CCI’s new COPPER-22 advertises that it sends a 21 grain lead-free projectile down range at 1,850 fps. Actually meeting that figure would make it the fastest .22 LR on the market — perhaps ever — by about a 100 fps margin.

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Designed for plinking as well as for small game and varmint hunting, the non-lead projectiles make the COPPER-22 legal for hunting in California and some other areas that restrict the use of lead ammo.

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The bullet itself is made of copper dust and polymer, apparently compressed into shape. It isn’t frangible in the traditional sense, turning into dust only upon contact with a hard target such as a steel plate, while retaining its shape on soft targets like fruit, veggies, ballistics gel, and most small critters. As near as I can tell after 100 rounds, it doesn’t foul a barrel or suppressor like most traditional frangible ammo seems to — and it doesn’t shed particles.

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It is, however, safer than lead and jacketed lead bullets in that it’s much less prone to ricochet.

But it’s the velocity, right? We’re all here for that claimed velocity figure. I brought my CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready rifle and CZ SP-01 with Kadet Adapter out to the woods with me — chronograph, too — to see if CCI’s engineering could keep up with its marketing.

Velocity for five shots from the 16.5″ barrel CZ 455:

1,924  fps
1,943  fps
1,931  fps
1,937  fps
1,897  fps

Okay, wow. It beat the advertised velocity, and not by a small amount! The average of those five shots was 1,926.4 feet per second. Standard deviation is 17.88 fps (much tighter — 8.14 — without that 5th shot slowpoke).

From the 4.72″ barrel of the Kadet Adapter:

1,524  fps
1,492  fps
1,507  fps
1,547  fps
1,575  fps

Average velocity was 1,529 fps, and standard deviation 32.86 fps.

It’s fair to say that these velocities are practically two times the speed of a standard .22 LR round, and the bullet weighs about half as much as standard. At this point, I’m wondering if it shoots straight. Whatever bullet weight and velocity these firearms were designed around, it ain’t this. Not even close.

group2 group1

But it groups just fine after all. ~1.2″, 5-shot groups at 50 yards is typical of what I consider “plinking” or “bulk” .22 LR. Of course, most of the options from CCI in 50-round boxes fall into more of a niche, premium product that I’d expect tighter groups from, but this is certainly minute of squirrel or 12 oz can. Likewise, accuracy from the pistol was average.

I’ll have to post a follow-up to this review in a couple of weeks, as I’ve heard this ammo loses stability quite drastically beyond 75 yards. As in, no surprises at 75, but 12″+ groups at 100. I’ve picked up another 50 rounds of COPPER-22, so will slap my SIG TANGO6 3-18x on the 455 and head out to the woods for some 100+ yard testing soon.

Conclusions

It’s fast. Really, really fast. If you check out the video, you’ll see its effect on limes, onions, cans of soda, and Level IIIA body armor as compared to the 1,000 fps American Eagle Suppressor ammo. Needless to say, the difference is drastic. I haven’t shot any critters with it, but wouldn’t be surprised at all if it separated a squirrel into a front half and a back half.

Its approximately average accuracy — at least inside of 75 yards — is sufficient for all of these uses, but nothing to write home about. Quality is what you’d expect from a CCI premium product — clean burning with reliable primers. I had no stoppages of any sort in either gun.

MSRP is $10.95 per 50-round box.

Ratings (out of five stars)

Reliability * * * * *
100% function across the board. It also burns fairly cleanly and doesn’t foul up the bore like a lot of frangible ammo can.

Down Range Effect * * * * *
Devastating on soft targets. Speed kills.

Bragging Rights * * * * *
It’s the fastest .22 LR ever, and even faster than advertised. Lead-free, too, which should please the environmentalists immensely. Maybe not PETA so much.

Accuracy * * *
It’s average in my testing so far. Once I stretch it out to 100 yards and beyond, this may change.

Overall * * * * *
CCI set out to make the fastest .22 LR on the market and they’ve done it. It’s legal for hunting in CA and other lead-restricted locales, and hunt it will. It’s also reduced-ricochet, yet doesn’t shed crap in your barrel and suppressor like many frangible projectiles will. Despite average accuracy, it excels so strongly in other areas that I’m still giving it five stars. However, if it truly won’t group beyond 75 yards I may come back and ding the COPPER-22 a star.

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81 Responses to Ammo Review: CCI COPPER-22, the Fastest .22 LR Ever

    • Review claims it does not group well. At 1800+fps, it probably needs higher twist rate to stabilize better. Wonder how it would do out of a 1/7 to 1/12 setup

        • Usually all the bullets are made primarily of lead, so weight is a proxy for length.
          It’s the longest bullet that needs more spin, not the heaviest one.

          But if this one was traveling significantly faster out of the same barrel, it was spinning significantly faster, assuming it engaged the rifling fully.

        • I wouldn’t suggest that it’s one or the other. There are many factors that contribute to an “ideal” twist rate for a given projectile. Mass, density, diameter, length, ballistic coefficient, velocity, polar moment of inertia, center of balance (nose/tail weighting), and probably more. If the goal of the rifling is simply achieving a certain RPM that stabilizes a given projectile profile nicely, then a heavy bullet is a slower bullet and it won’t spin as fast so it’s going to require a tighter twist rate to hit that RPM than a light bullet, which travels faster and therefore spins faster, as you mentioned. It isn’t the weight itself, it’s the resultant speed. Within a given caliber — forget determining twist rates for different bullet shapes of different calibers, if for no other reason than we were specifically talking .22 LR here in response to previous comments — it’s fair to say that a tighter twist is better for heavy projectiles and a more gradual twist is better for light projectiles (even if, in reality, it’s the resultant velocity that’s the largest determining factor). FWIW, I also believe these COPPER-22 projectiles are pretty darn standard in length.

  1. Wow. I just blew about 1,000 rounds of .22lr over the last week. I guess I know what I’ll be replacing at least some of that with.

    • The lowest price I’ve seen is on Sportsman’s Guide at $8.54 / 50 (member price). I figure $.17 a round isn’t too bad for such a unique and powerful lead-free round, and I love CCI. I bought 15 boxes before writing this comment, by the way. Good luck!

  2. I wonder what kind of velocity you might get with a longer 24-26″ barrel. Might it break the 2000fps barrier? Pretty cool.

    You guys seeing much .22 ammo these days? It still seems fairly rare where I live.

    I’d love to see some gel tests for this round – both out of a pistol and out of a rifle.

    • With .22lr, all of the powder is burnt up within 18-20 inches which is why you rarely see .22s with a barrel longer than 20 inches. Velocity doesn’t imediately drop off, but acceleration is virtualy nil at that point.

      • That is normally the case, but I wonder if it might be different with a round like this.

        Take for example your general bulk pack higher velocity .22 rounds. They do something like 1240 fps. This round is about 50% faster. Therefore it exits the barrel in about 1/3 less time than is required for the 1240 fps round.

        Assuming that the volume of the powder is the same, and the burn rate is the same, the higher velocity (and shorter length of time in the same barrel length) suggests that this particular round actually would benefit from a longer barrel.

        I’d bet that you could easily break 2000fps with a long barrel.

        • I’m certainly not saying that it’s not possible. I’m sure not smart enough to tell you. Too many factors involved for my basic understanding of physics to determine.

        • Art, I picked up a couple of boxes of this load today at a local store, and I plan on running it over my chronograph using several longer-barreled .22s, as I am also curious about how they will perform in long tubes. I have a 20″, and a CZ with a semi-ridiculous 28″ barrel; I’m going to try and borrow a 24-inch rifle from a friend to get a full “set” of velocities.

          When I get it done, I’ll post the results here.

          Unless Jeremy can find similar rifles and update his test (whistles innocently…).

        • Haha well I only have one .22 rifle with a different barrel length from this one and I think it’s in the 22″ to 24″ range. I’ll test with that guy the weekend following this one, but can’t get data on anything longer than that.

        • Well, I did MOST of the testing today. While I remembered to bring the long-barreled CZ, I left the bolt for it in the safe (facepalm), so I’ll have to get that one on another day. Maybe this weekend?

          This is what I got from 6 other guns:

          CCI “Copper-22″ ammo, 21 grain copper/polymer bullet.
          Velocity testing, 16 Sep 2016
          Fired one 10-shot string through each gun.
          .
          .
          Rifles
          .
          Ruger 10/22, 16.25″ stainless steel factory takedown barrel:
          Avg: 1773 FPS
          SD: 31
          High: 1802
          Low: 1723
          .
          Ruger 10/22, 20″ Butler Creek stainless steel aftermarket barrel:
          Avg: 1904 FPS
          SD: 20
          High: 1923
          Low: 1855
          .
          Marlin 39A, 24″ factory barrel (Micro-Groove):
          Avg: 1821 FPS
          SD: 35
          High: 1860
          Low: 1765
          .
          .
          .
          Handguns
          .
          Ruger MK-II autoloading pistol, 4″ bull barrel:
          Avg: 1368 FPS
          SD: 60
          High: 1457
          Low: 1263
          .
          S&W model 617 revolver, 4″ barrel:
          Avg: 1341 FPS
          SD: 33
          High: 1397
          Low: 1278
          .
          Ruger MK-II autoloading pistol, 5.5″ bull barrel:
          Avg: 1493 FPS
          SD: 27
          High: 1533
          Low: 1446

          I note that my 16.25″ barreled Ruger wasn’t NEARLY as fast as Jeremy’s 16.5″ CZ, and although the 20-inch barreled 10/22 was faster, it still barely beat Jeremy’s numbers for his short CZ. The 24″ Marlin was slower than my 20″ Ruger, but I got to thinking about the Micro-Groove rifling, and I wonder if that isn’t messing with the results. If someone else (Jeremy?) can test a conventionally-rifled 22″-24” rifle, I’d be interested in seeing how it compares to the Marlin.

          (Some of these guns were borrowed for the test, so I can’t easily repeat it)

      • Still no. I expect it will dump energy really fast and probably have very poor penetration in targets bigger than small rodents. The very light bullet will have trouble with dense bones and leave a poor wound channel.

    • When I shoot it again in a week or so, I’ll test it out of another rifle I have that has a 22″ barrel. I wouldn’t be surprised though if it didn’t pick up much. BTW I chronographed another 5 from the CZ455 and one did break 2000 fps.

      22Plinkster shoots some of these into gel on his channel. Video from Sept 1.

        • Interesting vid.

          Plinkster shoots a block of ballistic gelatin, and it penetrates a very uniform roughly 12 inches, and the slugs stay in one piece.

          If it doesn’t hit bone, this ammo may prove suited for self-defense…

        • “…if it doesn’t hit bone…”

          Yes, that would be a major concern for me were I to consider it for self-defense purposes. It is a frangible bullet if it impacts something hard. Bone would turn it into dust. Heck, a metal zipper, zipper pull, phone, necklace, or whatever else may well do that, too.

    • At least we’re I’m at .22lr is readily available at gun shops. Big box stores rarely have it in stock, but the gun shops have enough, that they all I have been to recently removed the purchase restrictions.

      I can neccessarily find a specific type of .22lr any given day, but I Usually see a selection.

  3. “…wouldn’t be surprised at all if it separated a squirrel into a front half and a back half.” What I was thinking. Could be wonderful for pest control, but might ruin quite a bit of meat.

  4. If I can find some in the wild I’ll add it to the toolbox, as I live in CA.

    Opening day of quail season we’ll be out with air rifles.

  5. Jeremy – If you feel the need to shoot cans of Mt.Dew, could you at least have the decency to blow up cans of Diet Mt.Dew?

    Seeing that liquid gold sugar and caffeine perfection draining into the ground without passing through someone’s kidneys first made me cry (a little).

    Oh yeah, the ammo. Looks interesting.

    But why the Cu and plastic mix? As malleable Cu is, they could have easily have made the projectiles from rolls of pure Cu wire…

    • I wonder if there is concern about a solid copper version being an “evil round” that might penetrate soft body armor.

      • Did you see the expiration date on the can? 😛

        The light projectile weight explains much of the velocity. Solid copper would be too heavy in a normal bullet shape & length. Plus frangible is nice, especially at these velocities in a caliber that people aren’t always super careful with.

        • “Did you see the expiration date on the can? 😛”

          What self-respecting POTG *allows* ‘Sugar water nirvana’ to even get close to the expiration date? That’s like a beer lover tossing cans of beer in the trash!

          (OK, I see what you mean on the velocity…) 🙂

        • Dew always looked like carbonated antifreeze to me, and reading the label (not that I always care, just so I know exactly how badly I’m abusing myself) the whole thought of drinking brominated vegetable oil is a bit disconcerting.

          That said, there are times when it’s damn good.

    • Which is why I’ve switched to shooting cans seltzer water. Still the same fun pressurized carbonated fizzy target. . . no sticky sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) that gets you sticky during clean up. You guys do clean up the range when you’re done, right?

      Anyways, I’m experimenting with potatoes as targets now: They are more fun when they explode compared to cans of soda AND they are biodegradable and require no clean-up. 🙂 Only problem is it can be tough to distinguish between potatoes and rocks. Last time at the shooting pit there were a lot of left over potatoes my friend and I didn’t notice.

      • Are those baked ‘taters, or boiled or just plain outta the ground ‘taters? What do you have against yams then, they deserve a chance on the shelf.

    • The reason they use copper and polymer powder to make the projectiles for these cartridges is because it’s cost effective. The press that turns these projectiles will easily produce a million bullets an hour. It’s the same kind of press that produces aspirin tablets and anything else in the form of a small pill or tablet. The press will run, unattended, 24/7 as long as there is media in its’ hoppers. I know this because I work for a company that makes these presses, and we recently had on set up and doing a test run, spitting out .45 ACP bullets

      • Solid copper or solid lead (like most .22 LR bullets) bullets can be made in a similar fashion. Snip bullet length pieces off a gigantic coil of wire, then a press smushes them into shape.

        Of course, the nice thing about copper powder is that it’s basically (or literally) scrap. And the polymer component is even cheaper.

        I do think the biggest initial motivation in this case, though, was making a really lightweight bullet in order to achieve a velocity goal.

  6. ARX? I got some of the Polycase ammo for my P3at and it destroys watermelons. I know watermelons arn’t people, anyway it instilled more confidence in my summer carry mouse gun. This might bring the .22 up a notch on the defensive round table for pistols and the popular AR styled rifles.

    Gel TEST!!!!!!!!

    • I bought some Ruger labeled ARX ( at a buck cheaper) in 380 and 45. Until I see results from an actual hominid shooting I will use it for an anti-animal round. The biggest portion of the wound track appears to be at the front end which is a through and through on a coyote sized animal.

  7. Delighted to hear about at least AVERAGE short – mid range accuracy. Just ordered 500 rds from Midway, that should let me trim the ground squirrel population for 1/4 the cost of 223 Rem. Thanks for the pistol/rifle combo review, as well!

  8. “It’s fair to say that these velocities are practically two times the speed of a standard .22 LR round, and the bullet weighs about half as much as standard.”

    So it should have about twice the muzzle energy for the same recoil. Nice!

    • Well, the lightweight bullet isn’t going to hold its velocity as well, so any increase in energy is only going to hold true for short distances. Heck, at 50 yards it may carry LESS energy than a regular HV load or an old-school hyper-velocity load like CCI’s Stinger.

  9. I wonder how accurate it would be if you had a slower twist barrel. The problems with longer distance accuracy could be because the barrel is over stabilizing it.

    • It’s the supersonic / transonic / subsonic transition. This thing has a G7 ballistic coefficient similar to a cotton ball. Some bullets do alright through the transition, while some become catastrophically destabilized. .22 Plinkster is reporting 10-12 MOA at 100 yards for this load, and he’s the best rimfire shooter I know of.

      • Agreed. And this is related to the comment by NineShooter three up as well. I also think it starts hitting those transitions at some point beyond 75 yards and is destabilized badly by it. It’s also simply dropping a ton of velocity in short order, and I doubt normal .22 LR velocities jive well with the extremely high RPM it gets by leaving a barrel at almost twice the speed of a normal .22 LR.

  10. I searched the review for the word “price” and came up empty.

    Tell us what it sells for. .22LR ammo needs to be one thing – cheap.

    By the way, I love me some statistics as well as the next guy, but calculating a standard deviation from a data set containing only five measurements is, at best, a waste of time.

      • Thanks STB. And apologies, I couldn’t confirm the msrp and am traveling, but wanted to get this up instead of delaying it a week until I’m back. I paid $9.95 per box.

      • MSRP is $10.95 per 50. That means it will sell out everywhere by tomorrow, and will only be found on Armslist or gun show tables hawked by the vultures at $20 a box.

        On a bright note, this may finally take some attention off Stingers, so that supply may increase.

        Oh well, they’re opening an Academy in my hood soon, they should have some “grand opening” allotment.

  11. I ordered a brick on Sunday from Midway. I guess we will see. I did buy it based on velocity alone.
    The faster the bullet the better my little Berretta 21 likes it. It does very well with the Hi Velocity Segmented rounds and Stingers. It needs to be whipped down every 50 rounds or so. It gets really dirty fast and jams otherwise. Will see how it works in my other 22s. A Ruger Mark II slabside and a Model 41. My 10/22 also likes faster bullets. Being only 20gr. Who knows what I can hit at 100 yards. If I can still pepper 410 shells I wont complain.

    • Don’t shoot it in your S&W 41. They are only rated for standard velocity ammo. There have been instances of people getting cracked frames from using too much high velocity. Some won’t damage it but repeated use of high velocity ammo (this includes the 1200 fps stuff) can do damage.

      • Appreciate the warning. It was my Uncles gun. A 7.5 inch with compensator. Built in 1965. Bad enough I put a scratch on it. Wouldn’t want to blow it up.
        Ive only fired standard stuff that wont cycle my little Berretta 21a or 10-22 well.

  12. Hey Jeremy, did you chrono those things out of the NAA mini-revolver? Would be nice to know if they start off with some good velocity, or if they need a nice long barrel before they build up some speed…

    • Intended to! Got out to the woods and realized I forgot the Mini. Should have thrown it on my keychain or in my belt buckle or up my bum or something 😛

      Okay so weekend after this coming one my COPPER-22 follow-up to do list is: 100 yard+ accuracy test from two rifles, velocity from the long barrel one (pre-’64 WesternField), velocity from NAA Mini revolver. Will post follow up-up results that following week.

    • Yep. CA is the largest gun market in the US. The company’s can’t afford to let this market go so they have to step up.

      When I first started hunting with steel shot in my smoothbores non lead ammo was a lot higher than it’s leaded counterpoint. Now, they’re comparable.

    • “Liberals ban lead to end hunting and put a dent in ammo sales and CCI out foxes them.”
      Not really, they are right on track making ammunition unaffordable for more and more shooters and hunters.

  13. At the same cost of 22 WMR, this would have to offer some advantages and it doesnt, unless you consider frangibility a positive. This ammo costs as much as 9MM for crying out loud. If this is the direction things are going its not good. Thanks EPA!

    • Yeah Fred that’s mighty pricey. I’m much more interested in a 22mag as the velocity is already there (and I don’t plink or hunt-yet).

      • Non-lead bullets are mandatory in Comifornia in a few years so there goes hunting. Imagine what .308 or 30-06 will cost per round. All part of the anti-hunting, anti-gun. and PETA plan. They are winning.

        • They aren’t. We can still practice with lead. Copper rifle rounds in the calibers you stated are roughly 2 dollars a round. Same as my .243. A 20 round box of hunting loads can last me several seasons and beyond. During a hunt it’s rare to fire more than 2 rounds at a given animal.

          40 bucks for a box of shells sounds high. But it’s not plinking ammo and when compared to the overal cost of a hunt, it’s a drop in the bucket. I spent 40 bucks sunday on gas just going to and from a dove hunt.

          If you’re dropping out of hunting because of the cost of ammo you were already leaving the sport for a number of reasons.

    • The advantage is that it shoots out of the .22 rifle you already have, and is lead free for hunting purposes.

      The price is basically the same as CCI’s other “high end” .22 varmint ammo, CCI Stinger. It’s just lead free for certain locales.

  14. I normally try to only shoot subsonic .22 out of my Winchester Model 1906 (which was made in 1911), but this new CCI makes me wonder….. would I be asking too much of the old rifle with these hot rounds? FWIW, I gave it a new barrel sleeve not too long ago, along with a new extractor and springs all around.

  15. Given the price of Copper these days, a key criterion TTAG missed was cost per round. I’ll bet it’s at least what 9mm or .40SW costs.

    • Well the big reasons would be that .17 HMR doesn’t fit in the .22 LR guns I already own, there’s no such thing as cheap .17 HMR plinking ammo, and options for semi-auto .17 HMRs are quite limited. I think in nearly every case it’s also meaningfully more expensive than this stuff, too. Heck, I can shoot cheap .223 for the price of .17 HMR and 5.45×39 for even less, so forget .17 HMR, right?

      Anyway, the headline here is “fastest .22 LR ever,” not “new caliber to the market replicates existing one” 😛

  16. I’ll stick with my 40 grain Aguila Intercepters. They travel at 1470 FPS which equals right at 200 FPE. That 20 grain won’t put the snack down as hard.

  17. I finally came across some of this in a store. I picked up two boxes. I hope my 10/22 or my Contender pistol shoot well with this ammo. It would be nice if my son’s 10/22 or CZ Scout work with it too since we live in California. Hopefully I have found my lead free 22 hunting ammo. That way I’ll have this for 50 yards and under, my 17 HMR out to about 150 yards and then some lead free handloads in my AR for way out there.

  18. I tired out for the first time today in my ruger mark iii 22/45. It wouldn’t feed from the three different mags I tried. It would stop at the bottom of the ramp. I switched to CCI mini-mag with copper plated round nose, and fired 100 with no problem! Anybody else have feeding problems with the copper composite bullet?? I have 700 rounds that i can’t shot in my Ruger.

  19. These shell’s lack penetration to kill larger animal’s that I hunt. I have shot Racoon’s with them over hounds with what I will call mixed and very disappointing results. Some that I have hit in the chest the bullet only penitrated 1 1/2″. The old CCI shells with lead in them are much better and more reliable when taking larger small game.

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