The .22 long was introduced in 1871 and was expected to be a natural progression from .22 CB to .22 Short and beyond. The goal was improving the performance of the .22 Short by lengthening the case and boosting the powder charge, but retaining the 29 grain bullet of the .22 Short.
The .22 Long was the most powerful .22 rimfire cartridge for fifteen years before being supplanted by the .22 Long Rifle. The .22 Long Rifle fired a heavier bullet and was propelled by a more powerful charge, quickly outpacing the popularity of the .22 Long and making the .22 Long an “orphan” cartridge. The .22 Long was louder than the .22 Short yet less powerful than the .22 LR. So what was the .22 Long offering to shooters? Perhaps it was meant to be a compromise, a “best of both worlds” cartridge? Unfortunately, this compromise answered a question that was never asked. According to a shooting icon from the 1900's, author Jack O’Connor, the .22 long was a “pretty useless contraption.”
The .22 Long performs weakly in comparison to the .22 LR. It lobs downrange a 29 grain lead round nose bullet at about 1,040 feet per second. This results in a muzzle energy of about 67 foot pounds. This is a paltry figure compared to some .22 LR ammo which easily doubles, or in some cases, triples the foot pounds of the .22 Long. This may paint a discouraging picture, yet the .22 Long has been popular enough that Winchester and CCI still produce ammunition in sufficient amounts to make it relatively easy to find. No firearms chambered specifically for .22 Long have been regularly produced for nearly 50 years, but rifles that shoot all three of .22 Short, .22 Long and .22 Long Rifle, the cartridge is still purchased in enough volume for at least two ammunition manufacturers to continue production. As firearms that were made just for the .22 Long become antiques and are solely wall hanger display model or "safe queens," the ongoing production of .22 Long cartridges is questionable.