Welcome back to The Rimfire Report! In this ongoing series, we aim to explore the various firearms, ammunition, competitions, history, and news surrounding the rimfire world. This week we’ll be exploring a rimfire shooting practice that has been picking up more and more attention in recent years – The Extreme Long Range 22LR (ELR Rimfire). This type of shooting tests the extreme limits of the 22LR cartridge, the firearms, and the shooters behind them. In this article, we’ll take a look at what you’d need to get started in the ELR discipline of shooting.
The Rimfire Report: What it Takes to Get Extreme Long Range out of 22LR
Extreme long-range shooting is fun in its own right, but with modern cartridges, rifles, and optics the task has been boiled down to somewhat of a refined science for all but the longest of shots. Cartridges like the .338 Lapua magnum 300 PRC have made shots out to 1,000 yards a rather attainable affair even for average riflemen (if the rig is set up correctly).
With 22LR there is a certain appeal both on the economic side as well as the challenge side. 22LR obviously doesn’t have the horsepower to travel the extreme distances of magnum centerfire rifle cartridges but it’s more than capable of reaching out beyond 300 yards which is what most consider to be the bare minimum for “Extreme Long-Range.”
Finally, what I see to be the greatest appeal to the ELR shooting scene is the land factor. Most of us don’t have access to 2+ miles of range to shoot at. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon to find outdoor ranges with 600+ yard rifle bays. So where your 300 PRC would be having a snooze fest drilling quarter-sized holes at 600 yards, your 22LR will net you a bit more equitable difficulty during your range session. Above everything that follows below, solid preparation is king when it comes to ELR rimfire shooting.
The core of Extreme Long Range 22LR shooting is the rifle – obviously. It doesn’t take much in the way of rifles to get the most out of the 22LR cartridge but there are a fair amount of good rifles out there if you’re just looking for an excuse to get a fancy rig. My personal recommendation would have to be the Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle or the Savage Mk II rifle.
Both of those bolt action rifles offer an excellent platform to work off of and to build on. Other rifles like the CZ 457 are also good options for both their affordability and modularity. All three come ready to accept an optic and are well regarded for their accuracy as rimfire rifles.
Extreme Long Range competitions do not allow Rail Guns or bolted down Bench Guns so you can discount that category altogether. The competition is as much about the discipline and experience of the shooter as it is the rifle he’s using. You are permitted to use any bipod you wish and this will be a key feature of your rig. Make sure the bipod you select is of quality construction and most importantly makes shooting more consistent for you.
Almost equally as important if not as important will be the glass you’re shooting through and the base it’s attached to. You can expect a standard velocity 22LR to drop about 60 MOA at 300 yards and about 70 MOA at 400 yards – you’ll need to compensate for that. The ability to adjust your scope in the field means that you’ll need a good combination of MOA adjustment in tandem with a rail that will accent the useable range of election adjustment for even longer shots.
Many popular brands of scopes to put on these rimfire rifles seem to be companies like Vortex, Night Force, and Schmidt & Bender. Some of those brands can be quite expensive with the scope costing more than your rifle, bipod, rails, range membership, and a year supply of ammunition so use good judgment when making your first build.
You don’t necessarily need a 30x scope in order to make accurate shots on a 12×12″ plate at 500 yards. If your eyes are up to the task you may be able to get away with a lower magnification scope to save a little on the entire cost of the rig or maybe even repurpose another scope you have from another rifle. The point is that the glass is important but also a highly subjective part of the ELR builds – use your best judgment.
All ELR rimfire competitions restrict the use of 22 Long Rifle cartridges only. All of my research has not yielded any conclusive results on whether or not certain bullet weights or charges are restricted from use. 40gr 22LR is the most common type of 22LR ammunition out there and that may be a good place to start when first getting into the discipline. The main goal in ELR Precision Rimfire will be to maintain consistent velocities as much as possible for maximum predictability.
For this purpose, long-range match ammo is recommended for optimum consistency. The rounds themselves aren’t anything special but the quality control in premium 22LR ammunition is much better than the bulk or even standard loadings you’ll find. Companies like Eley, SK and Norma make excellent 22LR match ammunition.
Interestingly enough Cutting Edge Bullets are in the market of making new solid copper 22LR bullets that fit inside the 22LR cartridge and standard 22LR rifles and chambers. The 22LR ELR ammunition uses solid copper spitzer style bullets much like you’d find in centerfire rifle ammunition. Right now it looks like the company is developing loads with 30, 40, and 50-grain bullet weights, although the 30grain bullet weight is the only one that currently stabilizes in factory barrel twist rates.
I would imagine that the heavier bullet weights with faster twist rates would yield some incredible accuracy at longer ranges for the 22LR cartridge but one has to wonder if that would instigate a bullet weight cap on the ELR competition should these projectiles start to show up.
In any case, if you’re an ELR rimfire shooter please feel free to leave your thoughts down below. ELR rimfire seems like a fun and affordable way to get into long-range shooting without breaking the bank and I’m looking forward to getting into it more now the discipline has started taking on more popularity. Thanks as always for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report!
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