Saturday, September 25, 2010

.22 Long Rifle

The .22 Long Rifle: one of our oldest calibers
continuously improves
Guns Magazine, March, 2005 by Charles E. Petty
There are so many choices in factory ammo for
today's shooter that it is almost impossible to keep
them straight. So let's begin where almost all of us
did with the .22 Long Rifle. Even though some folks
look down on it, the undeniable fact is that more
.22 ammo is consumed in this country than all the
other choices combined. Billions--several of them--
annually. More than 50 percent of the total U.S.
output of ammo is rimfire and the overwhelming
majority of that is the .22 Long Rifle.

Of course, the entire rimfire family is much larger
with CBs, BBs, shorts and longs, extra longs, WRFs,
Magnums and now the .17s. Even the Long Rifle is
subdivided into at least four categories: match,
standard velocity, high velocity and hyper velocity.
At first there was only standard, but somewhere
in the teens high-speed ammo came along. Today,
high velocity is most common and where .22 Shorts
used to be my favorite because they only cost half
as much, nowadays you pay extra for everything
other than high speed.

The normal .22 Long Rifle is a 40-grain lead bullet
at 1,255 fps. Hollowpoints usually weigh 36 grains
and go 1,280 fps. Standard velocity is around 1,070.
In order to get it to go lots faster--hypervelocity
in other words--bullet weights are reduced to 32
or 33 grains and the speed winner--CCI Stinger is
listed at 1,640 fps. The standard test barrel length
is 24" and this brings us to a difficult situation. Very
few .22s these days have 24" barrels and an awful
lot of ammo goes through handguns. Winchester
does show velocities for 6" barrels in their catalog,
but you don't see herds of those either. So what I
did was go find as many different barrel lengths
as I could and shoot them all with the same ammo.
I chose CCI as representative and used standard,
MiniMag and Stinger amino to cover the basic
velocity groups. Match ammo is customarily
loaded to standard velocities, so I didn't use a
separate category although we do need to know
that different manufacturers may have slightly
different specifications. All were chronographed
with a new PACT Professional Chronograph with
the screens 15' from the muzzle. I also recorded
standard deviation, but there wasn't two cents
worth of difference so that was not included in
the table. Here's what I found:

It is interesting to note that velocities seem to
increase in line with barrel length until we get
to 24" where the velocities take a marked drop.
Of course this means that we have gotten all the
acceleration possible from the powder by 20"--
probably even less--and friction is taking over
and slowing things down. The two autoloaders
do seem to benefit a little by not having a
barrel/cylinder gap but we really can't say
that is a rule. I've also seen cases where a
revolver gave higher velocities than a pistol
with the same length barrel.

The .22 Long Rifle remains one of shooting's
greatest bargains. In my childhood I measured
my wealth by how many I had and one of my
most treasured birthday and Christmas presents
was a whole brick of ammo. The amazing thing
is that you can still buy .22s for a couple of
pennies a round or you can pay a whole lot
more. The big box stores brought about the
bulk package of 500 to 550 cartridges and I
daresay that these account for a substantial
chunk of the total.

But today's shooter has a lot more choices than
I did as a kid. Back then the color of the box was
the major decision. Now we have an enormous
variety of both domestic and imported brands
from which to choose and how we make that
decision is not always easy. Many, many
shooters only want the most bang for the buck
and theirs is the easy choice because price alone
is easy to see. But if our requirements expand a
bit to include accuracy, life just got a lot more
complicated. There aren't too many laws
concerning the behavior of guns, but one of
the very stubborn rules is that .22's rarely
follow one another around and just because
something shot well in this gun is no reason
to even think it will shoot in that one. One
generalization that seem to hold true is that
accuracy decreases as velocity increases. There
are exceptions, but standard velocity is almost
always more accurate than high speed. But we
need to be sure to define the type of accuracy
we need. If the target is a soda can at a matter
of a few yards match-grade accuracy is not
required so even though our gun might shoot
better with it we simply don't need it.

Once upon a time I did a serious accuracy test
with dozens of different .22 loads and came to
two conclusions: one I've already stated is that
standard velocity is almost always more accurate
and the other was that the only way to find out
was shoot it. So my suggestion is to define your
needs and buy the cheapest stuff that meets them.



S&W317 3" 843 923 1,138
S&W 34 4" 872 980 1,154
Kimber 1911 5" 910 1,037 1,264
S&W K-22 6" 897 1,023 1,232
S&W 41 7" 959 1,125 1,422
Remington 504 20" 1,100 1,266 1,576
Remington 12-C 24" 1,005 1,150 1,506

COPYRIGHT 2005 Publishers' Development Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group


  1. Mel Tappan "Survival Guns" p 177
    quote At a distance of 8 feet from the muzzle of my 24" Anschutz, the sound level from firing was only 9 db, and at 15 feet it is was totally inaudible. Not only does this lack of noise make the CCI Long CB caps desireable for indoor or backyard practice, it makes them virtually a necessity for survival use should you ever need to do some shooting without attracting attention or alarming game in the neighborhood. unquote

    Almost all 22 rimfire have 1:16 twist barrels.
    EAB.CO and others offer 1:9 twist barrels.
    My Marlin M25 with 1:16 twist groups one inch or smaller at fifty yards with CCI 22 CB Long,
    and 40 grain Remington and CCI subsonics, but large ragged groups with Aguila SSS which requires 1:9 twist. All subsonics fired from 22" or longer barrel are very quiet -- little louder than a CB Long.

    My 10-22 with 1:9 twist barrel at fifty
    yards groups Aguila SSS 60 gr subsonics in 3/8".

    In SERE scenario if I have "only" my 10-22
    and Aguila SSS ammo they will be lucky if they do not catch me. Better to die as a warrior with rifle in hand than to starve in a cage.

  2. I have a couple of modern .22s that shoot lr.I have have a couple older ones that will shorts.Need one more in .22 mag,should have it covered.