View Full Version : What is the trajectory of a .22 rimfire target bullet?

August 12, 2007, 10:10 PM
If I fire something like Winchester Dynapoint .22 LR rounds from a Ruger 10/22, what is the trajectory that the bullet will follow? Does it rise up as it leaves the rifle like a .223 shot leaving an AR-15, or go out of the barrel straight on a level trajectory for a while?

What I’m really wondering is this: If I zero the scope at 50 yards, what is the effective spectrum of distance that I can shoot that rifle? Can I be accurate at 25 yards with a scope zeroed at 50 yards? Can I be accurate at 100 yards? When does the drop off become more than an inch? My impression is that it is not a powerful round, so it should start falling with gravity after a fairly short distance, but then again it is not a heavy round at all, so maybe it flies for several hundred yards before dropping off. Does anyone know the answer to that?


August 12, 2007, 10:58 PM
No bullet out of any firearm goes straight on a level trajectory. Gravity pulls on it immediately out of the muzzle. To figure a particular .22 Rimfire trajectory out of your gun (since they vary from gun to gun), you'll need to experiment yourself.

August 12, 2007, 11:08 PM
You need the Velocity, and BC of the boolet.

August 13, 2007, 01:19 AM
So many variables effect 22lr rounds.I do own a 10/22 but haven't shot it at paper at 100 yrds though I do regularly shoot bolt actions at 100.I zero at 50 and when I shoot at 100,I get about a 9" drop(depending on wind) using match grade ammo.Most match grade ammo are subsonic with approximately 1000 fps.High velocity and hyper velocity should drop less.---Like DPris said,you need to experiment yourself but this should give you a idea.

Brad Clodfelter
August 13, 2007, 01:21 AM
DPris is right. No bullet that leaves any barrel will actually rise from the actual height of the bore unless of course you are shooting it up at an angle to the sky. :D But bullets don't rise from the actual line or height of the bore period regardless of what some people might tell you.


Jim Watson
August 13, 2007, 07:36 AM
Well, the guys are providing a real education in physics but they are not helping much with practical ballistics.

True, a bullet does not, cannot rise above the line of the bore. But the sights are mounted so as to aim the bore a little upward so the bullet starts out rising toward and then across the line of sight. It peaks out at "mid range" above the line of sight and then starts dropping back toward the line of sight in a parabolic trajectory. It crosses the line of sight at the zero distance and keeps dropping; pretty quickly at that end.

True, a bullet does not, cannot shoot perfectly flat for any distance at all. It has no power and no lift, so it is moving in a curved trajectory falling at all times and distances. But at reasonable ranges the trajectory is a pretty mild curve and targets have physical size, so for hunting and plinking you can treat it as flat for a while. A target shooter will have his sight settings recorded so he is right on at the bullseye with no slop.

For .22 long rifle high velocity the ballistic coefficient is .1238 and the muzzle velocity is 1260 fps; this from data furnished by CCI and shot by John Lachuck in the 1970s; and run on Sierra Infinity software. If zeroed at 50 yards from a rifle with scope sight 1.8" above the bore (taken from my 10-22) the "first crossing" when the bullet passes the line of sight going upward is at 28 yards, it is at its maximum of only .16" above the line of sight at 39 yards, zero at 50 yards, and an inch low at 69 yards.

If you want a maximum point blank range so that you are within an inch at all times (except so close that the bullet has not come within an inch of the line of sight yet, about 7 yards) then zero at 73 yards and you will be an inch high at 48 yards and an inch low at 84 yards.

Guns and ammunition vary a good deal.
The only way to know what yours will do is to shoot it at various ranges and make measurements and take notes.

August 13, 2007, 09:10 AM
DPris is right. No bullet that leaves any barrel will actually rise from the actual height of the bore unless of course you are shooting it up at an angle to the sky. But bullets don't rise from the actual line or height of the bore period regardless of what some people might tell you.

Actually, bullets do indeed "rise from the height of the bore" (meaning the height of the muzzle - one point on the barrel), because the barrel is pointed slightly upward. So they are indeed pointed up at an angle to the sky. If they weren't, you'd never be able to make a bullsye hit with a dead-on sight hold. The bullet rises for awhile, crosses the line of sight, continues to rise for awhile, and then after reaching the apex and gravity does its thing, it begins falling for awhile, then crosses the line of sight, then continues to fall.

To answer the question, if a .22lr is sighted in at 50 yards, then yes, you can make a "hit" on a small animal at 25 yards. The bullet will impact a tad bit high, but within an half-inch to an inch. So no it will not be dead on at 25, but it can be close enough to dispatch small game. A 50 yard zero would give you a maximum effective range (MPBR) on small game out to between 60 & 65 yards, with typical .22lr ammo. But there is only one point (one distance) at which you'll make perfectly direct hits. Actually, there are two points at which you'll make direct hits - the near zero and the far zero. Suggest you download one of the free ballistic calculators available on the net and being plugging in numbers. You will need to know the BC of the bullet (approx.), the distance between the bore and the line of sight, and the muzzle velocity. Also the temperature and altitude can make a small difference, but I wouldn't worry about that right now.

August 13, 2007, 09:49 AM
I'm no expert, so I'll defer to James House who wrote the book, The Gun Digest Book of .22 Rimfire (2005). He indicated that the rule of thumb is that the highest trajectory point is at about 60% of the distance between the rifle and target. He discusses "point blank range" which is the range that the bullet will not rise or fall more than an inch relative to the sight-in distance. So, if aiming at a 2" bulls eye, all shots will be inside the bull within this range. The point blank range for standard velocity 22LR is approximately 75 yards and 85 yards for high velocity 22LR ammo. He has a table on page 119 where sight in ranges vary 50, 60, and 70 yds. From this table, 60 yd sight in distance appears optimium for the Federal Gold Medal Target round. Hope this helps.

August 13, 2007, 09:58 AM

Your figures are about the same as I have found - assumming you want one inch as your max vertical change for PBR.

My plinkers are sighted in for one inch high at 50 and with HV ammo they are still only an inch low at 80 or so, and about 4 low at 100.

My target .22s a dead on at 50 yards with SV ammo and 3-4 inches low at 75, close to 9-10 low at 100.

August 13, 2007, 10:29 AM
The point blank range for standard velocity 22LR is approximately 75 yards and 85 yards for high velocity 22LR ammo.

One canNOT just make a blanket statement like that, because the point blank range is highly dependent upon the target size (acceptable zone of precision for your intended use). If your acceptable target size is a 4" vital zone (plus or minus 2"), then that's about right. If you want the precision to take head shots on rabbits & squirrels without holdover or holdunder, the target size is roughly half that - 2" (plus or minus 1"), or at the most 3" (plus or minus 1.5"). You want to err on the side of a smaller target size, to allow a built in cushion for human error in your shot under field conditions. So the PBR realistically is closer to 50-60 yards (standard vel) or 65-70 yards (hi-vel), if you want to go for a very precise PBR target size. It all just depends on what level of precision you want. :)

August 13, 2007, 11:06 AM
I can confirm Bushido's numbers for subsonic .22 ammo. Shooting subsonic Remington I get a 9 inch drop from 44 yards to 100 yards.

Brad Clodfelter
August 13, 2007, 11:30 AM
Well what I meant is that a barrel deanut level shooting a target in the same exact level plain(exact same height from the ground), the bullet will not rise from the bore. I did mention the word angle I do believe but carried it to an exaggereated level.

Here's what I have found on my Suhl 150 shooting at 100yds after I had the gun shooting deadnut at 50yds. I have a Weaver T36 scope on it with 1/8" clicks and BKL 257 rings. To shoot deadnut at 100yds, I had to click the trajectory up 46-50 clicks.

Hope this helps.


August 13, 2007, 01:48 PM
Right. I knew what you meant; and you're right, of course, but I felt the way you described it needed to be "enhanced" since it was potentially misleading to noobs who need to understand the bullet is rising from the point it exits the muzzle, relative to horizontal plane to the earth's surface. I know that *I* didn't really understand that back in my gun noob days. :)

Brad Clodfelter
August 13, 2007, 02:40 PM

Your right on. And thanks for clearing that up. For a newbie, this can get confusing, and I shouldn't have really used my illustration to prove my point.

Oh, and just a tidbit of info. I was shooting ammo around 1050 -1060fps on my example above.


August 13, 2007, 03:45 PM
First Freedom; The PBR is based on a 2" bull per House's information. It is a hunting perspective where the kill zone is about 2" on many small creatures.

The table he put together is interesting for Federal Gold Medal Target. The range is broken down in 10 yd increments with the zero varying for 50, 60 and 75 yds. The 60 yd example lists this: 10 yd=-0.44"; 20dy=+0.30"; 30yd=+0.73"; 40 yd= +0.83"; 50yd=+0.59"; 60 yd=0.00"; 70yd = -0.95"; 80yd= -3.97"; 100 yd= -6.05".

August 14, 2007, 09:46 AM
Winchester Dynapoint .22 LR rounds from a Ruger 10/22

Depending on your scope mounts you are looking at 48" drop at 200yds and 156" at 300 yds with a 50 yd zero.

March 14, 2011, 09:06 PM
Fellas..remember, open sights compared to scope shooting gives a different pattern.
With a scope, you're a couple inches or so above the bore..With open sights, you're maybe 3/4" above the bore.
Makes a big difference..
So you need to specify what you are shooting with so people will know what you are doing.
Then an answer can be a bit more accurate.
I used to shoot completely with open sights and in my younger days would have been tough to beat.
But I'm 75 now and my eyes require scope shooting only..Lol! And I can still shoot pretty well..or so I've been told.

March 15, 2011, 06:34 AM
if you want to have some fun,start shooting out at 200yds. subsonic .22 shells are a must. we shoot off hand at each others hats at 200 yds and no ones hats are hole less.i use a annie 54 match with a old weaver T-6 and if the wind is not blowing to much i can nail every one of my friends hats. these groups were fired at 200yds from a bench useing fedreral target 714,s. we are going to start shooting at golf balls at 200yds, i will put a higher powered scope for that. eastbank.

March 15, 2011, 07:37 AM
Every rifle is a bit different. The only way a person will know what their rifle bullet path is doing is shoot off a bench rest at various ranges . Some years ago I shot a Ruger 10-22 T w/ Burris 6X Target AO scope sited in at 60 yards with 22 HP PP Winchester ammo. The targets were set at 10 yard intervals from 10 to 100 yards. The AO scope was set for each range and a small mark was made on the AO ring. The ten target five shot groups showed size of the groups and how low ,then high ,then low the groups were . What I learned about a bullets path from my 10-22 is only of value to me .

March 15, 2011, 07:55 AM
Eastbank got it. 200 yards. We occasionally shoot 200 instead of 100 for our scoped small bore match. It is about 24" drop, give or take. 200 yards with a .22 RF is a hoot!