Question on a 221 fireball

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by John1 S, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. John1 S

    John1 S New Member

    May 6, 2010
    Does anyone have a 221 fireball and how do you like it?? Do you reload for it??
  2. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Are you looking at it in a rifle or handgun (XP100 or Contender)?
    I'll guess rifle since you're in the long-gun forum...

    In years past, one of our prairie dog hunting "clique" had a 10" XP100 in .221. I loved shooting that thing once he swapped the factory plastic stock (think Nylon66 autoloader type stuff) for a chunk of walnut. He loaded his own ammo, but I'd have to ask him what his recipes were. I know he used mainly 40gr thin-jacket HPs but don't remember the brand or what powder he pushed em with.

    I haven't owned or shot a rifle in .221 yet, but I always thought it would be a neat little rifle cartridge as sort of an in-between of the .22WMRF or .22Hornet and the .222 or .223.
    It should be easy on the shoulder, stingy on powder, but still have enough oomph to whack prairie dogs out to 200-300yds and coyotes to 100-150yds.
    Now that a few rifles are available in it I've been tempted to try it...but I'm still stuck on playing with my latest pet, the .204Ruger.

  3. John1 S

    John1 S New Member

    May 6, 2010
    I have a cz 527 coming in next week in a 221 fireball rifle.
  4. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    It is a cool little cartridge but I don't understand why anybody would want a rifle in it when no factory ammo is available, 223 is better and cheap ammo is so abundant. If one wants to be more percision you can reload 223. I have had two Remington fireballs in my life and I re-chambered both of them to 223 for those same reasons.

    The 221 is one of many cartridges that came out just to sell guns for it is not much of an improvement over the 218 bee and not as good as the 222.

    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
  5. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Not sure where you got that info Mud. And since you mentioned the .218 Bee I'll use that as a comparison.
    Remington has one factory Fireball load and I see Nosler does too (although you gotta have a healthy bank account to buy Nosler!).
    How many factory loads do you see for the .218 Bee that you mentioned? ;)
    I believe only WW has that one covered anymore since it is a vintage Winchester chambering....and they had dropped it from their catalog for a few years too.

    You are right in that the Fireball isn't much improvement at all over the Bee besides getting rid of the rimmed case adding about 400-500 fps.
    Basically, both of those two cartridges are for the most part a handloader's game since there are few factory loads available.
    But as a niche cartridge between the Hornet and the .222/.223, they both fill the bill nicely (as will most variants of the "improved" Hornet cases). Maybe not enough people fit into that niche to warrant a bunch of different factory loads...that doesn't mean there isn't a place for the cartridge though. :)

    I still like the idea of .221 as a mid-size varmint cartridge...both because I've used that cartridge in an XP100 and I've also had the pleasure to shoot an older marlin lever in .218 Bee.
    Niche? yep Needed? maybe Available? I'm glad you can get a rifle chambered in that power class without getting a custom job or digging around for an antique.

    If you live in a heavier populated area...or in my case where the prairie dogs are more skittish due to hunting pressure, you quickly appreciate a little less muzzle blast that doesn't send every dog within a mile scurrying for cover when you touch off a .222 or .223.
  6. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    Binder, if they still make factory ammo for the 221 Fireball I stand corrected, as for velocity my Sierra second addition list the fastest load for a 50 grain bullet from the 221 at 2550 fps.

    That same manual list several 50 grain bullet loads for the 218 bee at 2600 fps and one 55 grain load also at 2600 fps. In that particular reloading manual the 218 bee out performs the 221 with every bullet weight shown. I will grant you the bee is being shot in a rifle barrel 26 inches long and the 221 in a 10.5 inch test barrel. Even that being said I would doubt very seriously that the 221 could be increased by 400 to 500 in a rifle barrel. One could expect that kind of velocity increase in a large capacity case because of the amount of slow burning fuel you can stuff in it, which is something you simply cannot do with a small case.

    As for the design of the two cases the 221 I would agree is far better unless you are a Thompson Contender guy and then the rimmed case shines perhaps a bit brighter.

    As for noise, the 22 hornet, the 221, the 222 and 218 one really should wear hearing protection.

    I stand on my conviction that there was never any real need for the 221. Like many cartridges while it is really a cool looking little round it really doesn't fill any niche that I can see. To me it is like a 30-30 and a 32 Winchester Special or a 30-06 and a 270, a 6mm Remington, 244 Remington and a 243 Winchester to name just a few.

    Also let me say, there is really no need for a 50 BMG in a sporting rifle but I have one and I like to load for it because it blows my skirt up when I shoot it and likewise if you have a 221 and you like to load for it and does for you what my big gun does for me, have at and please pay no attention to me.

  7. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    No problem at all mud. :) Makes for interesting conversation.

    Somebody somewhere thought it had a place in the lineup. That's probably why the .221 was dreamed up (I suppose all cartridges when they were first introduced).
    I hesitated at the .204 for a long time too...another one of those "new" ideas. It's basically the same on paper (and in the field) as a .22-250 but it was new. After it proved itself that it was gonna be around for a few years I figured what the heck I'll try one.

    As for the velocity differences. Most data you see out there is for the XP100, where 2500-2600fps with a 50gr is pretty much spot on out of the 10" shorty XP. If you move up to the 14" XP or Contender you can roll 2700-2800 easily. Out of a 22-24" rifle, I'm guessing that 3000fps is very doable since you can use slower burning powders in the longer tube.
    The latest Hornady manual has separate rifle and pistol data for the Fireball...3000fps with 50gr out of a 24" barrel.

    Noise? Yup I won't shoot even a Hornet or rimfire magnum without hearing protection. But the .221 fireball out of a 10" XP is noticably quieter than a .222 rifle and it doesn't spook the prairie dogs off quiet as bad...we've had both on our trips and on the skittish towns something quieter is a nice thing to have.
    Heck, we've even been known to use 6.5 Swedes and .257 Roberts on the little buggers since they've got less bark than our usual .223, .204, .22-250, etc long-range stuff. :)
  8. Road America

    Road America Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    I have an XP100 in 221 and I enjoy loading for it and shooting it. (I wonder why they called it that - what a dumb name!)
    I've always wanted a rifle in 221. I'm jealous, John - let us know how you like that CZ when you get it - Maybe some pictures?
    Jim S.
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