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.224 Weatherby Magnum


Cartridge Drawing

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The very first cartridge designed by Roy Weatherby in the 1940`s was the .220 Rocket, an improved version of the .220 Swift. The Rocket was not exactly a howling success, because even back then, shooters knew that very little velocity could be gained by burning more powder in a .224" caliber bore than was consumed by the .220 Swift. Roy's second high velocity twenty-two was the .228 Weatherby Magnum, made by shortening and necking down the .300 H & H case for the 70 grain, .284" bullets.

When word about the new .224 Magnum spread among varmint shooters in 1963, most assumed that it would follow the Weatherby tradition of fastest of its breed. Instead, the .224 emerged as a miniature .300 Weatherby Magnum with slightly less powder capacity than that of a .22-250. As was later discovered, the .224 Weatherby Magnum is almost a ballistic twin of the .225 Winchester. Factory load velocities of the .224 Weatherby Magnum are boosted to .22-250 speeds by reaming the chambers of Varmintmaster rifles with a long throat or leade. This allows factory loads to be loaded to slightly higher velocity than could safely be done with a shorter throat.

As a varmint cartridge, the .224 Weatherby Magnum will hold its own in the presence of the .225 Winchester and .22-250 and its performance is only slightly shy of that of the .220 Swift. All of this and a beautiful little rifle to boot.

Since the shorter bullets must free travel through the long Varmintmaster chamber throat before engaging the rifling, most Weatherby .224 Magnum rifles produce the best accuracy with bullets weighing 55 grains and up. H335 and IMR-3031 are outstanding powders in the .224 Weatherby Magnum.

Historical Notes:
The Weatherby line of proprietary cartridge was somewhat incomplete for the lack of an ultra high velocity 22. The previous 220 Weatherby Rocket was actually an improved wildcat based on the 220 Swift case, and Weatherby never manufactured ammunition of this caliber. The 224 Varmintmaster was introduced in 1963, but according to Roy Weatherby, development went back 10 years prior to this. Introduction of this cartridge was delayed due to lack of a suitable action. The caliber is available in a reduced size version of the Weatherby Mark V rifle. At present no one else chambers this caliber.

General Comments:
The 224 Weatherby lies ballistically between the 223 Remington and the 220 Swift. It is a belted case with the advantages and disadvantages inherent to this type of construction. For the handloader, it eliminates certain headspace and case stretch problems and should provide maximum case life. It is an excellent long range varmint cartridge with performance similar to the 22-250 Remington. Its popularity has been determined largely by economic factors. One can buy a Remington, Ruger, or Winchester 22-250 caliber for about one quarter the price of a Weatherby. The 224 Weatherby is, nevertheless, a fine choice to those who don`t mind the extra cost. It is the smallest belted case presently manufactured commercially.

Cartridge:
.224 Weatherby Magnum

 

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