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Old 07-29-2017, 03:17 PM
benson

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70gr Subsonic WMR



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I've seen a number of discussions on RFC about subsonic 22 WMR rounds. There's a lot of talk about "wouldn't it be nice", and lately there's the 45-grain stuff from Winchester Australia, finally being introduced here, though it's still exactly equivalent to 45-grain subsonic .22LR, and worse than Aguila's 60-grain SSS.

Well, I pack a .22 WMR revolver with a 1:9 twist barrel (long story), so I've been looking for and thinking about heavy loads for some time; I'd like to at least match SSS, if not beat it. This week I finally did something about it. I certainly am not telling anyone this will work with their ammo and in their gun -- all I can do is relate what I've done, and tell you it worked fine with my ammo and my gun.

If you're tempted to try this, think about how your gun will handle a rim blowout, as I think that's the most likely negative outcome. Will you get gas and brass shrapnel in your hand? Your face?



It started when I bought a 200-round box of CCI ratshot. One of the little boxes inside rattled different than the rest; I opened that one first and as I suspected found one of the little capsules broken, and 52 grains of #12 shot rattling around in the box. After cleaning that up, I was left with a WMR case, primed and charged (with an overpowder wad keeping the propellant in place) -- and I could hardly let that go to waste.

First I had to figure out how to remove the remains of that blue shot capsule. Turns out, the best thing is to break off and discard the part outside the case, then the rest will easily push down to the overpowder wad. This gives room to expand the case mouth -- just enough to remove the crimp. (I did this with an arbor press and a simple conical mandrel; If I make a better mandrel with a pilot to shove the plastic ahead, I can save a step; with the simple one I made, I was concerned about plastic bits wedging between the taper of the mandrel and the case.) Once the crimp is gone, that ring of blue plastic slides right out, and the cartridge is ready for a bullet.

At this point, to decide what I was gonna shove in there, I had to do some serious thinking about pressure, so here's what I thought:

The CCI ratshot load is listed as 52gr of shot at 1000fps. From that low performance, I expected it to be a rather low-pressure load to start with (but keep in mind it's certainly possible to have a high-pressure load with that velocity, and I had no guarantee CCI's wasn't such), and increasing the bullet weight to 60 or 70gr is a lower percentage increase than in, say, a 45gr .22 WRF, or worse a 40gr WMR. Additionally, even a 70gr bullet takes up less space than 52gr of shot, so by seating it to standard length we're increasing the internal space, which should reduce the pressure. But on the pressure increasing side, we're adding engraving forces not present in the shot load, plus the added projectile mass -- there's no guarantee that pressures won't wind up high above the SAAMI maximum.

Well, I chose to pair a 60gr bullet (even though I hoped to go heavier in the future) with the full existing powder charge. This was risky. Pulling the powder charge and reducing it (or replacing it with a known powder) would have been a less risky option. (Not tinkering with rimfire modification would of course be even less risky.)

So I pulled a 60gr bullet from an SSS round -- not expecting any kind of accuracy from the heeled bullet, of course, just testing for "doesn't blow up". By using a lead bullet, I reduced engraving forces, but I actually seated it a bit short of standard length, trying to approximate the powder space left by seating a heavier bullet to standard overall length. I test fired it, and it worked -- no sign of excess pressure. (Of course, the first sign of excess pressure will likely be a blown-out rim.)

With opportunistic preliminary testing saying "so far, so good", I decided to proceed to the real cartridge I'm interested in. Like I said, I've been thinking about this sort of project for a while, and the most suited bullet I've found is Speer's 70gr "semi-spitzer" . Of course, I expect the terminal ballistics are essentially that of a solid but it's the shortest heavy (>60gr) bullet I've seen, which is good for both stability (remember 1:9 twist, whereas the more aerodynamic heavy .224 bullets often need 1:7), and reducing pressure (more space in the case). So I ordered a box of them. (I'd welcome any input, if someone knows of better choices, maybe an actual flat-point?)

Yesterday the bullets got here, so I tore down 5 undamaged CCI shotshells and started loading. I must say, the SSS round pushed in easily -- I have a homemade meplat enhancement tool (like Paco Kelly's .22LR bullet-smashing tools, but for .22 WMR), which I used to seat them, and I didn't have to use a hammer or press, just shoved the plunger home with the heel of my hand; the bullet was also undistorted from the low forces. (I suppose this was partly because soft, lubed, lead, and partly because .22LR bullets are smaller.) Based on the ease of insertion, I was figuring I'd have to crimp for sure to keep bullets from moving under recoil.

But the jacketed .224 bullets are a whole 'nother thing, and won't budge with hand pressure, though they go in easy enough with the arbor press. You'll see in the picture that the loaded bullet has a flattened point; that's exactly what the meplat-enhancer was meant to do, after, all, so it has a flat-ended plunger which isn't so good for seating bullets. Something designed for the job would press on the ogive, avoiding this damage to the tip.

I didn't crimp the resulting rounds at all -- the tight fit of the bullets in the case seems okay so far, but I've only fired a few rounds so far.

I have more testing to do -- I already know these are quieter in my revolver than the 40gr WMR I normally shoot, but would like to verify terminal ballistics, and of course since I'm not crimping I'll need to fire a full cylinder to check for bullets moving out and locking the gun up. When I'm done with my testing, and presuming I'm satisfied with the results, I'll have to think about tooling up a little better to produce these in a larger batch. But I thought some folks on here would find these preliminary results interesting.

Also, I don't have a .22 WMR rifle, so I can't prove this is subsonic through a rifle-length barrel. Anyone have thoughts on that? Since I started with 52gr at 1000fps, and went up to 70gr with no added powder, I'd expect it to be slower. But is it possible the enhanced burn rate from the additional confinement (especially engraving that jacketed bullet) would generate enough extra pressure to overcome the extra weight, and make it a noisy transonic round in rifles? Doesn't really affect me (it won't matter till I have a WMR rifle, and then it will become obvious), but I'm curious.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:19 PM
Silas

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First off, Welcome to RFC!!

I found this kinda interesting. It never even occurred to me to use shotshell cartridges as a source for cases.

What I don't quite understand is the “Why” part.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:59 PM
benson

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas View Post
First off, Welcome to RFC!!
Thanks.

Quote:
What I don't quite understand is the “Why” part.
It's basically about noise. I've shot a family of coons in a shed with regular .22 WMR in this same revolver, and the magnum report that's merely obnoxious in the great outdoors takes on a whole different character inside a building.

I'm looking to avoid repeating that experience.
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Old 08-02-2017, 06:54 PM
Silas

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Have you tried the Speer Short Barrel .22WMR ammunition?? https://www.midwayusa.com/product/27...n-hollow-point
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:18 PM
benson

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I have, in fact they're in the cylinder right now.

When I first got those, I loaded up a cylinder alternating them with the Aguila JSPs I'd been carrying, to compare them. The Gold Dots do seem to recoil a bit "harder" (still not hard, obviously), as expected due to the same bullet weight and more velocity. But I didn't hear any difference in report.

FWIW, I've also tried CCI's .22 WRF rounds; those are noticeably quieter, but still much louder than either intact CCI shotshells or my 70gr loads. (They're also a couple thousandths fatter case than .22 WMR, and as my revolver has rather close chambers, some will chamber and some won't.)
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:26 PM
ohiochuck
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Verrrry Interesting

Benson,
You experiments are verrrry interesting!
A subsonic .22 magnum with match grade accuracy or a match grade round with the appropriate bullet is needed especially for those of us who like/would like to hunt edible small game with the .22 Magnum.
Please keep us posted!
Jim
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:57 PM
NoSecondBest
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I've been shooting 22wmr for many, many years. About as long as the round has been around. I have owned a lot of guns chambered in that caliber and I hunt with it a lot. Here's my experience with the heavier bullets.......50g JHP. I have found that when I hit woodchucks with this round I have nearly 50% make it down the hole. When I use 40g JHP that number drops to less than 10%. The heavier bullets simply do not expand very well. I have tried using "reloaded" 22wmr shells, which I don't recommend you use, out of both a rifle and handgun and the percentage of chucks getting down the hole is about zero. These shells have different powder used in them and also use a jacketed (a real jacketed) bullet. I can't share the recipe, but it was introduced back in the early silhouette days when some wildcat silhouette shooters started playing around with this cartridge. It's very accurate and the velocity is greatly increased. I don't know if anyone ever pressure tested these rounds or not, but I never saw a gun damaged from using them. I was given two boxes by a Canadian friend and still have ten or twelve of them left. I'd like to see someone develop something along this line and sell it for use if it's determined to be safe.
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Old 06-30-2018, 07:09 AM
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noshow
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Hey benson!
It's been almost a year I've been waiting for an update on your very interesting experiment. I love my WMR revolver, but cherish my hearing moreso!
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Old 07-02-2018, 06:24 AM
CamP

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I've experimented with minimags reloaded with 45 grain .223 diameter 22 Hornet soft point bullets. They shot well for silhouette, but it's a lot of work. I image it would make an excellent varmit hunting round.
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Old 07-07-2018, 11:30 PM
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.22 WRF

A few years ago I found several boxes of newly -made CCI ".22 WRF" for sale at the local high-volume gun shop. Yes, that's Winchester Rim Fire, a very old cartridge that predates the 22 magnum (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) by some 60+ years.

I don't recall the exact velocity data, but it was pretty quiet. Noticeably quieter than my CCI maxi mags sounded.

P.S. I just looked up the specs on the .22 WRF cartridge. It hits over 1300 f.p.s. with a 45-grain bullet. So, it's not going to be quiet like a true subsonic would.

Add me to the list of people who'd like to see a heavy, subsonic load for the .22 magnum. As heavy as you can get and still stabilize the bullets in a barrel with 1:16 twist rate.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:16 AM
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Your work is very interesting. I have not yet reloaded 22WMR although I intend to. The thought of a heavy slower moving bullet greatly appeals to me. Kind of like a tiny 45-70 lol. One problem that may turn out to be quite difficult is to get those things to be fairly quiet. The nature of these bullets in short barrels is difficult to produce quiet rounds. Keep us posted with your developments please.
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:52 PM
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At the local gun store the other day, AND at Academy Sports, I saw they both had a new (to me) product: Winchester 45-grain .22 WMR (.22 magnum) that was loaded to subsonic velocity. 1060 f.p.s.

The cost was about $12-$15 per 50 rounds, though. A few bucks more than standard .22 magnum ammo that had normal velocities (2200 f.p.s. for the 30-grain bullets, and 1900 f.p.s. for the 40-grain bullets.)
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:15 PM
Tracker12

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Not sure the value a using a mag if you want to go subsonic. I’d just use a .22.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:31 PM
Howler
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Why not a simple subsonic 40gr load? That would be more realistic given twist rates of most WMR rifles. This could be fairly easily achieved!
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