Is high-velocity rimfire ammo better for long-range shooting?
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Is high velocity rimfire ammo made to higher manufacturing tolerances? If so, does this make it better for long-range accuracy?
Q: Is it true that high-velocity rimfire ammunition is made to higher manufacturing tolerances and is, therefore, better for long-range shooting?
CHRIS PARKIN replies: I don’t think that can be stated as a blanket rule – and I’m not, a fan of it anyway. The hollow-point hunting rounds can offer a bit more punch at short-range, where they can be appropriate for fox control. In fact, I prefer them to the .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire). But when pushing the distances with rimfire, I still prefer to use ammo with subsonic muzzle velocity.
Any rimfire has a loopy trajectory and is strongly affected by the wind, compared to pretty much any centrefire, yet that’s where the joy is for me. I find lower extreme spreads and the subsequent smaller vertical group sizes on target (using subsonic match ammo) preferable to the results I get with high-velocity ammo. Many of the high-velocity types use a copper wash on the bullets that can lead to more fouling issues. I like to keep things simple, minimising any required cleaning, for starters.
Long-range rimfire is a rapidly growing sector in our sport, and this may see manufacturers paying special attention to .22 LR ammo. It’s interesting to see how the massive US market influence can veer development away from what might seem a more classical, prone-rifle-precision feel. Semi-autos like high velocity, as it gives more punch to their simple blowback actions, and that’s where assumed needs requirements get in the way of the idea that slow is good. For me, rimfire is a tortoise’s game, so the hares have never impressed me.