Top 5 22LR Hunting Loads on the Market

Lucas Cuenca 09.19.21

Small But Mighty: The 5 Best 22LR Hunting Loads On The Market

22LR is one of my favorite cartridges to shoot. Not only is it fun to aim at targets or practice your accuracy on a budget, it’s also one of the most widely used small game calibers in the world. As small as the 22LR is, the little round can still pack a punch and kill a pack of four-legged and two-legged animals we find here in North America, the vast majority of which are considered vermin. Today I have put together what I consider to be 5 of the best 22LR hunting ammo deals currently available on the market. All of these rounds will be reliable, consistent, and designed specifically for small game and vermin hunting.

Although it is not as popular in the United States as it is in other parts of the world. Many of you probably grew up using 22LR as your first hunting round, probably on squirrels and other small vermin. Many of the picks on this list will behave differently on different rifles and will even behave differently when used on the same rifle. You should always check your zero before you go hunting! With all that in mind, let’s get started!

Small But Mighty: The 5 Best 22LR Hunting Loads On The Market

Small But Mighty: The 5 Best 22LR Hunting Loads On The Market
Photo: Aussiehunter




Created with the inspiration and name of well-known hunter Steve Rinella, the CCI MiniMag “Meateater” line of 36-grain hunting ammunition features a reasonably fast bullet velocity of 1,260 fps from standard 16″ barrels. The Meateater line uses a 36 grain copper plated hollow point and in my experience these feed well on all my semi-autos and are great for rifles with even longer barrel lengths. CCI ammo always uses the cleanest propellants and primer material, so this ammo is also great for keeping your gun clean, even when you practice with it.

advantage/No-mess components and reliable copper-plated hollow tips

cons/36 grains can be a bit light for larger small game like turkeys and coyotes

Bottom line/Great for vermin like squirrels and prairie dogs!

2. Federal, Game Shock, .22LR, CPRN – 40 grains


Federal, Game Shock, .22LR, CPRN - 40 grains

Federal has some of my favorite self defense ammo on the market and they also have some of the best non-hollow point 22lr hunting ammo out there. Federal’s Game Shok ammunition features a 40-grain copper-coated round-nose bullet that packs 137 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. This ammo is excellent for longer range shots at small animals like groundhogs or even pest birds. Best of all, the Federal Game Shok is pretty light in terms of hunting ammo.

advantage/Less expensive than competitors, round tip for reliable feeding

cons/Lacks expansion capabilities on longer ranges

Bottom line/Ideal for longer range engagements on smaller creatures.

3. CCI SGB small game bullet)


Small game bullet CCI SGB)

This 40 grain flat point bullet features the same ballistics as the standard 40 grain CCI lead round point. This means you’ll get good speed, trajectory, and the same point of impact so you don’t have to make any adjustments to your optics or sights to get accurate hits. The flat nose bullet means you’ll be sure to get a good amount of spread up to 50 yards away and make sure all the energy hits your target instead of going through it.

advantage/Features identical ballistics to CCI’s 40-grain offerings, meaning no sight adjustments

cons/Slightly more expensive per unit than other hunting ammunition in the 22LR class

Bottom line/A worry-free way to make sure your shots count without adjusting your optics or scope

4. Winchester Subsonic 42 MAX


Winchester Subsonic 42 MAX

Winchester 42 max has been one of my favorite types of rimfire ammunition that has ever existed. Sadly, it’s fast disappearing from shelves and stock, but can still be found occasionally in stores and online. The subsonic variant of the 42 max features a heavier bullet and a constant trajectory regardless of distance, meaning its shots are more predictable than supersonic hunting ammunition at longer ranges. Finally, the 42 max works well with almost all 22LR semi-automatic firearms.

advantage/reliable, consistent and heavy hits

Cons/Exposed lead bullet makes your gun more dirty

Bottom line/Excellent for longer range engagements and noise reduction in suppressed or unsuppressed firearms

5. CCI 22L LR Subsonic Segmented Hollow Point


CCI 22L LR Subsonic Segmented Hollow Point

With one of the industries that only frags 22LR rounds. the CCI Segmented Hollow Point is a subsonic offering that allows maximum stopping power on small targets. These frag rounds are great for ensuring a clean, quick kill in most small games, but the round limits your kill range to within the speed threshold where the bullet will consistently frag. Being a subsonic round this is further reduced, but the reliability of this ammo when it comes to taking down targets quickly is why it is on this list.

advantage/Consistent kills regardless of shot location

cons/limited range due to muzzle velocity and expansion capabilities

Bottom line/Ideal for suppressed firearms.

What type of small game can I hunt with the 22LR?

22LR is fully humane and effective at killing a variety of small animals, including foxes, squirrels, groundhogs, woodchucks, prairie dogs, and even turkeys. Even though the 22LR is capable of taking down small animals, you still need to prioritize shot placement over any perceived stopping power any ammo claims to have – make those shots count.

How far away is the 22LR still lethal?

For most small game, 22LR will still be lethal at around 200 yards or more. Many of the rounds on this list are subsonic, so you’ll need to practice a lot to ensure your shots land where you expect. Personally, I would recommend longer range shots over 100 yards to be taken with something that moves a bit faster like a 17HMR or 17 HM2.

Avatar Author ID 693 - 186609837

Lucas Cuenca

Luke is currently a full-time writer for,,, and of course Luke is a competitive shooter, firearms enthusiast, reloader, outdoorsman, and generally interested in anything he has to do with the outdoors. Luke is also a certified private pilot and is currently pursuing his commercial pilot’s license in hopes of becoming a professional pilot. Some of Luke’s other interests include anything he has to do with aviation, aerospace and military technology, and the efforts of the American Conservancy. Instagram: @ballisticaviation YouTube:

We are committed to finding, researching and recommending the best products. We earn commission from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.