We all have rites of passage throughout our lives. We remember the first time we tied our shoes, the first time we drove a car, and any graduation ceremonies we went through. They stay with us and we can pick out little details that we never thought we’d recall years later.
The .22 rifle is one of the first guns you can ever learn to shoot. It’s a simple setup, and the full feel of the rifle tells you what the act of holding a gun is like. If you want to know more about the .22 rifle, this is the place to find out.
When Did the .22 Rifle First Appear?
In 1887, J. Steven Arms & Tool Company first introduced the .22 rifle round. The origin of this kind of ammo can be traced back to the .22 Smith and Wesson cartridge, which debuted in 1857. Along with the .22 rifle, this kind of ammo can be loaded into a variety of pistols.
The .22 rifle is capable of handling heeled bullets. When used, you will notice the bullets contain the same diameter as the case. It narrows the heel portion of the bullet, allowing it to fit more snugly into its casing. The simple setup of the .22 rifle has helped it retain popularity for over a century and a half.
How is the .22 Rifle Still So Popular?
As with many different weapons, how a .22 rifle performs is going to depend on a few factors. If you’re operating a bolt-action rifle, you’re going to feel a noticeable change in how you handle the weapon. A .22 rifle is capable of firing up to approximately 150 yards away, making this perfectly suitable for home defense. Any longer than this distance and you’re looking at a drop in performance.
Once the bullet shot out of a .22 rifle begins to slow, the shockwave from the initial shot will disrupt the path of the bullet and remove it from your intended target. This won’t be too big of a deal for keeping it in your home but remember this is you plan on competitive shooting with a .22 rifle.
The .22 rifle can be used for smaller game if you plan to take it with you during a hunt. We think you’ll be fine if you take it for something like a coyote. After that, you should go with something larger. Even though this weapon can take down larger animals, that doesn’t mean the kill will be clean. Without the proper power, you’re not guaranteed to completely take out your intended target.
In terms of self-defense, you’ll need to consider a few facts if you intend to use the .22 rifle. While you’re fine with taking down some of the smaller wildlife you’ll encounter, you might be surprised at how powerful the .22 rifle is against humans. A .22 rifle has been used in several deadly incidents throughout U.S. history. Robert Kennedy was assassinated with this weapon, and it was also used during the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life.
Be careful of ricochets when using a .22 rifle with the correct ammunition. Inside the home, you want to be sure your target is directly in front of you. Because of the unjacketed lead, it allows for more potential to project in a different direction. Given the right angle, a round fired out of a .22 rifle could skip right off the surface of water. If you fire at a pond, there’s a chance you might hit something completely unintended on the other side of the body of water.
What Kind of Ammo Can I Use with a .22 Rifle?
Typically, you will find four different kinds of ammo to use with a modern-issue .22 rifle. Take a look at your choices below to see which one suits you the best.
Different manufacturers will define what they think to be “standard velocity” ammo for a .22 rifle. In some cases, you might find “standard” to be just slightly supersonic, which clocks in at 1,125 feet per second. Most of the time, standard velocity ammo for a .22 rifle weighs 2.6 grams.
Standard velocity ammo usually won’t generate supersonic velocity inside a handgun. Unlike the .22 rifle, the shorter barrels don’t fully utilize the slower burning powder found in this kind of ammo.
Back when it was first invented, you could find black powder loaded into a .22 long rifle round. When smokeless powder loads were created, the idea was to match the standard velocity found in the previously popular black powder rounds. The use of smokeless powder gave each piece of ammo more of a punch. The cartridge casings held more power, hence the term “high velocity.”
Bigger ammo manufacturers offered these with a velocity increase of about 8%, translating to 1,200 to 1,300 feet per second. They pulled this off while sticking with 40-gr or 36-gr lead bullets.
You’ll also find a .22 rifle that uses bullets that are lighter than your typical 40-gr weight. This lets you fire at velocities higher than anything previously seen in this kind of gun. With a hyper velocity bullet, you’re looking at up to 1,800 feet per second. For longer-range targets, hyper velocity bullets are your answer to the question “How can I make the .22 rifle work for me?”
The first of its kind was the CCI Stinger, which was incredibly innovative at the time of conception. Thanks to the hollow point bullet casing, it proved to be lighter and shorter than anything else on the market. The powder used inside the Stinger increased the velocity, resulting in the longest .22 barrel length available, measuring at 26 inches.
Today, the CCI Velocitor uses a typical long rifle case size. It bears the standard 40gr weight to eliminate the potential for trauma or expansion.
Subsonic round carries the lowest velocity on this list, measuring 1,080 feet per second. They’re the only bullets that travel below the speed of sound, thanks to the heavier weight you will find on this type of ammo (46- to 61-gr). Although the distance traveled is reduced, a lot of shooters prefer this due to the gains inaccuracy. You might not be able to sight things from quite as big of a distance, but nailing your shot is much more probable.
There are two performance classes of .22 rifle subsonic rounds. Several of the subsonic rounds you’ll use give you around 700 feet per second of velocity, which barely expends any gunpowder. Stick to these kinds of rounds if you intend on keeping the rifle indoors. There is also the Aguila SSS, which improves the velocity to 950 feet per second.
Should I Use a .22 Rifle for Home Defense?
Even though it has been on the market for a long time, the .22 rifle is a proven weapon in home defense. The stopping power has been demonstrated in the field as well as on the range. Sure, you can find smaller handguns and more powerful rifles on the market, but if you simply want to protect yourself, why go overboard with spending money?
Pay close attention to your state’s gun ownership laws when considering a purchase. As long as you know what you’re looking for, you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up a .22 rifle for personal protection. It’s one of the most tried and true weapons for keeping you and your family safe.