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Can You Shoot 22 LR in a 22 WMR?

You can technically shoot 22 LR rounds in a 22 WMR firearm, but it is not recommended. The 22LR round is smaller than the 22 Magnum, so it can swell and split when fired. So shooting 22 LR in a 22 WMR can be dangerous and potentially damage your gun. 

This article will cover the dangers of shooting 22 LR in a 22 WMR and what you should do if you accidentally shoot 22 LR rounds in a 22 WMR. 

The Difference Between 22 LR and 22 WMR Rounds

Here is the thing: 22 LR and 22 WMR are not the same calibers. The “LR” in 22LR stands for “Long Rifle,” while the “WMR” in 22 WMR stands for “Winchester Magnum Rimfire.” These two calibers are not interchangeable.

The 22 LR case is smaller in diameter than the 22 WMR rounds. If you try to fire a 22 LR round in a 22 WMR gun, you will lose a ton of velocity and potentially split the 22 LR case.

Simply put, your 22 LR cases are thinner and shorter than your 22 Magnums, leaving too much space in the chamber for the 22 LR round to rattle around. This can cause all sorts of problems, from damaged cases to poor accuracy.

What Can Happen if You Shoot 22LR in a 22WMR Gun?

Now that we know that you shouldn’t shoot 22 LR in a 22 WMR gun, what happens if you do it anyway?

The most likely scenario is that your 22 LR round will get stuck in the chamber of your 22 WMR gun. This can be a real pain to deal with and can potentially damage your firearm.

Another possibility is that the 22 LR round will fire, but it won’t have enough power behind it to cycle the action of your gun. This can be dangerous because you could end up with a live round in the chamber that will be a challenge to remove.

.22 ammunition and an automatic gun on black background

I’ve also noticed that 22 LR rounds fired in a 22 WMR gun are wildly inaccurate. This is because the 22 LR round is not designed to be fired in a 22 WMR gun. The chamber and barrel dimensions are different, so the 22 LR round doesn’t fit as snugly as it should.

If you absolutely must shoot 22 LR in a 22 WMR gun, make sure that you clean your gun thoroughly after each shooting session. This usually means disassembling the firearm and cleaning the chamber, barrel, and action.

Alternatives to Shooting 22 LR in a 22 WMR

Instead of shooting 22 LR in a 22 WMR, we recommend that you invest in a good quality 22 LR rifle, like one found here from my recommended supplier, Palmetto State Armory. There are plenty of great options on the market, and you’ll be much happier with the results. And as always, practice safe gun handling and be sure to follow all safety rules and regulations.

Final Thoughts

While you can shoot 22 LR in a 22 Magnum gun, it is unsafe, and you could damage your gun.

You risk having a 22 LR round get stuck in the chamber, or worse, having a live round in the chamber that you can’t get out. If this ever happens, clean the barrel immediately to avoid nasty surprises.

For more, check out How Much Does Ammo Cost? | Detailed Price Analysis.