Is a .22 Ammo Revolution Underway?

We explore the what appears to be a bit of a .22 ammo revolution: high-performance .22LRs for long-range precision and new, powerful cartridges.

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Feb 2024

Something is going on when it comes to .22 caliber ammunition. There is both a move to make current .22LR loads much better, delivering almost unheard-of performance out of guns that already exist, as well as introducing new cartridges to further break the mold.

Norma 22 XLR XTreme Rocket Tail

Billed as a “500 yard .22LR” Norma teased this round at the 2023 SHOT Show and it started filtering out to dealers’ shelves in small quantities in recent weeks. The secret is an elongated bullet tip for improved aerodynamics and what Norma says is the world’s first “rocket tail,” which is fundamentally something of a rebated boat tail. While people have been talking about that for a long time in a .22LR Norma went ahead and did it. That could prove remarkably interesting, especially in PRS Rimfire matches and folks that run rimfire small game harvesting/pest control/bench guns at a distance.

Of course, the cost is almost $1 per round, if you can find it, so there’s that.

Norma Rockettail
Norma Rockettail

CCI Uppercut Defense

With modern handgun manufacturers like Beretta (21A Bobcat), Ruger (LCP Lite Rack II), Glock (G44), SIG (P322), and Taurus (TX22 Compact) selling some very concealable .22LR rimfire pistols and a growing number of people have chosen .22 LR for their defense pistol, CCI developed a dedicated self-protection load: the Uppercut.

While the company had long made high-velo hollow-pointed .22LRs like the Stinger and Mini-Mag, they were meant more for varmints and bagging game.

CCI Uppercut
CCI Uppercut

CCI says the Uppercut’s jacketed hollow point bullet features nose skiving that initiates full and reliable expansion through semi-automatic handguns with 2.5- to 4-inch barrels, while retaining the weight needed to hit critical penetration depths, pushing past the FBI benchmark of 12 inches in ballistics gel in tests.

“What makes this product stand out is its plating thickness. Typically, our 22 LR bullets, such as our popular Mini-Mag line, have a thin flash plate that requires wax to keep the barrel from leading,” said Jason Slinkard, CCI’s Rimfire Product Director. “The heavy copper plating on Uppercut measures six-thousandths of an inch. This design feature is a key to its overall effectiveness as a self-defense bullet.”

22 Plinkster went all-in on a 20-minute review including some real-deal Corbin Simulated Animal Muscle Tissue Ballistic Test Media (SIM-TESTtm) animal-protein based gel.

Hornady's New Cartridges

Hornady just had two new rounds accepted for standardization by SAAMI, which clears the way for gunmakers to start minting rifles (and pistols) for them. Centerfire, they push large (75-to-80-grain) pills at high velocity, with each far surpassing what the .223 Remington brings to the party. This could be a brave new world.

.22 Advanced Rifle Cartridge – (.22 ARC) with a 75-grain bullet traveling at a velocity of 3,075 fps and a Maximum Average Pressure of 52,000 psi.

22 Creedmoor (22 CM) with an 80-grain bullet traveling at a velocity of 3,250 fps and a Maximum Average Pressure of 62,000 psi.

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