Time to Dust Off the Old .22 Long Rifle

by Doug Gilmer
The remarkable .22 Long Rifle round.

.22LR Long Rifle Ammunition
.22LR Long Rifle Ammunition
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA -(AmmoLand.com)- Like many of you, my love for shooting began with a 22LR. My very first 22 long rifle was an Ithaca Model 49. The rifle was a gift from my dad on my fifth birthday.

A few months later at Christmas, my grandfather upgraded me to a WWII vintage Mossberg 51M. This was, and still is, a remarkably accurate rifle.

22 Long Rifle

The .22 Long Rifle round gets pushed aside by many shooters as they get older in favor of bigger centerfire rifle and pistol cartridges. It’s typically not a first choice as a defensive cartridge nor is it a big game cartridge, although it has performed well in these roles. Other cartridges do these much more effectively and as our time pursuing these activities expands, so often goes our time and money.

We shouldn’t forget the little .22LR, however. It’s too much fun and has far too much going for it to stay in the back of the safe.

The 22 is the perfect understudy gun. Whether you prefer a 1911, a Sig Sauer, a Smith and Wesson M&P, Beretta, or Glock there is a 22 rimfire pistol or conversion kit to match: same with revolvers. Thompson Center single shot pistols can host 22 barrels as well. A bolt action 22 can make an excellent off-season alternative for your favorite deer rifle. Many modern sporting rifles are now being chambered in 22 Long Rifle. You can shoot all day for a fraction of the cost and noise of its 223/5.56 bigger brother. Whether teaching someone to shoot for the first time, an off-season practice alternative, or just a less expensive trainer, the .22 Long Rifle fills the role nicely.

The .22 Long Rifle is inexpensive to shoot allowing for more practice and more fun. Not too long ago, 22 rimfire ammo was scarce and expensive. I recall a gun show where boxes of 50, 22 long rifle ammo were selling for more than boxes of 454 Casull.

Today, 22 LR ammo is more readily available and the price has dropped. It may never again be as affordable as it was when I was a kid, I could buy a box for $1, but it’s still more affordable to shoot than its centerfire alternatives.

22 Ammunition : (Left-Right) .22 BB, .22 Short, .22 Long .22 Long Rifle
22 Ammunition : (Left-Right) .22 BB, .22 Short, .22 Long .22 Long Rifle IMG: www.ammoandguncollector.com

Furthermore, the variety of 22 rimfire is impressive. There are 22 shorts, 22 longs (rarely seen today), and 22 long rifles. There are also BB Caps and the more modern CB caps which fire a small conical bullet powered by only the primer and a very tiny amount of powder. Shotshells, or snake shot loads, carrying a load of #12 shot are limited to up-close work ridding small vermin.

New England Cottontail Rabbit
New England Cottontail Rabbit : I remember my first small game hunt as fondly as I do my first deer hunt.

Hunting small game has lost its popularity today. So much focus on big game hunting in the media has detracted from it. The obsession over big antlers and the money spent promoting these hunts on TV has left the squirrel and rabbits to largely live without fear of being hunted. Regardless, hunting small game with a rimfire 22 provides not only a great deal of enjoyment but teaches lessons on shot placement, stalking, game care and woodsmanship. I remember my first small game hunt as fondly as I do my first deer hunt. Starting kids out on plentiful small game encourages participation and fun without the pressure and long days afield often associated with hunting big game.

If you live in a congested area and have limited land upon which to hunt or shoot, the report of a 22 isn’t likely to annoy the neighbors unlike centerfire cartridges. Using subsonic .22 Long Rifle ammo, such as that from Remington, Norma and Aquila make for a more quiet shooting experience. CCI’s Quiet 22’s are perhaps the quietest shooting standard long rifle rounds available. They are also accurate. While I haven’t done serious long range shooting with these loads, I have shot them out to 25 yards with hunting accuracy. At close range, they are deadly on taking small game. While a 22 caliber air rifle might shoot a pellet at a higher velocity, the heavier, longer, 40 grain lead bullet from the Quiet 22 at 710fps is more decisive.

Norma 22 Long Rifle Subsonic 40Gr Lead HP
Norma 22 Long Rifle Subsonic 40Gr Lead HP : http://goo.gl/9bP9nb

Recoil is practically nonexistent. Whether shooting rifles or handguns, 22 rimfire are easy on the user making it a perfect choice for introducing new people to the shooting sports. Coupled with the lower report when the rounds are fired, 22s are unlikely to induce a flinch.

In fact, for shooters who have a flinch, the 22 can be used to cure it.

Whether shooting paper targets, silhouettes, spinners, novelty targets, tins cans or plastic bottles (making sure to clean up your mess when you are done) or pursuing trophy squirrels, the lowly 22 can provide hours of fun and shooting enjoyment. It certainly does not deserve to be left in the safe.

The next time you go to the range, dust off your old .22 long rifle firearm and bring it along. Sharpen your skills, teach someone new to shoot, or just have fun.

Note: I did not forget the 22 WMR or 22 Magnum. This versatile rimfire cartridge deserves an article all its own. Stay tuned.

About Doug Gilmer:

Doug Gilmer is a law enforcement and military veteran with over 25 years of experience and assignments operating throughout the United States and around the world in a variety of investigative, protective, tactical and direct action roles. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fly-fishing, hunting with a handgun, backcountry adventures, and volunteering with various outdoor themed wounded warrior events. He has been a frequent contributor to outdoor media for for several years with numerous articles and photos published in a number of media channels. He is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association as well as a former board member and executive officer.

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    ShooterMacofjackRick EnixTEXMike McAllister Recent comment authors
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    Shooter
    Guest
    Shooter

    finally buying 22Lr for 4.5 cents per round, I have started shootin my 22’s again!

    Rick Enix
    Guest
    Rick Enix

    Love my Mossberg 46B-B with only the peep scope I won’t miss an Eye of anything at 200 yards but still won’t shoot up past a Quarter of a tree for anything. Really don’t hunt but love to practice with all my piece’s Glock 23 40 Cal, Beretta gut gun 25. AR-15 is a lot of fun and so is my Rem 700 – 300 Mag and 1911 Colt 45. Don’t really care what the ammo cost and have 1000’s of rounds for each and buy more every chance I can and will never stop. Nothing worse than having a… Read more »

    Macofjack
    Guest
    Macofjack

    Rick – You know what they call a gun without ammo? A club!!! LOL! Stay locked and loaded!

    Ed111db
    Guest
    Ed111db

    Started shooting with a Win. 75, basically a Win M52 with a 5 rd mag. Great woods gun as would be expected from a target rifle.
    suggestion: instead of cans/bottles use animal crackers or NECCO wafers! they blow up well when hit and there is no cleanup (varmets love the leftovers and they might be worth harvesting too!)

    Tog
    Guest
    Tog

    God i wish it would return to the good ol days of 2013 when I could buy a box of 333 .22lr for only 9 dollars at Walmart. Its hard to find a box of 100 for that price now and never at Walmart.

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    I just purchased (3) 100 round boxes of Remington 22 caliber long rifle for $7.79 a box in Weatherford, Texas.

    I would have bought the other seven boxes but I figured I’d leave some for you guys!

    David
    Guest
    David

    Doug, did you just wake up from a seven-year nap? If so, welcome back. In the four states I’ve lived in (two of which I called the capital city home) during your unfortunate nap, I’ve not visited an area where .22LR has been forgotten, nor met a fellow gun owner who doesn’t have a .22LR firearm. You DO realize there’s been a strange and stubborn scarcity of this ammo, right? It comes in peaks and valleys, and is more or less prevalent depending on one’s geography, regional politics, and their local population of obese gun show peddlers and unkempt, assumedly… Read more »

    Clark Kent
    Guest
    Clark Kent

    One man’s ‘hoarding’ is another man’s ‘stocking up’. Depends upon whose ox is being gored.

    Mike McAllister
    Guest
    Mike McAllister

    Clark Kent – you are just full of something and any one that reads your posts knows what it is!!

    David
    Guest
    David

    Doug, did you just wake up from a seven-year coma? If so, welcome back. In the four states I’ve lived in (two of which I called the capital city home) during your unfortunate nap, I’ve not visited an area where .22LR has been forgotten, nor met a fellow gun owner who doesn’t have a .22LR firearm. You DO realize there’s been a strange and stubborn scarcity of this ammo, right? Its availability comes in peaks and valleys, and is more or less prevalent depending on one’s geography, regional politics, and their local population of obese gun show peddlers and unkempt,… Read more »

    Pete
    Guest
    Pete

    One of the first rules of shooting is to be sure of your backstop. I live in the middle of thirty acres of thick woods. I might shoot at a squirrel with a .22 that’s perhaps a third of the way up a tree, especially if the trunk is behind him. I know the bullet is unlikely to make it out of the woods if I miss. Most of my squirrel hunting, however, is with an older Savage Model 24, and I favor the .410 barrel. I’ve shot one that I can remember with the .22 in the last 10-15… Read more »

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    All this nostalgia ! Very cool !

    RicK Street
    Guest
    RicK Street

    I have a single shot 1932 Remington 22.
    It uses 22 short, long and long rifle.
    I learned to shoot on a similar model and my daughters will learn on this one.
    I can remember getting 22 rounds for 25 cents per box.50 rounds.
    And boxes of one hundred rounds for 70 cents

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    You would had been better off buying two boxes of 50 for .50 cents than one box of 100 for .70 cents. Net savings .20 cents. Sounds like an awesome firearm you have.

    Chuck M
    Guest
    Chuck M

    My older brother taught me to shoot when we were kids back in the sixties. He had what I think it was a j.c.higgins brand bolt action with a drop out mag that held about 6 or 8 shots of 22 long rifle. What a great plinker from what I remember. Never any jams. Fun times rest his soul. Now fifty some odd years later I bought a ruger sr-22 thinking my five year old granddaughter might want to learn shooting, but she is kind of a diva like her mom, but I’m working on her. I have her catching… Read more »

    Bob G
    Guest
    Bob G

    Hey, Chuck: hold on to the plinker until she’s older. While it’s kind to donate the ammo to the local kids (and a very generous gesture on your part) having it available for her to plink with would be great. Your comments about the 60’s reminded me of a friend I knew whose family owned useless scrubland. They had a junk Ford that wasn’t street legal but ran, so we drove it in the dirt shooting rocks or gophers from the open windows. It was incredibly irresponsible of us, but at 13 it was something to enjoy. We bolted an… Read more »

    Colonialgirl
    Guest
    Colonialgirl

    AAH Yes, the 22LR; I shoot it in my Stevens Favorite Model 1915 I inherited from a Great Uncle, I also have a Ruger SS OM that I fire it in and then there is my Ruger SS NM with the 91/2 in barrel and the 1.3x Scope that is a tack driver. I gave my son a Ruger SS NM and my Grand daughter a Ruger Bearcat. 22Ammo at a reasonable price is scarce, you have to be at the counter in the sporting goods at Walmart at about 6:00 AM when it comes in because otherwise the “Gun… Read more »

    Peter Levakis
    Guest
    Peter Levakis

    Yes, 22 may never be as cheap as it was before, but it still hasn’t levelled to where it should be. I don’t hunt nor plink. I shoot competition. It was a source of inexpensive practice ammo, and necessary for rimfire competition. Both are on the back burner. I refuse to pay $99.00 a brick the local Big 5 was charging for their “yes we have .22, ask us” ammo. I can load my 9mm steel gun for quite a bit less than that per round. If Walmart ever has any, it is a modest increase over the glory days,… Read more »

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    Well Peter, the Oblabla administration halved the purchasing power of the dollar so that he could repay our debt to the Chinese in fifty cent pieces rather than whole dollars. In doing the devaluation Oblabla screwed ever American that had a little money in the bank, all pensioners, social security recipients, every working person and everyone who buys anything, including .22 ammunition.

    Bob G
    Guest
    Bob G

    Arrggg! Wild Bill. I don’t care for the President or his policies, either, but I hate when people blame the Presidency for anything they don’t like. I don’t know if manufacturers really are making rounds as fast as they can, but I do know they’ll charge as much as you’ll pay. If people hang around Walmart and complain that they wasted their time, then they should stop relying on Walmart for anything other than an opportunity to waste time. I get my ammo online because I feel the LGS screws me on ammo, and it’s fairly gone when it’s on… Read more »

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @Bob G, you are half right…there is no shortage. Obama did devaluate dollar. Therefore manufacturers need more dollars for their goods. Notice how a box of .22 is exactly twice as much as before the POTUS’ actions? Notice how no one is talking about owing the Chinese any more? It is called the Philips Curve. Econ 101 my friend.

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    I don’t blame the Presidency for anything. I blame that POS african born Muslim.

    Mike McAllister
    Guest
    Mike McAllister

    First don’t know what .22 Indidel7.62 has been firing, but I have a Ruger MkI Target pistol and a 10/22. I’ve put many rounds down range with them and have not notice any more jam’s than with my .223 or 7.62. Second it’s a great round, if you could find them without going to four or five stores and spending much more than they should cost. Demand? I don’t believe it. According to Remington, CCI and other makers of the .22 they are turning out rounds as fast as possible. If so then somewhere between the maker and the store… Read more »

    Infidel7.62
    Guest
    Infidel7.62

    The quiet .22 ammo does not work in my Ruger mark II, Ruger Mark III, 2 different 10-22s or the Walther P-22. The CCI subsonics work, but not the quiet .22s.

    Mike Mcallister
    Guest
    Mike Mcallister

    Infidel7.62, you need to get those guns checked out, because they should feed fine. I use hollow point and lead bullets with no problem.

    Infidel7.62
    Guest
    Infidel7.62

    They feed fine, but the quiet .22 is not powerful enough to eject. Even switching to the 10% lighter 10-22 spring is not enough to push the bolt back to eject a round.

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    In 2012 I attended a gun show in Marfa Texas which was a rare situation for that town full of liberals. The gun show was promoted by a family man that held it as an annual family reunion for all of his family members across the country to come and visit. By the time I got wind of it the Uso Hall in Marfa was full and all I could do was set a 10 by 10 pop up outside on the side straight next to a guy with a small Isuzu pup pickup truck, the bed was full of… Read more »

    nate
    Guest
    nate

    Rusty is right. Doug obviously hasn’t tried to by .22 ammo in a while.

    Infidel7.62
    Guest
    Infidel7.62

    You should mention the quiet .22 ammo will not function in any semi-auto. Unless you want to clear a jam after each shot.

    Jim Estep
    Guest
    Jim Estep

    I HAVE BOUGHT 2 SMALL BOLT 22S TO TEACH GREATGRANDKIDS TO SHOOT. I HAVE A NUMBER OF 22 RIFLES. ALL KEPT IN SAFE FOR KIDS PROTECTION.
    dad was a police officer in the 1920and30s I learned to shoot at a young age. I am now 88 and still going and range shoot weekly. With family.

    bob bates
    Guest
    bob bates

    why is it so hard to find 22 mag. makes no sense to me…

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    @Bob,even when 22 LR ammo was abundant 22mag was always kind of scarce. It’s all over Houston right now. I bought 200rds 22 mag. a couple weeks ago at Carters Country. I bought 10 boxes of 22LR too.

    Jim D
    Guest
    Jim D

    My 14 year old grand daughter keeps our pecan trees here in north Florida free of squirrels (mostly one shot kills) with her Mossberg model 46B (b) which I gave her last year. I had owned it since it was passed on to me when my late stepfather passed in 1962. He had purchased it YEARS ago in Texas when he was a young man. What a treasure! It has every possible manual sight on it that was available in it’s day. I have never had or seen a more accurate small caliber rifle!!!

    Ranger2
    Guest
    Ranger2

    @Jim D, where does the bullet go after it goes through the squirrel?

    James E Nolan
    Guest
    James E Nolan

    Jim D, you are not a shooter at all are you. It’s not like they are leaving the muzzle at 3200 fps, passing thru a squirrels skull tales the .22 moving and a much slower, and safer speed.

    Rick
    Guest
    Rick

    I think you should be directing your reply to Ranger2, not Jim D., it was Ranger2 asking JimD. Where the bullet went after going through the squirrel. I agree with you, but Ranger2 is the one who must not be a shooter. I also believe that safety is paramount when shooting, but Jim D. may have had a lot of controlled shooting area that was safe to shoot toward the top of a tree at a squirrel.

    The Old Coach
    Guest
    The Old Coach

    Rick, Ranger2 has it exactly right. He is the shooter, and you are not. The “slow” .22 High Velocity bullet is anything but safe if fired at a high angle into a tree. It will pass right through a soft bodied squirrel and easily go another several hundred yards. Much more than that if the shooter makes a clean miss. Close to a mile if the elevation angle is thirty to forty degrees. That’s not disputable. It’s simple exterior ballistics which has been known for many decades. Velocity on impact at half a mile can still do damage. Maybe Jim… Read more »

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    @Ranger2,I give up where does go ?

    Martin
    Guest
    Martin

    I have several .22LR guns and although I don’t get to shoot as much as I’d like, I really prefer them to the “big” guns in the arsenal today. You have to be careful of your surroundings as with any firearm because the .22LR can travel up to a mile.
    Plus, the .22LR can kill an intruder and should be considered as a backup for close quarter, in-home defense.

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    We had a District Attorney get shot 5X in the back of the head point blank with a 22. He recovered and still prosecuted for many years after that.

    There’s a saying, “Never shoot a large-caliber man with a small caliber round.”

    Do not toy around with your life thinking that a 22 may someday save your life. If you need home defense get serious about it and get you a 12 gauge shotgun or a 40 caliber and up handgun.

    Your ego or lack of knowledge in home self-defense is not worth your life.

    Bob G
    Guest
    Bob G

    When I was young, my best friend’s older brother was shot in the head from a few feet away and died. Your DA had the luck of the Irish that day. Yes, he was shot, but not having a single round penetrate is amazing. However, I do ago that the .22 is not the best choice to defend yourself, nor, especially, your loved ones. It’s a great choice if the alternative is nothing, but a larger caliber is, I agree, a preferable choice.

    James E Nolan
    Guest
    James E Nolan

    The District Attorney had to be a Democrat. That is the only thing that could have saved his life.

    Pete
    Guest
    Pete

    I think a special shout-out in this article should go to single shot .22s. My son began shooting with a Model 4A Winchester. I began back in the dark ages at an NRA range above and behind Union Station in D.C. in the ’50s with a bolt action Remington, fired single shot only. There is no better firearm design for teaching shooting skills, including safety, than a single shot .22 RF.

    Rusty
    Guest
    Rusty

    “Dust off” ?
    “Back of the safe” ?
    What planet is this ?
    My .22 is a daily companion, even though ammo is hard to come by and overpriced when it can be found.

    Kevin
    Guest
    Kevin

    I agree. The only reason my 22 has any dust o it is that until recently finding any 22lr in my neck of the woods was nearly impossible and when you did stumble across a brick of it , people wanted $75-$80 for a brick of Winchester Western. At least more reasonably price $30 boxes are seen occasional in the wild around here now.

    TEX
    Guest
    TEX

    The .22LR is a really cool caliber. Cheap,accurate,and fun to shoot.