The .22 Long Rifle has been one of the most popular rounds since its creation over 100 years ago. Many have learned how to shoot with it, some hunt with it, and others use it for protection. While I personally wouldn’t use it for all those purposes, I do believe every shooter should have at least one .22 LR in their collection.
Low Recoil and Cost
With the .22 LR having such little recoil, it’s perfect for first-time shooters. The minimal recoil, paired with low noise levels, makes for a less intimidating shooting experience. Lower recoil also means the shooter can focus more on learning the fundamentals and honing in their accuracy. Not only is the recoil low, but the cost to shoot .22 LR is too.
Especially during recent times, where the prices of ammunition have multiplied, it’s great to have a cost-effective way to train and stay sharp. If you compare the cost per round of .22 LR vs. 9mm as an example, you can expect to find that it’s 3x–5x less expensive, depending on where you look of course. Going out and shooting for hours will be as daunting, and your wallet will thank you as well! Shooting is an expensive hobby, so saving money where you can will allow you to practice even more.
Availability and Reliability
Until recently, there always seemed to be some .22 LR sitting on the shelf or in stock. Even now, it’s still one of the easier calibers to find. With it being so commonly stockpiled — due to the cost — it will still likely be plentiful during a shortage. Hopefully, we never experience a true “SHTF” scenario, but if we do, I believe .22 LR will be one of the most commonly found and scavenged rounds.
I often get the question, “It’s great that it’s readily available and easy to find, but isn’t it unreliable?” The short answer is “no.” In general, a quality .22 LR round should go bang! between 97% and 98% of the time — at least in my experience. Yes, a centerfire cartridge tends to have an even lower failure rate, but given that I do not carry a .22 LR, I can live with those numbers for range time fun!
As I mentioned earlier, the .22 Long Rifle is used for a wide variety of activities. It’s accurate enough to be used in target shooting competitions as well as to hunt small game. In addition to competition and hunting, it can also be used for self-defense. In fact, the .22 LR is one of the “deadliest” calibers, when looking at the number of shooting deaths per year by caliber. That isn’t to say it’s due to the stopping power of the round, but more so the sheer number of shootings carried out with it. What the round lacks in stopping power, is greatly redeemed by the versatility it offers.
What’s the Catch?
You’re probably asking yourself, what’s the catch? Up until now, it has sounded as if the .22 LR is the perfect round. As well as it performs, it does lack in the range or distance department. Most shooters would say it’s effective up to about 150 yards, which I tend to agree with. There are some folks out there that say they’ll be hitting quarter-sized groups and taking squirrels out at 300 yards, but I don’t believe those scenarios are the norm.
In addition to lacking in distance capability, it is also an extremely difficult cartridge to reload. In my opinion, it’s not worth the time and hassle since it’s so cheap to simply buy new. These cons are not deal-breakers by any stretch, especially if you know and understand them from the beginning.
Since the late 1800s when the round was designed, it has continued to prove its worth and place in firearms history. There aren’t many calibers that I feel as strongly about as .22 Long Rifle. Sure, there are a ton that I own, would recommend and will continue to keep, but the .22 LR is one that I genuinely feel every gun owner should have. With the low cost and the great versatility the .22 LR provides, I do not see its popularity ever decreasing.
Are you a fan of the .22 Long Rifle? What’s your favorite use for the .22 LR. Share your answers in the comment section.
Ryan is a firearms and tactical gear enthusiast that has maneuvered himself into the firearms industry over the past decade. While his full-time career is outside of the industry, he has consulted for dozens of firearms and tactical gear related companies. He enjoys conducting tests and evaluations, shooting product photography and developing marketing strategies for them.
If he’s not spending time with his family, you’ll likely find him at the range or driving around looking for photo shoot locations. You can check out some of his photos and other content on Instagram (@theguygearreview).