.220 Swift

This is a discussion on .220 Swift within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; When I was stationed in Virginia a friend would often invite me to his family farm in Ohio to hunt. His dad was a former ...

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Thread: .220 Swift

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    .220 Swift

    When I was stationed in Virginia a friend would often invite me to his family farm in Ohio to hunt. His dad was a former Marine. He had a Smokey Bear hat, but he never was a DI. His DI in boot camp said if any recruit could outshoot him he'd give them his hat...

    We deer hunted a lot, but we also drove around and offered to shoot groundhogs on the neighboring Amish farms. They always gladly accepted. We used his dad's .220 swift, and shot them a 400 yds holding right in their heads. It's the flattest shooting rifle I've ever used, and I always wanted one...

    Found this M77 heavy barrel for a super deal with a BSA 36X Platinum Scope. It isn't the greatest optic, and the field of view is very small, but it definitely makes small things look big at distance as long as the light is good.

    Anyway, it's fun to show off new toys. I know I certainly enjoy looking at pix of your firearms! This will get centered along with me deer rifles in the next two weeks. Yes, I will finally go to the distance range. They've probably forgotten my name it's been so long. Enjoy.







    If you're not familiar, it's a obscure 6mm cartridge necked down to a .224 bullet. With .22 weight bullets it screams at over 4,000 fps. With heavier bullets less, but they don't drift as much at range, and I prefer them.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

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  3. #2
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    Neat find! The Lyman manual writeup on the Swift says "reloaders seeking 4000 ft/sec with 50 gr bullets aren't doing their Swift any favors"... in reference to barrel life. But they list dozens of loads in the mid- to upper-3000 ft/sec range, so the world is your oyster for this puppy if you're a handloader.

    Update us with a field or range report when you get a chance.
    Smitty
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    Great rifle and round, a real blast to shoot, literally. My one and only custom rifle is a 220 Swift, I started with an ’09 Argentine action added a Shaw barrel, a Roberts stock and a Timiney trigger. Great fun for dropping rock chucks out in California and prairie dogs in Oklahoma. Only took shots at 300+ yards just to give them a sporting chance.

    I did run into a problem with it once, I had loaded up some ammo then went to the range to try it out. Now this rifle consistently shot ¼ moa groups and imagine when I fired 5 rounds and there was not a mark on the target. When the range went cold I brought the target to the 25-yard line. Fired 5 more rounds, nothing but I did notice little marks on the target. When I got back to the barracks I checked the box of bullets, Sierra 50gr medium velocity 3200-3600fps, they were blowing up leaving the bore.
    When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
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    Yessir! Great post! Great Swift stories! Wonderful Swift rifle you have there! There's way more genuine fun and long range usefulness in your new .220 Swift bolt gun than is found in any AR 15. The fabulous .220 Swift is so far up on a higher plane than the .223 that it's just pitiful.

    It's said that the 6mm Lee Navy was the inspiration for the .220 Swift. I'm normally downright anti-magnum when it comes to cartridges under .30 caliber but will make an exception for the exceedingly fascinating .220 Swift. Even though it doesn't wear the word "magnum" as a suffix, the grand .220 Swift is proportionately more "magnum" than nearly any other rifle cartridge going. As Fred Barnes said in his excellent work "Cartridges of the World," "the .220 Swift runs in the fastest company." Much is claimed for the few other cartridges that break the 4000 fps barrier but it's still really hard to keep up with the Swift and full-bore loads. Not bad for a cartridge that was introduced in the mid-1930s.

    One of my favorite cartridges of all time.


    Two .220 Swifts live here. Top: a 1937 vintage Winchester Model 70 .220 Swift with a Lyman All-American 6X scope. Bottom: A 1972 vintage Rugger M77V .220 Swift with a Burris 6X18 target scope. From the bench rest the 76 year old Winchester with its lower magnification scope will shoot right along with the Ruger at 100-200 yards and both are pleasingly accurate for dead-stock factory rifles. The Winchester has an unbeatable trigger.

    With published handloads, the .220 Swift will propel a 45 grain spitzer to 4255 fps, a 55 grain spitzer to 4000 fps and give gilt-edged accuracy while doing it. The mighty Swift saw some success as a bench rest competition cartridge in the early days of the bench rest game until more efficient designs that consumed less propellant pushed it out of the way. The Swift's a monster when compared to the middling .223 cartridge. It'll take deer-sized big game quite effectively.

    The old Winchester Swift took an unknown quantity of deer as well as a pronghorn for its original owner. The Ruger Swift has 7 deer to its credit.

    Eldest son at 11 years old with the Ruger .220 Swift and his first deer, a decent Texas whitetail doe, taken some 20 years ago now. With perfect shot placement, at 136 long steps, the deer collapsed where she stood and never moved.




    The tightest 100 yard, 5-shot group ever achieved with any center fire rifle that I've shot was done with the Ruger Swift. All five could be hidden out of sight underneath the mouth of a .38 Special cartridge case. Not bad for a stock production factory rifle with a less than inspiring trigger.

    Then there is the shot taken from the bench rest at 100 yards on the red wasp that landed on the target. Aimed for the wasp on the first shot, then shot the other four rounds with normal hold. Front and back of the target.



    The load mentioned on this target is still my personal "secret weapon" accuracy load for both Swift rifles. It's hard to find another handload that'll beat it out.

    Am I enthused about the .220 Swift, or what?
    gasmitty and msgt/ret like this.
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    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    That sir is a very fine rifle indeed, and the 220 swift is a fantastic varmint round, and is even suitable for deer with heqavier bullets if you needed it to fill a pot. I have always wanted one, but it would most likely collect dust given my current living locale. Not much shooting of burrow rats in a soybean or corn field. Cant wait to see some targets..... also, Leuopold makes some fantastic long range glass that would be a perfect fit for that beauty of a rifle....
    ”God grants Liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”
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    Your points are shallow... my points are Hollow....

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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    From what I understand the old ones (it was introduced in the mid '30s) would wear out a barrel in hundreds, not thousands of shots. They would also tend to loose their grouping once the barrel heated up (like an AK). I can't remember what brand my friend's dad's was, but it certainly had well over a thousand rounds through it and it was a nail driver. The modern Ruger heavy barrel won't have either problem, and I never let my rifles get too hot, which is the main thing that destroys accuracy. I'll take some pix when I shoot it and punch some holes in a dime at 100 to show off.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

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    Don't know about wearing out bores quite yet. The old Winchester probably hasn't had more than about 750 rounds through it in its entire life. I got it from its original owner. He shot off early factory 48 grain Winchester loads that were said to be screamers to get the brass for his handloading efforts. He never really pushed the rifle and neither have I. Its bore is still sparkling bright and it doesn't foul much at all.

    Now the Ruger M77 is a fouling fiend, has always been a fouling fiend. I got it used in 1987. Despite its inclination to foul, I've kept it clean between uses with Sweet's 7.62 Bore Cleaner. By staying after the fouling and keeping it eliminated, I've convinced myself that the useful barrel life has been extended. It's had 2000 to 2500 rounds fired through it in bullet weights from 40 grains to 63 grains, though most often used with the 52 grain Sierra match bullet. The load I've used on deer features the 55 grain Sierra boattail spitzer soft point that passed over the chronograph screens at 3912 fps for a 10-shot average velocity. A heavy charge of IMR 3031 under the 45 grain Sierra cranked the highest velocities I ever saw over the chronograph.

    The Ruger barrel now shows some shadowing just in front of the chamber throat, not bad but discernible when peering through the barrel from the breech end in good light. No matter, for the rifle will go to the range and shoot better than ever. Probably fewer than 200 real "barn-burner" loads have ever been fired through it since I've had it, the rest being "throttled back" to .22-250 type velocities. When the barrel goes we'll probably stick a Shilen barrel on it and keep on chuggin'. I really need to do something more to that trigger. I've take the factory trigger about as far as safe adjustment allows and it still ain't what it ought to be when compared with the excellent Winchester trigger, much less a nice after-market trigger.

    I"m ready to go shoot rifles right now. I could be at the club range gate in 3 minutes. Only problem is, it's pretty dark out there just now.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    In Missouri, which must be like Texas, the rules only say "center fire" for deer. Now, there are plenty of people who take deer with .223s and ARs with 5rnd mags, but I've never known anyone to use a Swift. There's no reason why it wouldn't be deadly, it just isn't that common around Missouri with everything being forested, rolling hills. I use a 7mm to harvest. It's overkill, but hey, I'm "harvesting".

    I'll see how it shoots first, and then think about it. I honestly had not considered it for deer. On the farm I'm hunting the second weekend there is an upper field that has the possibility for some 400yd shots, which my 7mm will also handle, but if I get comfortable with the Swift I may shoot that. What bullets would you run for larger game? PM me if you're willing to give up your secret recipes. I won't have time to fully explore and test the reloading possibilities before the season is upon us, and any advice would be appreciated!
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    Beat me to it. Thanks.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    I have always liked Rugers for what they are, but they aren't Winchesters.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

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    I'll stick up, over in the cartridge section of the Forum, a "Cartridge Discussion" I once wrote on the .220 Swift over in the cartridge section of the Forum. I thought it was lost forever years ago but have just found it. The loads mentioned show performance but don't give the data. If you see a load in which you would be interested then PM me and I'll look it up in my handloading notes. My personal reloading manual is titled "Pyrotechnics and a Few Outright Bombs" so be warned.

    I just always stuck with the 55 grain weigh bullet for deer. I mostly used that Sierra bullet mentioned earlier but did take the first .220 Swift-killed deer with a Sisk 55 grain component bullet from the 1940s-1950s. The Sierra bullets turn to lead/copper powder inside the boiler room of deer out to about 150 yards but they always drop in their tracks with broadside hits. The Sierra 55 grain bullet seems to hold together well enough to find some of it beneath the hide on the off side of the deer at 200 yards plus. My dad's taken the longest shot on a deer with the Swift and this load. I think it was 305 steps. That deer struggled for 20 yards before keeling over. The bullet's copper base was wound up in the hide on the offside.

    That ol' Sisk bullet was from a batch my old friend who had the Winchester Model 70 Swift had conserved since back in the 1940s or early 1950s when he got them. It was a flat-based design with only a pin-point of lead exposed. I took the first deer I'd killed with the .220 Swift with one of these bullets to please him. It worked really well on deer sized game. From 150 yards or so, it left neatly cut half-dollar exit hole on a broad side shot, the deer collapsing where it stood.

    I still have a partial box of those Sisk bullets. I just like 'em on the "ready bullet" shelf on my reloading bench. I see 'em and think of my old friend. He'd be tickled to know we were still talking about the .220 Swift these days. More folks ought to get to know it.
    msgt/ret likes this.
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    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Great reading. Until now, I've never even heard of the .220 Swift. Naturally, I find myself wanting one now.
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
    "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis

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    I think the flip-flops are a nice touch, heh!
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Never had a 220 Swift but had a .225 Winchester in a post "64" Model 70 Winchester. I bought this rifle in my junior year of high school in 1971. Offed many a ground hog with my buddy and his 22-250. I sold it after college in 1985.
    bmcgilvray and msgt/ret like this.
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  16. #15
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    The .225 Winchester is an obsolescent cartridge that is every bit as good as the .22-250 and useful in the same applications. Our old gun club president used to have a 1964 vintage .225 Winchester Model 70. The rifle had all the "sins" that were representative of the post-64 Model 70s: the push feed, the "burnt-looking" impressed checkering, the homely stock configuration done in ugly wood with uglier surface finish. It did still retain the excellent factory Winchester trigger. His gun would shoot "a house afire" and he was quite proud of it. Even in the early 1980s the .225 Winchester was uncommonly seen. I've always been drawn to orphan cartridges for some reason and confess to coveting his rifle. It was a sho' 'nuff shooter!
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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