We’ve already reviewed CCI’s new COPPER-22, the fastest .22 LR ammunition anywhere, but I left some questions unanswered. What’s the velocity like through an extremely short barrel? A longer barrel? Does it really lose accuracy in dramatic fashion past 75 yards? We headed back to the range to find out.

Velocity:
22-rifles

I brought the CZ 455 with its 16.5-inch barrel as a control, since I used it in the original velocity testing. This time around the COPPER-22 averaged 1,933.6 fps through it, which is effectively identical to the first test (only 0.37% off).

Through the 22-inch barrel of my old WesternField, the average was 1,831 fps. Yes, it was slower from the longer barrel. No, this isn’t a scientific enough test to state for sure whether that’s due to the fact that the powder burns completely and all projectile acceleration finishes so far short of 22 inches that the projectile actually begins to slow down from the friction of the additional barrel length (a distinct possibility, though, if not highly likely) or something inherently different in the WesternField such as a larger bore diameter.

The rifle is a good, impressively accurate shooter though in perfect mechanical order. I believe the COPPER-22 simply hits full velocity well short of 22 inches of barrel length.

naa-mini-copper-22

Of course, we know for sure that it needs more than the 4.72 inch barrel we used in the first test, which netted a 1,529 fps average. Through the NAA Mini Revolver‘s 1-1/8-inch barrel the average predictably dropped further, dipping down to 1,009 fps.

For reference, I shot a couple CCI Stingers through this guy immediately after testing the COPPER-22s, and they hit 797.4 fps. Is a 21 grain projectile at 1,009 fps better than a 32 grain projectile at 797 fps? That one’s up to you.

Here’s a little slow-mo footage of firing the COPPER-22 through the NAA. The lightweight projectile limits recoil, but the hot load adds most of that right back. It was totally like a bazooka and I got PTSD. No, not really.

Accuracy:

At 50 yards we saw ~1.2-inch, five-shot groups. The rumor is that this ammo is accurate to 75 yards, and then falls to utter sh*t beyond that.

70-yd-group

At 70 yards, the group measured 1.66 inches. So that’s 40% farther away and a 37.5% larger group. Makes perfect sense.

80-yd-group

I once again took five shots at 80 yards, but only three were on paper. As this group was near the top of the target I have to assume they went high. Unfortunately, no real way to measure this group properly and I didn’t have enough COPPER-22 left to do it again.

I think it’s fair to say things are already opening up at 80 yards, though, if two missed the target entirely, and the 102-yard target definitely bears this out.

102-yd-group

At this point, all bets are off. I was aiming at that top left bullseye and the three of five shots that found themselves on paper were all over the zip code. Extreme spread between them was just over 10 inches, which is probably in keeping (should the other two shots have found paper somewhere) with comments I’ve seen on the interwebs of 12+ inch groups from this ammo at 100 yards.

Terminal Ballistics

So we saw in that first review — in the video, at least — just how devastating the COPPER-22 is on soft targets. I admit I’ve personally been a bit confused as to how “frangible” this ammo is, though. While it’s made of compressed copper dust, there’s also polymer mixed in there and when it’s compressed, it all melts together into a solid chunk of copper-dust-impregnated plastic. It obviously doesn’t come apart or deform in soft targets, including ballistics gel, but everything I saw and read said it’s basically frangible on steel, rocks, and other hard targets.

coleman-propane-tank

Well, not on a portable propane tank. The COPPER-22 whizzed right through, making a clean entry and exit hole. In the photo above, it’s the one in the middle that you can see clear through. Impressive, really.

Conclusions

Adding barrel length to that 16-inch federally-mandated minimum is likely barking up the wrong tree if you’re trying to maximize the CCI COPPER-22’s velocity. If you want to hit what you’re aiming at, keep the range to  about 75 yards or less. Within that range, it’s as devastating on target as .22LR gets.

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13 Responses to Ammo Review Follow-Up: CCI COPPER-22

  1. I shot a bunch of CCI 22LR this summer and found it to be a really high quality round. As you noted, accuracy falls off a cliff at range, but is very good within 75 yards or so (I found the same to be true). Shameless plug: email or ping me and get 10% off this round on my new site

  2. Copper has more friction than lead so the lower velocity in the longer barrel probably means the powder charge is losing steam.

    I know 22 shorts through my 16 inch barrel Marlin 39 averaged 30-40 fps more velocity than my 24inch Marlin 39.

    I probably wont buy any of these coppers until lead is banned. I’ll stick with Stingers if I want to blow some coke cans apart.

    Neat technology though.

  3. The bullets are only 21 grain. That concerns me a bit. After a point, no matter how much velocity a round has, if it’s too light, it’s going to lose energy very quickly when it hits a target.

    Photons move really fast, but they don’t penetrate very deeply. 😀

    I’d be curious to read first-hand accounts of use against different types of small game.

    (pause to search)

    Huh. When looking for reports of use against live game, I didn’t find any, but I did find this review where copper 22’s accuracy was terrible:

    http://www.chuckhawks.com/cci_copper-22.html

  4. I love .22 pistols. I have Walthers, Rugers, S&W, and my favorite, 2 Phoenix arms. Everybody who shoots .22s knows how finicky they can be. CCI works 100% in all of my autos. It is the only ammo that I have found that will do this. I am curious if this new stuff will be as consistent.

    • I’ve tried it in both 5.5″ and 4″ Ruger autoloading pistols. It’s VERY loud (a really sharp bark), perfectly reliable (so far), and it ran 1368 FPS out of the shorter barrel, boosting that to 1493 FPS out of the 5.5″ tube.

      No formal accuracy testing yet, but it shot decently at indoor-range distances.

  5. Jeremy, thank you for the followup, it is VERY much appreciated.

    I tried to clock the stuff through my 28″ CZ, but before I could get started, the tripod-mounted chronograph fell over in the high wind, and broke on impact. No tears, it was almost 20 years old, so it’s time for a new one anyway.

    Forgot to mention; loved the bazooka line.
    And I needed a laugh today. Thanks again!

  6. Haven’t looked, but CCI is pretty good about providing ballistic data.

    My question is: Can a .22LR round be built which is accurate at 100 yards, or is ~75 yards the best you’ll see?

    • Oh yeah. I shoot out to 150 regularly and at 220 yards targets occasionally with my CZ 455 and it’s extremely accurate. Wind will screw it up easily, but with most ammo it’s a total non-issue at those ranges. This lightweight, crazy fast ammo is a marked exception.

  7. I grew up believing that .22LR high speed maxed out in 16-18″.
    Does that sound about right for old fashioned ‘regular’ .22 ammo?

    • I think I’ve heard some testing referenced that seems to indicate it maxes-out in even shorter barrels, around 12″-14″. Depends a bit on the exact load, and the gun, of course.

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