Tam on the .22 Magnum

Tam tried the Kel-Tec PMR and RMR at the LuckyGunner Blogger Shoot and questions the utility of the .22 Magnum (WMR) round …

I’ll be up front and admit that I still don’t get the point. .22WMR is in that gray area where it’s marginal as an antipersonnel round, but will turn a squirrel or rabbit inside out, making it a bit too much for hunting small game for the pot. It’s obviously better on varmints than .22LR, but so are lots of things, like .22 Hornet, which is reloadable.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Flounder

    Good link… But steve I still don’t really understand the value of .22wmr out of a pistol. I love the idea of the PMR-30 but can you give us a few instances where it’s been useful?

    Besides having your house attacked by 30 rabid squirrels that is.

  • Julio

    “.22WMR […] will turn a squirrel or rabbit inside out, making it a bit too much for hunting small game for the pot. It’s obviously better on varmints than .22LR, but so are lots of things, like .22 Hornet, which is reloadable.”

    I’ve no views on the WMR as an AP round, other than that I’d rather not be shot by one, but as a pot-hunter all my small game gets head-shot, so it doesn’t matter what calibre I’m using as far as that is concerned.

    What I like about the WMR is that factory loads are accurate and inexpensive, so I can dedicate my limited time at the loading bench to the long-range ammo that needs it most; that the round delivers enough energy and penetration to take fox- as well as rabbit- or squirrel-sized quarry; and that it is commonly chambered for semi-auto carbines that are well-suited to hunting from a 4X4/ATV at night.

    This doesn’t make it a “better” overall cartridge than the Hornet, or anything else, but I think it does earn it a valid niche in the Pantheon, and it certainly has a place in my armoury.

  • Tam

    The “Ooh! Shiny!” part of my brain really likes the idea of the .22WMR and wants one badly, but the “Yes, but what’s it for?” part keeps not letting me buy one. πŸ™

  • j

    the PMR-30 gives the .22WMR a lot of legitimacy as a antipersonnel round, provided the target person isn’t wearing body armor.

  • j

    also, i think it’s silly how people keep comparing the 5.7 and .22wmr

  • Eric S

    Screw utility and purpose, I want one. If that RMR comes with a decent price tag one could buy it and something ‘useful.’ Not everything in life needs a purpose.

  • Bob Z Moose

    How about this: It’s cheaper than the 22 Hornet for those that don’t reload, it can be used at reasonable distances on coyotes, fox, and other canine-like pests and predators, and it’s available in cheaper firearms than a lot of centerfire 22 rounds. As far as “anti-personnel” round, nearly every centerfire cartridge beats it in a handgun (those are better as trail guns anyways), but the rifles provide a huge step up from 22lr’s and have lower noise, flash, and penatration of walls indoors (again, in rifles).

  • Tom Stone

    Several people I know use .22 WMR to cull deer from vineyards ( With a depredation permit) due to the slightly greater effective range than a .22 LR. Noise is a significant factor. I use a very accurate .22 LR autoloader when asked to help by friends and only take shots to 50 yards ( usually much less). 5 of 7 have been one shot kills with the deer traveling less than 10 feet. The longest run was a measured 55 yards.The .22LR is not a toy.

  • Tam


    also, i think it’s silly how people keep comparing the 5.7 and .22wmr

    Quick: Name two .22-caliber cartridges available in high capacity pistols that have marginal antipersonnel utility! πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, though, while some of the newer pistol-specific .22WMR loads get within 200fps of SS197, my point is that neither would be my first choice for defense outside of very limited circumstances. Since the pistol would then essentially be a toy, I’ll go with the toy that’s cheaper to buy and shoot.

  • Nadnerbus

    What is the penetration depth for the .22WMR in ballistic gel? A quick Google search didn’t bring it up for me. Sure it’s a small, shorter range round, but if it hits the spine heart or brain, it can make a person just as dead I would think.

    Not that I am going to run out and buy one to protect myself, but the idea might have merit.

  • Bill Lester

    Quotes are from the linked article.

    “.22WMR is in that gray area where it’s marginal as an antipersonnel round, but will turn a squirrel or rabbit inside out, making it a bit too much for hunting small game for the pot.”

    First off, not everything in the shooting world is about anti-personnel defense.

    Ask anyone who hunts small game and they’ll tell you head shots are the norm regardless of cartridge. Hits to the body tend to ruin the small amount of meat regardless of cartridge. The .22 Magnum’s added velocity compared to the LR allows a flatter trajectory, making those tiny head shots easier to make in the field at unknown distances.

    “It’s obviously better on varmints than .22LR, but so are lots of things, like .22 Hornet, which is reloadable.”

    I’m glad to see you acknowledge the Magnum’s superiority against varmints. It’s especially evident as ranges approach or exceed 100 yards.

    The Hornet is a notoriously finicky cartridge to reload. Collapsed shoulders are common and brass life is often rather poor considering the cartridge’s modest performance for a centerfire.

    The Hornet suffers from other downsides. Availability is minimal at best. Are there any .22 Hornet revolvers still in production? There sure isn’t an autoloading pistol like the .22 Magnum PMR. With rifles you’re limited to a handful of bolt action choices from Ruger, CZ and Savage. Contrast that to a wide variety of lever, pump, bolt and autoloading .22 Magnums.

    Ammo cost is another Hornet liability. It’s 2-4X that of .22 WMR, when you can find it. And that’s a very big “when.” .22 Magnum, on the other hand, is a commonly stocked item just about anywhere ammunition is sold.

    “It’s also almost as expensive as centerfire handgun ammo, which makes it less than suitable for plinking…”

    I’m not sure where you’re pricing ammo, but the only centerfire cartridges I can find in the same range as .22 WMR are cheapo 9mm FMJ choices from Russia or Switzerland at Wal Mart. My preferred .22 Magnum load, Winchester’s 40-grain Super-X JHP, goes for $11-12 per 50 round box. Import ammo can be found online for even less. How many centerfire JHP’s can you find for a similar price point?

    “…and its operating pressures require more robust and/or sophisticated designs than the humble .22LR, as can be witnessed by the discontinuation of most straight-blowback .22 Magnum rifles here in the modern United States of Liability.”

    This is based on a wrong assumption, that .22 WMR operates at a higher pressure than .22LR. It doesn’t. Both have a SAAMI maximum pressure of 24,000 psi. The performance difference is due to the slower burning propellants used in the Magnum. Most .22 Magnums are nothing more than mildy re-engineered .22LR models.

  • Tam

    Bill Lester,

    Most .22 Magnums are nothing more than mildy re-engineered .22LR models.

    Yes, and that’s why most autoloading .22WMR rifles have been discontinued.

    Unknowing people treated their 10/22 Mags like just any other .22 autoloader, but an out-of-battery discharge in a .22WMR straight-blowback rifle is a whole different animal than in a .22LR (and I’ve been present for plenty of both.)

    I’m not deriding your beloved .22WMR or calling you an idiot for owning one, but I am saying that plenty of Cletii who thought that the .22WMR was just a faster kind of .22LR have ruined the fun for everybody else.

    Personally, as someone who doesn’t do any varmint hunting (and who has seen squirrels scattered across three feet of forest floor by CCI .22WMR TNT hollowpoints) I don’t have much use for one. Obviously you do, and that’s cool. I probably have no use for lots of things you think are just vital, and vice versa.

    • Tam & Bill, I know CZ make a .22 Magnum autoloader that was designed for .22 Magnum. The .22 LR is a scaled down version of it.

  • Blewvane

    I like the .22magnum round for feral pest destruction, i do head shots on foxes and other introduced pests out to about 250 meters. It is not loud enough to require hearing protection and the ammunition is a lot cheaper than standard centerfire ammunition, and rifles chambered for it are easy to find. The only down side to it is not having sub sonic factory loads available for quiet work, that is the only advantage the .22lr has over the .22magnum. I see no need for the reintroduction of the .22 Hornet as there are other .22 centerfire rounds that out perform it and cost the same. A .22-250 factory round costs the same, shoots flatter, and hits harder than the Hornet, and .223 ammunition is more easily available than the Hornet too.

  • C J

    The only 22mag I’ve ever owned was a Heritage Arms Rough Rider 22lr/22mag pistol I bought before the Clinton gun ban/background check law went into effect. In all that time I think I’ve only bought 3 boxes of 22mag ammo, and the last box I bought was specificaly for the PMR that I intended to buy (but never did). I can’t think of anything that I’d use the 22mag for, that I can’t use the 22lr for too (except killin alligators at close range).

  • howlingcoyote

    I’ve seen 22 Magnum ammo at WalMart , Winchester white box, for $7.77.
    As far as killing power, don’t forget poachers use 22 Shorts on deer, a lot less powerful than 22 Mag.
    High velocity loads are 30 gr. at 2300 fps.
    Hornady also makes V-Max loads for 22 Mag.
    The 22 Mag. FMJ loads will go through a car door.
    The Kel-tec PMR is an update of the Grendel pistol and rifle that was made in Florida back in the early 1990’s. They quit making it because of the evil Brady Bill passed in 1994.
    I think some of the writers are the ones who think you can’t kill a deer unless you use a 300 Weatherby Magnum or 338 Win. Mag. rifle.

  • cc19

    “It’s not the first guy you have to worry about, but the rest of his 29 friends following him.”

  • Bob Z Moose

    @j: You’re pretty screwed if you got a guy with body armor anyways. Seems to me he’s a very serious man and will probably be toting very serious gear.

  • I’ve been waiting on the PMR30 since since it debuted at last years SHOT show. Originally they had some engineering problems, then the resumed production and stopped again due to keyholing problems. After getting the rifling problem corrected, it’s become the unicorn of pistols – they are hard to get your hands on.

    At the gun show this weekend in Kenner, La., one booth had 1 PMR30 and they wanted 650.00 for it even though MSRP is only 415.00.

    My last three purchases were at local gun shows and after each one, I found the same weapons for much less locally. I think I will wait for supply to catch up with demand and eventually, the PMR30 will hit my local gun store and I will happily drag it home!

    • zipp

      I don’t get all the discussion about antipersonnel utility when it comes to the. 22 wmr. Its a great varmint and target round for distances as far as 300 yards when the wind
      cooperates. It can be used on small game with headshots and coyotes out total 100 if you target the head or neck past 60 yds. Besides its very economical to shoot. What more is there to say?

      neck past 60that yards

  • Sid

    My kids share a Ruger 10/22. It is fun to shoot. My friend has a .22 Mag pistol. We fired it one day during some slack time. loud… what?… Loud…. huh?…. LOUD…. It might rain later… NO, NOT CLOUD! LOUD! THAT DAMN GUN IS LOUD!…. Oh, yeh….

    All that noise to launch a .22 bullet. No thank you.

  • johnny9

    since having my very low number pmr30,and it has no issues that some people have had,as i have 3 barrels and one is 1 inch longer and threaded”wtf”you say,hehe..thats right,its not even available yet if ever,but i have a one of set,and my 10-22 used to be my fav gun to shoot,till i shot a few hundred rounds down range with my pmr30..and it is possible to make 200 yd shots if you practice..oh,it has a burris on top also..it helps your grouping a lot..
    if you like 22wmr in any way,you owe it to yourself to get a pmr..
    and i cant wait to get the rmr asap..the sooner the better.

  • howlingcoyote

    I forgot to add, maybe they could come out with a 5mm Rem. Mag. rifle model. Ammo is available, for around 18-19 dollars a box of 50.

  • morgan king

    what is the gun at the top of the picture
    the .22 WMR is nothing to .22 eargesplitten loudenboomer that can turn a squirrel inside out

    • David/Sharpie

      The Kel-Tec RMR, the rifle version of the PMR.

      Like an AR-15 rifle and an AR-15 pistol……kinda

  • zipp

    I wouldn’t be a big fan of 22 wmr in handgun, except short range plinking and pest control, or perhaps close range small game. Please let’s not malign the cartridge as a whole. In a rifle it has a legitimate place in the varmint world and small game up to coyote and the like. Furthermore, its sure a lot more economical to shoot than any centerfire. A lot of good
    marksmanship practice comes from this

    economical practice. Don’t think the 22 wmr can’t dispatch a Prarie dog or ground squirrel from 300 yds out with a good rifle, provided the wind cooperates. This is all about the utility. As a threat stopper, stick with 40, 45, or others of such ilk.

  • zipp

    Im not sure personally why one would consider the 22 wmr as a personal defense caliber, but to each their own. For my money, you don’t experiment with defending your life and economy isn’t the chief concern.