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How Far Can a 22 Shoot Before Dropping [Expert Opinion]

Dakota Potts | Updated December 1, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of how far can a 22 shoot with a rifle and scope

So how far can a .22 shoot? 

The answer can mean the difference between knowing when you can ethically take your shot or taking a pass. 

Luckily, our experts have field-tested various .22 rounds to show you EXACTLY how far they travel. 

For more reading on the .22 caliber, see our guide to the best .22 rifles.

Key Takeaways

  • Accurate shooting with a .22 LR becomes challenging beyond 150 yards due to bullet drop.
  • The maximum effective range of a .22 LR is generally around 150 yards (140 meters).
  • For hunting small game, a .22 LR is effective up to a maximum distance of about 95 yards.

How Far Can a 22 Shoot?

Gray boxes of Winchester 22 long rifle ammo

How far can a 22 shoot? 

It’s typically effective up to 150 yards (137 meters), though its maximum horizontal distance reaches around 2,020 yards (or 1.147 miles). However, you’ll realistically be shooting under 300 yards for practical purposes. 

Beyond 150 yards, the bullet experiences a significant drop, making it more challenging to achieve accurate shots. For hunting small game, a .22 LR’s effective reach is roughly 95 yards.

Accuracy matters too, with shooter skill and environmental factors like wind greatly affecting the shot’s trajectory. 

“My family raised bird dogs when I was growing up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and I’m a gun owner myself.”

Doug McMillon

The max distance a .22 bullet can travel – and any bullet for that matter – relies on factors like bullet arc range, barrel length, and weather. A high-powered .22 LR bullet could potentially cover 1.3 miles, though accuracy at that range is doubtful.

So be aware that .22 LR bullets drop noticeably at max range, which is why understanding your rifle’s trajectory and adjusting for bullet drop is vital.

Also, .22 LR ammunition varies across manufacturers, so find the brand that works best with your rifle.

In brief, although a .22 LR can reach over a mile, you’ll usually shoot under 300 yards. Be sure to know your rifle and choose the right ammunition to optimize your shooting.

How Far Can a 22 Subsonic Bullet Travel?

Remington subsonic 22 ammo in a box and a rifle in the background

Next, how far will a 22 bullet travel before dropping, the subsonic kind? 

Well, this varies from brand to brand and depends on the bullet weight you’re looking at, but generally, they can travel past 1,000 yards. Their effective range, however, is typically around 100 yards, but it depends on your firearm and shooting experience.

Their velocity is below 1,100 fps and is slower than supersonic bullets’ 1,260 fps, resulting in lower energy.

Also, the shooting angle impacts how far a .22 subsonic bullet travels before dropping. Around 30 degrees from horizontal might result in a bullet covering approximately 2,000 yards, so a bit over a mile.

Remington subsonic ammo box and bullets

In short, while a .22 subsonic bullet can travel more than a mile in ideal conditions, the accurate range is closer to 100 yards.

How Far Does a 22 Short Bullet Travel?

five types of 22 lr bullets and a pen pointed at a 22 short bullet

Due to the bullet’s smaller size, the 22 short’s distance varies even more with factors such as barrel length, elevation, wind drift, and ballistics.

Longer barrels allow the bullet to travel further, but guns firing 22 shorts usually have shorter barrels, limiting the range. Still, they’re effective for small game and plinking and are great for targets up to 70 yards away.

Elevation matters too – firing the bullet at an optimal angle (around 30 degrees from horizontal) extends its distance. And don’t forget wind drift as it can also alter the bullet’s trajectory and impact travel distance and accuracy.

Fun Fact

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a spike in hunting in 2020, with states reporting a moderate to massive increase in new hunting license buyers.
Source: littlbug.com

Not to mention gravity pulling the bullet downward as it moves, impacting the distance more at longer ranges. And then there are factors like bullet weight, shape, and aerodynamics that come into play as well.

Heavier bullets are more stable but cover shorter distances, while lighter bullets travel further but are more susceptible to wind drift.

22 lr bullet and a 22 short bullet on an orange background

To sum it up, a 22 short bullet’s distance is comparably less than the others mentioned already. It’s mainly for small game and plinking and is effective up to 70 yards.

How Far Can a Centerfire Bullet Travel?

Next, to centerfire rounds. 

Distinguishing between centerfire and rimfire rounds is key. The .22 WMR is a high-powered centerfire round with longer range, accuracy, and power than a .22 LR, a rimfire round.

When asking questions like, “How far can a bullet travel horizontally,” know that it is always influenced by factors like:

  • temperature
  • weather
  • rifle accuracy
  • cartridge used

High temperatures decrease air density, potentially extending bullet range. Conversely, wind can alter the bullet’s trajectory.

The specific cartridge used also matters: a .22 LR bullet can travel over 1.14 miles, while a high-powered .22 WMR centerfire round can cover several miles. 

Remember, the maximum range far surpasses the effective range (the distance for accurate shooting).

Can a 22 Bullet Travel Through Your Body?

Many 22 lr bullets poured into a palm

Next up; can a 22 bullet travel through your body?

And the answer is yes.

Can a 22 kill an intruder? 

Also yes, depending on the angle and impact location. 

The severity of a .22 shot depends on the bullet type, shot distance, and placement. 

For instance, if you’re wondering how much damage can a 22 hollow point do compared to a normal 22 bullet, the answer is it varies significantly. 

Hollow points expand on impact and create a larger wound, which can be deadly if vital organs are struck. So know that a well-aimed .22 shot can be lethal.

different .22 caliber bullets and boxes with a rifle and scope

However, a .22 rifle isn’t always ideal for self-defense. It’s limited stopping power and potential for bullets to deflect off bones or obstacles make it easy to rule it out as a first choice.

Simply put, a .22 bullet can travel through your body and cause serious harm, but its effectiveness depends on many factors. Either way, safety and proper firearm handling are vital, regardless of caliber.

How Far Can a 22 Magnum Bullet Travel?

22 WMR bullet and box in front of a black rifle

Interested in the range of a 22 Magnum? It’s also known as .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR), and this bullet offers enhanced performance compared to the standard 22 LR.

The 22 magnum’s range, depending on factors like muzzle energy, bullet weight, and wind conditions, is around 1.5 to 2 miles. However, effective shooting distances for hunting or target practice are about 100 to 125 yards.

So, can a 22 magnum kill you? 

Yes, as the 22 magnum carries enough muzzle energy to be lethal.

But how far does a 22 short bullet travel compared to the magnum?

“People in the U.S. who feel they need guns or enjoy gun sports of various types, are, in other words, decent, law-abiding, generally honest members of society. Their wish to have guns should be respected.”

Gavin Esler

Well, it’s older and less powerful than the 22 magnum and can travel about a mile, a good chunk less than the magnum.

Optimal shooting distance and accuracy depend on your setup and skill. So, invest in quality ammo and equipment and practice your technique for the best results.

How Fast Does a 22 Bullet Travel MPH?

22 long range rifle bullets and an ammo box

If you’re wondering how fast does a 22 bullet travel in fps and mph, a .22 LR typically zips along at roughly 1,260 fps, equivalent to 859 mph. 

But how fast does a 22 short bullet travel then, you ask?

Well, the slower .22 short bullet, often used in pistols, exits the barrel at around 830–1050 fps, or 566–715 mph. Where it lies exactly depends on what firearm and brand you use.

And several factors like air resistance, the bullet’s arc, cartridge power, and barrel length can alter this speed. High-powered .22 LR rounds fired from a long rifle can reach higher initial velocities than standard cartridges from smaller firearms.

In essence, .22 caliber bullets travel approximately at:

  • .22 LR: 1,260 fps (859 mph)
  • .22 Short: 830–1050 fps (566–715 mph)

Remember, these are rough estimates and actual speeds can vary. When shooting a .22, it’s about balancing speed, accuracy, and power.

How Far Will a 22 Bullet Travel in Water?

Now, how far will a .22 bullet’s travel distance be in water? 

It’s hard to say, as the bullet type and firearm used can influence this.

So why does water stop bullets in the first place? 

Water stops bullets rapidly as it exerts significant resistance, causing the bullet to lose energy very quickly. Bullets also disintegrate faster in water than in air.

Experts suggest a .22 bullet could travel up to 100 feet underwater if shot from the air. This is very different from its range above water, which can exceed a mile.

Pistols, with their shorter barrels, generally have a lesser underwater range. That’s because the reduced ignition time of the powder means less production of propelling force.

Regarding .22 short and .22 long bullets, their smaller charges compared to .22 long rifles mean less initial energy and hence a shorter underwater distance.

While there are specialized water-penetrating bullets, they’re not commonly available for .22 caliber firearms. These bullets retain velocity and effectiveness underwater but aren’t typically found in standard .22 ammo boxes.

For more reading on .22 ammo see our guide to what is the range of a bullet from a .22 caliber rimfire rifle?


How far will a .22 bullet travel before dropping?

A .22 bullet can travel up to 2,020 yards horizontally before dropping, depending on factors like elevation and weather conditions.

How far will a 22 LR shoot accurately?

For a 22 LR, you can expect accurate shooting up to about 150 yards, as practical ranges tend to be less due to the bullet’s ballistics.

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