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.22 WMR Vs .22 LR: Application Defines This Rimfire Rumble

.22 WMR Vs .22 LR: Application Defines This Rimfire Rumble

In the .22 WMR vs .22 LR debate, it’s difficult to claim the rimfire king has been dethroned. The .22LR remains the top choice for all but a few niche applications.

Certainly, side-by-siding the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (.22 WMR) and .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) isn’t akin to, say, comparing the .45-70 Government and .38 Special. No, indeed the popular rimfires are much closer in performance and application than the straight-walled rifle and pistol cartridges. But there are stark enough differences and nuances to the .22 cartridges to warrant some discussion, especially if you aren’t familiar with one or both. Though, given the sheer profusion of the Long Rifle, both being foreign seems a stretch.

In essence, the .22 WMR vs .22 LR discussion boils down to application. While the .22 LR is a generalist extraordinary—capable hunter, unparalleled plinker, dead-nuts target cartridge—the .22 WMR excels in one category. It’s a hunter and even here the terms might too be broad. The magnum rimfire’s specialty, where it makes its bones and finds few its equal is varminter. Pest control, that is.

The .22 LR (left) is a jack-of-all-trades, while the .22 WMR is a specialist, for all intents and purposes.
The .22 LR (left) is a jack-of-all-trades, while the .22 WMR (right) is a specialist, for all intents and purposes.

Yes, it’ll pop prairie dogs from sunrise to sunset. Mangle marmots with the best of them. And flay felonious foxes on the hoof from the hen house. True enough, at a much closer range and without as much authority, the .22 LR will do the same, just as the .22 WMR will murder tin can and spinner targets on a lazy summer afternoon. But there are some good reasons why it worth the effort to keep each rimfire cartridge in its wheelhouse.

Brief History Of The .22s

As always, it worth looking back at the history of a cartridge to get a better sense of its present use. For the .22 LR, it goes way back.

Designed in the early 1880s by Steven Arms, the Long Rifle was an amalgamation of a couple of other .22 rimfire cartridges. Stevens took the .750-inch case from the .22 Long and the 40-grain heeled bullet from the .22 Extra Long to create what we know today as the .22 Long Rifle. Union Metallic Cartridge Company produced the first factory .22 LR ammunition, a 40-grain round that clocked in at 1,082 fps from a rifle. Since, the .22 LR has gone on to become among the most-shot cartridges in the world, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 billion rounds produced annually.

The .22 Long Rifle came in 1887, after the Short and Long. 

The advent of the .22 WMR came much later, the late 1950s, in the first serious attempt in the 20th Century to improve the range and killing capability of the .22 caliber. By all accounts, it succeeded marvelously. Utilizing the .22 Winchester Rimfire case and extending it to 1.055 inches, Winchester greatly increased case capacity, thus the velocity of the magnum rimfire. Furthermore, they topped it with a tougher jacketed bullet to ensure its projectile didn’t come apart at its top-end velocities. Today, the .22 WMR is still the hottest rimfire of that caliber, capable of pushing a 40-grain bullet from a rifle muzzle at 1,900 fps—in some cases even more.

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The Rimfires’ Ballistics

As should be obvious from the above section, the magnum rimfire has a decided ballistic edge in the .22 WMR vs .22 LR discussion. At least in terms of its velocity and range. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a more talented cartridge than the .22 LR. A quick example.

Take two similar CCI loads for the .22s, a 40-grain Maxi-Mag (.114 BC G1) for the Magnum and a 40-grain Mini-Mag (.118 BC) for the Long Rifle. The .22 WMR leaves the muzzle of most rifles at around 1,875 fps, while the .22 LR comes out at roughly 1,235 fps—a difference of 640 fps. This is quite glaring and very notable on the range. As is evident in the graph below, zeroed at 50 yards, the .22 LR takes a much more parabolic trajectory to the target, going a full ¼-inch above the point of aim. On the other hand, for the .22 WMR, the target is nearly a straight shot.

22 WMR vs 22 LR

Extend the range, things become even blunter. Given the Long Rifle round goes sub-sonic around the 30-yard mark, its range is somewhat limited. It only suffers around 2.5 inches of drop at 80 yards, in turn—with the aid of a good riflescope—could pick off a prairie dog at that distance. Much further and it’s pushing things with its quickly degrading trajectory. The .22 WMR on the other hand remains supersonic out to roughly 150 yards and drops 11-inches less than the long rifle at this range. So, it reaches much further.

The magnum’s hitting power is where things get tricky. At 50 yards, it delivers 110 ft/lbs of energy—more than twice as much as the smaller .22. Though, this isn’t a case where more is better. While the .22 WMR will put a varmint on the ground for good, it potentially proves too much for game meant for the table. Tree squirrels for certain, but at closer ranges, it will bloodshot the likes of cottontails and jackrabbits. Not so the .22 LR, which at most normal hunting ranges delivers enough to put an animal down and not much more.

Terminally, the .22 WMR offers greater penetrating potential, which makes it more adept than the .22 LR at snuffing larger critters such as coyotes. Though, it’s a stretch to call it a dedicated predator cartridge—perhaps an occasional one. Additionally, this characteristic perhaps makes it better suited to self-defense than the Long Rifle and some ammunition companies have developed loads for just such work. This isn’t to say either .22 is ideally suited for dealing with two-legged predators by any stretch of the imagination. No arguments, they are both deadly. However, I don’t think it would be wise to rely on either to neutralize a threat. But if one of the .22s is all that’s on hand, they’re better than nothing.

The Many Bullets Of The .22 Magnum

Advances in bullet design have touched all corners of the firearms world including rimfire cartridges. This is a boon for the dedicated .22 LR shooter, who now finds some interesting additions—monolithic copper hollow-points, for instance—in his arsenal. Nice as this is, by and large, solid lead and copper-plated lead bullets remain the staple and give a decided edge to the larger cartridge in the .22 WMR vs .22 LR conversation.

The same V-Max bullet design you'll find on Hornady's centerfire rifle cartridges.
The same V-Max bullet design you’ll find on Hornady’s centerfire rifle cartridges.

Much like its centerfire cousins, the magnum rimfire mainly utilizes jacked lead-core bullets, which allows it to take advantage of some large technological leaps of recent decades. One that quickly jumps to mind, polymer-tipped hollow points, such as Hornady’s V-Max bullets. In addition to improving the bullet’s ballistic coefficient (how efficiently it cuts the air), it also improves terminal performance by initiating the bullet’s expansion. But the magnum rimfire also uses tried-and-true bullet construction to improve its hunting versatility. For meat hunters, soft-point, controlled-expansion options such as CCI Gamepoint, help to ensure less damage is done to the game.

Long Rifle Still The Most Affordable .22

Truth be told, this is one of the big dividing lines between the cartridges, the difference-maker for most shooters. It always comes down to money, right?

In short, you’ll always get more shooting done with a .22 LR, simply because it’s a more affordable cartridge. In saner times, when ammunition isn’t akin to Unobtainium, Long Rifle will run you around a dime or less per trigger pull. While .22 WMR, expect it to run $.20 or more per squeeze. Affordable when measured against centerfire cartridges, it still adds up and certainly makes the larger cartridge less attractive for pleasure shooting.

Gunning Up The WMR And LR

Here’s the good news, no matter where you fall in the .22 WMR vs .22 LR discussion, your cartridge is on equal footing when it comes to firearms. Rifle, revolver, pistol—you can find an iron chambered for either cartridge. Go something like the Ruger Single-Six Conversion you can shoot both with a simple swap of the cylinder. Hey, might as well take advantage of similar bullet diameters. (Note, the diameters aren’t exactly the same the—.223 for .22 Long Rifle and .224 for the .22 WMR.)

The one difference, on average, you’ll find more affordable guns in .22 LR. No, there’s not a conspiracy against the magnum cartridge, it’s simply a matter of more manufacturers make .22 LR guns. These include very economical options typically angled at beginning shooters. As far as what sort of gun each gun excels from … all of them—you simply need to determine what type best fits your applications.

What Are They Good For?

As I pointed out at the beginning of the article, the .22 WMR excels in one particular niche—varmint hunting. Does this mean it can’t be used as a meat hunting cartridge or for target shooting? Perish the thought. With greater velocity, shooters utilize the cartridge for long-range rimfire shooting. A scaled-down firearm—say a 6-inch barreled revolver—tames it enough to work on edible game at closer ranges, if there’s a steady enough shot behind the trigger. But overall, most cherish the magnum rimfire as among the most economical options to ride an acreage of ground squirrels or exterminating vermin such as skunks. Well out of spraying range, mind you.

As for the .22 LR, what can’t it do is a better question. While its killing power isn’t as great as the .22 WMR, particularly at longer range, it’s still the go-to cartridge of bunny hunters and other small-game enthusiasts. And it’s equally as potent on varmints, it just won’t catch them as far out or product as dramatic results as the magnum.

Additionally, its resume as a target round is impeccable. Among the fastest-growing precision shooting competitions, NRL22, is tailored to the Long Rifle and it’s a staple of bullseye matches. Perhaps its only limit is its range, but that’s bothered few the past 100 some year.

And price? Even in lean years, the .22 LR remains the most abundant and affordable cartridges. Plain and simple, you’ll get more shooting done with the old standby.

Parting Shot

Most shooters are well served having guns chambered in both the .22 LR and .22 WMR. Neither is going anywhere any time soon and each absolute joys to pitch downrange.

What if it’s one or the other? In that case, if you happen to be a farmer or rancher that requires an economical option to keep ground squirrels out of the hay or prairie dogs from tearing up an alfalfa field, the .22 WMR is perhaps the best choice. The cartridge owns the pest-control wheelhouse and stands tall in this role.

For the rest of us, the .22 LR is the logical choice. It’s simply the more versatile of the two cartridges. Be it drilling bullseye or putting small critters out of their misery, the Long Rifle is a proven asset. And one that won’t break the bank. Honestly, no collection is complete without one.


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Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set

Hardware Talk: Dillon Wrench Rack Set
The Dillon wrench kit comes complete: All you have to do is assemble it onto your press. They are press-specific, so make sure you get the correct one.

Do you ever say to yourself you’ve had enough? More specifically, have you had enough with the litter of tools on your loading bench?

I have.

I’m regularly swapping toolheads to change calibers on my presses as I test this or that, trying something new or swapping calibers. I tried to keep the Allen wrenches for those adjustments in a plastic box, but they always ended up on the bench.

And then, where on the bench were they? Mumble … mumble … mutter.

I finally had enough, so when I saw the wrench rack from Dillon, I knew my 550 and 750 were each going to get a set. The rack is simple: It’s a heavy-gauge stamping that you bolt to the top back of your strong mount, behind your press. You don’t use a strong mount? We’re going to have to talk about that in the next issue.

Dillon has it all covered. You bolt the plate by means of the rear bolts on your press/strong mount setup. The kit comes with the Allen wrench sizes you need to work on your press, plus a die ring wrench as well. They all slide right into their reserved spots. And, just to make it even easier, Dillon includes a strip of label, with the sizes already printed on it, and they’re spaced to line up with the spot for each of them.

The Dillon wrench kit bolts into your strong mount, on the back of your Dillon press. Once there, it’s in easy reach to put each one back when done.

Hot tip: Install the label before you bolt on the plate to save yourself the stretching and reaching to get the label in place after you’ve bolted things together.

Wait, there’s more. The wrenches come with the angle to the short leg of each one pre-dipped in vinyl, so you have a good grip and can see the wrench clearly when you go to pluck it out of the rack. As an extra bonus, the working end is a ball-end wrench tip, so you can spin the wrench even when you approach the screw you’re tightening from an angle.

Of course, gear doesn’t come cheap. The kit runs $46 from Dillon.

“Ouch,” you say?

You can buy the wrenches for a buck each. Yes, you can. But then you’ll still have them scattered on your loading bench or in a box you have to find. Once you lose one or use it someplace else and leave it there, you’ll buy another. And another. You’ll end up with three, four or five sets of them scattered to the winds.

With the Dillon kit, you have a place for them. And the Dillon blue vinyl coating lets you know “This is a loading room wrench; I have to get it back there.”

I’m not saying you need to go full-on Marie Kondo on your loading room, bench and components storage, but keeping the tools that get things properly adjusted is a smart thing to do. And when you can make a change by simply grabbing the handy wrench and put it back right where it was, your loading process will be less distracted, more focused and more productive.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

Practice Or Panic: Team Tactic Basics For Couples And Families

If you and your loved ones expect to keep cool in an emergency, you need to practice team tactics.

When most think of team tactics, they envision highly trained Delta Force operatives—or a SWAT team—breaching a door and conducting a dynamic entry. That’s a good example of team tactics in action … but few of us will ever participate in an activity like that.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t develop your team tactics. Well, unless you’re a hermit who has no friends and has moved to the mountains to live alone and write a manifesto. Most normal humans have other humans they often hang with, whether they’re their good friend, a spouse or children.

I’ve had some team tactics training. As a soldier, and back in my badge-wearing days, it was part of the curriculum. I’ve also attended a team tactics course at Gunsite Academy that focused on civilian teams, like a husband and a wife. Recently, I also did some work helping Benghazi survivor and master firearms instructor David “Boon” Benton, who was portrayed in the movie 13 Hours, train our local SWAT team.

You’ll learn tactical theory at a team tactics class, but most learning occurs during after action reviews following tactical simulations.

Regardless of the group or situation, there are two things that team operations—whether they involve a six- or two-man team—have in common: A tactically proficient and successful team must have a plan, and they must have good communication.

Determine Your Team

If you’re a loner, you’re your own team (and hopefully someday you’ll find another human who finds you moderately tolerable). For the rest of us who are at least semi-normal, we’ll have a good friend and/or a significant other with whom we’re commonly around. This is your team, and it might also include children.

A good civilian team tactics course will address common situations like you might experience around vehicles and in parking lots.

Each team member should also have a job. These jobs could be as simple as following your mother, calling 911 or holding on to the hands of your siblings. A job for a team member could be as simple as being armed and making sure an emergency first aid kit is present and accessible, and all team members should be responsible for not forgetting to have their cell phone with them.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s best when kept simple and generic, and don’t put excessive responsibility on the backs of untrained or juvenile team members. However, every team member should know what the job of the other team members are. At a minimum, this tells them who to look to for guidance, and if capable, others know what each team member is responsible for and then they can assume that role if necessary.

A team tactics course isn’t a shooting course. It’s primarily a course to teach you and your partner how to work—stay alive—together.

In fact, establishing a team chain of command is important. If you’re identified as the team leader, but your wife and kids are out without you, generally your wife would assume that role. This means one of the kids—if capable and of a responsible age—can assume the duties of your wife. This goes a long way toward answering the question, “Dad’s not here. What now?”

Have A Plan

It’s impossible to develop a comprehensive plan for every situation that might develop. However, you can institute operating guidelines for common tasks that might occur. These are established tactical responses, predetermined to deal with things that have a high probability of happening.

Dealing with doors is a perfect example.

During one team tactics course, my partner and I were presented with various reality-based scenarios we had to react to. This was during force-on-force exercises where all the participants were armed with handguns that fired Simunitions. During the prior day while under the guidance of an instructor, my partner and I were given an opportunity to establish some operating guidelines: make a plan.

Don’t go to team tactics course planning to learn how to shoot or to run your gun. You need to know that before you get there.

One of our plans was how we’d deal with opening closed doors that led into the unknown. Just before the Simunition training began, I told my partner we should deal with every door just as we had decided during the previous day. This worked well and eliminated unnecessary communication and possible confusion. When we approached a closed door that we had to go through, each of us knew—without a word—what we were supposed to do.

This same concept can apply to a lot of situations.

Let’s say you want to establish a plan to tactically exit a location by vehicle. In this instance, you could identify the person who will drive, where each team member shall sit and how to access the vehicle depending on the direction of approach and even the direction of the potential threat. Sure, when the time comes to implement the plan there may be extenuating circumstances—the pre-identified driver might be injured—but you can plan for that as well: If team member A is injured, then team member C will drive.

What do you do if your partner gets hurt? You should have a plan for that.

If you have children, it’s very important to include them in these plans. It’s also important to dry run the plan to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you have an infant, who is going to carry him or her? It could be your wife or an older sibling. If you’re planning a response to a home invasion or burglar, the kids need to know what to do when the alarm sounds.

You should also always have at least one contingency; if you cannot do plan A, execute plan B. Similarly, you should also have a rendezvous point established outside the home, and you should also do the same for commonly trafficked locations such as malls or shopping centers.

Instructors at a team tactics course not only evaluate your tactics, but they also critique and help you learn to communicate with your partner.


More than anything else, communication is the most important aspect of team tactics.

Let’s say, for example, you and your wife are engaged in a gunfight and you either need to reload, have a stoppage or maybe you dropped your gun. Your wife needs to know about this while it’s happening; she needs to know why you aren’t shooting or why you’re hiding behind the car. And she needs to be made aware of this without having to watch you or look to see what you’re doing.

How will you and your partner handle a corner like this? You need to know beforehand, and that’s part of planning.

Screaming, “I’m reloading!” or “I’ve lost my gun!” takes too many words and might not be a good idea. Establish simple and direct communications for potential issues ahead of time. You could simply yell out, “Working!” and your wife would know you’re temporarily unavailable. To let her know the problem has been solved, your communication could be as simple as “Up!”

You and your partner should know how to solve simple tactical problems with minimal communication.

Talking while shooting or while responding to a lethal encounter doesn’t come naturally. It’s something that needs to be practiced. Also, if you’re in a face-to-face encounter with a potential threat, having an action word that’ll key your partner in on an action you’re about to take is a good idea—kind of the opposite of a “safe” word, if you know what I mean. But in some situations, your communication can and should be non-verbal.

You should have hand signals that help convey actions or actives like to cover or watch, to move or maybe even run. Similarly, you should be able to convey the direction you want to move or the location of a potential threat. Think these communications through, keep them as simple as possible and limit them to the obvious. This isn’t a time to establish a new and comprehensive sign language; you simply want to be able to convey highly probable observations or instructions without words, as clearly and quickly as possible.

Team tactics should be developed with your partner and include the weapon systems you’ll be using.

Go To School

The best way (of course) to learn team tactics is to take a class from a reputable school. But keep in mind that most team tactics courses aren’t shooting courses: Don’t expect to attend a team tactics class to learn how to shoot. In fact, many schools offering team tactics training have a training prerequisite so that they know you can shoot and handle a firearm safely before they’ll let you in the class. Yeah, you’ll do some shooting in a team tactics class, but you won’t learn to shoot in a team tactics class.

Gun-handling skills should be learned before attending a team tactics course.

This might seem overly stringent, but it makes perfect sense. It takes about five, 8-hour days of training to go from a non-shooter to someone who is safe and reasonably competent with a defensive handgun. A basic team tactics course should be, at a minimum, 2 to 3 days long … and ideally 5 days. To learn to shoot and to learn team tactics could consume 2 weeks, and most of us can’t take 2 weeks off from life to do that. It’s just like with any other firearms discipline—you learn to shoot and then you learn the tactics.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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New Guns And Gear March 2024

New Guns And Gear March 2024

Looking for a new iron or piece of kit to enhance the one you already own? Check out these 7 new bits of guns and gear to grow your firearms wish list.

The New Guns And Gear:

WOOX Titano

Heirloom looks with state-of-the-art performance, the WOOX Titano stands out in competition stocks. Tailored for Benchrest and F-Class shooters, the stock boasts a stunning American walnut stock and an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis. With a 3-inch fore and wide barrel channel supporting up to 1.20-inch diameter barrels, it accommodates large fire tubes common to comp rifles. Furthermore, WOOX’s Suspense weight system allows you to precisely balance the system with six 2.5-ounce weights. The buttstock is fully adjustable for both the length of pull and cheek rise. Other notables include a smooth-bottom bag rider butt and Integrated thumb rests to enhance grip comfort.
MSRP: $999

Taylor’s & Company 1875 Outlaw Revolver

Taylors 1875
A collaboration with Uberti, Taylor’s & Company offers up a faithful reproduction of a classic Remington single-action, but with a modern twist—it’s chambered for 9mm. While no Old West outlaws pitch Parabellum, the modernization effort makes it easier on contemporary cowboys’ pocketbooks. Available in 7.5- and 5.5-inch barrel lengths, the 1875 Outlaw features smooth walnut grips, a forged blued steel frame, a rear frame notch and a fixed front blade sight. Also, the webbed ejector rod helps the wheelgun cut an unmistakable profile. It’s enough to make Frank James envious.
MSRP: $698

StopBox Chamber Lock

chamber lock
New or old, it’s wise to stop the unauthorized use of a firearm. That’s where the Chamber Lock comes into play. At once, it keeps a firearm safe, yet at hand. Construct-ed from Type II hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum, it features a patented mechanical hand gesture code lock, ensuring intuitive use even in low-light or high-stress situations. The lock offers six configurable combinations, expandable to 16 with the Actuator Accessory Pack, although preset combinations are recommended for optimal security. Compatible with most AR-15s and shotguns.
MSRP: $150

MTM Case-Gard Bull Rifle Rest

MTM rifle rest
Dialing in a rifle is the key to a solid shooting platform. MTM Case-Gard provides just this with its affordable Bull Rifle Rest. With an adjustable length between 18.3 and 26 inches, it accommodates nearly any long-gun you shoulder. Additionally, the lightweight rest features slip-free rubber feet and a wide stance, for a wobble-free shooting base. And front elevation adjustments are easily made on the rest, thanks to a screw system allowing you to get a rifle or shotgun situated just right.
MSRP: $43

Mission First Tactical Leather Hybrid Holsters

MFT holster
What a looker! Too bad it’s meant to be kept under wraps. This Kydex and leather gem offers exact tolerances, secure retention and easy re-holstering. Plus, the hanger requires no break-in time compared to its traditional leather cousins. Versatile for AIWB, IWB or OWB use, it accommodates right- and left-hand positioning. Additionally, the American-made hybrids are red-dot compatible and have an audible “CLICK” when you re-holster.
MSRP: $70

Ruger Diamond Anniversary Limited Edition SR1911 Pistol

Ruger Diamond 1911
In celebration of its 75th year, Sturm, Ruger & Company presents its limited-edition 75th Anniversary Ruger SR1911. This iconic pistol features a finely detailed, laser-engraved slide and custom grip panels with intricate scrollwork. Ruger’s CNC-controlled machining ensures precision, while the classic 1911 fire control and positive barrel lockup enhance accuracy. You’ll have to act fast on these beauties, only 750 units are being produced in 2024, and each pistol bears the special R75 serial number prefix and ships in a marked case with two stainless-steel magazines.
MSRP: $1,800

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep .32 Auto

Federal 32 Auto
In the day and age of deep carry, good ol’ .32 ACP is making a bit of a comeback. Federal Premium is supporting its renaissance with the introduction of Hydra-Shok Deep in the pocket caliber. Rigorous testing and stringent manufacturing processes ensure superb accuracy and consistent ballistic performance of this ammo. Furthermore, the notched copper jacket of the Hydra-Shok bullet ensures consistent controlled expansion and adequate stopping power trigger pull in and out.
MSRP: $35, box of 20

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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