22 ammo lubrication

top predator

Well-Known Member
Nov 17, 2008
had a bug up my butt to use less expensive ammo instead of the match stuff for casual shooting, while getting a somewhat comparable point of impact to the match. i used the remington subsonics as they are quite affordable and available in my area plus at 50 yards they have the same point of impact to the wolf and sk match. however at 100 had such erratic groups, couldnt even sight in, which was frustrating. i weighed out the ammo seperated into 2 major lots 51.0 to 51.4 grains and 51.5 to 51.9 grains. (varied between 48.8 grains and 53 grains which can explain the original erratic groups) i used the 51.0 to 51.4 grain lot. this seemed to help develop a group of 4.5" (including noticable flyers). yes a bad group, but much improved over no group at all.

then i added the lube. i used carnuba wax, alox bullet lube, crayon, and bowstring beeswax.

finally got out to test it. shooting conditions: 72 deg. low humidity, occasional less than 3mph breeze from 6:00. sunny. PERFECT! mark II bull barrel, harris bipod, rear bag, 1.5" bullseye at 100 yards. i cleaned the barrel after a lube change, and waited 30 seconds between shots. i also used a chrony to make sure that the flyers where just that and not me pulling a shot. vertical tracking came into play and made a noticable difference.

i'm convinced that i will be lubing the bullets on cheap 22 ammo as the results seem to show an improvement:

UNLUBED(base / control data) 979 fps - excluding 3 noticable flyers it gave me a major group of 3". including 1 of the closer flyers gave an extended group of just under 3.25". all 15 shots were in a 4.5" group. the most dense part of the group measured 2.75"h x 2.5"w comment: (in my mind and paper, the weighing is worth it!) 6 shots within 1.5" bullet drop was averaged between 8" to 10"

CARNUBA WAX - 998 avg fps - excluding 3 noticable flyers it gave me a major group under 2.5". including 1 of the closer flyers gave an extended group of 2.75". all 15 shots, under a 4" group. the most dense part of the group measured 2.5"h x 2.5"w comment: left a drier coating than the rest 7 shots within 1.5"

ALOX BULLET LUBE - 989 avg fps - excluding 3 noticable flyers it gave me a major group under 2.25". including 1 of the closest flyers gave an extended group of just over 2.25". 15 shots were just over 3.75" group.
the most dense part of the group measured under 2"h x 1.5"w comments: seemed to make barrel easier to clean, good stable texture, easy to apply. 10 shots in 1.5"

CRAYON - 1006 avg fps - excluding 4 noticable flyers it gave me a major group of 2.25". including 1 of the closest flyers gave an extended group of 3". 15 shots were just less than 4.25". most dense part of the group measured 2.25"h x 1.75"w. comments: tended to flake off, hard to control application compared to the others, seemed to cause a feeding problem. 7 shots in 1.5"

BOWSTRING BEESWAX - 991 avg fps - excluding 4 flyers it gave me a major group of 2". including 1 of the closest flyers gave an extended group of under 2.25". 15 shots were less than 4". most dense part of the group measured under 2"h x 1.5" w. comments: good stable texture to apply. 9 shots in 1.5"

CONCLUSION: there is something to adding the lube. it did have a noticable effect on group size and increased the fps. if having to rate the lubes applied as far as most predictable, ease of application, and highest % of hits on a 1.5" bull at 100 yards, it's practically a tie between the alox and beeswax, with the alox just nudging out the beeswax.

unlubed bullet drop was averaged between 8" to 10.25" / lubed between 8.25" and 9.75"

by far weighing and lubing the cheaper stuff is not going to take the place of match ammo. but as far as using a lower priced substitute and taking a little time to tweek it seems to be worth spending an hour or so to do a couple hundred. may try some other lubes in the future (parrafin, moly, rooster jacket, apache blue, tallow wax, etc.)

i also concluded i have way too much time on my hands......

tried a few more lubes today. as in the original post, i used remington subsonics which group (or lack of one) horribly out of my mkii at 100, decent at 50 though.

after weight sorting and shooting dry got around a 4.5" group just as in the original test.

then applied the lubes:

gun stock wax - by birchwood i believe, was expecting alot as the ingredients said it contains carnuba, silicone, and beeswax.
let down though, seemed to make groups WORSE.

crossbow rail lube - showed an improvement to around 3.25" with 10 shots being within 2"

moly (spray on hoppes no.9) i wanted to do the moly powder used for tumbling my centerfire bullets and mix with bees wax as in a previous suggestion. on the way to the range i stopped at the local gunstore, there was the moly staring me in the face, so i took it as a sign and bought it. glad i did as it came very close to, or surpassing, on what the alox bullet lube application did to the ammo. brought the major group to 1.75" (12 rounds) with three flyers that opened it up to 2.5".

don't forget this is out of ammo that was so erratic that i couldn't get a measurable grouping straight from the box! yes the weight sorting brought it in closer, but the lubes generally did the trick.

as far as ease of application, standing up to handling the ammo, and groups so far i would have to rank what i've tried up to date as:

1. alox bullet lube - easy to apply, not much residue to interfere with magazines, etc. stays on bullets well. not as good groups as the bowstring wax, but the bowstring wax seemed to "clog up the works" less.

2. bowstring wax - seemed to give the best groups but gummed up the bolt abit as it stripped of the next round.

3. the moly spray - seemed to add the most consistancy, and ease to clean the barrel. easy to apply, but messy. no opinion on the adhesion to bullet as i didn't have time to prep (wipe clean) the bullet with acetone or alcohol. obviously the price is going to be a factor, which if i assume a spray can at 10.00 will last 500 rounds (overspray is eating it up)you can tack on another .02 a shot. depending on what your adding it to, it may exceed any savings on the cheaper ammo and you may as well "just get the match ammo"

4. crossbow rail lube - helped keep groups to about 3"

5. crayon - yes crayon, worked well but keeping it from flaking off was a problem

6. also tried silicone spray, pam high temp cooking spray, reloading case lube, gun stock wax, militec, none of which made any substaintial difference and in some cases made groups worse. plus the lubes tended to stay "wet"

best results as far as groups, 1. moly, 2. bowstring wax (beeswax), 3. alox

carnuba wax and crayon seemed about tied

i'm hoping to try parrafin wax, white lithium, or god knows what else. with hunting season upon me, range time will be reduced greatly.

thanks for the suggestions and just for reading my little experiment, hope it helps someone.
Great idea! I experimented with various chain waxes on my mountain bike trying to figure out something that would do the job well, but wouldn't attract dirt. My favorite chain lube is DuPont Teflon Multi-Use (dry wax lubricant). I started using it as an airgun pellet lube as well after a similar experiment. I squirt a small amount into a gallon ziplock bag and roll the pellets around until they get a light even coating. Then I dump them on a paper plate to let them dry and put them back in the tin. No noticeable residue other than a pleasant smell. If you give it a try I'd be interested in how it stacks-up to the other lubes. I think I'm gonna try it this weekend. NICE.
At first when I saw the title I thought someone was posting a funny but once I started reading it sounds lie your onto something. Interesting, thanks for sharing.
I'm sure I missed it somewhere in your post, but how were you applying the lube to the bullets?

I've also done some tests trying to get better groups out of bulk ammo. The first test I did was measuring rim thickness. I graphed the outcome in excel for a few brands, and found that they all make a nice bell curve, but that actual targets really didn't justify sorting.

The second test I did was weight sorting. This certainly affected groups as it almost completely eliminated fliers.

Finally, I broke down and bought a Waltz sizing die. This is where I noticed the best results. By using the weight sorted rounds, I then re-sized them with the die into hollow points, which really made all of the lead rounds much more consistent in diameter, which ultimately gave better groups.

Now, does that mean I’ll be using worked over Remington Thunderbolts in competitions? No, I’ll still buy true target ammo for that. But at least I’m getting more consistent performance out of cheap ammo for plinking and hunting purposes.
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