In a recent post online, there was a photo of a shooter weighing his .22 rounds. This sparked the debate regarding what testing could be done for .22 as well as its worth.
With any ammunition you will always get the best results, in our opinion, from ammunition testing in a controlled environment, torque testing and in more recent years, barrel tuning.
For the purpose of this article we will consider the three alternative ways that you can test ammunition. Each of these three methods consider obtaining consistency between the physical rounds and can be a tedious exercise to undertake.
Weighing using scales
Accurate scales can be used to test ammunition and weigh their overall mass. Very fine scales are needed (such as these) in order to measure the fine differences between rounds. Although you can usually get a large deviation in weights, the majority of rounds are generally within 2-4 grains. This method is somewhat flawed however because it does not consider the weight differences in the individual components of the rounds (for example you might get a round that had a heavier bullet but weights the same as a round with more powder). Another factor to consider is that it may take many hundreds of round to get a large enough batch of one consistent weight.
Rim Thickness Gauges
Another method of assessing consistency in between rounds is using a rim thickness gauge. There is some evidence to show that varying thickness of ammunition can cause accuracy issues (considering the difference in thickness of different manufacturers) especially when the round is 0.003″ or more in difference. As with the scales, you will get a deviation in the spread of the thickness sizes.
Concentricity gauges are not seen that often. They are designed to confirm how accurately and concentrically the round is seated in the case (heres an example of one that apparently can be used for .22 rounds). I personally have limited experience with these but can understand their usefulness along with weighing and rim testing. It is also noted that Matt Emmons (my favourite shooter) tested his ammo for the 2004 Olympics in a similar fashion to this.
The honest truth with these, for most shooters they probably won’t be worth undertaking as the time/expense of doing so will far outweigh the benefits you will see in performing these tests. That being said however, and considering the more recent introduction of decimal scoring there is an argument that it may be worthwhile for those competing at Olympic/Major International level as these shooters are always looking to obtain that extra 0.1 in each shot.
Our advice, go batch testing, test your torques and work on getting your shot process absolutely spot on!