The short answer is design, power, and purpose. The vast majority of firearms today are designed to fire centerfire ammunition and there is a reasonable chance that you have never heard of the alternative. You’re not alone and because we know that the 2A universe is full of people who like to test their firearms knowledge against others, we’re going to help you out. We are going to prepare you for this debate so that you can answer with authority and match wits with the guy who likely just Googled the difference between rimfire and centerfire ammunition ten minutes before the conversation. What you have to remember is that guns and ammunition are but tools and for every job there exists its proper tool. There is a place for rimfire ammunition in the market and when you match rimfire ammunition with the proper job, you’re going to get the job done.
The Design Differences Between Centerfire And Rimfire Ammunition
The first thing to understand about the design differences between rimfire and centerfire ammunition is that the name basically says it all. Centerfire ammunition has a primer in the center that ignites when struck by the firing pin. You’ll know that you are looking at centerfire ammunition as the back of the casing has the classic circle right in the middle. Because centerfire is the primary type of round used, if you asked someone to describe a bullet they are going to describe centerfire without knowing it.
Rimfire does exactly what its name indicates. The firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge base in order to ignite the primer. When you look at the base of the cartridge and you can see no discernible primer, it is likely that you are looking at a rimfire round. In addition, the walls of the casing must be thin enough to be crushed by the primer. This means that rimfire ammo is going to be limited to smaller calibers and we’ll talk more about that when we discuss the power capabilities of rimfire ammunition.
The nature of this design means that rimfire ammunition is typically much cheaper than centerfire ammunition. You can browse our entire offering of rimfire ammunition at Wapeedee here and realize the purchasing power of rimfire ammunition. However, before you purchase, you’re going to want to finish the article to make sure that rimfire ammunition is the right tool for the job at hand. If hunting grizzly bears is on your agenda and rimfire is your ammunition of choice, you’re going to make a delicious snack for the bear. So, let’s read on and keep you off the menu.
The Reduced Power Capabilities Of Rimfire Ammunition
As we mentioned, the thin walls of rimfire casings means lower caliber rounds are what you are going to find. By far, one of the most popular rimfire rounds is intended for use in the .22 long rifle category. You’re looking at a 30 to 40 grain count that’s not going to be coming out of the muzzle with velocities around 1250 feet per second, depending on the brand of ammunition you choose. That’s why you don’t choose a .22 LR rimfire to hunt bears as you’ll likely just start to piss him off after a few rounds.
Now, that’s not to say that rimfire rounds can’t be used to pack a punch. Hornady makes a 22 Magnum round that is a 30 grain V-Max Bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2200 fps. Still wouldn’t recommend taking on a bear with it, but if Davy Crocket could kill a bear when he was only 3, maybe you’ve got a shot. At the end of the day, rimfire ammunition is just not the right tool for some jobs and yet, for others, it's exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Purpose And Potential Of Rimfire Ammunition
In addition to the low cost per round, rimfire ammunition is the preferred tool for the job when you want a low recoil. One of the more common scenarios that calls for a low recoil is training or plinking. Plinking is just the art of sending rounds down range to sharpen one’s skills. Many young shooters will start off with the .22 LR and the low recoil allows them to hone their skills when their bodies are still small.
You want young people to respect guns and not fear them. Far too many parents let their young child’s frame feel the power of a 12 gauge kick, only to have them scared to hold a gun again. This means they don’t develop the healthy respect and experience they need to make good decisions around guns. Letting them start off with the low recoil of a .22 LR today and you’ll have a hunting buddy for life.
Another reason you may want the lower power of rimfire ammunition is when hunting small critters and varmints. You don’t need a great deal of power to take out a groundhog and the reduced sound is less likely to annoy your neighbors. It’s not exactly a stealth gun, but it gets the job done with less noise.
Yes, Rimfire Ammunition Can Be Used For Self Defense
Finally, rimfire ammunition can be used for self defense, though it is not our first recommendation. Carrying any gun is better than throwing rocks when you’re under attack. Senior citizens or others who would be concerned about the recoil of a firearm can carry rimfire ammunition with confidence that they can handle the kick and stay on target. The downside is that rimfire ammunition typically misfires at a higher rate than centerfire ammunition. So, if you are informed and you want to take that risk, that’s entirely up to you.
Also, rimfire ammunition could be used in close quarters where you are worried about bullet penetration through walls or windows by a relatively untrained shooter. Not every person has the mental strength during their first and only gunfight to consider what is behind their target when firing at a threat. If you are not entirely confident in the abilities of a loved one in such a scenario where they need to provide for their own defense, maybe rimfire is the way to go. After all, most criminals are cowards and will turn tail and run once they realize they have a real fight on their hands. So, we’re not going to blanket recommend rimfire for self-defense in any scenario, but it is a tool to be considered for the right one.
Guns Are A Tool And For Every Job There Exists A Proper Tool
Now that you are informed about the design, power, and purpose of rimfire ammunition, you can properly decide if it is the right tool for the job at hand. Personally, we recommend that rimfire be included in your arsenal as it is an affordable way to teach and train the next generation of shooters. The 2A life that we live is more of a lifestyle and the proper cultivation of that next generation is an essential element to this God given right.
Now that you know the difference between rimfire and centerfire ammunition, we give you our full blessing to speak as if you have always known this during your next big gun debate. We’re here for you and if we can be of any assistance in helping you grow your gun knowledge or just helping you pick out the right tool for your next job, please don’t hesitate to reach out.