Not too many Australian shooters will be familiar with Aguila ammunition but as Senior Correspondent Rod Pascoe predicts, all this is about to change.
While the name may not be well known here, Aguila claims to be one of the world’s largest producers of rimfire ammunition and has been churning out its wares since 1961. Aguila is represented in Australia by Melbourne-based Raytrade who supplied Australian Shooter with a few samples to review.
Aguila is manufactured by Industrias Tecnos in Cuernavaca, Mexico and in 2011 they partnered with industrial giant Texas Armament & Technology (TxAT) as exclusive US and international distributor of their products. In 2016 Aguila launched its first US branding and marketing campaign and, with TxAT, began production at a second manufacturing plant in Texas.
Aguila is Spanish for eagle – hence the brand’s distinctive logo – and has made it to Australian shores with all-new packaging and offering a wide array of 20-odd rimfire cartridges for target shooting and hunting as well as a range of ‘special products’. Apart from the rimfire range, Raytrade will be releasing centrefire handgun, rifle and shotshell ammunition later this year as supply ramps up after delays to international shipping caused by the pandemic.
The subjects of this review are three of Aguila’s .22 Long Rifle (LR) target specialists – Rifle Match, Pistol Match and Target Competition – and unlike their earlier rimfire offerings these products carry the ‘Aguila Prime’ badge on the box. Advertising material states “Aguila Prime technology is engineered and tested to Olympic shooting standards” and up until about 2016 the boxes were marked Eley Prime, the change I suspect being ditching the Eley priming formulation for one of its own.
Each example of review ammunition has a brass cases topped with a 40gn solid lead round-nose projectile and there are no other distinguishing features that would tell the three types apart. Rifle Match and Target Competition rounds each have an advertised muzzle velocity of 1080fps and Pistol Match 925fps, with all three described as ‘standard velocity’.
I planned to use all three ammunition types in five firearms including a pistol, revolver, a lever-action and two bolt-action rifles, the latter fired from a rest at 50m and 25m for the handguns. Sometimes the label doesn’t necessarily match the type of firearm for which it’s best suited and often ammunition labelled ‘pistol’ can perform exceptionally well in a rifle and vice-versa.
As it turned out the Pistol Competition ammo worked best in the pistol and revolver followed by Rifle then Target ammo, group sizes being 34mm, 52mm and 56mm respectively when fired from a Hammerli Model 208. In the Smith & Wesson Model 17 revolver the groups grew a little to 45mm, 70mm and 70mm respectively and in both cases there was a big jump in group size from the Pistol ammo to the others although only a small or no difference between the Rifle and Target rounds.
In a CZ 452 Varmint rifle topped with a scope and fired from a rest at 50m a group of 15mm was the best outcome using the Rifle Match product, 18mm with Pistol Match and 20mm with Target Competition. In a Marlin 39A lever-action with open sights a group of 51mm was achieved with the Rifle Match ammo (including one unfortunate flyer) and 60mm with both the Pistol and Target products.
On a blustery day a third rifle was introduced to the mix and while you’d expect an Anschutz 2013 BR to shoot the best groups of all, sadly conditions on the day didn’t allow. Groups with all three Aguila competition types were only marginally better than those fired from the CZ Varminter in calm conditions, with the Rifle Competition ammo giving the best result with a 13mm group (the Anschutz also liked the Pistol Match and its group was only 2mm larger in the same windy conditions). All ammo functioned faultlessly in every firearm and most importantly all rounds fed, fired, extracted and ejected without a hitch in the self-loading pistol and lever-action rifle.
Pricing is expected to be between $12 and $15 for a 50 pack (less in bulk) and as a general rule most .22LR ammunition pricing is proportional to its quality or, more to the point, its quality control – the better the quality control the better the shot-to-shot consistency and therefore precision. The Aguila samples used in this review fit a price range which would suggest they sit somewhere in the middle of the quality scale and would be ideal and economical for most rifle and pistol club applications.
In these tests the Pistol Match did perform better in the pistol and revolver than did the Rifle Match while all three rifles preferred the Rifle Match fodder. The Target Competition didn’t feel outstanding in any of the firearms but shouldn’t be dismissed from your load development routine. The Aguila range of .22LR Competition ammunition is something I’ll include next time I undertake load development for a new firearm and I’ll also try it in my current firearms when my ammo supplies are exhausted.