The humble .22LR.
A practical, useful cartridge for both handguns and rifles, and a staple of any arsenal. Great for practice, for small-game hunting, and for the fun of shooting tin cans (even if they aren’t stacked up next to Steve Martin). The affordability of .22LR ammunition makes it the perfect choice to keep shooting skills sharp.
All guns are ammunition-sensitive to some degree, and .22s are no different. Some ammo will shoot better in certain models of guns. The fact that there are so many brands and types of .22 ammo means there is an excellent chance that even owners of a finicky gun will be able to find an ammo that the gun shoots well.
But not all .22LR ammo is the same. Even allowing for the different bullet weights & designs on the market, there is a difference among .22LR ammunition that might cause some headaches for shooters who aren’t aware of it.
Take a look at 6 typical .22LR rounds:
From left to right, they are CCI Stinger, Federal bulk, CCI Mini-Mag, CCI Velocitor, Remington Viper, Aguila Super-Maximum.
Forget the differences between the bullets. Look at the cases. The Stinger and the Aguila Super-Maximum have longer cases than other .22LR ammunition (the Stinger is the longest). And click the picture to take a close look, because it isn’t a trivial difference. The four rounds in the middle have the same case length.
The reason why is the same: the Stinger and Super-Maximum rounds are designed to achieve maximum velocity, and both manufacturers made the same design choices to achieve that goal. Namely, lighter (and thus shorter) bullets (32 grains for Stinger and 30 grains for Super-Maximum) and a longer case to accommodate the most powder possible while still providing enough brass to hold the bullet securely until it is fired.
What other chambering allows for such a difference in case length?
This difference matters for .22LR shooters because while most .22LR guns are made to forgiving tolerances and will chamber & fire these two rounds without a problem, some guns (particularly dedicated target guns) have tighter chambers and will not function reliably with the longer cases of these rounds. The Walther P22 is not supposed to use Stingers (or other ammunition with longer casings).
Here is another example:
The Stinger packaging says: “Use only in firearms having standard ANSI sporting barrel/chamber dimensions.” Which might be counter-intuitive for many shooters since Stingers are marketed as a varmint ammo, and varmint guns are often “target” guns. And target guns are more likely to have a tighter chamber.
Stingers might not fully chamber in a gun that has a chamber tighter than the ANSI sporting standard. Or, they might chamber with some difficulty but pinch the end of the case into the rifling causing the case to blow out due to increased pressure. Either way, it’s not good.
Do you know what ammo is safe for your .22s?