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IHMSA News Feature Article

Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association

Published monthly except November/December - January/February

IHMSA on the web at http://www.ihmsa.org

 

Lapua Scoremax: Best Rimfire Silhouette Ammo?

By Todd Spotti

 
     What characteristics should good rim fire ammunition have? Well, my personal first criteria for any ammo, no matter the type, is accuracy. Iíve always said that "First you have to hit the target, then, and only then, you can start worrying about whether it will fall down or not".

     My second criteria is cost. I think most people have a natural tendency to shoot more rim fire ammo than any other type. Convenience is probably the primarily reason for this. The ammo is already assembled and ready to go so all we have to do is open the box and start stuffing them in. Consequently, thereís no personal sweat factor involved as there is when reloading center fire ammo.

     Lack of recoil, is probably another big reason why most shooters tend to use more rimfire ammo that any other type. Itís just so mild and easy to shoot we can totally concentrate on the shot without any consideration of any personal discomfort. We can fire dozens of shots and not even be aware weíre doing it. Not so with center fire ammo. Every shot makes its presence well known - some times very well known. Subsequently, considering that weíre probably using a lot more rimfire ammo than other types, cost becomes a very practical consideration.

     The last criteria that I use is knockdown. With first class commercially made silhouette targets and straight and even target rails, knockdown isnít usually a problem, although a ram will, from time to time, fail to fall - even when well hit. However, not all clubs can afford the luxury of having absolute fool proof targets and rails and have to get by with home made animals made from whatever materials that are available. Knockdown and target quality is always a consideration.

     As you know, over the last year or two, Iíve come to appreciate the qualities of Lapua ammunition, especially as an alternative to the other well know brand of target ammunition. Like the other guy, Lapua has a ton of choices for every conceivable shooting situation. Itís always nice to have choices, but on the other hand, the perfect ammunition that exactly fills all of our requirements can get lost in the crowd. I think this is exactly the situation that describes Scoremax. While many silhouette shooters are familiar with Lapuaís Club, Super Club, and the premium Midas, Scoremax is an unknown factor to many people. This is unfortunate, as I believe that Scoremax, from a performance standpoint, may just be the perfect rimfire silhouette ammunition.

     The primary characteristic that distinguishes Scoremax from all other rimfire ammo is the fact that is uses a 48-grain bullet versus the standard 40 grainer. When I first became aware of that fact, I assumed that the purpose of the heavier bullet was for hunting purposes. Indeed, the 48 grain bullet is significantly more effective on game than your run of the mill rim fire bullet. However no matter how useful for hunting, Scoremax is primarily a match grade target type ammunition with a secondary application for hunting.

Notice the subtile differences in the Scoremax bullet on the left and the standard 40 grain bullet on the right.

     OK, so what is the real purpose of the heavier bullet? Scoremax was designed at the outset to be a LONG RANGE rim fire target ammunition i.e. from 50 to 100 yards. Most rimfire competition takes place at 25 or 50 yards, and consequently almost all rim fire ammunition is designed for maximum effectiveness at those distances and no farther. In fact, in Europe, a lot of the rim fire competition takes place indoors where range distances are naturally limited. On the other hand, Scoremax is designed to be optimally effective out to 100 yards and even more and in conditions of less than perfect weather.

     So how can a heavier bullet contribute to better long-range performance? Within a given diameter, a heavier bullet is going to be a longer bullet, and a longer bullet will have a better ballistic coefficient than a bullet that is not as heavy/long. A longer bullet will therefore be more aerodynamically efficient and will lose less velocity over long ranges. The result is that the Scoremax bullet will not only be delivering more weight on the target rams but it will be delivering it at a higher velocity than a standard target grade bullet. At a 100 yards, the improved BC provides an advantage.

     Putting a longer, heavier bullet in a standard length rim fire case presented Lapua with a technical challenge. After all, a longer bullet might not work as well in standard 1: 16 twist barrels that most firearms manufacturers use. Plus the cartridge would have to work in standard and target chambers whose dimensions are spelled out by SAAMI and other similar organizations.

     Consequently, the decision was made to put most of the additional weight in the heel of the bullet i.e. the part thatís inside the case that you canít see. The design of the heel is the same as that used on Lapuaís Midas premium ammo, only just a bit longer. Since the heel of the bullet does not engage the rifling, the bearing surface of the bullet is left largely unchanged and so its ability to be properly stabilized in a standard twist barrel is unchanged as well.

Scoremax's packaging has recently been updated but the ammo is the same.

     Another part of the weight gain comes from the fact that a less tapered, more rounded nose is used. This ogive is actually the same ogive that was used on Lapuaís very successful "Championship" ammunition, which was made in the 60ís, 70ís, and 80ís. While some may criticize Scoremaxís less streamlined nose, the simple fact is that at subsonic velocities, nose shape is not as important a factor as it is at supersonic velocities.

     Indeed, Scoremaxís velocity is rated at 1032 fps. With the longer bullet being subsonic, it means there will be less bullet drag and that means weíll experience less velocity drop, less wind drift, and it will hit harder at extended ranges. When the wind is blowing, and it always is, this is the ammunition you want to use.

     OK. Thatís the theory part, but what about real world performance? Well, there was only one way to find out. I grabbed a box of Scoremax, my chronograph, and my 26-inch Winchester 52. I also brought along a box of PMC Match Rifle ammo for comparison. The PMC is loaded with a standard 40-grain bullet. In Step One the plan would be to chronograph each ammunition at the muzzle and record the results. In Step Two, I would then walk my chronograph out to one hundred yards and repeat the process and compare the results. The improved ballistic coefficient of the longer, heavier bullet should result in less velocity drop at that distance. Here are the results.

Muzzle Velocity

100 Yard Velocity

Velocity Drop

Scoremax 1046 fps 956 fps 90 fps
PMC Match Rifle 1036 fps 936 fps 100 fps

     Theory was correct! Scoremax was 10 fps faster at the muzzle and ended up 20 fps faster than the 40-grain bullet at 100 yards. Even though our "common sense" tells us that a heavier bullet should be slowing down faster than an lighter bullet, we see that the heavier/longer bullet is indeed more efficient. So, at 100 yards the Scoremax bullet will go faster while putting more weight on the target. That means more knockdowns any way you slice it.

Scoremax is capable of producing very impressive results.

     Ok. What about accuracy. I donít say this very often but the ammo will shoot as well as you can hold. The group in the photo was shot at 50 yards with a Thompson Contender equipped with a Bullberry match barrel. My Burris 8 X 32 provided the optics. Four shots went into exactly the same hole. The fifth shot went into the group just slightly below the first four making a somewhat elliptical hole overall. Overall group size was scant .168". I was definitely pleased with the results.

     How about price? This ammo falls in what I would call the middle price range. It can be found for around $5.25 to $6.50 a box, so shop around. Itís not cheap, but itís definitely not in the $10 a box range either, although it does shoot like the ten-buck stuff.

Accuracy - 10
Price - 7
Knockdown - 10

     So how does Scoremax meet our three criteria? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the top mark, hereís how I would grade it.

     Considering its first class accuracy, its down range performance, and its ability to shoot better in the wind, itís well worth the price. I like this stuff so much; Iím buying more - a lot more, as in a case more. Just try one box and see what you think.

Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.