One Gun, Two Projectiles?

Will a .22-250 Rem. shoot pellets, much like an air rifle?

Every varmint hunter who roams the fields has run into a situation where the ideal gun for the job is not in the hands, but rather back home in the safe. It's why some predator callers haul both a rifle and shotgun along on every stand. I've got enough stuff to carry, so I refuse to lug two guns along.

Another approach that solves some problems is to carry more than one kind of ammo; thus tailoring the ammo, not the gun, to the job. It's an idea I've been playing around with using a .22-250 Rem.

The problem I'm working on solving with two kinds of ammo involves crows and magpies. These scavenger birds often show up when I'm calling predators, and as much as I'd love to gun them down, too, I won't risk spooking a canine to do it. Having a quiet air rifle along to pop these birds would be ideal, but it violates my one-gun style. Therefore, I've been playing around at shooting pellets out of a 22-250. The following is a process that seems to be working.

Handloading Magic
Size a dozen full-length cases and trim them all to a uniform length. Put a generous chamfer on the inside of the case mouths and drill the primer flash hole out to 1/8 inch.

This latter step is necessary to keep primers from backing out. However, cases with enlarged flash holes can be dangerous to reload with full power loads, so you need some way to mark them to alert yourself—or another handloader—that these cases are modified. The system I use is to spin them in a lathe or drill and cut/file a deep groove just forward of the rim. This serves no purpose other than to signal that this case is unsuitable for conventional reloading. It's a critical step, so don't overlook it. After this, the cases are ready for loading.

Like any handloading process, it's first necessary to seat a primer. I use CCI 250s because that's what I have on the shelf, but I suspect any brand of magnum primer will work.

I then add 0.5 grains of Bullseye Powder. I know that's not much, and these loads can even be assembled without it, but adding this small amount of powder boosts velocity by about 200 fps without adding too much noise.

The final operation is to force a .22-cal. lead pellet into the neck of the case using just your fingers. I've tried six different pellets in my rifle and two show significantly better accuracy than the others. So, just like full power loads, it pays to experiment with components.

My chronograph says these pellets are averaging 635 fps, and I'm getting five-shot groups less than 2 inches at 22 yards. The noise produced is similar to an air rifle, but these loads are dirty and leave a lot of carbon in the barrel, so high volume shooting is likely out.

During load development, I've used an Otis Ripcord to keep me shooting with a relatively clean barrel. However, high-volume shooting is not the purpose of these loads; if that's on the agenda, use an air rifle. These loads are intended to be used sparingly, to eliminate the occasional bird when the ideal tool for the job isn't available.

So far, I haven't tried them out on warm targets, but that will come this fall. In the meantime, it's been a fun summertime project you might want to try yourself.