Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 23

PHOTOS BY ART MERRILL

Arms & Tool Company had introduced the .22
Long Rifle cartridge. In the intervening 133
years, further evolution of the .22 LR cartridge
has included hollow-point bullets, cladding
them with copper, increasing or decreasing
their weight, lengthening the case and
changing powders and charges to produce
less fouling and more velocity. Engineers,
chemists and ballisticians refined the
elements of bullet, powder, primer, case and
manufacturing process to produce precision
.22 LR ammunition for competition.
Historically, precision NRA Smallbore
and Silhouette competitions shooting the
.22 LR has been confined to comparatively
short range, out to a maximum of 100 yards
or meters-not much more than Olympic
archery distance. Some increasingly
popular new .22 LR competitions, however,
shoot much farther than that, making new
demands on the old cartridge.
Though some .22 LR hunting ammunition
can exceed 1,700 f.p.s., match-grade .22 LR
ammo is typically loaded only to the very
edge of supersonic speed, which is roughly
1,100 f.p.s. at sea level and decreasing
with thinner air at higher altitude. When
supersonic bullets decelerate below that
threshold (become " transonic " ), they depart
from stable flight and can tumble erratically.
This is a cause of bullets " keyholing "
target paper that you've heard about or
experienced, as they turn completely
sideways before striking the target. This
phenomenon is one reason why match-grade
.22 LR has such a comparatively low muzzle
velocity, to keep the bullets from hitting that
transonic wall and departing stable flight.
Centerfire cartridges in long-range
competition intend their bullets to remain

The Lapua rebated boat-tail .30-caliber bullet (l.) offers
an intriguing illustration that it may be possible to
raise the BC of the heel base style .22 LR bullet (r.).
On the opposite page, evolution of the CB cap to (l.-r.)
.22 Short, .22 Long and .22 Long Rifle. Improved-BC
bullets may be the next step.

supersonic all the way to the target in
order to avoid hitting that wall. They
can accomplish this with brute force by
launching at highest possible velocity,
or with the assistance of a high ballistic
coefficient (BC). BC measures a bullet's
drag, or from the opposite perspective, a
bullet's ability to overcome air resistance to
maintain its velocity.
Starting a .22 LR bullet at supersonic speed
isn't so tough, just add more powder or a
lighter bullet. But maintaining that speed at
extended ranges-300, 400 and 500 yards in
today's .22 LR long-range competitions-has
a few things going against it.

SSUSA.ORG | JANUARY 2021

23


https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/11/10/tested-cci-copper-22-ammunition http://www.SSUSA.ORG

Shooting Sports USA - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA - January 2021

Contents
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - Cover1
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 2
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 3
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - Contents
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 5
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