Are you curious about the differences between .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm ammunition? In this article, we will explore the history, development, ballistics, and various applications of these two popular calibers. We will also compare the pros and cons of each, discuss their accuracy and stopping power, and analyze their price and availability. Whether you are a seasoned gun enthusiast or a beginner looking to learn more, this comparison will provide valuable insights into the world of firearms.

Key Takeaways:

  • The .22 Magnum has been around for decades and offers a lower cost and availability compared to the 5.7x28mm.
  • While the 5.7x28mm has a higher velocity and stopping power, it can also be more expensive and harder to find ammunition for.
  • Both rounds have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between them ultimately depends on the user’s specific needs and preferences.


Regarding firearms and ammunition, two calibers that have generated significant interest and debate are the 22 Magnum and the 5.7x28mm.

Both the 22 Magnum and the 5.7x28mm have captured the attention of shooters and enthusiasts alike due to their unique characteristics and performance capabilities. The 22 Magnum, also known as the .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire), is highly regarded for its accuracy, low recoil, and versatility, making it a popular choice for varmint hunting and target shooting.

On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm has gained notoriety for its use in firearms like the FN Five-seven pistol and P90 submachine gun. This caliber is known for its high velocity, low recoil, and armor-piercing capabilities, which have sparked discussions about its suitability for self-defense and law enforcement applications.

Overview of .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm

The .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges have gained prominence in the firearms industry, with popular firearms such as the Kel-Tec PMR-30, FN Five-seveN, and Ruger 57 being chambered for these rounds.

Known for their unique characteristics, the .22 Magnum cartridge, officially known as the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, offers enhanced velocity and energy compared to its .22 LR counterpart, making it a popular choice for both hunting and target shooting applications.

On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm cartridge, developed by FN Herstal, is celebrated for its armor-piercing capabilities and relatively manageable recoil. This cartridge is prominently used in firearms like the FN Five-seveN and the Ruger 57, catering to the needs of military and law enforcement professionals.

History and Development

The historical evolution and development of the .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges have been marked by advancements in ballistic performance, occasional production glitches, and adherence to stringent FBI standards.

During the mid-20th century, the .22 Magnum, also known as the .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire), emerged as a powerful rimfire cartridge, excelling in both rifle and handgun applications. Its introduction revolutionized the firearms industry by offering improved ballistic capabilities over the traditional .22 LR cartridge.

On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm cartridge, developed by FN Herstal in the late 1980s, targeted military and law enforcement markets seeking a lightweight yet high-velocity round.

Production challenges plagued both cartridges initially, with supply chain issues affecting the availability of ammunition. Despite these setbacks, the cartridges gained popularity among civilian shooters for their precision and long-range performance.

Ballistics Comparison

An in-depth analysis of the ballistics performance of the .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges reveals distinct characteristics in terms of external ballistics, wound channel formation, kinetic energy transfer, and the potential tumbling effect of projectiles.

When comparing the .22 Magnum cartridge to the 5.7x28mm, one key difference lies in their external ballistics. The .22 Magnum typically exhibits a higher trajectory arc and drops more rapidly over longer distances compared to the flatter trajectory of the 5.7x28mm. This difference in trajectory can impact accuracy and bullet placement, especially at extended ranges.

The wound creation from these rounds varies; the 5.7x28mm has a higher velocity and energy delivery, resulting in a more significant temporary and permanent wound cavity compared to the .22 Magnum, which may produce a smaller wound channel due to its lower energy levels.

Usage and Applications

The .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges find versatile applications in scenarios ranging from self-defense and law enforcement to tactical operations, boasting impressive terminal ballistics and penetration power that appeal to discerning users and tactical enthusiasts alike.

For self-defense purposes, the .22 Magnum’s small size and light recoil make it a popular choice among individuals looking for a reliable yet manageable option for personal protection. On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm cartridge, known for its high velocity and armor-piercing capabilities, is favored by law enforcement agencies facing modern threats that require advanced firepower.

Regarding tactical operations, both cartridges provide a balance of precision and power, making them suitable for missions where accuracy and stopping power are paramount. The efficient design of these cartridges ensures minimal recoil, enabling rapid follow-up shots in high-pressure situations.

Pros and Cons of .22 Magnum

The .22 Magnum cartridge offers a range of advantages, including its rimfire design, but it is not without drawbacks, such as potential feeding issues that may impact its ballistic performance.

One of the notable strengths of the .22 Magnum round is its significant velocity and power compared to other rimfire cartridges. This results in improved accuracy and effective performance at longer ranges. The affordability and availability of firearms chambered in .22 Magnum make it a popular choice among shooters for varmint hunting and target shooting.

The rimfire priming presents challenges, as it can be more sensitive to ignition inconsistency and can sometimes lead to misfires or failures to fire. Due to its rimfire nature, the .22 Magnum cartridge may also experience reliability issues in semi-automatic firearms, affecting feeding and cycling. To assess and understand the ballistic performance of this cartridge, detailed ballistic charts play a crucial role in providing insights into factors like trajectory, energy retention, and bullet drop over distance.


The .22 Magnum cartridge excels in delivering impressive velocity and energy, particularly with 40-grain projectile options, making it a compelling choice for various shooting applications.

This potent combination of high velocity and energy output makes the .22 Magnum a versatile round suitable for varmint hunting, target shooting, and even some self-defense scenarios. The use of 40-grain projectiles enhances its ballistic performance, providing superior accuracy and stopping power. The lightweight nature of the .22 Magnum also results in manageable recoil, especially beneficial for shooters looking for a comfortable shooting experience.


Despite its strengths, the .22 Magnum cartridge is prone to feeding issues, and the ammunition price combined with the need for adequate ear protection during shooting sessions may pose challenges for users.

Regarding feeding problems, the rimfire design of the .22 Magnum cartridge can sometimes lead to misfires or jams, especially in semi-automatic firearms. This can be frustrating for shooters looking for a seamless shooting experience. The cost of .22 Magnum ammunition tends to be higher compared to other rimfire cartridges, which could impact the frequency and extent of practice sessions for enthusiasts.

Pros and Cons of 5.7x28mm

The 5.7x28mm cartridge boasts significant advantages as a centerfire round, offering exceptional penetration capabilities, but its effectiveness with hollow point ammunition may vary based on specific scenarios.

One of the key strengths of the 5.7x28mm cartridge lies in its unique design which allows for higher velocities and flatter trajectories compared to many pistol and submachine gun rounds. This results in superior accuracy over longer distances, making it a preferred choice for law enforcement and military applications.

When using hollow point projectiles, the effectiveness of the 5.7x28mm cartridge can be influenced by various factors such as shooting distance, barrel length, and target material. In close-quarters encounters, hollow points may not expand properly, limiting their stopping power, whereas in longer-range engagements, they can provide better terminal ballistics by transferring more energy upon impact.


The 5.7x28mm cartridge stands out for its high muzzle velocity, significant stopping power, and compatibility with various autoloader platforms, making it a favored choice for users seeking rapid-fire capabilities.

Its impressive muzzle velocity of around 2800 feet per second contributes to enhanced accuracy and target penetration, standing it apart from other cartridges in its class. The 5.7x28mm also boasts a lightweight design, reducing recoil and enabling quicker follow-up shots without compromising on power. This combination of velocity and manageable recoil makes it an ideal choice for users who value both precision and rapid-fire performance.


The 5.7x28mm cartridge may exhibit limitations in terms of kinetic energy transfer, bullet expansion characteristics, and considerations regarding the use of brass-cased ammunition, warranting careful evaluation in specific shooting scenarios.


One of the drawbacks associated with the 5.7x28mm cartridge is its relatively lower kinetic energy compared to larger caliber rounds, which can impact its stopping power and terminal effectiveness, especially at longer distances. Due to its smaller size, the bullet expansion properties of the 5.7x28mm round may not be as reliable as larger caliber options, potentially leading to insufficient tissue damage for effective neutralization of the target.

Accuracy Comparison

When comparing the accuracy of firearms chambered in .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm, factors such as shooting experience and gun barrel length play crucial roles in determining precision and consistency.

Shooting experience is critical when discerning the variations between these two calibers. The .22 Magnum, known for its versatility and affordability, can offer impressive accuracy for shooters of all levels, from beginners to seasoned marksmen. On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm, favored for its higher velocity and flatter trajectory, demands a higher level of skill due to its increased power and precision requirements.

The gun barrel length directly impacts the ballistic performance of these calibers. Long barrels typically enhance accuracy by increasing muzzle velocity and providing a longer sight radius, aiding in better alignment and target acquisition. Shorter barrels offer improved maneuverability, which can be advantageous in dynamic shooting scenarios where quick shots are essential.

Stopping Power Comparison

Evaluating the stopping power of the .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges necessitates an in-depth analysis of wound channel formation and terminal ballistics performance to gauge their effectiveness in critical situations.

When looking into the capabilities of the .22 Magnum, one key aspect to consider is its ability to create consistent and sizable wound channels upon impact, thereby increasing the chances of incapacitating a target.

In contrast, the 5.7x28mm cartridge is renowned for its high velocity and penetration, leading to deeper wound channels that can potentially result in more significant tissue damage.

Understanding these differences is crucial in selecting the optimal round for specific self-defense or tactical applications.

Price and Availability

When considering the price and availability of ammunition for firearms like the Ruger 57 chambered in .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm, the cost factors and market availability can significantly influence user preferences and purchasing decisions.

Amid the assortment of ammunition options in the market, finding affordable and accessible rounds for the Ruger 57 in .22 Magnum or 5.7x28mm can be a pivotal factor for gun owners and enthusiasts.

A crucial aspect to keep in mind is the impact of fluctuating ammunition prices on a shooter’s budget and shooting frequency.

The scarcity of specialized calibers like the 5.7x28mm may pose challenges in consistent training and practice sessions, potentially nudging users towards more common calibers. The availability of economical bulk purchases can sway decisions in favor of certain brands or types of rounds.

.22 Magnum

The .22 Magnum ammunition is particularly well-suited for rimfire handguns, offering users a diverse selection of gun rounds for comparison testing and evaluation in various shooting scenarios.

When considering the .22 Magnum ammunition options, shooters have access to a range of bullet styles including jacketed hollow points, full metal jacket, and soft points, each tailored for specific purposes. These rounds are known for their high velocity and relatively flat trajectory, making them ideal for target shooting and varmint hunting. The effectiveness of these rounds can vary based on factors such as barrel length and rifling twist rate, emphasizing the importance of conducting thorough comparison tests in different shooting contexts.


In contrast, the 5.7x28mm caliber is commonly associated with centerfire handguns, known for their distinctive gun barrel designs and impressive muzzle energy output that cater to users seeking enhanced ballistic performance.

One of the key characteristics of 5.7x28mm ammunition lies in its compatibility with a variety of centerfire handguns due to its optimal dimensions and design. The versatility of this caliber allows for smooth feeding and reliable performance, making it a popular choice among firearm enthusiasts. The 5.7x28mm rounds exhibit remarkable muzzle velocities, often exceeding standard handgun ammunition, which results in flatter trajectories and improved accuracy over longer distances.

The high muzzle energy levels generated by the 5.7x28mm cartridges contribute significantly to their terminal ballistics, allowing for deeper penetration and superior impact on targets. This increased energy transfer enhances stopping power and ensures effective target engagement, making it a preferred option for self-defense and law enforcement applications. The compatibility of this ammunition with various barrel lengths and configurations further enhances its ballistic potential, catering to a wide range of shooting preferences and scenarios.

Popular Firearms Chambered in .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm

Some of the most popular firearms chambered in .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm calibers have gained recognition due to their performance attributes and relevance in incidents like the Fort Hood tragedy involving gun rounds of these specific calibers.

One such renowned firearm that utilizes the powerful .22 Magnum ammunition is the Ruger 10/22. Known for its reliability and accuracy, this semi-automatic rifle has been a favorite among enthusiasts for hunting and target shooting.

On the other hand, the FN Five-seveN, designed to fire the 5.7x28mm cartridge, has been lauded for its lightweight construction and high velocity. Its use in law enforcement and military sectors has highlighted its superior penetration performance.

These firearms’ presence in notable incidents like the Fort Hood tragedy has sparked discussions on their impact within the shooting community, emphasizing the importance of understanding the capabilities and implications of different calibers in firearm usage.


The .22 Magnum and 5.7x28mm cartridges stand as formidable choices for users across various sectors, from Deputy Sheriffs engaging in firearm training sessions to individuals seeking enhanced performance on the gunfight range.

The .22 Magnum cartridge, known for its reliable performance and moderate recoil, is favored by Deputy Sheriffs in training sessions for its accuracy and ease of handling. On the other hand, the 5.7x28mm cartridge, with its higher velocity and armor-piercing capabilities, attracts enthusiasts looking to improve their skills at the gunfight range. Whether it’s honing marksmanship skills or enhancing tactical proficiency, these cartridges offer versatility and precision for a wide range of shooting applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a 22mag and a 5.?

The main difference between a 22mag and a 5. is the size and power of the ammunition. A 22mag is a rimfire cartridge with a bullet diameter of 0.224 inches, while a 5. is a centerfire cartridge with a bullet diameter of 0.308 inches. The 22mag is typically used for small game and target shooting, while the 5. is used for hunting larger game and self-defense.

Can a 22mag be used interchangeably with a 5.?

No, a 22mag and a 5. cannot be used interchangeably. They have different sizes, power, and ballistics, and using the wrong ammunition in a firearm can be dangerous. It is important to always use the correct ammunition for your specific firearm.

Which is more powerful: a 22mag or a 5.?

The 5. is considered to be more powerful than a 22mag. It has a larger bullet and a higher velocity, making it better suited for hunting and self-defense. However, the 22mag can still be effective for hunting small game and is a popular choice for target shooting.

Are there any similarities between a 22mag and a 5.?

While there are many differences between the two cartridges, they both have a similar purpose of being used for hunting and shooting. They also both have a long history and are popular among firearms enthusiasts.

Can a firearm designed for a 22mag also shoot a 5.?

No, a firearm designed specifically for a 22mag cannot shoot a 5. Due to the differences in size and power, a firearm must be designed and chambered specifically for the cartridge it is intended to shoot.

Which is more expensive: a 22mag or a 5.?

The cost of ammunition can vary greatly depending on brand and availability, but in general, a 5. cartridge is more expensive than a 22mag. This is due to the larger size and higher power of the 5., making it more costly to produce.

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