There is a very specialized realm inside the firearms industry that those on the outside rarely know about. The realm of ballistics can appear mythical and those that are passionate about it are seen as ballistic Yodas that are constantly calculating ballistic coefficient and velocity in search of the golden round. They find immense pleasure in pushing the limits of cartridges, and the performance they can provide. These men and women are the ballistic technicians and occasionally they produce a game changer. This is exactly the case with the folks over at Nosler and their new .22 Nosler round.
Faster and Faster!
There has always been a desire to improve the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO round that is so commonly fired from the AR platform. With that in mind, the .22 Nosler was created with the goal of making the most powerful .22 caliber centerfire cartridge that would reliably function in the AR platform. And function it does! The new .22 Nosler is roughly 300 feet per second (fps) faster than .223/5.56 with over 30 percent more energy. With 25 percent more capacity, the 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet launches out at 3,350 fps through an 18-inch barreled AR-15 and a 77-grain custom competition bullet flies at a screaming 2,950 fps. The product of this is a very flat shooting round that delivers a serious punch downrange. This is approaching velocities found in the .22-250 Remington in a much smaller package.
When asked about the new cartridge, John Nosler, executive vice president of Nosler said, “The AR-15 is indisputably one of the most popular firearms among shooting enthusiasts across the globe. While there are other hard-hitting cartridges that exist for the platform, as far as .22 caliber is concerned, nothing compares to the performance of our newly engineered .22 Nosler case. It was important to us that every AR-15 owner could instantly customize their existing rifle to .22 Nosler without any fancy gunsmithing. In keeping with that goal, a simple switch of the magazine and upper will do the trick. With a cartridge innovation this significant, any shooter running other .22 cals in their AR-15, will at the very least, have to reconsider their efficiency.”
While applications of this round are many, it is the hunting and specifically the varmint and predator hunting crowd that is excited. The round is very flat shooting, which means that there will be a decreased point of aim/point of impact change. While a 55-grain .223 round will begin its nose dive around 400 yards, the .22 Nosler is just beginning to make any noticeable drop. This means that the strike zone for the Nosler remains small for longer ranges. In a nutshell, it allows you to shoot farther without having to dial or hold for elevation. On top of that, when the round arrives on target the Nosler still carries a punch.
This will intrigue many, but there may be a hesitation to buy yet another rifle. Worry not! The .22 Nosler is designed to be run on a standard AR lower. All you will need is a .22 Nolser-chambered upper and a 6.8 Remington SPC magazine. Or you can swap the barrel of your .223-chambere AR for a .22 Nosler and utilize a 6.8 SPC magazine. You can use your existing .223 bolt carrier group. The .223 Rem. and .22 Nosler use the same bolt face. The change out is simple and fast. There are some serious shooters out there however that will indeed want a dedicated rifle chambered in .22 Nosler. There will be several shops in the industry working to fill this niche, but only one is directly supported by Nosler. Specialized Dynamics in Chandler, Arizona, is one of the best kept secrets in the business.
- Cartridge: .22 Nosler
- Upper: Billet non-reciprocating side charge
- Lower: Billet with integrated trigger guard
- Barrel: Proof Research 22 in. 22 Nosler
- Twist: 1:8 in.
- Handguard: 16.5 in. M-LOK
- Stock: Magpul PRS
- Trigger: 1 lb., 8 oz. Timney AR-15 Calvin Elite
- Grip: Ergo Deluxe
- Safety: Ambi. 45 degree
- Muzzlebrake: POF Triple port
- Finish: Vulcan Red Gun Candy
- MSRP: $2,000
- Manufacturer: Specialized Dynamics
A master gun builder and cornerstone of the predator hunting world, Scott Milkovich is the brains and brawn behind Specialized Dynamics (SD). Milkovich is one of the founding members of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and sponsored shooter for both Nosler and U.S. Optics. In short, the man knows what he is doing. At the 2017 SHOT (shooting, hunting outdoor trade) show in Las Vegas, Milkovich was featured in Nosler’s booth as they announced the release of the new round. SD built a new rifle based around the .22 Nosler round. The Veritas is striking with its red upper/lower receiver and handguard, and bold logo design. The upper on the rifle is billet and designed with a non-reciprocating side charging handle. This is a great design feature that will be appreciated by anyone who understands the importance of remaining on the rifle when you have to run the action.
Moving forward, you can’t help but notice the Proof Research barrel. It has a carbon fiber wrap design and is as good looking as it is accurate. It is 22 inches long with a 1:8-inch twist rate. The handguard is a 16½-inch with M-LOK attachments and the barrel is capped off with a Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF) Triple Port muzzlebrake. The lower is a billet design that also and includes an integrated trigger guard. It is built out with an Ergo deluxe pistol grip and a Magpul PRS stock to allow the gun to fit a wide variety of shooters. With speed in mind, the safety is a 45-degree ambidextrous style. The trigger in the rifle was carefully chosen, and it is a Timney AR-15 Calvin Elite. This is a brand new trigger from Timney and is like nothing seen before in the AR market. It maintains a traditional 5-pound hammer spring but is coupled with a crisp and zero creep 1½-pound pull. The reset is short and notably one of the quickest in the AR platform — allowing for rapid and precise follow-up shots. It is a great trigger for this rifle. The rifle is finished by Specialized Dynamics in a Vulcan Red Gun Candy coating. It is one of the best looking rifles that I have come across in some time. Alas, no rifle coming from Specialized Dynamics is designed to be a safe dweller so we took it to the range.
I have worked with Milkovich at Specialized Dynamic previously, so when I asked about getting some time on his new rifle he was kind enough to accommodate. We packed up and headed out to ventilate our targets. The gun we would be testing is the exact gun I was shown and handled previously. The only addition would be some U.S. Optics glass and a Harris bipod. One variable that we would face in this range session is ammunition. While I would normally bring along at least three flavors of ammunition from different companies for testing, the relatively new nature of the round would limit us to production ammo from Nosler and handloads from Specialized Dynamics. While not as wide a variety to compare, it would serve us well in this setting.
Testing would be from the prone position, and the weather was completely cooperative. There was barely a breeze on a clear sunny Arizona morning. One zero was confirmed, we began shooting groups. The trigger helped dramatically as the gun can’t be any more than 8 pounds before glass. Having a light trigger with a standard hammer spring made for some smooth shooting. The Magpul PRS stock was a solid choice and was easily adjusted for the testing. It quickly became clear that the rifle is a shooter. No wiggle, slop or rattle that is so common in off-the-shelf rifles. It was like driving a fine sport scar and shortly thereafter wanting one.
We ran three sets of rounds through the gun. First up was the Nosler Match Grade .22 Nosler 77-grain load. This round has hunting written all over it, and I predict many deer and antelope falling to it in the upcoming seasons. We then moved into Milkovich’s secret stash of handloads. Being a long-time precision shooter he quickly found a recipe that the rifle loved. We ran both a 70-grain reduced drag factor (RDF) bullet as well as a 55-grain version. While all the ammunition performed well, it was Milkovich’s 55-grain handloads that ruled the day with a ½-inch group. His 70-grain was right behind it with a group barley a grease ring larger and then the factory Nosler 77-grain at ¾ inch. While I was never a naysayer about the .22 Nosler round, I did not truly appreciate just how flat shooting it was. The other benefit of the round is added power. The round has 30 percent more energy than its .223/5.56 cousin, and it was obvious when we moved to steel. While I am accustomed to a serious snap on my steel popper target when I shoot ARs, the action on the steel from the .22 Nosler was dramatically more. Suffice it to say that coyotes or any other target will fold quickly with the increased striking power of the round.
Shooting never gets old, but occasionally certain days on the range I simply enjoy more. Getting to run the Veritas in .22 Nosler allowed me time on both a new gun and a new round. Specialized Dynamics has hit a home run with this rifle. It is the perfect mix of custom rifle at an affordable price. The gun is listed out with the parts I have mentioned, but Specialized Dynamics is a custom shop that can make alterations a client desires. As for the .22 Nosler round, I believe it is a winner and one that will soon make its way into the lines of many manufacturers.
To learn more about the .22 Nosler, click https://www.nosler.com/22-nosler/ .
To learn more about Specialized Dynamics, click http://www.sdrifles.com/home.html .
To learn more about PRS, click https://www.precisionrifleseries.com .
To purchase an AR-15 on GunsAmerica.com, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search/Family/2/1/AR15-Rifles.html.