The first gift I bought my wife after we began dating was a Ruger MK II .22-caliber pistol. So, I’m a romantic fool, what can I say? Or maybe, I wanted her to have the means to protect herself as I shared my love of shooting with her. While some may scoff at the idea of the lowly .22 as a defensive tool, it has a lot going for it. Let me share 10 reasons why you should consider the .22 for personal or home defense.
While there might be better choices, the .22 can be a good choice in some situations for certain types of shooters. I often advise students who live in restrictive urban settings in places like California to consider the .22 semi-automatic rifle for personal or home defense. They’re legal, available, inexpensive, effective, relatively quiet and easy to use. As they say, your mileage may vary, but to me the .22 has a lot going for it.
1. They're Easy to Shoot
.22 rifles and pistols are easy to shoot. While I love big bore handguns, starting my wife off with a .44 Magnum would have been a bad choice. Didn’t most of us start shooting with a .22? Sure we did, and that led to a lifetime of enjoyment in the shooting sports for many of us. In the case of my wife, I wanted her to have something easy to shoot and easy to learn with that would also serve as a home defense weapon.
2. Ammunition is Plentiful and Inexpensive
Yes, the current virus situation has thrown some serious wrinkles into the price and affordability of ammunition, but in most more "normal" times, .22 ammunition is cheaper and more widely available than many other popular loads. And if you stock up on ammo before a pandemic hits, as Richard Mann suggests, you'll be in good shape with the .22.
While finding defensive 9 mm ammunition is a problem in this era of shortages, .22 ammunition has been available in many places. You can afford to practice more with .22 ammunition and that encourages you to develop your skills. Many manufacturers make .22-caliber versions of their centerfire pistols and rifles and these make excellent training guns.
3. Nobody Likes to Get Shot, With Anything
If our purpose when shooting defensively is to stop the threat, then a .22, especially with the right bullet selection, will get the job done. Don’t believe me? Try standing up to a swarm of rapid fire .22s and tell me how you feel about it. Bear in mind, while .22s can kill, that’s not our objective when shooting defensively. Our goal is to make the attacker stop--and a .22 can do it given proper shot placement.
4. Almost Any .22 Ammunition Will Do
The lowly .22 Long Rifle lead bullet has probably killed more small game than anything—and a lot of people have been killed with it as well. While you may stress over finding the perfect bullet and ammunition for your hunt or for defensive use in your pistol, most .22 loads can serve as a useful bullet for defensive use.
5. Anyone Can Shoot a .22
Whether youngsters, senior citizens or anyone in between, most people can shoot .22s well enough to defend themselves. The light recoil and report of a .22 pistol can be managed by almost anyone and the .22 rifles and carbines are even less intimidating. Getting back to shot placement, the lessened recoil of a rimfire firearm helps mitigate flinch and speeds up follow-up shots.
6. Silence is Golden
If need be, you can fire a .22 indoors without destroying your hearing, and especially when coupled with a suppressor .22s can be made incredibly quiet. This is a huge advantage in defensive situations. While some .22 ammunition is marketed as subsonic, you can also use any target grade .22 ammo—it’s all subsonic—if you’re looking for suppressor ammo.
7. They're Generally Inexpensive
A good .22 semi-automatic rifle, like the Ruger 10/22, carries an MSRP around $300. This is downright cheap compared to the cost of an AR-style carbine, especially now with demand and prices escalating.
8. Plentiful Ammunition Capacity
While .22 revolvers are available with 6 to 10 round capacities, most .22 semi-auto pistols and rifles start with 10 rounds and go up from there. Referencing the 10/22 again, the standard magazine holds 10 rounds and there are more capacious magazines available.
9. They are Available and Legal
While certain localities may have limited .22 magazine capacities, they haven’t yet gotten around to going after .22s that hold 10 rounds. If you happen to live in a restrictive environment where guns like ARs are prohibited, the .22 might be the answer.
10. Versatility Matters
The .22 is something of a “do all” cartridge, useful for pest control, small game hunting, plinking, training, target shooting and, of course, self-defense.