Wringing accuracy from your .22 rimfire: yes, it can seem frustrating at times!

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I’ve been shooting a lot of .22LR on a recreational basis lately, and am reminded how fickle this round can be.

Many people seem to be unaware that you can’t put just any old .22 round into a gun – be it rifle, pistol, or revolver – and expect it to function correctly, let alone hit where it is aimed!

It is not unusual to find that any given .22 firearm will not function with certain ammunition. I’ve seen guns that didn’t have enough firing pin energy to detonate certain brands of ammunition; autoloaders that wouldn’t load and eject certain bullet shapes or velocities; and guns that would shoot tight groups with some ammo but shotgun-like patterns with everything else.

This would all be a lot easier if it were predictable by gun brand and/or model – sadly, it just isn’t. You can take two identical guns and one will shoot incredibly accurately with a specific round, while the other gun throws them every which way; I’ve seen it happen with a pair of Ruger 10/22 rifles.

Some guns are more picky than others regarding their ammunition preferences. The Dan Wesson Model 15-2 in .357 is renowned for its accuracy, but the same gun in .22 is regarded as very inaccurate. I suspect that this reputation has more to do with ammunition that with any fault of the gun. I have one, and had to test many different .22 rounds before I found a couple that it would shoot well. The difference wasn’t minor, either! With most ammunition it will shoot 3- to 4-inch groups at 25 yards; with its preferred ammunition, it will quite literally put a cylinder full into one ragged hole at the same distance. There seems to be no middle ground with this gun!

Bullet velocity also plays a role. Generally, it is assumed that the higher velocity rounds don’t shoot as well as their slower brethren – but not always! My personal Marlin 39A, for instance, has a surprising preference for the hyper-velocity Quik-Shok round, which is widely considered to be a very inaccurate load.

The moral of the story is that you have to test – and sometimes test again, and keep testing – until you find the round(s) that shoot and function well in your individual guns. When you find that/those loads, buy a case (or two or three…!)

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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