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

6.99
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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

4.91/5 (300)

Your Rating?

7. RWS Target Rifle

8.99
at Natchez

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

8.99
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

9. Norma TAC-22

53.99
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

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

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

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!

25 Leave a Reply

  • Brian

    SK rifle match ammo! Nothing else

    2 weeks ago
  • 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.

    3 months ago
    • 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!!

      1 second ago
    • 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.

      1 month ago
  • 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.

    4 months ago
  • JJay

    Which is cleaner for plinking?

    5 months ago
    • Pete

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

      3 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      CCI standard is the cleanest I've found.

      5 months ago
      • 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.

        1 month ago
  • 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

    6 months ago
  • 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?

    6 months ago
  • 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!

    10 months ago
    • 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.

      3 months ago
  • 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.

    11 months ago
  • 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?

    11 months ago
  • 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.

    1 year ago
    • Pete

      You agree with Thunderbolts?

      3 months ago
  • 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

    1 year ago
    • 530Kali

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

      1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Check out our Featureless article!

      1 year ago
  • Jacob

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

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

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

      1 year ago
  • 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.

    1 year ago
    • 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.

      7 months ago
      • 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.

        5 months ago
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