I hesitate to recommend ammo, especially 22LR. There are so many brands, so much variation, and price is always a factor.
Guns are like women everyone is unique, each one likes a different brand, each one a different weight, but thankfully there is a standard 22LR Ammo…
The Best 22LR Ammunition is a long and complex process dependent on your gun. Every gun vibrates a different frequency known as Barrel Harmonics.
Barrel Harmonics are the slight almost imperceptible movements during the firing process. Barrels vibrate at different frequencies as the round travels down the barrel.
Different ammunitions will each affect the rifle it there own unique way. Best way to test is to use a varied of ammunitions.
22LR ammo is the traditional training round, and in my opinion, the best round to learn with.
Do yourself a favor and buy a couple of different boxes and test them out. Back in the old days, you could get 22LR ammo at any drug store in the United States.
Sadly today with hundreds of manufacturers of ammo, most sold out in stores, we need to narrow it down. Let’s start with the basics.
Rimfire rounds work by using the rim of the round as a primer.
My Top Picks for 22LR Ammunition
- CCI Standard Velocity: The standard ammunition for the 22LR
- Federal Automatch: My favorite self-loading rifle ammunition.
- Eley Tenex Match: The most accurate 22LR ammunition I’ve ever tested.
CCI - QUIET
Remington Golden Bullet
Federal Gold Medal Match
Best .22LR Ammo
22LR Ammo; What to look for.
We are going to look at over 40 models of Rimfire ammunition. We’ll need a baseline. I recommend CCI Standard or Hyper Velocity, CCI has been the Gold Standard of rimfire ammunition since 1951.
CCI will be our reference round. It is a great general purpose round for any 22LR.
Every year nearly 4.2 Billion rounds of 22LR are made or imported into the US. Until the scare of 2008, 22LR sold for a solid $0.04 a round.
When did the scare end, well I’ll let you know, here in Iowa we are still limited to 1 box a day at Walmart.
The signs are there for another ammunition scare. You might need to take whatever you can find, I recommend stocking up on a thousand rounds of your preferred ammunition over the summer months, and plan a bit in advance.
Can your gun cycle the ammunition?
The 10/22 is the most popular 22LR rifle, many subsonic and low-velocity ammunition won’t cycle it reliably. If your firearm isn’t cycling I recommend testing with CCI Standard Velocity, if it won’t cycle you may have a problem with your gun.
Are there a large amount of dud rounds? 22LR is never the highest quality round, sometimes you will have a Failure to Fire or a Failure to Extract. If you are experiencing a high amount of failures try CCI Standard Velocity.
Once you have found Ammunition that cycles reliably, you will want to focus on getting the most accuracy out of your gun.
Luckily, finding the accuracy of a ammunition is a simple test. The average of 5 groups of 5 shots, shot from a stable rest, at your preferred distance will give you the mechanical accuracy of your gun.
CCI Standard Velocity is a very consistent ammunition for a great price.
According to tests, CCI Standard Velocity has the highest accuracy of non match ammunition, which brings us to cost.
When looking for the 22LR Ammo, getting the most bang for your buck is important. Elye, Lapua, RWS are all high cost match ammunition.
While match ammunition has its place. This is a rimfire, part of the fun is shooting cheap.
Always look at the cost per round when buying ammunition, Match ammunition, hollow points, shot shells or other variations will not be as cheap, subsonic rounds and high velocity will also increase the cost.
Eliminating variables is how shooters pursue accuracy and precision.
Consistency is what separates match ammunition from plinking rounds. For a high degree of precision, you want consistency. Fliers in a group are often caused by ammunition inconsistency.
Picking consistent lots of ammunition is how the highest caliber of competition shooters get that last degree of accuracy out of factory match ammunition.
Bullet weight is measured in grains, literally grains of a cereal such as wheat. A 55 grain .223 and a 40 grain 22LR are just 15 grains of wheat different.
.22 caliber rounds come in many different weights: 22LR rounds use a 32 grain bullet. 22 Shorts use a 29 Grain, Heavy 22LR uses 40 grain bullets.
More bullet weight increases the energy imparted from a round, useful for hunting. Higher weight bullets are -usually- blown off course significantly less by wind, making heavier bullets great for long distance shooting.
Some guns like heavier bullets, some like lighter, I recommend you test out as many ammunitions with your weapons, to find the greatest accuracy.
Velocity is the other factor in the equation for the energy of a round. CCI Standard Velocity is 1070 Feet per second or ft/s out of a rifle.
Higher Velocity means flatter shooting rounds, the bullet is always dropping at a rate of 9.8m/s2 , a faster round will travel farther with less drop per yard.
If this is starting to get complicated remember, the 22LR is the training round due to is low cost.
A standard 22LR 1070-ft/s has about 6-inches of movement. The difference between CCI Standard Velocity 1070-ft/s and CCI Hyper Velocity 1640-ft/s is a drop of 4-inches at 100 yards.
The vast majority of 22LR is soft lead with a small amount of wax lubrication. The lead bullet expands to form a seal with the barrel of the firearm, while the wax prevents fouling. Copper jacketed bullets use copper instead of wax for blowback semi-automatics like the Ruger 10/22.
Lead bullets are the most accurate, because the variation of the rounds can be kept to a minimum. However there can be reliability problems with the soft lead deforming during chambering a round, or the wax and gunpowder mixing into a glue like residue.
The other important aspect of bullet materials is environmental safety. Lead can leak into the groundwater and pose a safety risk, copper jacketed bullets, or the Copper-22 by CCI are great for hunting or shooting in areas with lead restrictions.
22 Ammo Types
Hollow Point or Round Nose
If you are plinking, target shooting or hunting for fun, round nose or ballistic rounds are generally preferred. Hollow Point rounds impart more energy to a target, this allows for more humane hunting as well as decreasing damage to the meat.
Remember if you are just plinking, it won’t matter which you use, go with whichever is cheaper or more accurate.
Subsonic rounds are rounds that do not break the sound barrier, most 22LR is subsonic, however, there are several variants of quiet rounds for the 22LR. These will not usually cycle semi-automatic rifles and handguns, test the ammunition before you buy in large batches.
Bolt Action rifles are where the Subsonic ammunition excels, at under 70 decibels subsonics are great for teaching rounds, or just when you want to shoot with less ear protection, which of course I do not recommend.
CCI Quiet Rounds are the best pick for Subsonic 22 rounds.
Lead Round Nose
What are shotshells?
Shotshells are a special type of 22LR ammunition that fires tiny pellets used for hunting rats or snakes, turning your 22LR into a tiny little shotgun.
They are great to use around buildings because they will cause almost no damage to the area. Unfortunately, Shot shells are not effective against larger animals, it is always nice to have a box available.
Either you love them or hate the Shotshell, its best use is to clear a rat out of a grain bin. Just make sure you aren’t buying shotshells when you want to shoot farther than 5 ft.
1. CCI Standard Velocity (40gr 1070 ft/s)
CCI is the preeminent maker of best 22LR ammo. whatever your specific need they make it. Test after test that shows it is one of the most accurate 22 ammo available today and at a great low price it's tough to beat.
- Low price
This is a do all ammo for a 22.
CCI Standard Velocity
Lead Round Nose
2. CCI Stinger (32 gr HP 1640 ft/s)
CCI Stinger HP is a great little hunting round, with the reliability you come to expect from the CCI with higher velocity and hollow points.
The higher velocity shoots flatter out to 100 yards, while the hollow point imparts more energy for humane kills.
Slightly less accurate than the Standard Velocity, Stingers are a great 22LR round.
3. CCI Copper (21 gr 1850 ft/s)
The CCI Copper uses an injection modeled copper alloy bullet, this makes the bullet very light, and astonishing quick.
The amazing velocity, 1830 FPS in our tests, shoots flat until 100 yards where it drops like a rock.
This is perfect for hunting small game at unknown distances. The CCI Copper 22 is a great round for environmental hunting.
4. Remington Thunderbolt (40 gr 1255ft/s)
If CCI is so great at all the changes, why bother listing any other cheap round. Remington Thunderbolts are quick little rounds for the budget minded consumer. Often when CCI is sold out the Remington Co. will come through with a shipment of rounds.
Thunderbolts are cheaper than the Golden Bullets, lacking the copper plating they are also dirtier rounds.
Lead Round Nose
5. Remington Golden Bullet (40 gr 1255 ft/s)
It is hard to make a list of 22LR without the Golden Bullet. I buy these in the Bucket of bullets for training round when accuracy doesn’t matter and learning how to clear a jam is just another part of training.
The plated bullets are more reliable for semi-automatic 22lr while losing a bit of accuracy. They do feed great out of a 10/22.
There is just something calming about having a big bucket full of bullets.
Remington Golden Bullet
Copper Round Nose
6. Federal Automatch (40 gr 1200 ft/s)
Federal ammo out of Lake City is the largest manufacturer of ammo in the United States. Federal gold medal match is the standard for accuracy in competition, makers of military ammunition they provide great all around ammunition for the public. And the 22 Ammo is a great place to start.
If CCI is the standard Federal Automatch is a close second, the largest problem is that Federal is slightly more difficult to find in stores because when people see it they buy it.
Federal Automatch is quite possibly more reliable out of a Semi-automatic 22 than CCI, I’ve never seen the Automatch fail but I’ve shot ten times the amount of CCI.
7. ELEY Tenex (40gr 1090 ft/s)
Eley Tenex, get it ten x, is competition ammo and the price shows it.
Eley target is the best round for accuracy, out of the test guns. MOA accuracy out of the test rifle, a standard 10/22 carbine. Eley is used by 14 of 18 Olympians for target shooting in biathlon.
A unique flat nose bullet gives the Eley Tenex amazing accuracy.
Unfortunately the rounds are higher priced. When it is time to see just how accurate your rifle is; buy Eley.
Lead Flat Nose
8. Lapua Midas+ (40gr 1070 ft/s )
Why are you paying $0.40 per round, to shoot Lapua Midas+, This is a competition round that will make the difference between placing and going home wishing you had bought better ammunition.
Lapua makes of the .338 Lapua makes a great .22LR round. Highly accurate but you are paying for it.Consistency is the key, Lapua Midas is the most consistent ammunition we shot.
Lapua is a round I often see at benchrest competitions, while it has never been as solid of a performer out of the CZ 455 as the Tenex, it is more consistent, I can’t remember a single “flier” I’ve ever shot with the round.
Lead Round Nose
9. Federal Gold Medal Match (40gr 1080 ft/s)
The Gold Standard for Accuracy, winning the 1992 Biathlon, The Gold Medal Match always has great consistency and therefore amazing accuracy in .308, .556 and of course .22LR. Only minor problems with finding the ammunition in the store.
Gold Medal Match is my go to ammunition for testing accuracy in any gun. If you are having a difficult time finding a round your gun loves for accuracy try out some federal and you will be surprised how great the accuracy out of the 22 can be.
Federal Gold Medal
Another ammunition scare is just ramping up with the call to ban .223 tactical rifles. Grab yourself some .22LR before the panic buying hits. It always blows over.