Rimfire Primers Explained

Rimfire-primed ammunition is an inexpensive option to get started with and to continue with. Rifles and pistols that use rimfire-primed ammo are chambered in .22 or the relatively new .17 HMR. The .22 has been around for ages but the .17 HMR first went into production in 2002 because people were seeking a round with an amazingly flat trajectory. The .22 is still the most common; the .17 HMR is more specialized.

The smaller calibers associated with the rimfire ammo make it most familiar to people who target shoot and weekend sportsmen who enjoy shooting in their backyards. Rimfire ammo is also the number one choice among varmint hunters looking to reduce that gopher population that’s disrupting their crops and pastures.

Rimfire primers work very much like the old powder gun caps. The firing pin can strike anywhere around the rim at the base of the round and this ignites the primer that ignites the powder, firing the bullet. Due to how the pin strikes, this type of round is not reloadable like some centerfire-primed rounds but the good part of that is it’s so cheap, there’s no real reason to reload the casings anyway.

Rimfire Caliber Comparisons

.22-The .22 is a famous caliber that’s been used for training and shooting for over 50 years. Typically associated with the long rifle, the .22 is often a kid’s first experience with a firearm. The “bang” is very mild, the round is accurate and the recoil is minimal. This is by no means a kid only round though.  It’s the most popular fired round for a reason. The price, accuracy and ease of use found here simply can’t be beat for spending a day on the range, small game hunting, plinking in your yard or target shooting. This caliber is notorious for richochets so make sure you have hay, dirt or another bullet stopper behind your targets if shooting on your property or a range. The .22 comes in a wide variety including the .22 LR, .22 short, .22 long, .22 WMR, .22 Hornet and .22 250.

.17 HMR- The .17 HMR is a relative newcomer in the ammo world but man, this rimfire-primed round delivers on all fronts. Not only do you have amazing power but the velocity of the round simply can’t be beat. This is less of a plinking round than the .22 and is mainly made for small game at a distance. This is a highly accurate round due to the flat trajectory and extremely high speed. Not recommended for close range.  The .17 HMR is less prone to ricochet due to the composition and shape of the bullet.

Rimfire-primed ammo is a great way to get into firearms and quite a few middle-aged sportsman today were weaned on the good old .22. You can pick up large quantities of ammo very cheaply and it’s carried almost universally by most shops both physical and online. The .17 HMR is a bit more expensive but if you’re after small game or want a higher speed, higher accuracy round, that could be the way to go. There are conversion kits available that can turn your larger caliber rifle and pistol into a .22 or .17 HMR to save you money and offer you some more versatility in your weapon.

Written by Sam Jacobs