When deciding to purchase a pistol or rifle, you have to understand terms like “centerfire” and “rimfire.” These are nothing but different types of ammunition that a firearm uses. But what is the real difference between rimfire and centerfire cartridges?

Experienced shooters tend to use these terms a lot, don’t they? But if you’re a beginner, then you need to now the correct explanation. When it comes to ammunition for modern pistols and rifles, it falls under either the rimfire or centerfire category. So it’s important to understand the significant differences between these two cartridges.

difference between rimfire and centerfire

Rimfire vs. Centerfire: The Ignition

difference between rimfire and centerfire

The most noteworthy difference between rimfire and centerfire bullets is their primer. The component is present at the tail of the cartridge. A .22lr’s primer is integrated into its case rim at the rearmost region. The ignition of centerfire consists of a primer that’s self-contained and replaceable. The main advantage of such a primer is its capacity to burn massive quantities of powder.

The case of a centerfire cartridge can become stronger and thicker. And this is because its wall doesn’t get struck as that is the job of the primer. It’s the primer that produces strong heat. And this does a great job at igniting the powder in an even pattern and burning it completely.

Butrimfire calibers burn in an uneven manner. As a result of which, there’s too much powder residue to deal with. And this is what uneven burning leads to.

Do you know what you can gain when the burning is even and case stronger? The powder charge is bigger, which gives you that perfect flat trajectory. And this means more bone crushing capacity.

So when talking about ignition, rimfire doesn’t defeat its centerfire counterpart.

Rimfire vs. Centerfire: The Case Design

Here’s another important difference between rimfire and centerfire cartridges. The rimfire version comes with the case rim to make up for the lack of a primer. This particular component ignites the primer element located at its edges. It also sets off that powder charge.

In this case, the rim gives rise to severe feeding problems. And these are issues that every shooter needs to address in a creative way. For instance, the rotary magazine of the Ruger.Or the Ruger BX25 model’s magazine with an extreme curvature.

Now let’s talk about centerfire cases. They are thicker and have a top quality brass design. You should also know that only the centerfire brass version is reloadable.

Bottleneck rimfire cartridges are a recent phenomenon. Even centerfire cases with a vertical wall structure were a rare occurrence.

Rimfire vs. Centerfire: The Firearms Design

difference between rimfire and centerfire

The firearms design highlights a slight difference between rimfire and centerfire cartridges. And this is only found in semi-automatic style guns. In semi-automatic centerfire, reloading is a result of generated force of running gases. While the rimfire ones use the firearm’s recoil force.

Rimfire pistols consist of beefy slides. These do an excellent job at absorbing recoil and cycling the gun. But the tilting breech structure of combat centerfire depends on the recoil springs. They also rely on the tilting design when it comes to racking the slide along with loading the firearm.

Such activity adds simplicity and easy usability to the guns. And that’s because you don’t need to worry about rotating or tilting barrels. You also achieve inherent accuracy. Thanks to a straight blowback structure with the fixed barrel.

When you compare rimfire to the bolt and the lever action of centerfire, it offers little advantage. And that’s because of the similarities in the design of these rifles.

Here, we’re talking about rimfirevscenterfire accuracy. And this means that you should consider the rimfire ammo. It gives you fewer powder charges with little muzzle flash, noise, and recoil. And every shooter fires better when the recoil and distraction are less, isn’t it? This is why so many shooters prefer working with rimfire cartridges.

Rimfire vs. Center Fire 

The Final Verdict

Rimfire cartridges are suitable for most purposes but are not ideal for some jobs. If you want to use them for capturing game, then make sure that it’s a small, light animal at a closer range.

It’s when the centerfire cartridges are too big that you should opt for the rimfire version. But more often than not, shooters opt for the .22lr for all types of target and trick shooting.

And here’s a final reason why you’ll spot more rimfire cartridges despite their shortcomings. Rimfire ammunition is the only type of cartridge that can burn as many as a thousand rounds per day. And this it does without making a hole in your wallet.

All in all, rimfire cartridges are easy and fun to shoot. And they offer more versatility. All this despite not having the upper hand over centerfire ammo!

So I hope that now you know the difference between rimfire and centerfire cartridges. Did I do a good job at explaining the significant dissimilarities between the two? And is there anything else that you would like to add here?

Please don’t hesitate to leave your honest feedback below. If you’re an expert and think that I failed to discuss something important, then let me know. The comments section is right below.

Thank you for stopping by and reading the article. Hope to see you again soon!

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