Winchester developed the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire in 1959. S&W and Ruger soon produced revolvers chambered for this potent little cartridge. Winchester produced their Model 61 rifle for the .22 WMR beginning in 1960. Also in 1960, Savage introduced its famous Model 24, a combination rifle for .22 WMR and .410 in an over-under configuration.
The .22 WMR is well-liked and widely used because recoil is low recoil, the report is modest, and it devastates small game. This powerful little cartridge effectively dispatches prairie dogs, rabbits and squirrels. The effectiveness of the .22 WMR is of even greater interest for self defense applications. According to the Marshall and Sanow shooting studies based on police agency reports, the .22 WMR earned a “one shot stop” rating of 42%. This means that in 42% of all cases in which it was used, the .22 WMR was able to stop an attacker from continuing their attack. This does not compare to more powerful centerfire cartridges, but it does show that the .22 WMR is a valid self defense cartridge, especially for shooters who can't handle the sharper recoil of the larger personal protection calibers.
Though not as widely available as .22 LR, .22 WMR can usually be found on the shelves of most ammunition retailers. The ammunition variety is not as abundant as .22 LR, but there still is enough variety to meet the needs of most shooters. Hollow point bullets are made for hunting, and lead and copper plated lead are sold for target shooting. Bullets weigh between 30 and 50 grains in LRN or HP configurations, and velocities can exceed 2,200 feet per second, resulting in muzzle energies greater than 300 foot pounds.
Rifles and pistols of all action types have been chambered for the .22 WMR, though the most common firearms produced for this cartridge are revolvers and single shot rifles. The arrival of the Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol, however, with a magazine of 30 rounds, has caused a surge in popularity for the cartridge.
Shooters seeking a good performing cartridge for shooting chores around the ranch and home need not look farther than the .22 WMR. It truly is a cartridge that will do almost anything from taking care of small game to keeping shooting skills sharp. If necessary, it could even be employed with effectiveness as a cartridge for self defense.