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  • Post last modified:April 9, 2023

In this article, we will explore the differences between rimfire and centerfire ammunition

They differ in their construction, application, and cost, and let's explain how they are used.

What is Centerfire Ammo?

centerfire ammo

Centerfire ammunition is the most commonly used ammunition in military, law enforcement, and civilian defense applications.

rimfire vs centerfire

The primer of a centerfire round is located in the center of the cartridge, hence the name. The firing pin of the firearm strikes the center of the cartridge to ignite the primer and discharge the bullet.

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Centerfire ammunition is also reloadable, making it more cost-effective in the long run for frequent shooters.

556 nato casing

The most popular centerfire calibers are 9mm for handguns and 5.56/.223 for many rifle types. However, there are dozens of different handgun and rifle centerfire ammunition types and calibers available in the market.

Check out the best deer calibers under 300 yards

What is Rimfire Ammo?

Rimfire ammunition, on the other hand, contains the primer in the rim of the cartridge. The firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge to ignite the primer and discharge the bullet.

rimfire vs centerfire primer hit

Rimfire ammunition is considered less reliable than centerfire ammunition due to the design of the primer.

rimfire ammo

The most popular rimfire calibers include .22LR, .22 Long, .22 Magnum, and .17HMR. Rimfire ammunition is limited to relatively low-pressure loads, and the spent casings are not reloadable.

It is also less expensive to manufacture, making it more affordable for shooters.


Rimfire ammunition is popular among small-game "varmint" hunters, sport shooters, and those who enjoy casual shooting or "plinking." The lower pressure loads of rimfire cartridges are less expensive, making them a cost-effective option for target practice and recreational shooting.

However, rimfire ammunition is not recommended for self-defense purposes. Although rimfire cartridges can be lethal to human beings, they are less powerful than centerfire ammunition and may not be effective in stopping an attacker.