After doing a side by side comparison on the quoted ballistics between the 4.6mm PDW round and the .17 Hornady Magnum rimfire, I got the idea to look at my favorite cartridge, the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire in comparison with a few other rounds.
Winchester has the ballistic information for their rounds on their website here; I’ll put some of the figures on paper. My favorite load for general work with the .22 Magnum is a 40 grain jacketed hollowpoint, it groups well from rifles and hits pretty hard from my pistols as well.
40 grain JHP – Muzzle velocity 1910 fps, muzzle energy is 324 ft-lbs. CCI offers a 30 grain “TNT” load in addition to the 40 grain hollow point, from a rifle it clocks in around 2200 fps muzzle velocity. That works out to about 322 ft-lbs of force from a rifle.
From a handgun, the North American Arms website has a great rundown of the muzzle velocity of several different types of .22 WMR ammo. I’m using the page for the Mini-Master, since it has the four inch barrel on it.
From a 4 inch barrel, the 40 grain Winchester JHP had an average velocity of 1,101 fps, which gives us energy of about 108 foot pounds. The 30 grain CCI TNT load comes in about 1,400 fps, and about 130 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.
For comparison, we’ll look at one common cartridge and one not so common cartridge. The first up is the .32-20 WCF, or just good old .32-20. It’s been a cult favorite of people for years, and for good reason. I was only able to find data on one bullet weight for the .32-20, that weight being the 100 grain bullet, which has a MV of 1210 fps, and produces 325 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The end energy result is the same for the 40 grain JHP from the .22 WMR as it is for the 100 grain .32-20. Interesting.
From a handgun, the 100 grain .32-20 load clocked in at about 850 fps, which would produce about 160 foot pounds of energy. From the looks of it, it beats the .22 Magnum from handguns. It is worthwhile to note that the .32-20 can be loaded much hotter than the rather anemic factory loadings; when done so it clearly outclasses my pet Magnum as a small game cartridge.
As a small game round, the .22 Magnum can definitely hold its own; as you can see the muzzle velocity and energy are quite similar to the larger (and more expensive) .32-20. But what about as a defensive round?
The common load that I’m going to compare the .22 Magnum to is a round usually found in small, last ditch autopistols, or until recent years, hiding under James Bond’s pillow. The venerable .32 ACP has been around for a long time, and is still quite popular thanks to tiny little autos such as the Kel-tec.
There’s quite a bit of information on the ballistics properties of the .32 ACP. The muzzle velocities usually range in 900-1000 fps range for a 60 grain bullet, which produces energy equal to 108-133 foot pounds. For a 71 grain bullet, muzzle velocity drops down to the 800-900 range, giving us energy of 101-128 foot pounds. Those are almost exactly the same as the figures for the .22 Magnum when fired from the NAA Mini-Master.
The point of all this isn’t to say that you should dump your Kel-Tec .32 ACP, or toss your lever action .32-20 to the wind. Honestly, it’s just to brag about my favorite cartridge, and it’s completely biased in favor of the .22 Magnum. Why do you think I didn’t compare the .22 WMR to the .223 and the .38 Special? I want my pet round to look good.