What’s Wrong With The .220 Swift?

Someone stopped by searching for “whats wrong with the 220 swift.”

Well, nothing is actually wrong with the Swift. It is a fine cartridge, and an extremely accurate one. I have busted crows sitting on fence posts across a full quarter section. The crows always exploded nicely and the property owner never complained about hitting his fence posts so I would call that a success.

Based on the old 6mm Lee Navy case necked down to .22 the original factory loads were advertised to gave 4,000 fps, and some handloaders claimed 4100 for a lighter bullet. The Swift’s problem is throat erosion and consequently short barrel life when plain steel barrels were fitted to the Model 70. Some loaded Swift’s so hot barrels were “shot out” is as few as 400 rounds.

Stainless steel approximately doubled barrel life with factory and “warm” loads, but some guys think if 4,000 fps will take varmints, 4,100 will take them better. That’s not really the way things work, since barrels seemed to last forever when the Swift was loaded to 3800 fps or so. And the crows exploded just as nicely.

I understand a couple of .220 Swift mandrels are being made up in an attempt to hammer forge and then lap in cobalt alloy barrels for the caliber. Cobalt is one of the “wondermetals,” and the estimated life of a cobalt Swift barrel is above 10,000 rounds. Probably with a price to match, since the spot price of cobalt appears to be running close to $20 a pound, and the stuff is “hell to machine.”

Still, a $500 barrel for a Swift would be a bargain. I would rebarrel my Sako at that price. Or at twice the price. There are not many .22 cartridges that will take crows consistently at 440 yards.


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Extranos Alley is a Collaborate effort to provide up to information on the relationship between restrictive gun laws and violent crime; as well as other related topics. While emphasis is on United States gun laws and crime, we also provide data on crime trends world wide.
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