Is Steel Cased 22 Ammo from Russia Actually Good?
Russ Chastain 02.16.21
Last spring I shared a video with y’all from Buffalo’s Outdoors in which “Buffalo” did a long-range accuracy test with his Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle, finally pronouncing his maximum effective range 120 yards. Pretty good with open sights and cheap .22 Long Rifle ammo, but in today’s dearth of ammunition, .22 Long Rifle can be tough to find. So, he recently made a new video in which he tested some steel cased 22 ammo from Vostok.
The Vostok ammo is made in Russia as you might expect, and has 40-grain solid bullets with non-corrosive powder and primer. He shelled out $2.99 per box for this stuff which means he ponied up $30 for 500 rounds of Russian steel-cased ammo when a year ago he was routinely paying $20 for 500 rounds of American-made Blazer 22 ammo. As we know all too well, times have changed!
The box is plain enough, and doesn’t give much info. He assumes “standard” means “standard velocity” which seems reasonable. Inside, it looks just like any other 50-round box of basic .22 Long Rifle ammo. In another blast from our ammunition past, he notes how waxy the bullets are.
This was not uncommon years ago, but has become less prevalent among American ammunition in recent years. Rimfire ammo like .22 Long Rifle requires the bullet to be externally lubricated, and in my younger days it was not unusual for bullets to be sticky enough that if you toted some in your pocket, they’d come out rather linty. I’m guessing ammo makers have come up with better lubes to help prevent that, but our Russian comrades tend to stick with older tech, especially when it does the job.
He starts with a revolver: a Ruger LCRx double-action, 8-shot wheelgun. They all fired fine, but ejecting all 8 empties at once was a bit rough because they were kind of stuck in the chambers. Next, is the Glock G44 which gobbled up the Russkie groceries “like a kid eatin’ candy on trick or treat” (his words). This is followed by a S&W M&P22 which again digested the steel cased 22 ammo just fine. His next candidate is a Taurus TX22 followed by his favorite 22 handgun – a 5″ Walther PPQ. Both of those worked great with the steel cased 22 ammunition!
When it comes to rifles, the Vostok ammunition functioned just fine in his S&W M&P15-22 (picture an AR-15 chambered in .22 Long Rifle) and a Remington 597 which he used to shoot the ammo through a chronograph. The readings were very consistent averaging in the high 1,000s and up to around 1,100 FPS (Feet per Second). He also did accuracy testing, and once again, the Russian Vostok ammo did quite well.
Your Mileage May Vary
I’ve seen reviews of other steel cased 22 ammo which didn’t fare nearly as well for the testers, but for Buffalo the Vostok stuff really worked well. I gotta say, I’m impressed – and I’d be tempted to buy some of it next chance I get. Although I do wonder about possible long-term damage to the firing pin, after all, we are talking about rimfire in which the firing pin, designed to crush a soft brass rim, is now being asked to crush harder steel.
What about you? Have you tried steel cased rimfire ammo? If so, how did it perform? Would you gamble on steel cased 22 rimfire ammo or pony up ammo-shortage prices for brass stuff, or just wait until the dust settles and ammo supply catches back up to demand? Please let us know in the comments below.