BP .22 Long Rifle accuracy testing


March 23, 2012, 03:51 PM
You guys are going to probably think I'm weird for loading .22 rimfire with blackpowder, but it's the kind of eccentric thing I do best. I'm just a little strange I guess. But the idea of loading .22s with blackpowder is too dang cool to not do a range report on.

I went out to the woods today to shoot some of my blackpowder .22 rimfire cartridges I loaded up. I was shooting from 7 yards with an old bar stool I found out there as a rest. I fired ten shots and I'm pretty happy with this group. Again, sorry if my camera takes the worst pictures in the world. But hey, y'all can see them can't you?
Here's the group I shot:

Here's what the patches I used to clean the bore afterward looked like. I used Gun-zilla CLP that my family got me as a birthday present. It's great stuff! It's for blackpowder and smokeless, and leaves some kind of protective coating on the steel.http://i1178.photobucket.com/albums/x372/busyhands94/IMAG0012.jpg

I did have a bit of a problem though. I was shooting onto an old log round as my backstop, and since I was stacking them in the same hole they penetrated about an inch and mushroomed out. The cut a bunch of wood out of the log round with bullets, there was some sawdust on the ground where I put it. After about 7-8 shots they started to come out, I noticed when one chunk of lead harmlessly came back and hit me in the shoe! :what: Yet another good reason to wear safety glasses when you shoot.

Here's the hole in the log after I stacked those bullets. There's a big ol' hunk of lead in there, and some other holes from previous trips. The dime is for size comparison.

And last but not least the rifle I used to shoot these cartridges. An old J.C. Higgins model 103.18 chambered in .22 Long Rifle, sold by Sears Roebuck. Easily the most accurate rifle I own.

The load I used was 4.5 grains of Triple Seven FFFG in a Federal Lightning .22 LR case with the crimp trimmed off. The bullet was a 30 grain lead round nose that North American Arms sells for their blackpowder .22 revolvers. I used one of my homemade .22 lubed felt wads in each case I make for this purpose. They seemed to make this a pretty accurate load.

All in all I'm quite satisfied with these results. Stay tuned, once I get more bullets I will make one for the .22 blackpowder shorts I load.


If you enjoyed reading about "BP .22 Long Rifle accuracy testing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
March 23, 2012, 04:02 PM
Actually I've been curious about this myself. The .22 LR, counting its precursor the .22 Short, is the oldest continuously produced cartridge there is, and had a long history in the BP era.

How are you measuring your charges? Also, I'm assuming you don't use a drop tube ;-)

To really get into this, I suspect the lube might need to be swapped on the bullet to something more BP friendly.

March 23, 2012, 04:17 PM
I'm measuring them with a measure I made from a .22 LR casing cut to the proper length. Isn't a drop tube what you use to funnel the powder into the case with? I'm using a .223 casing with the primer end drilled out, it's working great! For a shell holder I just drilled a hole in a 4" section of 2X4 lumber. It works well!

The bullets I used have lube on the surface, I use a lubed wad just for added cleanliness. It's seeming to pay off, because I'm getting pretty good accuracy!

I don't really use tools to seat the bullet, just thumb seating it firmly is good enough. But once you slide the round in the chamber it is possible for it to pull the bullet if you try and manually eject it in a full length .22 LR case. Come to think of it mine are more like .22 Longs as opposed to .22 Long rifle. They can be chambered and ejected just fine without the bullet getting pulled.


March 23, 2012, 04:59 PM
My old brain is having troubles, but I seem to recall an article years ago of similar tests with BP in a .22. If I can remember more I'll post back.

March 23, 2012, 05:48 PM

Not a good idea to shoot at "end-cut" logs. The wood fibers are end-on and can bounce bullets back at you with surprising velocity. (as you have noticed) I once "shot myself" with a .45ACP 230 grain "hardball" bullet shooting at an end-cut round at 50 yards. Lucky for me it was a glancing blow. I still had a major bruise for weeks. A more direct hit would have probably penetrated the skin. You can use them as a back stop if you tip them at a 45 degree angle so they can't bounce back directly at you.

March 23, 2012, 05:59 PM

Here's a little history of your rifle in case your didn't already know.....

J.C.Higgins Model 103.18

Rifle was made by Marlin for Sears in the late 50s and worth between 50 and 100 dollars

According to oldguns.net #6052 The J.C. Higgins Model#103.18 22cal. is worth $45-$75. (I would have thought more). It was manufactured by Marlin from 1936 to 1941 as their model 100. Also it is suggested that because this firearm bears the Sears brand name instead of Marlin will make it more difficult to sell.

March 23, 2012, 07:21 PM
Well that's cool, thanks for the history Junkman 01!

I'm actually planning on buying some 3/8ths steel to make a small rimfire backstop that I can take to the woods with me. It's probably a much better idea than an old log round! Perhaps I could even put a piece of pipe that the angled steel goes into to recover my lead. That would be sweet!


March 23, 2012, 08:40 PM
Even though I wouldn't go to the trouble, that is so neat! I would be curious how the load works out to a greater distance. I have a Higgins 103.18 and it is wonderfully accurate. If I hunted, I wouldn't hesitate to use mine with CCI ammo on squirrels out to 25 or 30 yards. For a $15.00 pawnshop purchase it is more accurate than I will ever be.

Thanks for the fun post.


March 23, 2012, 10:01 PM
Just as a footnote to all this, back when... ( many years ago!), there were 200 yard .22LR target matches shot. I am sure that some if not all were shot with a BP rimfire charge. I wish I could remember the details but the subject came up in a G&A letters to the Editor letter.Just a quick mention was made but I have also herd this fromm other shooters.
Ultra long range smallbore shooting makes sense because you can go over to the FUn SUpply Airgun Forum and read of 75 and 100 yard accuracy tests with airguns! I have shot at 100 yards with mune and can attest to getting a "Minute of Coke Can" with my rifle and poor skills!
SMokeless rimfire 199 yard shooting is broadlly accepted these days and I dont think using BP as a propellant would tip the scales one way or another.
I wonder if CAS would allow you to use theswe Black Powder rimfire reloads in Side Matches?
Very intresting topic!

March 23, 2012, 10:23 PM
I might do a long range video with blackpowder .22s, that would be interesting! I am not the best rifleman, but I'll try. I love how such an affordable rifle is so accurate. I might see if I can find another at a pawn shop so my brother can shoot more.

I am thinking about doing a little how-to thread on loading these, that might be kinda fun to see others loading up their own rimfire ammo with blackpowder. I think I need to invest in a good lever action .22 to shoot these things with, that would be awesome to see little clouds of smoke coming out and the smoking shells fly out the side! Or what about one of those Henry pump .22s they sell, I bet that would be awesome for these! Until then I'll just stick with my single shot rifle. :)


March 23, 2012, 11:53 PM
are you pulling bullets from loaded rimfirecases? this is very dangerous practice . the rounds could go off > i do not reccomend doing this as it is a very unsafe practice.

March 24, 2012, 12:15 AM
You can remove .22 LR bullets from the cases with your bare hands and no tools.
That's how I used to pull them, when I had misfires.

Levi, there's nothing like the old American rimfires. The budget brands from back then shot better than most factory new rimfires today.
My old 1940s to 1960s Mossberg .22s would outshoot my 10/22 all day long.
I no longer have the 10/22. It's a great, fun little gun, but the old ones interest me more and feel better to me.

March 24, 2012, 12:30 AM
I found a way to safely pull rimfire bullets remotely, at first I did it by gripping the bullet with some padded pliers and bending the thing out of the case by hand, but I rigged something up.

I might try contacting Remington or Federal and seeing if I could buy some primed hulls off them, that might be a heck of a lot easier than pulling them.

My buddy Jamie kept trying to convince me to get a 10/22 Ruger, but I don't really want one all that much come to think of it. I'd rather have my single shot than a 10/22 for a variety of reasons. Not only is it more accurate, but I'll have twice the fun, make every shot count, save money on ammo, and if I let my dad or brother borrow it I won't reach over to get a fresh round and find my jar of ammo half used up. I just love single shot .22s, they are American as apple pie. Especially ones with history having to do with American brands like Sears Roebuck, and Marlin.


March 24, 2012, 12:55 AM
Busy hands you say you dontwant a10/22 because a single shot will save you money ,but then you are buying the .22 ammo then bulling the bullets . then you spend more money to change powder and bullets. you jjust about doubledthe price of the 22 rounds.

March 24, 2012, 01:13 AM
I just got the perfect rifle to try your black powder .22 reloads in. A VERY old Remington 6 in pretty good condition considering the excellent odds that it's a century old.

It joins my Stevens Crackshot 26 and a Remington Improved 6 to fill out my seemingly growing collection of sweet shooting pivoting block single shot guns.

Magazine? Who needs a magazine when they've got their forearm support hand fingers to hold a half dozen or more reloads ready to hand? :D

Do a movie of your antics. If you choke from the camera and your marksmanship drops off just concentrate on the smoke the guns throw. That's all we REALLY want to see anyway... :D

March 24, 2012, 01:38 AM
I know I double the price of .22 ammo, but this is kind of a specialty cartridge. Kinda like .22 tracers, or Eley target ammo, or the stuff CCI sells. It's a small price to pay to have .22 rimfire loaded with blackpowder, and to get such phenomenal accuracy as well as clouds of smoke when I shoot!

I guess the problem with the 10/22 is that I'll probably have my family shoot up all my ammo, I can hardly afford to take them all shooting once they learned how to load a tube-fed bolt action. And if Pa' sees a box of CCI or Eley and just helps himself and burns through the whole box then I just lost good target ammo. Both my dad and my brother get real trigger happy when I take them shooting, at least with a bolt action I can have a better chance of catching any consumption of high-grade ammo before they go all rapid fire.

I have been thinking that the bullets I've been using are actually tighter than commercial ammo and are contributing to the great accuracy I'm getting. Some .22s with a tighter chamber like an old Springfield Model 15 I have won't chamber it, but my dad's .22 and my single shot as well as my H&R 9-22 will chamber the stuff just fine. I'm thinking that the bullets are the ideal size for my bore! I haven't slugged my bore, nor do I have those fancy caliper things to do so. But I know from the groups I get that the bullet is a tighter fit and is really helping the accuracy.


March 24, 2012, 09:01 PM

how was the smoke from a .22 i imagine it wouldnt have that much black powder. was it at all that noticeble


March 24, 2012, 10:13 PM
Ten shots will smoke up the indoor shooting range, even with ventilation tuned on. It's hard to describe, but the cloud of smoke is about the same as if you took a puff from a cigarillo and blew it out real hard. They are pretty smokey rounds!


March 25, 2012, 07:07 AM
Interesting reading,



I remember when you could buy empty primed RF casings, I do not believe the factories will sell them anymore. Good luck with the project.

March 25, 2012, 10:47 PM
Thanks for the links! I know they don't sell them online, but I'll call some major manufacturers and see if I could buy some primed rimfire brass off them.


March 26, 2012, 04:24 PM
Try testing them at further than 7 yards, I'd be interested to see how different the accuracy and penetration are from modern rounds. At 7 yards anything should group...


March 26, 2012, 07:56 PM
I'll try some longer shots when I get more bullets! That should be interesting to see what kind of accuracy I get!


March 27, 2012, 06:38 AM
HB Try testing them at further than 7 yards, I'd be interested to see how different the accuracy and penetration are from modern rounds. At 7 yards anything should group...


In one of the provided link, they were shot at 50 feet with decent accuracy.

March 28, 2012, 12:14 AM
levi you really do have too much time on your hands! And to bubba15301, I second what Jaymo said. I've pulled hundreds of .22lr by hand, never once had a misfire..

March 28, 2012, 01:00 AM
I think as long as you find a safe way to do it you'll be okay. I've pulled many bullets, just stay away from the primer in the rim. I think I might do a video of me shooting blackpowder .22 Long Rifle and short out of my rifle and my revolver. I've found that half loaded .22 short with blackpowder can be shot in the back yard it's so quiet, it sounds like a noisy airgun!


If you enjoyed reading about "BP .22 Long Rifle accuracy testing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!