.22 Ammunition test III.

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This is the third iteration of what started out as a weekend experiment. My friends and I had been conducting an informal semi-benchrest contest, using my ATV for a rest, a sandbag on top to position the rifle, and a log that had fallen off of my firewood trailer as a seat. From this was born the Kentucky Sandbag Benchrest Association, sort of benchrest on the cheap, but thoroughly enjoyable, and just enough human factor reintroduced to keep it interesting. The test below results from various ammo being tried out on my range.

Conditions of this test:

The equipment in this test adheres to the rules laid down by the Kentucky Sandbag Benchrest Association. . Click on the link for further details.

Each bullet was tested by firing ten clearing shots to acclimate the barrel to the particular ammo, and then four sets of five shot patterns. A note on the clearing shots - this is to remove any lubrication left over from previous bullets, or to build up lubrication that is on the test bullets. I have seen some astounding patterns produced with CCI Std Vel ammo, if you fire it right after you've been shooting high end lubricated ammo. Well, for the first five shots, anyway.

Here's an example of leftover lubrication in action:
This is CCI Green Label, certainly not a bad ammo, but not a ragged hole producer, either. I had been firing Eley Benchrest Gold prior to shooting these three patterns. Eley BR Gold is a lubricated ammo that's quite good. You can see the patterns decay as the lubrication wears off.

Back to the test...

Photos shown are representative of what the four test patterns produced. I tried to disregard any that had shooter induced flyers (and you know when you blew it, don't you?), and any that were substantially better than the rest of the patterns that the particular ammo produced. Consistency is the keyword - does it shoot in the same place, set after set? The point of this test is to give the reader a general idea of how the particular ammo performs, box after box.

Results may not be the same as you get with your own particular setup. I saw enough variance in results between the Anschutz and the Winchester 52D to convince me of that.

I've tried to cover the range of 22 ammo that is for sale. In this test, there is plinking ammo, basic practice/subsonic ammo, midrange target ammo, and high end target ammo, Generally speaking, the ammo is best subdivided by price:

Type Price range (by brick)
Plinking $8-12
Basic subsonic $15-25
Midrange $40-60
High end $80-120

The results:

Rather than quote measurements, I'll just show the photos, as they give a much clearer picture than a simple number.

CCI Stinger Winchester Wildcat Winchester Target 22
The classic tincan popper. Not terribly accurate. What makes this pattern interesting is that I was sighting on the target underneath this one. High velocity = high trajectory. Another plinking ammo. Despite the name, the accuracy and price of this ammo relegate it to beer can plinking. Just slightly supersonic.
CCI Standard Velocity Aguila SE Winchester Supreme
A good low cost practice ammo. It has produced some terrific patterns at times, but is inconsistent. About the same as CCI Std Vel in both accuracy and price. A mid priced ammo with high end performance. Supreme has been a consistenly high performer for me.
Eley Match Xtra Federal 900B Federal UM1
A great surprise here. Match Xtra did terribly in my Winchester 52D, but produced great patterns in the Anschutz. 900B is an intermediate ammo, but it did seem to have a fair number of flyers. UM1 has been the most consistent performer for me. Interesting, as it is either supersonic or very close. It's quite noisy, and shoots about 1" higher than the other target bullets when fired on a single scope setting. Sadly, UM1 is no longer in production, although I did manage to get two bricks of it.
Wolf ammunition is relatively low cost, and held the promise of being a real bargain. On the range, it didn't quite live up to that promise. Consistency was the big problem. Even the very high priced Match Gold was quirky - generally, five shots would yield two ragged holes. Supposedly, you can sort the bullets by weight and dramatically improve the performance, but that's why one pays a premium for target ammo - so you don't have to sort bullets.
Match Target Match Extra Match Gold
The low cost Wolf - around $22-24 a brick from discount sellers. A good low end subsonic practice ammo. Somewhat higher priced, at $40 or so a brick. A bit better than MT. Their high end ammo. $80-90 a brick. I had difficulties getting consistent patterns from MG. This would have been great ammo at $50 a brick. At $80-90, there are better options.
Eley Practice Eley Benchrest Gold CCI Green Tag
Like the name says, practice. For $29 a brick ammo, it did very well. In one session, it shot a .25" pattern, a nice round ragged hole, but that was a one off exception. Generally, Practice showed patterns like this one. Now, this is the good stuff. More than spot on accurate, it is consistent. From the first five out of the box, to the last five, it gave patterns like this. Bought one brick at a gun show for $89, wish I had bought more. Not bad, for $5/box ammo, but certainly no better than Wolf or RWS at the same price.
RWS Target RWS R50
$40 a brick, and not bad at that, but it did exhibit the occasional flyer. This is typical - decent pattern, with one flyer. R50 struggled to produce a decent pattern all afternoon. I went through 50 rounds, and just didn't see the sort of consistency one should expect from $90/brick ammo.

I will add additional ammo as time and finances permit. The better grades of ammo aren't cheap...

Another update - to ammo sellers. I am preparing to sell ad space on this page, as it attracts 1000+ views per month. If you'd rather deal with me than Google, let me know.

Here is my test rig - Anschutz on the sandbag, and the high tech oak seat. Look for us at the KSBA Nationals in September, 2006.