Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

In this post, we will take a look at what is perhaps the most common caliber on Earth, the rimfire .22 Long Rifle. I wanted to test a few CCI “premium” loads, as well as one of my preferred “bulk pack” loads. We’re also going to see how they compare in rifle vs pistol velocities…

From Left to Right…

  1. Winchester 333/555 – 36g Hollow Point
  2. CCI MiniMag – 36g Hollow Point
  3. CCI Velocitor – 40g Hollow Point
  4. CCI Stinger – 32g Hollow Point

The test medium was a single water-soaked phone book, and the range was 5 yards. The elevation was 5400ft, and the temp was an even 0 C. The test guns were the Sig P226 .22 Classic…

Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

… and the Savage MK II…

Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

I started off with one phone book to see how the tissue damage varies from round-to-round; from pistol to rifle. I fired one of each cartridge through the pistol and one of each through the rifle for eight total shots. On entry…

Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

The Stinger was moving so fast out of the rifle that it expanded instantly on contact. Its wound channel was immense in the first half of the phone book, after which it had lost much of its juice and sputtered out the back. This is essentially a “varmint grenade”, with massive expansion in the first 3″-4″ of the wound channel.

How about on the exit…

Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

The results were not as I had expected. I thought the rifle exits would be much bigger than the pistol exits. However, I believe that this phenomenon is the result of the rifle rounds expanding so rapidly that most of the tissue damage happened in the front half of the book, after which the majority of their energy was diffused. The pistol rounds on the other hand seemed to expand more slowly, causing the wound channel to peak out in the rear half of the book.

I then decided to fire eight more rounds (four each in pistol and rifle) into multiple phone books so I could recover some bullets, and see how they penetrate.

Recovered Bullets: Pistol (Left) and Rifle (Right)

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Winchester 333/555

These rounds expanded well… perhaps a bit too well. As you can see, they had the tendency to shed mass from the expanded nose cone, particularly at rifle velocities. Recovered weight was 32.2 grains for the pistol, and 24.9 grains for the rifle. Recovered diameter was .335″ for the pistol, and .254″ for the rifle. The pistol round was recovered half way through the 2nd book, or about +12″ of calibrated gelatin. The rifle round was recovered at the first quarter of the second book, or about +10″ of actual penetration. These are accurate cartridges that run well in a wide variety of guns, and they are hot enough to cycle even the most finicky autos. This is great ammo for all-around use or cheap range fodder.

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CCI MiniMag

A lot of people love this load from CCI, and that love is certainly justified. These rounds perform very well through a wide range of velocities. They expand nicely from a pistol (left), and still manage to hold together well from a rifle (right). Recovered weight was 36.3 grains for the pistol, and 36.2 grains for the rifle. Recovered diameter was .344″ for the pistol, and .336″ for the rifle. Both rounds were recovered roughly half way through the 2nd book, or about +12″ of calibrated gelatin. These are accurate, consistent, and hard hitting rounds that deserve their noble reputation.

Copyright 2009 Brasstard.com

CCI Velocitor

This is a somewhat newer load from CCI, and it shows some great potential. Just don’t expect consistent expansion from a pistol. The bullet cavity is wide but shallow, and doesn’t appear to be conducive to reduced-velocity expansion. Recovered weight was 39.8 grains for the pistol, and 39.7 grains for the rifle. Recovered diameter was .22″ for the pistol, and .334″ for the rifle. The pistol round was recovered at the far back of the 2nd book, or about +16″ of calibrated gelatin. The rifle round was recovered half way through the second book, or about ~12″ of actual penetration.

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CCI Stinger

This little 32g projectile is the fastest and most energetic of the bunch. As you can see, the bullet shows severe deformation coming from the Savage MK II (right). Amazingly, the largest exit wound we saw above was actually not coming from the rifle. It was a Stinger coming from the pistol. Again, this is likely due to extremely rapid deformation at rifle velocities, causing a large but shallow wound. On the other hand, the pistol’s reduced velocity must have hit a sweet spot of expansion in the rear of the book, resulting in the impressive exit.

Recovered weight of the Stinger was 31.6 grains for the pistol, and 18.4 grains for the rifle. Recovered diameter was a generous .370″ for the pistol, and .365″ for the rifle. The pistol round was recovered a quarter of the way through the 2nd book, or about +10″ of calibrated gelatin. The rifle round was recovered in the first few pages of book two, or about +8″ of actual penetration.

A little side note on the Stinger…

I have hunted various small game with these rounds over the years, and I must warn you… if you plan to eat the animal and/or collect and save the pelt, don’t use Stingers (especially inside of 10-15 yards). Even with a pistol, they will virtually destroy small animals. These are great for vermin & pest control against things like rats, pigeons, crows, or feral pets who’s carcasses are of no use. Just remember, the fact that you get a “clean” kill with them does not in any way reflect actual cleanliness.

After testing these four loads, I would have no reservations in recommending any of them. Depending on your intended purpose, you can fill most of your needs between these four choices. For general small game hunting & target practice use, the MiniMag or the 333/555 is a great choice. For serious pest control & extermination use, the Stinger is king. And, if you are limited to using a .22 for defensive purposes, the Velocitor gives you about the most you can squeeze out of this cartridge.

In the end, we have to question our assumptions that rifles are somehow prone to penetrate more than pistols. As we witnessed here, it is not always the case… especially with hollow point ammo in wet mass. In every case in this test, the slower pistol round out-penetrated the faster rifle round. When it comes to HP .22’s, fast bullets stop fast, and slow bullets stop slow.

Chronograph Velocity Results 3-Shot Average @ 10-Feet:

  1. Winchester 333/555 – Pistol=1028 fps/84 fpe… Rifle=1222 fps/119 fpe
  2. CCI MiniMag – Pistol=1017 fps/83 fpe… Rifle=1243 fps/124 fpe
  3. CCI Velocitor – Pistol=1067 fps/101 fpe… Rifle=1357 fps/164 fpe
  4. CCI Stinger – Pistol=1185 fps/100 fpe… Rifle=1570 fps/175 fpe

Happy shootin’…

The Brasstard

In Review: .22 Long Rifle Performance

7 thoughts on “In Review: .22 Long Rifle Performance

  • February 18, 2013 at 17:04

    thanks for the info, my wife isnt capable of shooting anything stronger then 22,this helps find the best load for her

  • January 7, 2013 at 17:58

    Awesome tests! Any chance of testing Aguila’s 60-grain heavy rounds, plus their answer to the stinger, and the velocitor, Interceptor and SuperMax, both of which have more power than the CCi stuff? That would be great!

  • November 29, 2010 at 14:40

    The thing is that if you miss a vital spot, any bullet will likely fail to do the job. I found that the Stinger, being very light and fast, is better suited for small game than it is for self defense. The reason being that it dumps most of it’s energy within the first few inches. The Velocitor, being a bit heavier and slower has a better chance of actually reaching the vitals of a grown man, and still having enough juice to do the job. With a round as paltry as the .22 LR, you really cannot rely on expansion or shock factors to do the job. I prefer more penetration, particularly in sub-calibers. The Stinger might inflict more pain, but pain alone has never been a reliable man-stopper.

    In my humble opinion of course.

    Thanks for visiting.

  • November 29, 2010 at 13:35

    How did you conclude that the Velocitor was a better defense round as compared to the Stinger? Penetration? If you miss a vital spot, it seems the Velocit0r would just zip through clean, where the Stinger would be devastating.

  • May 6, 2010 at 07:36

    the best on handguns are cci mini mags

  • January 14, 2010 at 16:31

    Thanks for the research on the .22 rimfire. The provided evidences regarding the level of penetration as in rifle vs. pistol have been quite educational to me.



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