In this case, by “performance” I am referring to accuracy and reliability.
.22s are probably the most finicky gun when it comes to ammo, in terms of accuracy as well as functioning.
Because the firing pin is in line with the rim of the cartridge, it is also in line with the edge of the chamber (for a revolver) or the breech-face (rifle). So there is a limit to how much travel the gun’s design can allow the firing pin without letting it hit the hard steel around the chamber. (In case you haven’t been told: Never dry-fire a rimfire gun). The nature of the rimfire ignition system means that the thickness and hardness of the rim play a significant role in ignition.
Bulk ammo (333-550 rounds in a box) is made to looser tolerances than the more expensive ammo sold in 50/100 round boxes. Some of it, despite the brand name, is not made in America. In any case, you get what you pay for. If your gun happens to like cheap ammo, buy yourself a lottery ticket.
With a S&W 41, a 10/22, a Single-Six and a S&W 317, I have found that Remington green-box target ammo gives me 1-4 failures to ignite per 100-round box (despite giving me consistent accuracy in most guns). Federal bulk .22 gives about the same reliability with more variances in accuracy. Remington bulk seems to have harder rims, and is a little less reliable. Bolt-actions are more reliable in my experience. Heavier firing pin, maybe?
CCI gives me a lot fewer ignition issues. And Remington Match EPS or Federal Gold Medal Match ammo always goes off and delivers the best accuracy in most of my guns. Except a plain old Marlin bolt-action which likes cheap Blazer .22 (and loves CCI Velocitor enough to shoot ragged 1/2″ groups at 50yds with it).
So, when it comes to .22s, I test all kinds of ammo in every gun to see what works and what doesn’t and I make a note of what it likes (and hope that it likes something cheap and easy to find). To do that, I need to keep a wide variety of .22 ammo on hand:
Federal: bulk, Champion (bulk), Gold Medal Match,
CCI: MiniMag, Standard Velocity, Velocitor, SGB, Stinger, QuikShok, plastic shotshells, Subsonic and CB Long (the last 2 are for my dedicated yard gun)
Winchester: T22 Target, PowerPoint, Wildcat, crimped shotshells
Aguila: Super Maximum, SubSonic Sniper, Super Colibri
Remington: Golden Bullet bulk hollowpoint, Viper, Yellowjacket, “green box” Target, Match EPS
Blazer: plain .22
PMC: Moderator (subsonic)
Come to think of it, I need to stock up.