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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.