Some years ago, I used ELEY ammunition when firing rimfire silhouette competition with my 8 3/8-inch barrel Smith and Wesson K-22—the results and performance were excellent. I have also used the ammunition in my CZ bolt-action rifle. In fact, ELEY .22 LR ammunition has been the choice of champions in some of the most grueling competitions. ELEY’s decision to bench rest test and lot test each batch of ammunition is also legendary. So, where is the benefit for the average shooter? And are our good but ordinary rifles and handguns good enough to show the difference in ELEY performance? In short they are, and good, accurate .22s will be even more accurate with ELEY. They remain the choice for small bore competition to be certain, but there are local matches that also would benefit from the use of ELEY loads. Two new loads have recently been introduced that give us cause to test and evaluate a superior product.
This is a high velocity offering. The Force has a new type of powder that is specifically designed to work efficiently in a self-loading rifle. With the popularity of the .22 AR 15—some are OK and others are very accurate—and the Ruger 10/22 in special editions, the ELEY force has much merit. Interestingly, ELEY does not capitalize the F in force, marketing it as ELEY force. The powder is faster burning, per my estimation, than many other powders and means a clean powder burn and better function in self-loading rifles. The cartridge cases are brass but black oxidized. The black case, for several reasons, allows a tighter crimp and results in better bullet pull as well. Bullet pull simply means the bullet is kept in place unless pressure is optimized. Good bullet pull results in a cleaner powder burn. The load looks good, which is part of the equation, but also functions well.
ELEY contact is designed for accuracy foremost but also reduced noise. This is a reduced velocity load that also—even among .22 LR loads—exhibits low recoil. Yet it functioned perfectly in the SIG 1911-22, SW AR-type .22, and Ruger 10/22 rifles the load was tested in. Another advantage of this load is a slightly heavier than normal bullet. At 42 grains, these bullets have the standard wide grease grooves common to ELEY bullets. The lubricant is a paraffin wax ELEY has developed for minimal build up. This pretty exciting from a company that has been making ammunition and components for many years—founded in 1828.
During function testing, the loads gave good accuracy as expected. Function in the self loader was the primary goal I was looking for. However, accuracy in my working guns was also a concern. After all, this ammunition is a little more expensive than most, and while worth the price for competition, I wondered what improvement I might expect from my working guns.
First up was a Ruger Single Six .22. This revolver was built in 1954 and remains tight, accurate, and reliable. The force load clocked 998 fps, the contact, 901 fps. This is in the norm for .22 LR ammunition. Accuracy was good. This revolver will cut a 1.5-inch group at 15 yards with the very best loads. The force load equaled this and the contact load slightly bettered it, but then this isn’t a target revolver.
I then moved to my favorite Ruger 10/22 rifle. This is a takedown rifle with a rich history. On average this rifle will deliver 2.25 inches with average hunting loads at 50 yards, although it has done 2.0 inches on occasion. A lot has to do with the shooter. I fired the last of my supply of ELEY loads in this rifle. (Due to the setup of the public range, I could not clock the loads.) The force load did 1.5 inches, the contact 1.8 inches at 50 yards. I am a believer. These loads are well worth their price when first class accuracy is demanded. I have followed a program for many years of using inexpensive loads for practice and the very best loads I could afford for hunting and competition. The ELEY loads are worth their price and will be used for special occasions.
Note: It would not be unreasonable to expect sub one-inch groups in target rifles such as the CZ line of bolt-action rifles.
Do you shoot .22 LR for competition or hunting? Have you tried ELEY’s force or contact ammunition? Share your results in the comment section.