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Throwback Thursday: The Impossible .22 Rimfire

Every Thursday we'll share an article from the American Rifleman archives. In this week's article, originally posted here in Sept. 2010 and now seemingly more timely than ever, we look at why the most popular round in the world is more difficult to manufacture than most realize.

Four years ago, the notion that .22 rimfire ammo would soon be harder to find than hen's teeth would have been deemed ludicrous. After all, in this "Throwback Thursday" from 2010 in which former NRA Publications Technical Editor Michael Bussard sheds light on the .22 rimfire manufacturing process, he begins his second sentence with, "Their ubiquitous availability...." OK, weak psychic abilities notwithstanding, Bussard details the incredible amount of work it actually takes to produce each little round. It doesn’t enlighten us with new answers to "Where's the Ammo?" but it gives us a better appreciation of the fact that this round exists at all. 9/10/2010

In the subconscious mind of most shooters, the .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle rimfire cartridges form part of the bedrock of shooting sports. Their ubiquitous availability, affordable price, consistent quality and wide product range are taken for granted. Few shooters stop to consider the many difficulties inherent in the design and manufacture of these cartridges.

If you set out to design a self-contained cartridge that is difficult to make and suffers from numerous design shortcomings, it would be the humble .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle (.22 rimfire).

Design Shortcomings On a good day, the ignition potential of the .22 rimfire priming system is weak. Because there is no anvil, the lead styphnate rimfire priming compound requires the addition of ground glass as a frictioning agent. Ground glass is not "bore friendly," but without it, .22 rimfire priming will not function. And, to date, no lead-free priming compounds suitable for .22 rimfire have been found.

Ignition begins on the side of the case where the rim is crushed by the firing pin; there is no flash hole to focus the ignition gasses into the center of the powder charge. Failure to press the priming compound reliably and evenly inside the annular rim cavity can lead to misfires and high variations in muzzle velocity.

It is important to remember that the .22 Short and Long Rifle cartridges were originally designed for and loaded with easily ignited black powder. However, smokeless propellants have dramatically different ignition requirements and burning characteristics. Propellant makers soon found that the .22 rimfire design was not friendly to early smokeless propellants. They struggled for decades to find suitable smokeless propellants and the search continues to this day.

Essentially, the .22 rimfire requires unique smokeless propellants with a high energy content that are easily ignited and burn progressively. Limited case capacity dictates a dense powder with a small flake or ball configuration. Propellants with large flakes, sticks or coarse grains cannot be used as they will not drop uniformly through the holes in .22 rimfire plate-loading machines.

To facilitate ignition, .22 rimfire bullets must be heavily crimped into the case mouth to increase shot-start forces. Of necessity, this deforms the bullet. However, even on a good day, only about half of the propellant in a .22 rimfire cartridge burns completely.

The weak case head is the Achilles heel of the .22 rimfire cartridge. For this reason, Maximum Average Pressures (MAP) of .22 rimfire ammunition must be kept below 24,000 psi. Rimfire cases must have enough spring-back to assure consistent extraction in blowback-operated semi-automatic guns, yet remain soft enough to prevent splitting. This is a narrow margin that also eliminates steel as a .22 rimfire cartridge case material. Design parameters require all rimfire cartridge cases to be rimmed. Necked rimfire cases require several additional production steps which adds considerably to their cost. Rimfire cartridge cases cannot be reloaded.

All .22 rimfire bullets tread a fine line between function and accuracy. The bearing surface of .22 rimfire bullets is the same diameter as the outside surface of the cartridge case. This makes lubrication of such bullets difficult as the case-diameter bullets must be lubricated on the outside where it may be wiped off or contaminated. Lubricants for lead, center-fire bullets are unsuitable for rimfire ammunition, and, unfortunately, copper-plating serves no ballistic purpose, does not eliminate the need for lubrication, adds cost and damages the bullets.

Case-diameter bullets also limit bullet shape, weight, balance and bearing surface. Another significant problem is that .22 rimfire bullets have an undersized, cupped base that the propellant gases must expand reliably and evenly into the rifling grooves for proper sealing and stabilization.

Headaches of .22 Rimfire Production Centrifugal force is used to push the priming compound into the hollow rim of the cartridge case. This is accomplished by dropping a wet pellet of priming compound into the bottom of the cartridge case, inserting a closely fitting steel pin, then using the pin to spin the case at speeds of approximately 10,000 rpm for a few seconds. This is a tenuous process at best and frequently fails to completely fill the rim with priming compound.

Preparing the small, wet primer pellet and inserting it in the cartridge case is hazardous hand work—part art and part training. The moisture content of the priming compound must be carefully controlled within narrow limits, otherwise the mixture will not work at all. The ground glass in the priming compound increases wear on the steel spinner pins and excessive smearing of the priming compound up the case sidewalls (a common problem) can adversely affect ignition and interior ballistics.

Ammunition makers also struggle continuously to find suitable rimfire powders. The ideal .22 rimfire propellant must be competitively priced and compatible with plate-loading systems. It must have a high energy content, ignite easily and burn progressively while leaving a minimum of unburned propellant. Very few propellant powders meet these requirements.

Due to the weak ignition, powder residue from partially burned and unburned powder are constant problems—just ask any indoor shooting-range operator. The high ballistic performance required by many modern .22 Long Rifle loads places severe interior ballistic requirements on propellants. On the other hand, low MAPs can cause uneven expansion of the lips of the cup on the bullet's base and poor accuracy. In some instances, high MAPs can blow the lips of the cup base completely out.

In order to obtain the high muzzle velocities advertised for many .22 Long Rifle loads, MAP limits must be pushed to levels that leave little margin for error given the weak case head. Also, the proper case hardness gradient must be maintained to prevent extraction and/or ejection problems in spite of variations in brass strip and tooling.

Rimfire .22 ammunition makers fight a constant battle with bullet lubrication. It is ironic that such a cheap cartridge requires highly specialized, micro-crystalline, synthetic-base waxes for lubrication and costly systems for application. Often, what works today does not work tomorrow due to minor variations in temperature, humidity, bullet hardness, propellant variations, etc.

Bullet hardness (antimony content) can be a particularly difficult problem as small variations can result in lead buildup of rifle bores and inaccuracy. Rough handling of .22 rimfire bullets on the factory floor can easily have an adverse effect on accuracy.

Crimping the .22 L.R. bullet into the case mouth properly remains a constant problem. Too heavy a crimp may push MAPs over the limit, adversely affect accuracy and cause leading. Too light a crimp may result in erratic breech pressures, high variations in muzzle velocity, excess unburned propellant and malfunctions in semi-automatic firearms. As if this were not enough, the driving knives on the crimping operation mangle the bullet.

Overview of the Impossible We have seen that the inherent characteristics of the .22 LR rimfire cartridge are its own worst enemy and the leading cause of its manufacturing difficulties. However, before we condemn its design, we must remember that the .22 LR rimfire cartridge is a product of the technology and art of the 19th century. With the benefit of today's technology, ammunition makers produce safe, reliable, low cost .22 LR cartridges of average quality in mind-numbing quantities. However, they cannot produce a match load on demand. That is the art.

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78 Responses to Throwback Thursday: The Impossible .22 Rimfire

Ryan wrote:
November 26, 2014

all ammo is nuts to find or get an these hoarders of it r gonna b like oh great what do i do with all this

Walt Perry wrote:
November 21, 2014

I have been trying for some months to buy just ONE brick of .22LR for my Ruger pistol. Here in my area there are some 'people' who clean the shelves every morning of any .22 rounds. They claim they are buying the ammo for the High school shooting team. However I cant locate ANY school within a 100 miles that would even dare to have a shooting club because of PC from the left. The shortage is caused by hoarders and the regime in the WH !

rv6boxer wrote:
November 15, 2014

The CMP has 35 million rounds of .22LR on back order! That's one retailer! For decades ammo sales have been remarkably stable. Not so since the 'Big O' took office. There are tens of millions of new gun owners, all of them buy as much ammo as they can afford. At even a few boxes each, that's in incredible amount of stock. In addition, us old timers buy a little more than we might in 'good times'. This has put the ammo supply chain in turmoil. Who wants to expand their business when the stroke of a politicians pen, or the EPA can shut you down overnight? I like cheap ammo as much as the next guy but I believe high prices have kept ammo on the shelves and limited hoarding. Ya, it's been really expensive at times but if you needed it, you could buy it. If prices hadn't gone up, the shelves would have been empty for a lot longer. Everyone wants goods and services dirt cheap, unless it's theirs they are selling. Suddenly, there's no moral dilemma when the cash flows your way. They call it a free market for a reason. You're free to buy or move on. No one is forcing you and you don't have a right to their work.

Dell Orttogbil wrote:
October 28, 2014

Blaming consumers is comical. When places like WM hoard 22LR for Black Friday sales. Watch your circulars if you don't believe it.

fredb58 wrote:
October 27, 2014

Joe - I'm happy for you - but the rest of us are talking about 22 ammunition.

s weller wrote:
October 22, 2014

The attraction of the 22 LR is that it fun to shoot and inexpensive. The shortage is almost two years old and serious manufacturers are going to have to decide whether to expand facilities. Remington is in an interesting situation because they sell ammo and make 22 firearms. Makes me wonder how gun shops can sell the guns now--without ammo.

Nathanael M. Barnett wrote:
October 17, 2014

At 65 I cannot conceive 22s at 20 cents apiece. When I came up a box cost on sale 50cents .Shells were not to be wasted. I was grown before I could buy a carton. Twelve to fifteen dollars could be excessive, but a carton went a long way. Now I hear twenty cents a piece I'm glad I hoarded. If a decision was made to sell my friends a carton I would not decide to make 300 to 500 percent! Enough is enough. No way do I believe there is shortage of 22 Rimfire. I've seen gouging and this is nothing but. Just remember when you are retired it don't come as easy as it used to and right is right and some time MISTER JUSTBUSINESS MAN yours is coming!

John Bull wrote:
October 16, 2014

BTW, the one company that is investing in new equipment is Aguila!!! And they are in Mexico!!!! Mexican business men see this opportunity and blind arse American company's just get greedier. HILARIOUS

John Bull wrote:
October 16, 2014

I hope that AMrileman crew over there don't for one second think all of us rimfire fans are buying this! It's actually pretty funny.

R Crotwell wrote:
October 13, 2014

I agree with the older shooter comments such as the one by John Bull. I started on a R.O.T.C. high school rifle team and have participated in numerous outdoor competitions such as Camp Perry Ohio National Matches. Never heard such manufacture problems before. Reads like much BS to me.

joe wrote:
October 08, 2014

Im getting all I want now.

Criss Morgan wrote:
October 03, 2014

Hey Gyrfalcon, If rimfire bullets don't still use ground glass as a spark producer in the priming mixture, then what is the gritty stuff that I found in some CCI rimfire brass that I dumped into water in an effort to stop any possibility of primer detonation? I agitated the brass and water in order to remove as much of the priming mixture as possible and after letting the water settle out, there was a noticeable layer of some gritty substance that was very small in diameter. My curiosity led me to investigate further and it was my strong impression that it was either ground glass or very fine clear quartz sand. The water was also discolored to a yellowish color. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Criss Morgan wrote:
October 03, 2014

One or two other factors that may make the manufacture of 22 caliber rimfire bullets much more difficult. Aren't most, or all of the bullets used in making the cartridge of the 'Heeled' type made of soft lead tht is swaged into shape as versus being cast? Having had the distinctly unpleasant challenge of reloading heeled 41 caliber bullets, I can attest to how difficult it was. Every bullet I have ever pulled from a 22 rimfire cartridge has been heeled, and it must take some very specialized machinery to both make and load the 22 rimfire. My heart goes out to the companies which make them.

Criss Morgan wrote:
October 03, 2014

One or two other factors that may make the manufacture of 22 caliber rimfire bullets much more difficult. Aren't most, or all of the bullets used in making the cartridge of the 'Heeled' type made of soft lead tht is swaged into shape as versus being cast? Having had the distinctly unpleasant challenge of reloading heeled 41 caliber bullets, I can attest to how difficult it was. Every bullet I have ever pulled from a 22 rimfire cartridge has been heeled, and it must take some very specialized machinery to both make and load the 22 rimfire. My heart goes out to the companies which make them.

John Bull wrote:
October 01, 2014

I stopped reading after the first paragraph. All I see are excuses. I'm 50 yrs old and started shooting a the age of 10. What your trying to tell me is its a really hard process to make a rimfire all of a sudden after 38 yrs of shooting rimfires I CALL BS !!!!!!! I know this won't get posted because my last post didn't make it. KEEP ON FEEDING YOUR CR TO THE PUBLIC.

Syd Atherton wrote:
October 01, 2014

I know two wholsalers who can not get .22 ammo at all. So if people are hoarding as claimed, how come the whole saler can,t get ammo.

Karl Olschesky wrote:
September 28, 2014

I'm now able to buy .22 ammo with little problems. There is a lot of ammo for sale on too. People are also contributing to the shortage by trying to profiteer on the shortage. Great article, I had no idea of the complex process involved.

Jim Grubb wrote:
September 28, 2014

With the increased price of.22 ammo.I can reload my .45acp as cheaply with my own brass as I can buy .22. Great time to be a reloaded.

d paplow wrote:
September 26, 2014

love shooting 22 ,, either long rifle or magnum ,, they are truly awhsome cartridge's. thank the boy at federal and cci and all the other manufactures for all the hard work that they do to give us the ammo we need to protect our 2nd ammendment rights and with that said makes all the others possible,, god bless everyone here also : )

JohnR wrote:
September 26, 2014

Beef, paper, oil, on and on. Why shouldn't 22 makers fall into the same greed pattern as other industries.

michael hartman wrote:
September 25, 2014

IT has come to a simple but hard solution IF every true harted shooter went on strike and not buy any ammo for three months do you think the mfg companys would come up with the missing supply of 22lr ammo I think so

Stan Edwards wrote:
September 25, 2014

I have yet to see a reasonable explanation of the 22 shortage. Walmart does not get near the supply of 22s that they once got.

Stephen Benavides wrote:
September 25, 2014

There is 22 available, it is just expensive. You can buy a case online for about .10 a round. I just did and UPS brought it right to my door for $525. CCI will cost you .20 a round. So many people shoot .22 that supply, demand and hoarding will never let the price back to 2007 days. Learn to live with the new reality.

PHIL wrote:
September 25, 2014


Jeff Harvey wrote:
September 25, 2014

I think this BS. Manufactures have been making these round too long and they are in much demand by folks wanting to shoot their 22 caliber hand guns and rifles regardless of the shortcomings. If they would address the demand, which they are not, there would not be hoarding and guys hanging around for the shipment to come in. I believe there have been other factors at work.

kirk robb wrote:
September 24, 2014

it amazes me how easy it is to find 17 rimfire but so hard to find .22 come on guys it ain't rocket science if you can make one the other should be just as fast to produce

Jeffrey Lantz wrote:
September 23, 2014

Greed is in fact the reason behind the lack of availability. Make no mistakes there. If manufacturers find it harder to make a profit then they need to cut back on upper crust salaries first. On a side note, far and away my favorite .22 ammo is Remington Thunderbolt. They shoot very well in my handguns and are more accurate than Gold Dot and green tag.

Charlie Johnson wrote:
September 23, 2014

I find it odd that AR would re-hash a more than 4 year old article instead of updating the story from American Rifleman's January 2014 on why there is an ongoing shortage in some areas and not others. I recently did obtain some 22 LR but at $4.99/box of 50, limit 10 boxes per customer per day per store management. This same ammo was seen at a Gun Show in March, in the same town, $15.00/Box of 50. CCI 40 grain. At the local farm and ranch store that sells guns and ammo, ZERO 22 LR, unless you pay $39.99 for 100 Rds of CCI with Rubber Reactive Target. Any boxes of ammo that made it on the shelf, get bought out, even with limits, by one or two people who go sell it at gun shows at 500[%] markup. That is where the available 22LR goes, to people hoarding it or trying to rip off others re-selling it.

J Wilson wrote:
September 15, 2014

It seems to me that IF an ammo company was ever going to invest in extra .22 production capacity, what better time could there possibly be than RIGHT NOW ? And I have put any and all plans to buy any .22 AR rifle on hold until things right themselves, it's not worth the aggravation, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling.

Bird Dog wrote:
September 11, 2014

Really! So what? I agree with the other comments. The ammo manufacturers did not anticipate the increased market demand with the AR 22's prior to 2009. They are afraid to invest in new manufacturing. It has been several years now and demand is still outpacing supply and it is cheaper to reload and shoot center fire ammo. If the NSSF, NRA, and the manufactures don't fess up and solve the problem, our hunting, shooting sports, and personal protection markets will dry up. The 22 ammo is the catalyst that keeps our young shooters and the future of out 2nd Amendment alive.

bbqncigars wrote:
September 06, 2014

After reading this, I'm astounded that manufacturers were making money around 6 cents/round.

smoke wrote:
August 30, 2014

Good article on the 'science' of manufacturing 22 rimfire. And it sure has me content that I've ONLY spent my rimfire ca$h on Ruger SP101 REVOLVER & Henry H001 LEVER rifle Quality firearms ( both giving me SOME degree of ammo capacity as well ).......NO semi-auto rimfires for ME. And I combine that with ONLY Quality CCI type rimfire ammo. For ME, these choices give me the highest [%] of rimfire RELIABILITY - & I have not been let down.

doug wrote:
August 27, 2014

There is a gun store in my state where they have lots of .22's but they are expensive.

shootbrownelk wrote:
August 27, 2014

I'm sure that technology has come leaps & bounds in .22 rimfire ammo manufacturing, just like everything else. Anybody that believes the hogwash the manufacturers are putting out there is drinking the Kool-Aid. It's all about a contrived shortage to jack-up the price, as previously mentioned, just like all the contrived gas shortages of the 70's and it's still going on.

Rocklocker wrote:
August 27, 2014

What, all of a sudden loading .22 ammo is difficult. This is just more excuse making for the manufacturers. Remember the gas shortage back in the '70's? Not a drop of gas to be had until the price got jacked up, then there was no problem. I don't believe the shortage is caused by hoarders, secret government plots or anything but corporate greed. These companies are not your friend. They are all run by money makers who only understand higher and higher profits and they probably not even into the shooting sports.

petru sova wrote:
August 26, 2014

Cutting through all the bull the real reason we have no rimfire ammo is that the manufactures are so cheap and greedy they refused to work their people overtime because they would have to pay overtime wages and they were too cheap to buy more machinery or even higher more workers. They already have admitted so in off the cuff remarks made since the shortage began.

Steve wrote:
August 26, 2014

'No matter how cynical you get, its hard to keep up' Lilly Tomlin. Who cares how hard they are to make. It doesn't solve or mitigate the shortage issue. If American manufacturing can't figure it out the production will go overseas. What a bunch of whiners. The demand is there. Where are the innovative suppliers?

Brad wrote:
August 26, 2014

I do not pretend I have the knowledge to argue with or agree with the claims in this article, I surely do not. However, if the .22 is so darn hard to mfg. it should've been history along with black powder and the flintlock action. You cannot convice me that manufacturing techniques can't be or have not been found to ease or at least improve the mfg. of rimfire ammo.

gyrfalcon wrote:
August 24, 2014

I stopped reading the article when it said: 'lead styphnate rimfire priming compound requires the addition of ground glass as a frictioning agent' That may have been true 50 years ago but it's bull**** today.

New River Valley Outdoorsman wrote:
August 24, 2014

I'm not sure if it's still in print, but NRA Publications once printed a book entitled 'Ammunition Making,' by George Frost. A very, very detailed account of the manufacture of ammunition and all its components; Those who are surprised at how complicated it is to make .22 LR (or any rimfire round) should get hold of a copy and read the detailed procedures. That .22 LR can be produced as cheaply as it has been is pretty amazing, actually.

Kenneth Weigel wrote:
August 21, 2014

I did not know that .22 ammo was this hard to make. I have been buying and shooting .22 WMR for years, yet, it is more expensive, but not so expensive I cannot afford it. And it performs much better, especially in rifles. Is .22 WMR as difficult to make as standard .22???

Mike Cavanaugh wrote:
August 21, 2014

I've been shooting, instructing, and reloading a long time - and learned a bunch from this article. Thanks!

David wrote:
June 10, 2014

Im no expert in firearms or ammo, but by my experiance, I have had the best results with cci from my 10/22. I have come to see that most larger bulk ammo is of poor quality. I have had and seen countless misfires or broken rounds with the winchester and remmington bulk ammo. I have also seen .22 lr reloaded and used in pistols, primarly revolvers. Over all I did enjoy your artical, but I dont agree with all you said.

Jason M wrote:
March 14, 2014

Wow, great article. I'm amazed at the disparity of people that have and haven't had misfires out of the .22lr round. I've found that more often than not it has to do with the gun. Out o the several 10/22's I've shot, they don't seem to strike the case very hard and I get many more misfires out of those guns. Normally I'll hold onto those rounds and re-shoot them out of a bolt action, and normally they fire like they should. Of course I still get misfires even out of guns with heavy firing pin strikes, typically one or two out of every cheap bulk pack of Remingon, Federal, or Winchester. I can't ever recall a sincle CCI bullet that misfired though.

Firstliardoesnthaveachance wrote:
February 07, 2014

I started shooting 22 when I was 22 months old. I've shot billions of rounds and never had a FTE or FTF. From 22 yards out to a 1,000 yards it is consistent. Bullet groups? .001 to .0015, all my targets look the hole where all the rounds passed through. I won every competition the Milky Way galaxy, I've been banned so that's why you haven't heard of me. I will admit that here lately, I'm shooting .0025 groups last time I was shooting targets from NYC to LA, so it's time for me to dig up some more iron ore and cut down a tree for my next rifle.

Whyawannaknow wrote:
January 31, 2014

Steel doesn't work for .22RF cases? Don't tell the Russians, they would be sad after all the steel cased .22 they have been making and using over the last 40 years+.

Bruce Frank wrote:
January 28, 2014

I used to compete in rimfire rifle silhouette. My shooting buddy and I bought CCI Green tag by the case. We shot every match that was within reasonable driving distance(and many that weren't). In nearly10 years of two+ matches a month and 5 to 8 days of practice a month the two if us combined had 4 misfires (This was likely firing 50,000+ rounds fired). During that time we also bought many cases of CCI standard 22LR as on several occasions we found that certain lots of the Non-green tag ammo shot BETTER than the green tag. At times we went to the trouble to weight match quantities of the ammo and did find that consistent weight produced more accuracy in most lots of ammo. (Green tag were selected lots of regular ammo that were found to shoot with more consistent which enplanes why standard lots occasionally shot as well or better than the Green Tag) CCI Green tag was the most consistently accurate ammo in our Anschutz Silhouette rifles and we tried them all. Don't know how quality has devolved to produce the level of misfires some report here.

jb wrote:
November 01, 2013

I had a reload set for reloading 22 when I was young; it was tedious at best, and at less than a buck a box, not worth the hassle. Never expected amo to get this ridiculous. I now wish I never threw that junk out. However, to say they can't be reloaded: if man made it, man can break it, and man can fix it, no exceptions. Can't is not in my vocabulary, sorry to see it in yours.

Joe wrote:
September 23, 2013

I just had a Winchester .22lr cartridge separate the base (primer end) while firing. I hope it didn't damage my ARX. Sprayed my arm with hot ash too

Kirby wrote:
July 11, 2013

Wow. Talk about learning absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about .22 ammo! Good stuff. Very helpful!

good seo wrote:
May 25, 2013

HWINiN Major thanks for the post.Much thanks again. Keep writing.

good seo wrote:
May 25, 2013

WHQQYr I loved your blog article.Really thank you!

digital slr lenses wrote:
May 14, 2013

bH9Dym A round of applause for your post.Really thank you! Will read on...

Neil Mcculley wrote:
November 11, 2012

I find myself liking the 22 magnum is the perfect all around favorite. It seldom has probls. It cost a little more but pushes a stronger punch too it's target. Thanks for great reviews ,

Charles wrote:
September 01, 2012

If memory serves (and increasingly it doesn't) an early version of the Winchester Model 63 .22 rimfire semiauto rifle had a cartridge in .22LR length with the larger case and non-heeled bullet of the .22mag. I think Remington had a similar specialty cartridge. They could not compete...their higher price more than offset any technical advantages in the eyes of the buyer.

Greg Hodnett wrote:
March 17, 2012

I used to keep a record of misfires. I found some old pages. I noticed that most of my fail-to-fires came in the early months and years of shooting my current rimfire guns. I haven't had a single misfire in 4 years. I do not clean the bore very often, but I do clean the bolt and chamber areas often. Here is a synopsis of my misfires taken from old records. The prices listed are also old, of course. Remington H.V. $9.70 per brick: 3 misfires per brick. Win. H.V. $11.90 per brick: 1 misfire per brick Fed. H.V. $7.90 per brick: 4 misfires in 6 years (5,500 rounds). 0 misfires in the last 2,000 rounds. Eley Sport $28 per brick: 0 misfires in 4 years (3,000 rounds). CCI, various $35 per brick average: 0 misfires in 8 years (about 600 rounds). I use Eley Sport (1080 vel) most of the time for target work and close squirrels. I think this is very good function quality. I use Federal 510 H.V. for plinking and longer body shots on squirrels. My stash of each brand is less than 2,000 rounds. The next time I buy, I expect the price of Federal 510's will be over $20 per brick, and the Eley Sport will probably be $35 per brick.

Jon Edgar wrote:
December 13, 2011

Long ago, I read a pamphlet titled "I, pencil." by Leonard Read. He made a wonderful case for pencil being one of the greatest examples of the glory of modern capitalism. "No one man can make me," the pencil said. It was the result of a highly refined and specialized process. The .22LR is a similar prodigy. Solely by the virtue of its popularity and inexpensive quality, it has risen to a level of sophistication, unbelievably far beyond its more expensive, larger brothers. Thank you for your article. It is truly astonishing how much true genius goes into the lowest and greatest items in the firearms industry. Be mighty, Jon Edgar

Blackshirts wrote:
July 23, 2011

I actually haven't had a misfire in the last ~1500 rounds of Federal Lightning. Fed. Champions I get 2-3 a box, but upon reinsertion they have worked. As far as a larger cased .22 it's called a .223.

ntrudr_800 wrote:
May 21, 2011

Hey I was thinking. Why not improve the .22lr? How about a company update the .22lr with a case design that is larger than the bullet--similar to the .17hmr. But with the same velocity and characteristics as normal .22lr. We can call it ".22li" for ".22 Long Improved." The case could be made thick enough so it would not chamber in a .22lr. It may bring the cost down. Or at least be more consistent... It should NOT be more expensive than .22lr--it would replace the .22 lr. Again the characteristics of it's ballistics would be the same as the .22lr. It would just be of better design and possibly easier to make. wrote:
May 21, 2011

Wow. I read a little article that CCI had helped another magazine write. After some thought I realized that .22lr rounds must not be so easy to create. I often ponder how in all the universe is it so inexpensive--and now I will even more so. I did not realize that *ALL* .22lr bullets were the same size as their case. I hade noticed the Federal Bulk that I have was this way, and thought it was strange. Now I realize the improvement of the .22mag and the .17hmr. I can not get over how beautiful a cartridge the .17hmr is--it looks fantastic. I have been eying some .22lr's lately. Maybe I will, again, consider the .17hmr.

Glocktogo wrote:
November 24, 2010

I call BS on the folks who say they've never had a misfire with .22LR ammo. If you shoot more than a brick of the stuff you've had misfires. A friend and I were out recently with an assortment of bulk pack, subsonic and target ammo, trying to sight in a .22 rifle at 50 yards. It was nearly impossible to do with the huge ammo variances from three different major brand manufacturers. We had several failures to fire in each type of ammo as well. One subsonic load was so erratic that it would occasionally blow debris back in our faces and the sound signature variations from round to round were significant. I could literally see substantial velocity variations at 12X through the high quality glass on the rifle. Some bullets looked like they were going to fall out of the air before they reached the target, only to strike several inches below the rest. I've chronographed some lots of .22LR that had over 200fps extreme spread within a 10 round string. .22LR is one of the funnest and simultaneously frustrating rounds in existence.

jla wrote:
November 03, 2010

TO answer a few of the previous comments about whether the .22WMR & the .17HMR/.17M2 have the same problems as the .22LR, the answer is some, but not all. They still have the problems that come from the design of the case and the rimfire priming system. They do not however suffer from the bullet & lube problems that come from using and outside lubricated bullets as they use a more modern design that does away with the primitive, outside lubricated, heal-type bullet design in favor of conventional jacketed bullets. (This is why the .22WMR's case is larger in diameter than the .22LR's case. The major diameter of the bullet is seated inside the case on the .22WMR and the .17 caliber rimfires in the same way as is done on modern center-fire ammunition.) I've been shooting rimfire rifles and handguns for most of my life, and I've had my share of misfires in that time. Last time I went to the range with a rimfire rifle -- a brand new S&W M&P15-22 -- was the first time I've ever had a rimfire case actually blow out on me though. The rim let go and it blew the extractor clean off the bolt. Fortunately I was able to find all the parts, which were undamaged, and get it put back together.

Berne wrote:
October 06, 2010

I dont know who you folks are or what brand of ammo ya'll are using, but *all* 22 ammo has misfires at some point or another. As a lifelong shooter of the rimfire calibers (.22 s,l,lr, wrm & hmr) i've found that all brands of bullets (and i've been through many many many flavors) they're going to misfire at SOME point. Some brands are worse than others - you get what you pay for, but i'll NEVER give up my rimfires.

Rick wrote:
October 02, 2010

I am an instructor and work with Civil Air Patrol cadets. We use Remington ammo from the CMP. We use many different types and brands of rifles, including CMP trainers and Ruger 10/22s. We have many dozen misfires across all the rifles in 6 hours of shooting. There are primer strikes on these rounds. The instructors have taken to putting a handful of rounds in their pockets to replace rounds for them as they work on their course of fire. On the plus side, I can teach cadets how to clear misfires . . .

STAN wrote:
September 30, 2010

Nothing was said about the WMR. what about the 22 magnum round ?

Annie Choakley wrote:
September 26, 2010

I wonder why CCI Standard can't come with a little less lube on it. It's so much lube it eventually shuts off the gun.

MIke Peach wrote:
September 24, 2010

It's amazing that some have fired thousands of rounds with no problems. I help teach a CCW class and every rimfire we see fails at least once during 50 rounds. That includes what we would normally tink of as reliable guns. Even so, I enjoy the rimfires and shoot them often.

bruggem wrote:
September 23, 2010

why is there no double stack mazines in 20 or 25 rounds for 22 lr pistols for hunting

Gary Frey wrote:
September 20, 2010

Unbelievable that I have been using .22s for 50 years with no misfires ever. I have shot competively too (300 rds per day) As a manufacturing engineer I see a simple, easy to manufacture design with tolerances that are easy to achieve. After reading your article I fired my T- bolt several times then ran a cleaning patch through it to examine for glass in the residue. Even under 20X magnification I could not see any. Are you sure it is used???

jim hutchinson wrote:
September 16, 2010

I own a number of .22 firearms. I have found over the past 55 years that the one constant is that every gun is most accurate with it's own brand of ammo. I have a Win 52-b rifle that shoots a one-hole group with copper plated 37 gr. hollow-point ammo!( foreign made)Hundreds of squirrels have fallen to head shots with this rig.

J Simcoe wrote:
September 14, 2010

I've shot literally hundreds of thousands of .22 rounds in my life time and cannot recall ever having a misfire or issue with it. I've found old rounds laying in the desert and put them in my trusty old SA and they fired just fine. This article makes it seem like it's a miracle they work at all but it's probably the most reliable round out there.

Errett L "Reb" Allen wrote:
September 14, 2010

I wish to add, that when I first got my HDM, I bought one box of every different frand of ammo I could find. I then proceeded to fire five rounds each from the bench at a 25 yard target. After each group, I placed the target on top of a blank sheet of paper, and carefully drew the outline of each bullet hole. Then I labeled each group with the Date, Time, and brand of ammo. The Remington Hi Vel HP's produced the tightest group. That is why I have ever since used nothig but that brand of ammo. I enjoyed reading all the other comments. Thanks again.

Doug Eakins wrote:
September 14, 2010

I always wondered why some early .22LR match ammo was loaded with Lesmoke (half black-half smokless) powder. It was for more consistant ignition, thus greater accuracy with powders of that time. The ground glass in the priming compound is evidetly not a serious problem with bore wear, as most .22LR barrels are damaged by cleaning rather than shooting.

Ron Willis wrote:
September 14, 2010

Wow! After reading your article, it is amazing that .22's work at all. My unscientific research tells me that you get what you pay for. I've found one brand that performs flawlessly in both of my .22 LR semi-autos, but is a bit more expensive. With the cheaper .22 ammo, you get poor performance. It would be interesting to know if the same problems exist with .22 magnum and .17 hmr ammo manufacturing.

Mark Anderson wrote:
September 14, 2010

I, too, have a High Standard target pistol, a first issue Supermatic with barrel weights, as well as one of the lesser known 6" barreled, nine-shot revolver, aptly named "The Sentinal". Many other .22s have come and gone from my gun collection over the years, but the humble .22 cartridge has always served me well, and in 50+ years of shooting them, using various brands, I've never had the experience of a misfire! The difficulty in production makes me appreciate their success in making reliable ammo even more! Thanks so much for this very educational article. Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Mark

Bill Kauffman wrote:
September 13, 2010

Even if the lowly .22 rimfire does not have super minute of angle accracy and all. It is one of the best calibers to learn trigger control, safe gun skills and just plain fun in the sun, so to speak. On top of that it is cheap to shoot.

Thomas Lewis wrote:
September 13, 2010

You make no mention of the .22 Magnum. I have used a Marlin hammerless lever action .22 Magnum since I was very young and although most people don't know they exist, the .22 Magnum is alive and well with much better performance than that of a .22 LR.

Errett L Allen NRA & CRPA Life Member wrote:
September 11, 2010

It is amazing that given the above, I have found the 22 LR to be extremely accurate in my Hi Standard HDM Pistol for well over 50 years. After many thousands of rounds, using nothing but Remington Hi Velocity Hollow Point Ammo, both pistol and ammo continue to be very accurate and reliable. I have so far found only one misfire. That was caused by one cartridge which had no priming compound in the rim of the case. I have shot thousands of jack rabbits, ground squirrels and several rattle snakes the vast majority with one shot. After many years of use, I finally had Micro Sight replace the factory sight with the last one they had for the HDM. This is the only alteration I have ever made. It still functions flawlessly. Many years ago the story of my HDM was published in The Fireing Line. Thank you for the opportunity to write this comment. Errett L "Reb" Allen