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New Lapua Long Range and Super Long Range .22LR Rimfire Ammo

Looking to get the best performance out of your rimfire rifle, you'll need true match-grade ammo.

New Lapua Long Range and Super Long Range .22LR Rimfire Ammo

(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

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The advancement of precision rimfire competition has taken leaps and bounds in the last few years. Rimfire rifles now range from budget-friendly factory models to custom built rigs with high dollar price tags. The limiting factor is, and always has been, ammunition. The impracticality of hand-loading rimfire ammunition for the average Joe leaves him to the mercy of manufacturers. Lucky for Joe, there are a couple new options on the market that are tailor made for his precision rimfire endeavors. Lapua has been on the forefront of quality ammunition and loading components since 1923. In celebration of their 100th anniversary, they’ve released two options for .22 Long Rifle ammunition. With the new Long Range and Super Long Range cartridges, Lapua sought to optimize the already existing Midas+ and X-Act line for longer range performance. Their reputation preceding them, I knew I had to get my hands on this ammo to test it myself.  

Consistency is Key

It should go without saying – consistency matters. Especially when consistency means pushing tiny bullets with extremely low ballistic coefficients (BC) to distant targets. With high-BC centerfire loads, pushing Mach 2.5 and above is often ideal. The high BC of those long heavy bullets stabilizes them through supersonic, transonic and subsonic velocities. As counterintuitive as it may initially seem, when using .22 LR to reach extended distances, supersonic velocities are not ideal.

lapua-long-range-ammo-02
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

Most modern .22 LR loads perform admirably at 50 yards, which is often the standard testing range used for .22LR. In ideal conditions, reasonably acceptable group sizes can be had even at 100 yards. Attempt to shoot beyond that, and you will see the wheat separate from the chaff. Many .22LR cartridges are loaded to supersonic velocities for hard hitting plinking and varmint hunting at shorter ranges. However, the low BC bullets bleed off speed extremely fast in those supersonic ranges. The turbulence then encountered when the bullet drops from Supersonic to Subsonic further decimates accuracy. This deceleration from Super to Sub is known as Transonic and happens within 100 yards on most .22 LR loads. Velocity loss is most consistent and gradual in subsonic ranges. Unless that bullet stays subsonic through its entire flight, retaining sub-moa groups at distance is all but impossible. With a G1 BC of .172, Lapua’s 40-grain lead round nose bullet has a BC higher than just about every .22 LR option on the market. Up to this point, each tier of their .22 LR was loaded identically and lot-tested to determine which line it would fall into. With Long Range and Super Long Range, Lapua decided to up the ante with a couple of notable changes.

long range .22 LR cartridge

Upgrades and Changes

The bullet is the exact same .40 grain lead round nose bullet used in all other lines of Lapua’s precision rimfire ammunition, with the exception of their biathlon series. The case is also identical. Both case and bullet are coated with a thin film of their proprietary paraffin-based lubricant. This aids in smoother chambering and extraction for the case and serves to lubricate the bullet while it travels down the bore. By look and feel, one may think there is no difference between these and their other loads. Inside, however, it's a different story. Using a propellant and charge different from any of the previous loads, Lapua has managed to add an additional 30 feet per second (fps) in the Long Range and Super Long Range loads. In their 26-inch test barrels, this change resulted in 1,106 fps on average versus 1,073 fps in Center-X, Midas+ and X-Act loads. Pushing velocities to their subsonic limits, without courting too close to supersonic (approximately 1,125 fps) makes for an ideal long range recipe. When combined with the higher-than-average BC of their 40 grain bullets, this recipe should be favorable. 

Differences between LR and SLR

lapua-long-range-ammo-05
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

On paper, Long Range and Super Long Range are identical. The same bullet, casing, powder and charge are used. They are then lot-tested into which label will be on the box. Lapua’s goal was for single digit Standard Deviations (SD), and they delivered on both variants. The tighter SDs are sorted into the Super Long Range side, while slightly wider SDs found a home under the Long Range label. My tests at the range produced SDs of 5.5 for Long Range and 3.5 for the Super Long Range. Extreme spreads were also impressively low.

I jumped on a call with Emil Praslick, Director of business development for Capstone Precision Group(CPG). CPG handles the U.S. import and distribution of Lapua and a few other key brands. On one of my first experiences meeting Emil, he was shooting empty .308 casings offhand at 75 meters with Lapua Center-X. A former coach for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit with droves of experience in just about every shooting discipline known, Emil doesn’t mince words when it comes to ammunition performance. He told me of his first experience with Long Range and Super Long Range. “I was actually kind of shocked by how well it shot,” he said. He went on to talk about the Vudoo Gun Works rifle he was using. I explained to him that the only bolt action .22LR rifle I had was my 68-year-old Remington 512 that I’d only ever shot a 1.5-inch group out of. “You might be surprised with how well a lot of those old guns shoot with the right ammo,” he said. Determined to find out, we made plans for a range day. 

lapua-long-range-ammo-04
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

A few days later, Emil met me at my local range to put it to the test. We were joined by Erich Mietenkorte, a five-time U.S. National High Power Rifle Silhouette champion. Erich trains for this discipline entirely with smallbore .22 LR ammunition, firing more than 10,000 rounds per year.  They each brought a few different rifles to shoot. Four custom rifles were present, all built on Vudoo Gun Works V22 actions. Additionally, there was a Bergara B14R and, of course, my 1955 Remington 512 Scoremaster. My 512 already had a dovetail cut, so I clamped a scope base on and torqued on a Crimson Trace optic that didn’t yet have a home. All rifles zeroed to 50 yards, we began accuracy testing. Emil suggested this be the distance we test accuracy of the groups, as it was comparable to the 50 meters at which Lapua tests. 

lapua-long-range-ammo-06
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

I watched shot after shot impact paper from both Emil’s Vudoo and Erich’s silhouette rifle. Both extremely skilled shooters with top tier equipment, they produced multiple groups with unprecedented accuracy. I felt a little out of place sitting behind my Frankenstein museum piece. Nevertheless, I got to work on my own target with Lapua Long Range in the chamber. From his spotting scope, Emil coached me as I settled into the heavy, gritty trigger. Once I got a feel for it, I picked a clean spot and started a fresh group. I soon forgot the limitations of the rifle and was able to produce a couple five-shot groups measuring .24 inch. I swapped to Super Long Range and five shots later, I had a ragged hole in the target measuring .20. If it hadn’t been witnessed by the other guys, I’m still not sure I would’ve believed it.

lapua-long-range-ammo-03
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

Accuracy testing done, we moved down to the longer range. Our targets were spaced out from 200 to 450 yards. Light, but variable winds told us to pay careful attention to timing our shots. Erich got to work and shot a 1.6-inch group at 200 yards, followed by a 1.9-inch group at 300 yards. Emil also shot a few sub-moa groups at distance, to further prove the capability of the loads. My heavy trigger being what it was, Emil had me climb in behind his Vudoo V22 Repeater – a custom built chassis rifle with a one-pound Bix’n Andy trigger. I took careful aim and squeezed off my shot at two hundred yards. Through the Vortex Gen III Razor glass, I watched my bullet fly the whole way to the target. Pairing my shots with Emil’s wind calls, I was able to place a few more hits on target before moving on to the next targets. The farther we shot, the more I was able to watch the wind multiply its effect on each small bullet. Scoring a few hits at each distance, I had to try for the farthest target – a 12 by 12 inch square at 450 yards. At beyond a quarter of a mile, the bullet seemed to take forever to make contact. When I did my job and listened to my spotter’s wind call, I was rewarded with him confirming, “Impact!”

lapua-long-range-ammo-07
(Photo by Ben LaLonde)

A few hours later, we had fired more than 1,000 rounds between the three of us and six different rifles. I found myself truly impressed with the performance of this ammunition. It shot straight and true through any rifle we used. I had grown up shooting that exact Remington 512 with whatever cheap ammo I could get my hands on. I had never expected or experienced the accuracy that rifle was capable of with optimal ammunition. Lapua knew demand would be high in the USA for a purpose-built long range .22 LR cartridge. They’ve spooled up production at their plant in Schonebeck, Germany to meet the demand. Both Long Range and Super Long Range can now be ordered online from a number of U.S. based retailers and distributors. Lapua not only has produced another high-performance rimfire cartridge – they have truly succeeded in optimizing a long range ammunition contender for precision rimfire shooters.

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If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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