We’ve run a number of articles on ShootingIllustrated.com about the .22 LR for self-defense, and while we believe there are significantly more effective calibers out there, one thing that stood out in the comments to these articles is that there is a decidedly non-zero number of people that do, in fact, carry a .22 LR for defense. There’s a number of reasons for this, but most boil down to recoil aversion and hand-strength. In the case of those with hand-strength problems, often a revolver is mentioned as a better option for .22 LR. This is why we have a Ruger LCR22 for today’s kit.
Ruger’s LCR series, as we’ve covered previously, started out as a lone .38 Spl., but quickly grew to a much larger family. .357 Mag., .22 LR and .22 Mag. options joined quickly, then a double-action/single-action model added to the mix. Now there are seven calibers available, two barrel lengths and a wide variety of special color options, too. The LCR22 offers 8-round capacity, a Hogue rubber grip and a pinned front-ramp sight in a pistol that weighs less than 15 ounces. If single-action shooting is desired, the only way to get that with the LCRx is to get the variant with the 3-inch barrel.
So, you ask, why would anyone want a .22 LR revolver for self-defense? Let me tell you a story. Many years ago, a good friend of mine called me up all excited because his wife had finally decided to get her license to carry. He knew I had a number of suitable firearms, and asked if we could all go to the range so she could try a bunch out. He’s a .45 ACP guy, and brought along full-size 1911s and a DA/SA Beretta PX4 Storm. Long story short, anything that wasn’t rimfire had too much recoil for his wife, and she told him she wanted an LCR22. He and I went back and forth over e-mail for weeks about this, with his insistence that she carry a “real” caliber the main sticking point. While I agreed with him that, yes, pretty much anything is better than .22 LR for defensive work, all that was meaningless if the gun was going to sit home in a safe. She bought an LCR22 and carries it to this day.
It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but for a certain subset of the shooting population, the .22 LR revolver shouldn’t necessarily be discarded as a possible carry piece. Another thing to keep in mind: If you carry a .38 Spl./.357 Mag./etc. revolver, having a .22 LR version means you can practice a lot cheaper – so there’s reason to have one around anyways.
Holster: PHLster City Special holster (MSRP: $79.99)
While there’s plenty of options for that other five-shot revolver, Ruger’s LCR series isn’t compatible with most of them. The LCR’s trigger guard is shaped differently than that of the Smith & Wesson J-Frame, and while some holsters work, others won’t. Look for holsters specifically designed for the contours of the Ruger, like the PHLster City Special. Originally designed as an appendix-carry option for the small revolver, PHLster has reconfigured the City Special to also work with the company’s new Engima concealment system. This allows a holster like the City Special to be carried in a rig that doesn’t require a traditional gun belt, instead using an adjustable, soft belt and a leg leash to keep the rig in place.
The City Special offers full cover for your revolver, with ambidextrous attachment points and sweat shields that cover the gun either left- or right-handed. Currently the City Special comes with a GripHook belt clip, although the older model we have here has pull-the-dot loops. Both versions are easily configured with different attachment methods should you desire to change either.
Ammo: Federal 22 Punch (MSRP: $9.99/50 rounds)
One of the reasons we decided to include a .22 LR offering in today’s “I Carry” episode has to do with the new 22 Punch ammunition recently released by Federal. Designed to significantly increase the defensive capabilities of .22 LR, Federal’s 22 Punch uses a 29-grain, flat-nose bullet in a nickel-plated case to achieve an impressive 1,070 fps velocity out of a 2-inch barrel. The projectile has been optimized to achieve deep penetration, even out of short barrels.
Federal claims the new 22 Punch has the penetration needed for self-defense purposes, and we’ve performed gel tests that support this claim. With a purpose-built .22 LR round for defense, it makes a rimfire revolver like the LCR22 a more appropriate choice for someone who is either recoil averse or has limited hand strength.