'Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round'

'Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round'

This is a discussion on 'Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round' within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Preface: People sleep on the .22LR as being a lowly and 'toy gun' round. Those minded people are very much wrong. It is a tiny ...

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Thread: 'Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round'

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    'Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round'


    People sleep on the .22LR as being a lowly and 'toy gun' round.
    Those minded people are very much wrong.

    It is a tiny round with a tiny sized and weight bullet.
    But...That tiny bullet has a real _terminal _ effective range of out to 1.5 miles.
    Terminal as in the bullet maintains enough velocity in addition to it's bullet weight, and thus energy, to penetrate a living beings surface area and either _kill_ it outright or directly cause it to die, a slow and painful death.

    When this is stated to students in my basic hunter ed. courses typically there are looks of disbelief and amazement on students faces.
    What you talkin' 'bout Willis?!


    Quote Originally Posted by DesertFrog @ SnipersHide.com/forum
    Lethality of the 22 LR standard velocity round

    I’ve been shooting the 22LR for many years and even bought a new bolt action 22 LR rifle (Savage Mark II BTVS) so I could train more cheaply for tactical precision rifle matches. As I started to train, I actually became impressed with what could be achieved with the 22LR in short and medium distances and wondered about the actual lethality of the round, so I decided to do some research in that area.

    I mean, I know that the 22LR has been a good hunting round for small critters/varmints such as rabbits and squirrels but occasionally you hear it is used as well for killing deers, coyotes and bigger animals – heck, on the internet, you can even find a story about the elephant being killed with a 22LR on the internet, LOL!

    During my research, I came upon several instances whereby the 22 LR has also been used by the military and law enforcement as well. There were several stories of Chechen snipers using the 22LR in urban setting or Israeli snipers using it in “crowd control”

    I started talking to several many people through bulletin boards to find more information about the lethality of that round, specifically from a tactical viewpoint – I.E. How effective and lethal is it? Any information about its lethality should also of interest to the average target shooters or even plinkers, being that it is one of most available/cheap round. Having the correct information could make people more aware of the possible consequences of not treating the 22LR with respect - I think we’ve all heard “ It’s just a 22! It’s not that powerful, etc…”

    To get back to the subject, talking to hunters on various message boards and filtering out the “I heard that or someone told me”, here are some of the typical feedback/information I received from people who actually did it:

    Lots of varmint kills up to 150 yards (This distance came up the most).
    Larger animals kills at shorter distance – Deer/Coyotes at 100 yards and some even 150 yards
    Mention of a larger animal kill at 200 yards
    Mention of actual rabbit kills at 175, 225 and 330 yards

    Overall the distance of 100 to 150 yards came up in 50% of the responses.

    To go back to the “tactical” aspect and the actual effectiveness/lethality of the round in military/law enforcement settings – no real information was actually available. There were lots of stories and hearsay of people getting shot with 22s and how effective it was (or wasn’t) but no ACTUAL and PROVEN information – the main feedback was that shot placement was the most important in a military/law enforcement setting but there were no answers as to what would happen if someone was shot with a 22LR at medium distance (200 to 300 yards). When would the round stop penetrating several layers of clothing/skin and become completely ineffective and useless from a tactical point of view.

    Gathering all the information from hunters, target shooters, etc… I personally came up with the conclusion that the 22LR “may be” effective up to 200 yards and possibly penetrate several layers of clothing which are usually something like a “t-shirt, a shirt and a jacket” and frankly I would not have been surprised if it didn’t penetrate at all.

    Actual information not being available, I decided to conduct a test myself to see how far would a 22LR round penetrate 3 layers of clothing and penetrate skin as well. I looked at several options such as using ballistic gel, wet newspaper, etc… but finally ended up with the cheapest option and, what I thought the somewhat most realistic as well: purchasing a frozen turkey, thaw it and wrap it in 3 layers of clothing. This would be a good test to see how far the 22LR would penetrate.

    Here is an account of my “experiment” and Boy! Was I in for a surprise in many levels!!!!!!!

    The test took place in the California desert at my usual shooting place for long distance shooting – far away from civilization and very safe. As it happens sometimes, nature has its own mind and does not always follow your plans. The weekend I chose and got ready for (including thawing the meat) ended up being quite windy.

    How windy? Here is a look at my tent during the trip – yep, that’s the wind pushing the side of the tent nearly flat. Wind was an average of 25 MPH with gusts up to 30 MPH and lowest at 18MPH.

    This was a nightmare for any rimfire shooter and frankly I was extremely close to just pack it up and go home after doing some shooting with my 308. I thought shooting the 22LR in these conditions (the wind was quite violent and shifting constantly between 18 and 30MPH) would be absolutely impossible.

    The main goal of the trip was this research and I already purchased the turkey so I decided to at least “Try it” with much reservation as to being able to actually hit the target. Having participated in many tactical long distances matches over the years, I decided to follow my own hard learned lesson: “When in doubt, follow what the book says” or, simply, trust your ballistic information, instruments and basic field craft. Because I use the 22LR for training, I pretty much replicated my setup and had at hand all I needed such as ballistic data card for elevation and windage, wind meter and range finder.

    The setup for the turkey was as follow: 3 layers of clothing wrapped around it and taped in the back (although care was given to not make the clothing too tight either) and a white paper on top so we could see the impacts at long distance.

    The test was done at the maximum distance of 300 yards because honestly, I thought that penetration would probably not occur at that distance and because, above 300 yards, using my elevation knob and even mildots was pretty much useless.

    A 400 yards shot is basically an 80 MOAs drop. Even shooting at 300 yards requires me to place my elevation for 200 yards (27.5 MOAs) and use 6.6 MILS (actually already off the mildots reticle so there is somewhat of a guess).

    The clothing layers were composed of the following: One usual heavy cotton t-shirt, one heavy cotton shirt and a canvas raincoat.

    The wrapped around turkey looked like this:

    [img]My son was with me and it took use considerable time to find the right location. Safety was definitely an issue but also, in order to have any chance to hit the target with winds that strong we had to shoot within the wind. Even then, because of the constant shifting of the wind from 7 to 5 O’clock, I had doubts we could even pull it off. So instead of 300 yards, we actually started at 250 yards which allowed me to use my elevation knob zeroed at 200 yards and my mildots reticle and thus “less guessing”.

    As you can see the package is quite small at 250 yards!!!!!! The wrapped Turkey was a bit bigger then a human head, it wasn’t a big turkey to start with – I actually bought the cheapest one ($12)[/imig]

    [img]We positioned ourselves on top of the Jeep. My son used my 308 and the Leupold 6.5-20X to spot me (if we could do so) and I shot the 22LR.[/img]

    Equipment was as follow:

    Savage Mark II BTVS in 22 LR
    Bushnell 3200 Tactical Scope – 10X Mildots
    Ammunition was Wolf Match Target – 40 Gr Bullet – 1050 fps

    Note that shooting in that position was not the most stable and 25-30 MPH wind actually WILL shake you around. I calculated the wind cycle to range from around 18 to 30 MPH. It was a quick wind cycle with periods of 18 MPH lasting only a 4-5 seconds at best. I decided to shoot at the lowest point of the wind cycle and simply use 0 windage as I was shooting in the wind.

    My first round went slightly to the left missing the target by a couple of inches, my second round did the same on the right side and my third one actually hit the small turkey dead center. I was actually amazed!!!!!!
    I was ready to shoot 50 rounds in those windy conditions to have some “Hope” to hit the target because, from what I was told, the 22LR is so unstable in the wind at long distance. Yet despite the atrocious conditions – using elementary ballistic information and field craft, shooting it in 18 to 30 MPH was factually quite easy. From a tactical viewpoint, every single shot would have hit a center mass target.

    Inspecting the 250 yards target was quite revealing…the bullet had gone through the 3 layers as if it was nothing.

    Encouraged by the results and the fact that we could hit the target, we placed the turkey at 300 yards. I spotted for my son and he took the shots. Again we were amazed that despite the wind we had 4 hits out of 10 rounds!!! If someone had told me he can shoot such a small target in those conditions, before we did so ourselves, I would have laughed!

    Here was the result:

    Note that the 300 yards round in the center seemed to have keyhole. The probability is that the bullet hit some of the sage brush that was moving around wildly in the wind because no other impacts showed signs of keyholing and we were somewhat shooting through the moving brushes.

    Now the huge surprise was the following. After taking the shot at 250 yards I was quite happy to see that the bullet had penetrated the 3 layers of clothing but I would have never thought of actually checking the BACK OF THE TARGET.

    After shooting the 300 yards and taking back the target to the Jeep, we realized that one round had gone through the whole turkey, the clothing layers in the front AND the layers in the back as well!!!!!!!!!! And this had to occur between 250 yards and 300 yards. This was MUCH MORE than I ever had anticipated for the standard velocity 22LR round!!!!!!!!!!

    Not only that but because the clothing was wrapped around and folded/taped in the back, it was the equivalent of shooting through 3 layers of clothing in the front and 6 LAYERS of clothing in the back plus on layer of duct tape!

    We did one more shot at 100 yards and the round went through easily. The turkey was the equivalent of 7 inches of meat and bones.

    Unwrapping the target showed that the rounds at 300 yards (assuming that the round that went through was probably the 250 yards round) went through the turkey and got stuck under the skin. Still penetrating 7 inches of bones and meat.

    My conclusions:

    I’ve gained a new respect for the 22LR and its efficiency. The 22 rounds is very underrated. It many ways, it is much more powerful then I anticipated.

    From a tactical viewpoint, it was also very interesting that despite the atrocious conditions, basic ballistic information and field craft (wind cycle, shooting in the wind, etc…) make it possible to shoot effectively that round at medium distances.

    300 yards can be a VERY doable and an effective shooting distance in normal conditions. We did it in terrible conditions.

    Although I probably won’t do further tests, I can imagine that round penetrating layers of clothing and be effective at much longer distances then 300 yards –maybe 500 yards and beyond.

    But now I consider proven that within 300 yards it can be accurate and extremely lethal!

    Hope this help others to gain more respect as well for the small 22LR and thus make sure we all practice safe shooting, even if it looks like a tiny little round!

    Source - Lethality of the 22LR- Results! - Sniper's Hide Forums
    Now keep in mind the accuracy potential as well as range for a .22LR greatly depends on the form factor of the firearm be it a pistol, short barrel carbine, or a rifle such as the Savage BTVS II used in this piece.
    Further as to accuracy that too will be greatly affected by the firearm as used singularly, without regard to wind and weather conditions (rain) as well as the ambient environmental conditions such as air temperature and barometric pressure of the moment which all have direct affect on any bullets trajectory and range by way of exterior/external ballistics.

    Even still again the .22LR is no joke and should be treated and respected equally as one would any other bullet or round regardless of chambering or firearm form factor.

    Know this and keep it in mind next time you're out using .22LR to plink cans or shoot pumpkins in your backyard or at some friends farm. For every round that _misses_ the intended target it will continue to fly until it runs out of flight time due to air drag and gravity, or it hits some other secondary unintended and possibly unseen object be it living or not.
    Always with any and all firearms use be doubly sure to use a proper and sufficient backstop relative to the chambering in use and it's ballistic characteristics. This is how that moron in the news story a week or two ago wound up shooting and killing his neighbor a 1/4 mile away with a .45 ACP from a pistol.

    For more reading and testing of .22LR ballistic characteristics check the following:

    Stretching the .22 LR: a matter of range
    Guns Magazine , Oct, 2005 by Holt Bodinson

    - Janq

    "Be careful out there." - Sgt. Phil Esterhaus - 'Hill Street Blues'
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  2. #2
    VIP Member Array JAT40's Avatar
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    Great info and a good reminder Jang

    "Even still again the .22LR is no joke and should be treated and respected equally as one would any other bullet or round regardless of chambering or firearm form factor."

    Plus one so true!
    While people are saying "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, ... and they will not escape. 1Th 5:3

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array AllAmerican's Avatar
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    Great freakin post my friend. I have to re read some of it to catch it all.

    I have always said. "Gimme a .22 and I will ruin your day" Truly an under appreciated round in any situation. Its not a toy round at all.

    Im on a .22 tear right now and have bought one every week for the last few weeks. I have 2 more lined up right now.

    It is the most useful round going IMO.

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  5. #4
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    I was just thinking about this yesterday. I've been shooting my MKII off the front porch at cans hung up. I have a steep hill for a backstop, so I know it's safe, but I was wondering just how lethal a .22 could be. I think most of the stories you hear about it as a SD round are from a .22 pistol. A few rifle stories here and there.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    I just trained with an instructor that's an LEO, and he relayed a recent case where a woman was shot 5 times with .22LR out of a revolver. She was obese, and the rounds didn't hit any organs, but they did cause massive internal bleeding and she died several hours later on her way to the operating table. She too thought it wasn't serious, as she was shot by her husband (who fled), then she got dressed, and drove herself to the police station to report she'd been shot.
    "Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must." - The Duke of Wellington

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array AllAmerican's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C9H13NO3 View Post
    I was just thinking about this yesterday. I've been shooting my MKII off the front porch at cans hung up. I have a steep hill for a backstop, so I know it's safe, but I was wondering just how lethal a .22 could be. I think most of the stories you hear about it as a SD round are from a .22 pistol. A few rifle stories here and there.
    I hear ya! Unless Im actually at the small range weve built on the property, I have to shoot down into the bottom of a tree or stump because I can appreciate the rounds effectiveness.

    I really enjoy the .22LR.

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Even still again the .22LR is no joke and should be treated and respected equally as one would any other bullet or round regardless of chambering or firearm form factor
    +2. Janq, thanks for posting.

    I have always thought about the muzzle energy of a .22 in this sobering way: Imagine an ice pick being pushed 1 foot through your chest with 125 pounds of force behind it. An ice pick is roughly the same shape and surface area of a .22 bullet and 125 foot-pounds is the energy a .22 will carry when it leaves the muzzle.

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    Senior Member Array Frogbones's Avatar
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    Dude it's bullet (period).

    My uncle was killed with a .22. Went in the upper left peck area bounced off the shoulder blade and went into the heart. They will bounce and tumble around in ya...bounce off bone.

    Since then I've never underestimated ANY bullet.

    I've heard many a scoffs @ .22's...I always thought to myself...my uncle was killed with a .22.
    Last edited by Frogbones; April 1st, 2009 at 03:54 PM. Reason: fix a misspelling

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Tom G's Avatar
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    I've heard a lot of stories about a 22 slug bouncing around inside the body. It may be a small slug but it has killed a lot of people.

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    Another great post by Jang. Spot on.

    I seem to recall a written warning on Remington .22lr boxes that they can travel a mile. And of course, plenty of folks have departed after taking one in the head or chest, neck or abdomen. Under rated is an understatement.

  12. #11
    Member Array heylin's Avatar
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    Bearing in mind to this was a round nose sub sonic round. 22LR come in some other flavours as well including hollowpoint.

    Remington Cyclone - Supersonic rounds come to mind, wouldnt want to be in front of one of those.
    Evil prevails when good men stand by and do nothing

  13. #12
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    Excellent post...well written, great pics...very informative.

    And the 22mag would be even more powerful...I would assume a straighter trajectory?

    Thanks for this info.
    Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

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  14. #13
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Great post Jang,The 22 is under rated,If I had a small reliable 22 I
    would carry it as a bug
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

  15. #14
    Member Array OMEGA2669's Avatar
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    Well I have certainly learned something new. Thank you for this post Janq. Viewing this I have gained new respect for my P22, that i just bought for targeting shooting. I will be doing some field tests of my own. Thanks again!
    AT3 (O-Level) United States Navy - NRA Life Member
    "Molan labe! Just try... I'll show you the strength of my conviction... and I'll sleep well that night..."

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    Back home in Louisiana !!!!
    I love plinking/hunting with the .22......it is FUN!

    On a diffrent take, it was the.22 that nearly killed Reagan. The .22 has killed many just as dead as any other SD round.

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