The .22 Creedmoor: Longest Range .22?

Back in 2007, Hornady officially introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor. This cartridge made quite a splash in the firearms industry, given its long-range retention of velocity and energy. After all, it was invented with long-range competitive shooters in mind.

Competitors weren’t the only ones to take notice, though; hunters began flocking to the 6.5 Creedmoor for some of the same attributes that the competitors liked. Namely, the high ballistic coefficient, which allows a lot of energy to be retained at a long range. This helps the trajectory to be flatter than a lot of other cartridges.

The velocity isn’t extremely high, and cartridge weights are moderate, so a wonderful byproduct of the 6.5 Creedmoor is that there’s not a lot of recoil associated with it. It’s downright pleasant to shoot, having far less recoil than the .308.

A New Creedmoor

Following the wild success of the 6.5 Creedmoor, wildcatters began concocting other cartridges from the parent cartridge, including the 6mm Creedmoor and the .25 Creedmoor. Then came the .22 Creedmoor, which was also necked down from the 6.5 Creedmoor. It was first built by Horizon Firearms in 2014, and at that stage, it was a wildcat round. In 2016, they began selling loaded .22 Creedmoor rounds to shooters.

90 grain .22 Creedmoor.
The 90 grain Berger VLD in .22 Creedmoor. Its very high ballistic coefficient helps it retain velocity at long range. Photo by Copper Creek.

Several other steps and partnerships occurred along the way, but Hornady began loading .22 Creedmoor ammunition after submitting the cartridge for SAAMI approval. And the rest, as they say, is history. It is, however, history in the making, as the SAAMI approval just happened in 2023, which is very recent as this article is being written.

Some Specs

Here are a few specs to put things into perspective. To put it simply, the .22 Creedmoor leaves most other .22 bores in the dust. Let’s compare.

.22 Creedmoor:   Bullet Weight: 80 Grains Velocity: 3,300 FPS 400 Yd. Drop: 19.5 inches 400 Yard Wind Drift (15MPH): 14.1 inches.

.223 Remington: Bullet Weight: 55 Grains Velocity:  3,240 fps  400 Yd. Drop:  27 inches  400 Yard Wind Drift (15 MPH): 31.2 inches.

.22-250 Remington: Bullet Weight:  55 Grains Velocity: 3,680 fps  400 Yd. Drop: 19.5 inches 400 Yard Wind Drift (15 MPH): 26.1 inches.

We can see that the new Creedmoor round bests the others and does it with an appreciably heavier bullet. It matches the drop of the .22-250, but with a bullet weighing 25 grains more, delivers more wallop at the extended ranges. Undeniably, the heavier .22 Creedmoor rounds drift less in the wind as the range increases, and wind drift can be one of those dastardly natural influences that cause bullets to miss at extended ranges.

At 600 yards, the .22 Creedmoor is nearly 600 feet per second faster than the .22-250. It retains velocity very efficiently. With an 80-grain bullet, the .22 Creedmoor’s Ballistic Coefficient (BC) is .485, which is excellent.

Let’s take a look at a few other loadings for the .22 Creedmoor to see how they measure up. Copper Creek Cartridge Company has some loads that they sell and I think when you take a look at a few of the stats, it might raise your eyebrows a bit.

.22 Creedmoor Barnes 62 Grain TTSX 

This round is loaded to 3,600 feet per second from a 24-inch barrel. Muzzle energy is 1,784 foot-pounds. When zeroed for 100 yards it drops:

  • 1.3 inches at 200 yards
  • 6.4 inches at 300 yards
  • 16.4 inches at 400 yards
  • 31.7 inches at 500 yards
  • 54.2 inches at 600 yards
  • 84.3 inches at 700 yards
  • 128.4 inches at 800 yards
  • 183.9 inches at 900 yards
  • 260.9 inches at 1,000 yards.

77-Grain Sierra Matchking

This one moves out at 3,455 feet per second (24-inch barrel), with muzzle energy of 2,035 foot-pounds. With a 100-yard zero, this 77-grain bullet drops:

  • 1.4 inches at 200 yards
  • 6.6 inches at 300 yards
  • 16.4 inches at 400 yards
  • 31.2 inches at 500 yards
  • 52.7 inches at 600 yards
  • 81.2 inches at 700 yards
  • 117.3 inches at 800 yards
  • 166.7 inches at 900 yards
  • 227.6 inches at 1,000 yards

80-Grain Hornady ELD-X 

The muzzle velocity of this round from a 24-inch barrel is 3,400 feet per second. Muzzle energy is 2,053 foot-pounds. With a 100-yard zero, this 80-grain round drops:

  • 1.4 inches at 200 yards
  • 6.4 inches at 300 yards
  • 15.8 inches at 400 yards
  • 29.9 inches at 500 yards
  • 49.1 inches at 600 yards
  • 74.5 inches at 700 yards
  • 106.9 inches at 800 yards
  • 146.8 inches at 900 yards
  • 195.2 inches at 1,000 yards

95-Grain Sierra Matchking

This is one of the heavier loads for this round. It’s a great round for targets and features a small hollow point. Velocity is 3,160 feet per second from a 24-inch barrel and muzzle energy is 2,106 foot-pounds. The ballistic coefficient is .599, which is stellar. With a 100-yard zero, this round drops:

  • 1.7 inches at 200 yards
  • 7.8 inches at 300 yards
  • 18.3 inches at 400 yards
  • 33.9 inches at 500 yards
  • 54.8 inches at 600 yards
  • 82.5 inches at 700 yards
  • 116.8 inches at 800 yards
  • 158.4 inches at 900 yards
  • 207.5 inches at 1,000 yards

Okay, I listed a ton of very dry data here. Why did I do that? Mostly because there is a wide range of bullet weights, running from 60 to 95 grains, which is a substantial range. The more I look at it, the more apparent that this round’s versatility becomes. In heavier bullet weights, the ballistic coefficient helps the projectile retain velocity and energy at extended ranges. Compared to any other .22 round, the .22 Creedmoor’s drop and drift are significantly less. Yes, other .22 loads can beat its velocity, but they are lighter bullets that lose steam faster.

At a couple hundred yards, the differences are not as marked, but as the range extends, the Creedmoor’s advantages become evident. This is the case whether we’re talking about the 6.5 Creedmoor or the .22 Creedmoor. For these ballistic advantages, shooters get precious little recoil; it’s one of the most comfortable cartridges to shoot.

The flatter a cartridge shoots, and the less it drifts in the wind, the more forgiving it is. It allows the shooter to make more mistakes when estimating wind and range, which is always a welcomed aspect. This is especially true when we’re shooting at small, flitting targets, which are hard enough to hit when we’re not fighting wind.

What Are The Uses?

The .22 Creedmoor was designed to deliver fast velocity with a flat trajectory – the flattest of any .22 caliber cartridge currently available. The combination of flat trajectory, high velocity, and high energy make for a great small to mid-sized game cartridge. Even better, it does it at extended ranges, too.

CZ 550 with woodchucks.
The .22 Creedmoor is a stellar varmint round for long-range. Here is a CZ 550 chambered for the round. Photo by Varminter Magazine.

It’s excellent for deer, mule deer, hogs, coyotes, and other similarly sized game. Given the high velocity, many bullets tend to behave explosively when they hit the target. The new round is also no slouch as a caliber for target shooting, and will easily reach out to 1,000 yards. Not bad for a .22, eh?

Final Thoughts

Because it was just approved as mainstream, the .22 Creedmoor and rifles that shoot it are just starting to become more available. You may have to look around a bit for both, but they’re out there. This new .22 can do things that other .22 rounds cannot and it can do them farther, faster, and with less drop and recoil. The fact that a wide range of bullet weights exists (from 60 to 95 grains) just adds to the versatility.

This cartridge bears watching for the future. Given the popularity of its Creedmoor siblings, it’s reasonable to expect this new .22 to gain popularity and acceptance quickly. Naturally, there will be those who shun it because it’s new, but it brings enough extra performance to the table to make it a significant improvement over everything else that’s out there.

For readers with experience with the round, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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