Posts Tagged ‘CB caps’
by B.B. Pelletier
Kit Palencar is this week’s Big Shot of the Week.
Today, we’ll complete the test of CB caps against an air rifle to show which is the better gun to use for close-in shooting. There will be a surprise in today’s report, plus I’ll summarize the entire test.
Today’s shooting is all at 10 yards. This is probably where the test should have started rather than finished. Once again, here are the players.
Air rifle — A Talon SS with 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel and a bloop tube silencer. The rifle is scoped with a Leapers 3-12×44 SWAT scope. It’s shooting the .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet.
The rimfire rifles are:
1. A Remington 521T target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
2. A Stevens Armory 414 target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
3. A Winchester Winder musket chambered in .22 Short
CCI CB Longs
Aguila Super Colibris
CCI CB Shorts
RWS BB caps
RWS CB caps
Left to right we have the RWS BB cap, RWS CB cap, CCI CB Short, Aguila Super Colibri and CCI CB Long.
Shooting indoors and the sound
I shot this final round indoors, so the relative discharge sounds could be closely monitored. There wasn’t much difference between the air rifle and any of the rimfire rounds except for the two RWS cartridges. Both of them were shot in the Winder musket’s 28-inch barrel and were slightly louder than all the others, with the BB caps being the loudest of all.
At 10 yards, the Talon SS shot all its pellets into a single hole that, until the tenth shot, was just 0.145 inches between centers. Shot 10, however, opened the group to 0.343 inches. You can see it when you look at the group. No excuses, though. I watched the last pellet drop and open the group, yet the hold on that shot was perfect, as it was for all the others.
The Winder musket has proven to be the rimfire star of this test; and at 10 yards, it did what I thought was impossible. It beat the air rifle! Ten CCI CB Shorts tore into a group that measures just 0.258 inches between centers. So, the CB caps beat the air rifle. I wouldn’t have believed this was possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes; but, clearly, the fact that the rimfires were shooting with peep sights against the air rifle’s scope did not sway the test that much.
The Winder musket, shooting CCI CB caps, beat the Talon SS at 10 yards.
The Winder was a star at 10 yards. It grouped 10 CCI CB Shorts in 0.258 inches, 10 RWS CB caps in 0.409 inches and 10 RWS BB caps in 1.033 inches.
Even RWS CB caps did well in the Winder at 10 yards.
All of the rimfire rifles shot good groups with CB caps and BB caps at 10 yards. The Remington 521T grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.666 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.119 inches. The Stevens Armory 414 grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.778 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.083 inches.
There was another small surprise during this test. The Stevens Armory 414 out-shot the Remington 521T with Aguila Super Colibris and was nearly as good as the Remington with CCI CB Longs. That tells me that the Stevens is a good-shooting rifle, after all, but maybe it doesn’t stabilize the slow-moving CB bullets well enough for accuracy at longer distances. I’ll come back to that thought in a moment.
Something I didn’t mention before
Blog reader Mike (I think) reminded me that CB caps have a pinch of gunpowder in the case, where BB caps are powered by the primer, alone. In this report, I’ve made it sound like the CB cap is also primer-powered with no powder, but that’s not the case. I took apart a CCI Long cartridge to show you the powder, and I’ve put it next to a CCI Green Tag .22 Long Rifle for comparison.
This goes in the “Don’t try this at home” instructions. At the top is a CCI CB Long pulled apart. Below is a CCI Green Tag Long Rifle cartridge pulled apart.
What I didn’t do in this test
I didn’t bust my tail trying CB caps in every .22 I have. If I had, no doubt the results might have been a little different; but I doubt there would have been anything earth-shattering. Any reader who has access to a fine .22 rimfire target rifle is welcome to try his or her hand at this test and report the results. I would really love to hear what a Remington 40X or an Anschütz free rifle could do. Until I hear different, I’m thinking these results are fairly representative of what you will see from a .22.
I have formed the following conclusions from the test results.
First, a CB cap in almost any .22 rimfire rifle in good condition can be accurate enough to dispatch pests at 10 yards or less. If you have a squirrel in the attic, a CB cap might be your best solution — especially if you don’t have an air rifle ready to go.
The rifle does have to be sighted-in for CB caps. Though they will be off by only an inch or so at 10 yards, the targets are often small enough that it does matter. Having a scope that has mil-dots so you can easily shift aim points is the best way to compensate for this.
Beyond 10 yards, the CB cap accuracy starts falling off rapidly. The rifle and exact round you choose start mattering. This is not true for air rifles, because one air rifle can be good from 10 yards to 50 yards with just slight changes in the aim point.
At 25 yards, the CB caps become very chancy, and it really matters which rifle and which rounds are selected. In this test, I found that no CB cap/rifle combination was good enough to go all the way to 50 yards. Yet, the air rifle did so with ease and could go even farther.
I’m going to say the CB caps are not stabilized out to 50 yards, because that’s what it looks like from the results. I just don’t think those bullets have enough spin to keep them on track that far out.
CB caps are quiet, but not more than a quiet PCP. When you’re in close confines, they’ll sound louder than you think.
Some rifles are simply not suited to the use of CB caps. I eliminated the Ruger 10/22 from the test after experiencing difficulty loading the caps.
Stuffing those tiny CB caps into the Ruger 10/22′s deep breech is no picnic. I don’t recommend it.
CB caps are expensive; but if you don’t plan to shoot a lot of them, they’re much cheaper than buying an entire air rifle. CB caps are ideal for older .22 rifles that may not have the strength needed for today’s more powerful cartridges.
On the other hand, if you own a quality air rifle like the Talon SS I’ve used in this test, I wouldn’t think of using CB caps in its place. The air rifle is so clearly ahead of the CB caps at all ranges — the results of the 10-yard test notwithstanding — that it simply makes no sense.
Was it worth the effort?
It absolutely was worth all the time spent gathering the data in this test, because now we have some solid performance data as a gauge. No, this may not be the last test anyone ever does, but it’s the first of its type of which I am aware. From now on, when somebody gives you the CB cap excuse for not shooting an airgun, you have something to help you argue your point.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today I will show you what CB caps did at 25 yards. Please remember the thrust of this investigation is to see whether a CB cap can be substituted for a good (read that as a PCP) air rifle. The four things I am interested in are the cost of ammo, accuracy, power and the noise at discharge.
Thus far we have learned that the air rifle is more accurate than the best CB cap at 50 yards. The pellets for that rifle are considerably less expensive than a similar quantity of CB caps and the dischange sound of my Talon SS with its 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel the way I have it set up (with a bloop tube silencer installed) is as quiet as the quietest CB cap tested. And when I say CB cap, know that I’m also including the RWS BB cap in the list of ammo being tested.
So at 50 yards, you’ll want to choose an accurate precharged air rifle over a CB cap in any .22 rifle. But what about closer? What if the pests you want to shoot are no farther than 25 yards away? Today we will see how CB caps do at that distance, and of course as always, I will shoot the air rifle right with them, so we can keep track of things.
It was so easy to test the air rifle first, because if it is sighted-in at 50 yards, it’s also very close at 25 yards. In fact, my rifle is sighted-in for 25 yards and I have simply tolerated it at 50 yards because the group was close enough to the aim point. The same .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet was used as at 50 yards.
The Talon SS set the bar pretty high for the rest of the rifles. Ten JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets went into this group measuring 0.436-inches between centers.
CCI CB Longs
Now it was the turn of the CCI CB Long CB caps. The first rifle to fire them was the Remington 521T that proved fairly accurate (for a CB cap) at 50 yards.
Ten CCI CB Longs went into this group measuring 1.83-inches at 25 yards. The Remington 521T did it.
After that, the Stevens 414 Armory stepped up to the plate. As you may recall, it did so poorly with both brands of CB caps at 50 yards that I fired a group of 9 Wolf Match Target rounds, which are regular .22 long rifle target rounds, just to see if the rifle was accurate at all. It was with that ammo, but not with the CB caps.
At 25 yards the 414 was a little better. Ten shots went into a group measuring 2.787 inches across. While that’s not tack-driving accuracy, at least they were all on the paper this time.
Not a killer group, but much better than the performance at 50 yards. Stevens 414 Armory shooting CCI CB Longs in this 2.787-inch group.
Aguila Super Colibri
The next round to be tested was the Super Colibri from Aguila. You may remember that we discovered that the Colibri rounds shoot way too slow for rifles and had to be eliminated from this test, so the Super Colibri is the only Aguila round being tested.
In the Remington 521T they performed adequately. Ten shots went into a group measuring 3.476 inches at 25 yards. While that might be good enough for plinking, no one would ever confuse it as an accurate round for pest elimination.
Not a stellar performance, but the best we did with Aguila Super Colibris at 25 yards. These ten shots made a 3.476-inch group.
Next up was the Stevens Armory 414, and while all ten shots did land on the target paper at 25 yards, they were spread out over 5-7/8-inches. Clearly the Stevens rifle does not like CB caps one bit. I won’t even show the group, because there is nothing to see.
RWS BB and CB caps
At this point the RWS BB caps and CB caps were up, and only one rifle is shooting them — my Winchester Winder musket. I did that because it is chambered for .22 Shorts, so the shorter RWS cases won’t cause as much trouble as they might in a rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle round.
The BB cap target I won’t show because the group is too large, and one round landed off the target. It measured about seven inches in all, which makes this round infeasible for use at 25 yards in this rifle. After the test is completed I may go back and try the round in the Remington, just to see if I’m right about the chamber being too long, but right now I’m finished with it at 25 yards.
The RWS CB cap, on the other hand, turned in a 10-shot group that measured 1.792-inches across, making it the best CB cap group at this range thus far. This tells be that the performance of the BB cap in this rifle is probably better than I would see in the Remington, because this rifle just out-shot the Remington’s best 25-yard group. So it is clear that the RWS CB cap is a cartridge to contend with, and also the Winder musket is no slouch in the accuracy department.
Best CB cap target at 25 yards to this point! The Winder musket can shoot and the RWS CB cap is not bad, either. Group measures 1.792-inchs across.
CCI CB Short
Only one cartridge remains — the CCI CB Short. We learned in the velocity test that it is equally powerful as the CB Long and has an identical bullet, so the only significant difference is the Short has a shorter case. It is ideal for rifles chambered for the .22 Short round.
You would think that would make this cartridge very similar to the CB Long, but that’s not how it turned out! When I was done with the string and looked at the target for the first time, I was amazed! The Winder musket has iron target sights, so I couldn’t see the group as it formed, and that was probably a good thing, because look at what it did.
Does this group look a lot like the tight air rifle group at the beginning of the report? It does to me. Ten rounds went into 0.981 inches, with nine of them cutting a group that measures 0.604-inches! That’s pretty amazing.
Obviously I have found a winner with the Winder musket and CCI CB Shorts. They are equally accurate as the air rifle and might be used to pick squirrels off the bird feeder, as long as it isn’t too far away, and the rifle is sighted-in for the cartridge.
Sum up for 25 yards
At 25 yards, some CB caps will work, while others won’t. It seems to rely a lot on the individual rifle at this range. Since I have only tried a couple rifles, I would think the possibilities are wide open for anyone who owns a .22 rimfire.
Let’s remember that these bullets are being powered by priming compound, alone. And it is the priming step that is both the most critical in the production of rimfire ammunition, and also the one most prone to failures. I did have several failures to fire with the Stevens Armory 414, but when I shot .22 Long Rifles there was only a single failure and that one didn’t work after three tries. Perhaps the Armory could use a tuneup, and maybe that is what is behind its poor showings.
The last group shown was the one that really stunned me. I would have bet big money before conducting this test that no CB cap in any rifle would every turn in that kind of performance. Well, that’s why I’m doing this. Now we all know a lot more about what CB caps can and cannot do.
There is one more test to conduct at 10 meters. That’s for those who just want to shoot squirrels in their attic. Then I will sum up all the important lessons this report has revealed.
by B.B. Pelletier
Andrew is hidden among the ferns with his KWA KM4 RIS airsoft rifle.
Today, I’ll finish the accuracy test at 50 yards.
This report is about how .22-caliber CB caps stand up to an air rifle in four areas: cost of ammunition, power, accuracy and sound. To-date, we’ve learned that the air rifle I’m using is just about as powerful as the most powerful CB cap and that it’s as quiet as the quietest CB cap that might be used. One specialty CB cap (the Aguila Colibri) is quieter, but so low powered that it wasn’t used in this test. It’s strictly for .22 handguns.
First, I tested the accuracy of the AirForce Talon SS, which is my control air rifle. It has to endure the same wind and lighting as the CB caps, so the results should not be skewed.
If you’ve been following this report, you know that I’ve been having trouble loading CB caps into the chamber of my Ruger 10/22 — one of three rifles I selected to test the accuracy of CB caps. I chose a 10/22 because I had one (always a good reason) and because I thought it represented what the average guy might use if he wanted to shoot a CB cap. However, that was before I discovered what a royal pain it is to load CB caps into a 10/22! Yes, it can be done and I actually did it many times, but it’s so frustrating that I finally gave up and removed the 10/22 from this test.
Before making that decision, though, I even went to the bother of converting my rifle to the custom configuration with the custom stock and bull barrel from Butler Creek. Then, I rediscovered this nasty fact. So, I bounced that rifle as well before firing the first shot. But that left me with no scoped rifles in .22 rimfire. My Remington 521T has target aperture sights, as does the Winchester Winder musket. I wanted to keep things as even as possible between the firearms and the air rifle that wears a Leapers 3-12x44AO SWAT scope, but it was not to be.
The Winder musket
Another rifle whose accuracy I haven’t yet reported in this test is the Winchester Winder musket. This is a Winchester Low Wall action chambered for .22 Short, and I selected it for two reasons. First, it was made as a target rifle, and as such should be pretty accurate. Second, because it’s chambered for the .22 Short round, it’s perfect for the CCI CB Short cartridge, as well as being better for the ultra-short RWS CB caps and BB caps. Shooting these rounds in a rifle chambered for long rifle ammunition is putting them at a decided disadvantage, because they have to traverse the length of the chamber before encountering the rifling. When doing that, it’s possible the bullets could tip slightly before they engage the rifling.
Though the Winder musket dates from before 1920, it’s still a highly accurate target rifle, as this test showed.
The Winder’s performance was pretty surprising. It out-shot both the Remington 521T target rifle AND the scoped Ruger 10/22. Not by just a little. With CCI CB Shorts, the Winder posted a 2.714-inch 10-shot group! While not in the same class as the air rifle, that’s not bad. It was the tightest group made by any of the CB cap and BB cap ammunition in any rifle at 50 yards.
Not bad for just priming compound at 50 yards! This group of 10 CCI CB Short rounds from the Winder musket measures 2.714 inches across centers.
With RWS CB caps, the Winder put 10 into a group measuring about 3.577 inches. I have to say “about” because one round strayed off the target paper and I wrote a note on the target that it was an inch to the right. The Winder has no lock on the windage adjustment, and I guess I’d rubbed it against the rifle case when pulling it out at the range. That rolled the windage adjustment too far to the right, which put the group in the upper right corner of the target. When I started shooting, the shots were close enough and far enough on the paper that I thought I could get them all on. Since it takes me up to 15 minutes to complete one group, while waiting for the perfect time to shoot, I decided to go with this group as is.
Nine of 10 RWS CB caps made it through this target from the Winder musket. Shot No. 9 just nicked the right edge of the paper. The tenth shot was about an inch to the right of the target paper. Actual group size was about 3.577 inches.
The RWS BB caps performed much differently than the CB caps in the Winder. Only 8 of 10 made it onto the paper, even though this group is well-centered on the target. Again, I have no idea how large the total group is, but the 8 shots I do have are spread out about 7.25 inches.
Adding the Stevens Armory 414 target rifle
I did add a third rifle to the firearm side since the 10/22 was removed. It’s a Stevens Armory 414 target rifle that was popular before World War II. It’s a single-shot lever-action that’s based on the popular Stevens No. 44 action. Mine has an adjustable target tang sight and a very odd front aperture that looks like it should be lethal.
The four rifles used in this test (top to bottom): AirForce Talon SS, Winchester Winder musket, Stevens Armory 414 and Remington 521T.
The front aperture on the Stevens Armory rifle is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen.
Now, it was time to shoot the new rifle at 50 yards with both the Aguila Super Colibri CB caps and the CCI CB Longs. This was done a week ago, and I saved the results for today’s report.
The results are really horrible! The Aguila Super Colibis managed to hit the 10.5″x12″ target paper 3 out of 10 times. For those on the metric system, the target paper measures 268mm by about 350mm! I have no way of knowing for certain what the group size actually is, but let’s conservatively call it a 15-inch group! I’m not going to bother showing you the target paper with three holes.
Next, I tried CCI CB Longs and got somewhat better results, though they’re still nothing spectacular. Ten shots made a group that measures just over 9 inches at 50 yards. At least all the shots were on the paper!
This got me wondering whether this particular rifle is accurate with anything, so I shot a group of 9 Wolf Match Target .22 long rifle cartridges. It would have been 10, but one cartridge failed to fire in three attempts. Rimfires! Naturally, that was the last of that brand of cartridge on hand. The group is small enough (0.978 inches) to indicate that the rifle can shoot, and I still have no idea what the best round for this rifle might be.
Nine Wolf Match Target rounds went into this group, which is under an inch; so, the rifle can shoot with the right ammunition.
Summary for CB caps against air rifles at 50 yards
The Talon SS air rifle with an optional 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and bloop tube shot groups in the three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter-inch range at 50 yards. This rifle is a proven entity, and this level of performance is not unusual. Since it was shot on the same day as the CB caps, both were shot under the same conditions; so, we can cancel the wind and lighting as factors.
The best performance from the firearms was realized by the CCI CB Shorts shot in the Winder musket, and they made a 10-shot group that was just over 2.70 inches. The Ruger 10/22 that I eliminated because of loading difficulties turned in the second-best group, and the RWS CB caps in the Winder musket were close behind. After that, the group sizes increased very quickly. Most of the rest of the groups were too large to measure because several shots were off the paper and lost.
The bottom line for 50-yard shooting with CB caps is that they cannot keep pace with a good PCP air rifle. There’s something else you have to consider. If you grab a .22 rimfire to shoot just one CB cap, the rifle will not be sighted-in for that round. I spent a lot of time getting my shots on target at 50 yards. When I switched back to standard .22 long rifle ammunition with the Stevens Armory 414, the sights had to be adjusted a lot in both directions.
With an air rifle, you’ll always be on target, provided the rifle is sighted-in. So, just grab the gun, load it and take the shot. At distances as far as 50 yards, this makes all the difference in the world, because Mr. Rat is not going to sit still while you adjust your sights.
I must say that I was surprised by the tightest CB cap groups shot with both the Winder musket and the Remington 521T. I couldn’t have predicted that level of accuracy for them at 50 yards.
Next time, we’ll move in to 25 yards — and I already know the results are going to amaze you.
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s what Tyler says about his submission: Me (FR3AK) from the well-known team of Valhalla ODA (Operational Detachment Airsoft) at the annual Vietnam Patrol game at the CDWC field.
Let’s look at the accuracy of CB caps for the first time. This is a large test that isn’t even halfway completed at this point, so there’s still quite a lot to learn; and from my perspective, there has already been a lot of learning. Starting today, much of what I thought I knew for sure about CB caps is going away.
Some .22 rifles are not made to shoot CB caps
Before I started this test, I thought I could load a CB cap in just about any .22 rifle and get away with it. This test has shown that’s untrue. I’ll begin with a rifle I selected because I thought it was the standard of modern .22s — the Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic.
The 10/22 is not the most accurate rimfire rifle around, and nobody claims that it is. But it probably has more add-ons and aftermarket modifications than the next 10 most-popular .22s put together. The 10/22 aftermarket is almost as large and brisk as that of the AR-15 — the amazing, morphing black gun.
You can throw money at your 10/22 and turn it into a credible shooter for action matches, like the Chevy Sportsman Team Challenge, or you can literally paint it purple with colorful stocks and barrel options. If you have a wild hair and too much disposable cash, you can even lash several 10/22s together into a McGyver’s Gatling Gun. Yes, you can do just about anything with a Ruger 10.22 — except, maybe shoot CB caps in it.
Oh, they’ll fire once you’ve figured out the three-handed way of loading them into the breech. I even had suggestions on special loading tools to make loading easier, but loading is such a pain that I recommend finding a different rifle.
The rifle I thought would represent the everyman’s .22 turned out not to work well at all. However, I’m not stopping there. I have a Butler Creek bull barrel and a custom thumbhole stock that turns my stanrard rifle into a wannabe target shooter. The test will continue with the same rifle in that configuration.
I’ll also add the Stevens Armory 414 target rifle into the mix of rifles being tested to take the place of the standard 10/22. This is a single-shot target rifle that was popular before World War II, and I’m adding it just to keep the competition stiff. I’ll show you all the rifles when I report their accuracy, but today we’re only looking at the results of the Ruger 10/22 and the Remington 521T.
The baseline of the test is my AirForce Talon SS, fitted with an optional .22-caliber, 24-inch barrel. The range is 50 yards, and I shot the Talon on the same day as the rifles I’m testing.
Longtime blog readers know that this rifle posted a 10-shot group under a half-inch about a month ago. On the day I tested it with the CB caps, though, the wind must have had a greater influence, because the groups were all much larger. I shot the JSB Exact Jumbos domes weighing 18.1 grains, and the best 10-shot group went just under one inch. The worst was about 1.5 inches on this same day. So, that’s the baseline against which the CB caps are shooting.
The Ruger was next, and right away I discovered that loading it needed three hands. One to hold the rifle, the second to hold back the bolt and the third to load the CB cap. Yes, the 10/22 does have a bolt hold-open device, but it’s the very definition of a poor design. I never bothered modifying it because I never really used it before this test.
The rifle was equipped with a Centerpoint 8-32x56AO scope, and, naturally, it was set all the way up. While this may seem a little biased against the other .22s, which have open sights, the Talon SS does have a 16X scope, so this balances against that. When I swap in the bull barrel and different stock, this rifle will still be wearing this scope.
However, that didn’t matter, because the groups from the Ruger were so large that I can’t show most of them here. In one case, bullets landed on two different 12-inch paper targets. That, plus the difficulty of loading each round is why the standard Ruger 10/22 has been eliminated from this test. I did get one promising group from the CCI Mini CB caps. Ten shots measure 3.475 inches at 50 yards. That group was the one that opened my eyes and made me realize that there might be something to these caps after all.
I know that people who use CB caps are not shooting 50-yard groups. They’re interested in protecting the bird feeder from a ravaging squirrel without making a lot of noise. If the feeder is closer than 50 yards, it might just be possible to do.
Not bad for a CB cap at 50 yards! These are 10 CCI Mini CB caps shot from a Ruger 10/22. I didn’t expect to see this much accuracy from CB caps at this range.
Only two rounds were tested in the 10/22 — the Super Colibris from Aguila and the CCI CB caps. I did try to shoot a group of regular Colibris, but that’s when I learned that they were not meant for rifles at all. The Super Colibris gave a group a little larger than 12 inches, and I’m not showing that here. As far as I’m concerned, they do not work well enough in a 10/22 at 50 yards to be considered. The CCI Mini CB caps, on the other hand, do show some promise.
Next I tried the Remington 521T that I thought would bury the Ruger. Well, the best-laid plans oft go astray, I guess, because this rifle shot a slightly larger group of 10 CCI Mini CB caps. This group measured 4.013 inches.
This group of 10 CCI Mini CB caps measures 4.013 inches. It was shot by the Remington 521T at 50 yards.
As with the Ruger, the Remington also got much larger groups with the Aguila Super Colibri CB caps. They were over 7 inches, making them unsuitable for shooting at this distance. The reason the 521 gets to stay in the test is because loading it is far easier than loading the 10/22. I’m still going to test my custom 10/22, which will be just as hard to load as the standard rifle; if I get better accuracy, that rifle will bear the 10/22 standard for the entire test. If not, the Stevens Armory 414 will have to substitute, I guess.
That is a lot for you to digest, so I’ll stop here. In the next part, I’ll show you how the Winder Musket did with CCI Mini Short CB caps and with both types of RWS caps. The results will surprise you, I think. I know I’m surprised by what both of the rifles shown today were able to do.
Yet to come
In future tests, I’ll shorten the distance to 25 yards and then to 10 yards to show where CB caps can possibly do their best work. I know those who are interested in this subject must think I’m serializing it to keep you on the hook, but that’s not what’s happening. There are so many rifles and so much different ammunition to track that I am going through the results in a stepwise manner to make certain that everything gets looked at correctly.
I’ve already learned far more about the performance potential of .22 CB caps than I’ve ever read anywhere. By the time this test is complete, we’ll all know a lot more than has ever been published about this short-range ammunition.
There’s one additional benefit from this test. Readers are starting to ask a lot of questions about the fundamentals of accuracy and why certain airguns do what they do. On Monday, the blog will address a fundamental question that came in from the Pyramyd Air facebook page. Stuff like this cannot help but advance all of us in our understanding of the mechanics behind the accurate gun.
by B.B. Pelletier
We’re not sure which rifle Jakub is holding, but it looks like the Walther 1894 lever action rifle. We’ve asked him but did not receive a response prior to the blog going live.
There was a lot of interest in this subject when I posted the first report. Some of you have had experiences with CB caps and others hadn’t heard of them until now.
Just as a refresher, I’m testing the theory that you can shoot CB caps in your .22 rimfire and get results that are about as good as those of a good air rifle. I’m interested in accuracy, power, discharge noise and the cost of ammunition.
I selected several good .22 rimfires to test the CB caps, but for the air rifle I’m using only the AirForce Talon SS with a .22-caliber, 24-inch barrel. The reason is that this is not a shot-for-shot comparison, just a general one, and only a representative air rifle is needed. The Talon SS is very representative of what you can do for a relatively modest amount of money when you want to maximize performance.
I could test each round in each rifle, but that would take a long time. And, what value would the data have? So, I’ll tell you which rifle I used to test each cartridge and give the velocity spread for that one rifle, only.
I’m not going to bother reporting on the Talon SS performance, since it has adjustable power and varies widely with every pellet used. Just know that it can go from about 425 f.p.s. to about 970 f.p.s. with the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo dome. For this test, I’m shooting it at around 850 f.p.s. That delivers about 29.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
What do they look like?
I received a request from a blog reader to show the ammo, but I wanted to wait until I had the RWS rounds to show. They came in this week, so let’s take a look at what we have.
The CCI rounds appear similar to conventional .22 Short and .22 Long (not Long Rifle, because the bullets are shorter) rounds. If you didn’t know what they are, it would be easy to get confused.
Aguila rounds come in what appear to be conventional .22 Long brass cases, but their semi-pointed bullets set them apart. Both types — Colibri and Super Colibri — appear identical.
The RWS ammuntition is the one that really looks different. Both are cased in pure copper cases, with the only difference being the shape of the bullets.
From left to right: CCI CB Short, CCI CB Long, RWS CB cap, RWS BB cap, Aguila Super Colibri and Aguila Colibri.
And this is how they’re packaged.
CCI CB Long
The CCI CB Long has a Long/Long Rifle case with a 29-grain plain lead conical bullet. The velocity on the box says 710 f.p.s., which would generate 32.47 foot-pounds.
I tested this cartridge in the Remington model 521T and got an average velocity of 686.38 f.p.s., which is an energy of 30.34 foot-pounds. The spread for 10 shots went from 626 f.p.s. to 758 f.p.s., so a pretty broad spread of 132 f.p.s. That’s to be expected, because these cartridges are powered only by priming compound. And, priming is the most variable part of any cartridge — especially the rimfires that have the wet compound injected into the rim of the case, where it must dry in place. As we’ve discussed in the comments section under Part 1, some companies, especially Remington, are getting more and more careless in the priming of their rimfire cartridges. Sometimes, you have to extract a dud cartridge and turn it slightly so the firing pin can strike the rim at a different place, where, hopefully, there will be priming compound.
I found these CCI cartridges to be completely reliable in the Remington 521 as well as the Ruger 10/22, but the muzzle velocity was a large variable.
The CCI CB Long is quiet, but no more so than the Talon SS with the bloop tube silencer installed.
They come packed 100 to a plastic box and sell for $9.95. I found that price firm regardless of where I looked.
CCI CB Short
Like the CCI CB Long, the CB Short cartridge also launches a 29-grain plain lead bullet at an advertised 710 f.p.s. Of course, it’s loaded in a case that’s identical to the .22 Short case. Here we encounter an unavoidable variable of the test, because I didn’t want to shoot the Short cartridges in a rifle chambered for Long Rifle. Both the chamber and the rifling twist rate would be wrong.
I used the Winchester Winder Musket with a 28-inch barrel, compared to the 25-inch barrel of the Remington 521T. If there’s any slowing of the bullet in the barrel due to friction, we should see it with this rifle.
The Winder shot 10 CCI CB Shorts at an average 708.33 f.p.s. That works out to a muzzle energy of 32.32 foot-pounds. The velocity went from a low of 679 f.p.s to a high of 769 f.p.s., for a spread of 90 f.p.s. That result surprised me, as it was faster and more stable than the CB Longs had been in the rifle with the shorter barrel.
The sound of the CCI CB Short is very comparable to the discharge of the Talon SS as tested. It delivers slightly greater power than the CB Long, though that may just be the dynamics of the test. In reality, these two cartridges (the Long and the Short) may perform exactly the same.
These caps come packed 100 to a box and list for $9.95. That price is fairly standard, regardless of where you buy them. My thanks to CCI for providing 1,000 rounds for this test.
I was confused by the Aguila ammo because of what Mac had said to me. He said the Super Colibri is lower velocity and made specifically for use in handguns, while the Colibri was faster and made for rifles. The names of the two cartridges, however, made me think just the opposite, so I was very curious to see how things would turn out.
Colibris are a Long/Long Rifle case loaded with a semi-pointed plain lead bullet of 20-grain weight. I tested them in the Remington 521T rifle. They averaged 391 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 6.79 foot-pounds. The velocity went from 365 f.p.s to 415 f.p.s., for a total spread of 50 f.p.s. And they were quiet.
In fact, Colibris were so quiet in the Remington 521T that I wondered if the gun had discharged at all. My shooting partner wondered the same thing. I even went so far as to check the barrel to see if the bullet might have gotten stuck. Of course, I was outdoors and I did have hearing protection on, which for once was not my fabulous Dillon electronic earmuffs that I forgot to bring, but a cheapie pair of sponge-rubber earplugs that come a dozen to a pack. So, I wasn’t hearing very well that day.
However, I also tested them at home and when I heard how utterly quiet they are I invited Edith into my office to witness the firing. These cartridges are quieter than a Diana model 27 discharging. They are not silent, as all the chat forums claim, but they’re the closest thing to it. Even my silenced 10/22 shooting standard-speed ammunition is much louder than this. Of course, they are also under seven foot-pounds at the muzzle.
This is obviously the cartridge intended for .22 handguns. Be careful when shooting them from rifles, as they could easily stock in the barrel.
Colibris came 50 per box, like .22 Long Rifle ammo. The list price for a box is $3.29, which seems extremely low, but the supplier, Natchez, even lists the velocity as 375 f.p.s., indicating that they know something about what they’re selling. Ammunition to Go has them for $6.95 per box, so there’s a lot of price variation. I found Colibris very difficult to locate, compared to Super Colibris that everyone seems to stock.
Aguila Super Colibri
Having tested the Colibris, I knew that the Super Colibris were going to be faster. They have the identical semi-pointed 20-grain bullet and the identical Long/Long Rifle case. Even the headstamp is the same for both cartridges, so you better keep them packed in the right box. Once they’re out, you can’t tell the difference.
And faster they are, averaging 615 f.p.s. in the Remington 521T. That works out to a muzzle energy of 16.8 foot-pounds.The velocity went from a low of 597 f.p.s to a high of 635 f.p.s. That’s a spread of just 38 feet per second, which approaches air rifle stability.
The Super Colibris seem just as loud as both Long and Short CCI CB caps, which just means it’s too close for me to call. They’re definitely much louder than the Colibris. This is obviously the rifle cartridge, although I see no reason why it wouldn’t also work well in handguns.
Super Colibris come 50 to a box and list from $3.19 to $4.99 per box. You have to be careful, as many of the retailers sell this item in bricks of 500 only and not by the package of 50.
RWS BB caps
RWS BB caps were tested next. I remember these from my youth in the 1960s, when I bought a box just because they looked so much like the ammo for the 4mm zimmerstutzens I wanted so badly. They also came in handy for testing old shot-out Saturday Night Specials with little danger to the shooter. I still have that box I probably purchased back in 1961; and when I find it, there will still be a few BB caps slowly oxidizing to death.
RWS USA was kind enough to send me three boxes of these BB caps for this test. All I’ve been able to do thus far is test the velocity. Now I have to take more license, because not only do I not own a Flobert long gun for testing these short rounds that are even shorter than a conventional .22 Short case, but I’m also going to shoot them in a .22 instead of the 6mm they’re designed for. It’s perfectly okay to do that because their soft lead ball conforms to the bore diameter with no problem. I checked with RWS USA before running the test, but I’ve also shot plenty of these rounds in multiple .22s down through the decades. So, it’s a little late to stop now.
The BB cap holds a perfectly round 6mm lead ball in a copper case. The ball weighs 15.8 grains. Surprise, surprise, as small as they are, these BB caps shoot just as fast as the CCI rounds. They make nearly the same discharge sound as a conventional .22 Short, being considerably louder than either of the other two brands of ammunition. I remember the sound from the past, so it came as no surprise, although in the quiet of my office it was very much like hearing a magnum spring rifle with a detonation.
Here are the conical bullet (left) and ball pulled from the two RWS cartridges. Notice the deep hollow tail in the conical bullet that allows it to weigh about the same as the ball. The conical bullet was deformed during pulling.
The velocity in the Remington 521T averaged 714 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 17.89 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 684 f.p.s. to a high of 749 f.p.s., so a total of 65 f.p.s.
These caps are sold 100 to a round box that looks like a pellet tin. The listed price is $30 per box, and I found street prices for a box of 100 ranging from $23.50 to $39 per box.
RWS CB caps
The RWS CB caps were the real wild card. I wasn’t even aware of their existence before starting the research for this article. RWS USA was kind enough to provide me with three boxes for this test.
The projectile is a pointed lead bullet that’s actually conical in shape, but with a deep hollow base that trims the weight back to 15.7 grains. Actually, because I weighed only a single projectile (removing them was difficult), I don’t doubt that RWS intended the weight to be identical with that of the BB cap ball.
The velocity, though, is much higher. The CB caps averaged 974 f.p.s. They’re the real speed demons of this test. Given the weight of the bullet, the muzzle energy is 33.08 foot-pounds, which is the most powerful of all six cartridges being tested. The spread went from a low of 933 f.p.s. to a high of 1003 f.p.s. and was done with the Remington 521T rifle. The total velocity spread was 70 f.p.s.
The sound was the loudest of all six cartridges tested. I would rate it as equal to the discharge of a standard speed .22 Short cartridge.
The price for a box of 100 ranged from $29.51 to $39.99.
I’d hoped to show you some targets today, but this report is already too long. I do have some targets and there are some very interesting results, but one more trip to the range will allow me to also test the RWS rounds at least once. The next report will be full of targets and accuracy observations.
Although it’s early for any conclusions, we know the pricing isn’t going to change that much. It appears that the Aguila rounds are priced much like regular .22 Long Rifle rounds, if a bit on the high side. CCI rounds carry a premium price but are still affordible for shooters who own vintage and even antique .22s that they still wish to shoot.
I hope this series continues to interest you. I know it departs from airguns, but from my vantage point the departure isn’t that great because shooters lump CB caps in with air rifles and .22 rimfires whenever they talk. I just thought it was time to record some actual results with this curious type of ammunition.
by B.B. Pelletier
Gavin’s said this about his submission: “This is what HAPPY looks like. Cheers Pyramyd Air! Great deal, great job. Hopefully soon, I’ll show you the rabbit that’s been digging up my yard.”
Today, we’ll start a large report that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. It’s based on the belief in the firearms community that a .22 caliber CB cap is just as good as an air rifle for eliminating pests.
By “good” I take four things into consideration: accuracy, power, cost-effectiveness and discharge sound.
Before I started this test, I’d read a lot of shooting forums and came away with the observation that very few shooters really know what CB caps are and how well they do or don’t work. Every discussion I found was centered on using the cheapest approach to pest elimination, then projecting the CB cap on it as the solution. I also discovered that the people who were doing the talking considered Gamo spring rifles to be the most expensive air rifles around. They also were comparing CB caps to Crosman 1377 pistols and 1077 rifles.
With that much confusion and misinformation, I felt honor-bound to test CB caps against real, worthy air rifles — not to shame the CB caps, but to set the record straight. In this test, I’ll be pitting several .22 rimfire rifles shooting CB caps against an AirForce Talon SS with a .22-caliber, 24-inch barrel. It’s the same rifle I tested for you several weeks ago in the three-part series titles What would BB do? In fact, that report series was actually one of the preambles to this test.
Brief history of the CB cap
The CB cap has a history that dates all the way back to the 1840s. At that time, the percussion cap was relatively new, having been in existence less than 40 years and in general use less than 20 years. By 1840, it’s safe to say that percussion ignition had all but replaced the flintlock except for a few shooters who held out for very specific reasons.
In Europe, someone had the idea of using just a percussion cap itself to power a small, lightweight lead ball for very close-range shooting. By 1845, Flobert was making and selling these bulleted breech (BB) caps for small, inexpensive guns. Some guns were rifled, others were smoothbore and a few were very fancy, indeed. They were available in a number of metric sizes, with 6mm, 8mm and 9mm being among the most popular. In these Flobert cartridges, the priming compound was the only thing providing the propulsive force for the projectile.
In 1855, Rollin White patented the bored-through revolving cylinder, and the startup company of Smith & Wesson used his patent to create the first .22-caliber revolver that used their new proprietary .22 rimfire cartridge. This small cartridge would later be known as the .22 Short, but at the time it was the only .22 rimfire cartridge around so it was just called a .22. As an important deviation to the Flobert ammunition, this cartridge did contain a small amount of gunpowder! Remember, at that time, all gunpowder was what we call black powder today.
The history of the CB cap and .22 rimfire cartridge is worthy of an entire book, but I’m going to skip a lot of that. Some time after the BB cap was created, a cartridge with a little more priming compound was created to launch a heavier conical bullet. Instead of a round ball, which is ballistically inferior, this new conical ball cap, or CB cap, shot a heavier projectile that also had a slightly higher ballistic coefficient.
It’s confusing, because cartridge makers also refer to CB caps as zimmer ammunition. They’re not the same as 4mm zimmerstutzen ammunition.
On a parallel path of development, but not part of the .22-caliber rimfire cartridge development, was the creation of the zimmerstutzen or parlor rifle. It initially used separate percussion caps to power a small lead ball in the same way that Flobert cartridges worked, and by the latter part of the 19th century the cap and ball had been joined into the now-familiar shape of a rimfire cartridge. These small rounds look like BB caps, but they’re smaller in diameter and do not play a part in the story I’m telling.
Zimmerstutzen ammo still comes as both fixed rounds (right) and separate components.
The 4mm zimmerstutzen round (left) is dwarfed by the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The two do not compete in the same sports, nor are they used in the same guns.
By the early 20th century, there were both BB caps and CB caps mixed in amongst the other sizes of .22 rimfire rounds, of which there were many more than we see today. By this time, the BB cap had standardized, more or less, into a tiny self-contained 6mm cartridge with a lead ball crimped in the end. Because it was so close in size to the .22 rimfire bore diameter, the 6mm BB cap was commonly shot in .22 rimfire guns, though it had to be handled manually because it was too short to feed through any repeating mechanism other than a revolver cylinder. Later on, I’ll be showing you some 6mm BB caps in this series and even shooting them for you, but right now I want to remain focused on the CB cap.
Is a CB cap just as capable as a good air rifle pellet?
That question is the focus of this test. I want to give CB caps all the advantages possible to let them show their best face, because the airgun they’ll be compared to is already a known performer.
The test rifles
I initially decided to use the following four rimfire rifles in the test.
1. A customized Ruger 10/22 that has a tuned trigger, a tighter target-spec. chamber, closer headspacing and a couple other improvements that do not affect accuracy, such as an improved magazine release. The rifle is scoped with a Centerpoint 8-32x56AO scope.
This 10/22 looks stock, but a lot has been done to make it a better shooter.
I chose this rifle because it’s so commonly available. It isn’t the most accurate .22; but with the modifications my rifle has, it’s more accurate than a factory 10/22 and able to hold its own against other good, contemporary rimfire rifles.
I also have a 20-inch Butler Creek bull barrel and custom stock for this rifle, and I can swap those for even better performance. That gives me not one but two different 10/22 rifles to use for testing.
2. A Remington 521 Junior Target rifle was also selected. The 521 is very accurate, yet it’s not in the same class as a Remington model 37 or a Winchester model 52. In short, it’s an accurate bolt-action rifle that the average guy might own. You could equate it to a modern Savage or CZ bolt-action. The sights are a Lyman rear aperture target sight and a model 17A globe front sight with ring insert.
3. A Winchester Winder Musket chambered in .22 Short caliber was the final choice for this test. This is a special version of Winchester’s popular 1885 Low Wall model. The Winder was developed for the junior target shooter of the early 1900s. It was considered to be one of the best junior target rifles of its day and was even purchased by the U.S. Army for their marksmanship training. Because it’s chambered for the Short cartridge, I’ll be able to take advantage of the CCI CB Short cartridges that might not work as well in rifles that are chambered for the long rifle cartridge. The sights are a special Lyman rear aperture target sight and a Lyman 17A front sight with ring aperture.
Winchester’s Winder Musket is a fine target rifle from a century ago. This one still shoots well.
The pellet rifle
I’m shooting my AirForce Talon SS with 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and the bloop tube that was reported in the series What would BB do? You’ve already seen this rifle turn in a 10-shot group that was smaller than a half inch at 50 yards, but I’ll be shooting it, again, on the same days I shoot the CB caps to keep the conditions the same for every projectile.
The one pellet rifle in this test is my Talon SS with 24-inch barrel and bloop-tube silencer.
CB caps currently available
CB caps come and go from the market, and more have gone than have come in recent times. When I made my ammo purchase for this test, all I was able to buy were CCI CB Longs that have the cartridge case of the Long Rifle with a shorter and lighter bullet, CCI CB Shorts that have the Short case and the same bullet as the Longs, Aguila Colibris that have the Long Rifle case and a smaller bullet, Aguila Super Colibris that have the same case as the Colibris but offer different velocity, and RWS 6mm BB caps. All of these cartridges have priming only inside the case. None contain any gunpowder.
In recent years, I’ve been able to buy CB caps from other makers such as Eley; but when I made my ammo purchase this time, these were all that were available in the U.S.
I’m testing whether it’s reasonable to assume that a .22 rimfire rifle shooting CB caps can perform as well as a good pellet rifle, with respect to accuracy, power and quiet report.
I decided to test all the guns for accuracy at 25 yards and 50 yards with 10-shot groups. For sound, I’ll use my ears, plus those of whatever witnesses are available. I’ve already done some of this, and it works well. You don’t get a number, but you can tell when something is louder or quieter than something else. I’ll get velocity from the chronograph, of course, and cost will be calculated on the ammunition, alone. I won’t factor in the cost of the guns, because nobody will ever have exactly the same guns as someone else. I want this to be representative of what a shooter would encounter if he decided to pit CB caps against a good pellet rifle, but there will always be differences in equipment.
First day at the range — a lot is learned
Things seldom go as we plan, and nothing shows that as clear as a day at the rifle range. For starters, I discovered that the semiautomatic 10/22 would not feed any of the CB cap ammo from the magazine — even when I manually cycled the bolt. Two thirds of the time the cartridge failed to enter the chamber, which caused me to stop and clear the gun before proceeding.
After a number of such misfeeds, I unloaded the magazine and loaded each cartridge into the chamber by hand. That’s not easy to do with a 10/22 that doesn’t have an automatic bolt hold-open feature. It’s possible, just not easy.
Still, I managed to shoot two groups of 10 rounds at 50 yards. One was with Aguila Super Colibris and the other was with CCI CB Longs. The Aguilas landed on two different targets for a group size in the range of 12 inches, and the CCIs landed in a group that measured just under seven inches.
Then, I tried the CCI CB Longs in the Remington 521 and got a group of 10 in exactly four inches. I may have tried the Super Colibris in this rifle, as well, but I have no target to show for it, so I think I didn’t.
The Talon SS shot three groups of 10 with JSB Exact Jumbos domes weighing 18.1 grains. The best group measured 1.25 inches, while the worst measured 2.1 inches. One group of JSB 15.9-grain Exact domes went into 1.37 inches.
Where do we go from here?
I’m just getting started with this test. It’s the research for a feature article I’ll write for Shotgun News in November, and I’ve already been to the range two times. I’ll have to write a special summary report when this test is completed to make sense of all the data.
I would like to hear what you guys think. Especially, those of you who have experience shooting CB caps in rimfires. I’m not sure where this test will take us; but I already see things I never would have expected, so I think we’ll all learn something from this.