Saturday, January 17, 2009

Aguila .22 Sniper Subsonic 60 grain solid


At last count I had nineteen different types of .22 rim fire ammunition. Today, I have to make that an even twenty. Once again I have fallen to the curiosity of an offering previously unknown to me.

This time it was, perhaps, the most unusual .22 rim fire I have seen. Aguila, a company not afraid to offer something different, brings us it's 'Sniper Subsonic' round with a 60 grain solid lead bullet. Yes.... 60 grains. The heaviest .22 rim fire normally encountered is 40 grains. Higher velocity rounds usually drop that to 36 grains, or even 30 grains.

Aguila managed to squeeze that huge slug into a long rifle sized package by taking a unique route. They used a .22 short case, with a reduced powder charge, and loaded a very long lead bullet into it, bringing the whole cartridge out to .22 long rifle length. The SSS round looks the part too, with half the cartridge length being lead bullet. That's more than unusual, it's down right strange looking.

The idea is fascinating, with the heavy bullet retaining substantial energy while the low velocity and charge give greatly reduced noise. The problem with this approach is one of bullet stability.

Heavier low velocity bullets require a rapid twist rate to stabilize the bullet in flight. Lighter high velocity bullets can use a slower twist rate to accomplish the same stability. Bullet design also comes into play in the equation. Even the type of rifling can have an effect.

Typical .22 rim fire firearms shooting a 35 to 40 grain bullet at 1000 fps work well with a 1 in 16" twist rate, and this is standard for these weapons. A .223 center fire shooting a 60 grain bullet at 3200 fps usually works well with a 1 in 9" twist.

A .22 rim fire shooting a 60 grain bullet at subsonic velocities? A rapid twist would be in order, and its doubtful that 1 in 16" will do it. The test is simple. Load an accurate .22 rifle with the new ammunition, sight on a reasonable target, and note the results. That is exactly what I did, and the results are shown here.

The rifle chosen was a CZ452 Trainer, and is exceptionally accurate. It has shown a tolerance for various cartridges, without being overly picky about what it will shoot well. The long barrel and deep rifling may have something to do with that, as well as the tight bore. This rifle, even with open sights, constantly surprises shooters with it's consistent ability to group tightly.

Setting simple 4"x6" card stock targets at 50 feet, several rounds were fired. Only a were needed to answer the basic question. The very first round was a classic keyhole, as was every round after. The Aguila 60 grain bullets simply would not stabilize in the 1 in 16" twist CZ barrel.

Fired at both a paper target and a block of pine, the imprints are clear sideways impacts of a bullet tumbling in flight.

Perhaps this ammunition would be better suited to a .22 wearing a custom rapid twist barrel, as many folks have fitted to Ruger 10/22s. Also, it might be a perfect round for an AR equipped with a rim fire conversion, especially if it has a suppressor can installed. For my .22's, all of which have 1 in 16" twist barrels, I'm afraid this Aguila offering is useless.


leadchucker said...

I found a box of these a while back thought I'd give them a try. I found they stabilized and grouped nicely at 25 yards out of my stock 10/22, although they did seem to shoot a bit lower than bulk Federal I was using at the time.

Biggest thing I remember about the Aquila SSS rounds is that they smelled funny when I shot them.

Brigid said...

I'm still playing around with the Ruger, finding what ammo it likes and doesn't.

It doesn't like to be less than over lubed, I can tell you that.

I like your new header by the way.

Carteach0 said...

Leadchucker, Yes, the powder does have an odd odor. On the other hand, it leaves the inside of the case shiny and clean.

I'm surprised it worked well in the Ruger, but not shocked. Stranger things have happened. That's why I have so much fun trying these things out!

Brigid, When it comes to semiautos, lube is good (g). Thanks on the header, I'm getting better.

BobG said...

I'm wondering if it might be a good choice for those who insist on using a .22 pistol for self-defense; the heavier bullet would help, and since most self-defense is at very close range, the instability probably wouldn't hurt.
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

A friend gave me a small amount of these to play with. I shot them out of my Ruger Mark II. Contrary to what I had heard, they fed, fired and ejected fine. They did leave a sideways hole in the plastic bottle I shot them into as you indicated. I agree that they might be best suited for use in a pistol for self-defense at close range. Great post.


ExistingThing said...

I got keyholing with that ammo out of my buckmark and my 10/22 close and far at the indoor range.

Pretty much gave up after that...

Anonymous said...

Might be worth trying in an 1-9 twist Ar-15 with a Ceiner conversion kit.

Carteach0 said...

I'll set the remaining 40 rounds aside to try out in other weapons this year. I might find something that likes them.

Firehand said...

Definitely varies according to the firearm. I've tried them in a BSA Martini and got about 1.5" groups at 50 yards, about the same from a Remington 33, and everything else either spreads all over the target or keyholes. In one rifle I tried, you'd get two or three tightly together, then the third would keyhold.

I'm not sure, but it may be the priming that smells that way, as it smells the same as some Eley ammo I've fired.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if this will work good in my GSG 5

Anonymous said...

I'll try these when they come in, next week or so. Right now they are on back order by most suppliers I use.

I will convert an older blued 10/22 to a 1: 9 barrel that is 16.5 inches and a standard configuration. The scope is a nice small 2X High Quality Air Rifle type and best for the woods.

I expect good results and may then go with a can.

Coffeebreak said... has 1:9" twist barrels for the 10/22 made for thisammo.

Anonymous said...

Coffeebreak said ' eabco makes them"

Eabco is way high.

I received a 16.5 inch blued barrel, delivered, for $143.

Anonymous said...

My ar15 with Ceiner conversion sends the regular .22's flying in a foot diameter spread, however, with these augilla SSS rounds I can get much better groupings. the 60gr bullets work much better than the 40gr. It's alot cheaper than 5.56, its accurate at 50m. It has zero recoil wich is very different, and it's super quiet. It does create a bit of smoke and an odd smell.

On a side note, I have had several of these rounds get stuck while trying to feed. They were deformed and sent inbetween the charging handle and the conversion bolt. The extra long 60gr lead bullet doesn't always like the bolt, and bends when trying to load causing the bullet to tip up and get stuck.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine shooting these out of a .22 short only gun, which would have a fast 1-20/1-24 twist, would make this a fairly accurate round.

Mo said...

I have a few boxes of these and my results generally mirror what others have said. Most of my rimfires will keyhole this round. One of my Marlin 39's with Microgroove rifling shot it OK out to 25 yards. The groups were about double the size compared to ammo it likes but no keyholeing was evident. They also printed over an inch lower at that distance.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should consider them for close-up concealed personal protection?
This is my preferred ammunition for my Phoenix back-up, carries easily in my hip pocket - and the 60 gr bullet carries the energy well.

Anonymous said...

Powder charge is small. Max velocity is developed in about a 12" barrel. Long barrels with a tight bore like a CZ 452 may slow the bullet so much it has too little spin to stabilize. I know a Ruger 77/22 that shoots Aguila SSS with precharged air rifle precision and makes no more noise than a precharged air rifle. I have measured this ammo with a sound level meter and the sound level was the same as my .25 cal air rifle when I shot SSS out of a CZ 452 American. Lapping your bore mirror smooth can help a lot when shooting this ammo.