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Marketing Hyperbole'


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Anybody else notice that most .22LR ammo is within spittin' distance of identical between brands and styles - regardless of hype?

I mean...go to a site like www.midwayusa.com which lists the performance specs of ammo and compare.  It doesn't much matter WHAT the label says, if it's "standard velocity" expect approximately 1050fps/40gr. bullet - give or take.  If it's listed as "high velocity" expect roughly 1250 fps/36-40 gr. bullets, and 40 grain hypervel loads are pretty close at 1400-1450/40-ish, and 1640-1750/30-32 grain (nominal).

It's like comparing gasoline prices...there isn't much variation between stations because they all look at what the other is doing.  Same with .22LR ammo.

So what's the difference?  Of COURSE each maker will claim this one or that one is loaded with "superior" components...blah, blah, blah, yet if one actually READS the reviews others post it soon becomes clear that even the $15/box (50 round) .22LR ammo is every bit as suctuous as bargain basement brands.

I've got expensive ammo that goes bang every time and shoots clean...even though OTHER'S experience might vary.  I have also noted that my least expensive ammo goes "bang" with the same frequency as my expensive ammo...so other than a genuine PERFORMANCE difference what is the reason to pay double, triple, quadruple, or MORE for "high-end" .22LR ammo?

Sure, if one's "game" is punching paper where thousandths of an inch matter....then IT MATTERS, but 99.9% of planet Earth is just out busting incidental targets and such so why would anyone pay, say, $50/500 of a certain brand, versus $16/500 for another brand with equal ballistic numbers?

Certainly I know marketing hype affects the individual's perception of "quality" to the point where the person who paid double for "perceived quality" will absolutely deny the lower-priced ammo can possibly be the equal, but such has simply not PROVED OUT over the years in terms of practical shooting.

Like most I've shot some amount of almost everything sold over the last 35 years and it all shot "about the same"...same amount of misfires whether "cheap WalMart" ammo or expensive Gun Store ammo.  I've got a safe FULL of .22's rifles and pistols and I've fired everything out of each without regard for "what it likes" only to find that for some inexplicable reason I am unique in having the only assortment of .22's that "digest" EVERYTHING equally.

Like most I presume copper plated to be cleaner than lead...yet both seem to create "about the same" amount of residue.

I read where others state that this brand or that is "very dirty" yet the same ammo in MY guns seems to run with amazing cleanliness.

There is a YouTube video showing a guy firing a belt-fed LM7...a 1,000 round belt non-stop using "cheap ass" Blazer ammo.  The guns fires without a hitch, yet to "hear others tell it," the cheap Blazer ammo barely lights the fire and usually fails altogether. (I am taking editorial license with that last statement)

Just LOOK at the variety of "styles" within brands....does anyone REALLY believe the factories are deliberately resetting their production parameters based on retail price?  I mean, if I TELL everyone this particular brand is superior, and THAT brand is "economy" then of course the consumer's "experience" will be reflective of what he has been influenced to experience.

I am reminded of a survey some decades back where consumers were sent surveys for two different cars...the Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Plymouth Laser.  The Eclipse owners - perceiving they had purchased "superior" Japanese cars returned STELLAR reviews, noting minimal problems.  The Laser owners - perceiving they had purchased "inferior" American cars, returned average to below average reviews, claiming all sorts of mechanical issues, fit and finish defects, etc.  The TRUTH is that both brands of cars came off the exact SAME assembly line with the ONLY difference being fascia parts, and trim items!  Perception alone drove consumer's to believe one brand superior - I HIGHLY doubt the factory assembly line deliberately "de-tuned" itself to build crappy cars, then shifted back to higher quality to build superior cars.

When Toyota wanted to move firmly into the luxury market they created the Lexus brand...SAME CAR beneath the badging, with a higher end "trim" but considering Toyota was already at the TOP in terms of build quality exactly WHAT did anyone think they might improve in order to produce Lexus?  Well, the truth of course is they "improved" nothing, they simply created a "high end luxury" brand.  When Toyota got slammed with massive recalls guess what brand was included right in there with it?  Yep...Lexus.  The consumer will WILLINGLY pay double for a car that is not one WHIT better simply because they've been told it IS better.

Same with Honda...Accura, and on to Inifinity...

Even Hyundai is now considering a new "label" for a luxury brand because they are all too aware of consumer perception.  It matters not that Hyundai has the most advanced, robotic assembly plant in the world down in Alabama that produces "qualty" light years beyond Mercedes, BMW and the like, until they slap an "identifier of luxury" on the product the consumer will assume it's not as good.

Statistically speaking if a car is touted as four times "better" then part of that definition should include that the car last four times LONGER....so if a "cheap car" make it ten years with average maintenance, then the 4x better car should last 40 years with no greater level of maintenance!  This is simply NOT reality, but the  consumer has been "educated" to believe the "unbelievable."

I believe the same sort of marketing gimmickry is afoot in the .22LR world today.  I'll go buy whatever is on sale and shoot it through whatever .22 I choose to shoot that day with "statistically identical" results to every other brand in terms of reliability, accuracy, and cleanliness.  Therefore the ONLY reason to pay more for .22LR ammo is if one is GETTING MORE....meaning higher performance not simply higher price.

I pose this topic to see what others think...and I expect not a small amount of controversy and opinion.

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  • 1 month later...

Though it probably doesn't sound like it, back "in my day" I did a bit of competition high powered rifle shooting, a little Trap, and even some combat pistol and silhouette shooting...and did fairly well if I must say so myself.  I also used to take reloading to the highest level - especially my 7.62x51 match loads.  So I KNOW components and even subtle things like positioning and handling can have an impact on accuracy.  If a "match shooter" seats primers with a machine, or on a progressive press, well...he's either NOT a match shooter, or he's not in the running with those who take the business seriously.

I state the above because I realize that many - reflecting on my previous verbose posts, might presume I'm more on the "run and gun" side of the equation, yet far be that from the truth.  I am quite "scientifically" schooled in the world of firearms, yet in my old age I find the world seems to have gone a bit too far over toward the "technical details" of this or that, and moved away from the basics of "back in the day" when we bought a .50 box of WHATEVER brand .22LR was on sale in Otasco's, or WalMart, and we shot it out of WHATEVER .22LR we happened to be lucky enough to own.  I grew up toting an old High Standard 9 shot revolver...with innumberable out-of-time firing pin indentations on the cylinder, and a Sears, single-shot, bolt action .22LR...hell, we were happy it was a .22 LONG RIFLE and not chambered for the "LONG"...my how times have changed.

So, I KNOW shooting...and I know that a superior shooter...a "Shootist" if you will, firing OTC ammo will always prevail over the "average Joe" who has been "trained" and has the luxury of superior ammo and equipment.  The rationale behind that statement is that the "Shootist" has an innate ability to visualize and conceptualize what the bullet is doing.  Just watch the series "Top Shot" and you see shooters who are clearly "naturals" in their ability versus those who were "taught" how to shoot....a natural needs no teaching.  Some may take issue with that statement, but all you "natural" shooters out there will KNOW I have spoken truth.

Having said all that (and gone on yet another mini-rant to do so), I acknowledge that "high quality" .22LR ammo exists...hell, Eley priming is without doubt top drawer, and I also know a match chamber makes a difference as does a superior trigger...lapped bore, etc.  Certainly HIGH quality ammo is - and SHOULD BE better than garden variety, yet there is the "middle ground."  That would be the "pretender" ammo....brands and grades that are statistically not one WHIT superior to "bulk pack" yet being sold at near match grade prices.

I am going to avoid my normal proclivity to "name names" and suffice it to say many domestic brands are pretty much identical across the maker's spectrum - in all regards except price.  Unfortunately, with the .22LR we cannot load our own (or can we?), so we are reliant upon the manufacturers to do a decent job of it for us, YET we do not hold said manufacturers to the same standards we would hold ourselves if loading center fire ammo...interesting.

WHY do we accept irregular ignition?  Because we get misfires?  Or because we've grown up being told that rimfire ammo is prone to misfire?

When Eugene Stoner set down to design the AR-15 he approached it from a NON-traditional view....he came in as an aircraft engineer, not a "gun smith" and the result was revolutionary.  Say what you want about the AR-15/M-16, but it's been around for half a century and isn't going away anytime soon...pretty good evidence of a superior design.  Stoner didn't start with the 1903 bolt action, nor did he feel compelled to work "up" from the M-1/M-14 with heavy steel and wood; instead he came at the problem the way an aerospace engineer would....LIGHT materials...aluminum, plastic...plenty strong enough for the job...a much smaller cartridge...not "sporting" in terms of "deer hunting" yet quite adequate for "human hunting."  Stoner's choice was VALIDATED when the Soviets introduced the 5.45x39 after they saw the 5.56x45 in action in Vietnam.  Why does this matter in a .22LR forum?  Because it proves an unconventional solution can solve a conventional problem QUITE elegantly.

Could the .22LR ammo makers "solve" the problem of irregular ignition if they wanted?  Certainly they could, but why bother.  "Everybody knows" any serious .22 caliber bullet will be sitting atop a CENTER FIRE case!  So why bother implementing quality improvement in the .22LR?  The "answer" to that ridiculous question of course lies in the .17 caliber....a totally modern "rimfire" cartridge using "real" bullets inside of rimfire cases...and clearly capable of delivering "the goods" if properly manufactured.  To say that because the priming compound is spread out around the rim, it is less reliable than the same priming compound situated in a metal "cup" with an anvil is patently ridiculous.  Certainly if the ammo makers are introducing "minimal" amounts of priming compound into the case as it is "spun" to distribute the compound, THAT would result in spotty ignition, or if "spin time" were minimal, so on and so forth.  Perhaps the manufacturer chooses a thicker "slurry" of priming compound than is ideal, which, combined with short spin times, and limited quantity, results in insufficient priming compound.....if you pay CENTER FIRE prices you get decently primed RIMFIRE ammo, but if you pay bulk prices you get the crappy ammo that barely ignites....is that what we are to believe?

One thing is for certain:  You can be SURE the manufacturers employ statisticians who calculate the failure rate of their ammo and determine the ideal "price point" based on number of failed rounds per whatever volume....this IS the way of modern corporations...if they can shave ONE CENT off the manufacturing cost by reducing priming compound...going with a less reliable formulation, reducing spin time, reducing volume, etc., then they WILL!!! 

Ammo USED to be made by guys who loved to make ammo.  They understood what was needed to produce an ideal product.  NOW ammo is made by CORPORATIONS who couldn't give one $hI! about the product, but instead focus on the COST TO MANUFACTURE said product and if they can save a penny somewhere by reducing quality they certainly will.  The corporate mindset is what has destroyed manufacturing....it's all about the BOTTOM LINE and nothing about the product because they have SURVEYS out the "yinyang" that support their premise that the consumer basically doesn't care if his ammo is marginal as long as he gets it within a given "price-point."

Does .22LR HAVE to cost as much as centerfire to be reliable?  NO, but don't expect any corporate run entity to tell you that.  IF...and I say IF .22LR must cost the same as centerfire ammo to be reliable, then by GOD make it CENTERFIRE!  Otherwise spend the extra penny here and there to improve the garden variety .22LR and stop "allowing" the shooting public to think they must have lower expectations for rimfire ammo than for center fire.

It's like a "shell game" in that .22LR used to be reliable AND cheap, but now, if you want cheap, well then buddy, expect misfires, and if you're willing to pay the same "vig" as for centerfire ammo, THEN you get reliable ignition....and the post-modern shooter eats it up!

The advent of the "tactical .22" may or may not be beneficial to this situation.  One HOPES the manufacturers of ammo and firearms will pay particular attention to improving the "bang-to-trigger pull" ratio.  Why does this matter?  Because ONE aspect of a survival scenario is based on the use of the .22LR for "suppression" when dealing with large numbers.  IF the world suddenly collapses and we find ourselves completely dependent upon our weapons for survival, the .22LR becomes the "go too" choice for dealing with any and all situations that do not immediately indicate a need for "heavier weapons."  IF for example, I have a group of 50 coming down my street - pillaging, can I better deal with the situation by setting up a "base of fire" using a belt-fed .22LR from which I can "afford" to "waste" ammo, versus pulling out my 5.56?  WHY should I "waste" a single 5.56 round on a person who can just as readily be "deterred" by one .22LR?  WHY would I "waste" my precious stock of 7.62 ammo on people in the open when my .22LR belt fed can far more efficiently - and cheaply, inflict demoralizing effect on a crowd coming my way?

The fact is, in a "survival scenario" one is most likely to be confronted with roving bands - armed, who expect to overwhelm their "prey."  They will NOT likely be wearing body armor, nor will they employ advanced tactics.  A 5 round "burst" of .22LR can easily deal with such situations while preserving the .308 for those situations where it's ability to punch through steel is required.

So YES, the .22LR is a valid and viable "choice" for the survival-minded.

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Great post. This ties in well to your previous about .22 for personal defense. I discussed that thread with a friend who is a die hard .22 shooter but also one of the thriftiest folks I know. His big concern with his .22's was they dont go bang every time you pull the trigger. I asked quite simply had he ever considered buying a good box of ammo and not the cheapest? That was followed by a light bulb going on over his head.

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