The 22 lr ammo market is probably the largest segment with the most diverse product lines of the entire ammo market today. There are many variations of 22 lr ammo produced by a multitude of manufacturers and all are designed for specific purposes.
From bullet weight variations to bullet design to varying dimensional characteristics of the round itself, any shooter should be able to find at least one brand and product line that meets his needs.
High velocity 22 lr ammo is usually in the 1200-1500 feet per second range at the muzzle and is sold with a bullet designed specifically for medium expansion for small game hunting purposes.
See the table below for a breakdown of 22 lr velocity categories.
Each category of bullet velocity is designed for a specific purpose.
Subsonic 22 ammo is designed to be quiet, especially when fired through a suppressor. Using a suppressor it can be fired in neighborhoods without disturbing the neighbors.
I you are going to do this realize that this ammo is still very deadly. Shots should never be taken when the rifle is pointed at something you don’t want to destroy. Also, remember that 22 ammo has a tendency to ricochet.
Take every precaution to make sure your shots are safe. Being able to target practice in the back yard is a good thing and a lot of fun. Don’t expect it to be of much value in helping with long range shooting though. This ammo is very slow.
The amount of drop is huge. 700 feet per second is very slow and because the speed is below what most 22 barrels are designed for it is not very accurate. I haven’t found a rifle that shoots it really well yet. It comes in really handy for elimination of small pests that might be giving you a problem around the house. Dispatch is quick and quiet.
Check out all of the sub sonic offerings from Impact Guns here.
Standard velocity is what I mostly shoot. It is usually not jacketed but just a bare lead bullet. This tends to allow very good expansion at 22 velocities which makes it an acceptable hunting round for small size game. If you are an accurate shooter, and can place your shots consistently, you can actually take game as large as deer with a shot behind the ear.
Not many people are that consistent and I don’t recommend this for everyone. There is nothing worse than wounding an animal with a bad shot only to have it suffer a long death. In some locales, it is actually illegal to hunt deer with a 22 lr.
Most target and benchrest shooters use ammo that is in this category. It may be very expensive match grade ammo but I have never seen a serious competitor use anything other than standard velocity ammo in the one thousand feet per second range.
Although I know quite a bit about rim fire rifles, I am not an expert around barrel design. I do however believe that most 22 barrels are designed with barrel twists that are perfect for standard velocity. That is why this category of ammo is the most accurate. See my article on standard velocity ammo.
My favorite varmint round is the CCI segmented. This ammo is within the standard velocity category at 1050 fps but carries a segmented bullet that separates into 5 pieces upon impact.
Accuracy is about the same as discussed above but the segmented bullet creates a lot of destruction inside any target without wasting energy on exit.
This is because at the speed the bullet is traveling, in a normal size small game animal, it doesn’t exit. All of it’s energy is expended inside the target. This ammo is murder on varmints. Get more details by clicking on the image below.
Ammunition in the high velocity category is designed to deliver a little more oomph for the casual or recreational shooter. Plinking or hunting small game can be a ton of fun with this class of cartridges. There are many designs of bullets offered including round nose, hollow point, flat point, bare lead, and others.
This the most popular and best selling category for most manufacturers. In turn, this is where the manufacturers spend the majority of their time developing new and innovative improvments that will drive sales.
The advantages of high velocity compared to other velocity categories are: -slightly flatter trajectory within the operable range of the 22 lr caliber -high velocity is faster with slightly more energy until around 75 yards. Both velocity and energy start to fall off quickly when shot out of a rifle. The disadvantages when compared to standard and sub sonic velocities are – with the ballistic coefficient of 22 caliber rim fire the wind affects trajectory more than standard velocity.
This is why target and bench rest shooters use standard velocity. -there is turbulence on high velocity ammo when it slows down and comes back through the sound barrier. This causes a slight amount of wobble causing inaccuracy.
The turbulence lasts for only a fraction of a second but it is enough to move the bullet off target. -using jacketed bullets, which most in this category do, at 22 velocities, I have shot these bullets into ballistic gel with little or no expansion.
Penetration is not bad at around 14 inches but there is very little deformation. This not good for hunting or self defense. You need bullet expansion to maximize the would cavity.
With that said, I do like the CCI segmented rounds for hunting. They are designed to break apart after entering the body cavity. In my experience these work great on small game.
Hyper velocity 22 ammo was designed to all provide maximum shocking power and bullet expansion from this little caliber. I have personally conducted tests into ballistic gel comparing CCI 22 Stinger at slightly over 1600 feet per second and Aguila Super Maximum advertised with a muzzle velocity of close to 1800 feet per second.
Without a doubt, the Aguila left a much larger permanent wound channel than the Stinger. This tells me it would be much more effective on game. But the Stinger is much more accurate at 50 yards although that is not saying much.
Out of any rifle I choose, the Stinger usually shoots around a 1.5 inch group at 50 yards. The Aguila would at times be as high as 2.5 inches. This was shooting from a sled using a Savage FVSR and Ruger 10/22. These are the same rifles that shoot 0.5 inches or less at 50 yards.
You can only imagine what this stuff would do at 200 yards. The chart below contains velocity data for several offerings from three major manufacturers today. As you can see, muzzle velocities vary greatly as each brand is designed for a specific purpose.
As you can see above there is a wide range of ammunition available for the rim fire rifles that is designed to do pretty much anything you want to accomplish….within reason. You must realize however that each category has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
The best all around ammo is in the standard velocity category primarily because it is what most factory produced rifles are designed for in rifling twist, barrel length, chamber dimensions, etc. But if you can tolerate a small loss of accuracy and need shocking power for a hunting situation, the hyper or high velocity categories might be your best choice.