According to the U.S. ammo industry, over five billion rounds of .22 rimfire were manufactured last year. Most of those were .22LR (Long Rifle). Even with that amount of production, at this writing, there is little .22 rimfire available on the dealer's shelves, and when you can find it, the price has almost doubled.
The .22LR has been with us since about 1887 when the Savage Arms Company, working from the .22 Long, figured out that by lengthening the cartridge case and using a 40-grain bullet pushed by an improved powder, they could develop an excellent small game round that was more powerful than any .22 in its day.
Now, 134 years later, the .22LR is as in demand, if not more so, than ever. Most of us who are shooters started with a .22 rifle shooting .22LR.
In today's world, the cartridge is popular for blinkers, target shooters, small game and small varmint hunters, and for use in farm pest control.
For 72 years, the .22LR had the small game/varmint market. Then, in 1959, Winchester introduced a new, more powerful .22 called the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR), more commonly known as the .22 Magnum.
Winchester developed the .22WMR to respond to small game and varmint hunters who requested a .22 rimfire round to accurately reach 100-plus yards and carry more downrange energy to the target.
They accomplished this by developing a thicker .22 case, which allows it to have higher pressures than the 22LR. The case was designed to be larger in diameter and length than the .22LR. The bullet diameter was designed to be .224 inches, whereas the .22LR is .223 inches.
The timing was just right, as it was just the beginning of the development of the new wave of .224-inch bullets designed for centerfire calibers. Several shots have been loaded in the .22WMR, adding hunting value. The .22WMR, when shot from a rifle, carries more downrange energy at 100 yards than the .22LR does at the muzzle.
Because of this the .22WMR caught on with small varmint hunters, and now is a good choice of handguns and rifles offered in the powerful little cartridge.
Since it costs more to make .22WMR cartridges, shooting needs to pay costs about twice the .22LR.
|Feature||.22 LR||.22 WMR|
|Parent case||.22 Long||.22 Winchester Rimfire|
|Bullet diameter||.223 in (5.7 mm)||.2285 in (5.804 mm)|
|Land diameter||212 in (5.4 mm)||.219 in (5.6 mm)|
|Neck diameter||.226 in (5.7 mm)||.2435 in|
|Bullet weight||30-32 grains||30-50 grains|
|Max Pressure||24,000 psi||23,206 psi|
|Case length||.613 in (15.6 mm)||1.055 in (26.8 mm)|
|Overall length||1.000 in (25.4 mm)||1.350 in (34.3 mm)|
The difference between .22LR (Long Rifle) and .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) ammo lies in their size, power, and intended use:
The main differences between .22LR and .22 WMR ammunition are their size, power, and intended applications.
.22LR is a popular and versatile choice for recreational shooting and small game hunting at close ranges.22 WMR offers more power and range, making it suitable for varmint and small game hunting at longer distances.
Choosing a small game/varmint hunting caliber often becomes confusing regarding .22 rimfires.
There is the .22 LR and the .22WMR. They are both rimfire cartridges, but each has advantages and disadvantages the small game/varmint hunter needs to consider.
22lr Ammo has many pros & cons that helps a shooter to make a choice for hunting & shooting. To know the details about why 22lr ammo is considered a good choice for new shooters, check here.
New shooters often ask if the .22LR cartridge can be shot in a .22WMR firearm. The answer is no.
The .22LR cartridge will fit into the .22 WMR chamber, but due to the difference in size, the fit is loose and, if fired, can damage the firearm or injure the shooter.
Never have .22LR ammo around a .22WMR to avoid a dangerous mix-up. A similar question is, can a .22 WMR cartridge be loaded and shot from a .22LR firearm? No, the .22WMR case is wider and will not fit into the smaller chamber of a .22LR.
Often, when the .22WMR is discussed, the question arises as to whether it could be considered a self- or home-defense caliber.
Most self-defense instructors consider the .22WMR on the lowest end as a caliber for self-defense. It beats a knife or stick but could be more efficient than the larger centerfire calibers designed to stop a deadly threat.
It is worth noting that one of America's most experienced gunfighters, the late and great Bill Jordan of the U.S. Border Patrol fame, wrote that the .22WMR "will not only outreach a switchblade but will pack plenty of close-range authority into an easily carried and concealed package."
With that said, We still consider the .22WMR a hunting caliber and leave self/home defense to larger calibers and gauges.
There is a place for hunting for each of these .22 rimfires. When making a choice, consider the above points and choose the .22 that best fits your needs and budget. The .22LR is a good option for hunting small game to eat, plinking with the grandchildren, target shooting, and the lower ammo cost and shot report.
On the other hand, for farm pest control work, hunting mid-size varmints up to 100 yards with a scoped rifle, and packing as a trail gun, we prefer the .22WMR.