The scarcity of 22LR ammunition has been well documented and rumors are rampant as to why. I have heard such things as manufacturers not producing as much to drive prices higher. My opinion is simple, demand is greater now for 22 than it has ever been. I have seen more new shooters on the range with their 22 rimfires in the past 3 years than ever before. With the costs of .22 caliber ammunition on the rise due to this demand, it can be a real challenge to find a cartridge to train with yet is still affordable for everyday use. In preparation to try and be competitive in my local range matches specifically the sporter class division. Over the winter I visited as many local gun shops within reasonable driving range to amass as much of a variety of 22 ammunition as possible. I also reached out to friends to see what they possibly had stashed away that I could purchase from them for my testing. We all know every rimfire rifle will have its preferred brand of ammunition that it would perform best with.
I myself classify 22LR ammunition in 4 categories Small game/varmint hunting, Competition, Training and Special Purpose like shot shell from CCI. My intent was to find training ammunition under $10 dollars a box for 50. Today I would consider this to me medium priced ammunition, this would exclude bulk pack and the super high priced competition stuff as well. There were a couple of reason why I took this approach. Again this is mainly for training to try and better my skills, in preparation for local matches to keep from embarrassing myself. I haven’t competed in small bore since I transferred/Permanent Change of Station from Quantico Va as a Marine some 22 years ago – how time flies. Some will without a doubt say I should train with what I plan to actually use in the match and I to agree this would be ideal but the competition ammunition I know my rifles like are well over 20 dollars a box for 50. The intent is to find medium cost good quality training ammunition which behaves much like the competition brand I plan to use.
Pictures of the Ammunition
The Testing Environment and Controls:
This is not meant to be a scientific tightly controlled environment. Shooting at the local indoor range would have most likely given better results. Wanting to duplicate match events I would shoot outdoors at the very range I am most likely to attend.
What was important is for conditions to be consistent, for me to be mentally focused and most of all have a little fun.
Conditions Of The Test:
All the ammunition in this test were subsonic with cost below $10 a box for 50 rounds.
It has been said elevation and barometric pressure can effect accuracy of a round so my elevation is 894 feet, purely for comparison to your location.
Distance: 50 Yards
Weather: 56Degrees winds of 7MPH
Fire 5 shots into a test target to foul the barrel and acclimate the barrel to the particular brand ammo, and then fired 5 shots for grouping on a scoring target. A note on the fouling shots – this is to remove any lubrication left over from previous bullets, or to build up lubrication that is on the test bullets. I have seen some erratic behavior, some very tight groups, some groups with multiple fliers from previous residue such as wax, lube or lead from the prior brand. I noticed on with these rifles the test groups starting to tighten up after two test shots.
I brought along multiple rifles to increase the fun factor, was even loaned and Anschutz from Darrell. — Primary Rifle – Savage MKII TR, Backup Rifle – CZ452, Anschutz Model54 and for serious fun an Ultimate Build Kidd 10/22. All the rifles are stock except the trigger springs has been changed on the CZ452 to get the weight down to 1lb and a DIP thick bottom metal piece for the Savage. The trigger on the Savage MKII TR is a stock accutrigger adjusted down to 3lbs and probably needs a little work done to it, if I want to be serious about competing with it. I may at some point bed both the Savage and the CZ452.
Pictures of the Rifles
Analyzing The Results:
To get accurate measurements of the groups I utilized OnTarget software. Spolier Alert — I was shocked to see the cheapest ammunition of the bunch CCI Standard Velocity also turned in the lowest average grouping across all rifles. It also seemed to be the most consistent providing less fliers. The Aguila SuperSniper 60gr was the worst. Only the Anschutz was capable of even stabilizing the 60gr bullet, all the other rifles had very large groups and the bullet was hitting the target sideways, because of this I excluded the 60gr from the graph below as it made the chart hard to read.
Including the Aguila 60gr Supersniper the Anschutz turned in the best groups.
The rifles tell a different story without the Aguila 60gr data.
Individual rifle scoring
Considering the cost and the performance across all these rifles the data tells me I should chose CCI standard velocity as my test/training ammunition.
- Old Federal Gold Medal and New Federal Gold Medal is actually the same ammunition marked 711B on the box. The reason I marked it new and old is this. The new box was purchased recently in the new packaging, the old box was purchased 3 years back by a friend who had it sitting around in a closet as can be seen by the pictures it had the old white box packaging.
- Another note: Aguila has two packages that look exactly the same. You have to pay very close attention, one is Superextra and in little words subsonic listed at 1025fps. The other box is the exact same color listed as Aguila Superextra and in fine print standard velocity listed at 1130fps. The brand included in this test is actually the subsonic version 1025. Interesting enough a reader asked which version did I have as he would sell me a a couple of boxes of the standard velocity which is cheaper than what I can buy them for. I will include them in the test when I get them and update the charts.
As time permits and the availability of ammunition changes I may update this report. I already plan with the ammunition I have left to test an old Marlin 81DL I spoke of here to see how it’s accuracy compares.
I had such a great time conducting this test, a few days later with the ammo I had left over I took an old Marlin 81DL out to the range with me. This is a rifle that has been in our family for a very long time past down 3 generations. In this test I did not have any of the Federal Gold Medal or Fiocchi as Darrel had loaned me this ammo. I did find some old grey box Winchester Subsonic and Aguila Pistol Match.
Here is the average cost per round with the Winchester Subsonic and Aguila Pistol added in which was only shot in the Marlin 81DL.