Notes For Novices No.1

The .22 Long Rifle Cartridge – By Anthony Mitchell

This article has been produced to familiarise new shooters with the cartridge most commonly encountered on their first shoot.

When we talk of shooting with a .22 calibre firearm, we usually mean one chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The .22 is available in Short, Long, and Magnum, but the Long Rifle is the most commonly encountered. It was released in the 1880s as a target and small game cartridge and was originally loaded with black powder. These are all rimfire cartridges.

The component parts of the cartridge are the bullet and the cartridge case.

The Bullet

The bullet is made of lead and is usually lubricated at the factory with wax or something similar. The shape may be a round nose, flat nose, or hollow point. Some bullets have a fine coating of copper. (These are copper washed, it does not make them copper-jacketed)

The weight of the bullet is usually measured in grains. This is an old Imperial unit of measurement. 40grains is approx. 2.5 grams.

The Cartridge Case

The cartridge case is usually made of brass and contains a charge of smokeless powder. The rim is hollow and contains a chemical compound called a primer. When the rim of the case is crushed by the firing pin, the primer ignites the powder charge, propelling the bullet down the barrel. The spent cartridge case is then ejected from the firearm and is of no further use. Rimfire cartridges cannot be reloaded.


The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is available in standard and high-velocity loadings.

Standard velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity of somewhere around 1100 feet per second. This means that the bullet leaves the muzzle at less than the speed of sound. (The speed of sound at sea level is approx. 1100 fps) Depending on the manufacturer, it may also be called sub-sonic. Target-grade ammunition is usually standard velocity.

High-velocity ammunition usually has a muzzle velocity of 1250 feet per second or thereabouts. Some cartridges (e.g. CCI Stinger) have a muzzle velocity of around 1600 feet per second. These are sometimes referred to as hypervelocity.


Modern ammunition is very accurate and reliable. .22 calibre firearms, however, have a reputation for being fussy as to ammunition type. What shoots well in one gun will not necessarily shoot well in another. The most expensive ammunition is not always the most accurate. Try a few different types to see what shoots the best in your particular firearm.


Don’t forget to read what’s on the box. Manufacturers put a lot of info there, so it would be a shame not to read it. Importantly, ensure that your firearm is chambered for the cartridge being used. The photo below shows that this particular pistol is chambered for a .22 Long Rifle.

Lead is toxic. Remember to wash your hands after shooting, and especially before eating (Do you want lead with that?).

Always remember eye and ear protection.

Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Despite the small size, a .22 bullet can travel up to 2 km.

Always ensure that ammunition is stored securely (this is a legal requirement anyway)

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot book now

Leave a ReplyCancel reply