Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 24

FEATURE | HI-BC

THE PHYSICS
Firstly, most .22 LR bullets (and all matchgrade .22 LR bullets) have round noses,
about the best configuration imaginable to
cripple a bullet's BC. Compared to spitzer
(pointed) bullets, such bullets are the
equivalent of drag racing with your parking
brake set. In addition, their bullets are
universally lead, sometimes clad with a thin
plating of copper or copper alloy. Wouldn't a
high-BC bullet require protective jacketing?
How would that impact internal ballistics of
this fairly anemic cartridge?
Complicating matters, the .22 LR bullet is
a heel-base design, meaning the back end
of the bullet that protrudes into the case
is a lesser diameter than the forward part,
which is basically the same diameter as the
case itself. That heel base limits the capacity
of the .22 LR case, which typically holds
a charge of 1 to 1.5 grains of powder. But
perhaps more important is the question of
how the drag of that necessary heel base
may limit any improvement to BC.
Yet, witness the modern Lapua 0.309-inch
rebated boat-tail bullet (see photo). That
rebated boat-tail is very reminiscent of the
.22 LR's heel-base bullet. And once you've

24

JANUARY 2021 | SSUSA.ORG

got a boat-tail attached, much of any bullet's
BC is determined by the design profile of the
forward portion. Could we scale the Lapua
bullet down to 0.225 inch and around 35 to
40 grains and fire it in the .22 LR with results
that make the effort worthwhile?
While SAAMI says the .22 LR cartridge
overall length (COL) is exactly 1.000 inch, the
SAAMI chamber and throat is only 0.8751
inch, so the bullet extends 0.1249 inch into
the bore upon chambering. While bullet
diameter is 0.2255 inch, bore diameter is
0.217 inch and a high-BC bullet design would
have to take this into account as well.
Finally, there is the question of enhanced
performance. Can a high-BC .22 LR bullet
land smaller groups than standard velocity
round-nose bullets at extended ranges?

FASTER TWIST
There are practical matters to consider, too.
For wide acceptance into the .22 LR games
fired beyond 100 yards, some of which are of a
" tactical " nature requiring rapid firing, a highBC bulleted .22 LR cartridge would have to fit
and feed through existing standard magazines.
Reducing the cartridge to a single-loading-only
proposition limits its market. That said, Small-

PHOTO BY ART MERRILL

Because of the .22 LR's heel base bullet
design, loading a higher-BC .224-inch bullet
for the .223 Rem. cartridge in a .22 LR case
would bulge the case, preventing it from
chambering in a .22 LR firearm.


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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
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 6
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 7
Shooting Sports USA - January 2021 - 8
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