Rimfire vs Centerfire: What’s The Main Difference?

Rimfire vs Centerfire

Why Compare Rimfire vs Centerfire Rounds?

We often hear the debate between rimfire vs centerfire ammunition which is popular among gun enthusiasts but what are they? Centerfire and rimfire ammunition are in fact, primer ignited ammunition cartridges that are commonly used by hunters for their hunting purposes. Regardless, they are also capable of fulfilling other purposes that will be discussed below.

To make things simpler when comparing rimfire vs centerfire, rimfire ammo works when the firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge which ignites the primer contents to release rimfire rounds. Contrastingly, centerfire ammo works when the firing pin strikes the center primer which is located at the external base of the cartridge case. 

Well, you may still be puzzled at this point on the major differences between rimfire ammo and center ammo. Fret now, we’d simply discuss the scopes, cons and pros of centerfire and rimfire ammunition to give you a better idea on which ammo to buy. So, let’s read on to find out more of the capability of rimfire guns and centerfire handgun. 

The History Background of Rimfire vs Centerfire cartridges 

The first ever rimfire round ever being created can be traced to .22 BB, which was the first self-contained cartridge ever existed. This birth of .22 BB marks a new era of the developments of modern ammunition for the gun enthusiasts out there. 

France has been long-established to be at the forefront in relation to Technology, but in particular Technology in Firearms which was the birthplace of the first originally rimfire cartridges. Initially, rimfire cartridges do not possess any powder hence the driving force is derived from the primer bead to release the bullet. 

These rimfire cartridges are categorized to be low power rounds as compared to other guns’ ammunition being manufactured in the market. This type of gun ammo was designed to leisure target shooting at a close proximity, which is also known as parlor guns.

Later on in 1857, France revolutionized the rimfire rounds by adding powder to ensure higher power and to add versatility to its applications. As such, .22 revolver came about into existence which was responsible for equipping soldiers in the battlefield as it was easy and light to carry around. 

As time progressed, rimfire continued to make a name for itself until approximately 1870. The fame and glory of the era of rimfire was soon overtaken by centerfire which really brought us here to the real debate on which ammo is better – rimfire vs centerfire?

Centerfire ammunition is inevitably more self-sustainable by using a self-contained primer which is situated below the cartridge case as explained earlier. Centerfire rounds can produce higher powder to its usage of fulminated mercury based primers which lights up the cartridges.

Besides that, the bullets are bigger in size and higher content of the powder gives the guns more of a competitive edge in terms of hunting, home defense or even self defense purposes. 

However, the introduction of the powder to the firearm was problematic in the manufacturing of ammunition. The reason being the gun manufacturers face a problem of the case of the metal cartridge which was not strong or sturdy enough to handle the high driving force of the black powder.

With great expertise and time, the manufacturers successfully solved the design issue to manufacture ammunition which can increase the metallurgy and optimize each centerfire round being fired. In turn, this resulted in centerfire rifles with higher accuracy at longer ranges, improved performance and faster reloading time. 

The Differences Between Rimfire vs Centerfire Cartridges  (Hunting Applications)

rimfire vs centerfire

The major differences between these two different types of ammunition can be observed through its hunting purposes. Each of this ammunition has its own pros and cons.

Firstly, a center firearm is an ideal and great option that has been used by a vast majority of hunting game animals. Contrastingly, rimfire rifles have been renowned to be used for small game hunting 

The cheap rounds of rimfire ammo have a relatively low recoil as compared to other ammunition. This rimfire ammunition is primarily used to shoot smaller size game such as rabbits and squirrels. As for sole reason for small game hunting, we promise you that a rimfire .22 round would be perfect for this type of shooting.

However, as for big game hunting, it is a different ball game altogether. Some reviews reveal that shooters are capable of shooting large game animals with rimfire ammo. Well, the reviews are accurate to a certain extent but rimfire ammunition do still have its pros and cons that would affect the success rate in taking down game animal. 

Besides that, hunters must consider the quality of the bullet to ensure high accuracy and performance. The quality of the bullets can be traced by the materials used to manufacture the ammo.

For instance, the majority of the rimfire ammunition are made with a softer form of metal which would fracture and cause the impact to spread out once fired. This is perfect for smaller size animals but definitely not the best ammunition for larger game. 

Regardless, there is centerfire ammo being manufactured for small game hunting but this ammunition is much more expensive than the usual rimfire ammunition. Nevertheless, as for larger game, centerfire ammunition is one of the best gun deals where there are no other competitions.

Centerfire ammo guarantees bullet speed, power and high accuracy in capturing larger animals such as deer and moose. 

The Pros and Cons Between Rimfire vs Centerfire?

rimfire vs centerfire

The Pros of Rimfire Ammo

Cheap Price

Rimfire ammunition is cheaper than centerfire ammunition. For example, .22 LR ranges between 5-10 cents whereas  AR-15 .223 rounds range between 25-40 cents each.The cheaper price can be explained because the casing is made from thinner walls with a flattened primer at the base. 

However, cheap things aren’t necessarily the best thing. The thin nature of the casing makes it less durable as compared to centerfire ammunition which could only house a limited amount of small calibers. 

As such, the addition of the powder is necessary to allow proper propellant of the larger bullet to disintegrate the brass. Unfortunately, in recent times, rimfire ammunition is less accessible in the market as some reviews revealed that some individuals have bought large quantities of rimfire firearms for the purpose of hoarding them.

Low Recoil 

The .17 and .22 caliber bullets have a lesser amount of gunpowder which has an incredibly low levels of recoil for the firearms. This level of recoil is perfect for beginners. 

The Cons of Rimfire Rounds

Not Reloadable

The primer is seated at the interior of the base of the case so reloading may be inconvenient as compared to the easily reloadable centerfire ammunition. 

Potential Reliability Issues

The rimfire ammo has been considered less reliable due to reviews that revealed a 1-2% failure rate to fire in 10/22 rifle which shoots using the top rated shelf ammo, the CCI.

The Pros of Center Fire Rounds

More Reliable

Centerfire ammunition has higher reliability than rimfire ammo because of its separate self-contained primer which is designed to fulfill a particular function. 

Besides that, centerfire ammunition has distinct advantages from its modern firearm designs which makes it super reliable. Hence, centerfire ammunition is commonly used for home defense and self defense especially with the amount of primer compound in a standard primer.

Ability to Hit Longer Ranges

Centerfire ammunition has higher power and heavier bullets would allow it to maneuver easily and quickly at longer ranges. Contrastingly, rimfire ammunition which is lightweight could be easily influenced by the crosswinds that would affect its accuracy. For example, crosswinds could affect a bullet about 6 inches or more for shots over 100 yards and beyond. 

Caliber Availability

Centerfire cartridges are easily accessible within the market, which ranges between .22 caliber to 50 BMG. Hence, new shooters do not have to worry on which centerfire cartridge to purchase because regardless of your applications – you would be able to find a suitable cartridge for your handguns.

Ability of Magnum Loading

A centerfire ammunition has magnum load which ensures shots to be fired at an extreme high pressure which translates to higher muzzle velocity than other original standard cartridges which use magnum loads. Regardless, magnum loading are extremely popular to be used for self defense and big game hunting. 

The Cons of Centerfire rounds

More expensive

Centerfire ammunition is inevitably more expensive than the cheaper rimfire ammo as explained above. Although the cases of centerfire ammo are reloadable, the prices remain more expensive than the low cost rimfire cartridges which are much more affordable to the general public. 

More Recoil

Centerfire ammo will generate more recoil due to its heavier weight which would affect the overall accuracy of the centerfire firearms. In turn, the centerfire cartridges would have a higher level of pressure due to the more felt recoil.

The List of The Best Rimfire Ammo

Here is a list of some of the popular choices for rimfire ammunition for your consideration to improve and upgrade your weapon. 

  • 22 Short: This is commonly adopted in certain types of revolves but it is not a popular choice among shooters
  • .22 Long Rifle (LR): This is very popular among shooters around the world, Besides that, this rimfire firearm is a perfect rifle to practice with for new shooters.
  • .22 WMR: Winchester Magnum Rimfire. This rimfire firearm is a popular choice for varmint hunting. This rimfire arm ranges between .22 LR and the .223 centerfire round.
  • .17 HMR: Hornady Magnum Rimfire. This rimfire firearm offers a flatter shooting as an upgraded and improved version. This rimfire ammo is definitely more powerful than the .22 LR

The List of The Best Centerfire Ammo

Here is a list of some of the popular choices for centerfire ammo for your consideration to improve and upgrade your weapon. 

  • .223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO: These centerfire cartridges are the top-rated choice by the US military force and NATO. Furthermore, this centerfire cartridge is compatible with most AR 15 rifles platforms which makes it incredibly versatile.
  • 7.62x39mm : This form of ammunition is used in shooting AK 47 variant rifles.
  • .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm : These rounds are popular among shooters who often goes for long range precision shots, hunters or the military force.

Which is Better Between Rimfire and Centerfire Ammunition? 

The bottom line is each rimfire and centerfire cartridges have their respective advantages and disadvantages among other firearms based on our reviews. However, the best choice between these two cartridges would certainly be centerfire cartridges which are reloadable, ensure accuracy at longer distances and higher reliability.

Nevertheless, these two different types of cartridges can be used for daily usage by shooters. However, centerfire ammo is the best choice for self defense and home defense though it costs slightly more but it is acceptable due to the reloadable cartridges.

So, it is an excellent choice of cartridge to be considered by shooters on a tight budget in relation to purchasing their cartridges. In a nutshell, the centerfire ammo is definitely superior and more versatile in relation to its applications for shooters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the components of a cartridge?

A cartridge of a firearm consists of 4 major components namely, the propellant, bullet, primer and cartridge case. 

To gain a deeper understanding, bullet refers to the projectile rather than the entire cartridge which works the same way for all cartridges. This bullet is fired when the firing pin strikes the primer which results in a small explosion.

This small explosion will ignite the gunpowder to force the bullet to release from the barrel and propel forward to its target. Regardless, other components are similarly present despite the two different types of cartridges. 

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