.17 HMR Vs. .22 LR: Which One Is The Better Rimfire Round

Nowadays, while talking about modern rimfire rounds, people tend to think of .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) and .22 LR (Long Rifle) as the most common choices. While rimfire cartridges as a whole have several drawbacks (small calibers, non-reloadable, less than ideal reliability, …), .17 HMR and .22 LR still manage to perform admirably in certain applications like plinking, varmint hunting and so on. Considering the popularity of the rounds, it’s only natural that shooters often have conflicting opinions regarding .17 HMR vs. .22 LR.

Want to know which rimfire round suit you the most? If that happens to be the case then you have come to the right place. This article could tell you practically everything that firearm enthusiasts must remember about .17 HMR and .22 LR from specification to characteristics. Check out the following information to make the right call.

Specifications Of The Rounds: Overviews

To determine which one is superior in .17 HMR vs. .22 LR, it’s essential to assess the construction of the rounds.

.17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire)


  • Parent Case: .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire)
  • Bullet Diameter: .172 Inches (4.4 Millimeters)
  • Neck Diameter: .190 Inches (4.8 Millimeters)
  • Base Diameter: .238 Inches (6.0 Millimeters)
  • Case Length: .1058 Inches (26.4 Millimeters

Developed by Hornady with assistance from Ruger and Marlin, .17 HMR is introduced to the market back in 2002. The development of the Hornady round is inspired by cartridges made by wildcatters who want to create a round with similar performance to the obsolete 5 mm RMR (Remington Rimfire Magnum). Instead of the Remington round, Hornady decided to pick .22 WMR which is both widely available and strong, as the parent case for the new round. As a result, .17 HMR exceed 5 mm RMR in terms of velocity and trajectory.

.22 LR (Long Rifle)

  • Parent Case: .22 Long
  • Bullet Diameter: From .223 Inches (5.7 Millimeters) To .2255 Inches (5.73 Millimeters)
  • Neck Diameter: .226 Inches (5.7 Millimeters)
  • Base Diameter: .226 Inches (5.7 Millimeters)
  • Case Length: .613 Inches (15.6 Millimeters)

Made by Union Metallic Cartridge Company, .22 LR takes its origin from .22 BB Cap and .22 Short. Featuring high velocity as well as superior performance for hunting, the Long Rifle promptly rendered .22 Long and .22 Extra Long obsolete. Decades after its initial introduction, .22 LR still remain pretty popular among shooters because of the minimal recoil and low noise. While it’s definitely ill-suited for large game hunting, the Long Rifle could take down varmints without much difficulty.

Characteristics Of The Rounds: Analyses


  • Range

Boasting high muzzle velocity as well as flat trajectory .17 HMR proves to be superior to .22 LR in terms of ranges. In most of the cases, .22 LR tends to be reasonably accurate within 100 yards but over that, it starts falling apart. On the other hand, .17 HMR is able to nail targets 150 yards away without much difficulty. Of course, the range indeed varies slightly between rounds but all in all, the Hornady round would come out on top in .17 HMR vs. .22 LR.

  • Power 

By all accounts, .17 HMR is extremely destructive at close ranges: it’s going to obliterate every small game under 75 yards. Hence, it’s necessary that you go for headshot while hunting with the Hornady round if you intend to put something on the table later. Obviously, if all you want to do is to kill nasty rats then feel free to go for body shot. Regarding .22 LR, it kills well at 50 yards but shot placement remains essential, especially if your preys happen to be coyotes, prairie dogs and so on.

  • Cost

As it’s a venerable round with various variants available for purchase these kinds of days, .22 LR is an excellent choice for budget-minded shooters. For most of the time, with the money you spend for just a single box of .17 HMR, you could get a few boxes of .22 LR. Therefore, if you intend to go through a lot of rimfire rounds at once then it’s wise for you to choose 22 LR over .17 HMR. Still, keep in mind that regardless of the rounds, premium-grade cartridges always come at higher prices than usual ammunition.

  • Availability

Besides assessing the performance of the rounds, it’s necessary to check if you could secure a steady supply of ammunition. Technically, it’s possible to handload.17 HMR and .22 LR but the process is a bit tedious so most shooters opt to buy ammo from stores. As people tend to buy up all the .22 LR boxes the moment they find some, it’s fairly hard to get your hands on it. On the other hand, despite the fact that the Hornady round cost more money on average, it’s usually overlooked so you could get some boxes of .17 HMR without trouble.

  • Applications 

Generally speaking, both .17 HMR and .22 LR receive a lot of attention from firearm manufacturers so shooters could find various weapon chambered in these rimfire rounds. For .17 HMR, people often go after A17 (Savage Arms), T-Bolt Sporter (Browning), Model 1885 (Winchester),… In the case you happen to like .22 LR then consider picking up Model 60 (Marlin), M&P 15-22 (Smith & Wesson), SA 22 (Browning),… Take your preference into account to make a wise investment.

Conclusion: It’s Your Call


All in all, it’s hard to decide the winner in .17 HMR vs. .22 LR as different shooters have different tastes. Because of that, you must think about your needs and requirements to make the call.

If you have a limited shopping budget and only want to shoot at small games and varmints, 22 LR is for you. The low price of the Long Rifle would allow you to go through boxes after boxes of ammunition without breaking the bank. On the other hand, if your priorities consist of range and power, 17 HMR is your best bet.  With the Hornady round, you should be able to take care of most animals in the outdoors at considerable distances.

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