When you're in the market for ammunition, you quickly realize that gun stores carry row after row of boxes, some with expensive price tags and others with bargain-basement stickers. In addition, you can purchase ammunition online for many weapons. However, not all ammunition is equal. Some will regularly jam your gun and others will cost you an arm and a leg.
Start by choosing the right size ammo for your gun. A .22 bullet will fire in a .22 pistol or rifle, but the letters that follow, .22L and .22LR, signify the .22 long barrel and the .22 long rifle. The same holds true for an "S" that follows the caliber. A .22S is for the short barrel. By using the correct size, you will reduce the incidence of jamming.
Choose a solid casing. For target shooting, a combination-cased bullet is fine but for hunting purposes, you'll want a Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullet designed for maximum penetration. FMJs are also used in small military arms and do not expand upon impact.
Purchase hollow-tip ammunition for maximum spread upon impact. With a hole in the center, usually made of lead, the bullet will expand quickly upon impact, creating massive internal damage. In case of an accidental discharge inside, this bullet will stop within a wall instead of passing into an adjacent room.
Buy match-grade ammunition for shooting competitions. Manufactured with an extremely small level of variation, match-grade ammunition is more precise when fired. Due to the stringent production standards, it is also more expensive. Professional competition shooters use match-grade bullets.
Read an online evaluation before you buy. If you're still confused about how to buy ammunition, study the results of extensive tests that determine cartridge velocity and accuracy by brand. Different guns will have different results and correct sighting in your weapon is imperative to your accuracy (see Resources below).