The new 22 and 33 Nosler cartridges fill some gaps in the ammo manufacturer's cartridge lineup and should be exciting developments for any serious shooter.
The Nosler name has been synonymous with advancements in ammunition and bullet design ever since John Nosler developed the famous Partition bullet and founded the company in 1948. In the past few years, the manufacturer has continued that legacy of innovation with the development and introduction of several proprietary cartridges.
In late 2013 and early 2014, Nosler introduced and began producing its very first SAAMI standardized cartridge, the 26 Nosler. An incredibly flat-shooting 6.5mm cartridge, the 26 Nosler used the .404 Jeffrey as a parent case, shortened to fit in a standard .30-06-length action, and was capable of impressive velocities – retaining as much velocity at 400 yards as a .260 Remington produces at the muzzle. In 2015, Nosler followed that up with the 28 Nosler, and in 2016 it released the 30 Nosler, both of which utilized the same .404 Jeffrey as a parent case.
Now, for 2017, Nosler has added two more cartridges to its ever-growing list: the 22 Nosler and 33 Nosler. The two new additions represent both the low end and the high end of the Nosler cartridge line, with both filling in important gaps.
Officially introduced in the fall of 2016, the 33 Nosler shares the same .404 Jeffrey parent case as the previous entries in the Nosler cartridge family but fires larger .338-caliber bullets. Dubbed the “patriarch” of the family by Nosler, the 33 Nosler is set up for big game and shooting at long range.
The new 33 Nosler boasts the ability to launch a 225-grain AccuBond bullet at a brisk 3,025 feet per second (fps) or a new, slightly heavier 265-grain AccuBond Long Range bullet at 2,775 fps. According to Nosler, that's roughly 275 fps faster, and with 20 percent more energy than the .338 Winchester Magnum using the same length action. It's also listed as being a touch faster than the revered .338 Lapua Magnum at the muzzle, and it does so burning around 18 percent less powder.
Nosler is currently offering three loads for the new 33 Nosler, two from Nosler's Trophy Grade hunting ammo line and one from its Match Grade line. The Trophy Grade loads feature either a 225-grain AccuBond bullet or a 265-grain AccuBond Long Range bullet, while the Match Grade offering utilizes a 300-grain Custom Competition projectile. Predictably, buying 33 Nosler ammo is not a cheap affair, with pricing for a 20-count box currently ranging from $71.50 to $77.50, depending on the load selected.
The company will also be supporting the new 33 Nosler with factory-made brass and with its full line of M48 rifles in 26-inch barrel configurations.
On the other end of Nosler's cartridge spectrum is the new 22 Nosler. Formally introduced during the 2017 SHOT Show, the 22 Nosler is one of the more exciting and, frankly, surprising developments for the new year.
It is unexpected for two reasons. One, it deviates from the rest of the Nosler cartridge family in that it does not use the .404 Jeffrey as a parent case. In fact, the 22 Nosler has no parent case. And two, unlike Nosler's other cartridges, which are built for bolt guns, this new offering is tailored from the start for use with the AR-15.
According to the manufacturer, the 22 Nosler was born from a desire to create the most powerful .22-caliber centerfire cartridge that could readily function in an AR. To that end, the new 22 Nosler offers 30 percent more energy and almost 300 fps of added velocity when compared to the standard .223 Rem./5.56 NATO. Nosler has also designed the 22 Nosler's case in a way that makes it relatively easy to convert a standard AR from .223 Rem./5.56 NATO to the new cartridge.
All that's required to convert an existing AR to one utilizing the 22 Nosler is swapping in a new barrel (or a dedicated 22 Nosler upper, if that's the user's preference) and changing out the magazine. Because the case diameter and taper are similar to the 6.8 Remington SPC, the 22 Nosler can feed from standard 6.8 SPC magazines. And because bolt face dimensions for the 22 Nosler are identical to those of the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO at .378 inch, users will still be able to use their rifle's existing bolt carrier group.
The 22 Nosler is capable of velocities approaching those of the iconic .22-250 Rem., and does so in a significantly smaller package. It offers almost 25 percent more case capacity than the standard .223 Rem./5.56 NATO and is capable of driving a 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet and a 77-grain Custom Competition bullet at 3,350 fps and 2,950 fps, respectively, out of an AR equipped with an 18-inch barrel.
“The AR-15 is indisputably one of the most popular firearms among shooting enthusiasts across the globe” said John Nosler, Executive Vice President for the company. “While there are other hard-hitting cartridges that exist for the platform, as far as .22 caliber is concerned, nothing compares to the performance of our newly engineered 22 Nosler case. It was important to us that every AR-15 owner could instantly customize their existing rifle to 22 Nosler without any fancy gunsmithing. In keeping with that goal, a simple switch of the magazine and upper will do the trick. With a cartridge innovation this significant, any shooter running other .22 cals in their AR-15 will at the very least have to reconsider their efficiency.”
Nosler says it will be producing brass for the 22 Nosler, and it also plans to chamber its full line of M48 rifles in 24-inch barrel configurations for the 22 Nosler. In terms of fully loaded ammunition, the company will be offering two loads, one in its Trophy Grade Varmint line and the other in its Match Grade line. The Trophy Grade loading features a 55-grain Ballistic Tip Varmint projectile, while the Match Grade offering has a heavier 77-grain Custom Competition bullet.
Pricing on ammunition for the new 22 Nosler starts at $29.95 for a 20-count box of either the Match Grade or Trophy Grade loads.
For more information on either the 22 or 33 Nosler, visit the Nosler website.