22LR vs 22WMR: Battle of the Rimfire Ammo

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Last updated July 6th 2024

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The .22 Long Rifle (LR) and .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) are two of the most popular rimfire cartridges in the world.

They are both relatively inexpensive, easy to shoot, and have a wide variety of uses. However, there are some key differences between the two cartridges that mean 22LR is the go to rimfire round in the United States.

  1. Cost

The .22 LR is generally less expensive than the .22 WMR. This is because the .22 LR is more popular and there is more competition among manufacturers. As a result, the price of .22 LR ammunition is typically lower than the price of .22 WMR ammunition.

We’re seeing ammunition from 6 cents a round through to more than $1 for the specialist copper plated hollow point bullets for game hunting.

Get the best daily deals on 22LR ammunition at PSA here.

2. Wider selection of firearms

You also get a much bigger choice of rifles and pistols chambered in 22 Long Rifle. Again that means more competition, better prices and higher standards.

From the Ruger Mark IV pistol through to a Tactical Solutions 22LR Takedown Rifle, you can choose from a massive selection of high price, high spec pistols. Or something much cheaper.

Check these posts for some of the best 22LR rifles & pistols.

3. Performance

The .22 WMR is a more powerful cartridge than the .22 LR. It has a higher muzzle velocity and energy, which means that it can travel farther and hit harder.

This makes it a better choice for hunting larger game, such as coyotes and groundhogs, but then we’d still recommend the best AR-15 for that job.

The .22 LR is still capable of taking small game, such as squirrels and rabbits, but it will not have as much stopping power as the 22WMR.

4. Effective range

In terms of accuracy, both cartridges are capable of shooting very accurately. However, the .22 WMR may have a slight edge at longer ranges. This is because the higher velocity of the .22 WMR, with 30 grain high velocity rounds hitting 2200fps, while 22LR offers around half of that.

5. Reliability

Both the .22 LR and .22 WMR are very reliable cartridges. However, the .22 LR is generally considered to be more reliable. This is because the .22 LR has been around for longer and has been more widely used. As a result, there are more guns and ammunition available for the .22 LR, which means that there is a better chance of finding a reliable combination.

6. Choice of Ammo

Mass adoption of 22LR means there is a mass of ammo choices. Competition has driven the manufacturers to produce hollow points for small game hunting, match grade FMJ Full Metal Jacket ammo and boat tail soft points for the longest ranges.

In short, 22LR ammo is optimized to the nth degree because it such big business. Is the WMR given the same preference when it comes to R&D? Probably not, is the honest answer.

You don’t get infinite choice with 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. But there is still a very big selection that will cover every eventuality and then some.

Conclusion

22 WMR has some intriguing features that will ensure it stays with us for many years to come. But the numbers don’t lie and 22 Long Rifle has effectively won this war.

Mass adoption just gives you more options, more price points and the ability to buy bricks of ammunition for relatively small amounts of money. Sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow and 22LR is the mainstream choice for many reasons.

If you’re going with one rimfire system, it makes sense to go with 22LR.


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Author

  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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