Plinking and hunting with rimfires is a joy that extends far beyond any shooter’s youth years. With continual advancements in precision rimfire rifles and premium factory ammunition, the rimfire life gets better each year. Here are four of our absolute favorite rimfire offerings, one for each of the major calibers and each one guaranteed to put small game in the stew pot.
Norma 17 HMR
When two powerhouse companies come together, the results are bound to be great and such is the case with the new-for-2019 Norma .17 HMR rimfire ammunition. With Norma’s track record of quality hunting ammunition partnered with Hornady’s immensely popular V-Max bullets, this is a win-win for hunters and rimfire aficionados.
With the 17-grain bullet moving with an advertised muzzle velocity of 2,549 feet-per-second with 245 foot-pounds of energy, there’s both enough speed and penetration downrange to handle the rimfire hunter’s needs. The polymer-tipped V-Max bullet expands quickly on small game or varmints for the best terminal performance. These new rounds come 50 to a plastic sleeve and, best of all, the ammunition shot with great reliability and accuracy through our Savage A17 rifle.
Hornady 22 WMR
While Norma borrows Hornady’s V-Max bullets, we go right to the source for one of our favorite .22 Magnum offerings. Hornady’s Varmint Express in WMR is loaded with 30-grain polymer-tipped V-Max bullets. These little babies move from the muzzle at 2,200 FPS with 322 foot-pounds of energy provide more than enough oomph to take down small game and varmints alike. They come in 50-round plastic boxes and shot well through every rifle we tried, including the Ruger 77/22, Marlin 57and Henry lever actions.
Federal Premium Hunter Match .22 LR
The good ‘ole Long Rifle will always be the standard by which other rimfires are judged. While there have long been many flavors of LR ammunition available, we’ve finally found a legit premium hunting round in the Federal Premium Hunter Match. This round, with its 40-grain Hunter Match hollow point bullet, is built for longer-range accuracy and terminal performance on game. This proves especially useful for varminters seeking those 75 to 100 -yard shots. We’ve tested it at length on squirrels and rabbits with stellar results, meaning clean harvests without damaging the meat. With a nickel-plated case and loaded to match-grade specs, this is a winner for rimfire hunters.
Aguila 5mm Rem Rimfire Mag
Though nowhere near as well-recognized or popular as the previously referenced rimfire rounds, 2019 was a thrilling year for fans of the 5mm Remington Magnum. Cult-like followers of the 5mm Rem Mag had been begging for a remake of the ammunition for years and Aguila finally answered the call in a big way. The company is producing not just one but two versions. Both are tipped with 30-grain bullets and come in a jacketed hollow point varmint (known as the Magnum Varmint) and the other a semi-jacketed hollow point — both with an advertised muzzle velocity of 2,300 FPS which still put the 5mm a step above .22 WMR performance. The terminal results on small game are entirely devastating, as evidenced by our late-winter hunts.