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The Best Night Time Hunting Round

Updated: May 10

The 22 Creedmoor is probably one of the most interesting calibers in the last five to seven years when it comes to nighttime critter hunting. the 22 Creedmoor is not just a nighttime hunting caliber though. It can be used to produce very flat trajectories for long-range shooting and competition circuits while minimizing recoil also. That mix of high muzzle velocities for night hunting and the twist needed to stabilize the longer 85-95 grain bullets is where this becomes an interesting caliber. On the surface, it just seems right that a company that builds tools for demanding customers who want to accomplish a task, would immediately latch on to something like this caliber. We constantly search to provide our customers with zero compromise rifles to fill their needs. This is why when you call, we often have a lengthy discussion to find out what you want, not just a sales pitch of this, this and this are in stock. We do this to ensure when we fill an order, it fills the customer's need.

With this caliber, we feel like we hit the nail on the head for our nighttime hunters. This caliber can deliver 1000 foot-pounds plus to the normal nighttime ranges. In talks with a lot of our hunters their nighttime ranges generally don't push past 400 yards. So our goal is to maximize a flat trajectory to 400 yards while maintaining the highest energy we could from the lowest recoiling platforms we could find. These attributes were specifically requested by multiple customers who either competitively hunt coyotes, or professionally eradicate pests and keep farm fields clear. These customers were already using 204's, 22 - 50s, 22 Noslers, or other lightning-fast, flat trajectory calibers shooting lower grain weight, low BC bullets. These customers often found themselves shooting at animals, they end up hitting them only to have them end up running off. or spend thirty minutes looking for them. These customers had a caliber that was flat and was extremely easy to hit animals with at night. They did not have a caliber that would put these animals down when they needed them to. This scenario is less than beneficial when quick retrieval was needed. Understanding that in some circumstances, you want them to run off, so you don't have to deal with the disposal. In hunting and coyote competition circumstances, the coyote, hog, or deer hunter wants to recover the animal fast. As you can see everything has its place and the waters muddy quickly as to what is needed. This caliber in our eyes is best suited for the hunter who wants a lighter, mid-length style rifle and wants to recover the game where it was shot.

So now to accomplishing this task for our customers. First, we looked at what ballistics would be required to ensure the customers did not have to chase their animals. We determined that if we massively overpowered extremely quick opening projectiles that would virtually guarantee the results on target needed.Oftentimes this number is looked at to be 1000lbs. We have historically negated most every foot-pound requirement other "ballistics experts" have brought forth with accuracy and bullet performance. We don't necessarily look at how many foot-pounds are needed to kill these animals or incapacitate them. We approach this as if I put a giant hole in their heart neck or brain they will be incapacitated. How do we go about doing that?

Generally speaking, this is done by getting a projectile to rapidly expand somewhere between one to three inches of impacting soft tissue. We began to look hard at most of the polymer-tipped projectiles to do this. Historically contrary to popular belief tipped thin jacketed projectiles do exceptionally well at rapid expansion. A lot of the Hornady ELD-M and TMK lines of projectiles do this very well. They also tend to be extremely accurate at the short to mid ranges. Now we agree that we can do a lot with a .30 caliber rapidly expanding projectile moving at lightning speeds. We also agree that no one wants to shoot that three to seven times and try to keep a herd of sprinting hogs in their scope at night. We went on the minimum spectrum of recoil that we felt would maintain the destruction of soft tissue on these animals. This brought us to the 22 calibers. This was largely based on the successes in the past of 77 TMKs in our own experience. In 100 to 150 yard scenarios it's extremely hard to beat this little bullet from a Marksman Light suppressed in a small opening with hogs in it. So how do we maximize that success, we looked at how to extend that range past where it is effective in the 223. We noticed that when we passed the 150-yard mark the effects of these projectiles dropped off quickly. So we decided to take that 150-yard mark wall and bring it out to that 400-yard mark our customers said they generally wouldn't pass at night. Looking for a caliber specifically designed to feed and function well and shoot these higher BC 22 caliber bullets brought us directly to the 22 Creedmoor.

We looked at some other calibers the 22-250, the 22-250AI, the 22 GT, and some others. At the end of the day making something perform a function, versus purposely building a reamer for a cartridge to accomplish something is what we specialize in, and this 22 Creedmoor with our reamer hit the nail on the head. This is exactly how we want to deliver the 900 plus foot pounds with minimal recoil and exceptional accuracy.

In our rifles, you can run any brass manufacturer's brass without the worry of the loaded external neck diameters, small exterior donuts clearance issues, or the need to sit the bullet deep into the case. We have ran 22 Creedmoor Peterson small rifle primer brass, which is our favorite, the 6mm and 6.5 mm Hornady Brass and Eagle Eye 6.5 Creedmoor large rifle primer and Alpha 6mm Creedmoor small rifle primer brass. In an effort to validate the differences in internal case volumes between each of these brass manufactures. We put each of these as new or new necked down with Federal 205MAR or BR2 primers and shot the same charge weights. The average muzzle velocities are below when using H4350 and 75 ELD-Ms with identical seating depths and charge weights.

brass neck, reloading

****Additional note CCI BR2, CCI BR4, CCI 200, FED 205MAR, Federal 210M, and lastly CCI 250 are highly recommended for this cartridge. The BR2/4 being the top of the list********

It is worth noting the 6.5mm small rifle primer casings held pressure longer than the Hornady 6.5mm Large Rifle Primer. The Hornady large rifle primer brass was our only primer to creep out of the back of the cases. The primer nearly failing was from far exceeding maximum published charge weights. Also important is the necked-down cartridges can also have internal neck donuts. This will be noticed when seating you can feel the hard-sticking point in the neck when the bullet goes in. This can be mitigated by utilizing the Sinclair Neck Sizing Mandrel body die with the .22 caliber expander mandrel. We turn our mandrels down to -.003” under the caliber. So, our mandrel is .221” instead of the .224’ that’s factory. While we are discussing reloading recommendations, the Redding 22 Creedmoor Full-Length Body Die Part # 076-91302 and RCBS Match Master Competition Seater Die Part # 10140 are what we use for our shop rifles. If you want to buy a set the Whidden 22 Creedmoor die set and the RCBS Match Master sets are set up correctly for VLD style bullets and will give you enough neck tension. You can also use any bushing die you’d like to get a neck tension under .221” inside neck diameter on your choice of brass. The Hornady 22 Creedmoor seater is not something we recommend. The seating stem is not for VLD bullets, it also gave us bullet deformation on the projectiles we tried seating with it. On a reloading end note, we trimmed out brass to 1.190” for all our testing.

In each of these manufacturer's brass, we have well exceeded the Peterson load data to establish a failure point in our rifles. While we were only able to get one brass to partially fail to hold a primer. We highly encourage you to work up a safe load following the Peterson published load data. We do recognize that lot variances in the powder will change charge weights, fluctuations in internal case volumes of brass even made by the same manufacturer will change what is needed to accomplish muzzle velocities. We do not recommend you start outside the published load data for this cartridge. Given this cartridge's nature, we also know that most hand loaders do not like to stop at book max listings for pressures.

Part Two

A simple way to determine if you are under or over pressure is to see what muzzle velocities you have and if that higher than the published data. If it is, you are outside the parameters of what the case and rifle are designed to do. Another easy way to check for pressure is to measure the cartridge case. At .200" from the base of the cartridge case. Measure the diameter of the case walls. If it is .471" you are near max loads. If you are greater than .471" or anywhere above that area of the case, you have far exceeded the pressures that brass is capable of handling. Regardless of what you see on the case head or primer after firing. This location is where the brass cup meets the case walls and generally near where brass is left unsupported by the junction of the bolt face and barrel's broach angles leading into the chamber. If you need to go faster, buy a longer barrel. If you care about your brass life or rifle running for years to come buy a longer barrel. Even in my worse lot of H4350, I see zero reasons to ever pass 39.7 grains of H4350 with a 75-80 grain ELD-M. H4831sc is great too however it will peak out quickly when it nears pressure.

This cartridge for our company is primarily focused on shorter maneuverable guns at night for hunters and competitors. However, if you want to push this cartridge for PRS style matches you absolutely can. For those customers needing that or wanting that ability, we highly recommend the 24-to-26-inch barrel lengths we offer. With that said you will have the ability to run 55-90 grain projectiles in our chambers. The twist is what we will work out with you for your specific purpose. For the shooters wanting to run 82 grain bullets and below, we will likely put you in an 8 twist. For the shooters who want to run the 85.5-95 grain projectiles in specified safe by Peterson Brass Company's published load data, we will steer you in the direction of a 7 twist.

There are a lot of myths and true occurrences that will obscure opinions on twist rates in this caliber specifically. One of which is all 7 twists will eventually blow up my bullet. This is not necessarily correct. A good way of wording that is all seven twists with heavy projectiles loaded on faster burning propellants that are not properly maintained over the life of the barrel will develop fire cracking and carbon fouling that will act like a cheese grater as you shoot your bullets down the barrel. This is further complicated by a lot of manufacturers moving only to 8 twists and saying shoot 95-grain projectiles out of them. You'll see nominal results from those longer bullets in the slower twist rates. it's also important to note the longer bullets with polymer tips do not need the same stability in flight as longer bullets that are solid and do not have polymer tips. In these instances, you can use slower twist rates for these higher grain projectiles. For our nighttime hunters, we will recommend staying in the 73 to 80-grain range and an 8 twist. You will find in this area even without the use of a chronograph or $1000 plus FX120I V3 set up, achieving .5MOA or better groups at 600 to 800 yards is easily achievable in our rifles.

Inside this .22 caliber, you can easily find a way to chase muzzle velocity. You can run 55s past 4000 feet per second and you can run the 90s at 2900 feet per second. These high muzzle velocity numbers on the surface are what give you the ultra-flat trajectory. When we dive further into this, you'll start to see what we did to maximize these trajectories and maintain the near hiccup recoil of this caliber. Often time legacy varmint nighttime hunters chase speeds upwards of 4000 plus feet per second. That is perfectly fine if muzzle velocity is the only way to achieve your down-range results. However, in the 21st century, we have seen the advances of cartridges like this come into existence. these cartridges capitalize on the science of BC and how it correlates to the time of flight. These cartridges recognize what BC can do for you. The higher the BC, the more muzzle velocity it will maintain for a longer time. That is because the measurement of a bullet's BC is putting a numerical value on that bullet's ability to maintain its muzzle velocity downrange. You may ask what does that mean to me? That means if I want to hit something hard downrange, I don't have to chuck a rock at that thing nearly as hard if that rock will maintain the original velocity, I threw it at for a longer time of its flight.

In our case, we saw the light 22 calibers start to be a little more ineffective under 900-foot pounds of energy. So how do we get that energy there with minimal recoil, we launch higher BC bullets. It is possible that the 900 foot-pounds is just what happens to be needed to truly shove that polymer tip fast enough back into the lead core bullet and rapidly expand that jacket in time for it to be near the vitals of the smaller game this cartridge is after. If you reference the charts below you can take a peek at what kind of gets most people to that energy on target. This is why this BC and projectile type is what we selected to do our rifles around for nighttime hunters. As mentioned above if we want to tweak this for your style of shooting be it PRS or you just want a long-range extremely light recoiling rifle for a child or smaller framed individuals we can perfect this for you in this caliber.

This leads me to our next point. Why don't we just shoot the highest BC projectiles and not just stop over halfway there? That is because nighttime hunters still need to capitalize on flat trajectories whenever possible to give themselves some forgiveness on ranging their animals by eye through their thermals or night vision. This specific flat trajectory point is what leads to the destruction of brass and rifles over time. most people do not realize that you're not achieving that much flatter of a trajectory by one or 200 feet per second. Reference the charts below. You are in essence gaining a one-inch flatter trajectory per 100 feet per second gained in this instance. That means if you shot a 24 inch versus a 20 inch you would likely only have a maximum gain of 2.2 inches at 400 yards with a 200 yard zero in total trajectory. Some would say that's important and some would want that swept space advantage. However, most coyotes have 12-inch-tall bodies to hit. If you were going to miss that 400 yard coyote, it's because you miss called the coyote's distance by over 100 yards rather than seeing the true advantage of the 200fps gain. What I mean by that is the difference in the 80 ELD-M going 3400fps from 300 yards to 400 yards is 8.1". The difference in the 80 at 3200fps at 300 and 400 yards respectively is 9.5". That is a net gain of 1.4" for the 200fps gain, 4-6" of a barrel, or a ton of wear and tear on the rifle and brass. It is more likely you just missed the shot, than gained the hit off the trajectory. The 73 ELD-M is another really strong contender for solving this equation when loaded with H4350. Its nearly the identical drop at 3300fps and yet still maintains the 900 plus foot pounds of energy at 400 yards

load data for 22 creedmoor, load dev, load development

load data

80 eldm load data, 22 creedmoor, reloading data

Part Three

Now, we chose this cartridge in particular for nighttime low recoil high energy to target resulting from the higher BC bullets it was set up to shoot. Referencing the chart below you can see the 58-grain VMAX at 3600fps in the 20" barreled 22 Creedmoor. You will notice the energy to target is 50% higher in a projectile that is going 400fps slower, depicted above to the far left. Additionally, the trajectory of the 400fps slower round goes between .3" and .5" of the faster 58grain VMAX. At 400 yards, where guys want the flattest potential trajectory due to ranging errors. The 58grain VMAX begins to have more drop as it's dumping its muzzle velocity and energy at a much higher rate than the 80 grain ELD-M. This is where that BC number comes into play. Given this, this is why we chose to set the hunters up this way who call us for these purposes. This also allows this same rifle to remain a very capable a 600 to 700 yards and beyond on some critters, during the day when the winds are much higher than at night. This same rifle can then be used as a fun little plinking rifle for youth and adults alike should you go to your nearest 1000-yard range to just hang out for the day and shoot.

58gr vmax load data

I feel the 75 ELD-M is what I will run in the cartridge at 3182 fps or the 73 ELDM at 3300 fps. This 75 ELD-M load is lights out accurate and probably one of the best loads I have ever shot in a hunting rifle for 400-yard hogs and coyotes. This load has 1.1" of drop at 250 yards when zeroed at 200. This means that if a coyote is inside 250 yards and I did nothing else other than putting the cross-hair to the center of the coyote's front shoulder and squeezed the coyote would fall. If it was between 250 and 350 yards and I simply held with a touch of sky between the yote's back and squeezed it would fall. Even more importantly if it was between 350 and 400 yards, I just held half of his body height over his back and squeezed the coyote would fall. This is a very easy solution to do on the fly and I only need to be somewhere between 50-250 yards of his range. The only reason I am not running 80 ELD'Ms is that I don't have more of the 80's left after all the development of this cartridge has taken place. The 73 ELD-Ms and 77 TMKs are phenomenal on the game as well. Of note, the 77 TMKs will hit pressure a little faster due to their longer bearing surfaces. I would expect to take about .5 grains off your 77 TMK load from your 75 ELD-M loads with H4350 if you are above max published data on the Peterson web page. Below are some three and five round groups from this pet load described above. These will quickly outline what this cartridge, and how accuracy can deliver on game at 300 and 400 plus yards.

ipsc, ar10 target, bullet impact

This brings me to powders and charge weights. For the 1st 120-150 rounds of shooting this cartridge with maximum charge weights listed by Peterson this cartridge will initially seem to be very lackluster and nothing remotely close to what the internet has published for muzzle velocities. As you, near the 100-round mark, you will quickly see an increase in muzzle velocity. These muzzle velocity numbers will continue to creep up until 200 rounds where they will settle and be extremely predictable for an exceptionally long time. We have not burned out one of these barrels yet, might I emphasize yet. Trust me it will not be long as we tend to get a bit carried away with our long-range rifles shooting long-range courses of fire. The preferred powders are H4350 and H4831SC. That is because I use this cartridge in 20" or shorter barrels. To those of you who choose to use the longer barrels, the powders that you will quickly grow to like H1000, Retumbo, Reloader 26 then 4831SC, and H4350. Below are some starting charge weights that we saw a lot of promise in with 75 ELD-M's at 2.630 COAL. We urge you to stay within the published load data and muzzle velocity areas for this cartridge. We know you will push past this, that is inevitable given the internet data floating around. We cannot be responsible for you succumbing to that temptation. The one major thing that we saw was powder lot variations will change the charge weights drastically and why we maintain using the published Peterson loads minus 1-2 grains for a good starting point. We did our initial exploration with .2 of a grain increments to see what my powders would do relative to the Peterson listed loads.

Now to pressure. Throughout the life of this barrel, you begin to see pressure very quickly depending on the amount of fouling you allow to build up. If you regularly maintain a good cleaning interval you will likely never see this happen. We generally clean this cartridge's barrel at the 50 round mark, the 100 round mark, and then the 200 round mark. Past these marks I would recommend cleaning about every 200 rounds or if you see something odd change in your accuracy levels. This will ensure you don't get wild pressure spikes or destruction of bullets during higher volumes of fire. We have rigorously tested our rifles in 5-10 rounds groups for 200-300 rounds and have not seen an issue. I would not recommend doing this in your new hunting rifle, but we had to see how the systems would hold up for our customers. Do not worry about randomly needing to shoot 3-7 round strings into a field of sprinting hogs. The rifle and bullets will be fine so long as the barrel is maintained. What I mean by that is keeping the fire cracking to a minimum. This is a very overbore cartridge, and when you combine that with a faster burning powder like H4350 for the case volume to bore diameter. It can quickly fire crack. H4350 is used in this cartridge for many reasons, one is it's a faster powder for the shorter barrel setups. It's the best option in my opinion for the cartridge in under 20" barrels. To maintain this barrel correctly, at each of the intervals above, simply run BoreTech Eliminator and the BoreTech Chameleon paste according to the link below. When it gives you the option to run Cameleon 1-3 times, go for three times. That's all that is necessary for barrels of this caliber. The Chameleon paste is vital though, it is how you polish out the fire cracking and rough spots and ensure it never develops or keeps it at a minimum.

The magazines that we recommend using are the Lancer L7AWM 10 OR 20 round magazines. If you buy these from us when you buy the rifle, we will tune them to increase accuracy and reliability. You will initially receive one 10 rounder with this rifle when purchased from us. This rifle will be set up and ready to go.

I feel this covers all you need to know to get started on this cartridge with our chambers given the internet "isms" surrounding this cartridge and what to buy. However, do not be afraid to reach out and ask any questions regarding this cartridge. In short, the 22 Creedmoor for nighttime hog hunters and coyote hunters will be around for a long time on our shelves. We as a company build tools specifically designed for jobs that the customer wants, and how they want it to perform. Not necessarily to excel at internet posting, but in this instance, to have your hunting partner look over at the end of the night and say "Hey man, have you missed a coyote yet tonight?" or "Have you shot anything that didn't drop tonight?" The 22 Creedmoor is perfectly designed to deliver a flat trajectory combined with high energy on targets with minimal recoil in a very short compact easy to maneuver at night while hunting the footprint of a rifle.

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Scott Mueller
Scott Mueller
Dec 16, 2021

Sounds great! I think this will b my next purchase wen i can buy factory rounds. But for now im still waiting on my .204. It will do just fine.

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