Everything you need to know about rimfire ammo

The existence of a variety of bullets is what made ammunition shopping fun for many gun enthusiasts. Interestingly, all cartridges can be divided into two broad yet distinct categories called centerfire and rimfire. The latter only consists of a small fraction of them and are generally considered less reliable than the former but it’s ultimately more popular among civilians. Here is what you need to learn about rimfire ammunition:

Why is it called ‘rimfire’?

The name rimfire is derived from the way the cartridge is designed. Essentially, a gun’s firing pin only needs to hit the rim to ignite the gunpowder inside the case and fire the bullet. The more popular centrefire, on the other hand, has a primer at the centre of the base which the firing pin needs to hit to work. 

How it differs from centrefire

Other than the structure of the cartridge, there are a few major differences between rimfire and centerfire. The first aspect to consider is price, as rimfire is considerably cheaper, especially when it’s bought in bulk. Most centrefire ammunition is only used by the military or police forces in the United States as they need reliable performance. Rimfire is best for hunting small animals or new gun owners who have just started their shooting practice. 

A second major difference between the two is strength. Rimfire is limited to weaker calibres as they have thin case walls. If the pressure is stronger than a .17 WSM, then the explosion is more likely to be harmful for the gun that fires it. The third difference is the tip of its bullet. Rimfire ammunition are usually hollow point tipped or covered by plastic. A hollow point centrefire is usually more expensive than its full metal jacket counterpart, so a rimfire is a more popular alternative among Outstanding Munitions customers.  

Most notable rimfire calibres 

There are only a few varieties of rimfire ammunition available in the United States. There are more but only a few are made available for the public. That includes the ol’ reliable 0.22 LR. It’s a cheap, low-pressure calibre that works for both long-barreled rifles and pistols alike. 

As a hollow-point bullet, it will expand on impact, effectively punching into the point of entry and staying inside the target’s body. The .22 LR comes in other versions like the .22 Short and .22 Long whose only differences include length of the cartridge. 

The .17 WSM is a more powerful rimfire cartridge. It’s more reliable for hunting big games or for assault rifles while also being cheaper than centerfire contemporaries. The .17 WSM comes with a sharp plastic tip that gets destroyed on impact, revealing the hollow point bullet that it is inserted in. 

While the .17 WSM is designed mostly for rifles, the .17 HMR have pistols designed to chamber it. This calibre isn’t too powerful but a heavy firearm is advised to mitigate recoil and keep it accurate. It’s more ideal for self-defence than the .17 WSM given its effective range. You can compare them all better in person at Outstanding Munitions if you ever stop by. 

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