Letter Re: Which .22 Ammo to Store–High Velocity or Subsonic?

You mentioned the following in your List of Lists:
WTSHTF, ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft) and it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of .22 LR (most high velocity hollow points).”

High velocity .22 rimfire can be heard from a long way off. Would human predators stalk you and close in for the kill? Think stealth after the SHTF. Here are some figures:

High velocity 22 40 grain @ 1,250 fps (hypersonic) = 136 foot pounds of energy

CCI 22 CB Long 29 grain @ 720 fps= 33 foot pounds of energy

Aguila SSS 60 grain @ 950 = 120 foot pounds of energy

Remington subsonic 38 grain @ 1,000 = 95 foot pounds of energy

Please take the time to read Tossing “Rocks” – Shooting Subsonic .22s, — a comparison of four subsonic 22 rounds.

JWR Replies: There is some value in buying subsonic ammo, for stealthy pest and small game shooting. If that is your goal, then buy the Aguila SSS Subsonic. These are like CB caps on steroids. They are very quiet. A quantity of 500 to 1,000 rounds should suffice. Subsonic “target” ammo is made in small quantities, so it can literally be twice to six times as expensive as the mass-produced high velocity .22 rimfire varieties. The Aguila SSS, currently sells for $4.49 for a box of 50, even from a discount mail order dealer like Midway! (Expect even higher prices in retail gun shops.)

For barter purposes, (your largest stockpile), buy high velocity, factory name brand (Winchester or Remington) hollow points. In actuality, standard 40 grain round nose has almost identical terminal effects as a hollow point. (The hollow nose looks great for marketing purposes, but at typical rimfire velocities, it doesn’t case significantly increased expansion.) But since the majority of your barter customers will not be ballistics experts, they will assume that hollow points are somehow “better” and hence they will likely be willing to allow more in trade for them.

If you are going to store both subsonic and hypersonic rimfire ammo for your own use, then do some extensive testing with each of your .22 pistols and rifles. Accuracy can vary substantially, so match your rifles to their most accurate cartridges. The point of impact (“bullet drop”) will also vary considerably when switching ammo, necessitating re-zeroing. If you have numerous .22s rifles, then you might consider making one of them with a scope your “dedicated” platform for shooting subsonic ammo. Zero it in carefully for use with one particular type of ammunition, and mark the rifle accordingly . (For example, an adhesive sticker on the scope marked “Zeroed for PMC Moderator Subsonic.”)

Consider this: If you are in a situation where bad guys head toward the sound of gunfire, then you had better have something a lot more powerful than a .22 rimfire rifle in your hands when they arrive.

In an absolute worst case scenario, where you don’t want to attract any attention, pest or small game shooting with a high-power .22 or .25 caliber air rifle is both quieter and less expensive than shooting with subsonic .22 rimfire ammunition. For survival shooting, I prefer manually pimped models, rather than CO2-powered. If money is no object, then get something like a Beeman R1 .22 Double Gold or perhaps even a Weihrauch HW 100S. These are available from Pyramid Air (one of our affiliate advertisers), and several other Internet vendors. Compared to the cost of shooting expensive subsonic ammunition like Aguila SSS, even an expensive air rifle will pay for itself after shooting just a few thousand rounds. If you are on a budget, then Get a Gamo Big Cat, or Gamo Carbine Sport. Both of those use .22 pellets. For a medium budget, a Walther Falcon Hunter (either .22 or .25 caliber, around $270) is a good choice.

The other advantage of air rifles is that you can legally conduct target practice inside city limits, in most jurisdictions. While no substitute for high power rifle shooting, indoor practice with an air rifle can help maintain your shooting skills in winter months.