Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world. Today we’ll be reviewing some match grade .22LR ammunition – Lapua X-ACT. Ammunition is quite expensive right now, even for rimfire shooters. However, despite the increased cost of ammo, I have seen people come out in droves to shooting competitions. With a rimfire PRS match on the horizon, I decided to test out some premium match-grade ammunition to see if the extra expense really translates to extra accuracy.
The Rimfire Report: Is Match Grade .22LR Worth the Cost?
Lapua X-ACT Specifications
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
- Number of Rounds: 50
- Bullet Type: Lead Round Nose (LRN)
- Bullet Weight: 40 grain
- Cartridge Case Material: Brass
- Muzzle Velocity: 1072 ft/s (26-inch barrel)
- Primer Location: Rimfire
- Muzzle Energy: 102 ft-lbs
- Lot Number Tested: 27555/705775
A few other minor observations I was able to make is that the smell of the burnt powder was quite unlike any other rimfire cartridge I had fired. In addition, I noticed that the spent casings were fairly clean compared to standard velocity spent casings. Lastly, the bullets came shipped with a very fine coating of lube on them that was extremely slippery and much less tacky than wax that you’d find on other types of ammunition.
Testing – The Setup
I was able to test out the ammunition in two rigs reliably running several 5-shot strings through each. The first rifle was a Ruger Precision Rimfire fitted with a Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 FFP riflescope. The second rifle was a Savage MK II FV-SR fitted with a Leupold MK IV 2.5-8×36 riflescope. Both rifles have been used in competition settings and have performed admirably at the task. In both the velocity tests and accuracy tests we got about the same results from each rifle out of both the CCI Standard and the match-grade rimfire Lapua X-ACT.
A target was set up at 100 yards, on a calm, chilly, and sunny day. The target was set at a zero degree inclination from the shooting position and all shots were taken from the prone position. The first shot from every string was with a “cold” barrel as several minutes were allowed to pass in between each string. For a rimfire precision match, you’ll generally be engaging more than 5 targets and because of stage design, you’re more than likely to have a few misses here and there so I don’t particularly think the first cold shot can be relied on.
Engagement distances during Rimfire Precision Rifle Series matches can take place either very close (25 yards) or fairly distant and sometimes reaching into the ELR (extreme long range) category. Usually, ELR is considered to be 300 yards or more and this is where the data you gather at 100 yards can be used to determine if you can reliably make hits at greater distances.
I’ve broken up the data into two separate groups and we’ll first go over the velocity data. Both rifles had 16″ barrels and we used CCI Standard velocity to create a baseline metric to compare against. Most competitors during rimfire PRS matches are using subsonic ammunition to avoid the bullet interfering with its own transonic wake.
The CCI Standard we tested seemed to work pretty well, for the most part, the velocities were within 70 fps or less of each other with the exception of two shots fired out of the Ruger Precision Rimfire which dipped into the 900s. It is no surprise that both of these shots also landed much lower in elevation when compared to other shots in their string. In total, the CCI Standard velocity featured an average velocity of 1022 fps, a standard deviation of 20 fps, and an extreme spread of 71 fps.
Consistency of velocity, especially in a rimfire cartridge is of paramount importance for that very reason. During a match, a 70 fps drop in velocity out of just one round could mean the difference between a miss or a hit at just 100 yards not to mention 200 or 300 yards where the drop would be much more significant.
The Lapua X-ACT ammunition was much more consistent in its velocities with an average velocity of 1042 fps, a standard deviation of just 8 fps, and an extreme spread of 32 fps. If you’re good with visualizing numbers in your head you can already start to see an arguably drastic difference between the two types of ammunition just in the velocity and consistency departments. This was observed in both the Savage MK II and the Ruger Precision Rimfire.
Now, I always have to put a giant caveat here to get ahead of the comments section – I am not a professional precision rifle shooter. On most days, I am just happy to hit the target but I did attempt to do my best to run very consistent shots here and use basic fundamentals. Hopefully, these shots helped accurately portray the performance of each of these cartridges and not my lack of proficiency in precision rifle shooting.
With that out of the way, I would still have to say that I was more than impressed with the shot strings produced by the Lapua X-ACT .22LR match ammunition. A couple of these string inaccuracies can probably be attributed to shooting off of a bipod or nerves but overall I noticed a significant improvement in group size over CCI Standard with groups shrinking from 2 MOA down to about 1 MOA on average across all shooters (3 different people participated in my test including myself).
Is It Worth It?
The big question now is whether or not the ammunition is worth it and that is where I have the first bit of bad news about the Lapua X-ACT Match ammunition – the price. The pricing I am finding online right now starts off at about $25 per box – the most expensive rimfire I’ve ever seen. Some sites have the ammunition listed for almost $36 per box making each round cost about 60 cents apiece! That is approaching pre-covid self-defense ammunition prices.
For an average shooter like myself, I don’t believe there is a massive enough benefit for me to justify the added expense. Even now, CCI Standard is still around 6-7 cents per pound, and even though that is an inflated price it is much less than that of this particular match ammunition. In my opinion, this ammunition sits squarely in the camp of professional shooters and professional shooters alone. Most of us can stomach missing a shot 2 or 3 times but with money or a top spot in the ranks on the line – most professional shooters probably want to eliminate any inconsistencies they can.
Thanks for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report. This ammunition test was both eye-opening and fun for me and I hope you enjoyed the short read. If you’d like to see other ammunition tests of specific rimfire match grade ammunition in the future, please feel free to let me know down in the comments and also keep an eye out for my review and guide to loading your own ELR .22LR rimfire ammunition coming soon.
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