Hello and welcome to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many guns, shooting sports, histories, and ammunition! Last week on Rimfire Report we talked about accurizing your stock Ruger 10/22 rifle. There are a lot of different ways to approach accurizing such a classic design. With probably nearly as much aftermarket support as the AR-15 platform, the 10/22 is one that will probably stick around for a very long time and probably see even more small innovations designed around it than we see out there today. This week I want to talk about volume – specifically the amount you shoot in a day. Even though rimfire is less expensive than shooting centerfire guns, when you’re practicing for an event and throwing hundreds of rounds downrange, those pennies still add up. Today we’ll be talking about what I think might be one of the better types of ammunition (at least for some guns) within the rimfire firearm world – Federal Automatch 40-grain 22LR bulk ammunition.
More Rimfire Report @ TFB:
- The Rimfire Report: Why Your 10/22 Rifle is Inaccurate
- The Rimfire Report: The Brief History of Gallery Guns
- The Rimfire Report: Steel Challenge with the MK4 Carbine
The Rimfire Report: Is Federal Automatch Secretly the Best Bulk Ammo?
Specifications – Federal Automatch 40-grain 22LR
- Grain Weight: 40-grains
- Muzzle Velocity: 1200 (out of a 20″ barrel)
- Bullet Type: Lead Round Nose
- Ballistic Coefficient: .138
- Rounds per Box: 325
- Usage: Target Shooting
- Advertised Price From Federal: $30.99 ($0.09 cpr)
- Product Link: https://www.federalpremium.com/rimfire/champion/champion-training—rimfire/11-AM22.html
Plinking. Targets. Competition. Training. Whatever rimfire pursuit drives you, you’ll get accurate, affordable performance with Federal® Champion™ rimfire ammunition. The reliable bullet, priming and brass are suited to a wide variety of rimfire range applications.
- Consistent and reliable
- Affordably priced
- Federal® brass, bullet and primer
Although the price listed on the Federal Premium website puts these at about what I’d call the average price for today’s market, I’m able to consistently find these exact boxes from several large online retailers for as low as $0.04 cpr sometimes but most recently I purchased 1,300 rounds of the stuff for about $0.05 cpr from Palmetto State Armory – not actually a bad deal when you throw in free shipping (double points if you live in a state that doesn’t collect sales tax).
One of the first things I noticed upon inspecting my first opened box is that Federal Automatch doesn’t use lubed or even waxed bullets. Most 22LR, especially more premium grades of ammunition like match competition ammo use a very slick and thin layer of lube. This lube is there for a number of reasons. Classically the waxy lube was used to create an environmental seal against water and debris ingress which would render the rounds inert. Modern shooters like to have their bullets lubed for better consistency in feeding and this allegedly also has a pretty significant impact on the accuracy and consistency of the rounds by equalizing the friction each bullet experiences as it travels down the barrel.
Since Federal Automatch uses an uncoated lead bullet, the designers of this cartridge instead opted to use a really tight crimp – one you’d usually see on bulk ammunition. The crimp provides a more or less airtight seal for the propellants and primer materials and wax or other bullet coatings can also aid in this weather-sealing aspect. However, a lot of people seem to also run into function or fouling issues with bulk ammo that features some sort of physical lubricant.
Normally when I test velocities, I like to run about 20 rounds through the chronograph to get a rough estimate of what the velocities might be like for any given cartridge. However, since we’re taking a look at bulk rimfire ammo, I opted to run the maximum amount of readings that my chronograph would let me – 99. Below are the results of my testing:
Test Platform: SIG P322 4″ Barrel
- Average Velocity: 933 fps
- High: 1,007 fps
- Low: 695 fps
- Extreme Spread: 312 fps
Test Platform: Ruger 10/22 Charger 8″ Barrel:
- Average Velocity: 1,082 fps
- High: 1,112 fps
- Low: 835 fps
- Extreme Spread: 277 fps
The velocity testing data above demonstrates that this ammunition isn’t anywhere near “match grade” consistency and is much closer to what you’d expect out of bulk ammunition. In fact, when I was testing the ammunition for accuracy using my Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle, you could actually hear when a shot was about to land outside of your currently established group as inaccurate shots would often come out of the 18″ barrel at a subsonic velocity leading to a shot that landed well below where the rifle was zeroed at.
Speaking of accuracy, the ammunition did quite well in both my tests using handguns, a braced pistol, and the SIG P322 handgun. Federal Automatch isn’t designed for bolt-action rifles but I figured that was the most accurate rimfire rifle I had on hand so I made 5 consecutive groups using the rifle and ammo combination and got the results below from 50 yards. For reference, the best groups I’ve been able to achieve with the Ruger Precision rimfire have been very close to 1 MOA in size – the rounds just cost about $0.40 each.
The groups seen here are anywhere between 2 and 6 MOA. Once again, not match grade consistency by any means but pretty good for ammunition that only cost a nickel a piece in this market. During my accuracy testing using the precision rimfire and the Automatch ammo, I experienced exactly one failure to fire. Federal Automatch is primarily designed around semi-automatic firearms and in both the Ruger 10/22 charger and SIG Sauer P322, the ammo performed almost flawlessly with only 2 failures to feed out of the 1,300 rounds of the stuff I burned through during testing.
The reliability aspect is where I think Federal Automatch really gets its value as I had virtually no dud rounds and the ammunition worked in every single one of the firearms I tested it in without issue. It’s not the most accurate or most reliable .22LR ammunition I’ve ever tried but for the price, it’s doing better than other bulk offerings.
When I went to test out this ammunition I went into it with the mindset that I do a lot of practice using semi-automatic rimfire handguns. While accuracy is important in disciplines like Steel Challenge, it’s not the primary concern since the longest shot you’ll have to make is 35 yards on an 18″ rectangular target. Federal Automatch does suffer a little bit from velocity/load consistency which rules it out as a replacement ammunition for precision shooting events. However, if you’re looking for more affordable ammunition to train with, Federal Automatch is virtually identical to CCI Mini-Mags when being shot out of a pistol if not just a tiny bit less reliable and a little less clean due to the exposed lead bullet.
I’d highly recommend you pick some of this stuff up if you can find it on sale. CCI’s Mini-Mags, Suppressor, and Standard velocity ammunition will still be my go-to offerings for competition use for their respective disciplines, but Federal’s Automatch ammunition might just be the first bulk ammunition I’ve used that hasn’t made me rage-quit my range session a bit earlier than I normally would have. As always I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences with Federal Automatch 40-grain 22LR ammunition. Thanks as always for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you again next week!
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