U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Published velocities for .22 Long Rifle cartridges are generally available for rifle-length barrels. Finding the velocities for pistol-length barrels is more difficult. Searches on the Internet did not yield results for several subsonic .22 Long Rifle cartridges. This article shows velocities measured from three pistols for five different cartridges.
Velocities in a particular barrel length can vary with individual barrels. Some barrels are smoother than others. Even the temperature of the cartridge when the round is fired can make a measurable difference. To see the differences for pistol length barrels, three handguns were used because they were handy and were threaded for suppressors. Using a suppressor can affect velocity, but the amount is usually small and can be in either direction. Different lots of the same ammunition may have differences in velocity, usually small.
The three pistols used were a Kel-Tec CP33 with a 5.5-inch barrel, a Taurus TX22 with a 4.1-inch barrel, and a Kel-Tec P17 with a 3.93-inch barrel.
The cartridges tested were, in order of published velocities:
- CCI 40 grain Quiet .22 Semi-Auto – 835 fps
- Aguila 60 grain SniperSubSonic – 950 fps
- Federal American Eagle 45 grain suppressor – 970 fps
- Winchester 45 grain Super Suppressed – 1060 fps
- CCI Standard Velocity – 1070 fps
Velocities shown in the chart are the average for five shots. The temperature varied form 56 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Velocities were measured 10 feet from the muzzle with a Caldwell Chronograph G2. Five shots should be sufficient to give a good idea of pistol velocities from 4 and 5.5-inch barrels. Differences between the 4.1-inch and 3.93-inch barrels were expected to be small.
As can be seen from the chart, all of the rounds tested were reliably subsonic from the pistols tested. While the speed of sound varies with temperature, even at 40 degrees below zero, the speed of sound is above 1000 fps. As the temperature rises, so does the speed of sound. At freezing, it is 1087 fps. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it is 1128 fps. At 100 degrees F, it is 1159 fps. Atmospheric pressure has little effect on the speed of sound. As relative humidity increases, there is a slight increase in the speed of sound, just a few fps. It is expected few shots will be fired from a suppressed .22 pistol at temperatures lower than 40 below zero.
As a purely subjective measurement, the quietest ammunition, using a suppressor, was the CCI Quiet .22 Semi-Auto. The next quietest was the Federal suppressor American Eagle 45 grain load. The CCI Standard Velocity seemed a little louder. The Winchester 45 grain was a bit louder yet. The Aguila 60-grain SniperSubSonic seemed to be the loudest. It appeared to contribute considerable noise from the chamber area, perhaps because of the short case. With a suppressor, it was much quieter than fired without a suppressor. Subjectively, it seemed to be the noisiest. This writer suspects it would do best out of manually operated rifles.
The average difference in velocity between the 5.5″ barrel and the 3.93″ barrel, looking at all five cartridges, was only 25 fps. The 4.1-inch barrel was in between.
The 60-grain bullets of the Aguila need a faster twist than 1 in 16 inches to stabilize properly. The Kel-Tec CP33 and P17 both have 1 in 14 twists, which seem to stabilize the long bullet a little better. The new Taurus Compact TX22 has a 1 in 10 twist, which should stabilize the 60-grain Aguila load. It has a 3.6-inch barrel, so velocities of about 750 to 760 fps would be expected out of the shorter barrel with the 60-grain bullet.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.
Another great data based article. Thank you! I am curious: what is the muzzle velocity for a common round rated in the 1200+ velocity range? Are some of them subsonic from a pistol?
another great write up, mr. Weingarten. it seems to me that the best ‘performance’ with suppression is had when the bullet is leaving the business end of the suppressor BEFORE the case extraction clears the end of the chamber. this timing is the result of the ammo used, the type and mass (weight) of the bolt, and length of the barrel (and length of gas system). this holds true for both long barrel and pistol. it seems that way to me, i’m just a nobody pilgrim in VT not a firearms expert by any measure. also, i am aware that… Read more »
Great work and great write up. This is the kind of stuff I like to read about since I could not possibly do similar testing at home. Many thanks again!
I notice that the barrel length didn’t seem to have the expected results for some of the loads. A shorter barrel seems to basically match or even outperform the longer barrel in some instances. I suppose different locking mechanisms, rifling variations, and how “tight” the barrel or chamber is can be a bit more of a factor than is often considered. Nice work with the data
Correction. The CCI Quiet .22 Semi-Auto has a 45 grain bullet, not a 40 grain bullet. CCI Quiet-.22 has a 40 grain bullet.
I’m gonna have to try some CCI Quiet Semi-Auto. I’m a big fan of the regular CCI Quiet. Eley Subsonic hollow points absolutely flatten gtoundhogs. I have returned to my roots as a lad growing up in farm country Wisconsin–.22s and muzzle-loading. Thank you Dean.
Hello all, I’ve spent sometime looking into the KelTec P17, and the Taurus TX22; and .22LR in general. What I did not find is a straight answer. Talk of velocities and grains are meaningless to me. I’m left with only two questions, to which I need a staight answer. And please, the answer is not “any gun is better than no gun”. Does anyone (other than a hitman) carry a .22LR pistol as an EDC? If so, there are multitudes of choices for rounds; which round would you use for EDC? My prevailing thought is that with negligible recoil, and… Read more »
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