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

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

But what .22 LR ammo do you choose?

There are dozens, even hundreds of brands and types, so what is the best one?

Fully Upgraded 10/22 with Magpul Stock and Tandemkross Upgrades
Fully Upgraded 10/22

Is there a best one? As with any other type of ammo, what .22 LR you buy depends on what you want to do with it.

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

Popular .22LR Ammo
Popular .22LR Ammo

Table of Contents

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Match Your Ammo To Your Use

From plinking to hunting to long-range, we have all of the recommendations.

Broadly speaking .22 LR fits into a few use cases:

  • Plinking
  • Hunting
  • Suppressed
  • Long-Range Precision

Plinking is just what it sounds like. It’s learning how to shoot or teaching others. It’s keeping your skills sharp. Or maybe you just want to turn some money into noise and have a good time!

Fully Upgraded 10/22
Fully Upgraded 10/22

In any of those cases, you want reliable ammo strong enough to cycle semi-auto guns and hopefully cheap.

Hunting might be super- or sub-sonic for use with suppressors. Either way, you want reliable ammo and should be willing to pay a few more pennies for it.

Suppressed is its own category since the ammo is weaker than normal. Sometimes a little weaker, sometimes a lot. You can hunt with it if the critter is small enough and you’re close enough or you can just have fun with it.

Long-Range Precision is gaining a lot of popularity with NRL22 and NRL22X! We’re going to assume that you want to shoot at least 100-yards with your .22 LR, but 400+ isn’t out of the question either. You’ll want very consistent ammo that is reliable and sub-sonic. This…won’t come cheap (for .22 LR).

Bergara B-14r on the ShadowTech PIG0311
Bergara B-14r on the ShadowTech PIG0311. Precision .22 LR Goodness

“But what about self-defense!” you might ask. Unfortunately, .22 LR cartridges can’t be relied upon to effectively stop a threat or go off every single time.

Modern .22 LR is decent, but we don’t consider it reliable enough for self-defense — not when other options like 9mm and .45 ACP are out there.

Centerfire vs Rimfire Primer
Centerfire vs Rimfire Primer

Best .22LR Ammo

For Plinking

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

With this one, you get 325 rounds of affordable .22 LR that’s mostly available nowadays. No complaints in my bolts or semi-autos.

3. Federal Champion

I’ve shot the most with Federal Champion (and most of my .22 LR ammo reserve is this brand).

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, hollow-point (HP) bullet.

What do you think of Federal Champion? Be sure to rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

4.94/5 (950)

Your Rating?

For Hunting

4. CCI Stinger

CCI is 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-autos.

5. CCI Standard Velocity

Again, CCI makes this list — this time in the form of the Standard Velocity.

To be honest, this is one of my favorite all-around loads in terms of price and reliability.  

For Suppressed Shooting

6. CCI Subsonic HP

Are you seeing a pattern here? CCI hits our list again with the Subsonic HP variant. This one happens to be my favorite overall subsonic round.  

You get the accuracy and reliability of CCI and it’s not so slow (1,050 feet-per-second) that it can’t run on semi-autos.

7. Norma T-22

You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who speaks ill of Norma ammo.

This one is no exception. Bonus, it should be able to run on semi-autos (1,017 feet-per-second).

82
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Aguila Super Colibri

Powder? Who needs powder?

These rounds runoff only the primer meaning they are super quiet and super slow (420 feet-per-second).

Downside is…they won’t run in your semi though.

5
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

For Long Range Precision

9. Lapua Center-X

This is generally accepted as the gold standard for long-range .22 LR shooting. If you’re ready to spend some money and get the best, Lapua Center-X is the first you should try.

It won’t be the absolute best for every rifle — but odds are it’s at least in the top three for your rifle.

Center-X is exclusively what I shoot at matches of 100-yards or longer.

17
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

10. SK Ammo — Standard Plus, Rifle Match, Long Range Match

Frankly, I have no idea what the difference is between these three. I’ve tested all three and my results depend on the rifle. But all of my rifles love at least one of them.

SK Rifle Match and Long Range Match are both 1 MOA for me at 100-yards, Standard Plus opens up a little but has a better standard deviation normally.

Pick one or all three and give them a try!

115
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

11. Wolf Match Target

I was surprised at this one. Wolf is normally not known for high-quality ammo but the .22 LR stuff is surprisingly good.

Only slightly above 1 MOA at 100-yards for my rifles.

8
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

12. Norma TAC-22

I like this one since it works 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.

53
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

So there you have it…our roundup of the best .22 LR for plinking, hunting, accuracy, and even sub-sonic.

More Popular Ammo Brands
More Popular Ammo Brands

As with anything ammo-related, try a box out before you commit to a case or more as some .22 LR guns are notoriously picky when it comes to ammo.

Did we miss any that you really think belongs here? Let us know! If you’re looking for a new .22 LR, take a look at the 7 Best .22 LR Rifles! And for more calibers check out Best Places to Buy Ammo Online.

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50 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    RES

    How can you have such a huge range of 22 ammo and not have one word about the 22 cal shot shells? Which by the way, I cannot for the life of me, find anywhere. Yeah, CCI blue capsules are available but they do not do the job of the old crimp ended ones. If you are going to pay from 50 cent to almost a dollar a piece, a person wants what he wants not a substitute. Great article, otherwise.

    September 25, 2021 3:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Half A Kilderkin

    What do you think of Eley?

    August 4, 2021 11:36 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Edge

    Very surprised that CCI Minin mag nor Aguila Super Extra weren’t in the mix. Both cycle semiautomatic rifles and pistols with exceptionally high reliability. Copper cladding reduces fouling. Forty grain at 1200 FPS is huntable too. Why the omission?

    August 3, 2021 6:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Keith P.

    Reliability is my #1 criteria in buying ammo. .22 firearms in general are just finicky, and that goes double for semi-autos that need enough blowback gas to cycle properly. I have found that 40 grain bullets rated for 1200 fps provide enough force to cycle just about any semiauto, including the notoriously picky Walther P22. Also, copper plated rounded bullets tend to feed better in stock guns than plain lead round noses, which can get hung up on just about any sharp edge or feed ramp imperfection. Finally, hyper velocity rounds like the Yellow Jacket cause problems with some of my guns with unpredictable case ejection issues and unburned powder flares.

    Some companies like Norma put a lot of lubricant on the outside of the rounds to improve feeding and ejection in tight match chambers. I find this messy and annoying.

    My go-to ammo for reliability? CCI Mini-Mags or CCI Velocitors. They just never fail to feed, fire, or eject. After that I'll take any high velocity (1200 fps class) copper plated round nose ammo from a reputable company like Winchester, Fiocchi, or Remington. I stay away from 22 subsonic ammo, super-light bullets, odd bullet shapes, and especially no-name brands. For me there's just no point in ammo that won't cycle the action properly, no matter how cheap, accurate, or novel.

    July 22, 2021 3:47 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Edge

      Absolutely! I’ve recently added Aguila Super Extra to my CCI Minimag stock. Over 400 rounds in my semiautomatic pistols and rifles with rarely a failure to eject feed or fire.

      August 3, 2021 6:26 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Keith P.

        Yes those are pretty good also. The gold standard for reliability is CCI MiniMags/Velocitors/AR Tactical. I've also had perfect reliability from Fiocchi Performance and Federal Champion. But I would put Aguila Super Extra (both 36 and 40 grain) right up there near the top for reliability as well.

        September 6, 2021 10:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Vincent Alan Alberry

    I am one of your faithfuls in Australia. I do not know if you have SK ammo in America. Here I use the SK Rifle Match and Pistol Match. Excellent. Never had a failure, accuracy is great, you should try some if available.

    June 7, 2021 2:37 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Love SK ammo!

      This article is very out of date and will be updated soon!

      June 7, 2021 6:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    JDuB

    Eley ammo from England makes a very nice ammo. Cleaner burning than most and my GSG Firefly LOVES it.

    Remington Thunderbolts are DIRTY. You really have to CLEAN your weapon after 50-100rds and I mean CLEAN IT. The barrel will get fouled and the breach is so dirty, it's ridiculous. I'm working on my last boxes and... never again.

    The Federal 800 box is a good buy and seems to run well.

    May 18, 2021 10:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Norman Brumley

    Before the Covid drought on ammo, I was able to regularly get Armscore 22lrhp rounds for $19.99 for a 500 round brick at Rural King, which is (was) a great price. Accuracy wise it was right in there with CCI Mini Mags. It shoots about one moa out of my Ruger 10/22 target. Fortunately, I had bought a few bricks before the drought hit. If I had known it was going to be like it is now however, I would have bought a whole lot more. It's the best. 22lr "bang for the buck" I've found anywhere. I absolutely can't wait until they're back on the shelf.

    January 27, 2021 2:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Michael

    The "RWS" is the only brand and item i have not tried in your list and normally use the CCI and Fiocchi as well as the Winchester. Although i was hoping ot see a mention of a few 22WMR brands that are as good? I do already buy CCI and Fiocchi in the WMR but any other brands really good for target competition shooting?

    January 26, 2021 6:14 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    THOMAS L SHIELDS

    Plinking is no fun if you can't hit what you're shooting at. Not all ammo needs to be match grade, but: In my experience shooting both with a Ruger Precision Rimfire and a Henry H001 lever-action, the Remington Auto Match ammo is terrible. Flyers everywhere, making you chase your targeting when it's actually your ammo that can't hit s**t. It's cheap but not worth the frustration.

    August 26, 2020 4:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      THOMAS L SHIELDS

      Correction: I intended to say Federal Auto Match. I have a box (less about 50 rounds) that I will never shoot because it is just terrible.

      August 26, 2020 4:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rick

    What about Eley Tenex? All my Anschutz rifles live this and it wins international matches.

    August 12, 2020 7:27 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE update to this article coming soon! Not positive that will be on the list but we're trying!

      August 12, 2020 7:32 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        THOMAS L SHIELDS

        You should definitely add Eley Tenex to the list!

        August 26, 2020 4:26 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rudy Rash

    Growing up on a farm where we butchered our own meat the bullet of choice as a .22 short fired point blank from a single shot rifle. No mention was ever made of other bullet specs only that the bullet had to be a .22 short otherwise the bullet could travel into the shoulder meat.

    If today's kids had to watch or participate in this up close and personal style of animal slaughter and see the results of being shot then there would be far fewer kids playing with guns.

    March 28, 2020 7:53 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      jtrosse

      Yep, I can still remember my dad using my Marlin .22lr rifle for a head shot at very close range to kill our hog to start the process.

      The 'gator hunters cable show also mostly use .22 rifles to kill them with a head shot.

      April 2, 2020 10:37 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Terry

    Joining late to the discussion, but I have found Remington bulk stuff consistently gums up my autos, pistols and rifles alike, and frequently fails to extract or cycle, with failure to fire problems caused by what I speculate is hard brass primed rims. My Browning Auto22 is the worst victim of this with its bottom ejection of gunk down through it bolt and rail system. Very disappointing ammo. The Winchester T22 bulk stuff is even worse, with regular failure to fire from 'bad' primers, even in my various bolt actions, including a Win. 52C.
    I also found that the only 'general use' brands consistently reliable, 'good' cycling, clean and accurate are the Federal Auto Match and Champion you mentioned, and CCI throughout their line. It is all I will buy, when on sale if possible.

    January 17, 2020 11:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dean

    Eric, the Aquilla Super Extra is a high velocity round. The one you're thinking of is the Aquilla Super Colibri, that is the one that is driven by only a primer charge. To make it a little more confusing, the Aguilla Colibri is driven by the primer plus a very small powder charge.
    My favorite low power round is the CCI Super Quiet, it is a .22 short powder charge in a .22 LR case, it sounds and hits like a magnum pellet rifle, it won't cycle but it's fun in my bolt action.

    December 26, 2019 11:46 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Good catch! Thanks for pointing that out, I've fixed it.

      December 26, 2019 11:51 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      CuDa

      actually the Colabri is the slower at 420 ( pistol only) the super calabri is 520 (most rifles have chance to clear bore, older tight bore rifles may not but listed as pistol only), I use the super daily for squirrel, get the job done with ear and eye shots!

      June 1, 2020 6:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Evan Custer

    The Remington ammo left my gun FILTHY! Not to mention the rounds themselves are covered in lead powder. I also have had cycling problems with this ammo. I would not recommend.

    December 15, 2019 8:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brian

    SK rifle match ammo! Nothing else

    May 19, 2019 9:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    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 value for anything, except screwing up your firearm.

    March 2, 2019 11:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      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.

      April 21, 2019 1:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Thomas

      Good assessment. Thunderbolts are the worst rounds I've ever fired. I just bought a case of Armscor 22 lr ammo that's been treating me very good!!

      June 6, 2019 10:10 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bill

      Peter,
      Same experience with Thunderbolt here. At about one hundred rounds, they began to keyhole my targets and became very inaccurate. Took forever to remove the lead from my relatively new MP 22 and ruined a new bore brush. Thank goodness I had bore snake that finished the job. Shoot cci and Agulla and never have inconsistency and leading issues that that I had with TB.

      January 2, 2020 8:06 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Phil

      Rem Thunderbolts are the absolute worst ammo of any brand or caliber I've ever shot. Duds, lousy accuracy out of my Marlin 39A, the best .22 rifle I've ever owned.
      It leaded up the barrel of my new (at the time) Walther P22 in less than 50 rounds. It was unbelievable; the barrel was plated with lead and I had quite the time getting it out.
      I gave the rest of that trash away.

      November 7, 2020 4:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    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.

    January 6, 2019 10:17 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    JJay

    Which is cleaner for plinking?

    December 22, 2018 10:47 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      CCI standard is the cleanest I've found.

      December 22, 2018 11:19 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        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.

        April 9, 2019 10:11 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Pete

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

      March 3, 2019 10:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    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

    December 3, 2018 8:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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?

    November 15, 2018 4:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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 in 2013. My Ruger KNR5 loves it too!

    July 9, 2018 12:18 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Pete

      I'll take Federal 550 over Thunderbolts any day over Tbolts. Cost less, less duds, no lead left in barrel, better consistency. Where do you live? I'll sell you a brick cheap, or trade you 800 rds for one box of Federal 550.

      BTW, I just shot over 1K rounds of the Federal 550 through my S&W Victory pistol, not one dud, failure of any kind, and cleaned gun once. With Tbolts I would expect at least 50 duds, two or three jams, maybe even a squib, and have to clean the gun at least five maybe six times, rigorously, maybe even soak the barrel with solvent to get a brush through. With the Federal, I sometimes don't even need a brush. Parch of solvent, dry patches, patch of oil, and the barrel gleams.

      March 2, 2019 11:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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.

    July 2, 2018 5:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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?

    June 16, 2018 4:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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.

    April 1, 2018 4:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Pete

      You agree with Thunderbolts?

      March 2, 2019 11:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    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

    August 3, 2017 9:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Check out our Featureless article!

      August 6, 2017 2:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      530Kali

      What's an "assault rifle"..
      That's just foolish

      March 4, 2018 7:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jacob

    What about rat shot? I would use it to kill snakes around my pond.

    July 20, 2017 5:43 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Good tip...I've personally never tried it yet but seems like it works well for you!

      July 23, 2017 9:36 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Edward R Henrichsen

    Some of these brands I have never used. But the ones I have, most of them I will agree with you. With a few exceptions, they all work fine in my lever rifle, but, unless they are at least 1230 fps my semiauto will not cycle. I will never use any CCI. or Winchester. I get at least a 10% failure rate with both. The Federal Match Grade works great. I use them for target and plinking. I also use Remington Golden Bullet, 36 gr. JHP. 1280(?) fps and 135 fp. for target. For hunting I use Remington Yellow Jacket, again 36 gr JHP. but 1500 fps and 165 fp.

    July 20, 2017 4:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      TheOldPhart

      I have found that CCI Mini Mag ammo works the best for me. I have fired thousands of round through my two .22 rifles and one .22 pistol and have never had a fail-to-fire or bad feed or eject.

      October 8, 2018 4:30 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        CCI fan

        I have also put about a thousand through a now month old ruger Mark IV competition and get 7/10 in the bull and 3 in the 9 on a regular basis at 10 yards standing unsupported using CCI mini mags. 10/22’s love them too with 1” group at 100 yards. They do get an occasion flier but I’m sure I’m part of the issue too.

        Try CCI quiets for a quiet low dB round that still cycles a semi.

        December 26, 2018 6:55 pm