The .22 Long was introduced in 1871, and was expected to be a natural progression from the .22 CB to the .22 Short and beyond. To improve the performance of the .22 Short, the case was lengthened and the powder charge boosted, while retaining the 29 grain bullet of the .22 Short.
For 15 years, the .22 Long was the most powerful .22 rimfire cartridge. It was later supplanted by the .22 Long Rifle, which fired a heavier bullet and was propelled by a more powerful charge, quickly making the .22 Long an “orphan." 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, according to shooting icon Jack O’Connor, the .22 Long was a “pretty useless contraption.”
With a speed of about 1,040 feet per second and a muzzle energy of about 67 foot pounds – the .22 Long pales in comparison to the .22 LR, which in some cases has triple the foot pounds. While this may paint a discouraging picture, the .22 Long has been popular enough for Winchester and CCI to continue producing ammunition in sufficient amounts, also making it relatively easy to find.
Firearms chambered specifically for the .22 Long have not been regularly produced for nearly 50 years, but some rifles shoot the .22 Short, .22 Long and .22 Long Rifle. As firearms that were made just for the .22 Long become antiques and are solely display models or "safe queens," the ongoing production of these cartridges remains questionable.