ELEY’s New .22 LR Loads — Redefining Accuracy

four black ELEY .22 LR cartridges

Some years ago, I used ELEY ammunition when firing rimfire silhouette competition with my 8 3/8-inch barrel Smith and Wesson K-22—the results and performance were excellent. I have also used the ammunition in my CZ bolt-action rifle. In fact, ELEY .22 LR ammunition has been the choice of champions in some of the most grueling competitions. ELEY’s decision to bench rest test and lot test each batch of ammunition is also legendary.

Boxes of ELEY contact and force ammunition
ELEY’s new loads are impressive in every way.
So, where is the benefit for the average shooter? And are our good but ordinary rifles and handguns good enough to show the difference in ELEY performance? In short they are, and good, accurate .22s will be even more accurate with ELEY. They remain the choice for small bore competition to be certain, but there are local matches that also would benefit from the use of ELEY loads. Two new loads have recently been introduced that give us cause to test and evaluate a superior product.

ELEY force

This is a high velocity offering. The Force has a new type of powder that is specifically designed to work efficiently in a self-loading rifle. With the popularity of the .22 AR 15—some are OK and others are very accurate—and the Ruger 10/22 in special editions, the ELEY force has much merit. Interestingly, ELEY does not capitalize the F in force, marketing it as ELEY force. The powder is faster burning, per my estimation, than many other powders and means a clean powder burn and better function in self-loading rifles. The cartridge cases are brass but black oxidized. The black case, for several reasons, allows a tighter crimp and results in better bullet pull as well. Bullet pull simply means the bullet is kept in place unless pressure is optimized. Good bullet pull results in a cleaner powder burn. The load looks good, which is part of the equation, but also functions well.

four black ELEY .22 LR cartridges
Black oxidized cartridge cases add to reliable function.
ELEY contact is designed for accuracy foremost but also reduced noise. This is a reduced velocity load that also—even among .22 LR loads—exhibits low recoil. Yet it functioned perfectly in the SIG 1911-22, SW AR-type .22, and Ruger 10/22 rifles the load was tested in. Another advantage of this load is a slightly heavier than normal bullet. At 42 grains, these bullets have the standard wide grease grooves common to ELEY bullets. The lubricant is a paraffin wax ELEY has developed for minimal build up. This pretty exciting from a company that has been making ammunition and components for many years—founded in 1828.


During function testing, the loads gave good accuracy as expected. Function in the self loader was the primary goal I was looking for. However, accuracy in my working guns was also a concern. After all, this ammunition is a little more expensive than most, and while worth the price for competition, I wondered what improvement I might expect from my working guns.

First up was a Ruger Single Six .22. This revolver was built in 1954 and remains tight, accurate, and reliable. The force load clocked 998 fps, the contact, 901 fps. This is in the norm for .22 LR ammunition. Accuracy was good. This revolver will cut a 1.5-inch group at 15 yards with the very best loads. The force load equaled this and the contact load slightly bettered it, but then this isn’t a target revolver.

I then moved to my favorite Ruger 10/22 rifle. This is a takedown rifle with a rich history. On average this rifle will deliver 2.25 inches with average hunting loads at 50 yards, although it has done 2.0 inches on occasion. A lot has to do with the shooter. I fired the last of my supply of ELEY loads in this rifle. (Due to the setup of the public range, I could not clock the loads.)

Custom engraved 10/22 rifle
Ruger’s 10/22 rifle gave excellent performance with the ELEY loads.
The force load did 1.5 inches, the contact 1.8 inches at 50 yards. I am a believer. These loads are well worth their price when first class accuracy is demanded. I have followed a program for many years of using inexpensive loads for practice and the very best loads I could afford for hunting and competition. The ELEY loads are worth their price and will be used for special occasions.

Note: It would not be unreasonable to expect sub one-inch groups in target rifles such as the CZ line of bolt-action rifles.

Do you shoot .22 LR for competition or hunting? Have you tried ELEY’s force or contact ammunition? Share your results in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. I switched from the bulk Federal & Remington Walmart type ammo when I purchase a S&W 22A1 which is a .22 LR semi-auto handgun. This is a good firearm but very particular about the ammo it will feed, shoot and eject. I went with .22 Aguila SuperExtra. The box also says ELEY PRIME. It’s a 40 grain round nose copper plated bullet. Hollow points don’t work well in the S&W 22A1. Muzzle Velocity is 1250 which is the minimum velocity you need for the 22A1 to work properly. A good accurate round in my Marlin 60 & S&W 22A1.

  2. I purchased a Marlin 60 in 1972 from J C Penney’s. It has an 18 round tube +1. Way to much fun and as accurate as YOU are. New 60’s have a 14 round tube + 1 and the bolt locks back after the last round is fired.

  3. Robert, I have the same situation here in Michigan with ammo at Meijer. They have an outdoor sports section that stocks all kinds of ammunition but since the great 22 shortage began they have an empty section for 22 LR – I’ve asked store managers about it many times and they say “we get what we get from the warehouse…” and that’s it. I have other stores I can buy from so Meijer does not get my ammo business. I just don’t support merchandisers who fail to meet my needs for products. Their loss is my gain.

  4. I use Eley subsonic .22 for ground squirrels. I am amazed at the accuracy shot after shot. With my Wifama WZ78 with the Leapers long eye relief scope and using a gun rest I have a laser confirmed 218 yard kill, and shots between 100 and 175 yards are easy. Other subsonic brands are not consistant. With subsonic rounds the gun is so quiet that I can shoot more without scaring off the other targets.

  5. Forget WalMart! I’ve stocked up on plenty of 22LR through mail order that ended up being cheaper than WM, even with shipping added! Just shop around.

  6. I would never pay the price that is asked for Eley (or any other “match” ammo), when my CZ bolt-rifle shoots 0.05″ – 0.2″ (yes, I typed that correctly) groups at 50 yards with Federal American Eagle 38-grain ammo. I have two cases of the FAM of the same lot. My other .22 LR rifles shoot well under 1″ groups at 50 with just about everything I put through them. It seems the cheaper, the better. This includes the CZ, dedicated .22 LR AR uppers, pump, & lever actions. My two mid- & high-end pistols shoot well under 1″ out to 25 yards, depending on who is behind the pistols.

    To me, the groups that the author achieved with the Eley ammo is unacceptable – especially with the price-tag attached.

    Finally, what does the black oxide have to do with the amount of crimp/bullet retention? The author failed to mention why “The black case, for several reasons, allows a tighter crimp”. It does look like Eley puts a longer crimp than conventional rounds.

  7. Still can’t find .22 rounds in Walmart. Have to order them from laces that you have to pay shipping and hazardous fees.As soon as they arrive, the employees and maybe a couple walk in customers get them. They never make it to the shelves, at least not in the past 4 or 5 years. So sad.

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