Best .22 LR Rimfire Ammo [2018]: Accuracy, Plinking, & Hunting

Most people’s first time shooting is with a .22LR firearm.

SW22 with Federal .22LR
SW22 with Federal .22LR

…but what .22lr ammo do you choose? There are dozens, even hundreds of brands and types, so what is the best one? Is there a best one? As with any other type of ammo, what .22lr you buy depends on what you want to do with it.

Too Many Options
Too Many Options

But don’t worry, I’ll walk through my favorite rounds for cheap plinking, hunting, accuracy, and even going subsonic.

Need a shortcut to the answers? Don’t worry, I’ll put the list here for you. If you want to know more options though, read on.

Value/PlinkingRemington Thunderbolt
Meat Eater - Best Hunting .22lrCCI Stinger
Precision Plinking, Best AccuracyCCI Standard Velocity
Quiet Time - SubsonicCCI Subsonic HP

*Updated 2018*: Pricing and availability.

Best Plinking .22 LR Ammo

Here we go for the cheapest ammo that will run reliably in semi-auto rifles and pistols.  As you know if you’ve shot any .22, the ammo can be a little finicky even when you’re shooting the “best” brands.

Centerfire vs Rimfire Primer
Centerfire vs Rimfire Primer

We run into trouble with some ammo since it lacks the *oomph* to cycle the bolt in semi guns.

Look for “good” prices around 5-8 cents each.  I think the days of sub-5 cent rounds are long behind us.

And since .22 LR hasn’t become plentiful yet, I’m including a couple links for each recommendation since they might not be in stock.

But these are the picks that have served us well.

Remington Thunderbolt

Usually the cheapest rounds…but some guns don’t like them.  Mine have no complaints but I read enough about them that I would test them out first before taking the plunge and stacking deep.

Federal Auto Match

325 rounds of affordable .22 LR that’s mostly available nowadays.  No complaints in my bolts or semi’s.

Federal Champion

What I’ve shot the most and have in storage the deepest.

Best Hunting .22 LR Ammo

For hunting, the name of the game is to get a quick/clean kill without making too much of the meat inedible.  Usually this means going with a high velocity and hollow point (HP) bullet.

CCI Stinger

The gold standard in small game hunting.  Fast, accurate, and deadly with its copper-plated 32 grain hollow point bullet.  Can’t go wrong with this one and has enough oomph to cycle semi’s.

 

CCI Velocitor

Cool name…cool round.  I like my CCI’s and the newer Velocitor brings a tad heavier round (40 gr) to the mix at just a tad slower velocity than the Stinger.  Slightly harder to find.

Most Accurate .22 LR Ammo

I’ve found the most accurate ammo also has a much better ignition rate compared to the plinking rounds.  If you also want reliability…go with these.

Day At The Range .22 LR Accuracy Test
Day At The Range .22 LR Accuracy Test

CCI Standard Velocity

One of my favorite all-around loads in terms of price and reliability.  And apparently the most accurate according to Day At The Range.

What’s your take on CCI?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (78)

Your Rating?

RWS Target Rifle

I’m unfamiliar with this brand but the results speak for themselves.  Let me know how it shoots for you!

Wolf Match Target

I was surprised at this one…Wolf always works but I never saw it as accurate.

Norma TAC-22

Norma TAC-22

Norma TAC-22

Prices accurate at time of writing

I like this one since it works very well in my semi-auto guns like the 10/22 and .22 LR AR-clones.

Best Subsonic .22 LR Ammo

If you’ve got a suppressor or want to be a little more quiet…going subsonic is the way to go.  It sounds like a cap gun instead of having the *CLAP* of a faster-than-sound bullet.

CCI Subsonic HP

My favorite overall subsonic round.  Accuracy and reliability of CCI and not so slow (1050 fps) that it can’t run on semi’s.

Norma T-22

Norma T-22

Norma T-22

Prices accurate at time of writing

You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who speaks ill of Norma ammo.  This one is no exception.  Should be able to run on semi’s (1017 fps).

Aguila Super Extra

Aguila Super Extra

Aguila Super Extra

Prices accurate at time of writing

Powder?  Who needs powder?  These rounds run off only the primer so they are super-quiet and super slow (420 fps).  Won’t run in your semi though.

Conclusion

So there you have it…our roundup of the best .22 LR for plinking, hunting, accuracy, and even sub-sonic.  Did we miss any that you really think belongs here?  Let us know!

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marty jewell
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marty jewell

You hit on something I’ve known for over twenty five years. Remington Thunderbolt is top plinking fodder. As a “promo” brand of Remington it’s cheap, reliable and accurate. It functions great in all my .22’s; Ruger 10/22, Rossi 62SAC, and Matched Pair, Norinco ATD.22, Marlin model 20 (Glenfield) and Papoose, Ithaca 49 saddle gun and it’s the only reliable ammo for my Charter Arms AR-7. You know how fussy that rifle can be. Only drawback is NO copper wash. and bore cleaning can be a bit laborious. Until 2010 it was less than $10 a brick. I stocked up plenty… Read more »

Owen
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Owen

You left Eley tenex & match off you list. Most Olympic level shooters use tenex, lot matched to their particular rifle. Match (black) is suitable for practice at that level.

BuckyBlade
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BuckyBlade

As a .22lr match shooter, I would be remiss if I did not say Eley, across the board, is an outstandingly accurate round. Most varieties work exceptionally well, provided you’re not prone to overcleaning your match rifle. The old-timers tell me when I ask how they clean their match rifles given their ridiculously high scores – and the usual response is ‘seldom’. Finally a pursuit where laziness is a virtue. How often and thoroughly do you clean your .22lr?

Edward
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Edward

I would NEVER recommend CCI or Winchester. I have at least a 10% failure rate with both. All the rest I would agree with except I would also add Remington Golden Bullet and Yellow Jackets.

Jesse
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Jesse

Hi Eric, In regard to ar15 rifles what are the current rules for featureless vs non-featureless and having to register your ar15 as an assault rifle in California? Thanks, Jesse

530Kali
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530Kali

What’s an “assault rifle”..
That’s just foolish