218 Bee

Fire Arm






: Marlin 1894cl

: 22 inches

: 1:16 inches

: 24 X

: 50 yards

: 10

Click for detailed 218 Bee Tech drawing
Click on figure to access ANSI
technical cartridge drawing

The 218 Bee: a very capable 200 yard varmint, 150 yard small game cartridge, with an unfortunate sense of timing. A commercialized version of the 22 Koshollek wildcat. The forth 22 caliber cartridge to be introduced by Winchester in the 1930s (22 Hornet, 1932, 220 Swift 1935, 219 Zipper, 1937, 218 1938).

From the simultaneous introduction of the Winchester m1892 and the 25-20 WCF, the pair were this country's pot gun and cartridge of choice. With the introduction of the 22 Hornet, a smokeless cartridge, the 25-20 went into decline (the era of blackpowder had come to a close). The demand for the 22 Hornet cartridges was sufficient that Win was producting ammo before firearms. Six years later, Winchester still seeing strong demand for the 22 Hornet, commercialized and introduced the 218, a 22 K-Hornet capacity plus case, based on the 32-20 WCF, offering 200-250 fps over the Hornet, and access to 50 gr bullets. The introduction was in conjunction with that of the m65 lever gun, an updated m1892. Good idea, bad timing. Before the Bee could develope a following, WWII nipped it in the bud. Less than 6,000 m65's were produced.

Win reintroduced the 218 in 1949 in their m43 bolt action rifle; proving the 218 was every bit as accurate as the 22 Hornet, given a good stiff action. Sako likewise offered the L-46 bolt in 218. In 1950 Rem introduction their 222, a rimless cartridge, easily reaching the velocities the 218 owners merely strived for, accurate from the get go - eating the 218's lunch a second time.

In 1990 Marlin (re) introduced the 218 in the m1894cl. Likewise, Browning, T/C, Ruger and Sako made chamberings available. [Significantly, the 1894cl side ejects, allowing for the easy mounting of a scope - really necessary to full advantage of the 218's reach and accuracy.] Today (1998) the 218 Bee has a small but loyal following. As long as Winchester continues to offer brass, the 218 will probably continue to have a following.

The 218 Bee is based on a 25-20 WCF (not SS) necked down to .224", with the shoulder moved forward .150", buying an extra 2+ grains of capacity over the parent. Nominal bullet diameter is .224". Brass is currently available from Winchester. RCBS offers both forming and reloading dies. The 218 Mashburn Bee is a 22 K-Hornet like "improved" 218 Bee. In a 14" Contender the 218 offers 22 Hornet 20" rifle velocities.

© Copyright Gregory J Mushial 1997-2006