Ammo Testing My Smith & Wesson M-17 Revolver
It took a few months due to legal paperwork and arranging travel plans but finally, I have my wheel gun. It’s a .22lr Smith & Wesson M-17 Revolver six shooter.
I want to shoot a cost effective but accurate round of .22lr in this little beauty. Therefore I opted for ammo that was in stock, readily available and not costing the earth.
Please not my testing is in no way scientific and the results may vary depending on your firearm(s).
SK Rifle Match as I understand, it is manufactured in the same factory as Lapua but with a lesser quality control tolerance than Lapua Centre X, but still is classed as a round that can shoot straight.
CCI Target is a round that I have witnessed to be very reliable and cycles cleanly from semi automatic rifles and pistols including bolt action rifles. I have always favoured the euro ammo of Eley and Lapua, therefore I am late to the party on this one. I have heard from many shooters that CCI’s accuracy and quality matched against price is value for money. So CCI had to be given its window of opportunity to impress or distress.
Load, Fire & Eject
My testing would consist of 50 / 100 rounds of both ammo brands to ensure I had a valid albeit non scientific field ammo test.
Up first was the SK Rifle Match coming in at 90 pounds sterling per 1000 rounds.
The box was made from card and the bullet tray was strong with pillars / legs on each corner. This ensured the box would keep its shape no matter if there was 1 round in the tray or a full compliment of 50 rounds. The brass and lead bullet had no excess wax residue. I found that it Loaded into each of the chambers with very little effort. Using Single Action I cocked the hammer back and with the slightest of squeezes on the smithy’s crisp trigger the hammer dropped. The round made its way down the 6 inch bore, exiting the muzzle and finding the target. First shot success. I continued to Fire the following 4 rounds to empty the cylinder. They all went of fine. Now it was time to pop that cylinder open and test how easily the empty cases would Eject. The cylinder opened as smoothly as it had closed just a few moments ago. As I thumbed the ejector rod I was met with resistance… a lot of resistance. This little digit was definitely not going to pop those empties out. After a few chosen words I placed the heart of my palm on top of the ejector rod and holding the frame firmly I applied more pressure until the ejector rod finally retracted and the star extractor stripped those cases from their chambers.
That was tight. The case expansion of the Rifle Match was somewhat of a shock. I didn’t expect to be met with such a tight fitting case. On examining the empty cases I didn’t detect any signs of stress on them. Perhaps my Smithy just has tight chambers.
On with the testing. I loaded another 5 Rifle Match and there it was my first misfire. The hammer dropped, the pin hit the brass but no report from the muzzle. After holding the Smithy at arms length for a further 20 seconds in case it was a hang-fire I cocked the hammer which in turn rotated the cylinder and the following shot fired as did the others. Opening the cylinder I could see the strike on the brass rim. It was a similar impression to the rest of the cases that had fired. I positioned the unfired round back into the frame, cocked the hammer and it fired. This scenario of hard to eject cases coupled with a number off unfired rounds became the norm. From a single box of 50 rounds I had about 7 that did not fire on first strike and all 50 were hard to eject.
Next up was the CCI Target coming in at 64 pounds sterling per 1000 rounds.
Again the box was made from card with a long and difficult to open flap. Once I removed the bullets I could see the reason for the long flap and a card insert that held the bullets in place. This I can only guess was to prevent spillage while at the range or outdoors. the bullet tray was a simple slip of rectangular plastic with no pillars / legs. This was fine when there was more than 20% of rounds remaining in the box but once you got below 20% the rounds became very lose and finicky to handle.
Getting to the rounds. Well the CCI looked to have a little more wax around the joint where the lead meets the brass. I found that this additional wax caused the rounds to need a little more pressure to Load flush with each chamber. Using single action I Fired each round with ease. All 5 rounds found their way to the target with some very nice accuracy. My wrist could detect that these 40 grain CCI Target rounds had a little extra recoil than the SK Rifle Match. Now the acid test for ejection. Would these rounds drop out with ease or would I need a rubber mallet to drive them out. I popped open the cylinder with ease and with the ever so softest thumbing of the Ejection rod, the empty brass was stripped from the 5 chambers and tumbled out. I continued to Load, Fire and Eject in this fashion until all 50 rounds had been spent.
SK Rifle Match Positives
This was an accurate round at the test distance of 10 Metres. It was a clean round to load and its packaging was sturdy from the 50th round to the last round.
SK Rifle Match Negatives
I found that the number of misfires in one box of 50 was just too unreliable for the revolver plus the tight ejection of the empty brass case. I was happy enough to pay the 90 pounds sterling per 1000 rounds if they behaved well for the revolver but after this test I wouldn’t be so keen to cough up that kind of cash for such unreliability. Perhaps the clue was in the name. I was shooting a round developed for a rifle in a pistol. SK Pistol must be worth a ‘shot‘ next time.
CCI Target Positives
This was also an accurate round at the test distance of 10 Metres. I found that it also ejected with ease from the revolver cylinders and I had no misfires in the first 50 rounds that I fired. As with all things, cost is a factor and coming in at 26 pounds sterling lower than the SK Rifle Match it surely is worth considering for long term use while still available.
CCI Target Negatives
Although the packaging did contain the ammo securely I wasn’t impressed with the amount of work needed just to pop out a few rounds at a time without actually ripping the box or flaps. The plastic insert didn’t give me confidence with the security and accuracy of the last 10/15 rounds as they tended to flop around and knock of each other. This could affect the lead bullet head, flight path and as I stated previously, their accuracy.
The excessive wax on the round was also putting more work into loading the round flush with each chamber than necessary as it tended to gum up at the cylinder face.
Drum Roll Please…
I have decided that I will continue with the 40 grain CCI Target ammo due to its accuracy, its consistency to fire, its ease to eject and its retail price per 1000. Although it does have its little packaging flaws, that is something I can forgive as it’s not the box that I want to shoot. I would guess that the box and bullet tray construction reduces the retail price of the ammo also. So it’s a win win for my wallet and my Smithy.
I will however continue my search for the ‘perfect ammo’ that will load, shoot and eject consistently from my six shooter. I hear that Eley Match Pistol and Eley Sport are worth a trial if I get my hands on a few boxes of 50.