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Rimfire Fun: Long Range 22LR

Old 08-05-2021, 01:00 PM
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Default Rimfire Fun: Long Range 22LR

I’ve struggled to decide where to start this topic, and I certainly can’t pretend to know where it should end, so I’m just going to start this ball rolling by dumping some thoughts, and I’ll be back in here to add pictures and musings over time.

Personally, I’ve observed the 22LR to be the victim of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” from many shooters. Recurring on forums like this, we see questions like, “what’s the useful range of a 22LR?” or “How far can a 22LR be shot, accurately?” Seemingly inevitably, a significant proportion of respondents express extremely low expectations, touting limits of 25-50 yards, 75 on a great day… Pretty low expectations… And if a shooter’s only experience with 22LR is attempting headshots on squirrels with iron-sighted rifles with bulk back ammo, it might be apt. But knowing there’s more which can be done with a 22LR, I try to share as often as I can some of the things possible even with relatively low cost rifles and ammunition.

Reasonably, long range precision is built upon short range performance – if we can’t shoot small when close, we can’t shoot small when far – but given a few specific advantages, most 22LR’s can shoot smaller than many folks give them credit. I’ll acknowledge here that quality ammunition shrinks the target size considerably – even though I do a LOT of my shooting with cheap, bulk pack ammo. Of course, firing from rests, sticks, bipods, or other supports also helps shrink groups compared to offhand shooting as well. And naturally, magnified scopes will shrink groups smaller than what can be fired with the conventional semi-buckhorn irons of most rifles, or allow smaller or farther targets to be engaged. Below is a target I fired a few years ago for an online forum “challenge” with a Savage Mark II BSEV at 50yrds with Eley Club ammunition. Conceding the BSEV is an upgrade over the standard sporter model, and I had replaced the factory Boyd’s Evolution stock with a ProVarmint to better match the fit and feel of my centerifre rifles, this was an otherwise standard factory rifle with relatively inexpensive ammunition – just a grade above bulk pack ammo, delivering 4 groups under 1MOA.



Not so surprisingly, “Long Range” happens pretty quickly for a 22LR, much sooner than conventional bottleneck centerfire rifles. It’s commonly said that shooting a 22LR at 200yrds is analogous to shooting a 308winchester at 800 yards. Which in terms of drop, that’s fairly apt – but in terms of wind drift, the 22LR actually drifts MORE at 200yrds than a 308win at 800, about twice as much.

Recently another user on another forum posted a target from his “walk-back“ DOPE development process, and has been gracious enough to allow me to share the photo for this kind of illustration. His rifle is zeroed at 50yrds, represented by the yellow circled groups. For the walk-back ranges, every 25 yards from 50-150, he denoted the point of aim with an X with a dangling dashed line leading to the circled group below. His 75yrd groups are circled in Green, the 100yrd group in blue, 125yrd group in orange, and the 150yrd group in black. His load dropped ~3.8moa at 75yrds, ~7.2moa at 100, ~12.6moa at 125yrds, and ~17.2moa at 150yrds. Comparatively, my 6 Creed load only reaches 17.2moa of drop out around 850yrds!



Despite the steep trajectory of the 22LR, given the appropriate optic set up (see thread: HNI Thread: LR Fundamentals - matching optic capacity with trajectory), a 22LR can commonly reach 300-500yrds with common and relatively inexpensive optics, bases, and rings.

For example, I bought this Savage Mark II FSS for my son when he was 2 yrs old for $220 rifle after rebate, plus a $97 Boyd’s stock and a $30 cheek riser. I added a $50 Winchester branded Harris knock off bipod and a discounted $50 Bushnell Trophy 3-9x40mm scope with Mil-Dot reticle mounted in a set of $50 Burris Signature Zee rings with 40MOA inserts (+20 in the rear and -20 in the front). This allows a 100yrd zero with either sub sonic or super-sonic ammunition, with ~50MOA of adjustment to reach downrange. This kind of scope is FAR from optimal for this type of shooting, but it can be employed to work. With a witness mark on the adjustment screw to align the graduated wheel, we can keep track of our adjustment when dialing up and down, and the top end of the adjustment range acts as a zero stop, since his 40MOA inserts bring him within 5-10MOA of the top for his 100yrd zero, depending upon ammo. Here, he’s pictured with his 66% IPSC (12”x18”) target, fired at 300 yards; his hair gives an indication of the wind conditions in which he was shooting.



Comparatively, to illustrate the challenges brought by offhand shooting (and share a better photo of my BSEV), I fired this group on target at 150yrds standing off hand for another challenge on another forum a few years ago with the same rifle as used to print the 50yrd groups above – a factory Savage Mark II BSEV and shelf grade CCI Minimags. I’m rarely well practiced at offhand shooting anymore, so I employed a target size I usually would shoot from a bench at 300-350yrds for this 150yrd game, but I was reliably able to keep all of my shots within the edges of this 10” circle from standing off hand with a sling. Another 25yrds, and I start slipping off of the edge of the plate.



From support – defending my ego – the following photos show some use this same target, but fired from a bipod and rear bag on a bench, with a cheap Nikon Buckmaster on a 10/22 Charger at 325yrds – even with cheap Remington Thunderbolt ammunition.







After rejoining her pre-motherhood career in veterinary medicine, and starting two new businesses in the last couple of years to boot, my wife doesn’t get as much range time as she used to, but she enjoys mid and long range 22LR shooting as well. Here’s she’s practicing an “extreme” version of the PRS Speed Skills Stage – a standard stage design used as a tie breaker for matches. We use range-scaled targets, but arranged just as wide as the real deal: three 3” targets (although mine are round instead of square) at 100yrds (opposed to 12” targets at 400yrds), hung 25 yards between 1 and 2, with 50yrds between 2 and 3. Start standing, go prone behind the rifle and engage 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, hitting to advance – as fast as possible. For top level shooters on the full-scale centerfire course, this might only take 25-30 seconds, whereas I typically fall around 30-35seconds. Since this scaled version actually pans four times wider than the standard course, it’s a little slower, but I typically run 40 seconds or less, and my wife, pictured here, would deliver clean runs in under 45 seconds.



My son also gets some PRS-ish practice when he accompanies me to the range for my practice days. Since he’s still a little too small to handle the full weight of centerfire rifles, and even full weight PRS-Rimfire/NRL-22 rifles, he practices transition stages with a Ruger Charger. Pictured here, he’s shooting a 12” plate at 408yrds, 2 shots from each of 5 windows, only supported on the bag – a stage which rankles even experienced adult shooters at the PRS matches hosted at this range (he’s shooting a 2.5min par time, rather than 90sec and not fighting as much recoil).



As stated initially, I can’t readily perceive where this thread should end, as it’s really an unlimited pastime for my family and I, and I'll come in and out to add photos (and maybe some video if we can get Premier figured out), but hopefully these examples might spur some questions or spark some interest for others to challenge their 22’s to stretch their legs and see what they can do.
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Old 08-10-2021, 11:07 AM
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My son had been wanting a 22 Charger of his own for about the last year and a half, but especially so after seeing a photo online a year ago of the 4934 Talo Limited Edition “Go Wild” model - burnt bronze cerakote on the barreled action + Go Wild camo dipped polymer stock. Since Chargers are already a limited volume model, especially limited edition models, compounded by the Covid crisis, we weren’t sure he’d ever get to lay his hands on one. We had only found two available during that time, listed for over double what they should have been sold. But luckily, after having dropped the issue for a couple of months, I checked online at the end of June and found a Gunbroker auction with no bids, starting price of $250. I placed my maximum bid and was only raised once over the next 3 days, winning the pistol for $275, getting it into my hands for $330 after shipping and transfer fees. My boy was ecstatic.

He shoots Bushnell DMR II’s with G3 reticles on his primary long range firearms - including my 4919 Talo Limited Edition stainless Charger, so after swapping the factory flat rail for an extended length 20MOA rail from Evolution Gun Works, I transplanted the DMR II from my Charger to his Go Wild. I also transplanted my SilencerCo Warlock II suppressor. Left blind, I pulled a Burris XTR II I won at a PRS match last year from the shelf to mount onto my Charger, using Burris XTR Signature rings, and a Kaw Valley Precision Linear Compensator. Given the 30mils of travel in the Bushnell, his Go Wild will be able to reach out to a shade past 400 yards with the 20moa rail, whereas the 60MOA total compensation in my rings and base allow me to use all of the 26mils available in my Burris, which should let me to reach out a bit past 500 before holding over in the reticle. Since my boy will be using my SiCo 22 suppressor, I’m planning to add either a Gemtech or Thompson Machine integrally suppressed barrel to mine.

Between rain, sweltering heat, photographing a couple weddings, and other obligations, we’ve only had it out once in the month that we’ve had it, but we were able to quickly zero that day and then enjoy some plinking on an Atlas Targets prairie dog popper out at 100yrds.



Big things and big fun to come for us with these little pistols.
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Old 08-12-2021, 08:46 AM
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Wow!! This was a fun read. You guys are shooting your 22's at ranges most people use for their centerfires. Very impressive. Now I may have to go buy a few more rifles. Darn it.
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Old 08-12-2021, 10:44 AM
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Thanks, Cal! This was a topic I really wanted to share, but had no idea how to convey. Hopefully, these photos and stories will encourage others to wring some reach out of their 22’s - if my 7year old, now 8 year old son and I can reach 300-500 with 22LR’s, anybody can.

With my boy getting physically large enough to engage adult sized obstacles, we’re beginning a build for him - deciding between a RimX and a Vudoo - for use in PRS Rimfire and NRL22 matches. That build and his match journey should be a fun process, and I’ll try to catalog it as we go as well. I’m also canoodling the idea of an ELR 22, as we have a couple of ranges here in Kansas starting to entertain the game. I’ll be adding either a Charlie Tarac or Nightforce Wedge Prism and a lot of weight to get there, probably also on a RimX or Vudoo. It’s just too much fun challenging these little 22’s, at 5-10˘ per shot, to see how far they can take us.

I’m also working on relearning Premier, so I’ll work this fall on getting videos together to embed here, and naturally, our 22’s are common opportunities to be captured.
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Old 08-14-2021, 07:25 AM
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Great read friend. While I don't have the quality of firearms you have I enjoyed shooting my 22LRs out to 300 yards. Its really satisfying to hear the little "ting" when you hit steel at that range. Back in the mid 80s I used to shoot 22 indoor match an shot a variety of ammo out of my Win 52 and got the best results with Eley Black.
I must have six 22s currently and my Ruger 10-22 and Winchester 250 are my most accurate (both stock versions). The 250 shoots little tiny groups with Win Wildcat (elcheapo) ammo. Not even sure if they still make it but I amassed a few bulk boxes of it.
But my most funnest (is that a word) to shoot is my S&W 15-22. Surprisingly accurate and with a 30 round mag one can have a blast with it.
I'm glad you started this thread. I forgot how fun it was to shoot way out there with the diminutive 22LR. Its not just for squirrels and kids! I guess I'll have to gather mine up and head to the range.
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Old 08-14-2021, 01:37 PM
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Shooting 22’s is a pastime about as American as Apple Pie and Baseball! I’m glad you posted, so I’m not just looking like the weird one lobbing 22’s out to 300.

I’ll concede that some of the optics we’re using above are pretty expensive, but really, most of the rifles and pistols pictured above aren’t fine firearms - all but one are are under $300. My Son’s purple Savage Mark II FSS (cheapest stainless Mark II they make) and both of the 22 Chargers were under $300. The Savage Mark II BSEV was $550 when we bought it, but it’s really not an accurized model, just a heavier barrel, and originally came in a Boyd’s Evolution stock (barracuda style). My son’s purple rifle has a Bushnell Trophy 3-9x on top, which I believe ran $129 retail, which I purchased at a discount for $50, and the Nikon Buckmaster 6-18x originally on my stainless Charger was a $300 optic; a Midway exclusive model with the SFP Mil-dot optic and 1/8moa per click turrets.

Winchester does still make the Wildcat ammo, or at least did a couple of years ago when I would have bought our current inventory of it. My son and I shot about 500 of them this spring - he MIGHT be shooting Wildcats in the photo in which he’s standing behind my Charger. We were either shooting Win Wildcats or Armscor that particular day - although that pistol does tend to shoot smaller with Eley Club and CCI SV. We shoot lots and lots of Remington Thunderbolt and Golden Bullet ammo as well, simply because I’ve bought very large lots of it multiple times over the years (10-20k at a time). Cheap ammo can occasionally surprise you, but even still, it often shoots well enough that it can be caught by a 3-4moa target out at 300+.
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Old 08-14-2021, 07:24 PM
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MY boy at 5 with a Ruger 10/22 at 100.

Just on 10" steel, but I've shot some good groups with that rifle at 100. And have played further while letting big rifles cool off. I don't think I've ever shot anything on paper with it past 100 though.

Would be interesting to see what it would group at further ranges.

-Jake
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Old 08-15-2021, 06:55 PM
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I do enjoy reading these posts. I don't think that at my age I would ever "trick out" a 22 to shoot that far. Although I might take one of my 22's out to the range and play around a little.

I'll ask a question what you you think would be a possible range for an off the shelf 22 rifle?
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Old 08-15-2021, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Olde NE Hunter View Post
I do enjoy reading these posts. I don't think that at my age I would ever "trick out" a 22 to shoot that far. Although I might take one of my 22's out to the range and play around a little.

I'll ask a question what you you think would be a possible range for an off the shelf 22 rifle?
With any good shooting Marlin, Savage, Remington, Ruger, CZ, Winchester, etc 22LR, 300-400 yards on a 10-12” plate is possible, even probable, just using common optics and an inexpensive set of Burris rings and/or a 20MOA rail. The rifles will shoot farther, but most scopes run out of adjustment somewhere around 400yrds, even if we use an angled base and shimmed rings. With preferred ammo and a stable rest, most 22’s seem to be able to pull down about 1” at 50yrds, and given enough scope to get there, 1” at 50yrds (2moa) tends to open up to about 3-4moa by 300-400 as wind influence simply becomes overwhelming. So getting a fairly common Marlin 60 or 10/22 to 300 is really just a matter of sticking a scope on top, putting a hub cap on a fence post, and stepping off 300 yards.

All of the pistols and rifles I shared above are really just off-of-the-shelf models.

There’s really nothing special about any of the firearms I have pictured above which makes them more accurate. The Go Wild Charger has a cool paint job, and the Savage BSEV has spiral fluting, but there’s no accurization done here, no custom parts or gunsmithing. A bunch of cheap firearms on top of imitation Harris knock offs from Kmart (that old), and a mix of cheap scopes and nice scopes.

The purple rifle my son is holding is the cheapest stainless model Savage makes. I changed the stock so it could be more easily cut down to fit a 10.5” LOP, but otherwise, it’s a $250 factory Savage Mark II FSS, with a $150 Bushnell Trophy scope. It would shoot just as small and just as far with the factory Tupperware stock. He has been shooting that rifle out to 300 all spring and summer with rot-gut Armscor, Win Wildcat, Rem Golden Bullet, and Rem Thunderbolt ammo on 66% IPSC, tightening down on a 4” square and a 3.5” wide prairie dog at 200 when we get our wind calls tuned in.

The two Charger pistols pictured are under $300. These are standard 10/22 actions with 10” barrels and pistol grip stocks. The Savage Mark II BSEV is a factory rifle my wife picked up for herself ~10yrs ago for $550 at Gander Mountain on a whim. Other than fancy spiral fluting, that’s just a Savage Mark II FV in a Boyd’s stock.

The three scopes are nice, but as mentioned about the discounted Bushnell Trophy on the purple rifle - 300yrds can be done with a very inexpensive scope. It’s a challenge, since it has coin-click dials and a spinning c-clip for the adjustment wheel, but it’s still not so difficult. My son was managing it at 7yrs old, maybe slightly more capable than a caveman at the time.
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Old 08-17-2021, 04:13 AM
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Thanks
I have a fixed power scope (4x) on my 10/22 and irons sights on my 39A and an old Mossberg 34.

I'll look into a different scope and bases for the 10/22 in the mean time.......
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