Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! As rimfire shooters, we are all pretty intimately familiar with the various load offerings that .22LR has on tap for us to choose from. Anything from very quick and very light 32-grain hollow-point offerings all the way up to some tough to stabilize yet heavy-hitting 60 grain subsonic offerings. The specific cartridge we are talking about today is the Australian-made 42 Max rimfire. 42 Max features a 42-grain projectile and was offered both in a subsonic configuration (1,062 fps) and supersonic (1,320) with a truncated cone hollow point bullet configuration. At the time of its release, it was considered a godsend by many American rimfire shooters for its combination of heavy bullet weight and speed which made it perfect for varmint hunting.
Rimfire Ammunition @ TFB:
- The Rimfire Report: Storing Rimfire Ammo Long Term
- Federal BYOB – Bring Your Own Bucket of Rimfire Ammo
- The Rimfire Report: What is the Best Defensive 22LR Ammo?
- Cutting Edge CuRx Monolithic .22LR Bullets
The Rimfire Report: A Eulogy for the Australian Made 42 Max Rimfire
Winchester 42 Max Rimfire Specifications:
- MPN: PP22LRH42U
- UPC: 020892103368
- Manufacturer: WINCHESTER AMMUNITION
- Caliber: 22 LONG RIFLE AMMO
- Bullet Type: Power-Point 42 Grain
- Muzzle Velocity: 1320 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 162 ft. lbs
- Casing: Brass Casing
- Average MSRP (USA): $6 per 50 round sleeve
To millions of gun and ammo enthusiasts worldwide, the name “Winchester” means quality and high-performance by the most complete and versatile line of ammunition in the world. Winchester ammunition products have a long history of innovation behind them and have set the worlds standard in superior shooting performance. Their Winchester M-22 22LR ammo as well as many others calibers use advanced technology to produce high quality ammo for everybody. To stay competitive in today’s market, Winchester uses their value pack ammunition to meet the demand of price conscious buyers. In the end, regardless of what the sport, game or circumstances surrounding you, you can always depend on every cartridge in the Winchester Ammunition line to perform – as promised.
Winchester’s 42 Max rimfire was released sometime in 2011 right before what I remember as “The great rimfire shortage of 2012.” At the time of its release, the 42 Max was easy enough to find and also a lot cheaper and in my opinion more effective than a lot of domestically available rimfire ammunition on the American market. The ammunition would be imported every so often and sold at big box stores somewhere between $5 and $6 per sleeve of 50. In comparison to another popular varmint hunting rimfire cartridge, this was somewhere in the ballpark of 40 to 50-percent cheaper than CCI Velocitor which retailed at $9.99 per box pretty consistently.
For varmint hunters using rimfires, you usually end up with only a handful of options when it comes to cartridge selection. First, you can go with a very fast and very small bullet, relying on the sheer speed of your projectile to deliver energy down the target. For longer-range shots, this always worked well but you would still find yourself lacking on anything larger than a prairie dog, and even with smaller animals, you’re not getting a completely humane kill without the perfect shot placement. The other option was to do a shorter range with heavier projectile going at much slower speeds – limiting the effective range of your rimfire varmint hunting setup and more often than not scaring off your prey before you’ve even had a chance to line up a shot. The bottom line is that 42 Max offered rimfire varmint hunters something no other .22LR rimfire cartridge did – a fast and heavier projectile.
So where did it go and why?
Okay so great, your farm or property is infested with gophers, groundhogs, invasive squirrels, pest birds, moles, and or prairie dogs and you want to buy some 42 Max. Where can you get it? The sad news is that you probably can’t and if you can you’ll likely be buying one of the last few boxes in the shops in the United States. Winchester Australia closed up their ammunition manufacturing facilities sometime in 2019 and according to a press release made by the company, they instead chose to focus their efforts on import and export of already existing ammunition.
Unfortunately, it seems that the 42 Max cartridge offering didn’t survive the transition from Australia to the United States. I’ve searched high and low for any sign of the ammunition both online and on shelves without luck. These days I’m a lot more interested in the subsonic variant of the ammunition for both Rimfire PRS as well as varmint hunting with my suppressed Ruger Mk IV. However, at this point, if I find any of the ammunition I’m more than likely going to just save it and keep it for posterity much like some of the long-forgotten Peter’s ammunition I shot when I was a kid.
I’d like to hear if any of you have had experience with the Winchester 42 Max rimfire and what your thoughts on it were. For me, it was one of the better “new” ammunition to come out in the 2010s and might still perhaps be my favorite subsonic .22LR offering that has ever come into existence. Thanks as always for reading TFB and The Rimfire Report! See you next time!