This review of Aguila's line of rimfire ammunition appeared originally as an Ammo column in the December 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page here and select Shooting Illustrated as your member magazine.
Shooters consume more rimfire ammunition than any other type. Ironically, it gets the least attention in the gun press. Writers and readers are infatuated with terminal performance, ballistic coefficients and accuracy when it comes to centerfire loads, but tend to take rimfire ammo for granted. I’d be willing to bet a lot of folks don’t realize the wide array of options in the rimfire world. I’d also bet most are unaware of the selection of rimfire ammo available from a Mexico-based company named Aguila.
Aguila catalogs 16 rimfire loads for the .22 LR and .22 Win. Mag. The ammo is imported to the United States and distributed by Texas Armament & Technology, which is based out of Conroe, TX. I know, shooters tend to look at imported ammunition with a raised eyebrow, so I wanted see if this stuff was any good. Though I’ve used some of it sporadically over the years, I wanted to subject it to a real test. I evaluated 14 of the 16 cataloged loads; every one was chronographed and accuracy tested. Not only might the results surprise you, Aguila has a few special-purpose loads for which you just might have a use.
Before I get into the test results, let me acknowledge that, with regards to consumer appeal, the packaging used by Aguila may strike consumers as somewhat…different from its competitors. Similarly, some of the product names can be a bit confusing. I mention this not to bash the brand, but to illustrate why you might be overlooking some of the best rimfire ammo on the market.
For example, Aguila offers two CB-type rimfire loads. CB is the acronym for a rimfire load that is powered only by a primer, and capped off with a conical ball. Though not so popular today, they can prove useful in a variety of instances. When I was a teenager I shot CB loads into a homemade bullet trap in our garage. They can also be quite effective on small rodents around barns, kennels and trash dumps, and they’re so quiet, no hearing protection is needed. Aguila’s CB-type loads are named “Colibri,” which translates to “hummingbird” in Spanish—there’s even an image of a hummingbird on the box. (Yeah, I know, I don’t get it either.)
Instead of being topped with a conical ball, Aguila’s CB-like loads have a pointed bullet. Though not tack-drivers, at 10 to 15 yards they should be minute of rat, and at between 400 and 600 fps, they are quiet as a whisper. (“Whisper…” that might have been a tad more self-explanatory.)
Another interesting Aguila load is the 60-grain Sniper Subsonic. I’m not too sure where the “Sniper” name comes from, but the load does exit a 22-inch barrel slower than the speed of sound while still generating 120 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle. This is about 40 percent more energy than a 40-grain subsonic load is capable of producing, and equal to or better than the energy produced by standard-velocity, 40-grain .22 LR loads. Inside of 30 yards or so, this is great low-noise medicine for vermin like raccoons and such around the ranch.
The Aguila loads that really impressed me were the 40-grain Super Extra High Velocity and Interceptor loads. Their American-ammo equivalents would be the CCI Mini-Mag and Velocitor. However, in the test rifle I used the Aguila loads were more accurate than either domestic offering. In fact, the Super Extra High Velocity was the most accurate of the Aguila loads I tested, averaging a scant .31 inch for five, five-shot groups.
Regarding the 22 Win. Mag., it is my favorite rimfire cartridge. I consider it an ideal survival cartridge and think every real shooter should have at least one rifle chambered for the cartridge. Both Aguila loads are essentially identical and use the same 40-grain JSP bullet. However, one is loaded in a brass case and the other is nickel-plated. Both were quite accurate, but the nickel-plated offering generated more-consistent velocities and a bit better accuracy.
Aguila makes a good assortment of rimfire loads and they all performed very well. Furthermore, I tested all standard- and high-velocity offerings for function with a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 semi-auto with zero malfunctions. Shooters expend a lot of rimfire ammo and my message to you is to not ignore Aguila. Yep, the packaging is a somewhat unconventional as are the product names, but it is good stuff.
Visit the Aguila website and enter your zip code on the “where to buy” page. Then, check out the big-box online retailers like MidwayUSA. Most Aguila loads can be had for between six to 30 cents per trigger pull.