Rimfire vs Centerfire

Rimfire vs Centerfire Cartridges – The Hunter’s Dilemma

Rimfire vs Centerfire Cartridges – The Hunter’s Dilemma


If you are a hunting buff then your toughest decision so far would have been selecting the right pistol or gun for your escapades. Once that is done appropriately the next step becomes picking up the correct ammunition which would suit your purpose best. When you start searching for options the two words that come to your attention are Rimfire vs centerfire cartridges.

For the experienced shooters, it’s easy to use these terms in their conversations the learners however still need to understand the key features of both. Ammunition that is used in modern day guns and pistols falls into either of the two categories and we are here giving a brief overview of centerfire vs Rimfire cartridges.


Rimfire vs Centerfire

Rimfire Cartridges

Rimfire cartridges are named so because their priming compound is placed on the rim of the cartridge. A priming compound sparks within the compound case and ignites the gunpowder in the process.

On the other hand, the rim is situated where your firing pin will strike when the trigger is pulled. Since the powder charge sits directly in front of the priming compound the chances of failure in ignition are minimized.

Centerfire Cartridges

Centerfire cartridges are as different from their rimfire counterparts as can be. They incorporate a thicker brass case and use a component called primer which can be seen at the bottom of the cartridge just near the center of the brass rim.

In comparison to rimfire cartridges, the priming compound is present in this ‘primer’. When the user pulls the trigger the priming compound present is crushed against a part of the primer known as the anvil. This sends a shower of sparks into the powder charge which is present in the case.

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Analysis Centerfire vs Rimfire Cartridges



Since Centerfire cartridges are using a primer which is an integral part of their overall construction they are comparatively more complicated than their rimfire friends. Primers for center fire cartridges are available in different shapes and sizes which become useful in case you wish to reload the cartridges .Where small pistol and rifle primers measure 0.175 inch in diameter the large rifle and pistol primers measure .210 inch in diameter.

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Another advantage of having a centrally built primer is the ability to be able to burn large amounts of powder at one time. Since only the primer is struck a concentrated jet of heat is generated which is able to ignite the powder more efficiently. Rimfire cartridges have a weaker ignition and hence in this fight of rimfire vs centerfire cartridges ignition, they are left far behind.

Centerfire cartridges are also able to operate at comparatively higher pressures as opposed to rimfire cartridges. Even though it means a louder band and more recoil they are able to generate higher velocities and hence are best suited for shooting at longer distances or for hunting purposes.

Case design

Rimfire vs Centerfire

Initially, rimfire cartridges were found in a variety of shapes and sizes however after the 20th century the trend changed. Now most of them are available only in .22 short or long versions. Most of the rimfire cartridges have one essential design and the lack of a primer makes it necessary for them to be equipped with a case rim .However, the presence of the rim causes severe operational hassles and it becomes tough to achieve perfection in shots.Earlier rimfire cartridges were black powered load bullets and hence were considered to be low power.

Since their design did not permit them to shoot at a speed of more than 1000 feet per second they were not considered reloadable. Centerfire cartridges are made up of thick brass material and hence it is practical for them to be reloaded. All thanks to their designs the center fire cartridges are able to launch projectiles which are large in diameter.

Also, the weight of these bullets is more they are able to generate much more kinetic energy upon impact. If you do a comparison of centerfire vs rimfire cartridges you will realize that while the former can be trusted for serious hitting for small time recreational shooting purposes you should trust the latter.

Firearms design

Rimfire vs Centerfire Cartridges

The design of single shots for both rimfire and centerfire cartridges is almost the same however for in semi-automatic guns it may differ. These semi-automatic guns are reloaded with help of the force generated by the passing gasses their rimfire versions use the recoil force of the firearm. Hence these pistols are provided with beefy slides so that it becomes easier to absorb the recoil and hence cycle the gun. However, the centerfire counterparts are bestowed with a tilting breech design which uses recoil springs to efficiently load the weapon.

This provides these guns a certain level of simplicity of operation as you do not have to worry about any rotating or tilting barrels. This blowback design also ensures that the center fire cartridges are high on precision and there are fewer chances of errors in shooting. However, we cannot deny that rimfire cartridges come with very less recoil and noise. If you are looking for a not so serious shooting experience then this kind of benefit helps as high recoil and noise can be a major distraction.

Hunting Purpose Analysis of Rimfire vs Centerfire


Rimfire cartridges are cost effective and can be efficiently used for target practice. However when it comes to serious hunting centerfire cartridges get an upper hand. Though people support the use of rimfire for shooting hogs and coyotes the truth is that there is always a margin of error. Using them for small kills is advisable as that helps you gain experience for better hunting processes.

While manufacturing rimfire cartridges the material used is either pure lead or a soft alloy. Since the ammunition cannot be reloaded we are forced to use the stuff provided to us. The thing to understand here is that actual hunting involves wild animals and hence the choice of ammunition should be such that there is no room for mistakes.

In this fight of centerfire vs rimfire cartridges, we still cannot say that the latter is better as they are also not suitable to take up games larger than squirrels or rabbits. While rimfire can be used for practicing and for teaching tricks of the trade to new learners for serious hunting business it is advisable to select the center fire cartridges.

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The Final Take


Even though rimfire is less expensive and easy to handle they are just not capable of handling serious hunting jobs. You can use them for basic hunting and that too only at very close ranges which restrict them being selected by the professional hunters. They can be conveniently used in situations where a firearm usage is required but the center fire is just too big.

The .22 lr can be used for target practicing and since the cost remains on the lower side even a few rounds wastage does not make you feel the pinch. In spite of being slightly inferior to center fire in terms of production quality and accuracy, they are often chosen for their cost efficiency.

However for perfecting hunting technique and actual time hunting purposes it is better to trust center fire cartridges. In spite of their operational hassles, you can conveniently use them for large games, long range shootings and even for self-defense.

Hopefully, through this article, we have been successful in clearing all your doubts about the continuing battle between rimfire vs centerfire cartridges. Hunting is a passion for many while for some it’s only a chance to have fun and adventure .The choice of the cartridge you select would largely depend on the purpose for which you need them and hence select appropriately. A slight error in decision making on your part can be dangerous hence weigh both the options carefully.

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