A .22 caliber ammo primer

This guest post is by Jeff P and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Many of us have .22 caliber ammo and firearms in their “survival” battery. I am no exception and have more than I probably need, but each has a special place in my safe. But this article is about something I think is even more important – ammo.

I have been buying .22 LR ammo for some time and have what I feel is a safe amount. Now the question is – what do I concentrate on stocking up, now that I’m past “whatever I can get or is on sale”.

Took the four Browning Buckmarks I own to the range. I have three pistols; a 20-year-old 5.5” “slabside”; a new Camper Model w/ a 4” TacticalSolutions Ultra-light barrel, compensator, and Picatinney rail for optics; a Dragonfly (10.5” barrel with built-in suppressor); and a bull barrel rifle.

I like the way Browning’s work, they all use the same magazine, and are easy for me to disassemble – for repair or cleaning. So I felt this would be a pretty good group of weapons, with enough similarities, to do an ammo test. These results are not scientific and were only designed for rough accuracy testing, but I was more concerned with reliability.

So I tried out a bunch of ammo to find what works. Here’s what I found:

Hunting ammo, regular – Winchester Power Point 40 grHP. This stuff kills it dead with the 1st shot and is very accurate.

Subsonic: I’m goingwith Remington 37 gr HP’s and Aguila 60 gr solids. The 38 & 40 gr. Aquilawould not cycle the action in standard or suppressed pistols, where the Remington and the 60 gr’s would. Plus the 60 gr’smade a presentable sound difference when they hit, a much more “respectable”smack!

CB’s & Aguila 20 gr – might save them for the kid’ssingle shots. Or possibly a revolver. They wouldn’t reliably feed in any of the 10 magazines I took out.

Training: Federal 36gr HP in 375 or 525 count boxes. The Winchester White Box 36 gr.’s alsoworked, but for me are harder to find. Remington bulk (also 36 gr.) both had failures to fire, feed, and/or eject. Stay away from American Eagles. First, there are only 40/box not 50. Second, I had 3 with oversized bullets that would not go into the chamber fully but one still fired (causing much distress and consternation on the non-firing support hand!)

Hyper-velocity: I did not take any with me this trip as I only had a little on-hand. I am not a fan. Over the years I’d been too inconsisten tbased upon weather and wind and the type of firearm.


If you want quiet, get a suppressor that fits your 22 pistol/rifle. Even the WW 40gr HP’s were acceptably quiet;I think if I used them in my small back yard, my neighbor would actually have to see me shoot to hear it. The subsonicones more so. I would get a separate suppressor and pistol, as then you can change pistols, plus use in on more than one firearm. They make one that is very light, and will work on .17 Mach 2, 22 LR, .17 HMR, and .22 Magnum weapons. I will end up with one and another$200 tax out just because I want to suppress a rifle too.

If you’re thinking of the ultra –light barrels, I’d go with the 5.5” and skip the compensator. It does not change the perceived recoil and adds no significant weight to the pistol.

Finally, the .22 caliber ammo you choose is really going to come down to personal preference, the type of weapon you are going to use, and ultimately what you can find and afford. I have also run the regular velocity ammo through a Walther P22, a SiG Mosquito, all my 10/22’s, and my 2 lever-action rifles, and found similar results, but Ididn’t take them all out this time. I was trying to get the guns as consistent as possible to make them a non-factor.

Hope this helps.

This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:

First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following;  (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of  LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.

Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.

Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.

Contest ends on August 7 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. axelsteve says:

    I own a couple of bolt action 22 and 2 semi auto 22 rifles.I own some cci stingers for the bolt action. I also have some bulk federal and some new remington improved ammo(we will see) that I have not tested yet.I am going to get some shorts since the Marlin 781 is supposed to eat them.I also have a few boxes of the yellow jacket ammo.I do not really need subsonic ,though having some on hand may come in handy someday.My other bolt gun is a 69 romanian trainer and I may convert to a single shot since my older son lost the mags for it and they cost about what the rifle is worth to replace.

  2. JP in MT says:


    I understand the comment about the rifle magazines. I was so paranoid about it I wouldn’t take my Remington 700 DBM Mountain Rifle out for it’s 1st “walk” until I found a spare mag for it.

    • axelsteve says:

      jp in mt That rifle cost me 100 dollars and it will cost about 50 dollars to replace the magazine. To me it is not worth it but I am not going to get rid of the rifle. So a single shot may be the thing to do with it.

      • JP in MT says:


        I won’t make any promises but if you’ll send the make and model we may be able to find you an affordable one at these rural gun shows.

        • axelsteve says:

          JP in MT. The rifle is a model 69 romian training rifle in 22 lr.

        • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

          axelsteve, you can sometimes find a Tiawanese made magazine for sale for that M69 at Keepshooting. These magazines aren’t quite as well made as the originals, but are serviceable, at least mine have been the case. The magazine lips sometimes need some ‘tweaking’ to work correctly. I agree, those magazines can be pricey!

          If you are into rim fire firearms shooting, I suggest checking out the forum Rimfire Central, they have all walks of life there with some great advice.

          • axelsteve says:

            jr. thank you I like the rimfire central webpage. I never thought of looking there.

        • axelsteve says:

          Thank you JP. Let me know if you find any. I will be happy to reimburse you for them.

  3. Two years ago when the 60gr subsonic Aquilla rounds became available for purchase, I decided to try them out, primarily for home defense use in my revolvers. I had been a longtime fan of CCI MiniMags since they operated reliably in any 22 caliber firearm I fed them through, the accuracy was great and the stopping power was adequate on most everything I shot with them. I had been used to getting single shot kills on pigs and steers here locally in our Amish community for their butchering since their beliefs do not permit gun ownership (varies from community and even within a community) so I generally do this as a favor for them. I had fired my usual range practice of a small sandbag (the 70 pound ones they sell for winter time truck bed weight) in front of several pieces of 3/4″ pine boards. The CCI’s would penetrate the sandbag and three of the four boards at twenty five yards with the holes becoming larger as they progressed through the target because of the expansion of the hollow point. Since I am elderly and this was before my cataract surgery while I had failing eyesight, I did not try long distance shooting with the revolvers even though in past years, I was able to shoot quite accurately at one hundred yard distances with the Charter Arms Pathfinder with the six inch barrel. At any rate, I found that at twenty five and fifty yard distances, either revolver, the Smith and Wesson model 63 four inch barrel or the Pathfinder 6 inch barrel would qualify as real stoppers with either the minimags or the Aquilla 60 grain rounds which would penetrate through the bag and all four of the boards, being stopped by the steel sheet behind them leaving dents in the sheet. I found when I started firing the course with my Marlin 995 carbine (after cataract surgery) that the Aquilla rounds were plenty good out to about seventy five yards. Past seventy five yards, the accuracy could not be consistently maintained and shooting into pine boards at one hundred yard range, even though all ten rounds from the magazine would impact the board 12″ x 12″, they were all over the board and a couple of rounds looked like they even hit the board sideways. I had read some previous reports that tumbling was experienced by some one else who had tested them and concluded that a long barrel with a slow twist was what was needed. Accordingly, I let my oldest son who lives in California who was here on a visit last year have a box to test in my old Remington with the 26 inch barrel and slow twist that I had given him when I left California. He reported that out to one hundred yards, the accuracy was comparable with the minimags but at one hundred and one hundred and twenty five yards (he has much better eyesight than me) he could keep them all in a ragged eight inch circle and while he did not experience any tumbling, he could not consistently get a tighter group. I am seventy three and have hunted with a 22 all of my life and have found over past years that four well placed shots in the same target area at a distance up to seventy five yards with the minimags would bring down just about anything in my area I wanted to bag including our native deer which I don’t normally hunt since I don’t like the taste of venison. This leads me to the conclusion that other than the extremely dirty residue from the Aquilla rounds, my pistols will remain loaded with the Aquilla and I will continue to feed the Marlin with the minimags. My son intends to buy a case of the Aquilla also to keep on hand for the Remington along with our favored minimags. I have used all types of 22 caliber rim fire cartridges from the black powder loaded copper cased rounds I first started with in my Stevens Crack shot up to the latest and I too have an assortment of loadings. I have the original crimped case shot shells and some of the plastic sabot shot shells which I prefer and various quantites of cb caps, shorts, longs and long rifle cartridges to play around with but my real groundhog getter is still the minimag in the charter arms revolver.

    • charlie (NC) says:

      I agree that the Amish generally don’t believe in firearms but apparently they have the same concerns as most of us in recent years. I’ve gotten reliable information that the guys who work gunshows in Amish country report Amish buying AK’s and loads of ammo.

      • axelsteve says:

        I do not see anything wrong with them owning guns.

        • They are pacifists by belief and owning a firearm to them is regarded as a sin. Some communities have different orders and sometimes they even vary among a given community. I have known a few in our area to possess guns including one who still has an impressive collection of Remington rolling block rifles. The ones I associate with in particular are very conservative and will not own a firearm so as a favor, I do their stock for them. They also do not wear mustaches because they feel they are “military appearing” and do not fit in with their beliefs.

  4. SurvivorDan says:

    Have accumulated a lot of different ,22 ammo recently for my Ruger target pistol and my little Beretta. You remind me that I need to wring out all this new ammo in these guns.
    I will get some of the sub-sonic ammo as I have thought about such and never done anything about it.
    Thanks. Nice article.

  5. I know this is about ammo but what are your guys’s thoughts on the 22 LR Savage mark 2

    • Zack, the MK II isn’t an Anschutz or a CZ, but it’s a Savage and they’re no slouch in the accuracy department. If you’re thinking of getting one, I doubt you’d be sorry. (No, I don’t own one. Yet. It’s on the shopping list for Buy A Gun Day.)

  6. benjammin says:

    I have a different approach to 22 ammo purchases.

    My mainstay 22 lr is the Federal 36 gr jhp in 525 round boxes. It is cheap, effective out to 100 yards or so (30 yards with the pistols), and works in all of my 22 lr guns.

    My high power rounds are yellowjackets. They are also good to 100 yards, work in all my guns, and have more killing potential than the Federal loads.

    Finally, for my long range loads, I use Wolf Match Extra. In extensive testing, I found these rounds to be as good as the best 22 lr competition ammo I’ve tried, rivaling Lapua, Eley, and others costing upwards of $15 per 50 round box. The wolf runs me around $7 to $8 per 50 round box. These I use for competition shooting or varmint hunting out to 200+ yards, and they are consistent. They are subsonic, so they will not upset due to transonic deceleration. They are my best loads in my Savage Mark 1 and Mark 2 heavy barreled bolt actions, and will consistently hold 1/2 MOA or better. That is as good as it gets in 22 lr.

  7. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Also note that the longer the barrel, the more quieter the report of firearm. Those older ‘Long Tom’ .22s and current CZ Ultra Lux 28″ barrels are very quiet with standard velocity shells. Not silencer quiet, but closer than a carbine length.

  8. L.A. Mike says:

    A major factor in cycling, accuracy and reliability in terms of the Ruger 10/22 is the factory bolt (BCG). Ruger’s are pretty notorious for the rough finish and sloppy head space tolerances, as well as other issues with the firing pin and ejector. A quality BCG job will improve many issues pertaining to many ammo brands/types. It is rumored that a BCG polish and chamfer job will even allow subsonic rounds to cycle, although I have not YET tested this theory. For around $35 you can send it to a pro. If you are so inclined you can polish it yourself. YouTube can be a resource for examples, also. I am unaware of issues with other brands since I own only Rugers so far. Hope this helps. Good luck, Wolf Pack

    • JP in MT says:

      L.A. Mike:

      Do you know of anyone that does the BCG job?

      • if your capable of taking your bolt out of the receiver,then you are capable of polishing it and putting a larger radius on the back of the bolt where it pushes the hammer back down. that alone goes a long way in making it feed more reliably. i love 10/22,s for this very reason. they are perfect for a person who wants to try their hand at a little accurizing work,because they are so simple in design. give it a try,have some fun. you just about cant make it worse.if you do,parts are available everywhere.

  9. …So frustrtaed reading these gun articles as I’m still waiting for my FOID card renewal six weeks later! Good old Illinois—

  10. sorry…”frustrated”…see what I mean?

    • village idiot says:

      Yes I do, why not leave? Although that might be moot if Obama gets back in. We may all be in your shoes, and worse.

  11. The Aquila SSS (60s) do tend to ‘keyhole’ (hit sideways) when fired from faster twist barrels. My High Standard model GB has a slower twist 6.5″ barrel that does fine with SSS’. The newer faster twist barrel (4.5″) prefers lighter quicker rounds for best accuracy. This model gun is almost faster to change barrels than magizines. In my AMT (25/.22 black lightning) with the faster barrel and competition chamber the SSS will keyhole at 10 yards. The tight chamber does wring out the best from match grade ammo. Preferring green label or Eley match grade, I’ll have to try the Wolf (thanks b)

  12. livinglife says:

    Having spent too much on test .22 rounds for my 10/22, I have found my best ammo is the Yellowjackets and CCI stingers/segmented (tie) (all three good for varminting) for accuracy and cleanliness. Wildcats would be third place. Federal bulk tended to jam and are very dirty.
    Sure there is cheaper ammo but I want it to go bang, cycle, bang, if you do as well, do not save a few cents.
    CCI in general are cleaner and more uniform than their competition.

  13. benjammin says:

    I’ve noticed that the HK 416 I acquired this year will run with just about any standard 22lr ammo I feed it. I’ve put maybe 3,000 rounds through it already, and everything from old Aguila to CCI stinger and velocitor seems to cycle just fine. Nothing like running 30 rounds as fast as I can pull the trigger to really test the limits of an action.

    That may be the best $500 I ever spent on a 22. It isn’t the one hole gun like my Savages are, but it is an effective CQB practice gun, and saves me a whole lotta money shooting that much ammo vs. 223 loads.

  14. Carl in W.V. says:

    hey guys and gals thought this was an interesting video on how to get controler rapid fire on your .22 . Take notice to him talking about drilling and taping the trigger guard to lessen the trigger travel.

  15. Depending on which rifle I’m shooting, the different brands of ammo have varied reliability and accuracy potentials. Of course, the bolt SQ will handle any reliably, but accuracy has always been nest with CCI Stingers at any distance. The lever action will eat anything I want to stuff in, but again, CCI seems the most accurate. Federal used to be my ‘go-to’ round for accuracy, but lately CCI Blazers have been the cat’s meow.
    In the semi autos, both rifle and pistol, I stick with CCI for function. Feds seem to have given up a bit of OOMPH for cycling the actions of Ruger, Smith and Remingtons.
    Thinking about this lately, since I’ve been shooting tons of .22 this year, I’ve realized my tired old eyes aren’t able to develop the accuracy of decades past, even with a scope, so spending the extra bucks on imported or target ammo is pretty much a waste of labor. I’ll be sticking with the most accurate ‘inexpensive’ American bullets I can find.

  16. i have found CCI velocitors to have the most power of any 22 round….they weigh a full 40 grains of hollowpoint gold dot bullet and reach velocoties over 1400 fps in rifle length test barrels……forget stingers..these have more smack,,,,,and are much better in pistol length barrels ..since stingers achieve their power by sacrificing weight to add velocitiy..which can’t be fully achieved in shorter pistol barrels….i like the aguilla 60 gr sss subsonics…but they will never shoot anywhere near the same point of aim as most other ammo…and the sites of any gun must be dedicated to using them exclusively or other ammo will shoot a lot higher if you forget and load them in the same gun……..the velocitors ,in ballistic gel tests ,were found to penetrate almost as far as trunc cone bullets (made for penetration) while expanding admirably w/ the 40gr gold dot made hollow point……they are a bit higher in price but nothing else compares whn using a 22 lr for things that are a bit larger than your average 22 game.

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