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What Is the Range of a Bullet From a .22 Caliber Rimfire Rifle?

Dakota Potts | Updated August 20, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of what is the range of a bullet from a .22 caliber rimfire rifle showing several .22 caliber bullets

The .22 caliber rimfire rifle is a popular choice for many firearm enthusiasts due to its versatility and affordability.

But what is the range of a bullet from a .22 caliber rimfire rifle?

That’s the answer any owner or prospective buyer of this rifle needs to know. Find out the essentials to know about the .22 caliber’s abilities right here.

For similar reading see our write-up to the most accurate 22LR rifles of 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • .22 caliber rimfire rifles are versatile and affordable firearms for various applications
  • The effective range of a .22 caliber rimfire rifle is generally up to 150 yards (140 meters)
  • Accuracy beyond the effective range is influenced by ammunition, shooter skill, and environmental factors

What Is the Effective Range of a .22 LR?

With an effective range of about 150 yards (140 meters), the .22 LR (Long Rifle) is a popular choice for casual shooting, target practice, and small game hunting.

.22 long rifle with a scope pointed at a grassy area

But as the bullet travels further, its trajectory gets harder to predict as there’s a noticeable bullet drop. Most shooters stick to ranges under 150 yards because, beyond that, compensating for the bullet’s ballistics becomes tricky. 

That said, the actual experience can differ depending on the ammo type, the shooter’s skill, and environmental factors.

The .22 LR stands out for its low recoil, which makes it easy to shoot and handle. Typically, its 36-grain bullet achieves a velocity of 1,330 fps, while the 32-grain variant clocks in at 1,640 fps.

Fun Fact

“Gun dogs” are dogs that hunt by scent and sight, and both fetch birds after they have been killed as well as sighting them before. Setters, spaniels, and pointers are the most common “gun dog” breeds. Source: factretriever.com

How Far Can a 22 Rifle Shoot Accurately?

Well, it depends on various factors. It’s a mix of the rifle’s design, barrel length, and the skill of the person behind the trigger. For the widely-used .22 LR, hitting targets accurately becomes a bit tricky past 150 yards due to bullet drop.

Now, barrel length plays a significant role. While longer barrels boost stability and muzzle velocity, their shorter counterparts shine in maneuverability and weight balance.

.22 caliber rimfire rifle mounted on a platform

The target’s size also influences the achievable accuracy at different distances. So if you’re wondering how accurate is a 22 rifle at 100 yards, for larger game, it’s quite accurate and will do the job. However, for small game, a .22 LR is effective up to a maximum distance of about 95 yards.

“To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.”

Wayne LaPierre

Shooter skill also impacts accurate shooting. Even with a well-crafted rifle, human error can be a major cause of inaccuracies at long distances.

So, we’ve covered the general 22 rifle bullets, but how far can a 22 subsonic bullet travel?

If you use subsonic .22 rounds, know that these bullets have a limited range, around 80 yards, and the impact of bullet drop on accuracy is much more pronounced.

Muzzle Velocity of 22 Rifle

.22 caliber rimfire rifle and .22 LR bullets with a grey wooden background

The muzzle velocity of a .22 caliber rimfire rifle can vary greatly depending on factors like powder charge and barrel length, but a lot of it has to do with the bullet weight.

Take the .22 LR rounds, for instance. A standard 40-grain bullet might clock in velocities ranging from 1,080 to 1,200 fps. Lighten that to a 36-grain bullet, and you can see speeds of around 1,280 fps. And a 32-grain bullet? It can zip through at a whopping 1,640 fps.

Bottom line: The combination of rifle and ammo type can create a wide range of muzzle velocities, influencing aspects like energy and how the bullet reacts to wind.

Fun Fact

The first time women were allowed to enlist in a non-nursing role was during WWI. Source: vehiclesforveterans.org

22 Caliber Ammo Types

Before you ask, “How far can a 22 rifle shoot accurately?” know that the .22 caliber rimfire rifle offers several different ammo types. 

One popular option is the .22 Long Rifle ammo (22 LR) mentioned already – ideal for small-game hunting and target shooting. With the right conditions and a skilled shooter, a .22 LR can accurately shoot up to around 150 yards.

Hand holding a .22 long rifle ammo and a snowy background

Another variant is the .22 Short ammo, developed in 1857 for the Smith & Wesson Model 1. This particular round featured a 29-grain bullet pushed by 4 grains of black powder. Although it’s less powerful than the .22 LR, the .22 Short is still an effective option for plinking and pest control.

Then there’s the .22 Long – not the same as the .22 Long Rifle. This round was made obsolete by the .22 LR. In fact, nowadays, new firearms aren’t designed for the .22 Long ammo. 

Compared to the .22 LR, it has a shorter length and lighter weight but a slower velocity and higher inaccuracy rate. So, there really is no debate in a 22 Long vs 22 LR battle.

Then we have the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (22 WMR), or simply .22 Magnum. This cartridge is more powerful than the .22 LR and has a long effective range, reaching up to 100-125 yards in optimal conditions.

.22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire bullets on top of its box

22 Caliber Bullet Size

As there are different .22 caliber ammo types, they also come in various sizes. The overall length of the popular .22 LR is 1” with a bullet diameter of .223”. Meanwhile, the .22 WMR has a length of 1.350” and a diameter of .224”. 

Then there’s the .22 Short whose length comes in at .695” with a diameter of .222”, and the .22 Long bullet is .888” in length and .223” in diameter.

Image of a .22 short caliber

Now, perhaps you’re wondering, “Can I shoot 22 LR out of 22 WMR?”. And the answer would be no

Although they share a similar bullet diameter, the .22 LR is just too small for the .22 WMR chamber. You might end up damaging the firearm, hurting yourself or others around you. The answer is also no the other way around.

That said, you can load .22 Long and .22 Short in a .22 LR chambered firearm, but they will not cycle the action, and you’ll have to do that manually.

Now, let’s get into the infamous debate between 22 caliber vs 9mm and see what one has over the other.

22 Caliber vs 9mm

The 22 caliber is a well-known rimfire cartridge dating back to 1871. It’s often found in hunting rifles and has a reputation for making less noise, which can be great for novice shooters.

Image of four .22 caliber cartridges lying side by side

On the other hand, 9mm is a popular centerfire cartridge and is usually larger in size, boasting a wider bullet and case. This can result in heavier bullets, often ranging up to 150 grains.

Hand holding a box of 9mm Luger cartridge

When it comes to the diameter of the projectile, the 9mm Luger is bigger than the .22 caliber. This leads to differences in recoil, trajectories, and muzzle energy. 

The 9mm Luger cartridge has bullet sizes varying from 60 to 160 grains, but the energy produced by 9mm rounds is generally higher than .22 caliber rounds. The .22 boasts a lighter recoil, making it friendlier for beginners.

Regarding self-defense, 9mm is often favored due to its larger size and higher kinetic energy. However, as a first firearm choice, the .22 caliber is a solid option, especially for those new to shooting as it helps ease the learning curve.

So remember, each caliber has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It really depends on the shooter’s needs and preferences when choosing their firearm.

“Happiness is a warm gun.”

John Lennon

22 Long Rifle Ammo

The .22 Long Rifle is a popular rimfire cartridge commonly used in lever-action, semi-auto, and revolver firearms.

A scope mounted onto a hunting rifle

A major factor in the .22 LR’s popularity is its low cost, making it an affordable option for plinking and target practice. Bullet weights among commercially available ammo range from 20 to 60 grains, with velocities varying from 575 to 1,750 ft/s. 

As mentioned, the 22 rifle range generally goes up to 150 yards, and after that point, bullet drop and lack of consistency become fairly pronounced. In fact, tests have found that only 4 out of 20 shots hit the target at 600 yards.

Hand holding several .22 LR ammo

If you’re considering using .22 LR ammo for hunting purposes, there are several options available. For instance, subsonic ammo can be effective for discreet shooting and reduced noise. 

Here are some popular .22 LR ammo choices:

  • Federal Automatch 40gr: A versatile round often used for plinking and hunting.
  • CCI Standard Velocity: Trusted for its consistency and accuracy, suitable for target shooting and small game hunting.
  • Aguila Super Extra: A high-velocity round that offers excellent performance for a reasonable price.

Since its introduction in 1887, the .22 LR has been a go-to caliber for hunting small game like rabbits and squirrels. The combination of affordability, low recoil, and versatility make the .22 LR a reliable option within its effective range.

Plus, the variety of rifles and handguns chambered in this rimfire cartridge ensures there is a .22 LR option for nearly every shooter.

For more reading on .22 ammo see our guide to how far a .22 can shoot.

FAQs

What is the best distance to zero a 22 rimfire rifle?

The best distance to zero a 22 rimfire rifle is around 50 yards, as it’s a common range for plinking and small game hunting. Generally, most .22 shooters zero in at this distance, but it really depends on your preferences and intended use. At this distance, the bullet drop is minimal, and it’s easier to maintain accuracy.

How much does a 22 drop at 100 yards?

A .22 caliber bullet can drop significantly at 100 yards – a 36-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps may drop around 5 to 6 inches at this distance.

How much does a .22 bullet drop at 200 yards?

A .22 bullet at 200 yards can drop about 18 to 24 inches or more with a 36-grain bullet and a muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps. This drop may vary depending on factors like wind, temperature, and elevation.


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