Gun Digest

Know Your Cartridge: .22 Long Rifle

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Arguably the most popular cartridge ever conceived, the .22 Long Rifle has been serving shooters well for more than 100 years.

.22 Long Rifle
CCI Copper-22 21-grain copper hollowpoint.

Information available indicates that the .22 Long Rifle was developed by J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. in 1887. It is the .22 Long case with a five-grain black-powder charge (likely with a granulation similar to what we would now call FFFFg), and a 40-grain bullet instead of the original 29-grain.

The .22 Long Rifle is the most popular match cartridge in existence, and also the most widely used small-game and varmint cartridge.

The high-velocity hollowpoint is the best field load and will do a good job on rabbit-sized animals out to 75 yards. Beyond that, it is unreliable. At close range, the high-velocity load with the solid-lead bullet will penetrate six inches of soft pine board and has a maximum range of nearly two miles. Maximum range is achieved at the relatively low angle of between 25 and 30 degrees, so one must be very careful.

At one time, the .22 Long Rifle was available in black-powder, semi-smokeless, and smokeless powder loads. Remington introduced the first high-velocity type, in 1930. The 40-grain solid and 36- and 38-grain hollowpoint bullet have been available for many years.

The original case was not crimped, a feature that finally appeared in 1900. Space does not permit a full discussion of the different loads and types of .22 Long Rifle cartridges or the rifles and handguns that chamber it.

This brief is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World 14th Edition.

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