Tuning a 221 Remington Fireball

But there was one final chapter… the next group of targets were addressed by those rounds loaded with 55-grain Noslers and 17.5 grains of Accurate 2250. The bullets were seated at different depths; touching the lands, then .005, .010, .015, .020 and .025-inch off the lands. As the first round was slipped into the chamber I thought to myself, “If those 40-grain bullets are shooting that well seated 0.056-inch off the lands, then these 55-grain bullets should really shine.”

But alas, after the smoke cleared the targets looked like someone had attacked them with a shotgun. The bullets holes were all over the place and it was difficult to tell which hole belonged to which target. After recovering from the disappointment I remembered this situation had happened before, and the culprit turned out to be the barrel rifling twist… it was too slow to stabilize a heavier bullet.

After returning home some literature was scanned to find the twist Remington used for the 221 Fireball Classic. None could be found for the Classic but Remington lists the 700 LS with a twist of 1:14-inch. Just to be sure, the twist in my rifle was measured … it too was 1:14-inch.

Then the Lilja website was checked, it has an excellent chart on twist requirements based on bullet weight. They had nothing listed for a 40-grain bullet but the recommended twist for a 55-grain bullet was 1:12-inch. Looks like the slow twist in the Fireball barrel was the problem with the heavier bullets. Oh well, I wanted the higher velocity delivered by the 40-grain bullets anyway, so I am as happy as a mule in a corn patch.

(Neither the writer nor the publication accepts any responsibility for the safety of loads mentioned herein in other firearms. They were safe in the firearm mentioned and on the day of their firing. Start with minimum safe loads and work slowly up.)


Nosler, Inc. (Brass and bullets)
107 SW Columbia Street
Bend, Oregon 97702
Phone: 1-800-285-3701
Email: [email protected]

Pacific Tool & Gauge, Inc. (Reamers and gauges)
598 Avenue C
White City, OR 97503-1031
Phone: 541-826-5808

Sinclair International, Inc. (Shooting supplies)
200 South Front Street
Montezuma, Iowa 50171
Phone: US Customers: 800-717-8211
Phone: International: 260-482-3670
Email: [email protected]

SharpShoot-R Precision Products (Patch-Out Cleaner)
Box 171
Paola, Kansas 66071
Phone: 785-883-4444
Email: [email protected]

Glenn Burroughs is a retired computer systems manager with a lifelong love of guns. His main areas of interest are accurate rifles, wildcat cartridges, reloading and bench shooting. He also enjoys an occasional trip out west to the prairie dog country. Glenn was a columnist for Precision Shooting magazine and also wrote articles for Varmint Hunter magazine. He resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.