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CCI's Green Tag .22LR Ammo: Competition Rimfire

Rimfire competitions are growing in popularity, and if you're thinking about getting started, then you need some quality rimfire ammo like CCI's Green Tag .22LR.

CCI's Green Tag .22LR Ammo: Competition Rimfire

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CCI of Lewiston, Idaho, is well known to the rimfire community. How couldn’t it be? After all, the company produces a staggering number of options within the .17 Mach 2, .17 HMR, .22 Short, .22 Long., .22 Long Rifle, .22 WRF, and .22 WMR chamberings. Concerning .22LR, by my count, CCI has nearly two-dozen different offerings. Among them are instantly recognizable names such as Velocitor, Mini-Mag, Stinger, Quiet-22, 22 Suppressor, and Clean-22. Nearly all are plinking, low-level competition, or hunting rounds — except Green Tag. Available only in 100-count plastic containers with each round suspended (a sign of a higher quality load) and costing, in many cases, more than double the price of the other CCI offerings, Green Tag is obviously different. But how? To answer that question, I consulted the company’s website as well as Justin Ruegsegger, engineering director, at CCI/Speer. Then, I set about testing it to see how it’d perform. Below is what I learned.

Seeing Green

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Green tag loads are suspended in their packaging, a tell-tale sign of quality rimfire rounds.

In describing Green Tag, CCI’s website reports, “Green Tag — Whether you compete with a rimfire rifle or pistol, settle for nothing less than the ultimate accuracy.” Moreover, it states, “[It’s] designed exclusively for competition.” Marketing hype? No. Ruegsegger added that it’s designed for 50-meter rifle competition. Like many competition-quality .22LR loads, Green Tag features an unassuming, lubricated, 40-grain, round-nose projectile with multiple grooves circumventing it. They’re loaded in CCI cases. Traveling at 1,070 fps, they’re in the “sweet spot” for performance. What distinguishes Green Tag from its brethren? To answer that, you must first study the product’s history. “Going back before Green Tag was officially a product, if a lot of Standard Velocity was particularly accurate, they would write the accuracy results on a green piece of paper, or tag, and attach it to the lot cards,” explained Ruegsegger. “Over time, these lots became known as Green Tag within the company, and the name stuck when it was launched as a separate product from Standard Velocity.”

It’s not uncommon for companies to refrain from sharing specifics regarding testing methods and quality specifications; in fact, it’s almost expected. Such held true here. That said, Ruegsegger did divulge, “Green Tag is held to tighter testing and quality standards than our other products, which is why it’s deemed superior.” Unlike some manufacturers, though, Ruegsegger reported that CCI schedules runs of Green Tag into the company’s build plan; however, “not every lot meets the quality standard Green Tag is held to.” Unlike many loads I evaluate, which debuted recently, Green Tag is a case study in withstanding the test of time. Pinpointing Green Tag’s exact date of introduction is challenging, but Ruegsegger was able to follow a trail of paperwork back to January 1977. Moreover, a former employee 
recollected Green Tag becoming an official product in the early to mid-1970s. Regardless, approaching a half-century of production speaks volumes.

Testing Green Tag

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These 40-grain, round- nose projectiles travel at 1,070 fps, which is right in the “sweet spot” for performance.

After receiving samples, I headed to the local range with a trusted, 18-inch-barreled Savage Arms B22 topped with a Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40mm. Knowing what the B22 was capable of accuracy-wise in many previous tests, I had high hopes for Green Tag. Loaded up, the B22 was nestled into a Lead Sled Solo, and firing commenced. After fouling the meticulously cleaned bore with several shots, I adhered to the following procedure: three five-shot groups at 50 yards, 100 yards, and 200 yards. Why the latter two for a 50-meter load? It’s probable that, given the proliferation of Precision Rifle Series (PRS), National Rifle League (NRL), Extreme Long Range (ELR), and other pursuits pushing the modest .22LR to (or beyond) its limits, Green Tag would be utilized at distances well past that for which it was designed. So, for knowledge’s sake, I tested it at greater distances, too. At 50 yards, the trio of clusters measured .633 inch, .567 inch, and .307 inch for an average of .502 inch. A half-inch average for 15 shots at 50 yards is respectable, but it’s not spectacular, particularly given what the test rifle was capable of with other top-tier ammunition. Fortunately, the .307-inch group showed that, when not inexplicably increased by an unexplainable flier, accuracy with Green Tag can be quite good. As an example, in the former group, four of the 40-grain bullets clustered into .423 inch with the last enlarging it to .633 inch. This would be a consistent theme at each distance. Rimfire rifles are especially finicky with regards to ammunition (and even lots), so it could perform better in a different gun. Only testing in your rifle would illustrate its compatibility.

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Tested at 50, 100, and out to 200 yards, shooting results showed Green Tag is competition ready.

Switching to the 100-yard range, the abovementioned accuracy testing process was replicated. Before delving into individual group sizes, though, it must be mentioned that the conditions had changed drastically and quickly. An inconsistent, stiffening wind picked up as thunderstorms approached the area. Obviously, this must be considered when reflecting on the group sizes, which were 1.343, 1.100, and 1.227, for an average of 1.223 inch. Again, this was decent but not exceptional accuracy given the designation as a “competition” round. And, as with testing at 100 yards, the baffling, ever-present flier emerged once again. Unfortunately, due to the abovementioned thunderstorms, I couldn’t access my personal 200-yard range the same day. In fact, thanks to relentless winds and choking Canadian wildfire smoke, I didn’t make it back to the range for a good part of a week. But, when I did, outside of heat and high humidity, following a quick shower, the conditions were ideal; there was zero perceptible breeze. What a perfect time to test a .22LR at 200 yards! After wiping my brow of sweat, the first five-shot group was sent downrange. As I approached the target boards, I was elated until I saw the flier, which increased the otherwise .901-inch four-shot group into 4.826 inches. Two subsequent groups were much better, measuring 2.178 inches and 2.290 inches for a 15-shot average of 3.098 inches. Those groups had unexplained fliers, too, but weren’t as wayward as in the first group. Were they shooter induced? Possibly, but I generally recognize when I send a “spoiler” downrange. Nonetheless, the load performed well at 200 yards.

cci-green-tag-ammo-review-05

With accuracy testing completed, I set up a Competition Electronics ProChrono LTD chronograph and recorded the velocities of 10 consecutive rounds at 10 feet. This was not only to check a small sample for velocity from the B22’s 18-inch barrel but also to determine consistency; after all, consistency is necessary for accuracy. According to the chronograph, the average velocity was 1,052 fps (just shy of the published number), with a standard deviation of 7.19. The extreme spread was 28 fps. This, along with the accuracy, is consistent with many competition loads I have tested. Judging a load’s merit based upon its performance in a single rifle could be construed as skewed. This is particularly true in a rimfire, which are notorious for their persnickety nature. Still, given Green Tag’s accuracy from a trusted rifle, which recently tested 
top-tier .22LRs, a veteran shooter, and evaluating consistency beyond measuring clusters at varying distance revealed to me that, while CCI Green Tag is “competition” ready at some levels, it didn’t measure up to some of the current tier-one “Olympic-quality” loads. That’s not to detract from it; Green Tag is an above-average, contest-ready load that’ll fulfill the needs of anyone seeking such and especially one made in the U.S. There’s little wonder why 50 or so years after it debuted, Green Tag is still offered.




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