When Shorter Is Better

By Jace Bauserman

green star target and round ball target sitting in the dirt

The 22 Long Rifle is the kingpin of rimfire cartridges. It’s generally loaded with heavier bullets than 22 Long, Short and CB, and its rounds offer low recoil, solid range and mild report. Yet, despite such performance and the versatility to plink cans, punch paper and snipe small game, it hasn’t managed to drive its shorter brethren into extinction. Here’s why.

Big Things From Small Packages

The 22 Short is a stellar round that serves a variety of purposes. Created for self-defense when fired from a pocket pistol like the classic Derringer, the 22 Short evolved into other realms. In fact, until 2004, the round was used in the Olympics by those competing in the 25-Meter Rapid Fire Pistol Event.

The 22 Short is now coveted by plinkers and small-game hunters. It works great in suburban hunting environments. A stone-cold pest killer, the 22 Short is less noisy than the 22 LR and requires less of backstop. Coming out of the muzzle at 1,105 fps, CCI’s 27-grain Short Hollow Point rounds post a velocity that is significantly less than, say, 32-grain 22 LR Stingers, which leave the muzzle at 1,640 fps. This means reduced range, making the 22 Short a logical choice for suburban pest control and close-quarters small game hunting.

man looking down the scope of a resting rifle

Many 22 lovers also prefer the 22 Short’s hushed nature and lower power for teaching new shooters. Others use the round strictly for plinking—after all, the 22 Short was used in shooting galleries at fairs and arcades in until fairly recently.

Go Long

The second-most popular of the sub-22 LR rounds is the 22 Long. It uses a 22 LR case, but the bullet is shorter. The 22 LR measures, roughly, .975 inch long, and the 22 Long measures about .800 inch. Great for target practice and small game hunting, CCI’s 22 Long promises consistent accuracy and a muzzle velocity that’s faster than the 22 Short but around 425 fps slower than 22 LR.

Pick Up The CB

What about the lesser-known 22 CB? While this round doesn’t have the thump or range of the 22 LR, it’s about as loud as a pellet gun and still packs enough of a wallop to dispose of garden pests or bring down small game such as rabbit and squirrels. With no report to speak of, nuisance animals and small game don’t seem to detect the sound, which means stealthier hunting.

While the 22 CB tends to jam in most semi-automatic firearms due to its limited charge, it performs well in bolt-action rifles, revolvers and single-shots.