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Ammo Roundup: .22 Long Rifle

By Chuck Hawks


There are several ways to organize any "roundup" of rimfire ammunition. It could, for example, be listed by manufacturer. Organizing the various .22 LR loads by manufacturer has one salient advantage: not all brands are available in all areas, particularly rural areas, so the reader can skip to the brands he or she can actually purchase.

The most difficult way to present the information, unfortunately, strikes me as one of the most useful. That is, to list the various .22 LR loads by the purpose for which they are most useful. So I am going to try to do both. I will list each brand, and then in sub headings the purposes for which the various loads are best suited. Some ammo makers make specific suggestions regarding the application of their various .22 LR loads, and in most cases I have tried to honor those suggestions.

.22 LR ammunition for rifles and handguns is made for a number of different purposes. It is also sometimes used for a variety of purposes for which it is not intended, but I am going to ignore that. Among the most common legitimate purposes are varmint hunting, small game hunting, plinking, target shooting (competition), and self-defense. Those are the purposes I will address in this ammunition survey.

Varmint hunting

Varmints are small animals that are usually not eaten, and are often shot at comparatively long range. Examples of varmints include marmots (groundhogs and rock chucks), gophers, jack rabbits, rats, and ground squirrels. Some of these creatures are larger and tougher than most small game animals, and preserving an edible carcass is not a consideration.

The bullet most commonly recommended for shooting varmints is the hyper-velocity hollow point. This type of ammunition provides the flattest trajectory and the greatest killing power available in .22 LR caliber. It is also used for hunting edible small game, but can be overly destructive if bullets are not well placed.

There is also a need for relatively quiet varmint hunting ammunition for use near developed areas. And sometimes is is necessary to dispatch pests, such as rats, near urban areas. Some manufacturers fill this special requirement with a subsonic load using a special bullet with a large hollow point cavity for maximum expansion at the reduced velocity.

Small game hunting

Small game refers to edible creatures such as squirrels and rabbits. The key ingredient in small game ammunition is adequate killing power to insure a quick, clean kill without destroying a lot of edible meat. The traditional .22 LR small game hunting ammo is the High Velocity Hollow Point (HP) bullet. These are usually copper plated (CP)--also called copper coated (CC) or gilded lead (GL)--bullets weighing 36 to 40 grains and driven at a catalog muzzle velocity (MV) of about 1260 fps from a rifle barrel and 1035 fps from a handgun.

The High Velocity ammunition loaded with a 40 grain copper plated lead round nose (CPRN) bullet is also widely used for small game hunting. This is appropriate for shooting fur bearing animals, as pelt damage is minimal. I don't recommend this type of ammunition for general small game hunting as it has less killing power than the high velocity HP bullet.

Alternatives to the round nose (RN) shape are the flat point (FP) or flat nose (FN) bullet. Remington calls the flat point bullet a "Truncated Cone" (TC).

Headshots are best when hunting small game, as no edible meat is then wasted. The heart/lung (chest) area is another satisfactory target, as little edible meat is wasted.

General Purpose/Plinking

"Plinking" refers to informal shooting at casual targets. The time-honored tin can is probably the most common plinking target, but there are endless alternatives. Some of the most common include Necco candy wafers, fired shotgun shells, wooden matches, jar lids, paper plates, potatoes, and all manner of paper targets. There are even paper targets made specifically for plinking. Unfortunately, glass bottles are also common plinking targets, but should never be shot; broken glass will inevitably become a problem for someone. My favorite plinking target is the ordinary "clay pigeon" used by trap and skeet shooters. They are reactive, safe, fragile and degradable.

Any ammunition can be used for plinking, and often is. But because of its expense, many shooters hate to use premium target and hunting ammunition for the purpose. A good alternative in .22 LR, and my first choice for plinking, are the solid (copper plated) high velocity loads. Another good choice is standard velocity ammunition. These loads are also widely used as general purpose ammunition.

The ammo makers have developed another answer to high volume ammunition costs in the form of inexpensive promotional ammunition. This is often given fanciful names such as Wildcat, Thunderbolt, Cyclone, and American Eagle and is frequently sold in bulk packs. It is primarily intended for plinking since it often lacks the accuracy and consistent performance necessary for either target shooting or hunting.

Competition/Target/Training

There are many types of formal target shooting competition. Obviously, a high degree of accuracy is called for, and that is mostly what you are buying when you purchase expensive target ammunition. It is very carefully assembled.

Standard velocity ammunition is widely used for target shooting practice sessions and training new shooters. It is less expensive than the competition loads, and essentially duplicates their trajectory.

Special purpose ammunition

There are also loads designed for special purposes. One example would be "shooting gallery" ammunition loaded with frangible bullets. The blanks used in starting pistols are also a type of special purpose ammunition.

Another example would be the CCI .22 Long CB load, which duplicates the low velocity of the CB cap in a .22 LR case. This has always seemed to me like a good load to use for indoor practice with a .22 LR revolver.

.22 LR shotshells would be another example of special purpose ammunition. CCI recommends their shot shells and their CB load for pest control, which I take to mean killing rats, mice, and snakes at very close range (under 15 feet). For longer ranges, use standard small game or varmint hunting ammunition.

Self-defense

As far as I know, no ammo company recommends any .22 LR load for self-defense applications. So you will not find self defense loads in any of the manufacturers' brands listed below.

While no .22 LR load is really adequate for self-defense, any gun is better than no gun at all. So, if a .22 LR rifle or pistol is all that is available, it makes sense to at least use the best ammunition available for the purpose. According to the statistics that I have seen, that is the hyper-velocity hollow point. The top examples are the CCI Stinger and the Remington Yellow Jacket. I don't use a .22 LR pistol for self-defense, but if I did it would be loaded with one of those two brands of ammunition.

Manufacturers and brands

A number of manufacturers in several countries produce rimfire ammunition. This article will only cover brands and loads that are reasonably well known in the U.S.A. Fortunately for our international readers, these brands are also well known in the rest of the world. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of the brands that will be included in this roundup:

    CCI (U.S.A.)
    Eley (U.K.)
    Federal (U.S.A.)
    Fiocchi (Italy)
    Lapua (Finland)
    PMC (U.S.A.)
    Remington (U.S.A.)
    RWS (Germany)
    Winchester/Olin (U.S.A.)

CCI .22 LR ammunition

Varmint Hunting

Stinger - 32 grain Hyper-Velocity GLHP; MV 1640 fps (rifle), MV 1395 (pistol).
Quik-Shok - 32 grain Hyper-Velocity SHP; MV 1640 fps (rifle), MV 1395 fps (pistol).
Velocitor - 40 grain Hyper-Velocity GLHP; MV 1435 fps (rifle), MV 1130 fps (pistol).
Sub-sonic - 40 grain LHP; MV 1050 fps (rifle); MV 940 fps (pistol).

Small Game Hunting

Mini-Mag - 36 grain High Velocity GLHP; MV 1260 fps (rifle), MV 1085 fps (pistol).
Mini-Mag - 40 grain High Velocity GLRN; MV 1235 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).
SGB - 40 grain High Velocity LFP; MV 1235 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).

General Purpose/Plinking

Mini-Mag - 40 grain High Velocity GLRN; MV 1235 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).
Standard Velocity - 40 grain LRN; MV 1070 fps (rifle), MV 940 (pistol).

Competition/Target/Training

Green Tag - 40 grain LRN; MV 1070 fps (rifle), MV 940 fps (pistol).
Pistol Match - 40 grain LRN; MV 1070 fps (rifle), MV 940 fps (pistol).
Silhouette - 40 grain GLRN; MV 1235 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).
Standard Velocity - 40 grain LRN; MV 1070 fps (rifle), MV 940 (pistol).

Special Purpose

Shotshell - 31 grains #12 lead shot; MV 1000 fps (rifle).
Long CB - 29 grain LRN; MV 710 fps (rifle); MV 708 (pistol).

Eley

Competition/Target/Training

Match EPS - 40 grain LFN; MV 1085 fps (rifle).
Club Xtra - 40 grain LRN; MV 1085 (rifle).
Target Rifle - 40 grain LRN; MV 1085 (rifle).

Federal

Varmint Hunting

Game-Shok - 31 grain Hyper-Velocity CPHP; MV 1550 fps (rifle).

Small Game Hunting

Game-Shok - 38 grain High Velocity CPHP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Game-Shok - 40 grain High Velocity CPRN; MV 1260 fps (rifle).

General Purpose/Plinking

Game-Shok - 40 grain High Velocity CPRN; MV 1260 fps (rifle).
Champion - 40 grain High Velocity LRN; MV 1260 fps (rifle).
Champion - 38 grain CPHP; MV 1255 fps (rifle).
American Eagle - 38 grain High Velocity CPHP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
American Eagle - 40 grain High Velocity LRN; MV 1260 fps (rifle).

Competition/Target/Training

Gold Medal - 40 grain LRN; MV 1080 fps (rifle).

Special Purpose

Game-Shok - 25 grains #12 lead shot.

Fiocchi

Competition/Target/Training

Rifle Match (Exacta Carbina) - 40 grain LRN; MV 1050 fps (rifle).
Biathlon Match - 40 grain LRN; MV 1120 fps (rifle).
Match Training - 40 grain LRN; MV 1050 fps (rifle).

Special Purpose

.22 Long Rifle Blank

Lapua

Varmint Hunting

Subsonic HP - 36 grain HP; MV 315 mps (rifle).

Small Game Hunting

Hollow Point - 36 grain High Velocity HP; MV 390 mps (rifle).
Speed Ace - 40 grain High Velocity RN; MV 390 mps (rifle).

General Purpose/Plinking

Signum - 40 grain LRN; MV 290 mps (pistol).
Super Club - 40 grain LRN; MV 320 mps (rifle).

Competition/Target/Training

Midas M/L - 40 grain LRN; MV 325 mps (rifle).
Master M/L - 40 grain LRN; MV 325 mps (rifle).
Scoremax - 48 grain LRN; MV 315 mps (rifle).
Polar Biathlon - 40 grain LRN; MV 335 mps (rifle).
Pistol King - 40 grain LRN; MV 290 mps (pistol).
Super Club - 40 grain LRN; MV 320 mps (rifle).
Standard Club - 40 grain LRN; MV 320 mps (rifle).

PMC

Varmint Hunting

Moderator Subsonic - 38 grain LHP; MV 1000 fps (rifle).

Small Game Hunting

Zapper - 38 grain High Velocity CCHP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Zapper - 40 grain High Velocity CCRN; MV 1255 fps (rifle).

General Purpose/Plinking

Scoremaster - 40 grain Standard Velocity LRN; MV 1135 fps (rifle).
Sidewinder - 40 grain Standard Velocity LRN; MV 1135 fps (rifle).
Sidewinder - 40 grain High Velocity CCRN; MV 1250 fps (rifle).

Competition/Target/Training

Match Rifle - 40 grain LRN; MV 1050 fps (rifle).
Match Pistol - 40 grain LRN; MV 900 fps (pistol).
Scoremaster - 40 grain LRN; MV 1135 fps (rifle).

Remington

Varmint Hunting

Yellow Jacket - 33 grain Plated TCHP; MV 1500 fps (rifle).
Subsonic - 38 grain LHP; MV 1050 fps (rifle).

Small Game Hunting

Viper - 36 grain Hyper-Velocity TC Solid; MV 1410 (rifle).
Golden Bullet - 36 grain High Velocity Plated HP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Golden Bullet - 40 grain High Velocity Plated HP; MV 1255 fps (rifle).

General Purpose/Plinking

High Velocity - 36 grain HP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Golden Bullet - 40 grain High Velocity Plated HP; MV 1255 fps (rifle).
Cyclone - 36 grain High Velocity LHP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Thunderbolt - 40 grain High Velocity LRN; MV 1255 fps (rifle).

Competition/Target/Training

Target - 40 grain Standard Velocity LRN; MV 1150 fps (rifle).

Special Purpose

Long Rifle Shot - 25 grains #12 lead shot.

RWS

Varmint Hunting

Subsonic - 40 grain LHP; MV 1000 fps (rifle).

Small Game Hunting

High Velocity - 40 grain High Velocity CPHP; MV 1310 fps (rifle).

General Purpose/Plinking

Target Rifle - 40 grain LRN; MV 1080 fps (rifle).
Subsonic - 40 grain LHP; MV 1000 fps (rifle).

Competition/Target/Training

R 50 - 40 grain LRN; MV 1070 fps (rifle).
R 100 - 40 grain LRN; MV 1175 fps (rifle).
Rifle Match - 40 grain LRN; MV 1035 fps (rifle).
Target Rifle - 40 grain LRN; MV 1080 fps (rifle).

Winchester

Varmint Hunting

Power Point - H.V. 40 grain PP; MV 1280 fps (rifle), MV 1085 fps (pistol).

Small Game Hunting

Power Point - H. V. 40 grain PP; MV 1280 fps (rifle), MV 1085 fps (pistol).
Super-X - 37 grain High Velocity CPHP; MV 1280 fps (rifle).
Super-X - 40 grain High Velocity CPRN; MV 1255 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).

General Purpose/Plinking

Super-X - 40 grain High Velocity CPRN; MV 1255 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).
T 22 - 40 grain Standard Velocity LRN; MV 1150 fps (rifle), MV 950 fps (pistol).
Wildcat - 40 grain High Velocity LRN; MV 1255 fps (rifle), MV 1060 fps (pistol).
X-Pert - 36 grain Standard Velocity LHP; MV 1220 fps (rifle), MV 925 fps (pistol).

Competition/Target/Training

T 22 - 40 grain Standard Velocity LRN; MV 1150 fps (rifle), MV 950 fps (pistol).

Special Purpose

Shot - 25 grains #12 lead shot.




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Copyright 2005, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.


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