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Centerfire vs Rimfire – What Is The Difference And Which Is Best?

What is the difference between centerfire and rimfire?

Basically, when we talk about centerfire vs rimfire, we are talking about types of ammo. More specifically we are referring to the two categories of ignition systems for ammo cartridges. Centerfire vs rimfire is all in the name – with centerfire the firing pin strikes a center primer, while with rimfire the firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge base to ignite the primer.


Source: wikipedia.org

The video below gives a nice overview of centerfire compared to rimfire ammo, plus some interesting history too!

The big difference between centerfire and rimfire ammo is the way in which the firing pin strikes the primer. With centerfire a center primer is struck, while with rimfire the rim of the cartridge is struck. So it is pretty obvious why each are name how it is named!

Rimfire ammo is typically smaller caliber ammo with thin cartridge walls, which make them cheap ammo that is perfect for beginners or for practising shooting. The most common type of ammo that falls in the rimfire family of cartridges is the .22 LR (Long Rifle). Of course, as rimfire ammo is typically smaller calibers, it is not ideal for self-defense or hunting bigger game.

Centerfire ammo is larger ammo with thicker cartridge walls, which make it more expensive to manufacture but also more reliable and possible to reuse cartridges. So you will probably notice your bigger calibers are centerfire ammo. Centerfire cartridges will be your cartridge of choice for long range sharp shooting, big game hunting and if you want a caliber with serious stopping power for self-defence.

So on whether you should use centerfire vs rimfire ammo comes down to what your needs are. If you just want to do some casual shooting that wont cost you much, or you are still just learning to shoot, you probably want a rimfire cartridge such as the .22 LR. But if you are a more serious shooter with more developed shooting needs, such as serious target shooting or hunting, you will want to go with a cartridge in the centerfire family.