Ammo: Good, Bad and Ugly

I’ve had some interesting experiences recently with various brands of ammo in 10/22s and similar rifles. Here are my (subjective and opinionated) notes:

Good: Norma Tac-22 works great in my match 10/22. At a CMP-RS shoot in April, in 40-degree weather, my Eley Target would not feed. The cold hardened the wax bullet lube so that it would jam. But the Norma was noticeably oilier and while a bit messy, functioned perfectly and shot quite accurately.

Good: Browning has a hyper-velocity, 40-gr. hollow point round with an advertised muzzle velocity of 1435 fps. I tried some in my rifle and in a Ruger MkII pistol. It fed great and you can both hear and feel the extra power in the round. From the pistol, I tested shooting the 8″ plate rack at my club, and my usual target round (CCI Standard Velocity) would not knock the plates down. Then I ran the Browning – one shot, one plate down, every time. Unlike the CCI Stinger it has a standard-length case, so it should feed properly in any chamber that isn’t match-grade tight. I haven’t tried it on varmints yet, but it occupies the middle ground in power between Minimags and .22WMR, and I bet that with its hollow-point bullet it’s hell on groundhogs.

Bad: Those Remington Golden Bullets are so popular, even though they often are not the best bargain on price. I’ve had Appleseed students who experience terrible feeding problems with them, but when we switched to a better grade ammo their rifles worked fine. Often the bullets were a loose fit in the case and the force of semi-auto feeding caused the cartridge to bend at the case mouth. Yesterday I was cleaning an Appleseed loaner rifle and the first wet patch was covered with little bits of gold-colored metal that had flaked off the bullets. That can’t be a good sign.

Ugly: I had a customer in the shop last week who said he had a squib with Winchester M-22 ammo. The bullet had almost reached the muzzle, but he had to poke it out with a dowel. This past weekend at least one Appleseed after-action review reported multiple case blowouts with the same brand. I don’t trust the stuff.

You don’t have to be an ammo snob, and you don’t have to shoot $.13/round ammo for plinking and practice. But certain names appear consistently in reports of malfunctions, so choose even your plinking ammo wisely.

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