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22 Long Rifle Ammo Uses & History

In terms of units sold and fired, .22 Long Rifle ammunition is the most popular firearm cartridge in the world. Introduced in 1887, the .22 LR is a classic that is useful for small game and varmint hunting, target shooting, and many other purposes. Self-defense is a notable exception; while .22 LR ammo is certainly deadly, it lacks the power and penetration necessary to stop a threat immediately and consistently. The 22 LR's low felt recoil, cheap cost, and low muzzle report make it a great choice for high volume recreational use and new shooter training.

There are two different categories of .22 LR, differentiated by their muzzle velocity. Subsonic "standard velocity" loads are typically in the range of 1,000-1,070 feet per second and have excellent inherent accuracy at close range. Since they are subsonic, they do not produce a sonic "crack." When fired through a suppressor, .22 LR ammunition is very quiet.

"High Velocity" .22 LR ammo, on the other hand, usually has muzzle velocities above 1,200 feet per second. This increased velocity improves terminal performance and expansion potential, making HV ammo the best choice for non-suppressed hunting. Some semi-automatic firearms cycle more reliably with more powerful ammo as well. So if you're shooting 22lr in a pistol, this might be the best choice for you.

Copper plated and lead round nose bullets are the typical choice for inexpensive, high volume target shooting; hollow point bullets work well for paper targets but can also take squirrels, rabbits, and other types of game animals. Match grade .22 Long Rifle ammo is designed especially for the high quality barrels of competition firearms and uses lead bullets of extremely uniform weight; this ammo tends to be considerably more expensive than any other type.