.22 Rimfire Gel Tests

June 7, 2010
By Jason Wimbiscus
I’m currently in the planning phase of a project that will involve a large amount of ballistics gel.  Before this undertaking, I wanted to get a feel for how the stuff behaves and how much of it I’m likely to need per shot.  I figured a good initial experiment would be to make up a batch of 10% gel and use it to test a variety of .22 rimfire bullets.  The firearms used in these tests were a Savage Mark IV in .22 LR with a 20″ bbl , and a Ruger Single Six in .22 magnum with a 6.5″ bbl.  The .22 LR rounds were fired at an approximate distance of 25 yards while the .22 mag rounds were fired from a distance of about 10 feet.

Remington CBEE .22 LR 33 grain Subsonic Hollowpoint

I’m a fan of these and other subsonic .22 LR rounds for their reduced noise and high degree of accuracy.  I live in a rural area where I can safely target practice in my backyard with .22 LR, but there are neighbors in earshot with whom I want to stay on good terms.  Some subsonic rounds are no louder than an air rifle meaning I can practice for hours without irritating the neighbors.  As far as terminal performance is concerned, they pack more than enough punch to take care of small vermin at reasonable distances.  With velocity averaging 750 f/s at the muzzle, the Remington subsonic penetrated 7″ into the gel block (see photo below).  The hollow point of the bullet opened partially.

Winchester .22 LR 36 gain Hollowpoint

These are basic and formerly inexpensive .22 LR hollowpoints.  Leaving the muzzle at an average velocity of 1189 f/s, the bullet penetrated 11.25″ of gel.  It expanded completely and some of the tip fragmented away.

CCI Mini-Mag  .22 LR 36 gain Copper Plated Hollowpoint

These performed similarly to the Winchester hollowpoints.  Average muzzle velocity was  1271 f/s and penetration was 11.5″.  Expansion was excellent and it appears to have shed less of itself than did the Winchester.

CCI Stinger 32 grain Hollowpoint

CCI stingers have long been my preferred anti-pest round due to their explosive performance.  When I have to dispatch vermin, I like to know that it’s dead on the spot and I’ve seen animals as small as squirrels absorb a hit from a.22 round nose only to run off and die later.   I once had to eliminate a garden destroying groundhog and only had roundnose  .22 ammo at my disposal.   The critter absorbed 5 shots to the body before finally succumbing.  I personally like things to go a little faster and the stingers facilitate that.  In spite of being unusually fast for a .22 LR round (1634 f/s MV) and highly frangible, the stem of the bullet penetrated surprisingly well at 9.5″.

Recovered Bullets, from left to right: Remington CEEBEE, CCI Mini Mag, Win HP, CCI Stinger

.22 Magnum Rimfire Pistol

These results were interesting.  I tested two rounds, Federal Game-Shok  50 grain hollowpoint and Remington 33 grain Accutip-V.  Both were fired into the gel block from 10 feet, and both bullets cruised right through 15″ of gel and kept going.  The diameter of the cavity was negligible indicating minimal bullet expansion.  Clearly, these .22 mag bullets were not designed to expand at the reduced velocities produced from a handgun.  The average muzzle velocity of the Federal round was 1257 f/s while the Remington bullet left the muzzle at 1600 f/s.  The photo below is of the entry hole resulting from a shot I fired into the block at a distance of a few inches.  Note the unburned powder.

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