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New Ontario Shooters Association

Find Your Best .22 Rimfire Ammunition

November 2012 -- Banacek

Note: The text of this article originally appeared in NOSA newsletters in November 2012, so it will be familiar to you if you were a member at that time. The information is now also on the website to be available to future members and website readers. And in future, surely different .22 rimfire ammunition will become available and should be subjected to your ongoing personal testing.

In the last newsletter, I requested your input on your favourite rimfire .22 pistol or .22 rifle ammunition, and the rationale for your choices.

Naturally I received an avalanche of replies, not. Just one, from our member and good friend Tom S., who is an exceptionally fine shot and whose opinion I value. Thanks Tom.

Without further ado, here are some facts and other thoughts and opinions that may help you with a starting point for testing rimfire ammo in your firearms. In the final analysis, what works best for you is just that; experiment with your rifle or pistol and various ammunition until you get results that satisfy you. Then practice, practice, practice....

First some observations I made. The results would be more scientific if the firearms were mounted in a machine rest, but that's not in my budget, so take this all with a healthy grain of salt. As they say on the internet, YMMV [Your Mileage May Vary].

A Ruger Mark 2 bull barrel did okay (regular 96s and 97s and less frequent higher scores up to 100 -- on the standard slow fire target) with the bulk Federal Champion ammo (525 round Value Pack) and the bulk Winchester Target Dynapoint GT (500 round box, aka brick).

These two ammunitions share some similarities in being copper-plated and having a hollow-point bullet. They differ in that the Federal has a 36 grain bullet, declares it is high velocity, and tells you that means 1260 fps (feet per second). The Winchester Target Dynapoint GT has a 40 grain bullet and carefully tells you nothing about velocity -- shouldn't that be a labelling requirement? A bit of web research finds the velocity is actually 1155 fps.

I don't think there is a specific rule as to what constitutes high velocity versus regular/standard velocity. This particular Winchester Target Dynapoint GT stuff is kinda middle of the road.

Both function well in this Ruger Mark 2, which implies they probably might function okay in many Marks 1 or 3.

I did notice that the Federal Champion quickly builds up more fouling around the chamber and bolt face and extractor than the Winchester Target Dynapoint GT. The dirtier Federal ammo is not a problem but does require a cleaning after an evening's firing session to be sure the pistol cycles and feeds well the next day. Perhaps that's not a disadvantage, to need and prompt regular cleaning.

Price-wise the Federal was originally cheaper, but its price since has risen to the point that the Winchester Target GT soon got the economy nod. Depending on where, and when, you shop the results may be different in future. But both choices are still pretty economical for lots of practice.

Then I decided to try some CCI standard velocity 1070 fps 40 grain round nose plain lead. These cost a bit more and come in 50 round boxes, but boy could they sing in this Ruger Mark 2. Groups were about cut in half, and regular 99s and 100s were possible if I did my part. Definitely a better choice for target shooting and competition with this one particular pistol.

Then there is an old Browning Challenger with skinny barrel, that is harder to hold on target than a heavy barrelled what'sit, but that had actually done about as well as the Ruger Mark 2 with the above Federal and Winchester ammo. The Browning's advantage is a much better trigger pull (my opinion) that compensates a bit for the weight disadvantage. The Browning also has an opening on both sides of the action above the magazine that probably contributes to fewer smokestacking jams. Yes YMMV.

Anyhow, I found myself with some Winchester Super X T22 Target ammo to use up. Comes in 50 round boxes, at least from the sources around here. It too has a plain lead round nose bullet and claims to be standard velocity without revealing what that means. Looks like a trend on Winchester boxes to hide actual velocity. Back to the internet and we find the velocity is 1085 fps.

The Browning Challenger managed an initial 100 with tight group, and then shot several more tight groups with the odd nine.

Wow thought I, this should do really well with the CCI ammo that had improved the Ruger's scores. Not so, it yielded significantly larger groups and centered about 1 inch higher on the target.

And now from NOSA member Tom S.

"Steve, here's the deal with me and .22 ammo. I have a finicky Ruger Mk-2. It only works really well with CCI Mini Mags, although I haven't tried every .22 brand out there.

I also have a Lakefield semi auto .22 rifle. It works reasonably well with all hi velocity .22s I've tried, but again loves CCI Mini Mags.

In my opinion CCI makes the best .22s out there. I especially like the Mini Mags and Stingers. They rock!"

These CCI Mini Mags have a 40 grain round nose at 1235 fps and say they have a very clean burning powder. I'm going to try some on Tom's recommendation.

So there's another vote but for a different CCI type of ammunition. Tom has a very good point about the feeding issue. Some autoloading pistols and rifles do need a high velocity ammunition. There can be any number of issues that affect feeding and reliability but individual guns will have to overcome friction. and various strengths of internal springs, and perhaps oddities of design that favour one ammo over another. Some of the .22 rimfire conversion kits for centerfire pistols will only function with high velocity ammo.

So do some experimenting. You will perhaps settle on several types of ammunition, each with a purpose:

Cheap, but good enough for meaningful practice.

Excellent, but more expensive, for target shooting competitions and bragging rights.

And more powerful if functioning is an issue.

And probably the high velocity that works best in your rifle when used for hunting.

...So many choices...

These were the results of our .22 rimfire ammo experiences, using ammo that is locally easily available today. Certainly you can find dozens of other ammo comparisons on the web -- some using ammo we'll never see in our local sources. Obviously folks elsewhere have access to much more variety than we find in Thunder Bay. But their comparative shooting results are likely only valid for the particular individual firearms used in their tests. Another brand of firearm, or model, or even the same model with different serial number, might yield quite different test results.

The real purpose of this NOSA newsletter ammunition article was to present a few locally available possibilities; that way folks can start their experiments with stuff they can easily find hereabouts in Thunder Bay.

Results with your particular firearms might be quite different. But you will have lots of fun and practice at the same time while doing your testing.

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