The .22 Rimfire

What is there to say about the .22 rimfire that hasn't already been said? It's the oldest cargridge still in production. It accounts for more cartridges made and used per year than any other. It is the cartridge that almost every shooter first encountered. It can be comfortably fired by children who are quite young (under adult supervision, of course) and remain a pleasant experience. It is very useful for taking small game such as rabbits or squirrels. It can be very accurate in well-made firearms and it is a premier target-shooting cartridge.

The .22 rimfire is made today almost exclusively in the .22 Long Rifle configuration. At one time .22 Short and .22 Long cartridges were common, but they are rarities these days. Don't be fooled by the name, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is used as much for handguns as for rifles. The name is a holdover from long ago when most .22 RF handguns were chambered for the old .22 Short cartridge.

The main drawback -- if indeed it is a drawback -- to the .22 RF is that it is so low-powered. In many applications that is no drawback at all. It is far too weak to be seriously considered as a prime candidate for self-defense use, but it sure is better than nothing and I don't know anyone who would ask to be shot with one. The same thing can be said about hunting; it is far too weak to use to hunt any game other than the smallest. Yes, many deer have been killed with the .22 RF, but many more have been wounded and not killed. Using a .22 RF on medium-sized or larger game is simply not humane. Nobody is so good a marksman that they never miss their exact point of aim, and animals do not always stand still waiting to be shot. If you choose to hunt, use a calibre that will provide enough power to kill the animal quickly even if you miss the shot by a few inches.

On the other side or the coin, the .22 RF's low power means that it has little to no recoil. Yeah, technically there is always some recoil when you fire any conventional firearm, but the recoil from the little .22 RF is so slight that most people don't even notice it. That's a great thing for beginning shooters.

So our oldest production cartridge is also still our most popular -- at least in terms of the number of rounds sold every year. There are good reasons for that!