An almost two-year quest led me to the goal of finding the most versatile 22 long-rifle ammunition on the market. After trying rounds from CCI, Remington, Federal, Winchester, Norma and a host of others, I settled on one brand: Gemtech subsonic to meet just about all of my rim-fire needs.
If you learned anything about ammunition over the course of the past several years, it should be that the availability of 22 long-rifle ammo is very volatile. It can be in abundance one day and gone within an hour, not to be seen at normal prices for as long as a year.
I am fortunate to live in a part of the country where even 22 LR ammunition shortages are fleeting, but it got me thinking:
As a hand-loader, I can make any type of ammunition I need, from 22 Hornet to 50 BMG. I can size for peculiar chambers, download for revolvers and produce hot loads for machineguns or subsonic loads for silencers.
Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about most rim-fire loads, beyond using whatever I have available.
This can be problematic, as hyper-velocity loads will not be effective through my suppressors and subsonic or match loads will not always cycle my semi-autos, let alone subguns.
I set out to find the one 22 load that would fit most, if not all of my purposes, and the result was surprising, to say the least.
During the shortages and the hoarding, the word “subsonic” threw off many shooters who were lead to believe that it was little more than a CB Cap-type round or CCI “Quiet” load. Most people did not think it would cycle the bolt on their Ruger 10/22s, or feed in their pistols. I found that it would, with a suppressor or without.
The velocity is 1,020 fps, which is subsonic and only 50 to 100 fps below standard velocity 22 LR. The engineers at Gemtech wisely determined that this would cycle the majority of semi-autos out there without the supersonic crack.
These rounds are loaded with 42-grain lead bullets, with no jacket or plating, just a moly-type coating that acts as a lubricant to aid in feeding. Gemtech worked with CCI on a clean-burning powder to use in the subsonic load to eliminate unburnt powder and fouling problems associated with rim-fire ammunition. It is probably the cleanest 22 ammo I have ever fired, period.
I tried it in a variety of pistols, including a Beretta Model 71, Smith & Wesson Model 41, SIG Mosquito, Benelli MP95E and a Walther PPK. Moving on to rifles, it functioned flawlessly in a pair of Ruger 10/22s, a Smith & Wesson M&P 15/22, and best of all it was consistently accurate. In some cases, I was shooting sub 1-inch groups at 50 yards.
Moving over to bolt-action 22s and 22 revolvers, I had zero complaints. The round remained consistent, accurate and reliable. Most importantly, it lived up to its name and kept the sound levels low.
My shooting experiment was not completely trouble-free, however. I had a few problems getting it to run consistently in a full-auto Uzi with a 22 LR conversion kit and using it in an Armalite AR-7 gave me a few failures to extract/eject.
Aside from the Armalite notoriously being a finicky beast, the cycling through the Uzi also was less of a concern. In a real preparedness situation, I am probably not going to be shooting up 22s at the rate of 1,450 rounds per minute. We just want something accurate, reliable and quiet going through our suppressed Savage M93 or Beretta M71.
So should another panic start up and you are looking for something to hold onto in order to keep your 22s running, check out Gemtech Subsonic in 22 LR. Don’t blow it off as a pipsqueak JV type of rim-fire round.
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