CCI .22 LR Velocitor Ammunition – When You Want to Reach Out and Touch Something
Nov 4, 2011 (Updated Jul 2, 2013)
Review by morilla
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Excellent weight retention; Fantastic accuracy
Cons:Performance dependent on individual firearm; More expensive than 'standard' .22 LR
The Bottom Line:
Harder hitting, at greater distance, with increased accuracy; if it works in your firearm and such meets your needs, it'd be tough to find something better.
One of the criticisms of the CCI Stinger ammunition was the 32 grain bullet; i.e., the lighter weight bullet was the tradeoff for the higher velocity. On top of that was the fact that the longer case of the Stinger precluded its use in a variety of firearms. (see review link below) What if you wanted to reach out to, say, 100 yards with a .22 LR and still hit hard enough to get the job done?
Recommend this product?
Enter the CCI Velocitor. Introduced almost a decade ago, the Velocitor is intended for small game, with greater downrange ‘hitting power.' It's also one of those love/hate cartridges; i.e., the round has its proponents and its critics, with few sitting in between. The primary reason for the partisanship is found in the expectations and, as with all rimfire ammunition, the firearm used.
CCI - The Company
Cascade Cartridge, Inc. (CCI) was established in 1951 by Richard Speer. His brother, Vernon, had already met with success in bullet manufacturing, so Richard started out by producing cases; later, with his partner Arvid Nelson, the company ‘made a name' by producing primers. The rest is "history" as they say, with CCI production facilities still located on the same property outside of Lewiston, ID as it has for nearly 60 years.
CCI markets itself as "The Leader in Rimfire Ammunition" with some justification. In much the same way Winchester White Box is the ‘standard' against which other, centerfire, ‘value' ammunitions are measured, CCI's rimfire ammunition serves as something of a benchmark. The company is now owned by ATK, an "aerospace, defense, security, and sporting products company" with considerable breadth. CCI Ammunition is just one brand placed in the commercial products section of the ATK Security and Sporting division, with other recognizable names including, but not limited to: Federal Premium Ammunition, Speer, RCBS, Alliant Powder, and Weaver.
Velocity Categories... Standard, High, and Hyper
Trust me. It is very easy to get lost in the weeds when discussing what is or is not Standard, High, or Hyper Velocity .22 LR ammunition. While it would be extremely easy to simply say that there is no ‘accepted' absolute in terms of a definition, there are some loose guidelines which can be used to provide a certain context to the discussion.
Now, before someone immediately shouts - "But, this or that reference says..." let's stipulate that many of those references are based on the 1992 American National Standard Voluntary Industry Standards for Pressure and Velocity of Rimfire Sporting Ammunition for the Use of Commercial Manufacturers. This report, produced by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI), is currently the downloadable version from their site and, so far as I know is still the ‘standard.' As an example of the problem, however...
I could be wrong as I'm not aware of all the variations out there; but, I believe, at the time of this post, that the lowest velocity load ‘recognized' as "hyper velocity" being produced is the Remington Viper, with a current listed muzzle velocity of 1,410 fps. SAAMI lists one test cartridge as HypV with a 36 gr. truncated cone solid bullet at a velocity of 1,385 fps. But, I believe that's an ‘old' velocity; despite many listings. Remington's website currently lists the Viper with a 1,410 fps velocity. On the other end, Aguila claims they have "the fastest velocity .22 Ammo;" e.g., the Aguila SuperMaximum at 1,750 fps with a 30 gr. hollowpoint. In addition, there are those who argue that "hyper velocity" should be capped and a "super maximum high velocity" category created.
Put simply, the ‘top' of the high velocity category and ‘bottom' of the hyper velocity category has changed since that 1,385 fps. Likewise, there is ‘debate' in some circles that the hyper velocity category may no longer be ‘the most' one can get from the .22 LR cartridge. In other words, what may have been ‘the standard' has likely changed with technological advances.
Add to this discussion the fact that SAAMI allows for a margin of error used in creating a standard for rimfire velocity specifications is plus or minus 90 feet per second (fps). This means that the cartridge used to ‘establish' the 1,385 fps ‘floor' for hyper velocity loads is an average velocity, with the range of velocities exhibited being 1,295 - 1,475 fps. Using the exact example SAAMI provides, if an "high velocity" product specification is 1,235 fps, you have to remember to account for SAAMI's plus or minus 90 fps. In other words, any given round in that box of .22 LR HV can have an ‘acceptable' muzzle velocity of 1,145 - 1,325 fps.
Wait a minute?! If an High Velocity (HV) cartridge can reach 1,325 fps and stay within standards and a Hyper Velocity (HypV) cartridge can be as ‘slow' as 1,295 fps and still be within standards...?!?!
That's not even taking into account other variables such as elevation, bullet type/weight, case length, etc. Naturally, there's also the discussion of powder type to generate such velocities within a SAAMI accepted pressure range.
See what I mean about getting lost in the weeds?
Suffice to say that as a general rule of thumb the following can serve as a guide, though not an absolute, to understanding the difference between velocity categories...
1.) Standard Velocity (SV) = approximately 1,080 fps (the speed of sound) up to approximately 1,200 fps
2.) High Velocity (HV) = approximately 1,200 fps up to 1,400 fps
3.) Hyper Velocity (HypV) = greater than 1,400 fps
Insofar as subsonic or ‘super maximum high velocity,' I'll leave that for another time.
CCI Velocitor - Factory Specs
The important point is that with a listed velocity of 1,435 fps, Velocitors are considered Hyper Velocity cartridges. However, unlike the Stinger which reduces the bullet weight, Velocitors keep the heavier 40 gr., copper-plated, hollowpoint bullet. In theory, based on the company's chart, this means 104 ft. lbs. of energy at 100 yards vs. 81 ft. lbs. of energy at the same distance for the Stinger. In other words, while the Stinger has a greater muzzle energy (191 vs. 183), by the time you reach the 50 yard line, the Velocitor has a greater, theoretical ‘punch' (119 ft. lbs. for the Stinger vs. 134 ft. lbs. for the Velcoitor).
As the factory states in its catalog when describing the Velcoitor:
Excellent weight retention, impressive downrange energy, deep penetration.
Well... Let's see.
Standard and Method for Evaluation
At this point, much of the discussion has surrounded the ‘theoretical' regarding Stingers and Velocitors. It's about time we look at actual performance and whether theory reflects reality. To do so, a ‘standard' for testing needs to be established. The first thing I'll say in that regard is that I am not a "professional gun writer" in the context of having access to companies who might donate copious quantities of ammunition or machine rests or a rack full of different firearms for comprehensive testing. Thus, sample sizes in terms of both rounds fired and variations in firearms is, of necessity, limited in comparison to what one might see in a ‘gun magazine.'
With that said, three rifles were used. Since SAAMI testing utilizes a 24 inch barrel, two CZ 452 LUX rifles were used; one with iron sights used primarily to establish velocity and expansion data, one with a Burris Timberline, 3X - 9X x 32mm scope for establishing accuracy. The 452 LUX, recently discontinued by CZ, has a 24.8 inch barrel; which is as close as I'm going to come to the SAAMI barrel length.
Given the Ruger 10/22 is, arguably, the most popular semi-automatic on the market, a 1980's era, wood stock 10/22 carbine with a Tasco 3X - 9X scope of the same vintage was pressed into service. Having seen more than its share of squirrel hunting, the 18 ½" barrel was replaced last year and still isn't (at least in my opinion) ‘completely' broken in - yet. The idea was to ‘balance' the testing so as to provide a range for the more common barrel lengths found in hunting rifles.
As we just established, "hyper velocity" range is considered to be 1,400 fps and greater. SAAMI standards allow for a standard deviation of plus or minus 90 fps; meaning that with a listed velocity of 1,435 fps, we should expect to see velocities ranging from 1,345 to 1,525 fps out of the CZ 452. Insofar as the Ruger, I can't find a ‘chart' which predicts an average loss of velocity per 1" reduction in barrel length similar to what SAAMI provides for centerfire rifles.
Of course, there is the old ‘debate' regarding 16 inch barrels being ‘optimal' for .22 LR vs. those who profess the ‘gospel' that .22 LR increases velocity up to 19". Critics then point to bullet weight, barrel twist, powder... Oh, no. Here we go again.
Given that 180 fps (SAAMI's +/- 90 fps) is a rather large range, I would normally look more toward the Standard Deviation (SD). The trouble is that rimfire ammunition is notoriously unpredictable. While I hope for an SD between 10 and 20 in centerfire factory loads, given the vagaries already discussed, it might be more realistic to expect an SD between 20 - 30 with rimfire ammunition; with ‘reality' probably resting much higher for bulk packed .22 LR.
A Chrony F1 (chronograph, see link below) was set up 10' from the muzzle of both the CZ and the Ruger. (While SAAMI uses 15', but circumstances do tend to trump theory and given the shorter Ruger barrel, I figured the distance was a reasonable compromise; with 10' being sufficient to mitigate muzzle blast issues.) All velocity testing was done offhand. The elevation was 5,500 ft. on a partly cloudy afternoon with temperatures ranging from 80 - 83 degrees F over the course of the velocity data collection. Winds were 5 - 10 mph from 8 o'clock, with humidity hovering around 40%.
For the purposes of establishing velocity, 2 boxes, from different lots were taken and 10 rounds from each were taken for both rifles; i.e., 20 rounds for the CZ and 20 rounds for the Ruger. The results were as follows:
CZ 452 LUX
Mean Velocity =1,385.83*
High = 1,452 fps*; Low = 1,348 fps - ES (Extreme Spread) = 104 fps*
Standard Deviation (SD) = 25.77*
(* These numbers are ‘adjusted' to account for a particularly ‘hot' load. Though a singular event, it does represent a potential problem with any rimfire ammunition; regardless of manufacturer. In this case, while shooting from the CZ to obtain velocity readings, one round clocked a very fast 1,676 fps. If that one round were included, the SD would have jumped significantly, though the mean velocity would have only increased by roughly 12 fps. Fortunately, I did not experience the same issue when shooting with the Ruger.)
Mean Velocity = 1,298.5
High = 1,342 fps; Low = 1,239 fps - ES (Extreme Spread) = 103 fps
Standard Deviation (SD) = 30.53
This puts the mean velocity in the CZ toward the low end of the SAAMI range and the mean velocity below that range out of the 10/22. Frankly, other than the ‘hot' round, even out of the CZ, I only met or exceeded the listed 1,435 fps once in all the rounds chronographed. Likewise, the SD in the CZ was right in the middle of what I deem ‘realistic' for rimfire ammo; with the SD in the Ruger edging toward the ‘reality' end of the spectrum.
There were no failures to feed and no failures to fire in either the CZ or Ruger. There were also no failures to eject in the Ruger. (I wish I could make such claims for all the .22 LR tested that day.)
While all this velocity data is interesting, to a point, in reality it proves very little. While it hints at the possibility that different firearms may experience radically different levels of functional performance, which may provide a clue as to the love/hate relationship the product has with consumers, as we're about to see, due to the nature of rimfire ammunition, velocity numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story when it comes to performance in the field.
Retained Weight and Expansion
Given the heavier, 40 gr. bullet, the basic premise of the round is that you have more weight delivered down range. I fired several rounds into a series of ½ gallon milk jugs filled with water at a distance of 22 yards using the iron sighted CZ. Temperatures on that day ranged between 50 -55 degrees F; but, the elevation was the same 5,500 ft.
The catalog lists it as having deeper penetration. With the Stinger, most penetrated into 7 jugs; with two making it into the 8th and a couple deflecting to who knows where. With the Velocitor, let's just say I had to make sure I lined ‘em up 10 deep and, even then, I didn't necessarily ‘hold' them all.
The average, retained weight was 38.05 grains; measured on an RCBS 5-0-5 scale (see link below). That's 95.125% retention. Folks, it barely gets better than that with FMJ or ‘ball' ammunition.
Maximum expansion of those collected was 0.323 inches.
What does this mean; particularly as compared to the Stinger?
Simply put, it means that while the Velocitor's bullet doesn't expand as significantly was that of the Stinger, it hits with almost a third more weight; i.e., 29.1 gr. vs. 38.05 gr. (see Stinger review)
Alright. It hits ‘harder.' But, what about...
I don't shoot competition anymore, so ‘paper punching' at a recognized range isn't my thing; not to mention that the CCI Velocitor isn't intended for such purposes. Since this round is used for hunting, I'm more interested in field performance, under field conditions. To that end, I carefully measured a 50 yard distance and tacked standard Birchwood Casey scope targets ($2.97 per 12-pack at Wal-Mart) to a stump end. At the ‘firing line,' I laid out a tarp, followed by a Ridge Rest sleeping pad, and used my Arc'Teryx Bora 30 (see link below) as my field rest.
Elevation was the same 5,500 ft. Temperatures were dropping as quickly as the barometer; i.e., it went from 48 degrees to 39 degrees in late afternoon in just 2 ½ hours, with increasing cloudiness. Winds were a fairly steady 5 mph from approximately 9 o'clock, with gusts up to around 10 mph. (Unfortunately, it was necessary to leave the jacket shell and fleece vest in the pack to create enough bulk.)
Firing a 10-shot group from the scoped CZ 452 LUX, measured center-to-center, a 0.95" group was achieved for 10 shots. But, that doesn't tell the whole story. If I hadn't sent one ‘flier' outside of the 0.90 inch center orange, the maximum group size would have been right at 0.75". Of course, 7 of the 10 shots formed one, ragged hole with just over a ½" spread.
(Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to shoot these in the 10/22 for accuracy. Given that my ‘range' is now under a light blanket of snow, I suspect it may be awhile before I have the opportunity to do so.)
The bottom line is that I'm certain, given a proper range, ‘official' rest, etc., groups would be even tighter. But, that's not really the point. Under actual field conditions, shooting a single string (as opposed to multiple strings, then citing only the ‘best'), a group size such as this out of a CZ 452 LUX means a better than good chance of having ‘meat for supper.' With that thought in mind...
I took several of 1" diameter blue caps I had saved from the milk jugs I had used in the prior bullet collection tests and placed them in deadfall branches from roughly 2" - 10" off the deck at distances from roughly 40 - 55 yards and lay down behind the rifle again. Each went down with one shot each. Now, I don't claim to have hit ‘center' on each one; but, it could be said that a bit more practice may mean being competitive in the annual ground squirrel shoot.
(For those who abhor such ‘violence,' bear in mind that, in this agricultural region, the overpopulation of ground squirrels is viewed as hazardous to livestock due to the holes and burrows, as well as a ‘pest' in terms of crops. They also have a tendency to chew on sprinkler heads and generally cause damage that adds up. There's also the fact that Plague and Hantavirus has been found; though the latter seems, for the moment, largely limited to mice in this area. It's not so much a ‘war of extermination' as it is a reasonable ‘alternative pest control' to such things as poison baits, fumigation, and/or traps.)
Velocitors were largely unavailable in my area until a couple of years ago. Since then, they've been running $6.49 - $6.99 for a box of 50. Those who offered ‘bricks' (500 rounds) did so at $69.99. I have seen them for as low as $5.49 online; but, you'll have to factor shipping into the equation.
At that price, they aren't a plinking round. Although, with that kind of accuracy potential, I suppose you could use them for target shooting if you were of a mind to; but, with their hollowpoint and weight retention, it'd be something of a waste. Likewise, if your ‘hunting' is at, say, 50 yards or less, there are less expensive alternatives. However, if you have a .22 LR and need to reach out and touch something...
Reviews Cited Above
RCBS 5-0-5 Scale
Arc'Teryx Bora 30
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