.22 ammo with several firearms

.22 LR for Self-Defense?

More bad guys are stopped by .22 Long Rifle ammo every year than any other chambering, but is it a good choice for personal protection?

By Richard Mann (RSS)
October 26, 2010

Why would anyone even consider the .22 LR for self-defense? Using the pipsqueak rounds when your life hangs in the balance may seem similar to the “Charge of the Light Brigade,” taking the approach that, “Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do and die.” That kind of thinking is unacceptable.

The fact is, .22 LR is, will and has been used extensively for self-defense—probably more often than you think. Rifles and handguns chambered for the rimfire cartridge are affordable, compact and the most common of all firearms. They have been the gun behind the door in American households for more than a century. They’re easy to shoot, don’t make a lot of noise and don’t cost an arm and a leg to feed.


Why are they often used for self-defense? Well, why do you pick your nose with your finger? It’s convenient at the time.

A .22 LR is the only gun some people own. That doesn’t mean it’s the most appropriate. I’ve driven nails with a crescent wrench and smashed my finger, used a knife as a pry bar and cut myself and even tried to move snow with a dirt shovel and been down in the back for a week. We can all agree there’s almost always a better choice for self-defense. The question is: When, if ever, is the .22 LR a good choice and just how effective is it?

I asked Ed Head, operations manager at Gunsite, for his opinion. He said, “Since the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun, any gun is better than none at all. The little .22 LR may actually be better than some larger calibers, depending upon the ammunition selected. For example, I would think a high-velocity .22 cartridge like the Stinger might be a better choice than a .25 ACP loaded with FMJ rounds.”

According to the book “Stopping Power, a Practical Analysis of the Latest Handgun Ammunition,” by Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow, Head is right. Marshall and Sanow found .22 LR Stinger ammunition was 58 percent more effective at producing one-shot stops than any of the FMJ .25 Auto loads.

When selecting a defensive handgun Head’s wife could carry in her pocket, he choose the little Smith & Wesson J-frame Model 317 in .22 LR. Several things convinced him it was the right choice. For one, similarly sized revolvers in .357 Mag. and even .38 Spl. can be uncomfortable to shoot. Second, Smith & Wesson’s eight-shot 317 only weighs 11 ounces. Finally, and most important, with the 317 his wife can consistently put all eight rounds into a target the size of an eye socket at 5 yards. Head asks, “What more do you need?”

He also said, “Nobody wants to get shot with any gun. It’s been my experience people just don’t stand there and let you shoot them. The most common stop is psychological. Most people stop fighting quickly after having been shot. Although we tend to worry endlessly about knockdown power and about what bullet and load is best, fact is, people just don’t like getting shot, and unless facing the rare superhuman, even a .22 can get the job done.”

Head qualified his comments on the .22 LR as a self-defense cartridge by adding, “If you are going to use a .22, practice until you can reliably make central nervous system hits.” It’s hard to argue with the logic. After all, he does make his living training folks on how to use a firearm to stay alive at what might be the premier firearms fighting school in the world.

Like Head, I’ve tried to find a carry gun for my wife. She shoots, but she’s not a gun person. Every handgun I’ve tried to work into her purse or hand was ultimately rejected for excessive weight or recoil. I never seriously considered a .22, but my sister recently purchased a Beretta Bobcat in .22 LR to use as a carry gun. When my wife saw this cell phone-sized pistol she commented, “I would carry that.” Hey, I never said gunwriters knew everything.

Looking deeper, I figured an ammunition company might also teach me something. I contacted ATK, the parent company of Stinger manufacturer CCI. Tim Brandt, who handles media relations for CCI and Federal, told me, “We work hard to position our products by use. For instance, we don’t advocate using our buckshot 12- and 20-gauge hunting loads for self-defense. In fact, Federal just added shotshell loads for self-defense this year. Along the same lines, we also don’t want to suggest using our .22 LR loads for personal defense.”

I really wasn’t surprised at Brandt’s response. Just like automobile companies build specific vehicles for specific chores, ammunition companies produce different loads to perform different tasks. Even though you might pull it off, Chevrolet is not going to suggest you haul a new recliner home on a Corvette or that you’ll impress chicks driving around in a $12,000 Aveo.

The data in Marshall’s and Sanow’s book lists the effectiveness of six different .22 LR loads based on 4,483 actual street shootings. On average, the cartridge produced one-shot stops 31 percent of the time. Based on their sampling criteria, the .22 LR was found to be about half as effective as the .32 ACP. With data from 465 shootings, the CCI Stinger was the second-best .22 LR load with 38 percent one-shot stops. With only 10 shootings, the original .22 LR Quik-Shok HP load had the highest rating at 40 percent. Quik-Shok ammunition is now produced by CCI. It’s available as a 40-grain Subsonic or a 32-grain Hyper-Velocity load. Marshall’s and Sanow’s data is based on the lighter, faster bullet.

Statistics and predictions are interesting, but I like finding out for myself. While hunting, I’ve observed the effects of different .22 LR loads on a variety of animals. I’ve also seen a few humans who have been shot with a .22. Like almost every other cartridge, results varied. So I turned to ordnance gelatin. Using the Beretta Bobcat, a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 and a Kimber Crimson Carry with a .22 LR conversion kit, I tested CCI’s Segmented Hollow-Point, the CCI Stinger and my favorite .22 LR hunting load, the CCI Velocitor.

Velocitor ammo penetrated the deepest, but did not expand out of the Bobcat. Stinger ammunition penetrated to a moderate depth and showed expansion regardless of barrel length. The real surprises were the two CCI Segmented Hollow-Point loads. Depending on the load, these bullets break into three pieces weighing between 10 and 14 grains each. Regardless of velocity, they always penetrated to almost 6 inches. About an inch or so into the gelatin, these bullets break apart, fan out and continue to drive on. They diverge from the centerline of the bullet’s path between 2 and 4 inches.

One-shot terminal performance tests are interesting, but what if you shoot a bad guy multiple times? Marshall and Sanow based their findings on one shot, but I’m not sure one shot is the best way to evaluate the .22 LR cartridge for self-defense. Why? Because it’s so easy to shoot fast and accurately. With the help of some friends I tested this hypothesis using a SIG Sauer P229 in .40 S&W and with a SIG .22 LR conversion kit. We found we could get twice as many hits in the same amount of time with the .22 LR. There were also fewer misses with the rimfire.

Make what you will of this data. What cannot be ignored is Marshall and Sanow examined almost 4,500 instances where a .22 LR was used for self-defense. In the same study they tracked the effectiveness of 16 different .45 ACP loads for a total of only 1,728 shootings. Yes, the .45 ACP was more effective, but what’s astonishing was that they had twice the number of shootings to evaluate with the .22 LR. This should dispel any doubts the .22 LR is frequently used in an attempt to stop bad guys.

So, what about stopping power? This term always comes up. For what it’s worth, consider that the first homicide I ever investigated, the perpetrator used a pellet rifle. Also, during my 13 years as a police officer, I pointed my handgun at a lot of bad guys doing a lot of bad things. In only two instances did it fail to make them stop. That’s potent stopping power, and the trigger was never pulled. I would add that none first asked me, “Hey, how big a gun you got?” Like Head said, nobody wants to get shot with anything. It’s a matter of perception and perception is important.

The public’s opinions on the .22 LR for self-defense is also interesting. With the help of my friend Shelby Murdoc, proprietor of the GunPundit website, a poll appeared on his blog. In four days he received 1,422 responses. It appears the average gun person is pretty sensible when it comes to personal protection. Most agreed a .22 LR was a better choice than a .25 ACP and that having a gun and being able to hit accurately and fast were primary considerations. A .22 LR handgun is about the easiest to get, carry and hit with. If it works!

Anyone considering the .22 LR for protection must realize duds are a reality with rimfire ammunition, mainly with the cheap stuff. However, I once fired a brick of Stingers during a prairie dog shoot without a single hiccup. That said, Stingers are not your typical .22 LR ammo; the case is longer and pressures are high. The same goes for the hyper-velocity Segmented Hollow-Point load. In some guns, these just flat will not work.

Another fact is handguns are not the only solution to personal protection and bad guys are not the only thing we need protection from. While attending the 2010 SHOT Show my wife called to tell me my son had been chased into the house by a rabid fox. My mother-in-law was at home with the kids and they were all, according to my three-year old, “Freaked up!” I told them to call the State Police. A Trooper friend arrived and smacked the fox with a .45 ACP. It took two hollow points to stop the fox.

In my closet you’ll now find a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 with a magazine full of Stingers, with a SureFire weaponlight and a LaserLyte laser on the quad rail. My mother-in-law and my 10-year-old son can shoot the M&P15-22 accurately and they know what to do if accosted by another rabid anything. If something goes bump in the night, it might be the gun I grab. It’s terrifying how swiftly and accurately I can shoot this carbine.

Twenty-two in the closet or not, I generally carry a .45 ACP or a .327 Fed. Mag. In my office there’s a loaded, 16-inch-barreled lever gun also chambered for the .327. A .22 LR is a part of my self-defense plan—but it’s a small part.

The .22 LR cartridge is truly a member of the Light Brigade when it comes to self-defense. It may be easy to shoot accurately and fast and it might be the cartridge most frequently used for that purpose. It may even work better than you think. For those who don’t have another choice, don’t have the money to procure another option or the physical ability to use anything else, the old cliché seems to fit. It’s better than nothing.

If by intention or misfortune you end up relying on the .22 LR for protection, here are some good rules to follow: Use reliable ammo, shoot straight and don’t stop shooting until the threat no longer exists. That’s actually exceedingly good advice no matter what cartridge you choose.

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79 Responses to .22 LR for Self-Defense?

  1. michael sharpe says:

    Assessable and accurate. One must focus only on the largest nerve on the body. I never feel under-gun;especially when the element of surprise is on my side. Generally .22 owners practice and know their equipment well.

  2. Mike Whelan says:

    Great option now that you mention it. My wife will not use my 45, 357, or under stress the 38 spl. I do not like her dependence on my riot gun with buck. I am going to try having her practice with my 22 lr. Much quicker to bring into action than the riot gun. Maybe she will get confident and move to the 38 eventually.

  3. Ken says:

    I own a sig p229 22 and the 9mm sig caliber coversion for my 229.I also shot the sig mosquito.both are fine weapons well made.I shot only cci or federal amo 40 grain 1200 + fps lr 22.I shot the 9mm about once a month and the 22 every week about 150 rounds per session.I carry both calibers for protection and at home.I prefer the 22 for my wife,I feel a good ten rounds to the crouch that hits the three piece set will deter most bad guys.I am a ww11 vet and 82 my wife is 77 the sigs are our family pets.

  4. Jeff says:

    I myself rely on a .22 for defense. Only difference is my revolver is a .22 magnum. I like .22s more than I do most guns because I can shoot them well, and I’ve never felt unarmed.

  5. Steve says:

    Great article! I often carry a 22 LR revolver as my conceal carry gun and feel confident it will do the job if called upon. I shoot several 22′s at the range every week and generally shoot 200 or more rounds each session. Accuracy is a kew factor, and I’m more accurate with my 22′s than my 38 special, 9mm’s or other caliber handguns. A loaded Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 serves as my home defense weapon.

  6. Brett says:

    I have been saying this for years. Nobody wants to get shot with ANY gun whether it be .177 pellet or 500 S&W. I’m sure they will all be unpleaseant, some much more than others. I take the accuracy and rate of fire of a .22 over a 45 ACP for my home defense anyday.

  7. the TiGor says:

    I do sometimes claim, tongue-in-cheek, to be a ‘P.H.D.’. Not a PhD., mind you, but rather, I’m a guy who will Play the Hand I’m Dealt.

    If a .22 rimfire is what you’ve got, then work with it!

    The good .22 Magnum hollowpoints are about impossible to beat if you’ve got a Ruger Single Six and the Magnum cylinder for it. It’s a real tackdriver with those (not so much with normal .22 rimfire) and I can clock a good 1500 fps or more out of a 5 1/2″ barrel with most loads. Hot stuff!

    But, if the normal .22 rf. cylinder is what’s in the gun, for whatever the reason, I’d definitely opt for the Velocitor if it looked like I’d be needing a load for any kind of deadly serious business that may be coming along. Anything below .38 or 9mm I’m not worrying about expansion, I want penetration, because most of the smaller, lighter bullets aren’t going to have it if they’re hollowpoints. The Velocitor seems to have the 12″ or so necessary to punch through the torso of a well built male assailant and reach the spinal column in a center-of-mass hit. I was very surprised to see that in any .22 LR hollowpoint!

    Velocitors aren’t all that expensive, either, as far as ‘good’ .22 loads go.

  8. Oldsalt says:

    Marshall and Sanow have been thoroughly discredited and using their discredited research to advance a hypothesis is disgraceful as well as irresponsible.

    This article is based on junk science and therefore worse than worthless, it is damaging.

  9. Pingback: .22 LR CCI Velocitor (2.4 inch barrel) | Shooting Illustrated

  10. Mark says:

    I own a Walther P22 and want to know if it can feed Stinger rounds?

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  14. Are You Kidding says:

    “This article is based on junk science and therefore worse than worthless, it is damaging”

    That’s utter nonsense. The article is not advocating the .22LR as the best choice for self defense, or even as a primary self defense weapon.

    It’s saying that if that’s all you have, or all you feel comfortable using, use it…it’s better than nothing.

    So suggest that someone eschew the .22LR and go defenseless is not only, in your wards, worthless and damaging, it’s irresponsible and arrogant.

  15. Pingback: "best" self defense rounds? - Page 3 - WaltherForums

  16. B says:

    I’m no gun expert by far. I have a 9mm and a 380 but am playing with the idea of a good 22lr handgun that will eat anything. I know 22lr’s can have duds because of the rimfire design and isn’t going to stop someone charging at you and all that.

    The main reason I am playing with the idea of a 22lr is because I have three children. I do not want stray bullets going through the walls or doors and hitting my children. And if one did go through the wall or something then it will have less impact. Or what if one of my kids happend to wake up and come out of thier room because they heard something and I shot off a round and it hit my kid. I would rather have the odds of survivability in my favor in that instance.

    And yes I know if the intruder is wearing several layers of clothing it will make the round less effective. But I am not shooting the intruder at 25 yards. If the intruder is in my house then it will be at a distance of about ten feet or a little more which is about the average size of rooms. I can place multiple rounds into the person if need be more accurately and quicker because of less recoil. And if 11 rounds isn’t going to kill the person, I will have the upper hand of bashing in the bastards head while he is bleading out still. But placement is still the key. A 22lr rifle will have more power behind it but it comes down to penetrating the walls still and also it will be awkward to wield around corners in a house. My main concern is for the safety of my children. But if you have no one else to worry about behind another wall may it be family in another room or tenants in an apartment, then by all means get a larger cailber that you can shoot effectively. I would if my situation was different. Different strokes for different folks. And for those that can’t understand this and still recommend like a .45 becuause it will blow an intruder away and bigger is always better. Well ease off of the Rambo movies and testosterone. If I was a soldier, law enforcement, or in an end of civilization scenario then I would agree. Not saying everyone who thinks a larger caliber is nuts, but what some bloggers say out there it sounds like their gung ho and trigger happy and maybe they shouldn’t be owning a gun.

    • Justin says:

      You need some training and class time if you are afraid of shooting your kids if they walk into your room at night. Get a flashlight and know your target and what’s beyond.

  17. Steve says:

    Enjoyed the article, but most intrigued by the “327 lever action”. Can you tell me a little about it? I have a .327 Ruger GP100 revolver and dream of a 327 carbine. Best regards,

  18. Aidan says:

    Love this article. Reinforces my choice in using a 22 for self defense, besides it being all i got. I recently bought a ruger sr22 pistol, it eats through ammo very surprisingly well. Minimal hiccups. I also own a ruger charger and i’ll save misfires to feed through the sr22 and they will fire often, haha. It’s cheap to shoot, loads of fun and i’m well practiced/confident with my 22 pistol. I intend to keep a box of velociters handy in the home after reading this article. thanks!

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  22. Bill says:

    What a great article. Most informative.

  23. Jack D says:

    I own a Ruger SR22 with a CMR201 laser and today I tried it for the first time. Shooting from the hip, braced against my waist (two handed), I can put all ten rounds in a four inch circle as fast as I can pull the trigger from 21′. No sights necessary. Just hold the dot on the circle and start firing.

    It will get the job done, if needed.

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  26. Ernest says:

    “Enjoyed the article, but most intrigued by the “327 lever action”. Can you tell me a little about it?”

    Steve, Richard had a Marlin rechambered to .327 Federal to try it out in a longer barrel. I forget the article, but do remember that he did one. A search online brings up a thread or two.

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  28. joe says:

    i have never shot at another human pray i never have to . but i know from personal experience that a 22 long rifle bullet will penarate both side of a thick sears catalog when fired from amodel 60 marlin i have done it to many times for it to be a fluke regards huntsalone

  29. john says:

    i own a taurus judge, circuit judge, rossi 357 mag 2 inch, rossi 4″ 38 special and a number of 22lr rifles. one of my favorite pistols is a gsg 22lr 1911 model. i love shooting it. recently it dawned on me that for self defense–i can shoot ten rounds very quickly–almost like a mini-machine gun.i just ordered a taurus pt22 for cch–even though i was planning on using my bersa thunder 380–still will use it though. i even have a nna mini-master that i’m practicing with for shot placement. these 22lr’s are so small that it does afford the element of surprise.

  30. synack2 says:

    I tried out a lot of 22 Handguns. I carry a NAA-22 Very often because it is tiny. The Ruger SR22 is a very nice weapon that will eat any ammo and works flawlessly. If you have to shoot a 22 is better than nothing, but My concern is if I am about to get in a gun battle with someone with a much bigger gun, I may hesitate because I know I am outgunned. I do practice very often though.

    • HopefulOne says:

      If you hit the target, you need not hesitate. I’ve heard how hunters have killed 1,200 lb. moose with a single .22lr round. They may not fall over as quick as with a big round, but they will fall and die. A head shot will stop them and 10 rounds anywhere in the chest will cause them to think of the life after death real quick. All the shows where people are shot with multiple shots and live and pretty much the exception to the rule. One shot in the vital area will kill within minutes if not seconds and will force a quick retreat.

    • Romi says:

      Don’t hesitate . Get in that first shot. If you connect it will take out most of the fight of your opponent even if he outguns you. Knowing that you have been shot is a real damper.

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  32. Josh Penn says:

    Thank you for this. My girlfriend wants to carry the walter p22 and I was worried about how effective it would be. From what I’ve heard the .22 is more then its portrayed to be.

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  34. wadwizard says:

    I was shot with a .22 LR many years ago, a Federal hi- speed 40 grainer. It went through the leather top and thick sole of my hunting boot, the meat and bone of my foot in between, and dug a hole in the ground underneath all. It may have reached China. It was a very unpleasant, shocking and painful experience. I would not hesitate to use the same round for self-defense and I would not want to get shot with one again

  35. wadwizard says:

    PS: This was from a 5″ revolver barrel.

  36. John says:

    I prefer my Python 357 4″, but certainly do not feel naked with my Ruger MKII.

  37. Anderson watt says:

    I sleep with a M&P 15-22 with double stacked 25 round magazines filled with 32 grain cci stinger hp’s that fly at 1600 fps. I can dump a whole magazine in less than 5 seconds and stay on target the whole time. I trust it with not only my life, by my wife and son’s too. If the first shot doesn’t stop him, the next 49 will.

    • MacBeth 'son of life says:

      I prefer a Sig Sauer Swat 522 shoot a 60 grain subsonic with a can in front. Others would have a hard time knowing where my fire is coming from. I believe the Gun should be the last line of defence. They should face electricity, pepper spray, Extream light and noise with suitable spots for cover becoming undesirable traps.

  38. Kenneth says:

    My choice is a Remington 597 in arcangle ar style frame in 22lr and can track drive squarles over 100yards so I don’t believe it would let Me down in defense at 10 are so feet in my home

  39. AJ Philips says:

    Comments…My wife just bought a 22LR Wather to use because her 40 was just too violent for her. The 22 shoots nice and she isn’t afraid of it. She can use it.

  40. Bryan says:

    .22LR can be devastating when understood.

    The important thing to understand is that incapacitation ability multiplies by a factor of 3 for each quickly successive hit to land near each other: i.e. double or triple taps are 3x and 9x more effective, respectively, than a single shot. And if you get super fast and can land 4 rounds at rapid speed now you’re talking 27x the chance for incapacitation.

    When you realize that, then you can see how a .22LR can be so dangerous. Don’t shoot once and then wait see if it worked, then shoot again, etc. Triple tap: tat-tat-tat. Practice doing it quickly and accurately. When you’re at the range, don’t take single shots, every shot tat-tat-tat. This is 9x the effectiveness of a single round when done quickly enough and accurately enough, and .22lr rounds are so easy to do it with. When you get good at it that’s when .22lrs are devastating.

  41. Steve says:

    First let me say that I own a S&W 617 and Ruger LCR in .22lr plus an NAA mini revolver so I like the round. I even can say that the only civilian shooting I witnessed was done with a .22lr from a Saturday Night Special. One shot to the belly of a big man put him down fast. My own two civilian encounters, one against three attackers, ended abrupty when they saw my gun. So I have seen what a .22 can do whether shot or not.

    However the one thing most do not consider when mentally forming a picture of what their gun fight will be like, is that they may only have time to make one shot and it may be done without sights and one handed. I suggest that if anyone wants to learn firsthand how easy it is to miss, even at close range, enter a few competitions that are timed. Even under the mild pressure of a competition, people do not perform like they do shooting at paper targets. In fact, it is a rare shooter who can hit a moving target the first time they try.

    So do not walk away from this article thinking it says the .22 is a good self defense round, because it is not since it is very limited in when it will work as such. Rather realize that the article is saying that it is better than nothing and if all the stars are lined up right and you are a very good shooter, it can work for self defense. So will a knife, ice pick and pellet gun.

    However as a part time instructor I often come across shooters who think they are very good and find that only applies to shooting at their own pace, with a proper grip and sight picture at static targets. Once you put them in a more realistic environment, they are not as good as they think.

    • Jon says:

      Well take your comments about shooting under stress and apply them to a different/larger caliber. How’s it any different? Now you just have a harder recoiling gun, harder to maintain on target. If anything, I think your points actually strengthen the argument FOR the .22 caliber, because when stressed isn’t it better to have a gun that you can control?

  42. eddyjames says:

    I had a Grendle P30 semi auto pistol about the size and weight of a Glock 17, It held 30 .22 mag. Never felt under gunned when I carried it. Wish I never got rid of it.

  43. Jerry says:

    On occassion, I carry a small Northern American Firearms .22 pistol with the mag cylinder. I load it with CCI Maxi-Mag 22 WMP HP hollow points. Once you shoot these 1875 FPS rounds, I assure you, you will NOT feel under armed! When shooting these at the range I get about as much attention as someone with a SW500 Mag, many ask, “WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING OUT OF THAT LITTLE THING!” They are impressive!

  44. Rick James says:

    An interesting discussion. Bottom line for me. I prefer to carry a 22 LR rimfire w/laser sight and 8 Velociter rounds available versus a 38 w/only 5 shots. There is a huge difference between lethal stopping power and incapacitation. The goal should always be to end the threat. If you can’t end a threat with 8 shots, you need way more practice time. Facing a sh$& storm give me 8 on target shots with a 22LR any day versus only 5 chances with a 38…2 or more of which will likely miss.

  45. Chief Dinkel says:

    I really enjoy reading this article. I am a 10-year Law Enforcement Officer, so firearms have been a huge part of my life for the past decade. The government has issued me a .40 cal Glock for duty purposes. I trust this caliber and it is my first choice for self defense. On the other hand, I make very little money and I cannot afford to shoot much more than a .22lr when I’m looking to plink on my time off. I consider myself to be a deadly shot with almost any caliber, but I’m viciously deadly with my .22lr weapons. I can drive tacks with my .22lr weapons. They’re smooth, accurate and you can unload any magazine in no time at all. I love a good .22lr gun and I would have no regret having one for a self defense weapon.

  46. mike says:

    I have used my wife’s Walther p22 to kill steers for butcher and 1 shot to the head always does the trick. Granted, I’m only a few feet away but there is no trouble going through that thick skull. I would have no reservations carrying that pistol for self defense.

  47. daniel says:

    I have four different pistols, a Marlin 795 with a red dot sight and a 25rd ProMag mag, and a Remington 870 with a tactical stock with pistol grip, loaded with Winchester WinLite 00 low recoil buckshot (you cannot buy this great low recoil 00 anymore, I don’t know why) beside my bed, under a cloth is a Kel Tec PMR 30 22 magnum. The mag holds 30rds, but I only load it with 20 alternating Winchester 40gr HP’s and Federal 30gr HP’s. I don’t feel undergunned at all with the PMR 30. My carry guns are a Diamondback DB 380 and/or a Ruger LC9 with a Galloway trigger job. I also have a Browning 1911 22lr pistol that fits the same holster, and loaded with 11 rds of Stingers, I don’t feel under gunned at all. I also have a Charter Arms 44 Special Bulldog Pug, which is easy to carry and is very accurate. I love all these guns, but if I had to grab one of those pistols to lay down some deadly firepower, the 22 magnum would be the one. I don’t fear using the 22 under any circumstances.

  48. jtmcculloch says:

    In 1981 Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan with a 22. 1 shot in the stomach dropped a secret service agent like a rock. 1 shot to the back of the neck dropped a police officer like a rock. Neither got up. 1 shot hit James Brady in the head, dropped him too. Did not get up. 1 bullet RICOCHETED off the car and hit Reagan on the left side under his arm in the chest. It hit a rib and went almost completely through his lung. The underestimated 22 will work for self defense very well.

  49. Red says:

    I own all sorts of guns ranging in all sorts of calibers. Most days I carry a Taurus PT22 for several reasons. First, it’s accurate. I can blast off 9 rounds quickly from 15 yards and have a very tight grouping. Second, I don’t want to necessarily kill anyone if I can help it……I don’t need that on my conscience. I’d rather severely hurt a person[(]s[)] who is attacking me so they can live with their stupidity. A .22LR may be small, but it will do some damage, especially at close range. And last but not least, ammo is cheap. Sure, .22LR is not the best caliber for self-defense, but in the right hands and used properly it will get the job done….period.

  50. Don Volkmar says:

    I believe that when the chips are down a .22LR, or two, or three, would deter most assailants. It would be interesting to hear from some people, perhaps leo’s, who have been shot with a .22 to get their description of the amount of pain and incapacitation that they suffered. It would be difficult to describe it but it would give use more useful info. Great article!

  51. PRM says:

    I grew up in the rural South and every farmer I knew had a .22 pistol or rifle in their pick-up. We shot everything that needed shooting with them. Rabbits and squirrels were a given. Coyotes, feral dogs, hogs at killing time… didn’t matter. I hear folks complaining about the .22 rim fire being unreliable. Can’t say that has been my experience either. I’ve had just as many bad primers as bad rim fires. Internet legends are hard to die, and a lot of folks spend more time on the key board than they do the range. I’m just as comfortable with my .22s as any other caliber. I also don’t expect a one shot stop with any caliber – it’s all about shot placement. My 2 cents.

  52. TZH says:

    +1 for .22lr for home defense, from a rifle that has a lot of rounds in its mag, has a red dot, a flashlight, sling, known for reliability, and is lightweight.

    that’s why I got a Kel-Tec SU22, it eats any ammo I feed it, and its reliable even when its gunked up dirty from a 400 round plinking session.

    when its in the digital safe beside our bed, we load her up with quality ammo to minimize or eliminate the chance of duds.

    my wife loves the rifle and she enjoys practicing with it too. its zeroed at 15 meters so she can worry less about point of impact. its her gun, mine’s the 12 gauge.

    people scoff at the use of a .22, but it certainly shines in home defense. for other situations, I’ll consider other calibers.

  53. gsg522 user says:

    Just won a gsg 522, an mp5 replica. I would venture too say at night, just by looks alone thiswould be enough of acdeterrent. I also know I can empty the 22 round magazine into a pop can rapidfire at 20 yards. In a home defense situation, I feel that is more than sufficient. Also my wife and 8 year old son can both shoot it accurately. In a shtf at home situation though…ie kill party or internal terrorists, the sks always has 10 mags loaded along with the sawed off mosberg 500. I think the 22 would be what I grabbed for first against 1 or even 2 intruders

  54. Joseph Felice says:

    There is a misunderstanding about the penetrating power of a .22. When I was a child, my sister accidentally discharged a .22 rifle in the house. It passed through a door, one wall(2 sheets of dry wall) and passed through another inner wall lodging in the outside wall. This was an older house made of real materials, not like today’s thinner materials, so I think any round discharged inside can be dangerous if it misses it’s intended target and travels through a house. It seems buckshot would be the safest ammo for self-defense indoors.

  55. Redrow says:

    Barrel length is also to be considered. Too short a barrel will not provide adequate velocity. I have dropped a full grown elk with a rifle using a standard 22 lr shot to the lung area. It fell after running 100 + yards.

  56. madmatt1740 says:

    My dad who was a Marine Marksman with three tours in Vietnam keeps a loaded Ruger Mark 2 next to his bed. When I was a know it all teenager I asked him why he didnt keep his 45 or 9mm instead. The next time we went to the range he showed me. He put 11 rounds in a pattern of about 2 inches at 5 yards in 3 seconds. He just put the gun down, smiled and said ‘location, location, location’ then walked away.

  57. Gary Slade says:

    A 22 in your pocket is better then a 45 at home, think about it.

  58. Roy Odhner says:

    After watching film clips of the Hinckley shooting, I’m convinced that the .22LR is gonna do the job. Hinkley instantly took one Sercet Service agent out of the fight, and had the President not been hustled into the car and rushed to the hospital I’m convinced that he would have dropped like a stone as well.

    It’s not my first choice in a self-defense round, but I wouldn’t feel too nekked if that was all I had. (However, I do frequently carry nothing more than two NAA minis loaded-up with .22wmr).

  59. Andy says:

    Got my wife a Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 lr revolver , because she doesn’t like the recoil from my CA Undercover .38 snub . She is a very good shot with the little .22 , I wouldn’t want to be standing in front of her taking fire , she is learning to use speed loaders with it also , the same ones that are used for the Model 63 S&W Kit Gun , I sent it to CA and had it somewhat customized , since it is built on the Undercover frame I had them install the DAO hammer ,and the Green Full Combat grip , her favorite color , I think it kinda helped to get her more into shooting . I myself think that the .22lrcartridge is underrated as for use for self defense . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  60. John Roos says:

    While I would not use the 22lr as my first choice for Self protection I do believe the 22 is one of the most underrated rounds ever. No It does not have the devastating stopping of a .45 ACP with a 200 grain black talon slug . It is still a nasty little round,just my opinion

  61. John Gardner says:

    I carry a Ruger SR-22 as a side arm. My reasoning being, it’s a light, reliable, and capable defensive weapon in trained hands.

  62. William Maddox says:

    Thank you for your post I learned a lot about my RUGER SR22 from that . I own 3 guns a TAURUS PT111 G2 9MM, S&W BODYGUARD .380
    , and the Ruger sr22. Although I love my 9mm and .380 the .22 feels best in my hand for defense as well as practicing with . I use nothing but CCI STINGER 40 grain SHP rounds and love them.. I carry it everyday, I also saw a very respected self defense teacher on TV testing the CCI HOLLOW POINT 40 GRAIN. And it went through all four walls.. I’m very impressed with this gun..

  63. John Malcolm says:

    What I don’t understand is who everybody is defending themselves against. I’m 60 and have never found myself in need of self defense anything save comman sense. I have no particular problem with someone carrying a gun for sef defense if they really need one … But who is that? How many of the posters here have actually ever had to use a weapon in self defense? Maybe lots, I do not know. My sense is that very very few people ever need to defend themselves vrs the number that are armed to do so. I may be wrong.
    I would also like to ask for comment on the ability of the average person to take a life even when threatened. The military found that the majority of combat troops were in WWII were making no effort to kill the enemy even when under fire and by every reasonable assessment needed to be foreign back and defending themselves. I should think it would be very difficult for an average Joe/Jane to shoot someone. Especially when we consider that the vast majority of assaults [(]lethal and otherwise[)] are between family members.

  64. Matt Henry says:

    The whole stopping power thing has gotten way out of control, I think its because of the internet. People who have no idea what they are talking about hop online and try to justify their purchase of a $2000 custom 1911 by swearing up and down that bad guys wont even flinch at anything smaller- which is FALSE.

    The fact is, a gunshot is either going to kill instantly, kill within minutes, or kill within days. When you shoot someone, an instant drop is very rare. You really need to sever the brain from the spinal cord, even heart shots and head shots may not instantly drop, the fight or flight response is very powerful.

    What is going to stop an attack most of the time is the psychological and physical shock experienced by someone being shot. You hear a loud bang, and see a flash, all of a sudden you feel excruciating pain and look down to see blood. Your ears are ringing and maybe your even temporarily blinded by the muzzle flash. The LAST thing on your mind at this point is “how can I still finish this robbery/assault”. Your fight or flight response is activated, and your higher reasoning quickly tells you to run because you know fighting is not an option.

    This is going to happen regardless of caliber. The only exception would be if you are on certain drugs (such as a high dose of PCP) but in reality the drugged up criminal fighting through gun shots almost never happens, its just another story told by the same people who think anything smaller than a .45 is worthless. What caliber is going to do it influence how likely it is that you will die from your injuries later on. If you were hit in the CNS, heart, or a major artery, you will probably die in minutes regardless of caliber. A larger caliber with an expanding bullet leaves a larger wound and speeds up the bleeding out process.

    Whay then do some statistics show .22lr shots as or more fatal than larger calibers? The reason is because a lot of criminals shot with a .22 will put off going to the hospital. After they get over the initial shock of being shot, they may think they are fine because all they see is a small entrance wound that has stopped bleeding and the pain in manageable. Because of this, they put off going to the hospital until they wake up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain and by the time they get to the hospital they are septic and die from infection in a couple days. Another possibility is blood clots form from the internal injuries and they stroke out.

    With a wound from a larger caliber, the injuries are usually too dramatic to avoid the hospital, so they get medical care sooner and have a better chance at survival so even thought he wound was worse, they got care faster so the mortality rate averages out.

    The bottom line is this: the criminal attacking you is either going to have a gun or not. If he has a gun, it will be pointed at you and there’s no way you can draw your own gun before he shoots you, so you have to comply and hope he only wants you wallet. Since you wont have an opportunity to pull out your own gun, it doesn’t matter what size it is. If he does not have a gun, then regardless of the size of your gun you have a huge advantage because any caliber gun is better than no gun and you will be the one walking away from that encounter.

    Get the gun that you feel most comfortable with. Criminals don’t wear body armor and you wont be shooting at them from more than a few feet away, so you don’t NEED a larger caliber. If you want a big caliber, go ahead and get it, but if you are going to use it for self defense you better practice a lot and be able to make well placed shots under stress.

  65. gb says:

    With my Browning Buckmark, I can put 30 serious defensive rounds smack in the middle of your chest before you know what hit you. Night, night.

  66. Joe says:

    M&P40, Mossberg Persuader and looking at M&P15s. I wouldn’t mind a lever action in .357 or .44, nice if they made one in .40 S&W.

  67. Joseph says:

    Folks should be aware that no round brings a man down with force. Lots of myths out there about stopping power. Even when you hit vital organs, people often proceed. There’s a popular video of a police officer that was killed at a traffic stop after shooting the suspect center mass with a .40. You couldn’t even tell at what point he was hit. Bullets do not knock anyone down. Look at the video evidence.

  68. inspector says:

    In my job I have watched many large animals put down with a .22 long rifle. Bullet placement is key. If I knew I were about to get in a gun battle and had time to pick a gun I wouldn’t choose a .22. I wouldn’t choose a pistol at all. However, I’ve witnessed 400+lbs hogs dead before they hit the ground when a .22lr was placed at the right spot to enter their brain. Their heads are harder than ours. Robert Kennedy was assassinated with a .22 and Reagan and his guys were shot up with a .22. It’s not my first choice but I had much much rather have it than nothing. It is lethal.

  69. Larry says:

    With all this said, what should I use in my Ruger SR22? Velocitors or Stingers???

  70. John says:

    The question of whether or not the 22 is effective for self defense has been circulating forever. Is it is a question each of us must decide for ourselves. I choose not to have it defending me.

  71. Miki Heaton says:

    Sir As a 57 year old woman with terrible Rheumatoid arthritis in my hands I can no longer shoot a 9mm or anything more powerful than the 22. The new compact Browning 1911 with stingers in it gives me a gun I can carry and be confident I can empty a clip at 15′ in a 10′ circle. That is why someone would carry a 22 for protection! Thank you Browning.

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