• The Little Ones: .220, .228, and .224 Weatherby Magnums

    Although the .270 Weatherby gets the credit for being the first commercially available and successful cartridge in the line of Weatherby Magnums, the first true Weatherby Magnum was the .220 Weatherby Rocket. There were two unsuccessful predecessors to the now legitimate .224 Weatherby Magnum, so let's start with those. The amount of information available on the .220 and .228 is very limited, so I apologize for the short article.

    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. Weatherby never manufactured ammunition for this caliber. Roy's second high velocity twenty-two was the .228 Weatherby Magnum, made by shortening and necking down the .300 H & H case. I believe some rifles were chambered for these cartridges. One of our members claimed to have seen some of these in the Weatherby Collectors Association events.

    So, the Weatherby line of proprietary cartridges was still incomplete for the lack of an ultra high velocity 22.

    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. Even the little .224 Weatherby Magnum has a freebore. This allows factory loads to be loaded to slightly higher velocity than could safely be done with a shorter throat.

    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. Weatherby no longer offers a rifle chambered in this catridge except as a Custom Shop order.

    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 when chambered in the original Varmintmaster, especially with a 26" barrel, which I belive all rifles should have when chambered for a Weatherby cartridge.

    Since the shorter bullets must free travel through a long chamber throat before engaging the rifling, most Weatherby .224 Magnum rifles produce the best accuracy with bullets weighing 55 grains and up. According to our members who reload for this cartridge, H335 and IMR-3031 are outstanding powders in the .224 Weatherby Magnum.
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. mark81253's Avatar
      mark81253 -
      As much as I like all the other Weatherby's these to me are the special ones. Varmint getters!!! As many know I had Ed convert a .223 to a .224 and he is currently working on converting a .22-250 into a .220 Rocket. I can't wait to buckle me a yote or something with that one. Along with my Vanguard in .22-250 the three will make a very fine battery of Fur Ball busters.
    1. 300WthbySynt's Avatar
      300WthbySynt -
      I am looking into getting a 22LRin a bee XXII. What do you all think of that rifle?
    1. JB257460's Avatar
      JB257460 -
      The new Weatherby bolt action .22s are built on an Anschutz actionwhich are THE best. 90% of Olympic level shooters competing in the Biathlon use Anschutz actions.
    1. Altenman's Avatar
      Altenman -
      I saw one of the Weatherby .228's for sale on Collector's firearm website. It's a gun dealer in Houston. I know the individual who purchased the rifle. If I recall, it sold for nearly $28,000. Needless to say, it's a VERY rare find.
    1. GEURTS340's Avatar
      GEURTS340 -
      Ed, as in Ed Weatherby? How much did the conversion from 223 to 224 WBY mag cost? Was the conversion performed on a mark V or a Vanguard? I just mailed a letter to Weatherby concerning converting a vanguard from 223 to 224 WBY MAg.





      Quote Originally Posted by mark81253 View Post
      As much as I like all the other Weatherby's these to me are the special ones. Varmint getters!!! As many know I had Ed convert a .223 to a .224 and he is currently working on converting a .22-250 into a .220 Rocket. I can't wait to buckle me a yote or something with that one. Along with my Vanguard in .22-250 the three will make a very fine battery of Fur Ball busters.
    1. JB257460's Avatar
      JB257460 -
      Ed, a.k.a. BighornWby", is a member of this Forum and not Ed Weatherby
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