Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is a celebration and exploration of everything rimfire firearm related. We are all probably feeling the squeeze when it comes to the ammunition shortage. Even as rimfire shooters our ammunition has not only become scarce but has also skyrocketed in price leaving many plinkers looking for alternative ammunition that they otherwise wouldn’t pay any attention to. I recently came across a video on YouTube by Buffalo’s Outdoors that explores a relatively obscure .22LR ammunition for the American market – Vostok .22 Long Rifle Standard. Today we’ll go over what I’ve found out about this ammunition as well as what Buffalo Outdoors had to say about it.
The Rimfire Report – Vostok Steel-Cased .22 Long Rifle Ammunition
Vostok .22LR Standard ammunition is manufactured in Russia at the Klimovsk Specialized Ammo Plant and imported to the United States by Wolf Ammunition. Both the ammunition and the company have their roots in the former USSR and not only were standard .22LR target rounds made (the ones pictured in this article) but also Vostok match grade ammunition made and imported in the United States over the years.
I did some extensive research across the internet and even found an interesting albeit unverified account that at some point the United States Olympic shooting team broke into the Russian ammunition lockers during the games and sent back a box for the examination which led to an improvement of domestic rimfire primer ignition.
Russian ammo was made by themselves. Our Olympic Team broke into the Russian ammo locker and stole some ammo which was then sent back to America for examination. It was found that the Russians had perfected the spreading of priming compound on the bottom of the case and thereby guarenteed consistent ignition. Federal duplicated it for their match ammo and now our ammo is as good as theirs.
-User 4v50 Gary – The High Road Forums
Anecdotes aside the ammunition seem to be relatively well-liked for its reliability but there are also some online who believe that the advertised velocities aren’t exactly true and that the rounds themselves are always coated in a very heavy wax which makes extraction difficult in some firearms. Even Buffalo stated that he was surprised that the rounds ran through his M&P 15-22 without incident. Out of a 16″ barrel, it seems like these rounds were barely supersonic averaging around 1078 feet per second, with a standard deviation of about 14.5 – not bad for plinking ammo.
Combining what I have read online and what I have seen in Buffalo’s video, it seems that the ammunition does just fine out a wide array of firearms, both semi-auto and manually operated. However, it did seem like there was a particular issue with some of the revolvers that he shot the ammunition with. The rounds simply would not come out easily using the extractor.
Out of all the revolvers I have fired, I have only had this issue with one firearm – the Taurus Poly Judge. This may not be a 1 to 1 comparison but I think the main issue with these styles of guns and the cycling of steel-cased ammo is the same. Steel-cased ammunition will always create more friction than a brass cased round. I think the Vostok ammunition attempts to circumvent this issue by coating the rounds in a heavy dose of wax but this can lead to other problems.
My only other experience with a waxy coating is from some other bulk .22LR ammunition I have tried. Of particular interest is Academy Sports’ house brand of .22LR manufactured in the Phillippines – Monarch. That ammunition works well enough with its 36-grain hollow point and waxy coating but I do find that it fouls up my semi-auto guns a lot more and will leave behind a mess inside any sort of speed loader tool like the McFadden Lightnin’ Grip Loader. Not a huge deal if you’re just taking this stuff out of the box and loading it directly into the magazines but certainly isn’t good for competition days or sensitive firearms.
It’s weird and I still want it
It seems that the online rimfire community has been aware of this stuff for quite some time and that it used to be much more popular back in the early 2000s. Each box of 50 rounds supposedly went for about $3 per box and with today’s prices and availability that is nothing to scoff at. In Buffalo’s video, he said he bought several boxes for just $2.99 per box of 50 rounds. Pre-panic prices this is expensive but I’d happily pay that price now just to restock my reserves – if I could even find it.
With reasonable accuracy, reliability and pricing I think that the Vostok steel-cased .22 Long Rifle ammunition might make for good stop-gap plinking ammo if you can find it sitting on shelves anywhere. In either case, it’s interesting to see .22LR rimfire ammunition with steel cases as I’ve never personally come across the stuff before and I was quite surprised with the results that Buffalo got out of his tests – especially with the semi-auto firearms.
Thanks again for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report. I’d like to throw out a special nod to Buffalo’s Outdoors for testing all of the ammunition and putting out the video of which all the images in this article were sourced from. Be sure to check out his full testing video and check out his other videos too.
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