What is the correct answer to this ammo-selection question? Well, I decided to dive into the pros and cons of each.
Ask any small-game hunter what they load their .22 LR firearm with. The answers will vary, but many feel their preference is the only way to do it.
I’m here to tell you both are lethal on small game. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but they’ll both get the job done.
A high-quality solid-point bullet has many merits. The usually 40-grain bullet, whether it uses a lead or plated lead round-nose bullet, is good for penetration. It lessens the chance of projectile deflection through brush, meaning a small branch is less likely to throw off a shot.
Now, does this mean the solid-point is the way to go? Well, maybe not, as chances of ricochet increase with a non-expanding bullet. Less than a perfect shot on a squirrel or rabbit might lead to a wounded animal.
For head shots on small game, the expanding hollow-point projectiles stop them cold. It’s extremely humane, and it drastically lessens the chance of ricochet.
Watch what hollow-point you buy for small game. Some designs like hyper-velocity CCI Stingers or the CCI Velocitor will really blow apart your targeted game animal. Stay away from hyper-velocity ammunition, though. Stay with subsonic, standard-velocity of high-velocity cartridges. If you’re shooting pest animals, a violently expanding hollow-point or segmented hollow-point bullet is great. For table fare game, those cartridges are just too destructive. I’m personally a big fan of CCI Mini-Mag hollow-points. Other ammunition companies like Remington, Winchester and Eley offer many similar options.
In the real world…
Hunting small game is different from one location to the next. Recommending one cartridge over another because it works well in your rifle and on your hunt doesn’t always work. A truncated-cone-shape, flat-nose bullet might be the best of both worlds. Each firearm will fire different ammunition better or worse. It’s our job as sportsmen to test each bullet selection and reflect on where and when we hunt.
Get out there and test your favorite .22 LR small-game rifle with a variety of loads. If your marksmanship is there, both solids or hollow-points will produce results. Happy hunting and be safe!