I have a confession to make. I’m a rifle virgin. Or almost one. I don’t really own a rifle and don’t know all that much about them. OK, I own a Sub-2000 and some will say that counts. But I don’t consider that a rifle. It shoots handgun ammo (9mm). I started out shooting with shotguns. I’m not a hunter. I shoot those little orange non-bird birds. I’ve shot some skeet and sporting clays, but my first love is trap. I have a carry license so own handguns, too. So I really haven’t had to think much about ballistics. Until now . . .
I’d given my son a Henry lever action .22 a couple of years ago for Christmas. And no, he hasn’t put his eye out. Yet. Anyway, he also had a cheap – and I mean CHEAP – BSA scope kicking around that he’d bought for an Airsoft gun about a decade ago. Mostly because it looked cool, I think. So I decided to put the scope on the rifle.
Well, even I know you can’t just put the scope on the rifle and expect to hit anything. You have to sight it in. Zero that baby, right? I mounted the scope and it was off to the range I went.
I got set up with the target at 25 yards, used a rest and squeezed off a few. And thought I was shooting blanks. That’s right. Nothing was hitting paper, let alone a ring. I made some adjustments, trying to guess which way I was off, but no luck.
Fine. I moved the target back to ten yards and started to, you know, hit the target. A few clicks right and a few (OK, a LOT of) clicks up and I was getting somewhere. So, back out to 25 yards I went. I would have zeroed the thing at 50 yards, but I don’t have a spotting scope.
Anyway, what I learned is that yes, Virginia, ammunition really does make a big difference. OK, I knew that intellectually. I’ve casually read about what different ammo characteristics will do. But I’d never experienced this first hand before.
What we have above: two full Henry magazines (14 rounds) shot at 25 yards. On your left I used CCI 36 grain Mini-Mag HP. On your right was Winchester Super-X 40 grain Subsonic.
The CCIs are rated at 1260 fps while the Winchester comes in at 1065 fps. Sure, this is a pretty significant difference, but I wouldn’t have expected such a disparity at only 25 yards. A 1” group compared to a 3.5” group. And I don’t think I can blame the gun.
Both flavors are considered “varmint” rounds. In places other than Canuckistan, they’re good for shooting gophers and other small pesky creatures. But take a look at those results. I’m not sure shooting the Winchesters will keep you inside a minute of squirrel.
Now, if you had asked me how much difference you’d see between ANY two .22lr rounds at only 25 yards, I’d have answered, “zilch.” Or darn close to it. But the scales have fallen from my eyes. Never having actually shot a varmint, I’m pretty sure, given my recent education, that a slower moving heavier bullet isn’t the way to go. If you want to actually, you know, hit it that is.
I’m sure most of you already know all of this and I seem like a hopeless newb recounting painfully obvious results. But remember, I’m new to all of this. What’s next? And please: be gentle with me.