The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is roughly 160 years old – the first batch of this type of ammunition was manufactured in 1858. It is, as some of you may know, the most common ammunition in the world nowadays when it comes to units sold.
This particular cartridge is a long-established variation of the .22 caliber rimfire ammo. It is known, as mentioned, as the .22 Long Rifle or as the .22 LR – under 5.6x15mmR metric designation.
What makes the .22 LR unique is the fact that it can be used in a wide range of one-bore firearms – namely rifles, revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, and smoothbore shotguns. Naturally, given the multitude of weapons that can fit such a cartridge, it goes without saying that it’s much easier to acquire when compared to more modern and powerful ammunition.
The Origin of the .22 Long Rifle
The .22 LR round has its origin in the .22 BB Cap made in 1845 and in the .22 Short made in 1857. Further, the original .22 LR combined the .22 Long casing of 1871 with a bullet of 45 grains, resulting in a longer cartridge length, as well as increased muzzle velocity and performance. Given the above, the .22 LR managed to render the .22 Extra Long and .22 Long cartridges entirely obsolete. On top of that, it is also one of the few cartridges on the market that can be fitted into a rather large variety of handguns and rifles.
Unique Features of the .22 Long Rifle
As you may know, the .22 LR is very popular in the United States and it is used by experts, as well as by novice shooters. More than enough features and characteristics of the .22 LR contribute to this popularity and, ultimately, to its uniqueness as a cartridge.
- First of all, the .22 LR is known as having minimal recoil as well as rather low noise. This makes it ideal for pest control, small-game hunting, and recreational shooting.
- On top of that, due to its minimal recoil, it is also the cartridge of choice when it comes to firearms courses for beginners. While a more powerful cartridge will startle novice shooters, the .22 LR will be easy on them, so to say.
- Due to the cartridge’s popularity, a lot of handgun manufacturers have designed an upped pistol conversion kit in order to make their products shoot .22 LR ammo. As such, you can freely use M1911 slide assemblies or AR-15 upper receivers for this particular round.
- Another aspect that makes the .22 LR unique is the fact that it comes in a wide variety in terms of ammunition characteristics. For example, you can find .22 LR ammo in weights from 20 to 60 grains and with velocities from 575 to 1,750. Because of this, the .22 LR comes with variable price and performance.
- Obviously, the .22 LR is also the least costly type of ammunition available in the US. For example, bulk purchases of .22 LR are less expensive than precision target rounds – making the .22 LR the preferred cartridge for target
- practice. In fact, it is used by the US Boy Scouts for a particular merit badge, as well as by military cadets during their training.
- Last but not least, it is estimated that roughly 2.5 billion rounds are manufactured in the US yearly. Despite that, there have been reports of occasional shortages of the .22 LR throughout the country. As such, it is obvious that the cartridge is more than just popular.
Varieties of the .22 Long Rifle
As mentioned above, you can find the .22 LR in a lot of different models. For example:
- Subsonic – features nominal speeds below 1100 feet/ 335 meters per second.
- Standard-velocity – 1120-1135 feet/ 340-345 meters per second.
- High-velocity – 1200-1310 feet/ 365-400 meters per second.
- Hyper-velocity – over 1400 feet/ 425 meters per second.
Due to these four categories, one can choose a cartridge that will fit not only their weapon but their purpose as well. For example, you can fit a .22 LR in a Marlin Model 60, Remington Nylon 66, Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 39A, S&W MP15-22, Winchester 1903 and many others. These weapons are used for hunting, personal protection, sportive shooting, target practice and so on.
Naturally, this makes the .22 LR rather unique – namely, the fact that it can be widely used and doesn’t force a shooter to change their weapon in order to accommodate a more shooter-friendly cartridge.
The Uniqueness of a .22 Long Rifle
As you can see, the .22 LR is unique mainly because it is so versatile when it comes to weapons, weight, and velocity – in fact, it may be the cheapest and most versatile cartridge on the market.
Naturally, we don’t even have to mention that it is deadly – as deadly as a 60 cal., for example.
On top of that, you must consider the fact that some manufacturers equipped some of their products with special uppers that allow the use of .22 LR cartridges in weapons that were not made to fit them. This proves how sought after this particular cartridge is.
The Bottom Line
At a glance, the .22 LR may not look at all unique – after all, it is simply a cartridge that can fit in a variety of weapons. However, it comes with so many uses and benefits – unlike any other type of cartridge.
For example, military cadets are known to use .22 LR rifles for marksmanship or basic firearm training. On top of that, the Boy Scouts of the United States use .22 Long Rifle cartridges for the rifle shooting merit badge.
All of the things mentioned above make the .22 LR one of the most popular types of cartridges throughout the US – it is also widely used by a lot of people, not only by expert shooters, and it comes with a very low price.
As mentioned, the .22 Long Rifle’s uniqueness comes from its enhanced versatility and ease of use!
Jay Chambers – Pro Free Speech Writer, Disaster Survivalist, Business Owner. Believes in Resiliency and Self Sufficiency in an Increasingly Unpredictable World.