Trick shooter Kirsten Weiss (courtesy The Truth Abotu Guns)

Over in the TTAG forum, some random guy asked TTAG’s favorite female marksperson—a trick shooter who champions .22 caliber like Sports Illustrated champions the swimsuit industry— if she thought her favorite caliber was suitable for self-defense. Ms. Weiss replied with a definite maybe.

“Is the .22 worth a ‘damn’ as a defense round? One big fat absolutely! Is something bigger more suited to the task? It depends. Context is important. For example, say you’ve somehow gotten yourself into a shady scenario (Robert, this means you). You’re cornered by a ‘bad guy’ yet the sound of a round echoing in the air would just alert more baddies to your position . . .”

Click here to read the rest at the TTAG Free Fire Zone forum.

91 Responses to Ask Kirsten Weiss: Would You Use .22 for Self-Defense?

  1. .22s kill more than any other round simply because they are cheap, small and easy to carry,thus carried more. They are the most used simply by numbers. Not because they are an effective mankiller. That said, I would not want to be shot by one and have carried one for the reasons listed above. Shot placement is everything and a pellet gun will kill

    • Can you provide a link to stats to support that, please?

      .22 may be used to kill more animals (including people) than other round… but every set of stats I’ve seen fails to support your implication that more people die by .22 than any other caliber.

    • Uh, no. There was an article here last year about the .22 for self-defense. The .22 does just fine compared to other handgun rounds in real world shootings, in fact better.

      http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/foghorn/ask-foghorn-22l-for-self-defense/

      The .22 beat every other handgun round in percentage of observed gunfights ended in a fatality for the person.

      Shooters using the .22 in a fight used fewer rounds to incapacitate their victim than any other handgun round.

      • Variables are everything. .22lr is better than……22short.
        380ACP is minimum defensive round, and even this is a FAR cry from the 9/40/45 semi or 357/38 revolver realm.

    • I’d like a reference for the death of a human by a common pellet gun? I realize there are some really expensive, high-powered pellet guns but those are the norm. They aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as .22 rim fire firearms.

      • “I’d like a reference for the death of a human by a common pellet gun?”

        It’s rare, but it does happen.

      • Theaton, I have a common pellet rifle bought at walmart for 99 bucks. It’s .177 cal and depending on the ammo can shoot at 1200 fps. If You got hit in the head or heart area at close range, or one of the major arteries, I have no doubt at all it can inflict a fatal injury.

    • I think its rifles included, as well as handguns.
      22lr is good for self defense if your Stephen Hawlking, or something.

      • So, 22lr is good for an immobile/less than mobile person. Are you advocating for .22lr there? I hope that’s what you’re doing…otherwise if its the opposite, that’s really kinda cruel if you think about it…

        • Making a point that you have to be REALLY infirm to opt for a .22lr handgun.
          Honestly, in Stephens case, he should have a ‘Doctor Evil’ inspired ‘Death Chair’ that fires laser blasts and can fly.

        • Lol, Pat, I think everyone should have one of those. At least once in their life.

  2. There have been times in my life when the .22 was the only gun I owned. Would I have been happy to get involved in a dgu with a .22 as my only weapon. No. But I would have been even unhappier without a gun. Some situations ain’t perfect, but you adapt and do the best you can.

  3. Well, I’ve never been shot 11 times in the face with a .22lr handgun, but I don’t think it’d tickle. It only took Sirhan Sirhan 3 shots to take out RFK.

    • Sirhan’s gun contained only blanks, to attract all eyes to him, but he didn’t know. Still doesn’t. Total mind control. But you refuse to believe YOUR superior mind can be controlled. WISE THE EFF UP!

      The coroner ruled Sirhan couldn’t have been the shooter, because all but one hit came from other directions. Professionals who left nothing to chance.

      Sirhan was always in front of RFK, and never got within six feet, according to multiple witnesses. The fatal shot, behind the right ear, the coroner ruled (famous coroner Thomas Noguchi) said powder burns were consistent with .22 held less than TWO INCHES from RFK’s right ear. That would have been right-wing security guard THANE EUGENE CESAR, who was at the senator’s right elbow, as photos showed. Ceasar SOLD the gun within days and it vanished!

      DO YOUR EFFING RESEARCH, DAMMIT. Do I have to tell you EVERYTHING?

      • The man just whacked a Kennedy, in a crowded room full of witnesses and cameras and he held onto the murder weapon for a couple of days and then sold it? And you believe that’s the way it went? Alex Jones is using mind control on you.

      • It was the same guy from the grassy knoll. He tried to have the grassy knoll moved to the kitchen of the Ambassodor Hotel but Texas wouldn’t let him export their land and the management of the hotel thought the dirt and grass might get into the food and upset their guests. He even wore the grass stained slacks that he had back on November 22, 1963. Do I have to tell you EVERYTHING?

        • So if his plan had worked the grassy knoll would’ve become the vacant lot. Genius. No wonder William is in such awe of these evil criminal masterminds.

      • Ceasar sold the gun? That takes some balls. I would have destroyed the evidence…..or shot RFK in private, while not in the spotlight of the whole damn world.

  4. If it’s the only gun you’ve got, then it could be used for self defense. Any gun is better than NO gun.

    There are also people with almost no grip strength (handicapped people, very old people, etc.). These people can not handle a gun with strong recoil. For them .22LR is very appropriate.

    • My wife can’t effectively rack the slide on a semi pistol and can’t deal well with recoil. So I got a heavy steel .357 revolver, thinking I’d load it up with .38special, but even that is too much for her.

      She can handle .22 however. Probably going to opt for a 10 shot .22 revolver for her with the 10/22 for backup. At least I know she can operate those if necessary.

  5. Were I carrying a gun ,hypothetically speaking,in a non permissive environment where crime is rampant and an expensive centerfire gun would simply vanish into police custody after the dust settled….yes.

  6. Until I can get some Hornady Critical Defense or Speer Gold Dots in 22lr, it won’t be my first choice.

  7. The .22 is a fine round. I once watched my grandfather dispatch 3 problem deer from his garden one afternoon with a .22 rifle.

  8. I think it depends on the gun, distance and scenario. I’ll take my Ruger 22/45 over my 9mm mouse gun at distances beyond 15 feet. With that 22 I can shoot quarters all day at 10 yards.

    The 22 is not my first choice but it certainly isn’t my last.

  9. As someone once said to me, “you can’t miss close enough to make a difference.” If you are uncomfortable using a larger caliber, you shouldn’t use it. If you are comfortable with a .22, use it.

  10. I clicked on the Sports Illustrated link above and after the new site opened I thought for a couple seconds that the woman stretching out in her thong was Kirsten.

  11. Back in the day before the mouse-gun boom (no pun intended) choices were few if you needed something smaller than a .38 snubby or in the PPK-range, so I had a Beretta 21A and a NAA mini for pocket guns. Cheap to feed, reliable, and in my mind a better ballistic choice than a .25ACP. (And the 21A was surprisingly accurate.) Carrying extra ammo was also a breeze.

  12. First, if you’re going to use a .22 (or a .380acp for that matter) for self defense you want all the penetration you can get. 6 inches of penetration won’t always cut it – solids are the way to go. My wife can handle my 9s but she’s a better shot with her Sig Mosquito so we keep a magazine full of Remington Vipers in it. Truncated cone, flat point – good for breaking through sternums and skulls, and it packs an extra 10 ft./lbs. of energy. Don’t worry about expansion until you graduate to 9mm.

    Second, as much of a fallacy as it is to test a caliber for one stop shots with 9mm, 40 S&W, 45acp, etc., it’s just plain stoopid to try it with .22lr. Consider it more like a single round of buckshot that takes 2.4 seconds to fire sequentially.

    Third, there’s a 90% chance that the mere sight of a gun, any gun, will quickly diffuse any situation you may get yourself into, and in the other 10% there’s a 90% chance that the sound of gunfire, of any caliber, will send your life loving assailants running. Add to that the 90% chance that most of us who don’t live in Trenton, NJ will never have to be armed in the first place and the odds are pretty slim that you’ll ever need anything bigger. But if you do, you’re screwed.

    • You make good points, Gov, but to be fair there’s a HUGE difference between .22LR and .380ACP aka “9mm short”. I’d carry a SIG in 380ACP as a CCW weapon if that’s what suited the situation, and I have several LEO friends who do exactly that for backup/off-duty armament. I would only employ 22LR (and even then, it’d be Aguila Super Maximum 1700fps loads) for self-defense if nothing else were available.

      Also: I think you meant “defuse” as in to defuse a bomb. Diffusion is how a fart spreads through an elevator, not how one resolves a situation. 🙂

      • Ah yes, I did not intend to disseminate bad information.

        A good .22 load will get you about half the muzzle energy of most .380 loads. The frontal area of a .355 bullet is 2.5 times more than a .224 bullet. So sufficient penetration can be an even bigger issue with .380 than .22. Most of the gel tests I’ve seen for the .380 have about 8 inches of penetration with expanding ammunition, which is less than ideal, although non-expanding ammunition would probably over-penetrate. Once you step up to 9mm you can get expansion up to 2x and still get sufficient penetration.

        The only advantage the .22 would have over the .380 would be that pocket .22s usually carry a couple of extra rounds. You’ll need them though.

  13. I don’t see why not. Some of the hyper-velocity stuff will really cook out of a longer barrel: 1200 – 1600 fps. I’ve seen some ballistic gel tests that show .22 HP will do comparable damage .380 acp HP. The .22 would also have the two advantages of: 1) not being eardrum shatteringly loud in confined spaces, and 2) so light on recoil that a shooter could squeeze off rounds with accuracy, about as fast as he/she could pull the trigger. In a handgun with a 10 round mag, a .22 might be a little out classed, but a Ruger 10/22 with a 25 round mag filled with premium CCI HP would be a nasty gun for home defense.

    • I dunno man. I have a Sig Mosquito that is as loud as some 9mm and .40 pistols I’ve shot side by side with at the range. It seems louder than my 9mm Maks.

      I also somehow ended up with one of the Sig Mosquitos that are reliable and accurate. I carried it around with me a lot when I had no other pistols a few years back. Never CCed it, but kept it in the truck a lot. I knew I was undergunned with it, but I knew if I had to use it, it would do the job. At the time, I was shooting it so often that there was no way I was going to miss what I was aiming at, minus the stress and adrenaline of a real-world use scenario.

  14. I would rather have a .22lr or .22 mag then nothing at all.
    When I have to play dress up and my SIG is too bulky my NAA PUG .22 mag
    fits nicely in an IWB holster and certainly beats nothing at all.

  15. Yeah, she’s cute. But come on, Robert and Dan: She’s hardly an expert in matters of self-defense.

    Sure, she’s a marksman. A competitive shooter. And she’s good looking. Hell, she might have even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    Reminds me of a firearm training student (training in the art of self-defense) who thought he knew all he needed to know about self-defense because he’d probably dusted upwards of 100k clay birds in his days.

    He looked at me like I kicked his favorite puppy when I told him that was utterly irrelevant to self-defense.

    By the end of the weekend, he had a new-found appreciation for the legal and practical application of deadly force with a handgun for self-defense.

    Same applies here.

    If you want to post pictures of this girl looking nice giving us competition hints and showing off her skills and attributes (and she’s a pretty girl), great. But let’s not have her talking about things outside her knowledge.

    We know accuracy tends to be sharply degraded when the lights go down and the old body has an adrenaline dump, especially if the individual has a code brown dump as well.

    John

    • That’s why I mentioned the importance of stress and scenario training ;). I agree with you. And there are plenty of good self-defense classes out there to take. I’m not a policewoman nor military. My real-world self-defense training is more heavily weighted in the marital arts. But I’ve studied/experienced enough about the .22 to know its effectiveness on live targets. Train the scenario, whether competition or self-defense, and try to induce the real world physical/psychological response while training. It will never be exactly real—until it is. Thanks for the input

  16. TO: Kristen Weiss and Others
    RE: 22LR vs. Drugged Up Madmen

    Fat chance.

    And whereas we in the Army frequently say…..It depends on the situation.….

    What are you going to do in the seconds between you hear the door kicked in and see the shadow standing in your bedroom door?

    Are you going to think…..hmmmm, what should I use for THIS situation? The .22LR? The .357 mag? What about the shotgun?

    Maybe debate it with the other members of the household for their advice.

    You don’t know what you’re up against. So as we frequently say in the Army…..Keep It Simple, Stupid, a.k.a., The KISS Principle.

    [NOTE: I keep coming across people who insist on transposing the S’s. This looks like one of those instances.]

    So, in Army parlance think KISS and grab the Springfield Armory XDm .45 cal with hollowpoints and Crimson Trace laser targeting. Then, if you’re the adventurous type, go ‘entertain’ your uninvited guest(s).

    If you’ve got a spouse. And she’s adventureous too, have her watch your six and provide supporting fires.

    If you’ve a spouse and kids, have her cover the kids. Unless they’re teenagers and famliar with operations in built-up areas.

    Home defense is a family affair.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [.45 cal, because it’s just silly to have to shoot someone twice.]

    • P.S. Some guy on bath-salts is a living-breathing Reaver, a la Firefly/Serenity. Only a .45 cal is going to put them down before they start eating your face. And even then it might take multiple rounds to keep them down.

      • Wuss.

        Real men shoot .50AE. Because why shoot when you can bludgeon them with a cinematically friendly Desert Eagle.

      • You get +1 for the Firefly/Serenity reference.

        But…

        .45 is no better than any modern handgun ammunition. 9mm, .40, .45, it’s all personal preference at this point.

        I’ll take my 9mm instead. Especially if multiple shots are needed to stop them permanently anyway. I like the greater capacity.

        • IDK, I think I would do ok with the 14 rounds of 45 ACP from my G21. 18 rounds of 9mm would be great as well.

        • TO: Gyufygy and Tim U
          RE: .45s for Life

          The .45 has a proven history over the last 100+ years of putting down drugged-up fanatics: the Moro Rebellion in the PIs and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

          Hope that helps.

          RE: Magazines

          The XDm can take 13 rounds.

          And the .45 usually takes only one round to put a man down.

          There have been several recent reports where the .38 cal/9mm have failed to stop a criminal even with a head shot.

          Regards,

          Chuck(le)
          [Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “.4” — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting]

    • Hey Chuck(le), you make good points. Robert asked me if the .22 can be used for self-defense, and the answer is yes. “Depends on the scenario” because in some cases I’d want a bigger pistol/rifle (longer ranges, Reavers, aka drugged up criminals) and in other cases I’d actually prefer the .22. But then again, I know I can make all my rounds enter one bullet hole at 50m, and I like to keep my criminals at a distance. Would it be the only caliber I’d ever choose for self-defense? Of course not. But that was not the question. Basically, if a .22 is the nearest thing to me, I’m not gonna bat an eyelash over whether effective bullet placement will get the job done–Im just going to get the job done.

  17. This is a simple point often missed by the .22 debate (and I carry only a .22 wmr sometimes!)

    To get an accurate statistical idea of the “killing power” of the .22 you need to divide the number of people killed by a .22 by the number of people shot by the .22. Then you need to compare that to the number of people killed by each other caliber divided by the number of people shot by that caliber. With this you are computing the rate of people shot by a particular caliber actually dying. A ton of people are killed with the .22lr but a ton of people are shot with them too. Meaning a ton of people get hit by them and don’t die. Which makes for a less than ideal defensive caliber.

  18. With regard to “putting someone down”.

    If the recoil of the round doesn’t knock you off your feet, the momentum of the projectile will not knock the bad guy off his feet via pure mechanical force.

  19. Let’s talk ONLY momentum. Not tissue damage, but the ability to “stop” a guy’s momentum mechanically:

    Let’s say the guy weights 180 lbs. This is about 82 kg. Between a jog and a run for this guy is about 11 mph, which is about 5 meters per second.

    The momentum of this guy (vector quantity at you) is about 410 kg*m/s

    A 9mm bullet which is about 7.45 grams moves at about 390 m/s. The momentum of this bullet is about 3 kg*m/s. To “stop” this guy based ONLY on momentum you’d have to shoot him about 136 times.

    A .45 acp bullet weights about 15 grams and moves at about 270 m/s. The momentum of this bullet is about 4 kg*m/s. To “stop” the guy based only on momentum you’d have to shoot him about 102 times.

    A .40 s&w, weights about 11 grams and moves about 350 m/s. Momentum is about 3.85 kg*m/s. To “stop” the guy based only on momentum you’d have to shoot him about 106 times.

    Most interestingly, a handgun of a given size in 9mm which holds 15 rounds has contains about 45 kg*m/s of momentum per magazine. The same sized handgun in .45 acp will hold about 10 rounds, and contains about 40kg*m/s of momentum per magazine. The same sized handgun in .40 will hold about 13 rounds, so about 50 kg*m/s per magazine.

    Effectively each caliber in the same sized gun with however many rounds fit has similar “momentum per magazine”. The .40 s&w has the most, the .45 acp the least, and the 9mm, right in between.

    In reality, trading off your ability to hit and the amount of momentum per bullet, you are probably equivalently served with a firearm in any of these three calibers. Which is also why the caliber war never ends, because we are debating a combination of parameters (bullet weight, diameter, speed, number) which lead to virtually equivalent capability and result per platform.

    • +1 Thank you for spending the time to explain this. Mayhaps some well-placed rounds and a generous side step would be more appropriate? Rather than hoping for enough stopping power from a couple of rounds (any caliber) ?

      • Definitely. I say use whatever caliber you can hit accurately with, and if it is a big and heavy one that is a bonus.

        99% of my personal defensive pistol practice is shooting for IDPA target zero regions while moving sideways, backwards, or both with a mid sized .40, or ultra compact 9mm, or j-frame .38 special +p, or a full size .45 acp, all which I find comfortable to shoot. It is my opinion that if you can retreat while hitting strings of zeros with any caliber you are well served.

  20. Well, there are two possible logical perspectives here:

    1. The “caliber and bullet mass don’t matter” school of thought (ie, that 9mm is just as good as .45 ACP): Well, why not? Proponents of this theory should ride it all the way down to hot .22LR’s, because, after all, “it’s all about bullet placement.”

    2. The school of “the gun you got beats the gun you don’t.”

  21. TO: Don
    RE: Heh

    A .45 acp bullet weights about 15 grams and moves at about 270 m/s. The momentum of this bullet is about 4 kg*m/s. To “stop” the guy based only on momentum you’d have to shoot him about 102 times. — Don

    I’d like to see you that debate that ‘statistic’ with the Rangers who rescued the downed SEAL team during Operation ANACONDA.

    They packed in their personal .45s, instead of the standard issue 9mm.

    They swear that that is the only reason they survived, as the dead Taliban they examined after the fight all had their mouths full of Qat. And I SERIOUSLY DOUBT they packed in over 102 rounds of .45 each.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [The Truth will out…..]

    P.S. The Army in the PIs during the Moro rebellion, also say the same…..

    ….Check THIS!

    Pay particular attention to the man in the middle.

    Here’s the narrative….

    Knocking Out the Moros
    DA Poster 21-48

    The four-day battle of Bagsak Mountain on Jolo Island in the Philippines took place from 11 to 15 June 1913. Americans of the 8th Infantry and the Philippine Scouts, personally lead by Brigadier General John J. Pershing, brought to an end years of bitter struggle against the Moro pirates. These Bolo men, outlaws of great physical endurance and savage fighting ability, were well organized under their Datus or chiefs. They had never been conquered during several centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The U.S. Army .45-caliber pistol was developed to meet the need for a weapon with enough striking power to stop fanatical charges of lawless Moro tribesmen in hand-to-hand fighting.

    • Your love for your caliber has apparantly affected your reading comprehension. You completely missed or misinterpreted my clearly stated point.

      • It’s ok. Let Chuck be Chuck. He’s passionate, that’s for sure. Just be glad he’s on our side.

      • No, Don….

        …you miss the point.

        Hit a man with a .45 in most anyplace and he’s going down. Your math means next to nothing.

        Hit a man with a 9mm or .38 cal—even a spl—and he can still run away. Even after a head shot.

        [.45 cal, because it’s just silly to have to shoot someone twice.]

        P.S. It’s also a waste of ammo…..

  22. TO: TTAG
    RE: HEY!!!!

    What happened to Kristen’s comment? And my reply???!?!?!

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    P.S. Do I need to start capturing everything I engage in HERE??!??!?!

    P.P.S. I just DID!

      • Kirsten, chucks elevator don’t go all the way to the top floor. Ignore him is the best way to deal.

        Thanks for your remarks about the .22. As a 1 time farmboy I know just how effective the lowly rimfire is. I’ve seen it used to dispatch all manner of large animals. Pigs, cows, horses, deer to name just a few.

        My father had a life long friend that lost a leg to a single .22 round. And unforetunately I had to take down a large and agrressive dog with a .22.

        • Thanks JWM, your real world experience is better than electronic world debates 😉

  23. So I cliked the link and she said a 22 can penetrate deep enough even at 500 yards. I’m sorry but what? Good luck with that.

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