When To Go Fast

By Brian Lovett

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CCI ammunition being loaded into a magazine

Many aspects of rimfire shooting seem intuitive, which might explain some of its tremendous popularity. But when you dig deep into the weeds, technical questions arise, and many of those involve speed. And considering the array of ammo available nowadays, it’s easy to see why shooters might wonder when it’s best to shoot a rimfire cartridge with an average muzzle velocity and when they might want one that zips out of the barrel.

Easy Does It—Sometimes

The answer? That depends on your intended use for the cartridge, according to rimfire expert and CCI ambassador Todd Jarrett.

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Clean-22 Hyper Velocity Packaging and cartridges

“For competition, I prefer a standard velocity,” says Jarrett, who has won several world Steel Challenge aggregate championships and estimates that he’s shot about a million .22 rounds during his lifetime. “Let’s say we are shooting a Steel Challenge or some type of action competition. In the past, we’ve always found that a lower-velocity projectile is better for accuracy out to 100 yards. That’s not to say that high velocity is not accurate at 100 yards. But I get more feedback off a standard-velocity projectile than I do a hyper-velocity round in the competition world.”

Standard-velocity rounds are also important in competitions because they produce fewer ricochets and help preserve targets. Jarrett says they’re also ideal for teaching new shooters. However, high-velocity rimfire rounds shine in other areas.

When Speed Matters

“Why would I use hyper-velocity projectiles?” he says. “Especially for hunting purposes, like with small game, it gives me more energy on that target for shock factor. It gives me more depth penetration.”

Jarrett also recommends high-velocity rounds for shooters who use .22 rimfire pistols for self-defense, again because of penetration and shock factor.


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Stinger Packaging and cartridges

“Some folks ask why people would even consider rimfire for self-defense,” he says. “First, it’s low noise, and there’s a tremendous amount of difference in recoil management. It’s good for people who might have arthritic hands or might otherwise be sensitive to felt recoil to their hands. And typically, a .22 rimfire firearm is smaller than a lot of the centerfire firearms on the market. With high-velocity cartridges, it gives the individual the confidence they need if they decide they want to use one for defense.”

That doesn’t mean standard-velocity .22 rimfire rounds can’t be used for self-defense, Jarrett says. But the general guidelines of higher velocities for hunting and defense and standard speeds for competition and training newcomers usually provide the best results. And with that knowledge in mind, you can eliminate the confusion about rimfire speeds and enjoy shooting even more.