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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.218 Bee (Using Sierra Bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce/ Wolfe Publishing
Date: Jun 05 2019

The .218 Bee was announced in 1938 in the Winchester Model 65 lever-action rifle, essentially a modernized version of the Winchester Model 1892. The case was based on the .25-20 Winchester (with its parent case technically being the .32-20 Winchester) necked down to .22 caliber. In 1949 Winchester introduced the Model 43 bolt action chambered in .218 Bee, which was a relatively inexpensive rifle that shot very well. Several other obscure rifle manufacturers offered guns during this era. Modern leverguns have also been offered, including Marlin’s Model 189CL, Browning’s Model 65 (a Japanese reproduction of the original Winchester) and Ruger has offered its excellent No. 1 rifle.

Winchester currently lists a 46-grain hollow point bullet at 2,760 fps, a velocity that was easily duplicated using Sierra bullets of similar weight– select loads easily exceeded that figure. For factory duplication loads using 45-grain bullets, Alliant 2400 and IMR-4198 powders are good choices.
When using rifles with tubular magazines, spitzer bullets should not be used. They may cause possible primer set off of cartridges in the magazine. When loading for tubular magazine rifles, a gentle crimp is suggested to prevent bullets from being deep seated. The .218 Bee case is rather thin and can be easily damaged when applying a crimp. If using dies with a traditional roll crimp, it will help to trim cases to a uniform length and then gently apply the crimp. The Lee Factory Crimp die is less likely to damage cases, especially those that might vary slightly, so it is highly recommended.

Due to its small case capacity, the .218 Bee is rather sensitive to small changes in components and overall cartridge length. For accuracy-minded shooters, experimentation with multiple powders charges, bullet seating depth, crimp, primers, and velocity will almost always yield improved accuracy over factory loads. The test rifle, a Winchester Model 43, often produced groups that hovered under one inch, with some of the better loads hovering close to .5 inch.
Industry maximum average pressure for the .218 Bee is 40,000 CUP. Piezoelectric pressures have not been established at this time.