Rimfire cartridges were first introduced in 1845 with the Flobert .22 BB Cap, over the years rimfire cartridges expanded to include the most prolific firearm cartridge on the market today, the .22 Long Rifle.
The .22 Long Rifle (.22LR) was introduced in 1887, by the Stevens Arms Company. This cartridge has been used by countless shooters for everything from plinking to target shooting, vermin control and even self defense. The advantages of the .22 LR are its’ mild recoil and noise, along with good accuracy, low cost and availability.
The .22 long is a shorter version of the .22 LR that has a 29 grain bullet and is made by only a few manufacturers at this time. The .22 long was popular around the turn of the 20th century with many pistols and rifles chambered in it. The advantages are the same as the .22 LR with the exception of availability.
The .22 short is the shortest and oldest of the .22 rimfire cartridges. It was developed in 1857 for the first Smith and Wesson revolver, the .22 rimfire was the first American metallic cartridge. Originally designed for a black powder load of 4 grains over a 29 grain bullet, the .22 short was designed to be used in small pocket pistols as a discreet self defense weapon.
The .17 HMR is a popular new cartridge that was introduced in 2002 as a result of a collaboration between Hornady, Ruger and Marlin. They used a .22 magnum case and necked it down to accept a .172 bullet. The original cartridge used a bullet that weighed in at a mere 17 grains and a charge that gave it an average velocity of 2550 feet per second. Currently the .17 HMR can be found in 15 to 20 grain weight bullets that will travel in the 2300 fps or faster range. The most impressive aspect of the .17 HMR is the accuracy; it is not uncommon for sub one inch groups at one hundred yards to be fired with off the shelf .17 HMR rifles.
The .17 Hornady Mach 2, or .17 HM2, is a rimfire cartridge introduced in 2004 by the ammunition manufacturer Hornady. The .17 HM2 is formed by necking down .22 Long Rifle case, to .17 caliber and using a 17 grain bullet of 0.172” in diameter. This light weight allows for velocities of up to 2100 fps and an extremely flat shooting projectile that gives the cartridge and effective range of up to 175 yards for target shooting and small vermin.
The .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire was introduced in 1959 by Winchester; the .22 WMR is effective out to 125 yards on larger sized varmints such as fox or coyote. It fires a .22 caliber, 33 to 40 grain bullet at velocities in the 2000 fps range. In 2011, Hornady released the .22 WMR in their Critical Defense ammo this was in response to the increased demand for high end performance from ammunition in shorter barreled firearms.
The rimfire ammunition available today is the result of years of work and technology that have combined to create ammunition to please almost any shooter. From the casual plinker to the competitive shooter, rimfire ammo is an economical and fun way to spend your shooting time and money!