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.22LR Ammo: Accuracy Tips

Welcome, fellow rimfire enthusiasts! In this article, we’re going to dive into every nook and cranny of accurate .22 LR shooting, transforming you into a veritable rimfire marksman.

Table of Contents

What Is Considered Accurate For The .22 LR

When discussing accuracy, it’s important to establish some benchmarks. For centerfire rifles, a sub-one-inch group at 100 yards is generally considered accurate. In contrast, a .22 LR rifle is deemed accurate if capable of a similar grouping at 50 yards. Why is that?

Let’s take a look at some ballistics data for the .22 LR cartridge. The .22 LR has a muzzle velocity of around 1,200-1,600 feet per second or below 1,100 fps for subsonic loads. Due to its relatively low velocity and lighter bullet weight, the .22 LR is more susceptible to wind drift and bullet drop than centerfire cartridges.


Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t shoot accurately at longer distances with a .22 LR. In fact, some skilled shooters can consistently hit targets at 100-200 yards, while a true marksman can push the envelope even further, hitting small targets at 300-400 yards. However, shooting .22 LR at such distances is primarily reserved for competition purposes.

For hunters, engaging targets beyond 200 yards with a .22 LR is not recommended without a proper set-up. The cartridge’s limited power and bullet drop make it challenging to ensure a clean, ethical shot on small game at such distances. As a responsible hunter, it’s crucial to know your limitations and those of your equipment. So we advise against taking shots at small animals beyond 100 yards if you’re uncertain of the exact distance.

Now, what do you need to be accurate with a .22 rifle?

Get Proper .22 LR Ammo

For hunting small game, flatter trajectory and higher muzzle velocity are essential because the exact distance to the target is often unknown. High-velocity .22 Long Rifle ammo, with muzzle velocities ranging from 1,200 to 1,600 feet per second, is well-suited for this purpose. These loads provide a flatter trajectory, allowing for reliably accurate shots at varying distances and saving you from calculating that bullet drop. Typically, these loads have lighter bullets that are more prone to wind drift and are often designed with hollow points to ensure rapid expansion upon impact, maximizing terminal performance on small game.

Some of the best .22 LR hunting loads include:

  • CCI Stringer 32gr, CCI 22 LR Standard Velocity, CCI 22 LR High Velocity, and CCI 22 LR Subsonic
  • Eley Sub Sonic Hollow Points 38gr (as being quiet when hunting squirrels is prime)
  • Winchester Subsonic 42 MAX (great for reducing noise, suppressed 22 rifles, and longer range .22LR hunting).

On the other hand, when engaging in long-range target shooting at 100 yards and beyond, you’ll want to opt for match-grade ammunition. This type of .22 LR ammo is typically standard velocity, with muzzle velocities between 1,050 and 1,200 feet per second. While these loads may produce more bullet drop compared to high-velocity options, they are less prone to wind drift due to heavier bullets. Moreover, with a known distance to the target, it’s easy to calculate that bullet drop and adjust your riflescope.

Some of the best match-grade long-range .22LR ammo for the greatest accuracy include:

  • Lapua Center-X 40gr,
  • SK Ammo Standard Plus / Rifle Match / Long Range Match,
  • Federal Premium Gold Medal UltraMatch 40gr,
  • Eley Tenex 40gr.

It’s essential to remember that every rifle is unique, and finding the perfect 22 ammo for your specific firearm can make all the difference in your shooting experience. We strongly encourage you to test several ammo loads to determine which works best with your .22 LR rifle. To do this, get your rifle stabilized on a bench or shooting bags and shoot five five-shot groups of each ammo type.

Select Superior .22 Rifle

If you don’t own a .22 rifle yet, generally, single-shot and bolt-action rifles, like the CZ 457, offer greater accuracy mainly due to their fewer internal parts and tighter action, thus, having less potential for mechanical inconsistencies.

However, if you’re more into semi-automatic designs, the Ruger 10/22 is an excellent choice. This iconic rifle has earned a reputation for its reliability, versatility, and inherent accuracy, making it a favorite among shooting enthusiasts.

Replace Your Barrel

Upgrading your .22 rifle barrel can become a game-changer. Ideally, a .22 LR barrel for accurate long-range shooting should be 20-28 inches long because a longer barrel allows a bullet to generate more energy; and have a rifling twist of 1:16 to stabilize the lighter bullets.

Additionally, a thicker barrel is desirable, as it can handle the heat generated from rapid firing more effectively, reducing the impact of heat-induced fluctuations on your shot consistency. Furthermore, opting for a threaded barrel allows for the easy addition of a suppressor when needed.

Clean Your Barrel

The .22 LR is a notoriously dirty cartridge known for leaving behind significant amounts of copper, carbon, and lead fouling. This build-up can adversely affect your rifle’s accuracy by altering the internal dimensions and creating inconsistencies in the bullet’s path through the barrel. Regular cleaning removes the build-up, ensuring the rifling remains sharp and consistent.

Replace Your Factory Trigger


Upgrading your trigger can be a valuable enhancement, particularly for competitive shooters – hunters and casual plinkers may not notice a significant improvement. A crisp, consistent trigger with a lighter pull weight can improve your overall shooting accuracy by allowing you to maintain your sights on the target more effectively while pulling the trigger. It translates to a smoother, more controlled shot unlikely to be disrupted by unintentional movements or jerks.

Choose The Right Riflescope

If you’re primarily into short-range shooting or hunting, a riflescope may not be necessary. Instead, consider opting for high-quality iron sights or a red dot sight with a 2 MOA dot. These alternatives provide better peripheral vision and are generally more effective for tracking moving targets.

However, a riflescope becomes indispensable when it comes to shots beyond 100 yards. It’s important to note that not just any scope will do; you need a high-quality one equipped with features that enhance your long-range shooting capabilities. Look for scopes with excellent lenses, minimal parallax, and a reliable zero hold. These attributes ensure optimal clarity, precise adjustments, and consistent shot placement.

For shots extending beyond 200 yards, a bullet-drop compensating (BDC) reticle is a must-have feature. A BDC reticle simplifies the process of estimating bullet drop at various distances, allowing you to make quick and accurate adjustments on the fly.

Also, remember to make sure your scope rings and bases are as tight as possible.

Once on the range, set an appropriate zero practical for a particular shooting discipline (static distance vs. dynamic distances), correct parallax, and dial elevation and windage to address bullet drop and wind.

Get Chassis


Upgrading your .22 rifle with a high-quality chassis can significantly enhance its accuracy and overall performance. A well-designed chassis provides a solid, stable platform that ensures consistent contact between the rifle’s action and stock. This consistency helps to minimize any potential shifts or vibrations during shooting, which can negatively impact accuracy.

Furthermore, many chassis systems offer customizable features such as adjustable length of pull, comb height, and ergonomics, allowing you to tailor the fit of your rifle to your individual preferences. This personalized fit not only improves comfort but also promotes better shooting form, enabling you to maintain a more stable and consistent shooting position. By investing in a top-notch chassis for your .22 rifle, you’ll be taking an important step toward optimizing its accuracy and unlocking its full potential on the range.

Improve Your Skills

Finally, improving your shooting skills is paramount, regardless of the equipment you use. It includes focusing on fundamentals such as correct body positioning, stock placement, grip, and breathing techniques – each of these elements plays a vital role in creating a stable shooting platform. Additionally, honing your wind reading skills is critical when engaging in long-range .22 shooting, as the .22 LR is particularly susceptible to wind drift. The ability to assess wind direction and speed accurately will allow you to make more effective adjustments for windage.

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What type of .22 LR ammunition is best for hunting vs. long-range shooting?

For hunting small game, high-velocity ammunition with a flat trajectory and hollow-point bullets is preferred. For long-range target shooting, match-grade ammunition with standard velocity (1,050-1,200 fps) is recommended.

What is the best .22 ammunition?

We advise high-velocity CCI and Eley loads for hunting; standard-velocity loads of Lapua, SK Ammo, and Federal are best for long-range shooting.

How can upgrading the barrel of my .22 rifle improve its accuracy?

Upgrading to a high-quality barrel with optimal length (up to 28 inches), rifling twist rate (1:16), and thickness can improve accuracy by ensuring higher muzzle velocity, better bullet stabilization, and handling heat from rapid firing more effectively.

How does cleaning the barrel affect the accuracy of my .22 rifle?

Regularly cleaning the barrel helps remove fouling, which can negatively impact accuracy by creating inconsistencies in the bullet’s path through the barrel.

How can I improve my shooting skills to enhance the accuracy of my .22 rifle?

Focus on improving fundamental shooting techniques such as body positioning, stock placement, grip, and breathing. Additionally, honing your wind reading skills will help you make effective adjustments for windage, leading to more precise shots, especially at longer ranges.

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