22 Long Rifle

.22 Long Rifle

22 Long Rifle, why it succeeds. The .22 LR has undoubtedly been the most popular calibre to rid rabbits and hares in Australia for as long the cartridge has been available.

Table of Contents

.22 Long Rifle (5.6x15mmR) is undoubtedly the most popular calibre to rid rabbits and hares in Australia and has been for a very long time. A rimfire cartridge coming from the USA where it was originally developed in 1887. Why is it the most common sporting ammo in the world today? It’s cheap, you can get it anywhere and has blow all recoil. Ideal for newcomers to the game.

Definition of the .22 Long Rifle

Developed in the United States of America the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, often known as the .22 LR or just the 22. A rimfire cartridge that is found in numerous rifles, handguns and more. 


The .22 LR projectile or bullet is “heeled”, which means it is the same diameter as the case but has a thinner “heel” part that fits inside the case. 


The .22 Long Rifle - Use cases

The cartridge was and still is, the everyday “go to” round in Australia for the European Rabbit. Everyone could shoot it with its almost non-existent recoil and it was dirt cheap. It was what I learnt to shoot with and typically every bunny within 100m was fair game.

With the right firearm the range could be extended to easily twice that range but ran out of stopping power rapidly. The round velocity drops at a massive rate once over 130-150m. 

22 Long Rifle drop at 100 yards

Overall, however, it has been used for foxes, rabbits, pigeons, snakes and more. While I would not recommend taking down a fox unless it is within 50m and ensured of a head shot. Used wisely, the .22 LR is a great cartridge for small game.

Likewise, the ammo is suited to plinking, target comps and an ideal novice round. I was happy to use the round out to 200m with my BRNO (now CZ) on targets, but others are putting holes in paper at over 500m. 

Check out Mark from MarkandSam AfterWork using a .22LR with a Lithgow LA101 plinking a target at 460 meters (510 yards) in a stiff crosswind.


A rimfire cartridge, the .22 Long Rifle originally had a 29 grain (1.88g) projectile which, in time, was modified to 40 grain (2.6g) (solid).

The muzzle velocity was measured at 320 m/s (1,048 fps) until 1930 when Remington upped the powder load. This was called a High Velocity loading and it increased the muzzle velocity to 396 m/s (1300 fps).

The variety of ammunition available now is broad, from bullets weights of 20 grains (1.3g) to 60 grains (3.9g).  With differing powder loads the muzzle velocity can vary from 175 m/s (575 fps) to 533 m/s (1750 fps).

The projectile diameter is .223 inches (5.6642 mm) with a straight casing of .226 inches (5.74mm).

The overall length varies of course with the various projectiles but is usually around 1 inch (25.4mm).

22_short vs 22_long_rifle vs 22_magnum vs 22_hornet


The .22 Long Rifle was not the first self-contained metallic (copper originally) cartridge, but it is one of the oldest and the most plentiful sporting ammunition in use today.

The .22 Long cartridge and the 40-grain (2.6 g) bullet from the .22 Extra Long were combined by American firearms manufacturer J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company in 1887 to create the cartridge, which had its origins in the USA from the Flobert Bulleted Breech Cap (.22 BB) of 1845 through the .22 Smith & Wesson (renamed .22 Short after the introduction of the LR) cartridge of 1857.

The bullet was 29 grains and the case loaded with five grains of black powder. 

Rifles that chamber .22 Long Rifle - a selection

As we said earlier in the article, everybody and their dog seems to make a 22LR. Here is but a few.

Pros and cons


  • Versatile cartridge that is suitable for short to medium-range target shooting as well as small game hunting.
  • Very mild recoil, making it a great selection for novice shooters.
  • The .22LR is a very accurate calibre from short to medium distances with the right gear.
  • There is no better selection of factory ammunition available in most gun shops (or sporting shops) across the country. Hand loading is simply not a thing with the low cost of mass produced ammo.
  • Quiet, less chance of bugging the neighbors.
  • Light, both rifle and ammo.
  • It is a fun round to shoot!


  • Although the .22 Long Rifle can carry a reasonable distance, the projectile mass lacks stopping power. Furthermore, the round velocity can decay rapidly after 130-150m. There can be a temptation to hunt game above the cartridges paygrade. If you want to go for game that’s bigger than your average bunny, then consider upping the ante with a better suited cartridge. Luke has put a guide here Basic Cartridge Selection.
  • Due to the the fact that the 22LR is a rimfire can mean more misfires than it’s more centered counterparts. This is due to rimfire priming as the cartridge primer is packed into the rim and can fail to prime the round.
  • They tend to be dirty as the round is softer and leaves the barrel fouled and needs frequent cleaning.
  • The ammunition being made everywhere can lead to issues of quality. This can result in inconsistent performance in the field.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

The 22 Long Rifle with a standard off shelf at your local gun shop is good for small game out to about 130 – 150 meters (140 – 160 yards). Bench rest or plinking the average seems to be about 400 meters (440 yards). 

Certainly the .22LR is reliable given a decent manufacturer. The only question mark that may arise is rimfire priming which may cause the odd misfire. 

The .22 rifle is generally good for a humane kill of small game out to about 130 – 150 meters (140 – 160 yards). After that range the large drop in velocity robs it of stopping power. 

A .22 Long Rifle bullet can travel 1800 meters or 1.8 km (2000 yards or 1.13 miles). Always be aware of your range template and keep the shot below ridgelines etc.

3.9 inches according to the Winchester ballistic calculator, you can find the link here: Ballistic Calculators.
22 Long Rifle, Varmint LF, Tin Hollow Point 26 Grains Sight Height 1.5 inches
0 yds0.00 sec-1.5 in0 in1,650 fps157 ft-lbs
100 yds0.25 sec-3.9 in0 in977 fps55 ft-lbs

22 Long Rifle drop at 100 yards

A 22 Long Rifle is generally about 120 to 140 decibels. To give that context a normal conversation is around 60 decibels and a shotgun is around 160 decibels.

Scroll to Top