What it Takes to Get on Target (22 ELR) – Ultimate Reloader

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We took the challenge to see if we could get on target at 511 yards with a .22 LR rifle! We pulled in help from heavy hitters to rise to the challenge, and learned some essential processes in order to have the best chances possible. Watch the video to find out what happened. Shop the 5.11 Days sale now! The sale ends 5.14 at midnight!

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Rifle + Ammunition + Optic

In honor of 5.11 Days, I took the challenge to push a factory .22 LR to 511 yards — a daunting distance for the diminutive caliber. (Be sure to check out 5.11’s sales online and in-store!) 

For this challenge, I used a factory Bergara B-14R (carbon barrel) with no special UR upgrades, just a Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35 x 56 scope and Bergara 30 MOA rail. I paired this with Lapua’s Super Long Range .22 LR and Bryan Litz’s Applied Ballistics calculator.

Preparing Ballistics

In order to land shots on target with a 22LR rifle at 500+ yards, some work is required beyond what you may be used to with centerfire platforms!

Before getting too far, I took some time to consult some experts. Seth Gardner from D-M Targets explained that everything tends to fall apart with a .22 LR between 400 and 500 yards. You may run out of scope travel, have stability issues, and other erratic behavior.

Next I called my friends at Applied Ballistics. I recently had a discussion about rimfire ballistics with Bryan Litz from Applied Ballistics which you can watch here:

I knew from this discussion that the team at Applied Ballistics were “knee deep” in rimfire research, hence calling them! I talked with Francis Colon who helped guide me through the process of getting things setup for this 511 yard shoot. He explained that dispersion makes things strange at 400 yards and beyond. Rimfire is extremely unpredictable in the subsonic domain. He also noted that even with a really good rifle and ammunition, groups could be 25 inches wide at 511 yards. 

I started by installing the ABMobile app for iOS, which you can find out more about HERE:

There’s also a version of this app for Android.

Once installed, I did the following:

  • Created a rifle profile
  • Created an ammunition profile (using a G7 BC value from Francis)
  • Entered other data like atmospherics

Then it was on to creating a DSF (Drop Scale Factor) data set that I could use to calibrate ballistics for my particular rifle/ammunition combination. Francis helped me understand how each rifle’s barrel can deform rimfire bullets differently, and how that creates a different BC for each combination. Yes, rimfire ELR shooting is complicated and tedious. And yes, I’m attracted to these sorts of challenges!

Here’s the DSF data we ended up using: (shooting and recording actual drop)

  • 202 yards: 4.8 mil UP actual
  • 405 yards: 17.0 mil UP actual
  • 505 yards: 25.5 mil UP actual

This helped to produce an accurate drop chart in the Applied Ballistics mobile app:

Shooting at 511 Yards

I got a solid 50 yard zero first, then moved to 100 yards, ensuring I knew exactly where things were. My five-shot 100-yard group with Lapua Super Long Range ammo measured 0.3925”.

After hiking a 20″x20″ piece of D-M targets steel straight up a mountain, we were ready to get down to business!

Tyler watched my progress through the Longshot Hawk spotting scope camera mounted on  an Athlon Ares G2 UHD with ranging reticle. This allowed him to give me holdover data. We got on target at 405 yards on the second shot, having to alter our windage guess. I was extremely happy with the group at this distance, but a lot changes in the 100 yards between 400 and 500 yards and in the 11 yards past 500.

Having shot steel at 100y, 202y, 335y, and 405y, we had almost all of the information needed to get on target at 511 yards. We decided to perform one last validation step at 505 yards where we saw a sandy rock face near the target. I shot a few shots at that target, and noticed that we were about 3.5 mil high! We also noted a 1.75 Mil drift due to wind (left to right wind). Had I immediately progressed from 405 yards to my target at 511 yards, I would have had zero feedback. Nothing in the area of the target could provide a visual like the sand at 505 yards could and low humidity eliminated watching trace as an option. We quickly realized our elevation was WAY off even after using the DSF data. This is NOT a flaw of the AB software, just the unpredictability of subsonic .22 LR.

I got behind the rifle, and proceeded to take my first shot at 511 yards. The scope was maxed out on elevation at 25.5 mil up, so I held an additional 0.5 mil up and 1.75 mil left with the reticle. Nothing! I took another shot with less wind hold — still nothing. I eased off my wind hold a bit more and saw the Caldwell Flash Bangs light up green. BOOM! We were on target with the third shot. What an amazing feeling!

It was a lot of work to get on target, but quality equipment, components and data make things MUCH easier!  The entire experience was incredible, culminating in the joy of accomplishing the feat. Huge thank you to Seth Gardner at D-M Targets at Francis Colon at Applied Ballistics for all of their help on this challenge. I couldn’t have done it without them.

I can’t wait to try my next .22 LR ELR challenge. Perhaps I’ll even build a .22 LR rifle (with chambering, etc.) here soon.

5.11 Days

It was great fun to participate in celebrating 5.11 Tactical’s 5.11 day sale. I’ve been wearing their gear for years, particularly the Apex Pant, for anything from range time to SHOT Show. For a limited time, save 20% during 5.11 Days by clicking HERE: 

Get the Gear

Shop the 5.11 Days sale now! The sale ends 5.14 at midnight!

Order Lapua Long Range and Lapua Super Long Range from Creedmoor Sports

Applied Ballistics 

D-M Targets

Bergara B-14R 

Bergara 30 MOA Rail

Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35 x 56 at Midsouth Shooters Supply

Athlon Ares G2 UHD 15-45 x 65 Straight Angle Spotting Scope 

Athlon Ares G2 22x Ranging Reticle Eyepiece

Longshot HAWK Spotting Scope Camera

Caldwell Flash Bang Target Hit Indicator

Garmin Xero C1 Pro at Creedmoor Sports and Midsouth Shooters Supply

Thanks everyone for checking out this story, it was fun to put together!

Thanks,
Gavin

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