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.22 Ammo: Everything You Want to Know

Most of us grew up with this versatile little round; here we will get into more detail on this popular plinkster.

First, let me squash any hopes about this article revealing the big secret of where and how to obtain this scarce shooting resource. I’ll admit, I have a pretty good supply of this “rimfire commodity” but I was just lucky to buy it before the plinking paranoia began. That being said, I am not interested in selling any of it.

Also check this out: 10 hunting accessories that make you a better hunter

The conspiracy theories involving government buying up large quantities and Homeland Security trying to control militia-minded citizens are unfounded. We have truly done this to ourselves. The supply has not been able to meet the demand. Whatever caused shooting enthusiasts, hunters and the like to start hoarding ammo has been the best business move for ammunition manufacturers and retailers in many years.


The .22 cartridge has been around a long time. It has been used for hunting, target shooting, and is most associated with introducing young people to shooting. It was developed in 1857 by Smith & Wesson from a bb cap. The most common cartridge of this family is .22LR introduced in 1887 by the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company.

Related: The 22-250 Remington: A Favorite Among Varmint Hunters

This round has been used in virtually every type and action of firearm over its’ long history. Annual production of the .22 caliber family is estimated around 3 billion cartridges. The variants are the .22 Short, .22 Long, and the .22 Extra Long.

The .22LR is by far the most widely used and the most versatile. The effective range of this cartridge is 150 yards. After passing this distance, the bullet drop becomes difficult to control. Most .22 ammo is made up of lead with a coating that reduces fouling in firearms. A .22 round can travel over 1 ½ miles.

Bullet weights range between 20-60 grains for most commercially produced ammo. Velocities vary between subsonic, standard, high, and hyper categories between 600 and 1800 feet per second. A typical .22LR round purchased in bulk will provide around 1200 fps and 130 foot lbs. of energy.

Related: .22 LR Ammo: Cost, Performance, Variations

The knock-down varies between 100-200 foot pounds for the .22 caliber family. The.22 has been proven to inflict damage on more than small game. The .22 has been used by government agencies and special military units in the past, and was used during the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Organized crime has made use of the .22 as well, not because of the knock down, it has been said to be popular because of the inexpensive cost of firearms that the caliber is chambered.

Another fun link: 10 football strategies for better hunting

The .22 has been used to take down small game and beer cans worldwide for well over 100 years. I have fired countless rounds through an old Browning lever action as a kid and instructed my children how to shoot with the same rifle. A .22 is something that the most experienced shooter and the timid gun-shy beginner can enjoy alike.

Read more: The .22 Hornet: What Your Grandpa Used, and You Should Use Too

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.22 Ammo: Everything You Want to Know