Rimfire vs Centerfire – Difference and Comparison

What is Rimfire?

Rimfire is a type of ammunition used in firearms based on a priming mixture located inside the cartridge’s rim. It is the oldest type of ammo developed and is famous for use in handguns and rifles. The rimfire cartridge is most identified by the .22 caliber size, although other sizes are available.

The rimfire cartridge comprises a brass case, a primer (which is located inside the rim), a bullet, and gunpowder. The primer is a small explosive charge ignited when the firing pin strikes the case’s rim. This ignites the gunpowder, sending the bullet down the barrel.

Rimfire ammo is popular among shooters because of its low cost and relatively low noise level compared to other types of ammo. It is also relatively safe, as it cannot be accidentally discharged when dropped or jostled; the firing pin must strike the case’s rim to ignite the primer.

Rimfire ammo is available in various calibers, including .22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 HMR, .17 Mach 2, .22 Magnum, and .22 Short. It is used for various purposes, from target shooting and plinking to small game hunting and pest control.

What is Centerfire?

Centerfire ammunition is a type of firearm cartridge that uses a primer located in the center of the base of the cartridge. The primer is a small metal cup containing a shock-sensitive explosive compound. When the firing pin strikes, the explosive compound is ignited, which ignites the gunpowder inside the cartridge and causes the bullet to be propelled out of the gun’s barrel.

Centerfire rounds are more potent than rimfire ammunition, as the amount of gunpowder used in centerfire cartridges is more significant than that of rimfire cartridges. This allows for a higher velocity and more muzzle energy.

Furthermore, centerfire ammunition is reloadable, meaning the case can be reloaded with new primers and gunpowder to be used again. On the other hand, Rimfire cartridges are non-reloadable and must be discarded after firing.

Centerfire cartridges are available in various calibers, including rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Popular centerfire rifle calibers include .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield, while popular centerfire pistol calibers include .45 ACP, 9mm Luger, and .38 Special. Many specialty centerfire rounds are also available for specific purposes, such as hunting and target shooting.

Difference Between Rimfire and Centerfire

  1. Rimfire cartridges are much smaller physically than centerfire cartridges. Rimfire cartridges are considerably cheaper than centerfire cartridges.
  2. Rimfire cartridge cases are made from a single piece of metal, while centerfire cartridge cases are made from two pieces.
  3. Rimfire cartridges are not reloadable, while centerfire cartridges can be reloaded multiple times.
  4. Rimfire cartridges are unsuitable for long-range shooting, while centerfire cartridges are used for long-distance shooting.
  5. Rimfire cartridges have a lower muzzle velocity than centerfire cartridges.
  6. Rimfire cartridges have a smaller powder charge than centerfire cartridges.
  7. Rimfire cartridges are considered less reliable than centerfire cartridges.

Comparison Between Rimfire and Centerfire

Parameter of ComparisonRimfireCenterfire
Location of primerLocated in the rim of the cartridge caseLocated in the center of the cartridge case
Used forUsed for smaller, low-powered firearmsUsed for larger, more powerful firearms
Eye reliefRimfire has short-eye relief Better or upgraded high relief
Parallax AdjustmentShorterLonger
PriceRelatively cheaper than CenterfireExpensive than rimfire


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