CCI Ammo Review: The Rimfire Gold Standard
CCI (Cascade Cartridges Inc.) ammo and I go way back. The CCI .22LR is the perfect plinking ammo; it’s affordable, reliable, and there’s no shooter’s guilt at the end of the day. While CCI is a popular ammo brand for .22 LR, the company offers more than just one small rimfire caliber. In fact, shooters can get everything from handgun ammo to primers!
But how does CCI stack up to other ammunition on the market? In our opinion, the answer to that question lies in what you’re looking for. If you're looking for incredibly reliable and accurate ammo for target shooting, plinking, and general range work, then CCI is an excellent choice.
You can check out our full selection of CCI ammo HERE. But if you want to know whether it’s even worth buying, keep reading this comprehensive CCI ammo review.
CCI ammo is an excellent ammo brand, but it’s also a niched brand as well. Those looking for low-cost ammunition that’s available and functional will certainly benefit from a few dozen boxes in the gun safe. However, it isn’t the best ammo for personal defense, big game hunting, or competitive shooting.
Known for its rimfire cartridges, the company also offers centerfire handgun ammunition and primers (for our reloading readers). Rimfire ammunition is notoriously unreliable by nature. Because the primer isn’t concentrated as it is on a centerfire cartridge, you will get a few duds out of hundreds of rounds. Knowing this is a common challenge of rimfire, I will say that CCI is my go-to .22LR. The CCI rimfire rounds are cheap yet effective and comparatively reliable to other ammo brands.
Unbeknownst to novice shooters, CCI also manufactures centerfire handgun cartridges like 9mm #12 shell shot cartridges (sometimes referred to as snake shot or rat shot) and the Blazer ammo series chambered in popular calibers from .45 to 9mm and even .380.
CCI ammo like the full metal jacket and total metal jacket cartridges are perfect for target shooting and plinking (in price and functionality), while the jacketed hollow points, Blazer cartridges, and Velocitor series are great for varmint and small game hunting.
CCI ammunition comes in various cases as well. For example, the aluminum case Blazer ammunition feeds really well and tends to be a fan favorite for those of us who with limited range time. However, if you prefer brass-cased ammo you can easily pick up a box of CCI Blazer Brass for your favorite Sig Sauer handgun or pistol caliber carbine.
Overall, CCI is a trusted ammo brand, but we wouldn’t use it for our daily carry ammo or big game hunting.
We strive to give our readers an honest review of ammunition. So, we won’t just give you all the highlights and benefits (even when it comes to ammo we keep in our gun safes). Let’s break down the pros & cons of CCI ammo.
- Great price
- Availability (it’s pretty easy to find in stock and ready to order)
- Offers a wide variety of calibers, casings, and bullet types
- Fairly reliable compared to other rimfire cartridges
- Great for buying in bulk and stockpiling
- Limited reloading options (depends on the ammo and primer)
- Limited use (no personal defense, big game hunting, or competition shooting options)
- May experience jamming issues depending on cartridges and casings (that’s just the nature of the beast, of course)
If I’ve convinced you to pick up a box of 5,000 CCI rounds, cool. However, you’ll want to make sure the company offers the calibers you need. Take a peek at this helpful list:
- .25 Auto
- .32 Auto
- 9mm Makarov
- 9mm Luger
- .38 Special (and .38 +P)
- .357 Magnum
- .40 S&W
- 10mm Auto
- .44 Special & .44 Rem Magnum
- .45 Auto & .45 Colt
- 30 Super Carry
In 1951, a machinist and his business partner opened a small ammunition shop in Idaho. The company name at the time was Speer Cartridge Works. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because there’s a familial connection between Speer Gold Dot and CCI ammunition. The machinist mentioned above was Richard (Dick) Speer. Interestingly enough, this Boeing machinist from Washington worked in his brother’s ammo plant and decided to open his own. The brother, you ask? Vernon Speer from the high-quality reputable Speer ammo company.
After teaming up with the more charismatic and business-oriented Arvid Nelson, the pair developed hyper-velocity .22 long rifle ammo (today we call it the CCI Stinger). This 32-grain .22LR cartridge has a velocity of a whopping 1,640 feet per second!
With the mechanical expertise of Richard Speer and the business expertise of Mr. Nelson, CCI has grown to be a household name in the shooting world 70 years after producing the first round.
CCI Ammo is currently owned by Vista Outdoors, a massive corporation that also owns other shooting sports companies like Federal Premium and Remington. But don't worry, all CCI ammo and primers are still made in that small town in Idaho.
CCI ammo is as American as Idaho potatoes, literally. The small munitions manufacturer calls Lewiston, Idaho home.
The CCI Stinger has the highest muzzle velocity of all CCI .22LR ammo (at 1,640 fps). However, muzzle velocity isn’t everything. For example, the .22 LR 40-grain CCI mini-mag has a copper-plated round nose with impeccable accuracy and a high muzzle velocity of 1,235 fps.
The CCI Stinger is a bit faster than anything Winchester or Remington offers in the .22LR. Of course, the ballistics and accuracy will be similar among all three brands considering it is rimfire ammo with a low grain lead projectile (sometimes coated in a metal alloy) and meant for target practice or small game.
CCI offers a lot of great varmint ammo. The CCI Stinger is a round-nose 32-grain copper-plated hollow point projectile that travels from barrel to target quickly. If you want something bigger, then the Maxi-Mag .22 WMR in 40 grain is also an excellent choice with an even higher muzzle velocity (1,875 fps), and the 17 HMR 17-Grain Varmint Tip has a polymer tip for penetration and rapid expansion.
Absolutely! While it may seem odd to use a shotshell in a semi-auto firearm, CCI designed this particular cartridge just for that. You could even use it in a Ruger 9mm, or whichever handgun you prefer.
No. While the company does make .45 ACP ammo, you wouldn’t want to carry it for personal defense as it is only offered with full metal jacket bullets, which are not ideal for self-defense.
No. Remington doesn’t own CCI ammo. However, they both have the same parent company (Vista Outdoor).
Blazer is one of the many products offered by CCI. While most people know the company for its rimfire cartridges, it also offers centerfire rounds as well. The latter is the CCI Blazer, often referred to as just Blazer rounds, Blazer Brass, Blazer Aluminum, or Blazer Clean-Fire.
The Blazer series is typically found in handgun calibers and, per the names above, comes in brass or aluminum cases.
Yes, 9mm CCI ammo is a great, low-cost option for plinking and target practice. It's extremely reliable, accurate, and affordable.
CCI’s Blazer series is designed for shooters who want a low-cost ammo option without the ability to reload. It’s cases are made from high-quality aluminum and uses the same projectile as Speer Lawman ammo. If you don’t see another identifier (for example, Blazer Brass), you’re getting an aluminum case.
It’s easy to see why we love CCI ammo, but only for certain activities. You won’t find me trekking the Appalachians with CCI’s .44 Special Blazer ammo for black bear defense. But you will absolutely find me with a box in my range bag every time I’m there.