Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CCI Stinger 22 Long Rifle Clothing and Gel Tests

Back in May 2013, I ran my first terminal tests with a newly acquired Beretta 21A.  At that time I was testing the bulk pack ammo from Federal, Winchester, Remington, and CCI.  You can see those test through the various links on the Ammo Tests page.  Coming out of that test, I received many requests to test the CCI Stinger through the same pistol.  At the time, I was really surprised by how many requests I received for this specific test.  I decided to dig a little deeper into the subject.

If you humor me and Google something like "Best ammo for Beretta 21A Bobcat" you will get back a series of links to various forums discussing the subject.  The most recommended ammunition for the little Beretta seems to be the CCI Stinger.  Surprised by this, I made a mental note to do the test at some point in the future and quickly forgot about doing the test due to other distractions.

Recently I happened to see a box of Stingers while I was reorganizing my ammunition.  This reminded me that I wanted to try Stingers in my Beretta 21A.  Unfortunately, this box has been in my ammo stash for several years so the packaging doesn't match the current packaging, but I assure you that they were indeed Stingers.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that has a similar density to 10% ordnance gelatin.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

YouTube video direct link

My Thoughts on This Load:
As I read through the many reasons why folks recommend this specific load in the Beretta 21A, the most common reasons where reliability with feeding and ejection in the mini Beretta.  I didn't shoot much of this ammunition through my pistol, but what I did run through fed and ejected cleanly.

CCI created this load decades ago as a hyper-velocity light bullet round for varmint control.  Rated at 1640 feet per second, this load is still one of the fastest 22 LR loads available.  As expected, our tiny 2.4 inch barrel didn't allow the Stinger to develop that level of velocity.

All recovered rounds did not show any sign of expansion in the nose cavity.  This was also expected at the limited velocity generated by the short barrel.  What I found most interesting was that every test shot appeared to tumble as it progressed down the gel block.  The other interesting observation was that the bullet base is cupped with a thin skirt.  The base of all recovered rounds either expanded as it traveled down the barrel, or as it traveled through the gel.  I think they probably expanded as they ran down the gel block.  You can see the skirts have cracked on two of recovered rounds in the picture below.

Pick or Pan:
If your specific Beretta 21A Bobcat runs reliably with Stingers and you have confidence in the handgun and ammunition combo, then by all means continue to use it.  From my point of view, I prefer a bullet that penetrates deeper in gel testing.  Using 12 inches of gel penetration as the ballistics experts suggested minimum, this load fell short on penetration in half of our test shots.  I would feel more comfortable with a heavier round nose bullet, similar to the previously tested Federal Lightning or CCI Mini-Mag, that penetrated to 12 inches or more in gel testing as long as either proved to be equally reliable as the Stinger.

I conducted this test several weeks ago.  At the time, CCI shipments of Stingers were still hit and miss.  Earlier this week, I started seeing Stingers available at many of the on-line ammunition sellers by the box, brick, and even case.  Prices are still running on the high side at $10/box of 50, but at least they are available again.  

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs.  It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.


  1. A couple of years ago, I did some just-for-fun testing using the wet phone books method. I did a "worst case" test using my .22LR Cobra derringer with a variety of loads. The best performer I found was the Aguila Super Maximum. It's a similar hyper-velocity round, but has a softer lead bullet. It penetrated as far as the Stinger, but actually expanded to 9mm diameter in the process. I don't carry .22 as a defensive round, but from a short barrel pistol, I'll go with the Aguila...

    1. Thanks for the comment. I have a few boxes of Interceptor and Super Maximum that I bought before the shortage. Sounds like I need to give it a test soon.

  2. Very informal testing, but here's the result:

  3. Another outstanding review. I think the 22lr stands as a more often used SD load as it is available. Not the best, but available.... I have a Ruger SR22 that is tops at the range for new shooters, easy on recoil and accurate. I would like a more self defense oriented 22LR (DAO with decent trigger and restrike) but don't think it will happen soon.... Thanks again for your thorough reviews, looking forward to more...

  4. I used to own the Taurus knockoff of this, and can tell you to avoid it. It functioned well, but keyholed by the time it hit the target. I have read where others with the Taurus also experienced this. Better stick with a Beretta. Thanks for the test.

    1. I had the Taurus also many years ago. I didn't have the keyholing issue, but the only thing that it would run reliably were CCI Mini-mags.

  5. I doubt whether CCI's 32 grain fragmenting hollow point would have a chance at expansion where velocities fall below 1200 fps. I haven't chronographed a .22 lr at a faster velocity than what you have here from my mini-22. One has to get into the 4" barrel lengths to have a prayer of expanding even a .22 hyper-velocity round.