Brief Discussion on the Extreme Range of .22 Ammunition

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What's the reach of .22 ammunition?
What's the reach of .22 ammunition?

The .22 rimfire reigns supreme when it comes to American shooters. But just exactly what are these nifty little rounds capable of at the extreme end of their range? You'd be surprised.

The extreme range of the .22 LR from a rifle is listed by SAAMI as 1,800 yards. This is achieved at an angle of departure of about 30 degrees. Army Ordnance publications cited in Julian Hatcher’s writings give a figure of 1,500 yards with the standard-velocity ammunition at a velocity of 1,145 f.s.

This raises the question of the difference between a standard velocity vs. a high-velocity LR at 1335 fps. States Hatcher regarding the HV LR:

Ballistic tables show us that its muzzle velocity is reduced to 1,145 f.s. after 65 yards flight, so obviously if the higher-velocity bullet were fired from 65 yards behind the firing line of the standard velocity .22 Long Rifle bullet, it would pass that firing point with the same velocity and would go to the same spot, so that we may merely add 65 yards to the figure for the standard velocity cartridge.

While serving as a U.S. Army Ordnance officer, during and after the First World War, Hatcher established a “Ballistic Station” in Florida, which used beach areas to study bullet behavior, utilizing shallow water and sand beaches to recover fired bullets.

One of Hatcher’s assistants was E.C. Crossman who, like Hatcher, later became a firearms writer. Crossman cites a 1,400 yard figure, and in his small-bore rifle book offers a photograph of a Long Rifle bullet beside the crater it made in the sand at a measured 1,325 yards.

This is the nearest I have come to any empirical evidence of such testing.

While the range statements from SAAMI of 1,800 yards for the LR., 1,950 for the .22 WMR, 2,225 for the .17HMR and 1,900 for the .17 Mach2, don’t jibe with empirical testing, they are worthy of consideration in terms of caution.

A mile is 1,760 yards, so those range-warnings on the boxes of 1 to 1 1/2 miles are in the ballpark.


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