222 vs. 223: Similarities and Differences
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222 vs. 223: Similarities and Differences
Chris Fortenberry Last Updated 9th February,2023


The realm of firearms and ammunition is awash with terms and acronyms that casual readers and those outside the firearms community frequently find overwhelming and confusing. For example, .222 vs. 223 Remington.

Unfortunately, not understanding these terms can lead to catastrophic failures when ammunition of the wrong caliber is used in firearms not designed for that cartridge.

Today we will discuss .222 Remington vs. .223 Remington.  These two cartridges have similar names, and you might be tempted to think they could be used in firearm chambers for the other cartridge if needed. They can’t. 

We are going to help you understand the differences between the two cartridges. When we finish, you will be able to identify each of these cartridges, and if you are looking to buy a firearm, decide which best suits your needs.

If you are new to shooting, check out our excellent guide that covers bullet sizes, calibers, and types.

.222 Remington

.222 Remington

The .222 cartridge, also known as the .222 Remington, is a centerfire rifle cartridge that was first introduced in 1950 by the Remington Arms company. 

.222 Remington is a relatively small cartridge, with a bullet diameter of .222 inches (5.6mm and a case length of 1.85 inches (47mm). Small game hunters are looking for small, lightweight rifles. .222 Remington is perfect for this type of usage. 

The .222 Remington cartridge is not ideal for hunting large game animals. The small size of the projectiles and the ballistic coefficients they produce will not humanely harvest larger animals. Don’t take your .222 Remington on your next deer hunt. 

.222 Remington is an accurate cartridge. It sports a high muzzle velocity and is flat shooting. These two factors help make a cartridge accurate, and the .222 is no exception.

223 cartridge
Photo Credit: American Hunter

.223 Remington

.223 Remington

The .223 cartridge, also known as the .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO, is a centerfire rifle cartridge that was first introduced in 1964. 

It is a slightly larger cartridge than the .222, with a bullet diameter of .224 inches (5.7 mm) and a case length of 1.76 inches (44.7mm). 

.223 Remington made its name in the military world. The jungles of Vietnam are where the cartridge first saw widespread use, and as a result, .223 Remington and 5.56×45 NATO are forever tied to military usage.

The .223 cartridge is also used by many law enforcement organizations worldwide, as it is considered an intermediate cartridge that strikes a balance between recoil and stopping power.

This military usage has tied .223 Remington to “assault rifles.” The reality is .223 Remington is a popular choice among hunters and long-range shooters. A large number of modern sporting rifles are in the cartridge. 

.223 Remington’s high muzzle velocity, combined with good ballistics, creates a very accurate cartridge. The .223 Remington can be used for hunting, target shooting, home defense, or military and police activities. This all combines to make the .223 Remington very versatile.

The .223 Remington is a great choice, and it has a place in every shooter’s inventory.

223 cartridge lapua match
Photo Credit: Blue Collar Reloading

Overall Differences Between The .222 Remington Vs. .223 Remington

Specifications/Model.222 Remington.223 Remington
Effective Range-Short to medium range
-300-400 yards
-Medium range
-500-600 yards
RecoilLight recoilLight recoil
Purpose-Varmint hunting
-Target/competition shooting
-Hunting Varmint
-Hunting target/competition shooting
-Military and police use
Firearm suitability        -Bolt action rifles
-Rifles not actively produced in .222 Remington
-Modern Sporting Rifles:AR-15, Mini-14, many others
-Bolt Action Rifles: Various manufacturers
Parent caseN/A.222 Remington
Case typeRimless, BottleneckRimless, Bottleneck
Bullet diameter.222.224
Standard Overall Length2.26 inches2.26 inches
Case capacity27 grains29-30 grains
Max pressure (SAAMI)50,000psi55,000psi
Velocity (fps; ft/s) (Ballistic performance with an example ammo box)-Varies by cartridge
-3,200 ft/s with Fiocchi 50gr. V-Max Polymer Tip
-Varies by cartridge
-3,240 ft/s with Hornady Varmint Express 55gr V-MAX
Energy (ft-lbs) (Ballistic performance with an example ammo box)1,205 ft/lbs1,282 ft/lbs
Overall average velocity3,100-3,300 ft/s3,200-3,900 ft/s
Overall average energy1,200-1,400 ft/lbs1,200-1,6000 ft/lbs

.222 Remington and .223 Remington Key Differences

The .222 Remington and .223 Remington are similar in many ways. Still, there are several key differences between them.

Cartridge Dimensions

While both cartridges are similar in overall length, the .223 Remington has a slightly larger diameter bullet and case than the .222 Remington.

Cartridge Capacity

.223 Remington has a case capacity of 29-30 grains. .222 Remington has a case capacity of 27 grains. This slightly heavier powder charge produces slightly higher velocity and energy.

Ballistic Performance

Due to its slightly larger case capacity, the .223 Remington generally has a slightly higher velocity and energy than the .222 Remington.


The .223 Remington is more widely available than the .222 Remington in terms of firearms chambered for the cartridge and ammunition.


The .223 Remington is the more popular cartridge in the United States.

Many in the firearms community served in the military and are very familiar with .223 Remington and 5.56×45 NATO. You can find rifles for sport shooting, hunting, and tactical applications, all chambers in .223 Remington. .222 Remington is less common and is primarily used for varmint hunting.


It’s worth noting that the differences between the two cartridges are relatively small, and both can deliver good accuracy and performance in their respective applications.

Ultimately, the choice between the two cartridges will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the shooter, and both cartridges have their advantages and disadvantages.

.222 Remington: Pros and Cons

  • Accuracy: The .222 Remington is known for its accuracy and has a reputation for delivering tight groups at long distances.
  • Recoil: The .222 Remington has very low recoil, making it a good choice for target shooting and training, particularly for newer shooters or those sensitive to recoil.
  • Versatility: The .222 Remington is versatile and can be used for various applications, including varmint hunting, target shooting, and even some small game hunting.
  • Limited Availability: The .222 Remington is not as widely available as other cartridges, and firearms chambered for it and ammunition can be more difficult to find in some areas.
  • Limited Power: The .222 Remington has limited stopping power and is not well suited for larger game, such as deer or other big game animals.
  • Limited Use: The .222 Remington is not well suited for tactical or self-defense applications, as it has limited stopping power and penetration.
  • Aging Design: The .222 Remington cartridge was introduced in 1950 and is considered a relatively old design. More modern cartridges may offer improved performance and versatility.

.223 Remington: Pros and Cons

  • Versatility: The .223 Remington is a versatile cartridge that is commonly used for a variety of applications, including sport shooting, hunting, tactical, and self-defense.
  • Popularity: The .223 Remington is a very popular cartridge in the United States, which makes it widely available in terms of firearms chambered for it and ammunition.
  • Cost-Effective: The .223 Remington is a relatively low-cost cartridge, both in terms of the firearms chambered for it and the cost of the ammunition.
  • Ballistics: The .223 Remington offers good ballistic performance, with moderate velocity and energy that make it well suited for a variety of applications.
  • Chamber Pressure: The .223 Remington operates at higher chamber pressures than some other cartridges, which can increase the wear and tear on firearms chambered for it.
  • Limited Range: The .223 Remington has limited range compared to some other cartridges, which can be an issue for long-range shooting applications.

Should Your Next Rifle be Chambered in .222 Remington or .223 Remington?

.222 Remington has become an obsolete cartridge.

Today, there are a myriad of better choices that take advantage of ballistics advances over the last 30 years. Unless you already own a rifle in .222 or have a specific reason for acquiring a rifle in .222 Remington, you should pass on the cartridge.

.223 Remington is still a popular cartridge, with new rifles and ammunition actively developed to use it. The military equivalent, 5.56 NATO, is in front-line use worldwide and is considered a very capable round.

There are many rifles chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO. Modern Sporting Rifles like the Springfield Armory Saint or Ruger Mini-14 are great choices, as are bolt action rifles like the CZ 527 or Savage Axis II.

With the wide array of rifles and ammunition in .223 Remington available today, the .223 Remington is the choice for your next cartridge over .222 Remington.

Alternatives Cartridges to .222 Remington and .223 Remington

.17 Remington

17 remington

.17 Remington is a small-caliber rifle cartridge. It is based on the .223 Remington case necked down to fire a .172-inch diameter bullet.

The .17 Remington is designed for high-velocity performance. The high velocity of the .17 Remington makes it an excellent choice for varmint hunting. Flat shooting, low recoil rounds are ideal for varmint hunting.

Target shooting is another good activity for the .17 Remington. It benefits from the same attributes that make the .17 Remington a good varmint cartridge. It is flat and fast.

It is typically used in bolt-action rifles and is a popular choice among varmint hunters and target shooters who want a small-caliber cartridge for long-range shooting.

.243 Winchester

243 winchester cartridge

The .243 Winchester is a medium-bore rifle cartridge. It is based on the .308 Winchester case necked down to fire a .243-inch diameter bullet. 

The .243 Winchester is designed for versatility and can be used for various applications. The activity that most chose .243 Winchester for is hunting. It is capable of bringing down small game and varmints with ease. .243 Winchester is also a cartridge that can harvest deer, elk, and even moose.

If hunting isn’t your forte, then .243 Winchester is also at home on the shooting range. Competition shooting and regular old plinking are enjoyable activities with .243 Winchester.

.243 Winchester is a relatively low-recoiling rifle. Combine the recoil impulse with the excellent accuracy of the cartridge and you have a really good performer. 

.243 Winchester is typically used in bolt-action rifles. It is a popular choice for hunters who want a cartridge suitable for taking at medium to long ranges.

.308 Winchester

308 winchester

The .308 Winchester is a centerfire rifle cartridge.

It is a popular choice for a variety of applications, including hunting, target shooting, military, and law enforcement use. The .308 Winchester is known for its accuracy, reliability, and versatility, making it a popular choice among hunters, target shooters, and military and law enforcement personnel.

It is capable of delivering high velocity and substantial energy, making it suitable for taking medium to large game, such as deer and elk, at medium to long ranges.

The .308 Winchester is typically used in bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles and is one of the most popular cartridges in the world for hunting and target shooting.


Are .222 Remington and .223 Remington Interchangeable?

No, .223 Remington and .222 Remington are not interchangeable.

Doing so will result in dangerous pressure levels and could result in damage to the firearms or injury to the shooter.

Can you use .222 Remington and .223 Remington for hunting?

Yes. .222 Remington and .223 Remington are good for hunting varmints and coyotes.

They are not ideal for larger animals. Some will use them for hunting wild hogs, but shot placement is paramount. It is best practice to use a more powerful cartridge, especially in the case of .222 Remington.

Are .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO interchangeable?

Firearms chambered for 5.56 NATO ammunition can typically also fire .223 Remington ammunition, although it’s important to check with the manufacturer.

Last Words

The .222 Remington and .223 Remington are versatile rifle cartridges. Both .222 Remington and .223 Remington offer a range of benefits for hunters and target shooters.

.222 Remington is an older, smaller, and lighter cartridge. It performs best when its high velocity, accuracy, and mild recoil are taken advantage of. As such it is a popular choice for varmint hunting and target shooting. 

Like the .222 Remington, the .223 Remington performs best when the high velocity, accuracy, and mild recoil of the cartridge are put to good use.

.223 Remington is a slightly larger and more powerful cartridge. .223 Remington’s military heritage means it is effective as a hunting cartridge and a self-defense cartridge. 

As a hunting cartridge, it is well-suited for hunting a wider range of game than .222 Remington. It can be used to hunt varmints, small game, and hogs. It is not an optimal deer cartridge.

Both cartridges have their strengths and limitations, and the choice will ultimately depend on the individual’s specific needs and preferences.