What’s the Difference Between 22 Short, 22 Long, 22LR and 22WMR?

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Video 22 short vs 22lr
Specifications22 Short22 Long22 Long Rifle (.22LR)22 WMR (.22 Mag)
Reference: SAAMI/ANZI

Overview of the Above Diagram

The 22 WMR is in a league of its own. Note how all of the specifications of this cartridge differ compared to 22 short, 22 long and 22 long rifle, apart from similarities in bullet grain and rifling twist.

The 22 short, 22 long and 22 long rifle have identical specifications for rim diameter, rim thickness, base diameter and neck diameter.

Things start to change with bullet diameter, with the 22 long rifle being marginally larger than the 22 short and 22 long.

Note how the case length of the 22 long and 22 long rifle is identical, with the 22 short case being obviously shorter than the others.

The overall length of all the cartridges is different, which is important to note if you are trying to shoot a 22 short round in a 22lr rifle, particularly semi auto, which I will go into more detail later.

Also note how the rifling twist rate is identical for 22 long, 22 long rifle and 22 WMR at a rate of 1:16, whereas the 22 short is out on its own with a twist rate of 1:20 or 1:24.

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Top .22LR Ammo

History of Each .22 Cartridge

.22 Short

The 22 short was the first original 22 rimfire metallic cartridge in America and was developed in 1857 for the first-ever Smith & Wesson Revolver. In 1871, the development of the 22 long saw the original 22 rimfire cartridge renamed to the 22 short. The original bullet grain was 29g.

>>> GET SOME 22 SHORT AMMO HERE

The round was developed for self-defense but is mainly used as a quiet round for recreational shooting and was used in shooting galleries, fairs, and arcades.

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There have been many 22 rifles chambered for the 22 short but only a few modern rifles will chamber the short such as Henry Repeating Arms and Marlin Firearms Co.

.22 Long

The second oldest 22 rimfire cartridge, the 22 long was developed in 1871 and also had a 29-grain bullet but had 25% more black powder than the 22 short. It was originally designed for revolvers but was soon in use with rifles and became a popular and reliable small game cartridge.

In 1887, the case of the 22 long was combined with a 40-grain bullet to produce the 22 long rifle which produced superior hunting and target shooting characteristics which rendered the 22 long obsolete.

.22 Long Rifle (.22LR)

The most famous and popular of all the rimfire cartridges, the 22 long rifle was developed in 1887 by the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company of America.

Its low cost, low noise, and minimal recoil made this cartridge popular for hunting and recreation shooting. You can shoot these targets all day long with a 22LR. It is one of the cheapest ammunition available and is commonly sold in packs of 50, 100, 500, and 5000.

Bullet weights range from 20g to 60g and velocities range from 575 to 1750 feet per second.

>>>Related: How to Improve Accuracy With a .22 Rifle | 17 Tips Explained

.22 WMR (.22MAG)

The 22WMR stands for ‘Winchester Magnum Rimfire’ which was introduced by Winchester in 1959. It is sometimes referred to as 22 magnum or 22 mag for short. There is often confusion that there is a difference between 22WMR and 22 magnum. There is no difference, they are the same thing.

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>>>GET SOME 22MAG AMMO HERE

The bullet weight ranges from 30g to 50g with velocities ranging from 1530 to 2200 feet per second. The bullet is a lot more hard-hitting and accurate at longer ranges with a 40g WMR having 50% more kinetic energy at the muzzle compared to a 40g 22lr.

Can I Shoot a .22 Short or 22 Long in a .22LR Rifle?

Yes, technically you can but the rifle chambered in .22LR is specifically designed for .22LR. Here are a few things to consider when doing so.

The 22 short, 22 long, and 22 long rifle all have the same rim, base, and neck diameter on the case (this is known as a straight case). The bullets inserted into the case have a ‘heal’ on the base of them, which is inserted into the neck of the case. The rest of the bullet protruding from the neck is relatively the same diameter as the case for all three. The difference between the bullets is mainly in the weight (grain) with the 22 long rifle being heavier and longer compared to the 22 short and 22 long.

This means that you can technically fire a 22 short or long in a 22 long rifle, however, the 22 long rifle has been designed with a chamber specific for a 22lr cartridge.

As you chamber a 22lr cartridge into a 22lr rifle that has been designed for a 22lr cartridge, the bullet engages with the barrel rifling immediately. If you chamber a 22 short into a 22lr rifle that has been designed for a 22lr cartridge, the 22 short bullet will have to travel a short distance after being fired before engaging with the rifling, which will affect the accuracy of the bullet. If you regularly shoot 22 shorts in a rifle chambered for a 22lr over a long period of time, you may also ‘burn out’, or get pitting in the chamber excess, if you do not regularly clean the barrel.

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Another thing to consider is the rifling inside the barrel. Barrels designed for the 22 short have a 1:20 or 1:24 rate of twist for the lighter bullet. A barrel designed for the 22 long rifle has a 1:16 rate of twist for the longer and heavier bullets. This again will affect accuracy if you shoot a 22 short in a 22 long rifle barrel.

The 22 long and 22 long rifle has enough chamber pressure to cycle a semi-auto, whereas the 22 short will not reliably cycle a semi-auto and you will most likely have regular jamming.

Can I Shoot a 22WMR in a .22LR Rifle?

NO, The 22LR rifle is not correctly chambered for a 22WMR, it simply won’t fit. See the size difference in the table above. The 22WMR does not have a heal on the bullet like the short, long and LR. Instead, the bullet is the same diameter at the base of the bullet, which is then inserted into the neck of the casing. The casing of the 22WMR is therefore slightly wider than the bullet.

Can I Shoot a 22LR Rifle in a 22WMR?

Technically yes but it would be extremely dangerous to do so. The casing of the 22WMR is slightly larger than the casing of a 22lr. If you chamber and fire the 22lr in a 22WMR, the casing expands due to the excess space in the chamber, and the gun could explode in your face, so dont do it!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>