Ask Foghorn: Is .22lr The Best for Self Defense?

Wade writes:

Foghorn, my Dad is planning on getting his CCW license, and is already thinking about the handgun to use. But he says that he is going to get a .22lr or something similar, saying that ‘accuracy is more important than force’. He has hunted his entire life, and is an extremely good shot with both rifle and pistol, but I think he is too cocky when he says “all you need to do is shoot someone in the head and the party’s over”. How can I convince him that he may not be able to hit what he’s aiming at in a high-stress situation, and that he needs to look into a more versatile caliber?

I’ve got some bad news — your Dad isn’t completely wrong. And, because I have nothing better to do today, we’re going to open up that whole can of worms . . .

Your dad is completely correct in that a properly placed .22lr round will take a man down for good. Despite the relative thickness of the human skull a typical .22lr round does have enough power to successfully penetrate and cause sufficient damage to kill a human from close range. And on the more fleshy bits of a human it is perfectly capable of inflicting some damage.

The issue we run into with the .22lr round, and one that you seem to have correctly identified, is that when you don’t hit a particularly useful organ it doesn’t do much immediate damage. The best example I can think of in this case is the wild hogs of Texas and the gulf coast, which have a nasty tendency to survive and escape if they’re not hit with a large enough caliber or in the right spot. Humans posess a similar ability to survive extreme punishment and damage without actually dying.

We could sit here all day long until we’re blue in the fingers discussing the relative merits of the different calibers, but the best solution is always the same: cold, hard data.

About a year ago Greg Ellifritz over at Buckeye Firearms concluded a pretty darn impressive analysis of gunfight data recorded over a 10 year period, the total count of incidents included in his analysis topping 1,800. It doesn’t give us a statistically significant look at murders in the United States, but the data is sufficiently large and normal to give us the ability to use his results to compare the effectiveness of different calibers.

Admittedly 9mm does take up a disproportionate percentage of the observations and .32 data is a little skimpy, but its good enough for our purposes. So, using his data, let’s take a look at how well the lowly .22 round does compared to other handgun calibers (and shotguns, just for comparison sake).

First things first, let’s see what percentage of observed gunfights ended in a fatality for the person on the receiving end.

The graph is pretty clear on this: .22 caliber firearms are just as deadly in a gunfight as any other handgun caliber. In fact, it beat the average (far right). Surprisingly, every caliber that begins with a 4 (.40 S&W, .45, .44 Mag…) performed worse than the .22 caliber firearms in terms of putting the opponent in the dirt for good.

The next thing I thought was interesting was the metric about how many rounds it took to incapacitate the opponent.

In case you were wondering, the smaller the bar in this example the better the round performed. And, in terms of performance in putting the opponent down, only a shotgun beats the .22 round. I get the feeling that in reality you can chop a round off the 9mm’s numbers, as the double tap has been trained into almost every shooter these days and probably means the numbers are artificially high.

Greg also includes something about a “one shot stop” percentage, but I don’t agree with his methodology on it and is not presented here. Go read up on it at the original site if you’re interested.

There’s a small fly in the ointment: the percentage of incidents where the opponent was not incapacitated.

Another chart where large bars are bad, and here the mouseguns aren’t doing so hot compared to the big boys. However, I get the feeling that this chart is somewhat deceptive with its results. Newer shooters have a tendency to get the smaller guns with smaller calibers, and also have a tendency to not be as well trained as those carrying the larger rounds. So, instead of this chart being an argument against the lowly .22 round I see it as an argument against poor training. As we saw with the last chart, IF you can hit the guy there’s a great chance he’s going down. But the issue is hitting him, and incorporating some of the accuracy results from the original study seems to back up my suspicions.

So, in short, what’s the answer? Is a .22 a good self defense round? According to the numbers, it looks to be among the best in terms of stopping the threat. Add in the fact that it’s lightweight, low recoil and uses firearms that are ridiculously easy to conceal and you can see where a .22 caliber firearm for concealed carry might be a winner.

So, in the immortal words of HAL, “I’m sorry Wade, I can’t do that.” According to the best numbers I could find, I can’t come up with a valid reason to convince your Dad to move to a higher caliber. Not only is it an effective round, but its size and weight means that your Dad is more likely to actually carry the gun instead of leaving it at home because it was too inconvenient to bring along. And, as we all know, its often the mere presence of a firearm that can save one’s life.

Does that mean I’ll be swapping out my Wilson Combat 45ACP 1911 for a Derringer? Hell no. But it doesn’t stop me from looking at some of those mouseguns for the hot Texas summer…

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

147 Responses to Ask Foghorn: Is .22lr The Best for Self Defense?

  1. avatarGeoff says:

    Nick, I saw that study too, the only fly in the 9mm ointment is it used military shootings as well, this inflated the 9mm number with a large number of FMJ and not JHP numbers. I believe if the military numbers were removed it would drop back down into the same number range as the rest of the handgun rounds. The study reinforces the belief your pistol is only a means to get to your long gun. and when you need to put someone down, a long gun is the way to go.

    • avatarSeanC says:

      My take was: Bring a gun to a gunfight!

      For all the chest thumping for this or that cartridge, hitting your target counts most, even if you have to hit it more than once. As is, those statistics don’t show much difference between 9mm and the magic 40 S&W. There’s also not much difference between centerfire rifle and shotgun (from the full article). Clearly, a long gun is more deadly and accurate than a pistol. Rule #1: ‘if you’re in a gunfight, have a gun’. Rule #2, shoot until the threat stops, whether that’s .22LR or .50BMG (I’m assuming .50 BMG didn’t skew the centerfire rifle stats too much ;) ).

    • avatarPhillip says:

      15 years ago I was shot in the abdomen with a .22LR from a short barrel Mark II and I came damn close to dying.
      Anyone who was ever shot in the stomach , with anything, knows it is extremely painful. I would not be able to continue the fight or shot with any accuracy thereafter.
      Concealed carry is ONLY about ending the threat and a .22 lodged in a perp’s body will make them flee unless they are on pcp or meth.
      PP is ONLY about making the attacker retreat and not putting a trophy above your mantle. Knowing what it’s like to be shot with a .22 gives me great insight.
      I would only use copper plated 40 gr rounds for carry, no HPs.
      JMHO.

      • avatarde says:

        I’m curious. What, in your experience of being shot, gave you the stated opinion “… no HP…” for .22′s for carry?

        • .22 LR hollow-points tend not to expand much, if at all, when fired from a short-barreled pistol. The large jump in velocity you get from a .22 LR rifle is a different story.

          And for a round as small as the .22 LR, the deeper penetration from a solid bullet is preferred, since it doesn’t have the momentum of larger rounds, and can more easily deflect off of bone (a rib, for example) instead of passing through and hitting a vital organ or major blood vessel.

          Basically, with a .22 LR, every little bit of extra penetration is more desirable than marginal expansion (and its associated decrease in penetration).

        • avatarRaven Lee says:

          22lr rounds do not expand reliably, or at all, from pistol length barrels. They only expand reliably, at full velocity, from a rifle barrel.
          So JHP is useless and doesn’t penetrate as well as FMJ.

          For the 22lr round to be effective from a pistol sized barrel, it needs to be moving as fast as possible with as much mass as possible.

          If you use hyper velocity 22lr ammo, it can easily penetrate through 13 inches of ballistic gel.

  2. avatarJay says:

    This is probably one of the best articles I have read on this subject. Maybe the wife will inherit my Walther P22, I’ll stick with my Glock 30 though.

  3. avatarST says:

    All bullets that miss have the same effectiveness rating on the target:0%

    So it would be in the best interest of the shooter to pick the caliber they can afford to shoot the most of. For Donald Trump a 10mm makes a great choice. For broke people like me, a 9mm is as large as I’m going.

  4. avatarIke says:

    Years ago, when I was a medic in the Air Force, we worked on a young man who was shot in the head with a .22 rf. We didn’t know the circumstances, but lucky for him, the bullet flattened on the skull, then was deflected and followed the skull under the scalp to the other side of his head – where we found and removed it. Of course, the bullet took him out of the fight, but I’d rather not rely on a .22 rf for self defense.

    • avatarWalt says:

      Hi Ike,

      Let’s not make a general statement like that because you could have people think that a 22 is just going to bounce of ones head, and everything is going to be alright. Do we know what type of gun it was fired from? Do we know the type ammo was used? As for home defense I can tell you right now if it had been a rifle for example (S&W M&P 1522) firing the Aguila Interceptor 40 grain 22lr @1,470 fps he would have been a done deal.

    • avatarKephra says:

      It’s also important to note that any search for “survives gunshot wound from a …” and fill in the blank with a caliber will come back with crazy stories about people surviving the things you wouldn’t expect them to survive. A woman survived a gunshot wound to the head from a 45, a soldier took a 50 BMG through his helmet and into his brain and didn’t die, the list goes on and on.

  5. avatarJason says:

    You left out the single most important chart from this data: failure to incapacitate. That’s what we care about. Not how many shots were fired, not how many people died. Did the shooter end the attack? Did they get home safe at the end of the day?

    http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/publicfiles/Ellifritz_Failure_to_Incap.png

    .22, .25, and .32 are all miserable stoppers. Now, .22 is much better than nothing. If that’s all your dad can carry, or will carry, go with god. In most cases, the deterrent effect will mean no shots are fired. But in the remaining < 10% of the cases, the mouse gun cartridges often (over 30% of the time) did not stop. By comparison, .357 failed only 9% of the time. (The same as a rifle! Although not nearly as deadly, and requiring an extra .3 trigger pulls.)

    You might get him to consider a .22 magnum. It offers significantly better penetration, which often makes a difference. (.22 mag out of a snubby has the same velocity as .22 LR out of a rifle.) The upside to .22 of any kind is that he'll be shooting it out of a revolver. As long as he cleans the pocket lint out of it once a year or so, it's unlikely to jam on him.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      You’re right. As I was reading this post I couldn’t help but think: “Okay, but how many of the people shot with .22LR died later in the hospital rather than at the site of the gunfight?”

      • avatarJohn says:

        Not as many as you would think. When people make it to the hospital with a .22 wound their survival rates is astounding. Your body’s ability to heal itself from tiny wounds plus the doctors help means they typically survive

    • avatarTTACer says:

      +1 with caveat

      If your old man insists on .22 then at least get it in a swanky chrome revolver that evildoers will think is a .357

      • avatarNapoleon says:

        Or get a revolver because rimfire has a less reliable igntion than centerfire. “Click, bang” beats “click, sh!t, tap, rack, bang” every time.

    • avatarIdahoPete says:

      +1 on the .22Mag. IF Wade’s Dad insists on a .22, this is a much better choice. Shooting Times ran an article last year on the .22LR and .22Mag rounds for self-defense, and found (to my surprise) that the Hornaday Critical Defense .22Mag in a snub-nose revolver has the same penetration and wound cavity as a .380. No, it isn’t a .45 or .357, but it beats praying.

      There are bunch of lightweight .22Mag revolvers out there, from the S&W Model 351PD (7-shot), to a number of Taurus and Charter Arms versions. I have one of the S&W 351PDs, and it is accurate (for a snubbie), light, easy to shoot/low recoil, and has a big plus in that the ammo is a lot cheaper than most centerfire ammo. If someone is only willing to carry a .22, the .22Mag would be the better choice.

      • avatarmatt says:

        Or take a look at the KelTec PMR30, 30 rounds of 22 mag and plenty light and inexpensive, they can even take a mini red dot optic. Check the forums at thektog.org first, there were some problems when they first came out, but i’m assuming theyre fixed.

      • avatarJason says:

        +1 on the 351PD. It’s a fantastic little gun, for all the reasons you mentioned. And it has a good, visible fiber optic front sight.

    • Gunna be honest – I completely forgot that graph. It was sitting in my Excel sheet, but I never popped it in there.

      Updated to include, but I think this is a training issue more than a “stopping power” issue.

  6. avatarjkp says:

    The fatality metric, in my judgment, is completely irrelevant. In a self-defense situation, you are not shooting to KILL, you’re shooting to STOP THE AGGRESSION. If, as a side effect, the opponent is killed, so be it, but this isn’t the reason you’re shooting. Further, getting hit with a round like the .22LR may indeed kill the aggressor, but that says nothing about whether it actually STOPPED that aggression. Someone could easily be shot with a .22LR round, continued with the fight until he killed you, then bleed out and die later — too late to do you any good.

    Also: keep in mind that 9mm is significantly overrepresented in this survey of data versus other calibers (~68 for .25ACP, for example.) And, as Geoff pointed out, military cases with FMJ were included there.

    The study is interesting but to declare that the .22LR is “looks to be among the best in terms of stopping the threat” is very premature without addressing these concerns.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      I disagree that you are “not shooting to kill.” If the perp survives, then he gets to tell his side of the story, which will always be different than yours. Dead men tell no tales, as they say. Probably the one thing George Zimmerman has going for him at the moment.

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        I don’t like either term. If you want to use “shoot to kill” or “shoot to stop”, fine. One sounds menacing, the other sounds politically correct. I choose “shoot to live.”

        If I’m shooting an attacker it means I’m doing so to save my own life. Whether he dies or is wounded doesn’t matter to me as long as the threat has passed and I’m alive.

      • avatarDerek says:

        His point is that you’re shooting to make that person stop what they’re doing right the fvck now. Not two hours later in an alley or hospital. You want to incapacitate that person immediately. Killing them is a distant second to surviving.

        Also, how most self defense laws are written (at least the ones in Ohio that I’m familiar with) you aren’t actually given the authority to execute someone. Your authority isn’t to kill them, it’s to use force to make them stop attacking you. Force that just happens to be deadly.

        That’s what got that pharmacist in trouble. He shot the one goblin to the ground. Then came back and pumped five more into him with a second gun while he was on the ground and no longer a threat. Your authority is strictly to make them stop.

        • avatarsillystring says:

          No. What got the pharmacist into trouble was not shooting the guy multiple times initially to insure his death. Had he not stopped, then came back, he wouldn’t have caught any heat. This whole debate about the .22lr always goes nowhere. People need only look at the FBI ballistics report on the subject. It determined shot placement was, by far, the determinant factor in putting someone down. A .357 to the arm won’t stop an attacker, and a .22lr to the heart will. It’s that simple. The people who talk trash about the cartridge, oddly, never volunteer to stand in front of one and prove everyone wrong. It’s a simple matter of physics. We know the ft-lbs in the cartridge, and the resistance of flesh and bone. A .22lr to the chest has the same “knockdown power” (a term specifically debunked in the FBI report) as a .45 to the chest. Stand in front of one, or move along.

      • avatarMike CI says:

        @Joe grine: That’s the reply of someone who has never been properly trained in defensive use of firearms and is hotheaded and delusional. Kinda like Jerome Ersland of Okla. City shooting fame. http://abcnews.go.com/US/oklahoma-pharmacist-dead-robbers-accomplices-life-prison/t/story?id=14053802

  7. avatarGS650G says:

    A long running argument for bigger bore has been they stop a charging assailant better. Only in the movies since all that energy usually leaves the rear and doesn’t reliably stay in the target.
    Bigger bangs are harder to control and get a second shot off. One and done isn’t guaranteed in any scenario.

  8. avatarAharon says:

    A very interesting piece. Thank you for writing it. I was a bit surprised to see how effective 38spl did in comparison to some of the bigger more powerful calibers.

    • avatarRokurota says:

      See my question. .38 sp is a popular choice for armed citizens, who only pull their gun and shoot when the BG is right on top of them. Same with .22 and .380. LEOs may fire their 9mm or .40 at distant or moving targets, so I’m not surprised the fatality/hit rate is lower.

      • avatarAharon says:

        You have raised a good point. The quote below from for some of the criteria selected for the study might be of consideration:

        “If the person shot was in the act of running (either towards or away from the shooter), he must have fallen to the ground within five feet.

        I also excluded all cases of accidental shootings or suicides. Every shot in this study took place during a military battle or an altercation with a criminal.”

        It appears that the study is for close range shootings which is fine to consider. I am curious how the findings might compare with distances of 10-20′. Either way, I’m grateful for the study and the article here.

      • avatarNapoleon says:

        I wonder how many .357s were actually .357 chambers shooting .38spl. More accuracy from the heavier frames and (maybe) more experienced shooters?

  9. avatarRokurota says:

    I saw this study and would like to see a breakdown of shooting scenario. How many shootings were self-defense in the home, how many were gang or crime-related and how many were cops? 9mm and .40 fare poorly in this survey, but they’re the overwhelming favorites of LEOs and criminals, both of whom are notoriously bad shots (Criminals may also just shoot wildly without intent to hit their targets.) On the other hand, a .22 is most likely deployed in a real self-defense situation at close range.

    • avatarDerek says:

      I thought the same thing. .22 and .25 are frequently used in murders because they’re small and relatively quite so they don’t attract a lot of attention and they’re easy to hide and cheap to replace.

      Also, in the case of a pre-meditated murder (like one with a .22 or .25) one could possibly get very close to their target before firing and thus increasing not only their accuracy but also the lethality and one shot stop percentage.

  10. avatarirock350 says:

    One thing to note about getting your CCW and using a .22lr is that some states have a minimum caliber requirement to qualify. I know in Texas you cannot qualify for your CCW with anything smaller than a .32 caliber firearm. I believe you can carry whatever you want, but you mus qualify with a .32 or better. I don’t if the laws have changed in TX or not. (been a couple of years since my CHL and I haven’t renewed yet) I do not know if other states have the same restrictions, but I do know that TX does.

    • avatarDr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      You definitely can’t qualify for a CHL using a .22LR pistol. Also, if you bring a revolver, your permit will only be valid for use with revolvers, so you should bring a semiauto of some kind so that your permit will be valid for either semiauto or revolver.

      • They told me I could not use my 22 in class for HCP, but 38spl ok, and no restriction on my license re: revolver or auto (Tennessee). Must vary by state.

  11. avatarKYgunner says:

    My problem with .22LR as a defensive round is based on the sheer number of FTF and other malfunctions I’ve experienced in .22LR pistols (revolvers not included in this). I had a malf on every other magazine on my uncle’s Wather P22, and have heard that most other semi-auto .22′s aren’t any better (and many have worse reputations than the P22). I would never recommend carrying a semi-auto .22 based on that fact alone, though a revolver may be ok if that was the biggest round the person could effectively shoot. Where concealment/portability isn’t a concern, if it came down to it you can bet your sweet ass that I would trust my life to my Ruger 10/22 rifle out to 75 yards or so. But for close range work, I’ll keep my Sig SP2022 with 16 rounds of PDX-1 that has never had a malfunction of any kind, and leave the small caliber mouseguns in the safe for plinking.

    • avatarAir Force TSgt says:

      I agree with this, the rimfire round is not the most reliable even with modern ammo. I would choose centerfire every time because of this, when your life counts on it a FTF is a deal breaker for me.

    • avatarrosignol says:

      Sounds like you might have a bad mag. Pay attention to which mag is in the gun when it jams.

      I’ve got a Ruger 22/45. Maybe I got lucky, but mine only jams on duds or if I don’t clean it once per brick.

      • avatarAir Force TSgt says:

        “mine only jams on duds” This is the reason not to trust your life to .22. I have yet to have a dud 9mm or 5.56 in my entire career.

        • avatarDan says:

          I have had far more bad centerfire rounds than 22lr rounds. and i have shot a LOT more 22lr.

          i have had many sideways, backwards primers. badly seated bullets, missing powder, excessive powder, etc.

          i have a nice little collection of bad commercial centerfire rounds.

          centerfire rounds are far more complex to manufacture… more to go wrong…

        • avatarAir Force TSgt says:

          Maybe I have been lucky, I have had a ton of jams with the M16A2 and the M4…but that is do to the piss poor design and not the ammo not going off. .22 I seem to get a dud every 3 or 4 hundred rounds, cycle it back threw for another strike and 50% of the time it still fails to go boom.

        • avatarMike CI says:

          I have never had a dud centerfire round. Then again, I don’t buy Tula, Wolf , or garbage.

        • avatarDr. Rod says:

          IMHO, there is nothing wrong with Wolf or Tula in an AK. The problem with steel casing in the AR is that the tolerances are so high, after firing the steel cartridge does not contract as fast as brass, therefore the problems with ejection. I only use brass cased ammo in my ARs.

          I do not know what the hoopla is about .22 or other rimfire cartriges. I have run thousands of rounds of the really cheap bulk stuff (Remington Thunderbolt) with maybe 2 or 3 duds. Sometimes there are feed problems due to the lead only (not even copper plated) bullet. If the gun is cleaned with Jbore (I cannot say enough good about this product) I have eleminated virtually all FTF problems.

        • I have never had a 22 fail to fire, but have had 22LR auto pistol fail to fully eject, too often. If I used a 22lr for defense , it would be a 9 shot revolver, never an auto.

  12. avatarCurzen says:

    if I shoot a guy with a .22 and he runs away to later expire at home or the hospital that wouldn’t convince me of .22 being a good choice and the stats don’t tell me anything about how often that happened. Similarly I can’t tell if a baddy would have died from the first of many shots that hit him, again something that I’d consider likely and given the prevalence of 9mm and .40 used by those who appear to be better trained with their guns and more likely to shoot more than once for good measure something I’d would want to know. My own conclusion is that these statistics aren’t really all that conclusive.

    • avatarM&P 9 L says:

      “He runs away”

      That right there is the best possible outcome for a DGU…..so whats the problem with .22? You shoot, the threat leaves you…

      • avatarDr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        … to go and get treatment at taxpayer expense, and to go victimise someone else later on.

        Better for the taxpayer and the rest of society for the crim to be deaded.

  13. avatarpro.0s says:

    Is there a graph showing the average number of rounds to cause fatality by calibre?

  14. avatarDerek says:

    “And, because I have nothing better to do today, we’re going to open up that whole can of worms . . .”

    Oh sh!te. Putting my seatbelt on.

  15. avatarBob H says:

    I have just a couple of questions.
    Regarding the statement “And, because I have nothing better to do today, we’re going to open up that whole can of worms “;
    What brand and caliber of worms?
    Where do you purchase your cans of worms: I can’t find an online source.
    Why were the worms canned and, does PETA know about this wholesale worm torture?
    (Apparently you aren’t the only only one who has nothing better to do today!)

  16. avatarDerek says:

    I’ve read this study before. It has a lot of information in it but there’s still a lot of variables not accounted for.

    What percentage of each shooting was criminal/leo/armed citizen DGU?

    What percentage of the lethal shootings were immediate stops/dying later in the hospital?

    What percentage of the non-lethal shootings succeeded in stoping the threat?

    What percentage of the shootings that had multiple shots had trained shooters shooting 5-10-15 rounds until the threat was on the ground? What percentage of the multiple shot shootings had shootees in a chemically altered state of mind?

    What percentage of the one shot stops were people surrendering after being shot but not actually being incapacitated?

    I like this study a lot for other observations but I don’t think it’s conclusive enough for a question like this. I’ll just stick with the Glock 17 and shoot as accurately and rapidly as I can.

  17. avatarRKflorida says:

    Really great article Dan, and the comments are excellent. This really showcases the TTAG site for what it can be at it’s best.

  18. avatarTarrou says:

    My two cents: The .22 is an option, but not one I’d use. As many other commenters have noted, there are issues with the data in terms of what it really says. It can all be completely true and still not give a solid picture of the lethality of a cartridge. My thought process is thus: Based on my experience in hunting deer and the military, I trust that enough testing has been done to determine optimum balance between firepower, controllability and lethality. No one uses a .22 rimfire for either of those two pastimes (though my grandfather swore he used to shoot deer with a .22 rimfire long).Can a person be killed with a .22? Certainly, as this data well bears out. Is it the most efficient way of stopping an imminent threat? I doubt it. If a .22 is all a person can/will carry, then it beats pocket knife, I won’t knock it on those grounds, but if we’re comparing it to other modern firearms, loaded with modern civilian ammunition, I’ll stick with my 9mm/.38sp+p.

  19. avatarBub says:

    Most folks don’t want to get shot, even with a 22lr. Don’t underestimate a 22lr, I’ve put down 1000# plus cows with the 22lr round. I often carry a S&W 317 especially around the farm. However most of the time my carry gun is a 38spl or 9mm which I feel are much better suited to the self defense roll. The gun you have is always better than the gun you don’t have and a trained shooter with a 22lr should be respected. I think the one thing the study points out is that a shotgun is better than a handgun in a gun fight.

  20. avatarWicked Tom says:

    I have a Walther P22 and I love love love that pistol. It’s affordable to shoot so I take it out every chance I get and put three to five hundred rounds through each time I hit the range. My comfort and accuracy with the pistol is my highest priority. I also use it as a conceal carry. The thing I think is often overlooked in these “which is the best caliber for carry” conversations is that…

    1. I think a high percentage of Bad Guys would be surprised, perhaps even to the point of abandoning their bad guy activities by the mere SIGHT of ANY pistol. “I’ve chosen my victim poorly. Time to move along.”
    2. All pistols go BANG, even 22s, this fact may also gently persuade an assailant to hit the f-’n road, post haste.
    3. When someone is shot, I don’t think their initial thought is going to be “it’s only a 22. I still have time to finish my attack / robbery before I bleed out” I think their first thought is “I’ve been shot! Holy S–! I bet he has MORE THAN ONE BULLET in that gun, and I’m sure more are coming my direction.”

    That all being said, I also plan to add a 9mm that I can carry to my collection, probably my Walther’s bigger brother, the PPS since it fires and handles so similarly to my P22.

    • avataralan says:

      Get a P99 or the new PPQ, I love walther pistols, and have had a P99 QA 9mm for the last 2 years and have put over 2k rounds through it. I love this gun. I do really want the new PPQ also though. They have made a few changes to the trigger(lowered the pull about 3.5 lbs), and the grips which make it even nicer from what I’ve seen and read. Just my 2 cents but, the PPS is to blocky and doesn’t compare.

  21. avatarDon says:

    I’m not saying it’s the ideal defensive caliber, far from it, but it’s no mouse fart either. I’m saying people drastically underestimate the power of small calibers in contact shooting. To get an idea of the force and penetration, take a phone book or a boot or a pig skull, or whatever you feel like testing, and drive an ice pick into it as hard as you possibly can. Make sure you use all of your weight and jam it in there hard enough that you feel the shock of the impact through your whole arm and shoulder. Take note of how deep you get. Then shoot it with a .22 lr. Compare the experiences and learn that the .22lr has more potential for penetrative power then your whole body does.

    -D

  22. avatarbruce says:

    like any other round it comes down to the type of defensive round you choose. If you going to load your pistol with 50 rounds for 99 cents target loads, then you’re in trouble. I would never want to be on the business end of a .22 load with CCI Mini Mags Hyper Velocity Hollow Points (my personal favorite), or Stingers. I too, have considered a 22 revolver or semi auto loader with either round for personal carry, but it would be strictly from an economic standpoint. I’d much rather carry 38 +p or 9mm +p.

  23. avatarWiebelhaus says:

    “And, because I have nothing better to do today, we’re going to open up that whole can of worms ” hahaha love it.

  24. avatarIan says:

    I knew someone in high school that was shot 3 times from close range in the head with a .22lr handgun(two rounds entered the skull and one did not) and was able to escape under his own power. He was a little slow getting jokes and all, but got good grades and everything. Sorry, but I will never trust my life to a round that can do that.

    And with the high rate of not incapacitating displayed here, why would you want to give the bad guy more of an opportunity to possibly shoot back? Sure it has a very slightly higher rate for killing, but has a much higher rate of not doing shit. Yeah, that sounds like an awesome trade off.

    • avatarWhilemyCZgentlyweeps says:

      I member watching a Mas Ayoob video on the internet where he made the same point in his typical brusque, yet avuncular, manner. This is not verbatim, but it was along the lines of: “I could shoot Mongo in the head with a .22 and he might drop dead. On the other hand, it might just bounce off and piss him off.”

    • avatarGunPacker says:

      And by the same token my uncle was shot point blank with a 20 gauge shotgun in the stomach and managed to make it to his car and to the hospital.
      NO caliber is an automatic kill without good shot placement.

  25. avatarHal says:

    I’ll stick with the “big three,” 9mm, .40 and .45…

  26. avatarokto says:

    One word: jams.

    My buddy recently bought a brand-new Ruger Mk III, a highly-praised target pistol. I have made that gun jam more times than every other firearm I have ever shot, COMBINED. I don’t care if HK made it, I would never trust my life to an auto in 22LR.

    That leaves revolvers, where there is no reason to carry less than a .38 Special. If you can’t handle the recoil from a .38, you probably don’t have the strength to present and accurately aim a handgun at all.

  27. avatardave says:

    I am sick and tired of hearing this damn argument. Whenever someone I know starts on this, I ask them a question that goes something like this:
    You are about to be dropped into the middle of a hot war zone, think Liberia or Sierra Leone circa 1999-2001, and you must survive for 24 hours (for whatever reason, the locals are very intent on killing you). You may bring one gun with a full load of ammo carried on your person. Your choices for the gun are either a Ruger 10/22 with 50rd mags (I dunno if those 50 rounders actually exist, pretend they do) or an AK-47 with the regular 30rd mags. Which do you choose?
    If they answer with the Ruger, I walk away shaking my head. Oddly enough, 0/20+ Afghanistan/Iraq/Iwo Jima/Vietnam vets who heard this question answered with the Ruger.
    C’mon people, pressing a .22lr into combat.defensive service is like saying your garden hose will be effective for putting out a house fire. Sure, it can theoretically work, but wouldn’t you prefer to have a legit fire hose?

    • avatarDan says:

      so you face them with an fantastically unrealistic self defense scenario and ridiculous choices and expect a reasonable answer. i’m the one who would walk away shaking my head at your question.

    • avatarGunPacker says:

      uh..yeah.
      When Im actualy in a WAR zone with armored, experience soldiers then maybe.
      Too many people have been killed by 22′s for me to think the caliber is worthless.

      In REAL self defense scenarios most of the time the gun only needs to be seen to stop the bad guys. Dont get that much in a combat zone.

  28. avatarpercynjpn says:

    Nice write up, Nick! There of course many variables, but I was pleased to see how well the .380 did, at least statistically.

    • avatarOrwellian Chant says:

      This is exactly what I was thinking. And there were a LOT of comments before this one.

      I was looking at the same data and thinking- 25 and 32=crap. But that sig p238 .380 which is concealable, and EASY to shoot is not looking all that bad.

      The lowly .380 is moderately comparable to the .45 ACP. Deaths-about the same. Rounds- slight edge to .45. NOT incapacitated- similar. The edge in all these stats goes to the .45, but an average trained person (not an expert) might be more likely to get in a fairly accurate double tap with a 380 than a 45. I know I can.

      Hitting what you aim at is crucial.
      This has been very helpful- all comments for and against.

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      This is a speculative reason for the .380s dominance. I do not believe females are being adequately represented. My wife when choosing her firearm for CC could not handle anything accuately larger than a .380. In addition, most women do not carry on their person. In a formal or work setting it is usually their purse. In a casual setting they may use a fanny pack. Also, as a maxillofacial trauma surgeon of 30 years in both the military and civilian settings, the .22 was the most common caliber and was extremely difficult to locate and extract. When shot from the neck up, virtually all the investigative reports stated that the assailant was stopped immediately. If shot in the chest, pneumorthorax or cardiovascular damage was sufficient to incapaciate the perpetrator. Gastrointestinal shots were extremely painful and stopped the perpetrator in short order unless they were on amphetamine, ketamine, PCP, or heroin. Single shots to the extremeties did not stop them immediately, but multiiple shots caused shock. I can get off 11 rounds of my .22 accurately in under 7 seconds. I cannot say the same for my .40 cal Beretta.

  29. avatarThe Knight says:

    Colt Commander .45 acp
    Glock 21 .45 acp
    Taurus PT 92 AF 9mm
    NA Arms .22 mag
    What I carry is based on my clothing. That I carry is given. Argue what you will. If you can’t conceal, if you don’t carry, you’re unarmed.

  30. avatarWade says:

    Thanks a lot Nick, I appreciate the objective response!

  31. avatarMark N. says:

    An old saw says that more people are killed by .22s every year than by any other caliber. Wonder if that’s true. But I do know that hogs are put down for slaughter with .22s to the head, and the Russians performed executions with a double tap to the back of the skull with a .22. The .22 has enough power to enter the skull, but not enough to exit–so it tends to spend its energy rattling around inside making scrambled brains. .22s have been used for a very long time in assassinations, both due to their low report and their effectiveness in killing head shots. At bad breath range, a .22 pistol is effective as a self defense weapon, and that is the range at which it is most likely to be employed. In home invasions, we are talking a max range to target of 3 or 4 yards, so for an elderly or disabled person, .22s are a viable option. And the premiun rounds, minimags, velocitors, and stingers, penetration at these ranges will be substantial. On top of which, the BG isn’t too likely to know what it is he is being shot with, only that he’s hit, and thus highly motivated to get the heck out of dodge.

  32. avatarRobinGoodfellow says:

    I am calling BS on this. The .22 caliber gun fight has a higher percentage of fatalities, combined with the fact that the .22 has the highest percentage of non-debilitating shots is telling.

    A man shot once with a .357 has a greater probability of going down, even if the injury is non-lethal. A man shot with a .22, however, will not be incapacitated. He will keep coming–and coming and coming until enough shots are fired to put him down for good.

    The purpose of a defensive round is not to KILL, it is to end the threat. If the .22 LR was good at that, all the world’s armies would be using it.

    Of course, the .22 is easier to control. Hitting a target with ah .22 is better than missing it with a .454 Casull.

    • avatarsillystring says:

      Everything you said disagrees with the scientists at the FBI who put this to rest years ago. Shot placement. Shot placement. Shot placement. They were quite clear all common cartridges are lethal, and there’s no such thing as “knockdown power.” I’m going to go ahead and consider their information more reliable than yours.

      • avatarMacWa77ace says:

        I thought it was wound track and penetration.

        Knock down power is a myth? Well there’s definetly a measured ft. pound of force at the point of impact. Get shot in the vest with a .22 and compare it with getting hit in the vest by a .44 magnum. The 44 will actually knock you down. It’s hard to return fire when you’re getting ‘knocked down’, even if you’re not getting penetrated.

  33. avatarMalthus says:

    I don’t care if he’s using a 22 or a 45, your dad needs to aim for CENTER MASS! That is too fundamental to overlook.

    Human heads are not cow heads. I’m a vet, I’ve shot a lot of cows with a 22. They were sick, head down, not moving…pretty easy. Just 5 nights ago I had a farm call…llama with heart failure and had not stood for 3 days. All I had was a 45 and a 38, he got the 38 hoping it would be quieter. I tell you what…llama heads move all over the place, not an easy target. I’m guessing that’s like a human head, guessing. Look at the pro boxers, even they miss with a punch sometimes.

    Long story, but aim for center mass.

  34. avatarDiamondback says:

    After first reading the results of the referenced study, I switched my primary/daily carry gun from a Kimber Ultra Carry II in .45acp to a S&W Bodyguard in .380acp.

    I carry an extra mag at all times and YES I strongly believe in the double tap.

    So far during my life I’ve had to draw my weapon on 3 occasions but have yet had to fire a shot. Thank God!

    I also believe that the sole purpose of a handgun is to allow you to get to your shotgun or battle rifle but, like they say, a gun is way better than no gun when a spontaneous confrontation occurs.

  35. avatarturbocat says:

    many times this turns into an emotional discussion rather than a factual one. as noted, there are gaps in these studies. my sole argument is to have a gun of any caliber that works for you. to me the question boils down to this: is it factually true that a .22 is used successfully, over and over, for home and personal defense? i say yes based on the sheer number of documented cases. also, the sheer lack of cases of failure strengthens the argument. ten minutes of searching results in hundreds of examples of successful cases, but i can not find cases where a .22 failed. i would like to read such a documented case.

  36. avatarflboots says:

    Most gun fights are within 20 yrds. Any caliber gun can be lethal within that range. Lot of people (Leos or Vets) will tell you that in a fire fight most of your rounds miss. (I forget what that is called) just from the stress of the situation. Like a lot of people posted any gun is better than no gun. Just ask the lady who used the paint gun on a home intruder.

  37. avatarGunPacker says:

    I carry a Ruger 357 SP101 with my reloads (158gr LRN @ ~1000FPS) as my main CC gun. Theyre toned down from a 357 magnum to a bit more than a 38+p so the wife can handle the gun.
    As a backup I carry an NAA mini revolver with the holster grip in 22 magnum.
    I was absolutely staggered by the NAA in 22 magnum at the range. Accurate enough to do the job and the ballistics of these Hornady Critical Defense rounds is really surprising out of that 1-5/8″ barrel.
    Im not fearful at all carring the 22magnum alone when I need to…on the golf course, for instance, when I dont want all that weight of the Ruger screwing my swing up.

    I’d personally be very comfortable carrying a 22 magnum for self defense.

  38. avatarGunPacker says:

    Woman Uses .22 Pistol to Shoot & Kill Invader

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Bunch of interesting .22 videos in there, some DGUs, another a slo mo of a .22 subsonic having no difficulty penetrating through a hardball.

  39. Interesting story of a .22LR bouncing off a skull and the “legal” ramification for the shooter:

    http://www.theodoresworld.net/archives/2008/01/post_24.html

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      Unless the peson has a titanium plate in his head, a hypersonic round like the CCI Stinger or Velocitor round nose will NOT fail to penetrate a human skull…guranteed!

  40. avatarturbocat says:

    good story….we should not over look the end result tho. the attack was stopped. so the .22 was obviously enough.

  41. avatarjwm says:

    i think 22′s figure so heavily in the stats simply because they’re more 22′s out there than any other type, probably combined. also the man going to carry that 22 is an older, experienced hunter. less likely for him to get flustered under stress.

  42. avatarTom says:

    Sorry for the late comment but ran across this while surfing the web and enjoyed the comments and responses immensely. Great comments from many perspectives and all pretty valid instead of hyperbole that often accompanies this exact subject. Here are a couple of interesting facts that were made known to me during my military service in Vietnam. Let’s apply some facts here that were considered by the military experts of that time as the best combat round. NATO 5.56mm or in short .223 caliber or simply put, a 22 round with a heavy grain bullet and a larger center fire cartridge propellant. The whole purpose of this decision as it was made clear to me, was to reduce the battlefield enemy count by incapacitating the subject rather than killing him. In doing so, the subject was completely incapacitated and stopped from participating in the fight and it took one or two more enemy soldiers to tend to him effectively removing two or three soldiers from battle. The moral here is, a high velocity .22lr is nothing to sneeze at. Pick your rounds carefully to get the best penetration for carry, all you give up is a percentage of ballistic energy, the round is sound and the decision to use it was well considered. 22wmr goes a long way to close that gap as well. Fire a Kel Tec PMR 30 once and you’ll see what I mean.
    Conversely, officers were issued what at the time was just called a Colt 45, or just 45. What is now the venerable, famous 1911 that carries the elitists opinion of the optimum defense weapon. During the time of my service, well seasoned field officers would actually leave them behind in favor of extra rounds of .223 ammo.
    I’ve seen .223 hits, they’re not pretty and very random as to direction once contact is made. A 22lr may not completely emulate this but given the right ammo choice it can get close. 22wmr even closer. Key holing is a good thing at close range and that’s what you get with a .22. That said, I’ve seen 50 cal FMJ machine gun rounds go through a human target in a non vital area and the target didn’t even realize he was hit, until far later when the skirmish was over. So this debate will go on but the reality in my opinion is, bring the right ammo to the gun fight regardless of what your shooting.

    Thanks for your indulgence!
    Tom

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      I am also a Vietnam vet, although in the Air Force Medical Corp ARRS as a non-combatant. The 5.56 M-16 was a horrible failure for many reasons. It was ill suited for the combat environment and the JCS who approved it had a very flawed POU. The NVA did not have a “no man left behind” philosophy.

      Some studies indicate that the failure rate exceeded 50%, much of it having to do with the use of ball ammo and the carbon fouling it caused. Many M-16s were issued without a cleaning kit, or were not used properly.

      In Afghanistan, SOGs have gone to the 6.8 SPC M-16 and .45 cal sidearm.replacing the 9mm M-9.

  43. avatararleigh says:

    What do you know about .117HMR compared to the .22LR ?

  44. avatararleigh says:

    Something else I would add,
    Ammo has changed significantly through the years, and considdering the CCI mini mags ,it is understandable that the .22 capability is better than it might have been 30 odd years ago or more.
    I have watched other tests done demonstrating the penitration on a board according to military specs, and what is determined capable of killing , and that was impressive as well .
    Thanks for your input . be safe .

  45. avatarDr. Rod says:

    Most of the FTFs in rimfire firearms have to do with the feed ramp or poor quality ammo. My Walther P22 used to choke on anything but CCI Mini-Mags until I took it to the gunsmith and he told me about the problem with the feed ramp which is too narrow. Ruger corrected the problem. Now when I get a new firearm, I polish the ramp with #6 sandpaper and then use a dental polishing cone and my Dremel. After every outing at the range I thoroughly clean the entire gun and use Jbore which works wonders. Exercising this protocol has resulted in virtually no FTFs. The other problem is with the mags. Many times the lips get bent in the manufacturing process. Simple adjustment with needle nose pliars usually corrects the problem.

  46. avatarDr. Rod says:

    I would like to make several comments. First, most shooting are DOMESTIC and happen in the kitchen with small caliber “Saturday night specials” (Jimenez, Lorcin, Raven, Phoenix). It is ususally the wife shooting the husband in a domestic dispute. In effect you are talking about the person being 3 to 10 feet away, so a center mass or head shot usually results in a fatality.

    I have been shooting since age 8 as a military dependent, enlistee, and commissioned officer in the Air Force Medical Corp. Although I was a non-combatant, I participated in marksmanship competition throughout my service.

    I grew up on the .22 and have great respect for the caliber which is the most widley used and produced round in the world. As a former maxillofacial surgeon, I have treated my share of gunshots with small caliber arms to the face. Anything from the neck up is usually fatal and will certainly stop an attacker almost immediately.

    Shots to the torso are almost as disarming since the bullet usually penetrates the lung causing a pneumothorax or the cardiovasular system. Abdominal shots are not immediately lethal but are extremely painfu and will at the very least slow the attacker enough for the victim to escape.

    Shots to the extremeties, unless they are very superficial, will result in the perpetrator to go into shock, again allowing the victim to escape.

    Women seem to have been left out of this discussion. When choosing a CC firearm for my wife, I let her try all caliber I have, which range from .22-,40 cal. The largest she could handle without recoil apprehension was a .380. That may be the reason it came out as #1 as far as self-defense calibers. We decided on a Ruger LCP .380 she carries in her purse or in her pocket or fanny pack when she is not at work.

    I personally have a Bersa Thunder .380 for my CC. I could not find a 9mm, including the so called ultra-compacts that I could wear comfortably 8 hours a day 5 days a week. For home defense, I have a 12G Mossberg 500 with 00 buck and a .40 cal Beretta. For practice at the range, it is either my Walther P22 or Bersa Thunder 22.

    I am not trying to provoke an argument, but I cannot see the logic of a “seasonal” caliber. In other words carrying a .380 during the summer and a larger caliber during the winter. However to each his or her own.

    • avatarFltMdc says:

      +1 for Doc Rod from a 20yr Critical Care Flight Paramedic who has owned, fired and worked on victims shot with most available calibres on the US market.

      There was an officer wearing a vest who was shot with a single .22 round that found its entry point high on the mid axillary line of his chest wall near his left armpit… he was in cardiac arrest before we arrived at the scene. There is now a small memorial in front of the home where he was shot.

      That officer had a Tazer, mace, .40 Glock, compartment mounted shotgun and AR-15 in the trunk of his patrol car – an arsenal which proved to be useless when he asked a teenage driver of an SUV to get out of his vehicle. That single shot was fired point blank during a struggle and found its way through his lung and shredded his left descending aorta. Point made…

      My personal stock:
      Mossberg 500 12G with mix of (2).00 buck and then slug/.00 buck and .40 Glock for home protection, Lady S&W .9mm (say what you want, its thin, compact and fits easily in the small of my back without being noticed) for daily CC protection, Henry .22lr Survival Rifle in a bug out pack and Mossberg 715T for family fun, my daughter to gain proficiency with and target practice/hunt small game/defend.

      She is an excellent shooter and looks pretty bad ass firing an AR-15 style rifle… that said, whatever BG comes into our home will be met with SOMETHING, which is better than nothing and I’m pretty sure they will turn tail if they survive the first few rounds. Because she is properly trained, my 9yr old with our .22lr 715T is more effective than I am empty handed and I’m no slouch.. but I can’t punch a bullet defending myself.

      • avatarDr. Rod says:

        Thank you for making my point about the .22 although it was a rather sad story. A year ago I wrote a blog called “The Caliber Myth.”

        If you look at the stats, there is virtually no significant difference in the mortaility rates with shots from handguns. On the other hand there is a difference in morbidity.

        If you really want to stop/kill someone, nothing beats the long gun. Even the lowly .22 travels at about 1400 fps out the barrel of a rifle. The shotgun beats everything hands down.

        There is a problem with every form of defense and recoil apprehenion is the weak link with the shotgun. I personally have no problem with a shotgun, but if I did I would use either the 5.56mm or 7.62X39mm with a muzzle brake and recoil pad. The other option would be to go to a smaller gauge such as the 20 or even 410.

        The M-16 or AR-15 are excellen urban warfare rounds. In the forest or jungle I would prefer the mud gun (AK-47) in 7.62x39mm.

        As far as I am concerned, the big calibers .308 and greater are only good for sniper work, or in my case deer or boar hunting. Boar are especially tough even when using an AK. I have a AR-10 20 round in .308 I use for that type of hunting.

        For deer, I usually use my Savage 110 in 30.06. I have failed to bring on down using that caliber.

        For CC, I use a Bersa .380. To say that it is nothing more than a 9mm short I personally believe is an underestimation. When I was looking for a CC handgun, it came down to the .380 and 9mm.

        The .380 was the perfect caliber for me. It was very accuate with virtually no recoil. On the other hand, the 9mm ultra-compacts were a bit snappy for me and were uncomfortable to wear 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.

        For target practice, I use my 40 year old Ruger Mark I, my Walther P22, or Bersa Thunder 22. I can spend the whole day at the range without breaking the bank.

        As far as SD, the .22 would not be my first choice, but I would rather have it than nothing at all. Also, do not rule out edged weapons for SD. I carry my KBAR and have seen films of how effective it is, especially if you do not want a noise signature.

        All in all, there is too much emphasis on big bore caliber handguns for self defense. For offense it is a different story. NATO has adopted the 9mm and LEOs the .40 caliber per SAMMI because you are often shooting at a distant and moving target.

        • avatararleigh says:

          Been waitng on your comment on the 17 HMR.
          I have read some of the comments from those in Alaska using this round on small game .
          Head shot are a must , average zero range is about 100 yards .
          Now some reports say the round is dirty and requires a lot of cleaning ,but I haven’t fund that to be true in my marlin bolt acton .
          There is now a new manufacture that makes a semi auto on an AR platform, but they are saying they get misfires and that is normal . I never had a mis fire in my gun, but I haven’t shot thousands of rounds through it yet either.
          Because of the very flat trajectory and fine accuricy , I reason that as a last resort survival tool , defencively I can touch any one capable of touching me up to 300-400 yards .
          That round can be carried by the thousnds,compared to every thing else.
          And for things up close and personal a .357 mag revolver .
          I met man that had been caught poaching back east ,whom had successfully taken deer with the .17 hmr
          I don’t know the range he was shooting from, but it really does’t matter , in a survival atmosphere . it worked.
          Have you any expirence with the 17 hmr ?
          What are your thoughts?

        • avatarDr. Rod says:

          I have shot the .17 HMR but did not find it much more effective than the .22LR. It did have a better trajectory and distance, but in effect it is an expensive, necked-down .22 that has an unsupported platform.

          The gain over the .22 is nominal IMO. The nice thing about the .22 is the versitility. My Marlin bolt action .22 tube action will accomodate .22 short, long, LR, and WMR. 22s also come in shot shells, 60 grain sniper rounds, and a host of other configurations.

          My favorite handgun caliber is my Bersa Thunder .22 and Ruger 10/22 .22 rifle. I also have a Mossberg 500A and Remington 870 shotguns which are excellent bird guns.

          If my only choices were been the .17 and .22, the .22 would win hands down. The .22 is also an “international” caliber and an be found anywhere in the world. The Israli Mossad uses the .22 with the Beretta 70 and 71 for their sky marshalls. El Al airlines now even allows veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces to carry on their planes.

          As you have probably noticed, since the Israeli govenment implemented these protocols there have been virtually no hi-jackings.

          As I mentioned, I can get off 10 rounds of .22 in the time I can get off 2 big bore rounds with more accuracy. Even if I just get 7 hits out 10 it will definitely put the person down.

          I can see some specialty uses for the ,17 but it is not a round I have in my arsenal.

    • avatarBravo2zero says:

      1st thing: best discussion on the issue of .22 and SD/HD ever, IMO. And thank you for your thoughts Dr.Rod, in particular.

      When choosing what gun and what round one will choose, a crucial issue that must be considered is over-penetration. In an urban household, in which you might have spouse/kids/neighbors present, a .22lr or a 12 gauge loaded with, say, #2 or #4 birdshot makes sense. (I recommend having a look at “Gunblast” on youtube where a pork shoulder is hit with some birdshot. It appears that birdshot is not just for the birds.)

      RE: the humble .22, a fellow on youtube named “tnoutdoors” has posted some really interesting tests in ballistic gel. He really does a respectable job with all of the many calibres he tests. The mini-mag and velocitor out of a Ruger 10/22 are pretty impressive. The results essentially mimic that of a .380.

      Also of interest are the ballistic gelatin, slow-mo vids from “brassfetcher”…again, available on youtube. The Velocitor is featured, (among many others), both from a pistol and a rifle. Very interesting indeed…

  47. avatarDr. Rod says:

    Does anyone remember what caliber President Reagan was shot with by John Hinkley? It was the lowly .22, despite being surrounded by Secret Service, Hinkey got 2 shots off. One missed and the other richocheted and hit Reagan in the chest causing a pneumothorax which nearly resulted in this death.

  48. Wonderful points altogether, you just received a emblem new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your publish that you just made some days ago? Any certain?

  49. avatarThx0538 says:

    Thank you all with your comments.After 4 open heart surg. and removal of my sternum due to infection,with a heavy and obviosly broken heart I must part with my Ruger M-77 in 30-06.Ialso have a pacemaker.I have the med O.K. but must keep recoil on shoulder to a minumum.So .22lr it will have to be.The most important thing I’ve learned hear is it’s better than nothing.Also 2x center mass,2x head and watch and be ready for jams.Did I miss anything?

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      Just be sure to use high quality ammo. like CCI mini-mags and make sure the lips on your clip are not bent and you will have few, if any jams. A .22 is deady lethal. The person getting hit does not know what caliber they have been shot with and unless they are really high on something they will usually tuck tail and run.

      • avatarThx0538 says:

        Thanks DR.ROD just picked up a ruger 10/22 as it felt better than the marlin 60.I feel its a fine plinker.In the hell of N.Y. they will take your app for a pistol permit but the wait as we speak is14-16 mos.Also a 10 rd. mag limit.This place even put in a law that you cant buy a soda over 16oz. and if you put a cupcake in you kids lunch they take it away from him and send a letter that if you do it again they will call child welfare.Lots of drugs and crime though.We do got the best in that.

        • avatarBravo2zero says:

          Thx0538 – sorry about your tough issues and the loss of your favourite calibre.

          I love my Ruger 10/22. A couple of things: CCI is the best (velocitor, stinger, mini-mag) as far as I’ve used; Ruger 10 rnd factory mags are THE most reliable, & you can get a tri-mag adapter for 30 rnds at the magwell (25 rnders are hit & miss in my experience of using 3 diff. brands).

          Good shooting!

        • avatarDr. Rod says:

          Excellent choice for a long gun. The 10/22 is accuate and extremely reliable. Your money was well spent. May I make a recommendation for a handgun? I bought a Walther P22…expensive piece of junk. I then bought a Bersa Thunder .22. Mags are expensive but this thing is built like a tank and very accurate. Looks almost like a PPK. Price at Bud’s Guns (online dealer) 275 USD.

    • avatarBravo2zero says:

      NB: a volquartsen extractor claw can’t hurt. Cheap, easy to install, and is an improvement over the factory extractor

  50. avatarNot Rambo! says:

    Retired USAF Security Police. Have a Taurus 38 snubbie for home defense. Beretta Neos 22 4.5 inch barrel for practice. Also have NAA Pug 22 magnum for carry. Awesome little gun for up close personal protection. When I shoot the Pug mini mag at the range it sure gets alot of attention. You don’t need a cannon for personal carry. Practice, practice and practice!!

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      The Taurus ,38 snubby is an excellent hand gun. With +P ammo, it has she stopping power of something between a 9mm and .40 caliber but it is very snappy using that ammo. It is also a bit more difficult to conceal than a .380 or ultra compact 9mm. My preference for CC is my Bersa Thunder .380 using JHP +P ammo. Nice thing about revolvers is they never jam and with a speedloader, it takes just a bit more time than swapping out a magazine. Very good choices you have made for self defense handguns.

    • avatarDr. Rod says:

      The NAA magnum is a kick butt little handgun. Do not let the size fool you. It will drop a perp in short order and is a true pocket pistol. No need to stuggle to get your piece out of a shoulder or IWB holster. It may well be my next purchase as a backup piece.

    • avatarPaul alias "Not Rambo" says:

      How you doing Dr. Rod? I would highly reccomend that little Pug as a back up piece! More accurate than many want to acknowledge! In the military I fired and carried M-60 machine guns, 203 40mm grenade launchers, AK-47, AR-15. The M-16 was prone to jamming. Wasn’t that impressed! With just a bit of practice anyone can master the Pug. Best wishes!

  51. avatarDr. Rod says:

    Assault weapons (misnomer concocted by the media to make them sound ominous. They are really military or battle rifles) ban right around the corner. Quomo of NY is point man on the State level. the Obamanator wants to have it in place by the end of January. In addition there will restrictions on amount of ammo you can buy. Do not delay in getting your reloading equipment NOW!!! The tax may raise the price of a brick of .22 from $25 to $250 so stock up now men.

  52. avatarandy says:

    Good article overall.
    My daughters shoot a P22 because of the small grip. No problems with CCI ammo. A .22 @ 1200 fps or hollow point at 1600 fps will do plenty of damage. For accuracy I’d take my 8 year old daughter over 90% of the guys at the range shooting their cannons. At 30 ft all daughters can put 10 in a 10 inch diameter pattern in under 10 seconds. Anyone that thinks the little. 22 won’t neutralize is invited to stand in front of them. You won’t be standing very long.

  53. avatarDr. Rod says:

    I tried to find some extra high cap magazine for my Ruger P89. Everyplace is sold out!!! Buds guns is completely sold out of inventory. Even Luckygunner Ammo is out of .22lr. I had a suspicion that Obama would try a gun ban in his 2nd term. However, my belief pressure is being put on him by the global elite. Something is coming down my friends. I personally believe it is going to either be another terrorist attack or something to do with the economy resulting in massive civil disorder.

  54. avatarmassmanute says:

    This has been a very interesting discussion. Let me suggest a few points.

    First, it may be possible to criticize the study by Ellifritz by saying that it does not prove that the .22 is of comparable effectiveness for self defense compared to larger caliber firearms. However, I think it is fair to say that, based on the data alone, one cannot make a convincing argument that most of the other calibers are significantly more effective than a .22.

    Second, considering the legally defensible fact that the purpose of a defensive weapon is to cause the assailant to break off an attack or to neutralize an immediate threat, the one statistic that is most relevant is missing from the study, namely the percentage of incidents where the assailant continued an attack after a weapon was pulled by. Lacking the data we can only speculate, but my speculation is that there is probably not a lot of difference between the calibers.

    Third, according to anecdotal stories, most incidents never result in either an attack or a continuation of an attack, or a shooting once a weapon is pulled. It seems that the sight of a gun is usually enough to deter the bad guy. That alone would tend to equalize the effectiveness of various calibers. Of those that result in a shooting I would bet that there are probably at least a high a percentage of hits from the .22 caliber weapons as the higher caliber weapons, if not more, and I would also bet that once a person is hit it is almost always enough to cause him to break off the attack, pretty much regardless of the caliber of weapon used to shoot him. To put it in simple terms, in cases where a gun is pulled by one under threat, there would seldom be cases where the assailant just kept coming. This, of course, is speculation, but in the absence of data, speculation and anecdotes are about the best we can do.

  55. avataranon says:

    Can anyone tell me briefly why a few commenters say Military police shootings with 9mm FMJ’s would skew the statistics in 9mm’s favor? Other than the category would have more ‘professional’ shooter’s than the others?

    I’m a novice but I’d think it would do the opposite.

  56. avatarmassmanute says:

    Here is a thought about misfires with a .22 caliber. When carrying a .22 caliber weapon for self defense just buy whatever ammo the competitors in biathlon events use. They can’t afford misfires in competition, so their ammo is going to be very reliable.

    If cost is a consideration then practice with the cheap stuff and carry the good stuff. One box of the good stuff will probably last many lifetimes in a concealed carry application, considering that most people will go a lifetime and never actually fire a shot in anger with the weapon they carry for self defense.

  57. avatargojack says:

    The wound from 8-9 shots .22 LR is very similar to a the wound of a single blast of 12 Gage OO Buck (without the recoil, blast, and noise)

    SW Model 617 10 ea .22″ holes 40 grains @ 1200 fps +/-
    12 Gage OO Buck 8 ea .33″ holes 53 grains @ 1200 fps +/-

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  59. avatarteresa dunlap says:

    FYI, with my being a 5’2″ woman, my 22 revolver fits nicely in places without a holster; doesn’t seem to draw any attention, even when guys are looking for a CCW. It’s my best “piece of mind” when I am out late. I liked this article, b/c now I have a response when friends find out I’m only carrying a “little 22″ and snicker.

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  62. avatarNick says:

    The biggest problem I have with the 22 as a defensive cartridge is not its power, it is its reliability to fire. Rimfire ammunition is statistically more susceptible to misfires than centerfire. The first priority in any defensive gun is that it work when you need it. Click when you should have heard bang is a very loud sound.

    • avatarmassmanute says:

      I keep reading comments about .22 caliber ammo producing a higher percentage of misfires than center fire ammo. I would be very interested in seeing the statistical studies demonstrating that contention.

      In the thousands of .22 rounds I have fired I don’t recall ever having a misfire, with one possible exception where I tried firing an unfired round I found at the range that had a primer strike mark on the round.

      I figure that of all the many variables in a self-defense situation, the chances of a misfire are among the least of your worries, particularly if your firearm has not been altered to lighten the force of the primer strike.

  63. avatarRoy Odhner says:

    Great article!

    The more I read the endless debate over the best caliber/bullet weight, the more my eyes glaze over. As a correctional officer and community supervision officer, I worked with thugs for over 15 years and came to conclusion of that none of them are gonna stick around to take a second round of any caliber. Nor did I ever meet the methed-out, roid-raged, body building, psychotic, undead, sex-offending biker dude that I keep seeing released on all the gun forums by the guy trying to convince us that we all need to be packing a tricked-out Kimber in .45acp

    Having years of personal experience working with thugs (some of whom were mentally ill and who did have serious drug addictions) and watching video of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt, I’m convinced that my two NAA .22wmr mini revolvers are all I’m ever gonna realistically need. I’ve got a stock Pug and a basic model with over-sized grips. Why two? One if for the New York reload.

    Hinckley dropped a police officer, a secret service officer, and a press secretary with one shot each from a short-barreled pistol chambered for .22wmr. They were instantly taken out of the fight, although none were killed. He also got the President, but luckily that round ricocheted before it hit him. Had it been a direct hit, and Reagan did not have an alert security detail that hustled him into the limo and rushed him to the hospital, then he would have also dropped like a stone and expired in a matter of minutes.

    The .22lr (and it’s larger cousin, the .22wmr) work just fine for self-defense. Knowing what I know today, I regret buying any guns other than my Bersa .380 Thunder and my .two NAA minis. The Bersa is used for CHL qualifications, and the NAA minis are my daily carries. My other three guns (a Taurus Model 85, a S&W 640, and a VZ-82) sit in my gun locker. I gave my LC9 to my oldest son. That’s a lot of money wasted on guns that don’t give me any real advantage over my two NAA minis.

    Then there is all the ammo. I can buy a box of Hornady Critical Defense .22wmr for dang-near half the price of a box of WWB .38spcl FMJ. That means that for $14, I can train with the same ammo I use for self-defense. If worse comes to worse and I can’t get hold of any of the dedicated self-defense stuff, I can still use plain old Winchester .22wmr for $10 and that is still gonna be an effective – just not as effective.

    When it’s all said and done, I’ll just happily go about my business with a .22 revolver and feel 100% confident that it will do the job. I’ll let the bullet heads endlessly argue the merits of their bigger bore favorites, and laugh at outlandish scenarios that they continually play out in their heads. I’m secure in my manhood, and I know that determination, proficiency, and shot placement trump all other considerations.

    • avatarbcbravo2zero says:

      “Nor did I ever meet the methed-out, roid-raged, body building, psychotic, undead, sex-offending biker dude that I keep seeing released on all the gun forums”

      Hilarious! And so very true.
      I think a magazine full of CCI Stingers will work perfectly well 99.9% of the time.

  64. avatarBilly says:

    The 22lr is on par with a 12g shotgun to incapacitate someone in 1 shot? Sometimes you just have to look at the numbers and call bull#$#%. There is no way a 12g and a 22 have the same stopping effect on someone. If it is, that is not from being wounded, that is just someone incapacitated from laughing to hard to continue the attack after you shoot them with a 22.

  65. avatarLfshtr says:

    A hog leg may be to big and to slow, first good placed hits are the best answer to end a fight. Better than that , Run if you can, be alive to fight another day. Peace be with all.

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  69. avatarAndy says:

    Worked as a deputy sheriff and as armed security at the local medical center , had a chance to see quite a few shootings , especially with the .22lr , Dr. Rod is right most wounds to center mass caused death in most cases and some of these were at the scene of the shooting , as for the head shots if penetration was acquired , mostly through the face the perp was killed and most of these were also at the scene . A lot of folks seem to under estimate the .22lr , if most the autos jam stay away from them , get a .22lr or .22mag revolver . I got my wife a Charter Arms Pathfinder in .22lr with the 2 inch barrel , it is the same size as my DAO undercover , and only weights 19 oz compared to 16oz for my .38 , she has no trouble putting all six shots center mass in less than 4 seconds , center mass is where I have always been trained to shoot because these shots do the best in stopping a perp from continuing the fight . All I can say is if all I have is a .22lr handgun then I am still well armed ,because your best weapon besides your brain is what weapon you have with you along with training with that weapon until it is second nature that you know your and its limitations . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  70. avatarAndy says:

    Oh , I did forget to say that her Pathfinder is somewhat personally customized for her , I sent the PF in to Charter Arms , and had them install the DAO hammer , it is the same one for the Undecover .38 special a, plus her favorite color is green , and they happen to have the full combat grip in green , she really loves the little .22 lr especially it being customized for her , hey she always buys me firearms for Christmas , so I wanted to fix something up nice for her . My next firearm for her is a Ruger 10/22 , stainless with a green stock , I think she will like it too . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

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  74. avatarsmoke says:

    CAVEATS FOR 22LR CONCEAL CARRY SELF DEFENSE: To me it MUST be a quality 22 REVOLVER ( NO semi’s ) with 8 or more cylinders…..&…….MUST be quality copper or copper washed solids ( NO HP’s – CCI Velocitors come to mind as 1 good example of a “MUST be” ). These caveats would make me very confident with a 22lr concealed carry handgun, absolutely.

  75. avatarbuck bigod says:

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  76. avatarT. Robbins says:

    I carry a Walther P22 everyday, I own much larger calibers, but find them to heavy to comfortable carry. I’ve come to believe that shot placement is the key, and that means practice. .22lr allows that. Also most if not all of the “whacko’s” I’ve seen on recent shoot outs have been wearing body armour, it will be a head shot that will bring them down. I’d rather hit with a .22 than miss with a .45

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