 Creedmoor 75gr Hornady ELD-M at 219 yards.

22 Creedmoor Barrel Life

This varies depending on your rifle, barrel, load, velocity and bullet. There are many factors that determine the number of shots a barrel can take before the lands and rifling become worn to a point where the accuracy suffers. We have found some 22 Creedmoor shooters pucking the bullet speeds in excess of 3400 fps to get around 1200 to 1400 shots out of their barrels, and some have been able to extend that with proper barrel care life letting the barrel cool between firing strings, and hBN coating their bullets.

22 Creedmoor is also often mispelled as 22 Creedmoore or Creedmore.