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Top 5 Best 22 WMR Ammo on the Market: The Rimfire Powerhouse

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Top 5 Best 22 WMR Ammo on the Market: The Rimfire Powerhouse

Old 02-03-2023, 09:27 AM
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Default Top 5 Best 22 WMR Ammo on the Market: The Rimfire Powerhouse

Looking for the best 22 WMR ammo for your varmint-slaying rifles or self-defense handguns? Well, you’ve found the right article.

The 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (22 WMR) or “22 Mag” offers shooters and hunters increased power and more range than the 22 Long Rifle (22LR) could ever hope to achieve. This makes the 22 WMR incredibly popular for pest control while still being cheap enough for plinking and general target shooting.

There are a ton of different 22 WMR ammo options available these days, and sometimes it’s hard to understand which one is the best for you. Below you’ll find our top 5 best 22 WMR ammo selections on the market today.

If you simply cannot wait, the best over 22 WMR ammo is CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain CPHP.

If you’re new to the 22 WMR and aren’t sure what to look for in a hunting round, check out this Buyer’s Guide HERE.

Otherwise, scroll down just a little more for the list…

The Best 22 WMR Rounds on the Market

  1. CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain CPHP – Best Overall
  2. Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 40 gr JHP – Best 22 WMR For Self Defense
  3. Hornady 30gr V-MAX – Best for Varmint Hunting
  4. CCI Gamepoint 40 gr JSP – Best for Coyotes
  5. Federal 40 gr FMJ – Best for Target Shooting

Best 22 WMR Ammo Overall

CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain CPHP


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Copper Plated Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 40 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,875 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 312 ft-lbs


  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent for all varmints
  • Reliable


  • Lower muzzle velocity leads to more arching trajectory

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking for the best overall 22 WMR round, then look no further than the CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain CPHP. This load simply does it all, offering shooters the stopping power to take on coyotes while still being affordable enough for high volume shooting or small game hunting.

The massive 40-grain bullet delivers the muzzle energy needed for serious varmints while still having incredibly low recoil that can be handled by all but the most recoil-sensitive shooter.

CCI rimfire ammunition is also extremely reliable, as we experienced virtually zero malfunctions or misfires in all our revolvers and rifles with this ammo. Accuracy was also excellent in our firearms out to 100+ yards.

To put it simply, if you can only stockpile one type 22 WMR ammo, then this is the one I’d pick.

The only downside to this ammo is its slightly lower muzzle velocity when compared to other 40-grain bullets. This gives it a more arching trajectory than some lighter offerings like the Hornady 30-grain V-MAX (which we will touch on in just a minute).

However, the low price point of the CCI Maxi-Mag more than makes up for having to aim a little higher for longer range shots.

Honorable Mention

Right around the same price point as the CCI Maxi-Mag, this Fiocchi factory load offers hunters the strength of a jacketed soft point (JSP) bullet for maximum weight retention and slightly higher muzzle velocity at 1,910 fps. The only downside that we detected was that this ammo was slightly more prone to misfiring than CCI, landing Fiocchi in our honorable mention category instead of the top spot.

Best 22 WMR for Self-Defense

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 40 gr JHP


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Gold Dot Jacketed Hollow Point
  • Bullet Weight: 40 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,050 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 98 ft-lbs


  • Designed for short barrel revolvers
  • Long history of premium self-defense ammo
  • Extremely reliable


  • Expensive
  • Not good for long range varmint hunting

Why We Chose It

The use of rimfire ammunition for self-defense is a hot-button issue to say the least. However, our opinion is that a rimfire in the pocket is better than a 1911 on the nightstand when it comes to concealed carry.

At first glance, the Speer Gold Dot 40 grain JHP appears to be somewhat of an underperformer on paper. It boasts a rather low 1,050 fps and 98 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, but that’s coming from a 2” snubnose revolver and not a 20” rifle barrel.

Centerfire Speer Gold Dot hollow points are often carried by law enforcement, and the company pulled out all their tricks when designing this reliably expanding 22 Mag ammo.

Designed specifically to work in handguns with 2” of barrel length or less, the Speer Gold Dot 40 gr JHP is a great choice for smaller pocket guns like a NAA Ranger or Derringer. We had excellent results when testing this ammo in our Kel-Tec PMR-30 and found it to be extremely reliable and accurate.

Although the Speer Gold Dot 40 grain JHP works well for self-defense, it’s not the best choice for long range varmint hunting as it lacks the muzzle velocity to hit targets past about 50 yards. Furthermore, it’s a little expensive for varmints but considerably cheaper than any centerfire self-defense ammo.

If you concealed carry a 22 Mag, then Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 40 gr JHP should be your first-choice self-defense ammo.

Honorable Mention

  • Hornady Critical Defense 45 gr FTX JHP
Unless you’ve been living under a pile of brass for most of your shooting career, it’s likely that you’re familiar with Hornady Critical Defense ammo. This ammo is well known for being incredibly accurate, powerful, and reliable when you need it most.

Similar to Speer Gold Dots, Hornady Critical Defense 22 WMR ammo doesn’t have amazing ballistics, with 1,000 fps muzzle velocity and 100 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. However, they also calculated these numbers from a 1.875” test barrel to replicate the firearms most concealed carry permit holders will have strapped inside their IWB or pocket holsters.

The Hornady FTX bullet utilizes a polymer tip to initiate expansion when it encounters soft tissue and provides for excellent terminal ballistics. Although the Hornady Critical Defense 45 grain FTX ammo is slightly less expensive than the Speer offering, low availability for the Hornady was a major issue.

Best for Varmint Hunting

Hornady Varmint Express 30gr V-MAX


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Hornady V-MAX
  • Bullet Weight: 30 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,200 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 322 ft-lbs


  • V-MAX bullet designed specifically for varmints
  • High muzzle velocity
  • Flat shooting
  • Extremely accurate


  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

When you are preparing your varmint-slaying 22 Magnum rifle for your next prairie dog popping session, make sure that your masterpiece is loaded with Hornady 30-grain V-MAX cartridges. These are perhaps some of the flattest shooting rounds we had the pleasure of shooting, and they were insanely accurate in all of our 22 WMR rifles.

The laser-like trajectory of the Hornady round is thanks to its high velocity, providing you a cartridge that was purpose-built for small game hunting. The V-MAX bullet is streamlined for low drag and the polymer tip is designed to initiate fragmentation immediately upon contact with irritating critters like squirrels, racoons, rabbits, and woodchucks.

The unquestionable gold standard when it comes to varmint hunting, the Hornady 30-grain V-MAX more than earns its top spot in our varmint hunting category despite its slightly higher price point compared to other varmint ammo. However, if you want the absolute best 22 Mag varmint round on the market, look no further than the Hornady V-MAX Varmint Express.

Honorable Mention

CCI Maxi-Mag TNT 30 grain JHP – If there was ever a “runner up” category for being a premier varmint hunting round, then the CCI Maxi-Mag TNT 30 grain JHP would unquestionably take the prize. This jacketed hollow point ammo will make short work of any varmints that plague your property and comes in at an extremely affordable price. CCI TNT ammo is also available in a lead-free loading for hunting regions that require such ammo.

Best 22 WMR for Coyotes

CCI Gamepoint 40 gr JSP


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 40 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,875 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 312 ft-lbs


  • Heavier bullet weight
  • Great expansion
  • Designed for meat and pelt preservation


  • Arching trajectory

Why We Chose It

The CCI Gamepoint 40 grain jacketed soft point is nothing short of a coyote-slaying machine. The Gamepoint is designed for maximum energy transfer to the target while minimizing pelt and meat damage. It’s nothing short of having your cake and eating it too.

The CCI Gamepoint is a great overall varmint hunting cartridge that does equally well against small game animals as well. However, its heavier bullet weight does give it a slightly more arching trajectory than lighter 30-grain loads.

No coyote we hit with these Gamepoints managed to make it past 25 yards if they weren’t stopped in their tracks. Without question, the CCI Gamepoint 40 gr JSP is a top tier option if you’ve got a coyote problem.

Honorable Mention

Remington Premier Magnum Rimfire 33 grain Accutip – This Remington 22 WMR ammo is a great backup option if you can’t get your hands on CCI Gamepoint ammo. This is about as light a bullet weight as we would want to go for coyotes to ensure enough terminal performance for a humane kill. The polymer tipped bullet helps aid expansion and fragmentation, so if your shot placement is good you should have no problems harvesting coyotes with relative ease with this Remington ammo.

Best 22WMR Ammo for Target Shooting

Federal Ammunition 40 gr FMJ


  • Casing: Brass
  • Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket
  • Bullet Weight: 40 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,880 fps
  • Muzzle Energy: 315 ft-lbs


  • Inexpensive
  • Accurate
  • Reliable


  • Not great for hunting

Why We Chose It

When you want to hit the range to work on your marksmanship skills, make sure you grab some Federal Ammunition 40-grain FMJ 22 WMR ammo. This is one of the least expensive 22 Mag ammo options on the market and is fairly accurate to boot.

We found it to be reliable in our bolt-action rifles as well as our semi-automatics, making it a great choice for punching holes in paper without breaking the budget.

The only downside to this cartridge is that its bullet does not expand or fragment, making it a poor choice for hunting. However, for this price you simply cannot beat Federal 40 gr FMJ for plinking and target practice.

Honorable Mention

Winchester Varmint LF 25 gr NTX – Although this is technically a varmint round, we found the Hornady 25gr NTX bullet to be extremely accurate for long range shots. Furthermore, this ammo is only slightly more expensive than the Federal FMJ ammo we just discussed, making the Winchester offering a viable alternative. The NTX bullet is also lead-free TMJ, making it an excellent option for counties or territories that restrict the use of lead core bullets.

Parting Shots

Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of the article. By now you should be nothing short of an expert in all things 22 Magnum ammo and know EXACTLY what you need to load into your favorite 22 WMR handgun or rifle.

The 22 WMR is an extremely versatile cartridge that can fill multiple shooting roles. From varmint hunting, target practice, and even self-defense, the 22 WMR does it all.

To check out all the 22 WMR ammo we have in stock, check out our full 22 WMR ammo page or keep scrolling if you’d like to read our buyers guide to 22 Mag ammo.

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire Ammo

Welcome to our buyers guide for 22 WMR ammo. Selecting the right 22 WMR ammo for your favorite rifle or handgun can be a daunting task with so many different options at your fingertips.

In this guide, we are going to take a quick look into what qualities you should look for in the ammo you plan to run in your varmint hunting rifle, self-defense handgun, and everything else in between.

Let’s go!

What’s the Difference Between Rimfire and Centerfire Ammo?

One important concept to grasp before we begin is the difference between rimfire and centerfire ammo. In short, these are two types of cartridges that have different methods for igniting the primer to fire the bullet out of the barrel.

To read a full explanation of the differences between rimfire vs centerfire, check out this article: Rimfire vs Centerfire.

For rimfire ammo, the firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge to fire the round. The primer compound is located inside the rim of the cartridge and is ignited when the firing pin pinches the rim.

In contrast, centerfire ammo is fired when the firing pin strikes an externally visible primer in the center of the base of the cartridge.

One important concept to understand is that centerfire ammo will generally always have higher pressures and be more powerful than rimfire ammo. Since the rim of rimfire ammo must be thin enough to ensure consistent primer ignition. This limits how much pressure a rimfire case can handle. This means rimfire rounds generally are low pressure rounds.

Low pressures mean that rimfire ammo will have very low recoil but lack the stopping power that centerfire ammo offers.

What’s Your Target?

Picking the best 22 WMR ammo mostly depends on what you plan to do with it. Do you want to hunt varmints? Have an awesome firearm for target shooting or plinking? Or maybe a super-comfortable and easily concealable revolver for self-defense?

The 22 WMR can accommodate all of these but selecting the right ammo for the job will be critical for success.

Let’s talk about what qualities you should look for in each category of 22 WMR ammo.

Is 22 WMR good for self-defense?

The use of a rimfire cartridge for self-defense is a debate that has set many internet forums ablaze in controversy, heated discussions, and smashed keyboards.

Although we are not going to engage in that debate here, we believe and support everyone’s right to self-defense by whatever means you feel most comfortable with. There’s no denying that a 9mm, 38 Special, or 45 ACP would make a better choice for CCW; however, if a 22 WMR is all you’ve got then it’s a lot better than harsh words or a pointy stick.

In self-defense rimfire ammo, we are going to want to look for incredibly high-quality hollow point bullets that were designed for use in a small revolver or semi-auto. We want it to come from a quality manufacturer who has experience making self-defense ammo, like Speer, Hornady, Federal, or Winchester (just to name a few).

For self-defense, it is NOT advisable to use varmint hunting bullets. This type of rimfire ammo will be deadly against small game, but not so much against two-legged varmints.

Varmint hunting rounds are designed to fragment immediately to quickly dispatch small furry critters and minimize their suffering. However, for a self-defense situation, you need to ensure that your rounds have enough penetration to reach vital organs and stop the threat.

On the other hand, quality hollow point bullets like the Speer Gold Dot are designed for deeper penetration and will give you the terminal performance you need from your rimfire self-defense pistol.

What to Look for in Best Target Shooting or Plinking 22 WMR Ammo?

When it comes to target shooting or plinking, there is only one thing you really need to worry about:


Let’s be honest, when you go to the range you want to shoot as much as possible because shooting guns is fun!

The best ammo you can get for the range is most often the least expensive option you can find as this lets you get more time in at the range. Buying bulk 22 WMR is a great way to save money on ammo and we will cover our tips for that just a little further down.

In terms of picking the best 22 WMR range ammo, look for full metal jacket of copper plated hollow points (CPHP) ammo as these are typically the least expensive options for 22 Magnum.

Picking the best 22 Mag for Coyotes and other Varmints

When it comes to clearing your property of unwanted pests like raccoons, rabbits, or coyotes, the 22 WMR is a great choice. It offers you more power and a flatter trajectory than the 22 Long Rifle while still having next to no recoil impulse.

The best varmint ammo will be flat shooting and have excellent terminal performance. Look for jacketed soft point (JSP), hollow point bullets, or polymer-tipped bullets like the Hornady V-MAX or Remington Accupoint as all these bullets will absolutely decimate small game.

Most of these furry critters aren’t going to be overly excited to be close to you, so having a cartridge that is ideal for long range shooting is a must as well.

For small game, we’ve found that lower bullet weights work best in the range of 25-35 grains. These bullets shot fast, flat, and are devastating against prairie dogs, squirrels, and all different varieties of chucks.

For larger varmints like coyotes, we typically lean more towards heavier bullet weights between 35-45 grains. These bullets will impart more energy into the target and limit the animals suffering whereas lighter bullets might not impart enough damage to the coyote to humanely harvest it.

How can you save money buying 22 WMR ammo?

The best way to save money on ammo is by buying bulk 22 WMR.

When you purchase bulk ammo, your upfront costs will be higher than buying one box at a time, but your overall cost per round will be lower. This means it will cost you less every time you squeeze the trigger, and that’s a good thing!

Buying bulk 22 WMR also means that you’ll always have ammo when you’re ready to hit the range. No longer will you be at the whims of supply chain disruptions or whatever your local shooting range has available. Instead, you’ll have tons of your favorite 22 WMR ammo at the ready whenever you want to practice with your favorite 22 Mag rifle or revolver.

Make sure to check out our bulk 22 WMR ammo page to see all your bulk purchasing options to ensure that you’re always locked-and-loaded with 22 Mag!

Back to the Best 22 WMR Ammo

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what 22 WMR has to offer, let’s get back to our top 5 list by clicking HERE!

Top 5 Best 22 WMR Ammo on the Market: The Rimfire Powerhouse originally appeared on Ammo.com
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Old 02-04-2023, 06:47 PM
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