22 WMR vs 22LR Ammo Comparison: Find Your Ideal .22 Caliber

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Video difference between.22lr and.22 short

A suppressor works to suppress the sound created from pressurized gases within the chamber, exiting the barrel through the muzzle to a sudden change in temperature and pressure.

Therefore, if you shoot a subsonic round through a firearm with no suppressor, you’re still going to hear a noise (sound from pressurized gas). In the same way, if you fire a supersonic round through a firearm with a suppressor, you’ll also hear a noise from the bullet breaking the sound barrier.

If you want to decrease gun blast and sonic boom, shoot subsonic ammo through a suppressed firearm.

Differences Between the .22 Mag and .22 LR

While bullet diameter was the same, the case of a .22 LR is shorter than the .22 Mag case. The .22 WMR not only has a longer case, but the overall length is 0.350″ longer than the more popular .22 LR. The biggest differences in performance between the 2 bullets are in bullet velocity and stopping power.

There is no argument the .22 WMR is more powerful and more punishing than the .22LR. Reliability and accuracy issues have been concerns with .22 WMR pistols because most of us already know how reliable our .22 rifles are. Everyone I know owns a .22 LR chambered pistol or handgun because it’s practical, doesn’t require hearing protection, and is perfect for training, varmint hunting, and plinking.

A .22 Magnum is louder than .22 LR, but it doesn’t have a substantially larger felt recoil. In fact, the Kel-Tec PMR 30 feels like I’m shooting a louder version of a Glock 44.

Would I carry a .22 caliber for self-defense? I’d never use a .22 LR as a self-defense gun because it lacks serious stopping power and velocity. However, a .22 WMR can approach within 50 Ft-lbs of the 9mm in energy. This gives us the opportunity to use a .22 WMR, like the Kel Tec PMR 30, as a self-defense gun for your family. With a standard 30-round capacity, I’d trust that any intruder on the other end will not continue their aggression.

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Can you use 22 LR in a 22 WMR?

No! I get the bullet diameters are almost identical and that we can switch the chambers in revolvers out, but the .22 LR case is too small for the .22 WMR chamber. The .22 WMR bullet sits down inside the case to have more control over the projectile at much faster rates than the .22LR. You can/will either destroy the gun barrel and/or injured your hand, face, or other bystanders.

Bullet Specs.22 WMR.22 LRBullet Velocity (Ft/Sec)1,8751,640 Bullet Energy (Ft-lbf)300+130-205

Case Length

1.055″ (26.8 mm).613″ (15.6 mm)

Overall Length

1.350″ (34.3 mm)1.000″ (25.4 mm)

Bullet Diameter

.224″ (5.7 mm)0.223″ (5.7 mm)

Rim Diameter

.294″ (7.5 mm).278″ (7.1 mm)

Neck Diameter

.242″ (6.1 mm).226″ (5.7 mm)

Base Diameter

.242″ (6.1 mm).226″ (5.7 mm)

Is a 22 Magnum more powerful than a 22 LR?

The comparison between .22 Magnum (22 WMR) and .22 Long Rifle (22 LR) revolves around their respective power and performance.

  • Caliber and Bullet Size: Both rounds have a similar bullet diameter of .22 inches (5.6mm), but the key difference lies in the case length. The .22 LR has a longer case, while the .22 Magnum has a shorter case with more propellant capacity.
  • Velocity and Energy: The .22 Magnum typically achieves higher velocities and energy levels compared to the .22 LR. This extra powder capacity in the .22 Magnum cartridge results in greater bullet speed and kinetic energy upon impact.
  • Effective Range: Due to its increased power, the .22 Magnum is often considered more effective at longer distances than the .22 LR. It can deliver better accuracy and terminal ballistics for varmint hunting and small game at extended ranges.
  • Recoil and Noise: The .22 LR generates less recoil and noise compared to the .22 Magnum, making it a more comfortable choice for target shooting and plinking. The .22 Magnum, while still relatively mild in recoil, can produce a bit more kick and noise.
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What is the Best .22WMR Pistol?

There are a few pistols chambered in the .22 WMR because it’s not as sought after as the .22 LR and the 9mm Luger. However, there are 2 pistols that I would consider buying if I were looking for a .22 WMR pistol. First, the Kel-Tec PMR 30, second, the Rock Island Armory XT 22 Mag Target Pistol.

Before I make my decision on a gun vs the other, I always look at the mag capacity, weight, height, price, and performance. As I hold the Kel-Tec and RIA .22 WMR, the PMR30 is much lighter and almost feels like an airsoft gun. before I shot the Kel-Tec, I was worried about the recoil of a gun that barely touches 1 lb with a full magazine. The near-zero felt recoil of Kel-Tec PMR 30 is impressive and only adds to the fun of shooting 30 rounds with no recoil.

The RIA XT 22 Mag Target Pistol feels more like a 9mm than the Kel-Tec model with a 2.5 lbs weight (unloaded), and a 5″ barrel to match most modern full-frame 9mm pistols. The G10 grips on the RIA XT are a gracious nod to the American icon, 1911.

The adjustable trigger feels fantastic, but still not as smooth as the Kel-Tec 5 lbs trigger pull. Another solid feature is the extended beavertail design to help keep your hand safe from slide-bite. I like the fact that it gives me an opportunity for a higher grip angle for more control.

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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 >>