The 22 Creedmoor, Hype or Legit?

The 22 Creedmoor, Hype or Legit? - Muley Freak

Does the 22 Creedmoor Live Up To Its Hype?

The 22 Creedmoor, now SAAMI-approved, is the biggest .22 caliber cartridge available on the open market. This celebrated 22-caliber round delivers lethal energy at the fastest speeds and flattest trajectories! More so than any other 22-caliber cartridges out there. Read that again. Yes, more so than any other 22 cartridges out there! 

The 22 Creedmoor outperforms the likes of even the 22-250 and 220 Swift, and with a much larger bullet, more data will come on that front. 

The caliber was engineered to optimize performance, minimizing drop and maximizing velocity making it an absolute smasher round for small to mid-sized animals - and perhaps even larger game (more on that later).

Running a 1:8 twist rate on your barrel, the 22 Creedmoor will stabilize 22 caliber bullets at breakneck speeds even for the dudes shooting factory loads (imagine the performance when nerding out with hand loads).

But first, let’s not get too carried away and let us compare it with a few of the other 22-caliber cartridges. Let’s start with the 22-250 with a 55 gr V-MAX. At 600 yards, the 22 Creedmoor is almost 600 FPS faster than the 22-250. All that with a 25-gr bigger bullet. This means the 22-250 slows down at a much greater rate than that of the 22 Creedmoor as it splits airspace.

Next up, is the 220 Swift. At 1,000 yards, the 22 Creedmoor has almost 12 feet less drop than that of the 220 Swift. That’s a whopping 144” inches for those who struggled with their 5th-grade multiplication tables.

A graphic showing bullet drop data of a 22 creedmoor, 220 swift, 22-250, and 6.5 creedmoor from 0 to 1000 yards

According to Horizon Firearms, at 600 yards, the 22 Creed has 24.8” less wind drift than a 22-250 with a 10 MPH wind at 90 degrees (that’s 3.5 coyote lengths for those wondering).

A graphic showing the 22 Creedmoor

At 1,000 yards, the 22 Creedmoor has enough kinetic energy to hunt and kill deer with. The 220 Swift has approximately ¼ of the energy relative to the 22 Creedmoor at that exact same distance. 

Additionally, the 22 Creed boasts significantly higher BC's than its cousins the 220 SWIFT and 22-250 shooting much smaller bullets!

Do you still think it’s not enough for the mid-size game?

Comparing the 22 Creedmoor to the 6.5 Creedmoor

First off, let’s compare bullets.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is shooting a 143 ELD-X whilst the 22 Creedmoor is shooting an 80 gr ELD-X. Both bullets are of the same genetic makeup just different weights, and at 1,000 yards the the 22 Creed is only 219 ft/lbs of energy behind the 6.5 Creedmoor.

A graphic showing bullet energy data of a 22 creedmoor, 220 swift, 22-250, and 6.5 creedmoor from 0 to 1000 yards

Additionally, with a 10 MPH wind at 1000 yards it only drifts 1.2” more than the 6.5 Creed.

A graphic showing bullet wind drift data of a 22 creedmoor, 220 swift, 22-250, and 6.5 creedmoor from 0 to 1000 yards

22 Creedmoor for Small to Mid Size Game

A commonly accepted threshold for a minimum amount of kinetic energy needed to kill an elk is 1500 ft-lbs. For deer, the minimum amount of energy is 1000 ft-lbs. 

However, the 1,000 ft-lbs rule for deer is highly debated as some folks suggest you only need 3x as many ft/lbs of energy as you need for the weight of your quarry. Meaning if you want to shoot a 200 lb bear then you need 600 ft/lbs of energy to accomplish your goal nicely.

To my knowledge, there’s no proven way to evaluate the transfer of kinetic energy from a projectile into a living and intentional target; however, we do know a source wound is messy and without infection can result in an unrecovered animal. We also know displacing tissue in and around the heart and lungs is generally fatal, but all experienced hunters have witnessed willful critters venture much further than anticipated even with so-called “perfect shots”. At least, I have.

This debate is all a bit tricky, but the fact is no two living critters react the same upon getting hammered by a bullet, not even two alike critters that are of the same sex and species.

In my honest opinion, there are two schools of thought when it comes to bullet performance: 1) Those folks who want a bullet's energy expended into the target. 2) Those folks who prefer bullet penetration. The former group is probably also divided into those who like to find their nicely mushroomed bullets against the skin on the opposite side and those who are perfectly happy if the bullet breaks into fragments so long as it first penetrates the vitals. 

Rest assured the Hornady ELD-X & ELD-M’s transfer energy into your living target like no bullets I’ve ever seen transferring the needed tissue displacement in order to kill and also delivering textbook mushrooming.

a hand holding up and showing off a spent 6.5 creedmoor cartridge with a perfect mushroomed bullet from a Hornady ELD-X that had killed a mule deer buck

For this reason, I elected to give the 22 Creedmoor a go on the American black bear.

Here’s Where My Head Was At

I’ve heard many good things about the 22 Creedmoor and how well it performs on coyotes from my buddy Travis Stevens of TS Customs, but I didn’t have any first-hand experience with the cartridge.

To be honest, I’ve had components at his shop for a hot minute for a 22 build, but it wasn’t a priority. So, they sat and collected dust on his shelf, unfortunately. 

I didn’t originally view the caliber as mid-size game capable, which is a contributing factor to why it took me so long to get the build in motion.

It wasn’t until my friend Derrick Ratliff of Stiller Actions invited me to a SHOT SHOW event, highlighting the 22 Creed, that I realized what the 22 Creedmoor was truly capable of. 

I watched a highlight reel of it taking game down at 500-800 yards with authority - even the likes of Barbary sheep! Having hunted Aoudad, and knowing how tough they are, to say I was impressed was an understatement. That particular video was a testament that speed does in fact kill.

Derrick had one action available in a Wombat serial number WB0000000 and told me it was mine if I wanted to build a 22 Creed and be the first to kill a bear with it. I replied, “Done!”

I had the action sent to my local FFL in Smith & Edwards here in Ogden and had it sent off to Travis within a few days knowing full well that the clock would be ticking on getting the rifle done in time for spring bear.

Travis worked and burned the midnight oil as usual, and before I knew it we had a gorgeous rifle the day before I was to leave for my hunt.

You can watch the full process from A-Z of Erik receiving the rifle parts, sending them off to Travis, Travis putting the build together, to Erik's final thoughts on the caliber and build in the video below.

22 Creedmoor vs Black Bear

When I rolled up into bear camp I was promptly questioned what caliber I was going to be chasing critters with this spring. My quiet response was, “22 Creedmoor.” That drew some quick and strong responses, “WHAT!?!?!” “Are you serious?”. I will spare you the other responses, but my simple response back was it’s not what you shoot them with, but rather where you put the bullet. Number one always beats number two and number one is SHOT PLACEMENT. 

Ignoring the criticism, 5 shots later I had a 100-yard zero and an average speed from the Garmin Xero.

"I was blown away by the shootability and lack of recoil of the caliber and rifle build configuration. Travis, some of your finest work my friend."

- Erik Van Woerkom

Erik Van Woerkom zeroing his brand new TS Customs 22 creedmoor at the range before his bear hunt in Montana

Bears can be tough critters and I was somewhat apprehensive about how far I could/should responsibly shoot a black bear.

After all, these shot distances can often exceed 750 yards; however, after studying the ballistics I felt comfortable in a good shooting position being able to ethically take a bear up to 600 yards.

On day three I spotted a tank of a black bear feeding out from a large pine tree and making his way across the hillside. I quickly ranged him at 410 yards and smiled in gratitude as this was a picture-perfect opportunity for the 22 Creed. After waiting for him to feed out unobstructed by brush, I 12-ringed the bruin with a Horandy 80 gr ELD-X. The bear ran 30 yards or so and was already stumbling and falling on his face. I put two more rounds in him and the beast expired in seconds. The two follow-up shots weren’t necessary, but any seasoned hunter knows losing a critter is a reality so the two follow-up shots were experience-based and non-tracking insurance.

Erik Van Woerkom

The bruising of the rib cage and the devastation of the vitals were real. Real enough that you would have thought the bear was taken with a 30-caliber type cartridge. This was no slouch of a bear either, but rather a large, mature, and for spring standards - a fat bear!


For more tips on bear anatomy and where you should aim on a bear read our prior article "Bear Shot Placement Tips & Tricks".

Erik Van Woerkom holding up his 22 creedmoor gun next to a big chocolate black bear that he had just shot in the mountains of Montana

My 22 Creedmoor Conclusion

The 22 Creedmoor might be the perfect caliber for small to midsize game and may even be appropriate in varying circumstances for even larger game! 

Teaching women and youth how to shoot with a caliber such as the low recoil, hard-hitting, 22 Creedmoor isn’t a bad idea.

I wouldn’t hesitate to take this caliber on my spring bear hunts, antelope, or even my mule deer hunts. Heck, I would venture to say I would even take this on a cow-elk hunt. It’s that lethal. 

If you would like to get this exact gun build going or having any questions pertaining to this article email Erik at for more information.


Watch the full film of Erik shooting a big spring black bear with his 22 Creedmoor.


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