22 LR vs 22 Mag – 4 Facts You Need To Know

There are a few important things to think about when choosing between a 22 LR and a 22 Mag.

If you grew up in North America and like to shoot, you probably used a 22 Long Rifle as your first gun (22 LR).

The 22 Long Rifle is one of the most used cartridges in North America and maybe the whole world (22 LR). It’s great for teaching new shooters how to shoot or just having a cheap afternoon at the range.

Small animals like rabbits and squirrels are easy to kill with a 22 LR, but varmint hunters needed a stronger gun to kill coyotes and other dangerous animals.

To get rid of these bigger pests, hunters needed a more powerful rimfire cartridge than the 22 LR. The 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (22 WMR or 22 Mag) fit the bill.

Target shooters and hunters have different needs, so comparing the 22 LR and the 22 Mag is like comparing the 30-30 and the 45-70 Government, or David and Goliath.

This post will compare the 22LR and the 22 Mag so that you can better understand how they are different and decide which one is best for you.

What is the difference between 22 LR and 22 WMR?

Even though the bullet weights of both cartridges are the same, the 22 WMR, also called the 22 Mag, has a bigger case and a higher muzzle velocity and kinetic energy than the 22 Long Rifle.

Can You Shoot 22 Magnum in 22 Long Rifle?

Rimfire cartridges, like the 22 Magnum (22 WMR), won’t work in guns made for other calibers.

22LR. Also, it’s not a good idea to fire a 22 LR round from a 22 Mag chamber, because this can cause serious problems and even hurt someone.

22 LR vs 22 Mag

I figured I might as well give a definitive answer to this question, since new shooters often ask it.

Because the chamber of the 22 Magnum is bigger than the chamber of the 22 LR, the two can’t be used together.

Even though a 22 LR can be used in a chamber made for a 22 WMR, it doesn’t fit very well because the 22 LR is smaller.

If the casing was shot, it might explode, which would hurt the gun and maybe even the person who shot it.

The simple truth is that pistols and rifles that are chambered in 22 LR and 22 WMR are NOT compatible with each other, and vice versa.

Cartridge Specs

If you look at the technical details of rimfire ammunition, you might be able to tell which rounds are better than others.

When you put these two rimfire cartridges next to each other, you can see how different they are. With a total length of 1.35 inches, the 22 Mag is almost an inch and a half longer than the 22 LR.

The base diameter of the 22 Mag is 0.242 inches, which is a bit bigger than the 0.226 inches of the.22 Long Rifle.

Because the 22 WMR’s case is longer and wider, it can hold more powder, which makes the bullets it fires go faster and have more energy.

Even though both are 22-caliber guns, the bullets fired by the 22 LR and the 22 WMR are not the same size.

Both the 22 Magnum and the 22LR can fire bullets with a muzzle speed of about 3,000 feet per second and a weight of between 30 and 50 grams. 40 and 45 grains are the most common grain sizes for both types of cartridges.

Both rimfire cartridges have a maximum pressure of about 24,000 psi, which meets the SAAMI standard.

Recoil

Even though both rounds have very little felt recoil, the 22 LR has less of it than the 22 WMR.

When buying a new rifle, it’s important to look at the recoil. A cartridge with a lot of recoil will be harder to control, and you’ll have to wait longer between shots.

There are a few main things that affect how much a rifle will recoil: the muzzle velocity (FPS), the amount of powder, the weight of the bullet, and the weight of the rifle.

Both rimfire cartridges have less than 1 ft-lb of free recoil, so few shooters would say that 22 WMR has more.

With a 6-pound rifle, the free recoil will be about 0.19 foot-pounds with a 22 LR and 0.62 foot-pounds with a 22 WMR.

Even though a 22 WMR has about three times the recoil of a 22 LR, most shooters won’t have any trouble with it.

Muzzle Velocity, Kinetic Energy, and Trajectory

When you compare the 22 Mag to the 22 LR, the 22 Mag is the clear winner because it has a faster muzzle speed, more kinetic energy, and a better trajectory at long range.

22 LR vs 22 Mag

For this example, we’ll use the 40-grain CCI Mini-Mag plated round nose for 22 LR and the CCI Maxi-Mag jacketed hollow point (JHP) for 22 WMR as examples of bullet weights and manufacturers for each cartridge.

The 22 LR has a muzzle velocity of 1,235 fps, which is good for a cartridge of its size. However, the 22 Magnum has a muzzle velocity of 1,875 fps, which makes it better.

Some 22 LR ammo, like the CCI Stinger, which fires a 32-grain bullet at a speed of 1,640 feet per second, goes over the cartridge’s maximum muzzle velocity.

But think about how fast the Hornady 30-grain polymer-tipped V-MAX loading for 22 WMR comes out of the barrel: 2,200 fps.

Because the 22 WRM has a bigger case, it can’t compete with the smaller.22LR cartridge.

The 22 WMR Maxi-Mag can put out 312 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, which is more than twice as much as the 22 LR Mini-Mag, which can only put out 135 ft-lbs.

Many varmint hunters prefer the 22 WMR over the 22 LR when shooting at bigger varmints like coyotes and groundhogs because rimfire bullets have so much kinetic energy.

The 22 WMR has a flatter trajectory and a longer effective range than the 22 LR because its muzzle speed is faster. With a 50-yard zero, the 22 LR has a bigger bullet drop at 100 yards (about 6 inches) than the 22 WMR (about 2 inches).

Hunting

When hunting, the 22 LR works best on small animals like rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons. The 22 WMR, on the other hand, works best on larger varmints like coyotes and woodchucks, as well as prairie dogs that are farther away.

If you like to eat what you kill, a rimfire cartridge is a good way to kill smaller game animals with less recoil and keep the meat. Both rounds are great for getting rid of pests, though.

Many hunters will tell you that the best way to kill a coyote is with a 22 Long Rifle, but that’s not always true.

Most 22 LR ammunition doesn’t have enough energy to kill big game animals in a humane way and consistently. This is why many shooters choose the 22 WMR when they want to hunt coyotes.

For example, shots at prairie dogs often need to go 100 yards or more. This is possible with the 22 Magnum because it has a better trajectory.

Most small animals, like squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits, are out of the range of the 22 WMR. You can shoot these creatures with a 22 Magnum if you want to, but don’t expect many of them to live. Small-game hunters who want to keep the meat fresh should go with the 22 LR.

Ammo and Rifle Cost/Availability

When it comes to the price and availability of rifles and ammunition, the 22 Long Rifle is unbeatable.

Since the 1880s, when it was made and sold by the Stevens Arms Company, the 22 Long Rifle has been the most popular rimfire cartridge in North America, if not the whole world (through Union Metallic Cartridge).

There are many different kinds of 22 LR ammunition, such as subsonic rounds, high-velocity alternatives for hunting small animals, and match-grade bullets.

There is a lot of 22 LR ammunition to choose from. CCI, Remington, Winchester, Federal, Aquila, Norma, and Eley are just some of the companies that make it.

Because 22 Long Rife is used a lot and is cheap to make, it can be bought for a very low price and is often available in large quantities.

500 or more 22 LR rounds in bulk packs. This makes it a good option for small-scale pest control, plinking, target practice, and teaching people how to shoot.

The 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire was much better than the even though it didn’t come out until the 1960s.

A 22LR bullet has the same amount of energy and speed at the muzzle as a 9mm bullet. Before the 17 HMR came out, varmint shooters used the 22 WMR because it had the fastest muzzle speed of any rimfire cartridge.

Even though the 22 WMR shoots better, it’s not nearly as popular as the 22 LR. Because of this, 22 Magnum ammunition is often more difficult to come by and more expensive than 22 LR.

A block of 500 rounds of 22 LR costs about $0.11 per round, while a block of 500 rounds of 22 WMR costs about $0.35 per round (a 3x difference in cost).

It’s always a good idea to stock up, so check out our large quantities of 22-caliber ammunition.

The 22 LR cartridge has been put into a lot of different types of guns so that they can better meet the needs of the shooter.

There are single-shot rifles on the market, and most major rifle manufacturers also produce bolt-action rifles chambered for this cartridge.

There are many semiautomatic rifles on the market, like the Ruger 10/22, the Marlin Model 60, and the Savage A22.

There are several lever action 22 LR rifles from Rossi, Henry, and Browning that can be used for training, shooting at targets, and getting rid of pests. If you like the Old West look, you can choose one of these rifles.

22 LR vs 22 Mag

There are a lot of semiautomatic and revolver handguns that fire 22 LR rounds. The Walther P22 and Ruger Mark IV are two semi-automatic options. Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Taurus all make revolvers that fire the 22 LR rimfire cartridge.

Even better, you can train with your centerfire rifle for far less money by purchasing a kit to convert your AR-15 to fire 22 LR ammunition.

The 22 WMR is a popular cartridge for rifles, but it is not used as often in handguns. The Ruger Single Six is a unique revolver because it has two different cylinders, one for 22 LR and one for 22 Mag.

By switching out the cylinder, you can use the same gun to shoot either type of ammunition. If you’d rather have a midsize K-frame revolver, Smith & Wesson also makes the 22 WMR-chambered Model 648.

When it comes to semi-automatic pistols, there aren’t many to choose from. Two of them, the Kel-Tec PMR-30 and the Walther WMP, have polymer frames, and the Rock Island XT22 is a 1911-style gun that shoots 22 WMR.

Rimfire for Self-Defense/Home Defense?

People have been arguing for almost a hundred years about whether or not 22 LR and 22 WMR are good enough for self-defense.

Some of the rimfire ammunition brands for self-defense are Federal Punch, Hornady Critical Defense, and Speer Gold Dot.

It’s important to know the pros and cons of using rimfire cartridges for self-defense, even though we probably won’t be able to settle the rimfire defense debate here.

When talking about the pros and cons of using rimfire for self-defense, there are two main points to consider:

  • Rimfire supporters say that the location of a shot is more important than anything else when it comes to ending a fight.
  • Counter-Rimfire: Cartridges fired at the barrel of a rimfire gun can’t stop a target at close range because they don’t have enough energy and speed at the muzzle to go deep. Also, wound channels from smaller calibers like the 45 ACP are much smaller.

First, let’s cheer for the people who like rimfire.

It’s not a secret that it’s much easier to learn to shoot with a rimfire gun than with other types. Due to the lack of recoil, rimfire pistols allow shooters to quickly improve their accuracy.

A quick online search will show you that police have received many complaints about rimfire cartridges being used for self-defense or more sinister purposes.

Shot placement is more important to this group than the size of the wound channel. Members say that a rimfire is “enough” to stop a threat because it is less likely to overpenetrate.

You make some good points. The 22 WMR has more kinetic energy than many 380 ACP loads, but the rimfire round feels like it moves much less.

Since hitting your target is the best way to end a fight, many people who like to shoot want to get better at using rimfire handguns.

But some people who don’t like rimfire would say that the bullets fired from rimfire cartridges are too small to make a wound big enough or to go deep enough to stop a threat.

“Larger bullets make bigger holes” is a saying that many people who are against rimfire like to use to argue against the use of these weapons.

They aren’t completely wrong, though. Studies from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan show that almost 7 out of every 100 deaths in combat could have been prevented with better bleeding control.

Even if you aren’t a soldier, you should know that a bigger wound channel will slow down an attacker’s ability to fight back faster.

Think about the 9mm Luger, which has a bullet with a diameter of 0.355 inches, or the 45 ACP, which has a bullet with a diameter of 0.451 inches.

In comparison, a 9mm bullet makes a wound channel that is 50 percent bigger than a 22-caliber bullet, while a 45 ACP bullet makes a wound channel that is twice as big.

When you think about how a defensive hollow point bullet can easily grow to be twice as big as it was at first, it’s easy to see why centerfire ammunition is preferred for self-defense.

Also, rimfire ammunition might not be able to punch through many layers of clothing, but modern defensive ammunition is made to do just that.

When it comes to ballistics, centerfire ammunition has a lot of good points, but there is one that can’t be argued against: it is reliable.

Rimfire ammunition, especially 22 LR, often fails because the amount of priming compound inside the rim of the cartridge is not always the same.

Since this cartridge is made in a factory, the priming compound is not always put on in the right amount. If the firing pin pinches the round in a place where there isn’t enough primer, you might hear a “click” instead of a “boom.”

When plinking or practicing on the range, it’s normal to have a few misses, but it’s not a big deal when shooting in the field. If your life is in danger, you shouldn’t have to worry about how reliable your ammunition is.

22 LR vs 22 Mag

But centerfire primers are very reliable, and the chance of a misfire is cut by a factor of hundreds.

So, if you want to protect yourself, we recommend centerfire ammunition. Even though a rimfire bullet can keep your home and family safe, centerfire ammunition has better penetration, bigger wound channels, and more reliability, which is what you’ll need to end any self-defense situation.

Ballistics: 22 LR vs 22 WMR

Ballistics tables for both calibers were painstakingly put together by the Ammo.com team after many hours of research. Below is a table that compares the weight, muzzle velocity, kinetic energy, and trajectory of 22LR and 22WMR bullets.

22 WMR Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

22 WMR Bullet WEIGHTMuzzle VELOCITY (fps) 22-1/2″ Bbl.Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.) 22-1/2″ Bbl.Mid-Range TRAJECTORY (in.)Muzzle Velocity
30 Grain220013733221271.41610
40 Grain JHP191013263241561.71480
40 Grain FMJ191013263241561.71480
45 Grain Dyna Point155011472401312.6n/a
50 Grain Shot #111000n/an/an/an/an/a

22 Long Rifle Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

22 Long Rifle (LR) Bullet WEIGHTMuzzle VELOCITY (fps) 22-1/2″ Bbl.Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.) 22-1/2″ Bbl.Mid-Range TRAJECTORY (in.)Muzzle Velocity
30 Grain Lead Free1650n/a181n/an/an/a
30 Grain Hyper Vel1750119120493n/an/a
31 Grain Shot #12950n/an/an/an/an/a
32 Grain Hyper HP15001075165852.8n/a
32 Grain Expediter1640n/a191n/an/an/a
32 Grain Stinger HP16401132191912.61395
37 Grain Segmented HP14351080169962.9n/a
38 Grain Sub Sonic HP105090193694.7n/a
40 Grain CCI Quiet7106404536n/an/a
40 Grain Segmented HP10508979872n/an/a
40 Grain Pistol Match1070890100704.6940
40 Grain Standard Velocity1070890100704.6940
40 Grain AutoMatch120099013085n/an/a
40 Grain Silhouette12201003139943.61025
40 Grain HV12551016140923.61060
40 Grain HV HP12801001146893.51085

Final Shots: 22 LR vs 22 WMR

When it comes to rimfire cartridges, the 22 Long Rifle and the 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire are two of the best choices for teaching new shooters the ropes, for recreational shooting like plinking and target practice, and even for varmint hunting.

Nearly 100 years have passed since the 22 LR first became popular in North America, but it still seems to be the most commonly used cartridge. Beginners choose this cartridge because it is cheap and doesn’t have much recoil.

Comparing the 22 WMR to the 22 LR, it is clear that the 22 WMR is more powerful and does a better job of getting rid of pests.

The 22 Magnum is twice as powerful as a standard 22 LR and has just a little bit more recoil. This makes it perfect for hunting larger animals and extending the effective range of a shooter.

Even though the 22 Mag has better ballistics than the 22 LR, most shooters will choose the Long Rifle because the Mag costs less per round and there is more ammunition for the LR.

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