There is a reason why the .22 long rifle has remained one of the most popular rimfire cartridges in the world for over 130 years. It may be one of the smallest, but shines bright due to its affordability, minimal recoil, and accuracy.

While larger calibers often steal the spotlight, the .22 LR remains as relevant as ever. Whether it’s for teaching marksmanship skills or simply enjoying recreational shooting, this versatile cartridge continues to captivate enthusiasts.

Keep on reading to find out more about its origins, popularity, value for preparedness, and relevance in modern times.

What Is a .22 Long Rifle?


The .22 Long Rifle (often abbreviated .22 LR or LR) is a type of rimfire round. Rimfire rounds ignite the powder by crushing the rim around the base of the cartridge rather than using a center primer like bigger bullets do.

The LR bullet diameter is .22 inch (5.6 mm) and the cartridge itself is fairly small in size. This allows .22 LR firearms to be relatively small and lightweight.

A wide range of .22 LR ammunition is available, catering to various needs and preferences, driven by customer demand. This includes options such as hollow points, tracer rounds, high-velocity loads, and specialty target rounds. Among these, the most common load features a round-nose lead bullet weighing 40 grains.

Firearms such as the Ruger Mark V, revolvers like Smith & Wesson Model 41, and rifles like Marlin Model 60 are chambered for .22 LR. Dedicated upscale target firearms and economy rifles/pistols commonly use the .22 LR due to its versatility and its ability to shoot at ranges under 100-150 yards, though its limited stopping power makes it suboptimal for self-defense use.

Short History of the .22 Long Rifle

The .22 Long Rifle (LR) cartridge history spans over a century. It began in the mid-19th century when Swiss inventor Jean Samuel Pauly, who had previously developed a dolphin-shaped airship, came up with the first self-contained cartridge for a shotgun. His design consisted of a metal base with a slot for the bullet and a priming compound made of sulfur, charcoal and potassium chlorate.

The problem was that it was dangerous to walk around with a loaded gun without some kind of mechanical protection, as the potassium chlorate is pretty unstable in this mixture.

So there were other inventors around to push the evolution forward, such as Louis-Nicolas Flobert, who invented the first self-contained metallic cartridge, the .22 BB (Bulleted Ball) cap, in 1845. Fast forward a couple of decades, and the .22 Long Rifle was born, loaded with a 29-grain bullet and 5 grains of black powder. It quickly gained popularity as a reliable and efficient rimfire cartridge.

Short History of the .22 Long Rifle

This little rimfire is a staple for training, competing, small-game hunting, and maintaining skills inexpensively. It’s safe to say it has more pros than cons.

Advantages of .22 LR


The .22 LR cartridge is incredibly versatile. Whether it’s target shooting, hunting small game, or competitive shooting sports, this ammo meets the demands of shooters who participate in multiple disciplines or those who want a single cartridge that can handle various shooting scenarios.

Affordability and Ease of Access

Compared to other ammunition types, .22 LR rounds are generally much cheaper, making them a cost-effective option for many. It’s readily available at most gun shops, sporting goods stores, and general retailers. One can also find mega packs containing 300 to 500 rounds on dealers’ shelves, or opt for the classic 50-round pack.

Low Recoil

The .22 LR cartridge is known for its low recoil that allows you to focus on fundamentals such as proper grip, stance, and trigger control without being intimidated by excessive recoil forces. This feature makes the .22 LR an ideal rimfire cartridge for introducing newcomers.


The lack of recoil in the .22 LR allows for more accurate shooting. This is especially beneficial for target shooting and precision shooting competitions.

Disadvantages of .22 LR

Limited Power

One of the biggest drawbacks of the .22 LR is its limited power. While it is suitable for small game hunting and pest control, it is not powerful enough for larger game.


The .22 LR round itself can be less reliable than centerfire cartridges. This can result in misfires or failures to feed or eject in some firearms that fire .22 LR.

Ballistic Performance

The .22 LR is not known for its ballistic performance. It has limited range and stopping power compared to larger calibers.

Limited Magazine Capacity

Some firearms chambered in .22 LR have limited magazine capacity compared to larger calibers. This can require more frequent reloading during shooting sessions.

Evolution of the .22 LR

The .22 LR cartridge is small and unpretentious, but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. It has evolved with the firearms industry and the demands of innovative .22 caliber firearms and their owners.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Tactical Rimfire Rifles: The .22 LR infiltrated the tactical world and manufacturers started producing rimfire rifles. Suddenly, plinking turned into tactical drills, making guns like the Ruger 10/22 Tactical an iconic semi-automatic for serious shooters.
  2. Suppressor Love .22 LR: Suppressors and .22 LR are a match. The low muzzle velocity of the .22 LR pairs beautifully with suppressors. Need an example? Gemtech Mist-22 – a dedicated .22 LR suppressor that turns your sessions into whisper-quiet affairs.
  3. Pocket Pistols: Tiny pocket pistols chambered in .22 LR are discreet, lightweight, and perfect for those “just in case” moments. For instance Ruger LCP II .22 is a lightweight concealed carry pistol chambered in .22 LR.
  4. Precision Plinking: The .22 LR found its way into precision shooting competitions. Shooters now engage targets at absurd distances with pinpoint accuracy. Meet Volquartsen Scorpion – with match-grade barrels, superb triggers, and sub-MOA accuracy, it’s the choice for long-range .22 LR shooting.

Value of .22 Long Rifle for Preparedness

Value of .22 Long Rifle for Preparedness

When discussing the .22 LR cartridge for emergency situations, it’s crucial to highlight its value for preparedness. Here’s why the .22 LR cartridge stands out in emergency scenarios:

  • Proven and consistent performance: The .22 LR cartridge boasts a track record of reliable and consistent performance across generations. Its dependability instills confidence in users, making it a go-to choice for emergency situations where reliability is paramount. Whether for hunting small game or self-defense, the .22 LR consistently delivers results when it matters most.
  • Compact and easy to store: Unlike larger caliber ammunition, the .22 LR cartridge’s compact size and lightweight nature make it practical for storage in emergency preparedness kits. Its small footprint allows for efficient use of space in survival shelters, bug-out bags, or home defense caches without compromising on essential supplies.
  • Skill development: Beyond its utility in emergencies, the affordability of .22 LR rounds presents an opportunity for continuous skill development. With lower costs compared to other calibers, shooters can engage in more frequent practice sessions without breaking the bank. This ongoing training enhances preparedness by ensuring individuals maintain proficiency with firearms, crucial for effective use during emergencies or survival scenarios.

The Tiny but Mighty .22 for Survival in Catastrophic Collapse Scenario

Here’s a hypothetical scenario from your favorite TV show: In a disaster where laws break down, you become solely responsible for your and your family’s security and survival. What do you do?

Centerfire ammo will be scarce in a blink of an eye. Rimfire .22 LR solves this problem because it has huge availability. Smaller rounds means vastly more ammo for the weight. With a little practice, .22 LR can take game for food and stop threats. Less recoil also means you’ll shoot better to protect and provide, even if you have little or no experience.

Choose an accurate semi-auto rifle like the takedown Ruger 10/22 for versatility plus a reliable revolver or pistol like the Ruger Single Six. Weight savings with .22 LR lets you bug out faster if needed. Bulk up on extra mags and ammo bricks – they’re light and now serve a bigger purpose. A 1,000 round brick is pure capability.

Skill trumps caliber when social order crumbles. So consider rimfire rifles and handguns as part of your apocalypse plan. The tiny .22 LR might ensure your survival.

Wrap Up

So, fellow firearm aficionados, the .22 LR isn’t just for plinking soda cans anymore. It’s a chameleon – adapting, evolving, and surprising us at every turn. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a newbie, the .22 LR has something for you. And who knows – it can even save you if one of those catastrophic scenarios turns real.

We appreciate your support of the Arms Directory community, and we welcome you to join our discussions as a valued member. We have one for 22 long rifle ammo too!