►Ammo comparison

Attempt #1

I got lucky today and found some Aguila Supermaximum Hypervelocity ammunition, which flies at 1,750 feet per second. This may be the fastest .22 lr ammunition out there, and is a good deal faster than the 1,280 advertised for my usual Remington Golden. Finding this ammo allowed me to test the hypothesis I laid out in ‘More bedding results‘, i.e., that variation in the amount of powder in each cartridge would have less of an effect on the accuracy of faster ammunition — and make my groups smaller.

You can tell this ammo is faster from the noise and recoil. You can tell by looking at the targets, too. The holes in the paper are nearly twice as large as standard .22.

Here are the shooting results, at 30 yards, with a gusty breeze at 3:00 of around 17 mph:

  • Red Ruger 0.71
  • Brown Ruger 1.36 (v. string)
  • Green Ruger 1.37
  • Black Ruger 1.25  (v. string)

You can compare these results with the results for these rifles running ‘regular’ Remington Golden ammo over at ‘More bedding results‘.

It’s looking like my wife’s Red Ruger is the best shooter we have, and that high velocity ammo didn’t improve accuracy or reduce vertical stringing.  So, the speed hypothesis is down the tubes. In fact, it seems that Remington Goldens from the econo-box is the better stuff.

I could try to blame these results on the wind, since this time around it was windier than any other target shooting attempt I’ve made. According to what I’ve read elsewhere, a 10 mph crosswind will move a bullet sideways by 1 inch at 50 yards. But I simply haven’t shot enough targets in enough different conditions to be able to say how much I believe that.

Maybe I’ll come across some ‘match-grade’ ammunition and give that a try. Maybe I’ll find someone who will take the Aguila in trade for it.

But at least the Rugers had a bit of time to relax in the sun and breeze:

Ruger 10/22s relaxing on the deck on a summer afternoon

The ‘best’ Ruger 10/22s relaxing on our deck on a summer afternoon. From top to bottom: The Black Ruger, the Green Ruger, the Brown Ruger, and the Red Ruger.

Attempt #2

This afternoon it was dead calm. Not so calm that you’d suffocate if you stood still, though it felt like that. Hot, muggy, cloudy mosquito weather. Calm enough that you could light a candle outdoors and it would stay lit, and stay steady.

So, I grabbed the Black Ruger and went out with the two types of ammo I’m looking at, the Remington and the Aguila. Can’t blame things on the wind this time out.

Here is a picture of the two battling brands of ammo, obviously uncomfortable posing next to each other:


Again, mechanical rest, 30 yards, etc., here’s the results for the Remington:

  • 0.53
  • 1.28 (v. string)

The results for the Aguila:

  • 1.12 (v. string)
  • 0.59

Just as an extra note: With the first group of Remington, there were three holes in the 3/4″ bullseye, which ain’t too bad. The second group of Aguila, which also made a nice-looking cluster, was centered 1.9″ above the center of the bullseye.

Maybe there are some lessons to be learned here. First off, wind does make a difference. Some people claim that high-velocity .22 rounds are more sensitive to wind than the slower stuff, and the numbers seem to support this. The numbers for the Aguila are a lot more consistent than the last time out, and closer to the Remington numbers.

If I decided I liked the Aguila better, though, I’d have to re-zero the Rugers, with the Aguilas shooting higher. Gravity works fast! And I’d want the Aguila if I used a .22 pistol for self-defense rounds. It makes truly massive holes in the target.

But the real message is, the ‘high-velocity hypothesis’ is dead. Vertical strings due to inconsistent powder loads is just as much a problem with them as with standard velocity ammo.

So, I’ll have to hunt for match-grade ammo to try and settle this. Not easy, these days, when finding any .22 is a lucky day.

Three other kinds of ammo

Now that the weather is fine, I can use the ammo samples I got at the gun show here in the dead of winter. The shooting was done, as usual, from a mechanical rest against the printable target found in Miscellanea. All shots were made at 30 yards with the Black Ruger. The groups were measured and calculated according to the method laid out in Miscellanea.

Remington Thunderbolt: This uses a 40-grain solid lead bullet, and is rated at 1,255 fps. It shot and ejected will, with the usual amount of recoil. This turned in the worst performance of the lot, with a group averaging 1.825″. There was no noticeable stringing — the group was just plain scattered.

Hansen Cartridge Company: This also uses a 40-grain solid lead bullet, with the velocity given as “standard”. It also bills itself as “target grade”. This turned in a solid performance, with a group averaging 1.0725″. Three of the shots were on the 3/4″ bullseye. The recoil and noise was slightly less than standard ammo and the group was closely clustered on the bullseye.

PMC Match: This uses a 40-grain solid lead bullet as well. Bullet velocity is not given, or even hinted at — except for the claim that the ammo is “optimized for bolt action rifles”.  The ammo was noticeably quiet, and the recoil exceptionally low. Spent brass barely ejected, and the bullets landed lower on the target. Even so, the ammo cycled the 10/22 bolt just fine. This turned in the best accuracy, with a group averaging 0.85″. One bullet was in the bullseye and the rest were slightly below.

What I’m concluding from this is that ammo claiming to be “target grade” or “match” are indeed substantially more accurate. The disappointing thing is that these rounds are less powerful. When the point is putting squirrels in the crock pot, you want a round that is both powerful and accurate.  I’d say that, overall, the ammo I’d use for squirrels is Hansen’s ‘Target Grade’. I’d shoot PMC for competition, though, and just raise the adjustable rear sight by two clicks.

The Eley ammo

For my birthday, my son got me three boxes of Eley ammunition, made in Great Britain. Each box was a different type: there was ‘Club’, ‘Target’, and ‘Edge’.

There’s no real info on the ammo on the boxes, but there’s a little bit on info on their website. Interestingly, their site does not have any info on the ‘Target’ type ammo.

The ‘Edge’ and “Club’ ammo are basically the same: same weight bullet (40 grains), same muzzle velocity (1085 fps). Visually, the mystery ‘Target’ ammo looks the same as the ‘Club’ ammo.

The ‘Edge’ ammo is starkly different; the cartridges are an ominous, uniform matte black. The packaging is also different, with the cartridges held in a slide-out tray that makes it easy to get 5 cartridges at a time.

Here’s the group averages I got, once again, 30 yards, mechanical rest, etc.:

Club: 1.2375″

Target: 1.695″

Edge: 0.65″

The number for the Edge ammo doesn’t tell the whole story. There were three holes touching, inside the 3/4″ bullseye, and two holes touching, just outside of the bullseye.

One thing I experienced may be meaningless, but nonetheless unique. The first round with the Club ammo was unusually loud and had a substantial kick. The second was considerably quieter, which make me think it was a squib. It wasn’t a squib, though–the rest of the 5-round group were the same. With the Edge ammo, round #4 was extra loud, with the rest being equally muted.

According to Eley, what makes the Edge ammo different from the rest is the lubricant that is used, which not only accounts for the dark color of the cartridge, but also increases the friction between the case and the bullet for a more consistent burn of the powder.

With results like this, I’d say, if I was going to stockpile a lifetime’s worth of .22lr ammo, it would all be Eley Edge. If I could have two types of ammo for a lifetime supply, the other would be some Aguila Supermaximum Hypervelocity for my Browning 1911-22 carry piece.


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