Best .22 LR Rimfire Ammo [2019]: 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

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.

Best .22 LR Ammo

1. 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.

2. Federal Auto Match

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

3. Federal Champion

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

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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

6. 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

4.93/5 (256)

Your Rating?

7. RWS Target Rifle

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

8. Wolf Match Target

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

9. Norma TAC-22

53.99 at Brownells

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.

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

10. 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.

11. Norma T-22

82.99 at Brownells

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).

12. Aguila Super Extra

5.99 at Brownells

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! If you’re looking for a new .22LR, take a look at the 7 Best .22 LR Rifles!

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Peter Zenewicz
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Peter Zenewicz

Maybe you should update this? Thunderbolt? Really? Have you ever shot Thunderbolts, and pulled chunks of lead out of the barrrel? Meanwhile Federal 550 is selling for 20 bucks at Walmart and they are loaded with them, and I just shot over 700 in my pistol, without cleaning, and may go a few hundred more. And not one dud. You are lucky to shoot 10 Thunderturds without a dud. Maybe that’s why you get them at Luck Gougers. I have a brick of Thunderbolts I may give away, if anyone will take it. I seriously doubt they are the best… Read more »

Rob
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Rob

You are absolutely correct. I keep my thunderbolt as shtf barter ammo. It is the worst for reliability. CCI rarely ever lets me down.

Frank Kramer
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Frank Kramer

I bought a M&P 22 Compact pistol a week ago. It shot both Golden bullets and CCI without a hitch. I tried Federal Champion 525 today and 30% were stovepipes or misfeeds. I even had one where the spent casing got stuck in the barrel. I won’t be buying that anymore.

JJay
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JJay

Which is cleaner for plinking?

David, PPT Editor
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CCI standard is the cleanest I’ve found.

Johnny
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Johnny

Presuming CCI Standard is non-plated lead, is non-plated lead clean or dirty?
I also don’t want to dirty up a suppressor.
Plan on shooting from AR15.
Thx.

Pete
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Pete

Federal 550 Red box is plated, very clean, and cheap too. Less than 4 cents a round at Wmart.

Luis Velez
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Luis Velez

I shoot more 22 ammo than anyone I know my preference would be eley for target shooting chi 32 grain segmented hollow point is by far the best hunting ammo and as far as plinking blazer is cheap consistent and reliable

Mark Love
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Mark Love

I have some of the Aguila and I have found if I load more than two or three they fall into the clips. I have a Ruger bolt action 10/22 precision

Any suggestions?

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