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218 Bee Cartridge: History, Rifles, Handloads, Everything You Need to Know

The classic .218 Bee might be old, but it's still one of the most capable varmint cartridges ever created. Here's some history, handload data and other useful information about the cartridge.

218 Bee Cartridge: History, Rifles, Handloads, Everything You Need to Know

Winchester has a long history of developing centerfire cartridges designed for bumping off varmints and for harvesting edible small game. It began in 1882 with the introduction of the .32-20 Winchester for the Model 1873 lever-action rifle. Originally loaded with 20 grains of blackpowder, velocity was around 1,300 fps for its 100-grain lead bullet. Early company literature described it as powerful enough for use on deer.

For those who find that claim rather shocking, the most popular deer cartridge at the time was the .44-40 Winchester loaded to around 1,200 fps with a 200-grain bullet. About 10 years later, the .32-20 case was necked down and introduced as the .25-20 Winchester...

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