The .22LR stands for .22 Long Rifle. It is a type of .22 caliber rimfire ammunition first coming out of the United states. It comes in many forms, including pistols and handguns.
It is the most commonly sold ammunition worldwide. It is often used in sports and hunting. It is good for short range shooting and recoil is minimal so it is perfect for training.
The .22LR cartridge was produced by Union Metallic Cartridge Company dating back to 1884. .22 Long Rifles used heeled bullets, so the bullet is the same diameter that the case is. It is used in an array of handguns and rifles.
There is so much to learn about the .22LR. This guide will go into the nitty-gritties of this cartridge and by the end you will understand why it is so popular as well as have some great options to choose from.
Best .22LR Pistols/Handguns
- Glock G44 .22 Pistol
- Walther P22
- Heritage Rough Rider .22LR
- POF-USA Rebel .22
- Ruger SR22 Rimfire
- Ruger Mark IV
- Browning Buck Mark Camper UFX .22LR
- 1911 Option
Glock G44 .22 Pistol
This pistol is perfect to begin enhancing your shooting. It is lightweight with low recoil which gives you complete control. It was tested with a plethora of ammunition. It can adapt to all hand sizes by coming with different backstraps, as well as adjustable rear sights. You won’t want to stray from the Glock brand after shooting this pistol. It comes with the standard Glock barrel and you will fall in love.
- 10 capacity
- 4.02” barrel length
- 2 mags
This is a contemporary gun without losing its roots. It has a captured recoil spring as well as multiple backstraps so any shooter can find a grip that works for them. It is easy to use and shooting it is a lot of fun. It is good for both practice and defense.
- 10 capacity
- 3.42” barrel
- 17 oz.
Heritage Rough Rider .22LR
This gun will make you feel like you’re walking straight out of the Old West. It is manufactured with precise machinery. It has a tight cylinder lock-up and a perfectly timed action designed for accuracy. With a brico-threaded barrel, you’re sure to have the best performance possible out of your ammunition. The red dot indicator lets you know when it’s time to fire. You will feel the historical significance of the Single Action Army revolver, all in a smaller, more compact gun. This gun will truly make you feel like a man in its appearance and performance.
- 6 capacity
- 6.5” barrel length
- 33.4 oz.
POF-USA Rebel .22
The REBEL is pure fun. You’ll surely walk away smiling after shooting this gun. POF-USA has a love of training and shooting, as well as preparing shooters for the future, and it shows in this gun. They brought a quality to this arena of pistols that is hard to beat. New to 2020, this uses the latest technology and it shows. It brings a whole new level of quality to the world of .22LR’s. The receiver also takes AR-15 brace options and pattern stock.
- 25 capacity
- 8” barrel length
Ruger SR22 Rimfire
The Rimfire is a lightweight, compact gun that both experienced and new shooters will enjoy. It is a very safe gun, with an inspection port that lets you see if the chamber is empty or loaded and a decocking lever that is also a thumb safety. Coming with two ten-round magazines, this gun is sure to delight. Because it is so safe, it is a good gun to use when you go out with the kids. You can rest assured knowing this gun puts them in good hands.
- 10 capacity
- 3.5” barrel length
- 17.5 oz.
Ruger Mark IV
Ruger is a highly reputable brand when it comes to reliability, affordability, and accuracy. This gun is an upgrade from the previous Marks, starting with the Mark I and working all the way up to the Mark IV.
- 10+1 capacity
- Semi automatic
- 2 magazines
Browning Buck Mark Camper UFX .22LR
This is a gun that is designed to be taken with you when you head out into the wilderness. It is durable without being too heavy. It is also a lot of fun to shoot. It has an ambidextrous grip. It has an adjustable rear sight and a blade front sight.
- 8” sight radius
- 5.5” barrel length
- 34 oz.
The 1911 Option is 85% as big as Browning’s original 1911 pistol. It is designed for precision and duty and was intensely tested for accuracy and function. It is no disappointment for a Browning gun and is exactly as high-quality as you would expect from the company.
- 4.25” barrel length
- 15 oz.
- 5.5 sight radius
What Is So Special About .22LR Pistols/Handguns?
This ammunition is a favorite for many people. Between its popularity, performance, and multiple variations of the ammunition, there is something out there for everyone with the .22LR. It is certainly one of the best. Let’s dive into some of the reasons why.
Both beginners and experts enjoy these guns. It has little recoil and is not too loud which makes it a great cart for pest control, small-game hunting, and good old recreational shooting. Cadet rifles are employed by military cadets. It is also employed as the rifle used for the rifle shooting merit badge for the Boy Scouts of America.
Because of its low recoil, it is often used for intro courses about firearms. Beginners can be scared of the loud noises and recoils of other rounds. If a beginner attempts to shoot a gun that is above their level of comfort they may create a habit out of flinching to try to avoid the recoil they anticipate. This is bad posture and ruins follow-through. With less recoil, it is easier to improve other posture mistakes.
A lot of manufacturers of handguns have add-ons to make their gun shoot this type of ammunition. This lets shooters practice at a low price while also getting used to their new gun. These conversions also let people shoot at indoor ranges that don’t allow high-power guns.
There is a lot of .22 Long Rifle ammunition available, and they are all at different price points and perform differently. Weights range from 1.3 to 3.9 grams and velocities can be anywhere from 575 to 1,750 ft/s. It is the cheapest cart ammunition on the market.
This ammunition is so popular because of all of these reasons and more. There is so much you can do with the .22LR. The fact that handguns have additions to make their guns compatible with this ammunition speaks volumes. Now let’s talk about performance.
This cartridge works through 150 yards but practical shooting is often less than that. Any further than 150 yards and it is hard to adjust to the drop in the shot. The short range and lack of strong recoil makes it the top favorite for target shooting. The accuracy is decent but not perfect. Other carts have similar or better accuracies.
For hunting, this is often used against small game, no bigger than coyotes. Even though the perfect shot can hurt a deer, it isn’t used very often because the kill would not be humane.
Although the accuracy isn’t perfect when you stretch the ammunition beyond its limits, it is highly favorable when you stay in the right conditions. Hunting small game, target practice, and learning how to shoot a gun are all good examples of when this gun shines.
Subsonic rounds are below the speed of sound and shoot at roughly 1,080 ft/s. The bullets are sometimes extra heavy to make the terminal ballistics better since it is a slow projectile. But they might also contain a very light bullet and a primer.
Some shooters prefer subsonic rounds because they have better accuracy and aren’t as loud. Faster rounds might scare animals away while you’re hunting because they’re a bit louder. The reason this round is more accurate is because it doesn’t slow down in a transonic zone the way faster bullets do, which creates less accuracy and stability.
The speed of sound at 68 degrees F is roughly 1,115 ft/s so the round’s velocity is a bit below the speed of sound in most conditions. But in freezing conditions the speed of sound lowers down to 1,088 ft/s which is roughly the velocity of the rounds. This means a supposedly subsonic round used in freezing conditions might end up actually being supersonic. But when it transitions out of supersonic and into subsonic territory the accuracy may decrease. In response, some manufacturers lower the speed of subsonic ammunition to 1,030 ft/s.
Subsonic rounds might be right for you if you’re looking to be accurate and quiet, so they make for good hunting rounds. However, they are slower, so if you’re hunting a fast or moving animal it may be harder to use this type of bullet.
The standard velocity is different depending on the manufacturer. Some might be around supersonic- about 1,125 ft/s, while others are around 1,070 ft/s. The majority of standard velocity ammo has a weight of 2.6 grams. They are typically around supersonic. They don’t reach these velocities when shooting out of a handgun because the shortness of the barrels don’t take complete advantage of the burning powder that is slower.
Standard velocity is middle-of-the-pack. You have to pay close attention to know if you are getting a supersonic or subsonic bullet when buying standard velocity rounds. It is up to your preference. They both have their pros and cons.
Originally, the .22LR round had black powder. These loads with smokeless powder were meant to be equal to the velocity of the first black-powder rounds. Black powder is less efficient than smokeless powder, while smokeless powder carts could contain extra powder. These loads are considered high velocity or high speed. They increased velocity by around 8% without changing the weight of the bullet.
High velocity rounds are impressive because of their engineering. It is a huge feat to change the velocity by 8% without adjusting the weight of the bullet. This just goes to show that when there is a demand for new technology, companies will deliver.
Some .22LR carts use bullets even lighter than 2.6 grams and fire them at increased velocities. These typically weigh between 1.9 and 2.1 grams and can range from 1,400 to 1,800 ft/s. The increase in velocity is in part because the bullet is lighter.
Hyper-velocity bullets are for you if you care the most about shooting as fast as possible and don’t need your bullet to be heavy. They are impressive bullets and will make anyone turn their head.
Are There Any Downsides To Buying .22LR Pistols/Handguns?
No matter how popular a cartridge is, there are definitely going to be some downsides. Although some of these may be considered pros depending on what you are looking for, it is worth exploring why some people may skip over this buy.
It might be a surprise that there are any downsides at all when a bullet is so successful. But everything has its pros and cons, and it’s important to be fully informed before making a purchase.
The lowest speed, the subsonic, pushes a roughly 40 gram bullet with a round nose at a mere 1,080 ft/s. This may be too slow for some people. If you are hunting game that moves very quickly, you may have trouble with this speed, although it does have increased accuracy. With subsonic speed bullets you are trading off decreased speed for increased accuracy.
Misconceptions About Safety
Due to its minimal noise, many people forgo ear protection. This can be extremely dangerous because the shot is still loud enough to damage your ears. There is not enough information telling people to wear ear protection while shooting a .22LR.
It is important to encourage your friends to use ear protection as well. Some people may think they’re too cool for it, but you will be the coolest one when you grow up and can still hear. Don’t let anyone tell you that a shot is too quiet for ear protection to be necessary.
Self Defense Myth
While you can definitely use a .22LR for self defense, it depends on the load and type to translate to how much it will damage a human, although it is certainly possible. There is a myth that a .22LR will bounce around a body and create a massive path of destruction. While the .22LR is a valid choice for self defense for the most part, it will not bounce around the body and inflict an excessive injury.
This myth is harmful because it spreads false information about what the bullets do. Misinformation can misguide buyers and create a sense of mistrust about the gun. Don’t accept word-of-mouth myths as fact.
This is a less reliable cartridge because it is a rimfire. However, this is effectively inconsequential because of the purposes these guns are used for. In addition, reliability has greatly improved since the carts were first introduced.
The reliability also depends on which type of bullet you are using. If it is decreasing from supersonic to subsonic mid-air, there will be a decrease in accuracy. You must choose your ammunition wisely based on what you need it for. This is why research is vital and you shouldn’t just buy the first thing you see on the shelf.