Ammunition

.22 LRs: Great for Training, Plinking, and More!

.22 LR Firearms rifle and revolver

A good .22 LR is a staple of any firearm collection. They are fun to shoot and offer a great way to practice your marksmanship. From target pistols to tactical rifles, .22 LR firearms come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a .22 LR to mimic your personal defense firearm or just want something unique to shoot at the range, there’s a .22 LR out there for you.

Why own a .22?

There seems to be a subsect of shooters that often ask, “Why own a .22 LR firearm?” Well, there are plenty of reasons to love the classic .22 Long Rifle. One big reason is it’s fun! You can shoot all day with little fatigue from recoil or strain on your budget. This allows you to train more for your money. You can practice your firearm manipulation and marksmanship fundamentals to develop skills that will transfer over to your defensive firearms.

.22 LR, 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP hollow points
The .22 LR (left) is much smaller than the 9mm Luger (middle) and .45 ACP (right).

.22 LR Rifles

For many of us, the first gun we learned to shoot on was a .22 LR rifle. I learned on my father’s old Marlin lever-action. There are tons of dusty .22 LR rifles sitting in closets all across America. These handy little rifles are well worth the real estate as they can serve well in a number of roles. .22 LR rifles make excellent survival and training firearms, and are great for small game hunting, plinking, and more.

There are a ton of different .22 LR rifles to choose from, and there’s bound to be an option that appeals to you. Classic examples include lever-action rifles from brands such as Henry, Winchester, and Marlin. One of the most popular firearms, even today, is the Ruger 10/22. This semi-auto rifle is incredibly customizable. Shooters can upgrade and personalize virtually every part of the Ruger of the 10/22 and even set it in a new chassis that completely changes the look and feel of the gun.

Another popular modern option is the Smith and Wesson M&P15-22. This gives you the look and feel of a standard AR-15 so you can practice with the proper battery of arms. If you’re looking for something that’s simple or want a dependable rifle for small game hunting, Savage makes several versions of its bolt-action rifles chambered in .22 LR. This is also a great way to get started and learn the basics of shooting.

S&W M&P15-22 Rifle
The Smith and Wesson M&P15-22 is an AR-style rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle.

.22 LR Handguns

Handguns chambered in .22 LR are another great route to go. With the popularity of concealed carry on the rise, more people are taking to the handgun. .22 LR handguns are great for learning marksmanship fundamentals and practicing firearm manipulations.

When most think of .22 LR pistols, they picture some of the classic target guns such as the Ruger MKIV, S&W Victory, and Browning Buckmark. Volquartsen makes a high-end version for some serious tack driving. There are also .22 pistols modeled after common defensive pistols for training, such as the Smith and Wesson M&P22. There are even plenty of new .22 LR pistols such as the SIG P322, Glock 44, and Taurus TX22.

If capacity or specific manual of arms isn’t important to you, you may want to consider a .22 LR revolver. The inherent reliability of a revolver really shines with a rimfire firearm. If you have a bad round that doesn’t go off, simply pull the trigger again. There’s no fumbling with stacking your loads properly in the magazine to prevent rimlock. Whether it’s from Smith and Wesson, Ruger, or Colt, if you select a quality revolver it’s sure to last a lifetime.

M&P22 Pistol and Mag
Loading .22 LR magazines can be tricky and you must pay attention to not experience rimlock.

.22 LR Conversions

There’s a third option for those who already have a pistol with which they would like to train. A .22 LR conversion can transform your favorite pistol into a cost-effective plinker. I have had good success with SIG Sauer’s .22 LR conversion slide for my P226. The slide comes complete with all the guts, sights, recoil spring, barrel, and replacement magazine. The unit glides in place, just like your standard pistol slide. .22 LR conversion units like these are available for a number of other pistols from popular brands such as Glock, S&W, CZ, and Beretta. There are also .22 LR conversions for AR-15 upper receivers. You can even get an adaptor to fire .22 LR out of a 12-gauge shotgun.

SIG P226 and .22 LR Conversion
SIG’s .22 LR conversion comes with everything you need to get going.

Conclusion: .22 LR Firearms

Every solid gun collection should include at least one .22 LR firearm. They’re so affordable and versatile, there’s no reason not to own one. Whether you go with a classic plinker or a modern trainer, you’re sure to get your money’s worth. If you haven’t considered a .22 before, I encourage you to give one a shot.

Do you train with a .22 LR firearm? What’s your favorite .22? Let us know in the comment section.

  • .22 LR Conversion on SIG P226
  • SIG P226 and .22 LR Conversion
  • M&P22 Pistol
  • M&P22 Pistol and Mag
  • .22 LR Firearms rifle and revolver
  • .22 LR, 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP hollow points
  • S&W M&P15-22 Rifle

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a relatively young firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting consistently for around seven years. Though he is fairly new to the industry, he loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related.

Alex tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills. He also enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and to keep them properly cleaned and maintained. He installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn.

Additionally, he is very into buying, selling and trading guns to test different firearms and learn more about them. He is not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. I made a SUPER buy on 12 boxes of .22 mag ammo, still had the store’s selling price of $9.95 sticker on them, I guess I bought the ammo because it was such a good deal, ”cause I didn’t have a .22 mag to shoot at the time. After a short time I picked up a Savage Model 93, clip fed, variable scope, looks new, really fun to target shoot and accurate at 75 yards. Anyway— I’ve had to shoot my loving .22 Mag. or one of my others because I can’t find .243 ammo to use on the range. I got 2 boxes of 85 grain at the store where I got the rifle, which was their last, I would really like to have 5 or 6 boxes on hand for whatever but cannot find any. PLEASE notify me of any (any grain) .243 shells you may get in, and available for purchase. Thanks for your help.

  2. My list is big. Three Ruger 10/22’s in different config’s. Two Browning Buckmarks also set up differently from one another. Two Heritage .22lr/.22wmr, and a Henry Golden Boy in .22wmr. The Buckmarks are really great pistols. I will probably add a third or even a Buckmark rifle in the future. I do have other firearms but these I shoot the most, and almost every weekend.

  3. I have a Marlin 39A tack driver, smith&wesson 617 and a haritage rough rider in 22/22 magnum. Twenty two bullets are the only thing available. Great fun to shoot!!!

  4. Texas doesn’t require a minimum caliber for the range portion of the License to Carry exam, so I tell new shooters to use a 22 pistol for the exam, as they are less likely to anticipate recoil as they progress through it. Even though they will want a larger caliber for defensive use, that .22 will find use in range practice in the future anyway.
    Also, even though Texas is now a Constitutional Carry state with no license required, I also tell new shooters to take the LTC training, both for proficiency and understanding the implications of carrying.
    (While you might expect anyone could pass the minimal range test without practice, one LTC instructor talks of students who can’t get even one shot on the target at 3 yards!)

  5. When I was 17 my .22 rifle was stolen. My parents bought me a Ruger 10/22 that year for Christmas. I’m 69 now and still have it. It’s one of my favorite rifles. Growing up on a ranch I killed many squares with it.

  6. I started shooting at age 16 with a .22 Rifle. I have enjoyed shooting my entire adult life and have shot many different guns. Things come full circle and at 80 years old the .22 is now the gun I enjoy shooting most of the time. With arthritis so bad in my hands, center fire guns are painful for me to shoot. With the light recoil of the .22 I can still enjoy shooting a couple of times a month. I believe that the .22 is one of the most useful calibers you can own.

  7. Alex, great article. If you ever want to part with that Marlin 39 lever action, let me know. It’s on my bucket list.

  8. I own two 22 LR one is a heritage 22/22mag fun gun to shoot and I have a old bull barrel ruger mk 2 very very accurate gun and one 22 mag Henry very smooth

  9. My department issue wrappers is the Sig P220. We use the 22 conversion kit to teach double action trigger press. It is a great teaching tool. It works great to teach weapon handling and to overcome flinching or bad trigger press

  10. It is hard to pick a favorite, so I am going to go with, the one I am using at the time, is my favorite for that time. That way I can change often, and still be using my favorite.

  11. My favorite is the CZ 455 Tacticool. With subsonic ammunition and a silencer it is no louder then a pellet gun, very accurate out past 100 yards. In a still wind you can stretch out past 200 yards. Second is my Ruger 10-22, Pistol, Ruger Mark IV Tactical with a sparrow suppressor. All great guns that I would highly recommend.

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