I don’t really like to do articles that give the “top 5 best 22 lr rounds” because I don’t believe an article that does that is of the most value to my readers. If I can’t nail down the answer I won’t write the article until I can. I know when I search for an answer to a question I am looking for someone to give me the answer to my question quickly. Well based on my shooting experience with rim fire rifles over the past 30 years, here is your answer.
The most accurate 22 lr ammo on the market today for the money is CCI standard velocity. It will meet that claim out of the largest majority of rifles time and time again. Why? Read on.
There is a lot of great match grade 22 lr ammo on the market. The list is way too long to mention them all here. It is all priced pretty high for 22lr. The last box of Eley Edge I bought cost 24 cents per round once shipping costs were added.
Other match grade stuff runs much more than that. You can almost spend as much as you want on this stuff. Out of a good rifle that is set up correctly, most of it will produce very good if not extraordinary results.
There a lot of variables that determine just how good but it is all very consistent. You pay for what you get……….or do you? I haven’t done a formal test side by side comparing CCI standard velocity with some of the match grade ammo but I do keep track of the group sizes I shoot with different ammo brands.
Out of my savage fvsr at 50 yards, my average group size shooting Eley Edge (which is the the best match grade ammo I have found for this rifle so far), I shot a 3/8 inch group. Pretty much one hole.
Shooting CCI standard velocity right behind it (after the barrel cooled of course) I got a group center to center of slightly less than 1/2 inch. The current difference in price is substantial. Eley Edge 4 times the cost of CCI standard velocity.
I can honestly say I did not get enough accuracy improvement to justify the cost of the Eley. Here is a price comparison taken a couple years ago by dayatherange.com. Prices are little lower now but the comparison is still pretty good.
With all of the rim fire rifles I have owned, CZs, Savages, Ruger 10-22s, Marlins, Anschutzs, I used to go through exhaustive testing to find the most accurate combination of rifle and ammunition, and I would continue to do that if I were still into 22 benchrest competition.
A couple of thousandths of an inch determines winners and losers in that game. Not to say that every shooter wouldn’t like to have a group that is .005 of an inch tighter, but in every other activity with a rim fire rifle, that much more accuracy really doesn’t matter.
Especially when the cost is 4 or 5 times greater. With all of the rifles I mentioned above I would take several different kinds of ammo to the range on day 1 of owning the rifle. After many hours of testing all of the major, normal cost brands available, many more times than not, CCI standard velocity shot the tightest groups.
Some of these rifles were intended to be used for small varmint hunting, others were for competition like silhouette or local range matches, and some were just for plinking. When looking for competition ammo I did test many of the higher cost options, usually Eley, Federal, and Lapua match grade stuff.
Not to say that CCI standard velocity could out shoot all of these brands hands down, but it always stayed pretty close to the best performer if it wasn’t the best. I can say that for the cost of accuracy, CCI always won.
Now we all know that every rifle has it’s own preference in ammo and I am not saying that is not true. What I am saying is that more often than not CCI standard velocity is the best overall performer when I consider all of the rifles I own, and that is way too many.
Below is another comparison done by dayatherange.com on the accuracy of many loads shot from 4 different rifles. I was thinking about doing a similar test myself but dayattherange.com has already done some really excellent work already.
The test was conducted using 4 different rifles including an Anchutz model 54, a Kidd custom build, a Savage mark II TR, and a CZ 452. All shots were fire from 50 yards. In the test CCI standard velocity outperformed all other ammo tested, which was all match grade ammo. Averages were taken of all 4 rifles for each ammo brand. Those are the numbers presented in the chart below.
Average group sizes were also calculated for each rifle using all brands of ammo fired through it. Again, these group were all shot at 50 yards.
What about long range?
At 25 yards, CCI standard velocity prints a one hole group out of my savage fvsr ( I’ll use this one for comparison ). At 50 yards I am usually around 1 MOA at one half inch. At 100 Yards, shooting from a lead sled, I have done slightly over 1 MOA at about 1.2 inches.
At 218 (which happens to be the longest range I can shoot at my local range) I have never shot for groups but on a day with little or no wind, I can hit a four inch clay pigeon most of the time.
I have also shot Eley Edge out of the same rifle at 100 yards and printed slightly less than 1 MOA and again this was using a sled. Because of the expense I haven’t shot a great deal of this stuff at 200 yards but the little bit I have shot performs pretty well and may be a little more consistent than the CCI standard velocity.
I am sure that there are custom rifles out there, tuned for the specific match grade ammo they are shooting, that will shoot better than the CCI standard velocity and the data presented above, both at short and long range. But at this time, it will cost a lot more to do so. Four or five times as much according to my research.
What makes CCI standard velocity so accurate?
Most target or competition shooters use standard velocity ammunition, whether match grade or not, and there is a very good reason for that. At around 11 feet per second a bullet breaks the sound barrier. When this happens a bit of turbulence occurs as the speed of the bullet slows down and returns below that limit.
That is what causes the crack you hear down range. You can especially hear that crack when you shoot through a suppressor. As the speed of the bullet slows below the speed of sound, and causes that cracking sound, turbulence occurs that destabilizes the bullet momentarily. This action detracts from accuracy.
By using ammunition that never breaks the sound barrier this turbulence never occurs. CCI standard velocity has a muzzle velocity listed on the box of 1070 feet per second. It is at the maximum of the highest velocity possible without going through the sound barrier.
Most higher priced target grade ammo is made with the same goal in mind. The most accurate 22 ammo also shoots a 40 grain lead (not jacketed) bullet which has proven itself over and over for many years. Because it is produced to shoot 1070 feet per second it is also one of the quietest rounds I shoot through my suppressor.
It is not as quiet as CCI Quiet but it’s also traveling 300 feet per second faster with more oomph. Staying below the sound barrier pretty much all you hear is the action working I do not work for CCI nor am I getting any kind of payment for saying this, but this company has proven through the years and through the performance of their product that their quality standards are very high.
Quality in manufacturing is about maintaining consistency of desirable attributes. I have never had a misfire or a bad batch of any of the CCI brands through many years of shooting. I cannot say the same thing for other manufacturers.