Norma USA 22 rimfire ammunition might not eliminate our seemingly chronic 22 Long Rifle shortage, but it could solve some accuracy problems.
Norma, the famous Swedish premium ammunition manufacturer, has introduced 22 rimfire cartridges to the U.S. market. If you like parking bullet after bullet inside circles smaller than one inch in diameter from 50 yards away, these cartridges could be your ticket to small game hunting paradise. My early range testing shows Norma USA 22 rimfire ammunition shoots as accurately as advertised.
During last winter’s SHOT show in Vegas, I coerced Norma USA into sending me a few boxes of their rimfire horde. They didn’t arrive until mid-summer, but proved worth the wait. I fired Norma USA TAC-22 (which was officially introduced in 2014) and their new Match-22 ammo through a Ruger 10/22 and a Kimber 22 bolt-action. The target photos shown here tell the tale, but not the circumstances.
I was at a local, outdoor range on a pleasant, calm morning. Breezes couldn’t have hit more than five mph during testing. The bench was concrete and solidly anchored. I shot 5-shot groups off sand-filled leather bags and a table top tripod through a Pro Chrono Digital to measure velocities. TAC-22 averaged 1,073 fps from the bolt-action Kimber, 968 fps from the Ruger autoloader.
Norma Match-22 averaged slightly faster at 1,076 from the Kimber, 987 from the Ruger. These velocities aren’t going to impress any speed freaks, but they will light up accuracy freaks. Experienced 22 shooters, whether they specialize in targets or small game hunting, know that accuracy, not speed, is what makes the 22 Long Rifle deadly. And 22 ammo is almost always more accurate if it doesn’t pass through the sound barrier, which is about 1,100 fps depending on elevation above sea level (air density.) Stay below the speed of sound and you avoid the turbulence inherent in passing through it.
In 22 rimfires I don’t worry about kinetic energy because there isn’t much of it in even the fastest 22 LR load. A 40-grain, 22 caliber lead bullet at 1,400 fps is considered hyper velocity for a 22 rimfire, yet it only kicks out about 180 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Compare that to the 1,150 f-p muzzle energy from a 40-grain 223 Remington load and you’ll begin to appreciate the difference.
Stepping down to 1,000 fps drops 22 long rifle muzzle energy to about 100 f-p or slightly less. That’s more than enough to terminate cottontails and various squirrels with head or chest hits. One of my most satisfying annual hunts is a quiet wait for tree squirrels in an October hardwood forest. I might stalk a bit and call a bit, but this is my chance to relax and soak up the most glorious season. Golden leaves whirl and fall. Fox squirrels chatter and scurry. My goal is to pick them off one by one, head shots only, until I have enough for a hearty stew. The report of a 22 rimfire rifle is so slight that the woods return to normal within a minute or less if I minimize movement. I don’t need hearing protection, so I’m free to listen as well as watch autumn’s splendor coming down. The satisfaction of making clean, deadly shots while barely disturbing the world around me is half my reward.
Given the accuracy of Norma USA 22 rimfire ammo, both TAC-22 and Match-22, I believe this October’s squirrel hunts will be more rewarding than ever.
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