Ballistics By The Inch Adds .22 Magnum

BBTI

If you have not heard of them before, The Ballistics By The Inch project tests cartridges by shooting them through a rifle-length barrel, noting the velocity, then cutting an inch off the end of the barrel and repeating until the barrel is just 2″ in length. This provides valuable information because the velocity published by ammunition companies come from measurements through a long test barrel. For example .22 Magnum bullets are usually tested by the manufacturer with a 24″ barrel. Nobody these days shooting .22 Magnum with a 24″ barrel, and the .22 Magnum has a growing following among revolver and pistol shooters who are shooting with 4″ or shorter barrel.

The BBTI project have just published their tests of the .22 Magnum with barrel length ranging from 19″ to 2″. They have also tested the cartridge in a number of real-world guns.

Looking at these figures, I have to wonder if there is any point in owning a snub-nosed revolver or derringer in .22 Magnum instead of .22 Long Rifle, since the velocity/energy is going to be the same. The only “advantage” is a bigger fireball.

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • floppyscience

    “Looking at these figures, I have to wonder if there is any point in
    owning a snub-nosed revolver or derringer in .22 Magnum instead of .22
    Long Rifle, since the velocity/energy is going to be the same.”

    A lot of people (myself included) have been saying this for years but nobody listens. Most people don’t care enough to look up the relevant ballistic data and just assume “magnum = better”. Maybe now since all the data is in one place, organized and easy to read, people will learn something.

    On a side note BBTI is a great tool. It settles a lot of arguments, especially when talking about short barrels.

    • Komrad

      Well, Speer makes Gold DOts for .22 WMR, but not LR, so that might be a decent reason.

    • http://www.greenvilledragnet.com/ RobTaylor

      Yeah I had an argument with a gun clerk here once when I wanted to by a Uberti in .22 The guy insisted that if I bought a Ruger in .22 Mag then I could at least use it in self-defense. When I told him I didn’t think there was a significant difference between .22 mag and LR from a revolver my intelligence and sanity were both called into question in some creative ways.

  • http://twitter.com/blakedotfr Blake

    Makes sense; almost all 22WMR ammo that isn’t specifically branded as “self defense” pistol ammo has powder burn rates for rifle barrels.

    One extremely revealing statistic from this test is that revolvers were never meant to have rifle-length barrels. The 18″ Rossi Circuit Judge posts lower numbers than the 6″ Ruger Single 6 (unlike all the other rifle-length bbls in the test). The reason is pretty obvious if you think about it: it’s easier for the gas to escape via the cylinder gap than to push the bullet down the bbl. The Circuit Judge’s long bbl is just slowing down the bullet for most of the burn time.

    Again, pistol-formulated “self defense” type 22WMR ammo may help this problem in guns like the Circuit Judge as the burn rate is faster so the bullet will start out faster before the cylinder gap bleeds off the pressure over time.

    Mental note: never stand next to anyone at the range using a Circuit Judge.

  • bbmg

    “Maybe now since all the data is in one place, organized and easy to read, people will learn something.”

    Yeah, totally.

    http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/

    I’m afraid your confidence in humanity might be a little optimistic :-/

    • Komrad

      Tn=hat was a good laugh.

    • floppyscience

      Oh well, one can always hope.

  • Jinxy the Cat

    For a more in-depth discussion of the .22 WMR as a self-defense caliber, check the June 2013 issue of “American Rifleman.” Careful though, there is some political discussion in the magazine and I know how some of you like to avoid that subject.

    • gunsandrockets

      Yeah, that was a good article. Funny how BBTI updated with .22 WMR data at the same time. Happy coincidence.

  • franco

    Without chrono statistics it is hard to say but my naa mini does significantly more damage to water jugs in 22 mag than 22lr. Same thing comparing my pmr30 to my glock 19 with 22lr conversion. One thing is for sure, the quality of the ammo is dramatically better in 22 mag. I have washed many 22mag rounds in my pockets over the years and they have always fired afterwards. I know this is not scientific but the proof in the seat of the pants, pun intended.

  • Sid Collins

    Having fired both, I think you are missing the one major difference between .22 Magnum and .22 LR. .22 Magnum is loud. Really loud. If a suspect arrives in the ER with a .22 sized hole and is deaf, it was a .22 Magnum.

    • gunsandrockets

      A person should never underestimate the factor of morale in self-defense situations. Noise is a weapon too.