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204 vs 22 250: Coyotes' Worst Nightmare

204 vs 22-250

Even if you're new to varmint hunting, you've heard of the 204 Ruger and the 22 250 centerfire cartridges. They're two of the best coyote cartridges on the market.

While we know these calibers are better than many others in specific situations, how do they fair when pitted against each other?

Keep reading to see how the 204 vs 22 250 stacks up compared in ten critical categories.

204 vs 22 250

The 22 250 has had a devoted following for many decades, while the 204 Ruger is only a couple of decades old.

The following categories are what matter most to the average hunter and shooter. We will keep a tally of each section's winner and declare the winner in the conclusion.

Let's get started with a cartridge comparison!

Cartridge Specs

The 204 Ruger parent case is the 222 Remington Magnum necked down to 0.204". The shoulders were pushed forward slightly and increased the angle to 30 degrees.

The .250-3000 Savage necked down to accept 22 caliber bullets is the parent case for the 22-250.

The 204 has a base diameter of 0.3764", and the 22 250 has a base diameter of 0.47".

The neck diameter of the 204 Ruger is 0.2311" and 0.254" for the 22-250.

The 204 Ruger shoots a slightly smaller diameter bullet of 0.204", while the bullet diameter of the 22-250 is 0.224".

The case length for the 204 is 1.85", and the 22 250 has a slightly longer case length of 1.912".

The 204 Ruger has an overall length of 2.2598", and the 22-350 comes in at 2.35".

33.2 gr H2O is what to expect for the case capacity of the 204 Ruger, while the 22-250 has a case capacity of 44.6 grains.

204 vs 22-250 dimension chart

Lastly, the maximum pressure (SAAMI) for the 204 is 57,500 psi, and the 22-250's max pressure is 53,000 psi.

Recoil: 204 Ruger vs 22 250

Recoil is an essential consideration because a round with heavy recoil is more difficult to control and will slow the rate of follow-up shots.

Recoil is primarily affected by muzzle velocity (FPS), powder charge, bullet weight, and rifle weight.

Both calibers have very low recoil, but the 22-250 is almost double that of the 204 Ruger.

This might sound like a lot, but it's not much of a difference when you look at the numbers.

The 204 Ruger has 3.8 ft-lbs of free recoil when chambered in a typical 7lb rifle.

The 22-250 will have free recoil energy of 6.72 ft-lbs when fired from a 7lb rifle.

The winner is the 204 Ruger. Most shooters will notice a little difference, but neither caliber will leave your shoulder sore from shooting it, so don't let this be the determining factor.

Trajectory

The trajectory of the bullet is the bullet's path to the target. It is an arch because gravity pulls the bullet down.

To counteract gravity, a higher velocity is needed. When the bullet's velocity is increased, it will resist gravity for longer.

The trajectory is important to consider because it's easier to be more accurate with a flatter trajectory.

The trajectory will change when you use different bullets, so take these numbers lightly. They're only intended to give you an idea of what to expect from each caliber.

The 32 gr V-MAX load for the 204 has the flattest trajectory with only -31.8" of bullet drop at 500 yards.

At 500 yards, the 22-250 Rem 40 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip has a bullet drop of -36.2".

While both rounds have a relatively flat trajectory out to 500 yards, the 204 is capable of a flatter trajectory and wins this section.

Accuracy: 22 250 vs 204 Ruger

The accuracy of a round depends on many factors. The primary contributing factor is the shooter. If the shooter is comfortable with the firearm and understands the bullet's trajectory, they'll be reasonably accurate with it.

A few other factors are recoil, bullet trajectory, barrel twist rate, and even brand of ammo. Most rifles prefer a particular brand of ammo due to the bullet and rifle twist rate.

For the sake of argument, we will assume all factors that can be the same are the same, leaving recoil and trajectory as the primary contributing factors.

As we learned earlier, the 204 Ruger has less recoil and a flatter trajectory out to 500 yards.

This means the 204 Ruger is also the winner of this category. However, keep in mind how close the previous sections were and the fact that the 22-250 has been accurately used for decades.

The 22-250 is not an inaccurate round, but it is slightly less accurate than the 204 Ruger in the hands of the average shooter.

Ballistic Coefficient

The ballistic coefficient (BC) is how aerodynamic a bullet is and how well it resists wind drift.

Although the 204 Ruger has a high velocity and is flat shooting, many marksmen comment on how the bullet is affected by a crosswind because of its lighter bullets. The 204 Ruger 32-grain bullet has a low ballistic coefficient of 0.210.

The ballistic coefficient for 22-250 Rem 55-grain bullets like the V-MAX and Ballistic Tip is around 0.24.

Though it's only a narrow margin of victory, the 22-250 is on the board with this section win thanks to its heavier bullets.

Stopping Power: 22-250 vs 204

Though some might argue otherwise in shooting forums, I believe stopping power is an important consideration.

It might not matter as much when the perfect shot is made, but it becomes vitally important for making an ethical shot when your shot placement is less than ideal. Be honest; your shot placement is not always perfect when hunting because I know mine is not.

One way to measure stopping power is by the amount of penetration the bullet has into its intended target.

Sectional density (SD) evaluates the ability of a bullet to penetrate based on its external dimensions, design, and weight.

The 204 Ruger 32 gr V-MAX has an SD of 0.110, while the heavier 22-250 bullets have an SD of 0.15.

The size of the hole is another way some measure stopping power. However, in this instance, the bullet diameters are so similar it will be nearly impossible to tell the difference.

The 22-250 wins this category with a slightly higher SD.

Hunting

These calibers are favorites in the varmint hunting community.

I don't recommend deer hunting with the 22-250, though it might be legal in some states because it lacks the needed knockdown power to make an ethical kill when you have less than ideal shot placement.

The 204 Ruger and 22-250 both make excellent rounds for hunting coyotes, bobcats, prairie dogs, woodchucks, and other fur-bearing critters.

Neither round makes an excellent big game hunting round, but if you're looking to collect a pelt or two, they should both be at the top of your list. The 223 Remington might be a round you should consider if you're looking for a slightly harder-hitting round.

However, neither round has a distinct advantage in providing more hunting opportunities for larger game or at longer ranges, so this section is a tie.

Home Defense: 204 Ruger vs 22-250

While any firearm can be used for self-defense or home defense, some have qualities that make them a much better choice.

If all you had were a 204 Ruger or 22-250, then, by all means, use them to protect yourself and your household. However, there are better options available for home defense.

I always recommend getting a 20 ga or 12 ga shotgun for home defense because they're capable of holding many rounds, you don't have to be pinpoint accurate with it to be effective, and it's less likely to travel through walls.

I recommend carrying a 45 ACP, 40 S&W, or 9mm for self-defense. Pistols chambered in these calibers are easier to conceal than rifles and have a decent magazine capacity.

The 204 and 22 250 don't have enough stopping power to make them effective weapons for home defense, even though they can be chambered in AR-15-style rifles with good magazine capacity.

This section is a draw because neither caliber is ideal for defending yourself and your family.

Ammo Cost & Availability

A factor I consider most when purchasing a firearm is how much it will cost me each time I pull the trigger.

Recent ammo price hikes have made it difficult for some shooters to enjoy their favorite pastime.

Thankfully, the 204 and the 22-250 are relatively inexpensive to shoot.

204 Ruger ammo is made by major ammo manufacturers such as Hornady, Fiocchi, Remington, Sierra, Federal, and Nosler.

Though the popularity of the round makes it difficult to purchase, when you find it, you'll likely pay between $1.16 to $2.60 per round.

The 22-250 is a similar story, with ammo brands like Winchester, Browning, Norma, and Barnes all making 22-250 ammo.

Costs and availability will be very similar to the 204 Ruger; you can expect to pay $1.26 to $2.75 per round.

There might be a slight price advantage for the 204 Ruger, but with low availability, it won't make much difference. Therefore, I'm calling this section a tie.

Rifle Cost & Availability: 204 vs 22-250

Though rifle cost is a considerable initial cost, I focus less on it than ammo cost because I only have to pay it once. Whereas ammo prices will likely only increase in the coming years, I'll have to keep paying them if I want to shoot my firearms.

With that said, gun cost still matters, but once again, we don't see a significant difference in each caliber.

Ruger, Savage Arms, Tikka, Kimber, Howa, Mossberg, and CZ all manufacture rifles chambered in 204 Ruger, which are readily available.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $370 to $1,500 for a 204 Ruger rifle.

Browning, Christensen Arms, Mossberg, Ruger, Howa, and many others have 22-250 chambered rifles for sale for as little as $300 or as much as $2,500.

The gun prices and availability are so similar there's not a distinguishable difference. Therefore, this category is a draw.

Reloading

Handloading rounds is the best way to control the controllable variables. You can dial in the perfect round that consistently gets the most out of your rifle compared to factory loads.

It's also a great way to introduce kids to firearms. They love to see what's inside ammo and it helps them better understand the process a bullet undergoes once fired.

Reloading spent brass is an excellent way to save money on factory ammo.

Yes, you have the initial cost of the press, dies, and supplies, but once you get everything honed in, you can save a lot of money by reloading if you're a regular visitor to the gun range.

Both calibers are capable of being reloaded, and many people reload each caliber.

This section is a tie because there is no clear advantage to reloading one over the other.

Ballistics

See the ballistics of each caliber is another way to determine which one might be best for your situation. However, the actual ballistics will depend on many factors, so keep that in mind as you look at the ballistics tables below.

204 Ruger Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

204 Ruger Bullet WEIGHT Muzzle VELOCITY (fps) Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.) TRAJECTORY (in.)
  Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds.
32 Grain Green 4030 3320 2710 2170 1710 1155 780 520 335 205 0.9 0 -5.7 -19.1
32 Grain 4125 3559 3061 2616 2212 1209 900 666 486 348 0 -1.3 -6.3 n/a
32 Grain 4225 3632 3114 2652 2234 1268 937 689 500 355 0.6 0 -4.2 -13.4
40 Grain 3900 3451 3046 2677 2336 1351 1058 824 636 485 0.7 0 -4.5 -13.9
45 Grain 3625 3188 2792 2428 2093 1313 1015 778 589 438 1 0 -5.5 -16.9

22 250 Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

22-250 Bullet WEIGHT Muzzle VELOCITY (fps) Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.) TRAJECTORY (in.)
  Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. Muzzle 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds. 100 yds. 200 yds. 300 yds. 400 yds.
35 Grain 4450 3736 3128 2598 2125 1539 1085 761 524 351 6.5 0 -4.1 -13.4
40 Grain 4000 3320 2720 2200 1740 1420 980 660 430 265 2 1.8 -3 -16
40 Grain 4150 3553 3033 2570 2151 1530 1121 817 587 411 0.6 0 -4.4 -14.2
45 Grain Green 4000 3293 2690 2159 1696 1598 1084 723 466 287 1.7 1.7 -3.2 -15.7
50 Grain 3725 3264 2641 2455 2103 1540 1183 896 669 491 0.89 0 -5.23 -16.3
52 Grain 3680 3137 2656 2222 1832 1654 1201 861 603 410 2 1.3 -4 -17
55 Grain 3680 3137 2656 2222 1832 1654 1201 861 603 410 2 1.3 -4 -17
60 Grain 3600 3195 2826 2485 2169 1727 1360 1064 823 627 2 2 -2.4 -12.3
64 Grain 3425 2988 2591 2228 1897 1667 1269 954 705 511 1.2 0 -6.4 -20

204 Ruger History

The 204 Ruger is the newer caliber of the two since it was developed in 2004. Hornady Manufacturing and Ruger Firearms worked on the caliber together, and when it was introduced, it was the fastest production .20 caliber cartridge.

Bullets usually weigh between 30 and 45 grains and are available in configurations such as soft point boat tail, jacketed hollow point (JHP), and V-MAX.

Bolt action and single shot rifles are the most commonly produced guns chambered in 204.

Despite only having existed for a couple of decades, the 204 Ruger has a dedicated following of predator hunters and shooting enthusiasts.

I see things only trending upward for the 204 Ruger.

22-250 History

In 1937 Grosvenor Wotkyns, J.E. Gebby, and J.E. Smith came together to develop the .22-250 Remington cartridge for long-range varmint hunting.

Originally a wildcat cartridge known as the 22 Varminter, the 22-250 Rem was eventually made a mainstream rifle cartridge by ammo manufacturers.

In the 1980s, it was used by the Australian Special Air Service for urban sniping operations.

Today it still has a group of dedicated followers, primarily consisting of coyote and bobcat hunters.

Despite being an old round, it's still able to keep up with the young guns and offer top-notch performance.

Parting Shots

If you kept track, you would have tallied that 5/10 sections were a tie. Considering the age difference between the two calibers, that's pretty incredible.

However, the winner by a narrow margin was the 204 Ruger winning 3/10 sections.

The 22-250 Rem only won 2/10 sections.

As I end, I must reiterate that when it comes to the 204 vs 22 250, the differences are splitting primarily splitting hairs. Both make excellent predator hunting rounds.

If you prefer a bolt-action varmint rifle, then the 22 250 is probably the best route to take.

While if you want a semi-automatic varmint rifle, the 204 Ruger is the better option.

No matter which cartridge you choose, make sure you stock up on ammunition at Ammo.com, and I’ll see you at the range!

Wes Littlefield
Written by
Wes Littlefield

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