The second to the tallest of the rimfire .22 cartridges the .22 long rifle is the most popular cartridge in the entire planet.

Some find that hard to believe especially when all they see and hear in the movies are .357 Magnum, .45, .44 magnum and guns like the Desert Eagle .50 and the Glock. But because of its very affordable price, decent velocity and range, manageable recoil and pinpoint accuracy the .22 lr is usually the round used in every person's rite of passage into the shooting world.*

The .22 lr is also the round used in olympic target shooting competitions.

The .22 lr has many smaller cousins like the .22 colibri, .22 short, and the .22 long (smallest to largest).

The nice thing about the above mentioned .22 rounds are that they all have the same diameter case and same diameter bullet meaning a gun designed for the .22 lr can also fire the smaller rounds. A gun specifically designed for the smaller rounds should not be used to fire the bigger rounds because it is either that the round will simply not fit in the chamber if it is a revolver or more likely might generate too much pressure and may damage the firearm. Although these days, nobody makes guns that are only for the smaller .22 rimfire cartridges anymore. So with the same .22 lr gun you can use .22 colibri for plinking cans at short ranges, .22 short for blasting away rats, the .22 long for even bigger rats, and the .22 lr for long range target shooting or killing even bigger varmints/pests.

For even more power from a rimfire cartridge in .22 there is the .22 WMR aka .22 magnum.**

Another interesting bit of trivia is that the NATO standardized infantry rifle cartridge (the 5.56mm x 45 is also in fact a .22 caliber bullet. Its bullet is heavier by about 15 - 20 grains than the .22 lr's and travels in excess of 2200 fps over typical .22 lr velocities though! Makes for nasty wounds with its terminal ballistics.

.22 lr only (idea) Moved from there to here
(idea) by karfung

Not to be taken as self diminution, these words are engraved on rifles or pistols that are chambered for the .22 lr cartridge to signify that it is only for use with .22 lr ammunition.


No no, wait.

You can read what I wrote about .22 lr or just listen to my explanation below.

.22 lr guns can, in general, also fire .22 long, .22 short, and .22 Colibri cartridges. It is only when you have a semiautomatic or fully automatic (yes there are full auto .22 lr guns, they are a cheap and fun way to experience fully automatic fire) action does it not become wise to try these smaller and weaker cartridges as they will most likely not cycle properly leading to jams which will then lead to missed shot opportunities and much fiddling with charging handles to get back in action.

I wrote this because when I showed a friend my rifle and he read this, he goes: "Pfffft, why'd you spend money on junk like this, look it even says .22 lr only."


* - Not me though, I remember my first experience of taking a whiff of burning smokeless powder and feeling the kick of recoil was from a chinese copy of the TT 51 in 9mm x 19 back when I was nine or ten. I never got to handle a .22 lr until I was about 20.
** - the smaller .22 should not be fired on .22 magnum guns, they are slightly different in diameter.

In relation to rifles and rifle shooting, when someone mentions the term "22", what they are most likely referring to is the .22 Long Rifle. It is probably the most popular rifle cartridge produced today. Even though it is a rimfire cartridge and lacks the same amount of power as its centerfire big sisters, it does have a place in the shooting sports and hunting fields.

In the greater scheme of things, the .22 Long Rifle was the third attempt at a .22 caliber rimfire cartridge, coming after the .22 Short and the .22 Long, respectively. Third time's a charm, because this was the one rimfire cartridge that took the world by storm. And why shouldn't it? It is inexpensive to produce, cheap to purchase and is easy to shoot. They come in boxes of 50 each, 10 boxes to a "brick", 5,000 rounds to a case. They have names like "Thunderbolt", "Yellow Jacket", and "Velociter". Depending on quality, prices are usually about $10-20 per brick, and occasionally more. One of the more popular rifles chambered in this caliber is the Ruger 10/22 and as a sign of its popularity, it has many aftermarket accessories, such as extended magazines.

The .22 Long Rifle was developed thirty years after the .22 Short, around 1887 or so. Overshadowing its little brothers (nearly 1 inch long), the .22 Short and the .22 Long, the .22 Long Rifle was longer than either and had more power than both. Good for shots up to 100 yards (though, most people keep shots within 50 yards), it works its magic on both targets and game alike. Eventually, it was dwarfed in power by the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, though it remains the most popular of the rimfire cartridges.

The .22 Long Rifle is used for:

  • Target shooting: this can be anything from informal matches you have with friends at your local gun club, to the caliber of the Olympic trials and other formal matches.
  • A .22 is quite deadly on small game, such as rabbit, squirrel, crow, pigeon and groundhog (woodchuck). It is thought of as a pest control tool, in addition to bring meat home for the pot.
  • Plinking: Plinking is a form of shooting that isn't formal target practice, but it isn't exactly goofing off, either. It is best described as recreational shooting. Shooting at walnuts, apples, tin cans and so forth is considered plinking.
  • As there is nearly no recoil, anyone can shoot the .22 with little trouble and learn how to develop proper marksmanship skills. Many young girls and boys learn to shoot with this cartridge, as early as 8 years old. Chances are that if you have shot a rifle, you have shot a .22.

The weight of the .223" caliber slug varies depending on the load and purpose, but the typical .22 is 40 grains in weight and has an average velocity of 1250 feet per second (one must understand that there is variation, shell to shell, lot to lot, of any kind of ammunition). Different types of bullets and different uses dictate the weight and speed of the cartridge.

Every major ammunition manufacturer makes a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Winchester, Federal, Remington, Eley and CCI all have a healthy catalog of different types of .22 cartridges. Subsonic rounds, hollow points, and rat shot shells are available.

The .22 Long Rifle can only be used in firearms marked appropriately. .22 Short and .22 Long shells can be used in a rifle marked for the .22 Long Rifle. However, the converse is not true. Today, a .22 rimfire rifle is marked "Will accept .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle".


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