If I get to thinking about it, I’ve always liked Nosler. I killed many a deer in my youth with their 95 gr. Ballistic Tip out of my .243 WIN. But I admit that I haven’t spent much time thinking about them lately. Things probably would have continued that way except that somebody in Nosler’s marketing department had the smart idea to hang an advert on the door of every room in the Venetian for the 2017 SHOT Show. When we got to the hotel room to do some writing after our first day onsite, the advert, which looked similar to the photo you see above stared back at me. Visions of Jeremy Clarkson in my head, I made a note to swing by their booth during the week.
There, I met up with their PR Manager, Zach. Zach was kind enough to walk me through the entire gamut of “new for 2017” things including 22 Nosler and 33 Nosler. Uninspired naming conventions aside, 22 Nosler is a seemingly cool cartridge made specifically for the AR 15.
Like the recipe for good hot rods, Nosler’s engineering staff upped displacement to get an extra 300 fps out of a standard 55 gr. load by going to a larger diameter case with a rebated rim that still uses a standard 5.56/.223/300 BLK bolt. Simply swap out the barrel (or upper), start using 6.8 SPC magazines, and you’re good to go. In their various press packets, Nosler indicates that 22 Nosler is good for nearly .22-250 velocities out of the much more compact AR 15 platform. Twenty four inch test barrels are showing 3500 fps for the 55 gr. Ballistic Tip and 3100 fps for the 77 gr. Custom Competition. Real world velocities out of an eighteen inch gas gun are closer to 3350 fps and 2950 fps respectively.
Having been baptized in the crusty cynicism that comes with being a long term staffer at TTAG, I approach most new products with the notion that companies create products to answer questions that nobody asked in the hopes that consumers can be tricked out of their hard earned. In this case, I have to imagine that a group of shooters actually wanted as much dadgum velocity as they could get out of a .22 caliber bullet in the AR 15 without too much fuss or muss. From that perspective, Nosler succeeded. I can’t really imagine how you’d squeeze out much more velocity without going to a weird wildcat that might have a host of issues. We’ll get a 22 Nosler upper on test to see if it feeds and fires to see if Nosler was able to make a speeding load without sacrificing reliability.
The other issue I worry about, and one that seems to plague any “new” cartridge for the AR 15, is component availability and support. This is extra special true for cartridges without a parent case as is the case with 22 Nosler. As I write this, MidwayUSA shows brass for 22 Nosler at $0.67 per piece, RCBS dies for $$62, and an eighteen inch barrel for less than $110. Load data for 22 Nosler is already online and assuming you can find any number of the powders they suggest along with small rifle primers, you should be good to go as projectiles and magazines are plentiful. Factory ammo isn’t yet available, but Zach tells me that Nosler is all over it and you should see ammo shipping in the next few months.
From a supply chain perspective, it looks like Nosler is going to do all they can to make this happen, and while I never asked the question, I’m intrigued by the prospect of more velocity out of my AR 15. I’ve asked for ammo, components, and an upper for Jon Wayne Taylor to test out. Watch this space.