All About the .22 Magnum

Box of Winchester’s light JHP load in black box

Winchester introduced the .22 Magnum Rimfire in the late 1950s as a hunting rifle cartridge to extend the hunter’s range beyond the .22 Long Rifle. The longer case and jacketed bullet are more modern than the .22 Long Rifle’s heel-based bullet.

Box of Winchester’s light JHP load in black box
Winchester’s light JHP load offers rapid expansion.

The original 40-grain bullet came in full-metal-jacketed and hollow-point styles. The .22 Magnum achieves about 2,000 fps from a rifle barrel. Bullet weights of 30 to 50 grains are available today. In practical terms, the .22 Magnum is about as strong at 100 yards as the .22 Long Rifle at point-blank range.

The .22 Magnum is a reliable cartridge that often exhibits excellent accuracy in the right rifle. I clocked the .22 Magnum from a Henry lever-action rifle, and the results were encouraging.

Load Average Velocity
CCI 40-Grain JHP 2,001 fps
CCI 30-Grain JHP 2,299 fps
Fiocchi 40-Grain JSP 1,954 fps
Hornady 25-Grain NTX (Lead Free) 2,103 fps
Hornady 30-Grain V Maz 2,260 fps

The .22 Magnum also is useful in a handgun. I received the following results with a 4.75-inch-barrel Ruger Single Six.

Load Average Velocity
CCI Maxi Mag 40-Grain JHP 1,222 fps
Winchester Super X 40-Grain JHP 1,230 fps
CCI's JSP loading expanded, on a white background
CCI’s newest JSP loading offers excellent expansion.

Game you can take with .22 Magnum includes anything you can take with the .22 LR, although at longer range. The .22 Magnum increases the range from 30 to 100 yards. It makes an adequate crow rifle at longer range and will drop a coyote on the farm with proper shot placement.

The subject of .22 Magnum for defense often comes up. I point out that the little Magnum is just fine for small game and maybe even for coyote, if that is all you have. For personal defense, I prefer to have something with more bullet mass—about five times as much mass. If the .22 Magnum is all you have or all you can control, then you should concentrate on its good points such as penetration and velocity.

And if you have the luxury of specializing your handgun choice for each chore, the .22 Magnum is a wonderful small-game cartridge. The .22 Magnum cartridge is affordable, and the handguns can be top quality.

Silver barreled, black handled Taurus Tracker on a white background
The Taurus Tracker is a great all-around outdoors revolver.

For example, an all-around favorite is the Taurus Tracker. Built on the commonly known .38 or K frame, and chambered for the .357 Magnum ammo.” href=”” target=”_blank”>.357 Magnum and other powerful cartridges, the handgun is relatively light.

One of my favorites is the nine-shot .22 Magnum with a 6-inch barrel; it is more accurate than I can hold. Just the same, I have fired respectable groups from that handgun on several occasions. Within the past few months, I fired a respectable ¾-inch group at 15 yards with Winchester 33-grain JHP, a fast number that exhibits excellent expansion in ballistic testing.

Well, perhaps that is not ideal penetration for personal defense; for ridding the homestead of pests or varmints, the Winchester JHP is ideal.

For lighter packing and personal defense, the small-frame Taurus with a 2-inch barrel finds favor among those who cannot tolerate .38 Special recoil. There are more of those than we like to admit, and age or a slight build conspire against them. Just the same, they have the right to be armed.

The J-frame Taurus revolver in .22 Magnum is one answer. Just be aware that you cannot lighten the hammer spring and double-action trigger. Rimfire cartridges demand a good smack from the hammer for proper ignition.

I believe the .22 Magnum is a great trainer, long-range plinker for small game and varmints, and a cartridge that considerably extends the range of the .22 Long Rifle.

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About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (36)

  1. I have a Supper Comanche 10″ Barrel that I am told will not handle +P ammo. I would be interest to know what single would tolerate the +P ammo. I live in Elk country, a close in shot would test my skills but 45 LC
    Factory loads are no certainly even close range.
    Jimmy G. Durham

    1. The Uberti 1873 in .45lc can handle +P ammunition. I have used one for 8 years now. I use custom loaded ammunition at speeds up to 1400 fps.

  2. I have used a Marlin 25mn in .22 magnum for just over 12 years now; and it reliably takes down coyotes, rabbits and squirrels between 200 and 300 yards.

  3. Love my Taurus Tracker. Great groups at 50 yards from a rest. I carry it bow hunting in case a coyote comes in just out of bow range. Even carry rifle hunting in case one comes in close. Figure it to be a good SHTF gun. Not great for self defense compared to some other choices but I don’t think anyone wants to test its effectiveness first hand!

  4. First, I agree with those who carry this as a defense round. Two well placed .22 WMR rounds will do as good a job as a .38 or 9mm. I am a hiker/backpacker and carry a Ruger LCR in .22 mag. Less than one pound fully loaded.

    1. I have an AMT Automag 2 also. Mine is Stainless with a 6-inch barrel and target sights with zebra-wood grips. I re-bushed the slide to make a very close fit to the barrel, and polished the bullet ramp to a mirror finish. It is extremely accurate and reliable. So much fun to shoot and easy to clean. It is a GREAT GUN!

  5. ” In practical terms, the .22 Magnum is about as strong at 100 yards as the .22 Long Rifle at point-blank range.”

    I think Bob needs to study and learn what “point blank range” is. For a gun writer, using that term incorrectly is shameful!!!!!

    1. LOL, the Gun Word Police are at it again. Oh and by the way you can fit more 22 Mag BULLETS in your pistols CLIP then you can with 9mm.

  6. I use a 22 Magnum for hunting in Texas, Took a gobbler a 90 yards with it ,as it does not damage the meat (we have very long shots in Texas, so don’t condemn me) and a Hog at 80 yds thru and thru the heart. The 22 V-max is deadly and in my Savage Accu-trigger bolt, it shoots sub MOA groups at 100 yds. Also carry a Charer Arms 6″ Pathfinder revolver in 22 WMR. Great for snakes with the CCI shotloads My brother was so impressed with its performance and being a light weight firearm, he bought a Savage bolt 22 mag also. Great for small game (head shots), trail gun, varmints, and for trappers. Can’t beat it !!!

  7. Who are the producers of these “3,000,000 rounds a day” shipping them to? I haven’t seen a WMR or 17 round in a store from more than a year at best. Alamo AMMO has some but they price it so high that it’s unaffordable. I don’t see it in any of the normal gun and sporting shops. At 3,000,000 a day times 5 days a week and over the period of a 52 week year I would imagine I could buy at least a box at a friggen Wal-Mart. Can we order them direct from the manufacturer then just to be sure to get a few hundred rounds?

  8. Here is the answer I got, ammo is being hoarded or warehoused somewhere, I wrote this magazine, NRA and others, no answer, let this be proof those that can are also keeping it quiet. Like others I have used the 22 mag and now own the PMR-30 but with no ammo you just can’t enjoy shooting anymore.

    DeeW, we are making and shipping ~3,000,000 rounds of rimfire ammunition a day. This includes 17HMR and 22WMR which are a small amount compared to the amount of 22LR ammunition that is made and shipped. We also produce ~1,500,000 rounds of centerfire handgun ammunition a day, ~2,000,000 primers a day and millions and millions of bullets a day. The information that you are looking for is company proprietary information and is not available to the public, if this information if available to the public, it could be used be our competitors to gain an advantage.

    Make Every Shot Count!
    Justin M.
    2299 Snake River Ave
    Lewiston, ID. 83501

  9. I’ve owned a 22 mag since age 14, Ruger single six, now own 2- taurus 8-shot revolver(CT laser sight) and Ruger American 10 shot rifle(scoped) . Love these, wish ammo was available. Now I practice with a 223 Rem. Ruger American due to ammo availability. Too many 22LR and Mag weapons on the market hogging up & hoarding the ammo issue. Don’t understand why mfg. don’t increase production as this caliber is not going away.

  10. S&W 651-1 4″, excellent trail weapon, I carry the first two chambers with CCI snake-shot, the rest with HPs.

  11. I own a S&W mod. 63 4″ in .22 mag for trapping and raccoons, but the real game getter is a BRNO ZKM 611 autoloader. Great for head shots on squirrels, and woodchucks and coyotes will fall to that one at 100 yds.+. In the rifle, the Winchester Supreme 34 gr. are most accurate and the real expanding hollow points are deadly, with Super X 40 gr. a close second. For the revolver, I use mostly Federal 50 gr. HP. Hope to live long enough to someday own a Volquartsen in .22 mag.

  12. I’ve always liked the .22mag., and am looking to buy a new .22mag rifle, like the henry pump. But I won’t fork over the cash until they start supplying the ammo in quantity again. What’s up with that? I used to buy .22 and .22mag. from the hardware store when I was 12 years old
    (in the good old days). Can’t get it ANYWHERE anymore…
    Good OLD days.

    1. Jim,

      I found a good solution to getting ammo. I collected a couple of business cards from ammo dealers during a Fort Worth gun show. Both are in the area and each carries different brands so that one or the other will probably have what I want. All you have to do is fill out an info sheet, call in an order and usually get it the next day in the mail.



    2. I purchased the Henry .22mag pump rifle but found it so stiff to eject a spent round that I had to lower it from my shoulder to do so. I sold it and bought the Henry lever action rifle, very smooth and can chamber a new round while on your shoulder. In fact it is smoother than my older Winchester 9422M.

  13. I had an Auto-mag 22 WMR for awhile. Nice gun, but I am really not a Semi fan in this type of cartridge, so I sold it and stuck with my Ruger Single six and my Savage Bolt. Either way though, it is a great little round. And more effective at further distances against small game than people realize. I have killed more than one beaver at about 105 yards with it, and anyone who thinks a beaver is easily killed, with any round, needs to try it.

  14. I have a few handguns that use the 22WMR. Ruger Single 6s, Colt Fronteer, and a KelTec PMR 30. I think they may great survival guns and are good for small game out to 50yds or so. I”m currently looking for a 22WMR auto loading rifle to add to the collection.

  15. Really enjoyed some of the great comments on this wonderful round. I use the 22 mag as the ultimate survival rifle. You can carry as many rounds of the 22 mag as you can with the 22 lr without a weight penalty, and in survival applications, it can take small game with ease, and it is an effective man stopper.

    IMO this is the ultimate personal defense rounds contrary to what so many of the gun experts say. I would never feel under gunned with a 22 mag.

  16. About 20 years ago I owned rugger single six revolver with a 22 LR/22 magnum interchange cylinders; I loved the power of the 22 magnum bullet ! eventually I give the revolver to my father for him to enjoy.
    Two years ago I purchased a Savage bolt action 22 mag with stainless heavy barrel, I scoped the rifle for long range shooting. again I am so impressed with the performance of the 22 mag round ! with good low wind conditions, the bullet hold its own on target at about 250 yards !! I like very much the rifle and In the 22 mag caliber ! I just hope that some day the cost of ammo will be less expensive so all we can have more fun at the range or hunting!

  17. 30gr Hornady Vmax absolutely explodes ground squirrels. I am sure it would make great damage and disappear in a larger animal

  18. we use as a protection piece in a north american arms mini revolver , for discreet conceal carry or backup ,the black widow with 2 inch bbl is best with the smaller grips which fit ,,or if not the the 1 5/8 bbl 22 mag frame one .is said the CCI maximag + V used to be best with 1100 fps and 200 lbs ME from a a 2 inch bbl, equiv to a 38 spl except,for diameter. we are ffls ,now rather inactive and used to sell quite a few NAA’s to LE’s as back up at the shows are great to just drop in pocket when not dressed to carry a bigger one for us .

  19. I’m with you on the .22mag.. In’ 92 while at a County Prison in S.W. Ga. the warden tasked me to remove a 100lb+. Bull Mastiff that had been trying to get at a litter of piglets the County was raising for market, and which had previously killed a three day old calf the week before. The warden had advised the owner to pay for the calf and to keep the dog contained. The owner didn’t, so it was open season on the hound. Long story short, two 50 gr. rds. [Federals-I think, in the orange/yellow box] in the chest @ 30-35 yds. from an H&R 700 semi. and he never made 30 yds. before taking a nose-dive. Put them were they work best and the job gets done. Two years and three coyotes later, I left the county and went to the State system and retired in ’05. Haven’t put more than a box thru it since then, myself, but the grandkids get a lot of practice with it. I’ve moved on to the .17 HMR in a Marlin 17 and a Ruger 77-17. [Not better-just something different.]

  20. I like the .22 Mag very much. I have over the years a number of rifles chambered in this rim fire. These included the Ruger 77/22 which I sold to get a CZ 455 Varmint with. 20.5″ barrel. I added to the CZ a Savage 93BSVB 31″ SS barrel, AccuTrigget, Laminat thumb hole stock and found what I think may be one of the most accurate platforms for this clambering. I have since added this exact Savage platform in .17 HMR, topped with a BSA Sweet 17 optic …. This is a tack drive, a one-shot Pariaie Dog eliminator, and is a very effective Coyote harvister. As a head shot harvister of rabbit and squirrel it’s excellent and provides an economical, skill sharpening platform form shooting accurately at distance.
    I also have an early Ruger Single Six with the .22LR and .22 Mag cylinders. It is still a camping/fishing/teaching mainstay and will always be a part of my collection. I added a PMR30 a while back and although I haven’t put a great deal of rounds thru it or spent a lot of range time with it but like it to date. It would be interesting to see a .17HMR platform. FN or KalTec even maybe a Ruger in say a 22M/45 or maybe a Mk III/M?? If wishes were horses . . . .
    If you don’t have a .22 Mag in your collection, you should consider this rimfire. If your a Varmint hunter you need to consider adding the ,17 HMR to your .223 or .22-250. This is the caliber that will fill in those “cool down” periods when your other rifle gets to hot or simply the only rifle you take out while the others collect dust!
    These rimfire calibers are plentiful and inexpensive both in platforms and munitions. Along with the .22 Long Rifle these should be considered as important to ones collection.

  21. I am a huge fan of the 22 WMR
    Living in Rural New Hampshire I often have to deal with raccoons and foxes after my chickens, plus I have a large pond that needs the beavers taken out that move in and flood the house and property.
    Nothing has served me better than the round. Not too loud, nor too much overkill. The longest range I need to take anything out is about 120 yards. Most of the time closer.
    I have a Savage bolt with 3×9, bull barrel at the moment, for a rifle, but I have used my Ruger single six more often. I also have an NAA mini revolver in 22 WMR, and it is the perfect little pocket gun if i am just taking a quick walk out in the back woods, or even just to let the chickens out for the day. I can hit a coffee can with it at 10 paces without too much trouble. I would never be without this cartridge in my line up

  22. I really like the ,22 WMR. I use it on crows that come for my bitties (baby chicks and ducks). They hang around the field waiting for a opportunity to snatch a meal. I like to wait until 2 line up together and go for the shot them. I have an 8X by 32 scope on my Marlin .22 mag sighted in at 125 yards and it does a fine job. Windy days can be a bit rough but calm days are Bingo’s. I wish I could get more ammo as it is scarce to find now.

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