Assuming you’re not calling winter coyotes on the high plains, when it comes to most varmint (and small game) hunting, rimfires are—for many of us—the easiest, cheapest, least noisy and most sensible solution.Since we’re always on the lookout for new stuff in the world of .22 rimfires, we were kind of excited to get the chance to try out a 300-round “Rec Pack” of Eley Contact featuring a 42-grain bullet. Claimed velocity is 1,090 fps and it’s billed as a “Subsonic Semi-Auto” load.Being of a “certain age,” I well remember semi-auto functioning problems from my youth when anything less than high-velocity Long Rifles were used. So to check out the “Semi-Auto” claim, we ran it through both Thomas Mackie’s cherished Belgian-era Browning SA takedown .22 and a Ruger Mk III pistol. It functioned flawlessly in both guns. Then we checked it for accuracy with a scoped Ruger 77/22 at 50 yards and got consistent 5-shot groups at between 1/2 and 3/4 inch.From the 5-1/2-inch barreled Ruger pistol we averaged 955 fps (55 fps Extreme Spread). From a 3-inch barreled S&W M63 J-Frame revolver, we got 837 fps (77 ES). From our 20-inch barreled Ruger bolt action, we averaged 1,050 fps (with an impressive ES of 23). With the possible exception of a few hyper-velocity .22 LR loads, of course, nearly everything is subsonic from a handgun, provided we’re talking about a real-world barrel length.The 300-round container aside, this stuff is by no means a “bulk budget” load, but it is an awfully nice, very civilized one. All things being equal, what usually drives the price skyward on super-premium or serious match-grade rimfire ammo is the time-consuming process known as “hand-inspection,” requiring a high level of diligence and experience on the part of the inspector.Although subsonic ammo is—in large part—marketed with suppressors in mind, even without one, this Eley stuff has a markedly lower noise signature than standard or high-velocity .22 LR. From both rifles we used, the difference between the relatively sedate Eley Contact and the sonic crack of Winchester HV Wildcat ammo was obvious, even with ear protection. And from both handguns the “whack” was considerably less pronounced. For areas where discretion is the better part of decibel level, this stuff is the way to go. And for shooting non-edible varminty critters, Eley’s got a subsonic HP load as well. It’s available through Crow Shooting Supply (among other distributors) for $59.99 per 300 rounds.

Eley’s subsonic contact .22 LR load is designed for semi-autos like the Ruger Mk III,
but works great in S&W’s Model 63 as well.

From a rifle, its 42-grain bullet delivered excellent 50-yard results.

WMR Add-On

As long as we’re on the subject of small bores for small critters, I’d like to “revisit” a statement I made last issue in a writeup of the Savage B22 Magnum G rifle. In it, I said today’s .22 Mag loads are pretty awesome in terms of velocity from a rifle barrel (they are). I also indicated the velocity drop-off from a handgun barrel made the extra cost far more tolerable for rifle users—implying .22 Mags were essentially overrated from a handgun.


Thinking about it later, I got a touch of second-guess remorse and decided to chrono the same batch of “New Wave” .22 Mag ammo through a 6-1/2-inch Ruger Single Six to see what the difference actually was. Back in the early 1960s, factory claims for a 40-grain .22 Mag were generally “2,000 fps rifle/1,500 fps handgun.” What I found is in the accompanying chart. The average velocity loss from all 5 loads was 612 fps. Some, of course, fared better than others.The lesson here? If I was going to hunt small game/varmints with a .22 Magnum handgun, first off I’d take what grouped best (or shot closest to point-of-aim assuming fixed sights) in my particular gun. But I’d hope it would be the Hornady 45-grain FTX load—excellent bullet (not to mention the heaviest) and the least velocity loss of all 5. Sure, the faster, lighter stuff is going to be a bit flatter, but certainly nothing that’s going to be a vital factor at small-game handgun yardage—particularly if you’re using iron sights. But all of them would give a .22 Mag handgun—assuming a reasonable amount of barrel—the power equivalent of most any .22 LR load from a rifle.

Packed with chronographs, targets and an array of shooting gear, Cannae’s Pro Gear
Transport Duffelis an easy way to schlep things to the range.

A whole lot of varmint shooting comes under the heading of garden/orchard pest
control anddoesn’t require more than an accurate rimfire.

Clean All-Around

We broke out Modern Spartan System’s Starter Kit after a recent shooting session and were pleasantly surprised. The kit contains 2-ounce squeeze bottles of the company’s cleaning products—Accuracy Oil, Copper/Lead Destroyer, Carbon Destroyer, Crystal Clear and a smaller container of Accuracy Grease. The first was the Carbon Destroyer—which is, as far as I’m concerned, a “must-have” for cleaning the black burn marks off the front of the cylinder after a shooting session.Several of our revolvers were of blued carbon steel, which means the semi-abrasive lead/carbon removal cloth we normally employ on stainless guns was out of the question. The other was the company’s Copper/Lead Destroyer which—after a wait and a few passes—removed the residue from the soft lead RN’s and the JHP’s we’d been shooting. The non-gun kicker in the deck was the Crystal Clear—an excellent optical cleaner. We used it on a scope, a pair of shooting glasses, and my reading glasses, which I’m not ashamed to admit I now need to decipher the bullet-weights listed on boxes of factory ammo. And to read my own notes once I get home. Spartan’s Starter Kit is an excellent way to figure out what works for you so you can get larger containers as needed.

Modern Spartan System’s Starter Kit provides a wide array of gun-care “squeezables” in a handy package.

For The Long Haul

The Cannae Pro Gear Transport Duffel hauls all our peripheral range gear on our shooting sessions. It’s got outside zipper pockets on all sides for notebooks, cleaning gear, ammo, etc…. Everything else—assorted bulky-but-vital items—goes in the main “bag body” (which also has dividers). It’s made of Dupont Cordura Nylon and has a large adjustable padded shoulder strap in case the haul to the bench is longer than we figured! All for $79.95.

Cannae Pro Gear
2340 E. Artesia Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90805
(562) 349-0562

CCI Ammunition
2299 Snake River Ave.
Lewiston, ID 83501
(800) 379-1732

Crow Shooting Supply
200 S. Front St.
Montezuma, IA 50171
(800) 264-2493

8376 Murphy Dr
Middleton, WI 53562
(800) 450-2172

Kershaw/Kai USA Ltd.
18600 SW Teton Ave.
Tualatin, OR 97062
(800) 325-2891

Hornady Manufacturing
3625 W. Old Potash Hwy.
Grand Island, NE 68803

Modern Spartan Systems
2394 Dawson Ln.
Algonquin, IL 60102
(847) 669-1640

Winchester Ammunition
600 Powder Mill Rd.
East Alton, IL 62024-1273
(800) 356-2666

This Makes The Cut

If you’re looking for an EDC folder and can’t find one to suit you in the Kershaw lineup, seek professional help because chances are you’re impossible to please knifewise. I recently had the chance to fool with the company’s new Vedder, which is a bit bigger and heavier than the Kershaw Fraxion I’ve been packing for the last year or so. The Vedder is an inch longer—when opened—than my Fraxion, and is more substantial with a 4.6-ounce weight—thanks to its steel handle with G-10 overlay—really enhancing the cutting power of what the company refers to as a “modified Wharncliffe”-configured 3.25-inch blade.I sliced up melons and a pork shoulder with it and, yes, it can handle some pretty serious slicing tasks. And it’s easy to touch up the edge with a DMT Double Sided Diafold sharpener. Although I carry my 1.9-ounce Fraxion loose in my pocket, I think I’d employ the pocket clip (which is reversible) on the Vedder. It’s also got a lanyard hole if you’re so inclined.In short, the Vedder is another very useful, reasonably priced assisted-opening “flipper” from Kershaw. Like all their folders I’ve seen, it’s razor sharp out of the box for $59.99.

GUNS Magazine March 2018 Cover

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