a man firing a 22lr rifle on a range

When Does A 22lr Bullet Start To Drop

The 22lr is one of the most popular forms of ammunition. With the lower grain of bullet and the smaller cartridge, there’s less propellant behind the bullet, so power is less than other types of rounds.

With that being the case, gravity takes effect, like any other bullet with less distance having been traveled, so a good question to ask is when a 22lr round actually starts to drop? 

A 22lr round will start to drop due to gravity after about 50 yards with the standard cartridges and 40 grain bullet. The higher powered magnum rounds will perhaps only drop an inch or two after 100 yards of travel with a similar bullet weight. At 100 yards a standard cartridge will drop around 7 or 8 inches. The higher powered rounds will need to travel 150 yards before they drop that much.

While it depends a large amount on the cartridge power and the bullet grain, along with a few other factors, but in the 50 to 75 yard range there is very little bullet drop for the high power cartridges.

a pile of 22lr ammunition close up

The standard capacity rounds may drop a few inches at 75 yards but by 100 yards they are dropping 7 to 8 inches. They will hit the ground at about 175 yards.

With higher power rounds you could expect little to no bullet drop until after 100 yards. But by 125 yards you are already massively losing momentum, you will probably drop 5 inches by 125 and around 10 inches by the time you’re at 150 yards. 

The highest power 22lr will probably drop 20 to 25 inches at 200 yards and will not make a target at 250 yards.

Despite its popularity, it’s an under-appreciated round that many people don’t know quite as much about as they perhaps should. Especially if they are using it frequently. 

If you want to be a better shooter, you must understand everything you can about your weapon and your ammunition. Its power, its range, its bullet drop especially. Otherwise, you are leaving yourself at a disadvantage.

If you would like to know a little more about the 22lr and how reliable it is over varying distances, you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover the 22lr round in-depth as well covering what bullet drop is, why it happens, and how it affects this round in particular.

What Is A 22lr Round?

A 22lr round is a 5.6 x 15mmr round that is named for its intended purpose. To be used by rifles. The LR in 22lr stands for long rifle. 

3 standing 22lr cartridges

This ammunition is very long, far longer than standard rounds as it’s intended to be fired over a far greater distance with far greater accuracy than you might expect with shorter rounds. 

The 22lr is, of course, a 22 caliber rimfire round. It is originally from the United States, where it is still used en masse today, despite it being invented way back in 1884. The military at the time desperately wanted a more effective form of ammunition as battles were now being fought at far greater distances between combatants. 

Snipers were becoming much more mainstream, which meant rifles needed to be able to compete. These cartridges also offer minimal recoil improving accuracy over any distance, but +100 yards especially. There is a reason they are still in use; despite tremendous progress in the world of ammunition development.

There are 4 major categories for 22LR rounds. They are subsonic, standard velocity, high velocity, and hypervelocity. 

They are sequentially more powerful with greater range in the order they are listed. Velocity is hugely important with rounds such as these, so choosing the correct category of 22LR is very important also. 

The difference in range between standard rounds and hypervelocity ones is almost 30%.

What Factors Affect The Drop Of A 22lr Round?

There are many factors that can greatly affect the bullet drop of a 22lr round. 

a pile of 22lr ammunition close up

The biggest factors are generally the rifle itself and where your target is respectively to yourself. 

Since the rifle you use is certainly more important than the ammunition, and the target is generally something you must react to not something that you choose, you will want to consider things that are in your control. 

Bullet grain refers to the weight of the bullet. The heavier the round, the faster the bullet will drop. And the sooner. 

Lighter rounds, with lower grain, tend to drop less but also have far less velocity and range. 

If you are shooting a target very far away you will be better off with higher grain ammo and anticipating the bullet drop. 

Lastly, the cartridge itself can affect bullet drop. Depending on the gunpowder used, you can expect varying amounts of velocity. Higher temperatures generally equal higher velocity. Lower temperatures mean worse bullet drop.

How Much Does 22lr Round Drop At 100 Yards?

The 22lr round is designed for long distances and high accuracy (with a good marksman pulling the trigger). 

6 standing 22lr cartridges

For that reason, the 22lr doesn’t actually begin to drop much at all before 100 yards in the higher power cartridges. 

You may expect an inch or two here and there depending on the conditions, the grain, and the gunpowder, but not often. If your rifle is sighted to 100 yards and you are using a high-velocity round you will probably get 0 bullet drop. 

Conversely, using standard 22lr rounds with high grain and a short barrel on your rifle you could drop as much as 5-6 inches by 100 yards. 

It’s very hard to give a firm answer because there are so many little factors that are almost incalculable. For example, did you know that the humidity in the air can affect bullet drop? The best way to ensure 0 drop at 100 yards is to correctly sight your weapon and use the highest velocity ammunition you can get your hands on.

Here’s a graphical representation of the drop experienced by various 22lr rounds.

a 22lr ballistics chart

How Far Will A .22 Bullet Travel Before Dropping?

Again, there are so many variables that this is very hard to put a hard figure on. If we assume that you are allowing for these variables then it would be safe to say that you will always see 0 bullet drop at 50 yards. 

Even in terrible conditions with the “worst” gun and ammo, you would be surprised to see any bullet drop. 

100 yards is about the maximum you’ll see 0 bullet drop with a good rifle, good ammo, and good conditions. 

a few standing 22lr cartridges

After 100 yards the bullet drop comes hard and it comes fast. By 125 yards, you’ll see about 5 inches of drop. By 150 you’ll see 10-12. By 200 you are going to be unlikely to even calculate the drop, let alone anticipate it.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding and a better appreciation for this very popular and powerful round. 

Being able to anticipate bullet drop is very important when trying to hit your mark from long range. 

As a casual shooter, it’s not quite an exact science. You can learn how your rifle and chosen 22lr round affect bullet drop and go from there. 

Remember, the simplest thing you can do is ensure that your rifle is sighted to the correct distance. 100 yards should do just fine, though 50 would also be acceptable. It depends on how far away your target normally is.

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