That's what I set out to do with my new target rifle this past weekend.
This Ain't Your Daddy's Rimfire AmmoMatch rimfire ammunition is a far cry from the .22 LR ammo I have used for years in my plinking guns, a Marlin and a Remington semi-auto .22. Generally speaking, semi-auto .22's need high velocity ammo to cycle rounds, although a few can cycle standard velocity rounds without repeated failures to eject. Match grade bolt action .22's, while they may be of the same caliber as my old Marlin and Remington, are as different as it gets from those guns. In the case of match rifles, speed kills - from an accuracy perspective, they thrive on subsonic, standard velocity rounds in the 1070 to 1080 fps range as compared to the 1200+ fps, high velocity rounds that my plinkers gobble up. Go figure. I always thought the faster the round, the flatter the trajectory, and thus the more consistently accurate bullet. This is one of the many preconceived notions I've had to revise in my head since stepping up into rimfire target shooting.
Precision Rifle Shooting…Where Did This Come From?
|Mounting and leveling the scope on my Anschutz Model 1907 after its arrival|
In a perfect world with unlimited spare time to play, I would have headed right out to the range, got the scope sighted in, and tested the Anschutz with the different types of ammo but, things like work got in the way. Other than mounting and leveling the scope, the rifle sat in its case waiting for the weekend to arrive for its maiden trip (at least for me) to the range. My plan was to take a trip down to Central Florida to spend some time with my son, the family expert in precision rifle shooting. I wanted him to adjust the comb, length of pull, and butt plate angle to fit the rifle to my body. Then we could spend time sighting the rifle scope in and testing the ammo as he taught me the finer points of precision shooting.
As my weekend departure day approached, I found out about a 50-yard Benchrest Rimfire Rifle competition scheduled for that Saturday afternoon at a gun club near my son's house. Thinking it would be a great way to christen the Anschutz, I decided to enter even though I had never shot in any kind of competition before. Only problem was I didn't have enough match grade ammo to shoot. The competition involved a total of 75 shots at 15 targets with 5 shots at each target. When I added the amount of ammo needed to sight the scope in, practice some before the match, and shoot in the match, I needed a minimum of 4 boxes of the same kind of ammo. I only had one box of several different kinds so I began searching for more match grade ammo locally. You'd think .22 caliber ammo was gold based upon the availability of any kind of .22 ammo - the pickings were slim. I finally found some ammo locally, at least ammo that was touted as match grade - Aguila SuperExtra manufactured in Mexico using Eley primers, and Federal Premium Gold Medal in their UltraMatch and Match versions. I bought a few boxes of each and headed down to Central Florida, hoping one of these would work well enough with the Anschutz to avoid humiliation in the competition.
On Friday evening, we made all the adjustments to the rifle and my son spent a considerable amount of time walking me through the art of precision rifle and competition shooting. Saturday morning, I sighted the scope in and tested the Aguila and Federal ammo. The Anschutz seemed to like the Federal UltraMatch, shooting what I (in my ignorance) thought were decent groups. I decided that would be my ammo for the match. As the time for the match approached, I went through a box of ammo to make sure the scope was dialed in with the Federal ammo and getting in a bit of practice as I settled in for the match.
|My three cards from the competition using the Federal Premium Ultra Match ammo|
So, What About The Other Ammo?
My benchrest setup
|5=shot test groups with each box of ammo|
After setting the Anschutz up on my benchrest, I took several practice shots with each type of ammo to acclimate the rifle to it before shooting 5-shot groups into targets set up at 50 yards. The test confirmed my suspicion that while the Federal UltraMatch was decent enough ammo, the Anschutz performed much better with some of the other offerings.
|The test group with Federal UltraMatch|
The Federal UltraMatch (above) shot a group representative of how it had performed the previous weekend during the competition. All five shots were well inside or on the 10 ring with at least three inside or on what would have been the "X" ring on the competition targets. One "flier" (lower left) was outside the group.
The four finalists - Eley Tenex, Eley Match 1070 fps, RWS R50, and RWS R100
Two of the offerings from Eley and two from RWS beat the snot out of the Federal UltraMatch in terms of tight groups with no fliers. Since the scope was dialed in for the Federal ammo, I wasn't concerned about the exact location of the groups if they were slightly off center. I was more concerned with the tightness of the groups as a click here and a click there in scope adjustment would easily center the scope with the ammo later on.
|Aguila SuperExtra - it takes more than Eley primers to keep up with the big dogs|
After weeding out the good, the bad, and the ugly, I put the bad and ugly stuff away to really test the four types of ammo that seemed to have the best potential. First up was the Eley Tenex. Going in, I really thought this was going to be the top dog since it's touted as the favorite of a lot of benchrest shooters and it's the most expensive of all the ammo - $20 a box. But after critically examining the target, I was not impressed and hoped the other ammo would do better.
|The Eley Tenex groups. I shot 7 rounds into the bottom left target and six into the bottom right because the first shot into each was a flier|
And The Winner Is … A Tie?
|5-shot groups with Eley Match 1070 fps|
|5-shot groups with RWS R50|
So, I seem to have narrowed the choices down to two - RWS R50 and Eley Match 1070 fps. I've found a source that has both types in stock and have a brick of each on their way to me so I can settle the issue as to which will be my ammo of choice for competing with the Anschutz. Looking forward to seeing which one comes out on top but either would serve me well in any competition, especially after I have time to develop my skills as a shooter.