(courtesy americanrifleman.org)

Over at americanrifleman.org, Richard Mann tested .22 Magnum cartridges for personal self-defense. He concludes “I still believe any gun is better than no gun. I also believe there are a lot of cartridges better suited for personal protection than a .22 WMR. Still, as a deterrent, it’s probably as effective as anything else. As for being able to bring about voluntary submission it’s anybody’s guess how this cartridge should be rated; we simply cannot predict psychological reactions. Where the .22 WMR appears to fall short is in its ability to bring about instant involuntary incapacitation.” We haven’t had a good caliber war here for a while. Would you feel confident deploying a .22 wheelgun against a bad guy?

Recommended For You

161 Responses to Question of the Day: Is a .22 Revolver Enough Gun?

      • Having a handgun necessitates a headshot if instant incapacitation is the objective. Against a determined adversary, use your gun to get as many shots on target as quickly as possible and prepare for hand to hand combat if you fail to hit the CNS or brain. 3 yards, 3 shots, 3 seconds. Longer than that and you will probably be grappling for control of the gun or using it as a club.

      • Nope; doesn’t “require” a head shot.

        Worked an armed robbery victim’s autopsy once where the lady was shot by a .22 (none contact wound) through the sternum, pierced heart and enter into and lodged in the spine.

        She died on the spot.

        That’s not an isolated case or an ‘exception’ in any way.

        • Re: De Facto

          No. The spine is part of the skeletal system. The spinal cord is part of the CNS, but I see nothing here indicating cord damage. The perforated heart did it, it would seem.

        • De Facto, just to clarify: your comment was not present when I posted mine. You posted while I was typing. Ergo, I had no idea what you were saying as I formulated my response to borg. 😉

          Carry on.

      • A .22 WMR is a pretty powerful round and you can carry 50 in a shirt pocket. I once shot a 22 mag clean through a schedule 40 iron pipe. If you hit a person in the right place practically any size bullet will kill him, however there are very few true hand guns less than .45 acp are man stoppers. More than one person has been hit over and over by 9mm and didn’t stop in their tracks.
        A 22 WMR on you is better than a 45 in the drawer.

    • Yup. Read a comment by an undercover cop on the anemic .25acp: “It ain’t much, but it beats praying.”

      Tests of the Hornaday .22Mag Critical Defense round in short barrels showed the same penetration and temporary wound cavity as a .380 – this is not the best choice, but it sure beats praying.

    • That’s my point exactly. When I worked in a LGS during college, everyone there except myself it seemed had a “you shouldn’t shoot someone with xx” attitude. My theory has always been you use the biggest baddest gun you are willing and able to shoot. Able being much more important than willing. If a .38 scares you and you aren’t willing to practice with it (my wife), then when you need it you: 1) will likely be scared to use it, causing jerking, eye closing, or hesitation and 2) will most likely miss, limp wrist the gun, or drop it entirely. If you are most comfortable with a .22 and can place shots where you want with consistent accuracy, then being able to land 5-9 .22 caliber holes center of mass in a BG is much better than maybe 1 in the shoulder from a .45 every day of the week.

        • Didn’t kill Jared Reston after he was shot in the jaw with a .45, and subsequently 7 additional shots (only three on body armor).

          I know statements like this are said in jest (and, they ARE funny to those that get that it’s a joke), but I do wish some of these Geezer Science memes would die (because not everyone knows it’s a joke…).

        • I much prefer my PT1911AR because it’s hefty, eats up the recoil, follow up shots are easy… It’s not anywhere near as snappy and hard to follow as the PT709, PT740, or PT738… It’s not always because the ammo is bigger. In the case of 1911, the ammo may be bigger, but the gun is easier to handle. Bigger more powerful round, LESS recoil.

        • If you are serious about carrying a .45, make it the Marlin Camp Carbine in .45acp. The 16″ barrel gives you another 200fps, it is accurate out to 100 yards+, and it can be used as a club! What? It isn’t concealable? Sure it is, if you wear a long trenchcoat or carry a golf bag. Who cares about practicality – we’re talking caliber wars here.

    • Merits of a .22 handgun:
      * Lighter & smaller – more likely to carry it
      * Cheaper – more likely to purchase
      * Ammo cheaper – more likely to train and become somewhat proficient
      * Smaller ammo – can carry more of it
      * Less recoil – follow-up shots much more likely to be on-target to all but expert shooters
      * Quieter – not as hard on the ears in almost every setting
      * Maybe less likely to kill – who wants a death haunting their conscience?
      * Not a big loss if the gun gets stolen, or confiscated by a rogue cop
      * Produces less testosterone – good for everybody
      * Provides second chance to people shot accidentally – unless CNS / vital organ is hit
      * Research supports effectiveness of .22 in stopping violent offenders
      * Has adequate range in self-defense settings, not long shots
      * Better quality .22 ammo is very reliable – goes “bang” almost 100% of the time
      There are disadvantages to .22 for self defense, including reliability of ammo and stopping power, but in my opinion, the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

      • “* Quieter – not as hard on the ears in almost every setting”
        I’m not sure how many .22 WMR revolves you have fired but they are far louder than you would expect and the fireball the produce is massive, particularly in the dark. A wide length/width ratio to the brass means lots of unburned powder escaping for a dramatic effect with close to no recoil. It’s wonderful!

      • .22 is also still non-existent up here so i’d be training zero. .22 IMO is the most pointless round because not only is it tiny, but its non existent. I just can’t comprehend why someone wouldn’t buy 9mm which is actually on the shelf over .22 which isnt.

        • .22LR is great for killing pests. I’d trust .22LR for defense for my daughters if they need to do so. They are both pretty good shots, though. Not too many folks would expect to be defending with a .22 caliber gun. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be shot with one. Sometimes a psychological stop is effective enough.

        • .22 isn’t unobtainable everywhere. I see it on the shelf every time I go to Cabela’s or any of the local fun stores. Prices are a bit higher than they were in 2012, but that’s true for almost all ammo.

        • Stoy from my local Cabela (who has had .22LR most of the time last 2yr) why they have it and Walmart didn’t (still doesn’t) – because Cabelas pays for their inventory.

          I’ll accept that – at a previous employer, years ago, Walmart wanted HUGE extra discounts, paid when hell froze over, and insisted on returning for credit damaged, opened, returned, unsold and unsellable goods. BUT sales dept claimed while we might lose $1/unit you make it up on volume.

      • “Maybe less likely to kill, who wants a death haunting their conscience”
        Who wants a live witness to testify against them?

    • I’d rather have a knife to be honest. Per MN law one must be in a defensive situation with all escape options exhausted prior to defense with a handgun. Given those circumstances a knife is going to work a lot better than a .22 unless the assailant is armed with a gun, in which case I’m probably not going Texas cop and out shooting someone with a .22. This isn’t .45 vs 223. A .45 will kill your soul, a .22 is meant for squirrels.

      • If you bring a knife to a gun fight your going to lose and lose badly. Even if it’s a 22 short. Are you saying your going to shrug off bullet shots? Who are you Rambo? If I have to face down a bad guy and we got a choice between knife and 22. I and probably 99% of the public would choose the 22 revolver for the win.

        • I disagree with the statement that a gun is always better than knife in a potentially life or death senario.

          The truth is, a trained knife fighter will kill a trained gunfighter inside of three yards almost every time. Although he might also die in the process.

          train with what you carry. knife, gun, keys, flashlight, whatever. Training is so much more important than caliber.

          I have spent the last week in Cali, and have been gunless the whole time. It isn’t my preference, but I don’t feel helpless. The gun is just a tool afterall.

        • Knife verses gun depends on distance if you gun is holstered and he is within 7yards You lose. And a sharp knife can cut a plug out of you the size of s shotgun slug with a twist of the wrist

        • People always talk bring up the idea that a “trained knife fighter” can get to and kill someone with a gun. I always respond that the exception does not prove the rule. I stand by what I stated and would gladly take my chances holding a gun of nearly any caliber vs a knife. Most thugs I would guess know less about knives than I know about guns. Unless they have the training of John Rambo or some fifteenth century Samurai I will take my chances.

  1. .22 is what Mossad has been using for decades.

    So as long as you can get to the bad guy from behind and cap him into the back of the head… But I guess the question was aimed at a real life self defense scenario, huh?

    • Russian political prisoners were for years executed with two .22LRs to the back of the head. Small entry wound, no exit wound, little blood, and nearly instantaneous death because the bullet ricochets around in the skull, making scrambled eggs. Spies and assassins have been using .22s for decades because they can be effectively silenced, easily concealed, and are very effective at close range.

  2. What percent of stops are psychological? 40-50%? If so, I posit that it is way better than nothing.

      • Agreed. And that’s probably only counting psychological reactions that involve hits to the body. As we know, there are many more defensive uses that don’t even involve shots fired. How many of those perps considered the size of the barrel to determine fight/flight response. I’m guessing none. Plenty of online DGU videos demonstrate this.

    • Lol ! Wonder if a BG might look at the size of the muzzle and laugh so hard he/she could not function ? That might be a deterrent. 😉

      • In an SD scenario where it’s dark, I doubt a perp would notice the small bore diameter.

        I’m betting he’d notice getting shot though. .22 or not, it’s still a piece of metal flying at Mach 2 or more. It’s gonna hurt a lot. Enough time for a skilled defender to close the distance and do 4 more follow-up shots.

        I wouldn’t advocate reliance on .22LR or WMR for SD, but if that’s all you got, make it work.

        • If you close the distance, you turn into the aggressor. If anything, shoot, and put distance between you, and the attacker.

        • Lol, wait…

          If a .22 is “…still a piece of metal flying at Mach 2 or more.”, that would make subsonic rounds what, about the same velocity as me softly tossing a beach ball with my left hand?

          Seriously though, Mach 2 is like 2250fps give or take depending on atmospheric conditions. Don’t think a .22 Mag is gonna be going anywhere close to that coming out of a 2″ barrel or whatever. More like 850-1000fps. Still wouldn’t wanna get shot by it, but let’s not just toss random numbers around if we wanna have a good discussion.

      • This is just speculation on my part, but I’d imagine that in the heat of the moment, any gun muzzle looks like a sewer pipe when it’s pointed at you in anger.

    • Actionphysicalman asked precisely the right question. And the answer is that something like 90% or more of attackers immediately break-off their attack when the victim merely produces a firearm for self-defense. Of the 10% or so who decide to test the victim, many of those immediately break-off their attack when the victim starts shooting.

      Remember, the default mental choice for almost all attackers is to NOT attack if the victim even hints at being a hard target. The analysis for the violent attacker is simple: why risk injury when you can simply wait for the next hapless and defenseless victim?

      Now, there are a small percentage of attackers who will continue their attack until you incapacitate them, e.g. spree killers, terrorists, gang-bangers out for revenge, stalkers, and berzerk ex- boy/girl friends and spouses. When those people attack, a .22 WMR revolver is going to be inadequate unless you can put rounds into the attacker’s cranium. Will those bullets eventually kill the attacker? Sure! But that doesn’t help you if they are fully functional for 60 seconds before going unconscious from blood loss.

      • The only exception is someone on drugs, in that case unless you pull the plug on the CPU you don’t have enough ammo in anything to stop them. A SWAT trainer, who I took some courses from, recounted a guy with a blown heart climbing 3 flights of stairs before finally keeling over.

        • I’ve heard stories about druggies killing Narc’s one thing I do remember from the academy and here’s where a .45 does the job and does it well, 2 rounds into their hip and they fall like a puppet who’s strings have just been cut. But be careful they could possibly get up. My dad shot a druggie 9 times with a Smith and Wesson Model 39 while being choked to death 4 of his subordinates were dead on the ground my dad pulled a Smith and Wesson .357 Mag from his ankle holster and unloaded the gun into the guys head. My dad kept pulling the trigger even though he had shot every last round finally the guy died!!!!! And people wonder why cops are always in the defensive these days.

      • I think if someone is going to be conscious for 60 seconds they’ll probably just work through it unless you have some blood loss going. I grew up in Montana-we slaughtered beef every fall. We used a a .22 WMR to the cranium to knock the steer down long enough to open the gate, roll him through, get chocks under hips/shoulders, and slit the throat to start bleeding him. Even as a kid too young to tie my shoes, I remember thinking that it was humane and reasonably quick. Of course the 22 didn’t kill him, just knocked him out – I examined a few skulls when I got older and rarely saw penetration.

        Now that I’m older and ‘into guns’-I think about that every time the caliber wars start. If a 22 Mag can knock out a greater than half ton (sometimes scared) animal long enough for his head to be removed, it will probably be okay on a 150 lb critter.

        And now I’m supposed to say something about shot placement…

    • Bad guys attacking soft targets are generally cowards – which is why their attacking the weakest members of a civil society. Soft targets include the elderly and females … the same types of law-abiding citizens most likely to use a .22 rimfire versus larger more potent “manly” calibers with their associated negatives: holsters, comfort, training and concealment issues.

      At very close range, where most attacks of soft targets will occur, shooting these little anemic rimfire calibers into the face of the attacker (or other little rounds like the .25) should quickly alter the brainwaves and motivation of a cowardly predator and stop the attack.

  3. Sure, one of those regular, not on PCP bad guys.

    I’m pretty sure the sudden BANG! Along with a gunshot wound is enough to get most crooks to bail. I sure wouldn’t take a bullet for a wallet with 20 bucks and maxed credit cards.

  4. Mossad was my first thought also. I think the effectiveness of a .22 handgun mostly depends on the operator.

  5. For the 60% of dgu where the attacker sees the gun and runs sure. For the 40% that require you to shoot no

        • Also, it may be more accurate to say, “Almost as damaging to the enemy as to the wielder.”

          (Tried adding that earlier, but the “reply” button didn’t work.)

      • Obrez is as close to a pirate gun as I’ll ever get. I just can’t look at one and not think “swashbuckler”.

        BTW, bolt-action handgun that shoots fireballs… that’s hardcore.

        • Would love to see the coroners face when he finds 30grains of unburned powder inside the attacker and rules it a “contact” shot when the defense actually happens from 15ft away.

        • The Obrez; when you have to blast a bowling-ball size hole in someone, set him on fire, and deafen everyone within 50ft…. accept no substitutes.

  6. Yes. Just train and train often. Train the correct way too, in other words, not at a range where you get yelled at for training.

  7. 99.9x% of the time you won’t need a gun or it won’t matter if you have one or not.

    99.x% of the time you need a gun, any gun will do, and it doesn’t matter if it even works because its presence will end the threat.

    9x% of the time you need a gun that will fire, it won’t matter what it fires so long as it does.

    So for the fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the time that you need a gun, that fires a caliber capable of involuntary incapacitation of an attacker without a CNS shot, .22 magnum is inadequate.

      • Count me in this group. My EDC is a NAA .22 WMR Pug – because it’s so easy to carry and because of the reality of the stats above. If I know i’m going into a ‘threat area’, than the G19 or P07 comes out of the safe and goes on the hip. At home, it’s all .45 ACP and 12G.

  8. Better than nothing. Head shots are a bitch. It’s nice Mr. Ayoob carries one-I don’t care…

    • The earlier poster meant the Israeli Mossad assassinating people with .22, not really relevant to this article.

      Just a wild guess but Ayoob probably carries a 9 or 45

      • Unless he’s changed his long-time preference has been .45ACP, and he at least used to prefer the 1911 platform.

  9. Would you feel confident deploying a .22 wheelgun against a bad guy?

    No, not really. The odds aren’t good. But I’d feel even less confident if I didn’t even have that.

  10. Better than nothing. I sometimes pocket carry a Berreta Bobcat .22lr as a BUG just for the hell of it. I also seem to have the only .22 Bocat that you know, works. Damn thing loves mini-mags.

  11. It wouldn’t be my first choice, mainly because I’ve consistently had reliability issues with rimfire ammunition, but I’d take it over no gun.

    Also, I remember one of my instructors pointing out that .22 may be a good option for elderly folks, if they reach the point that they can no longer handle something with stronger recoil.

  12. The vast majority of defensive uses of a firearm are achieved via display of the gun, as opposed to actual discharge. A gun in hand (irrespective of caliber) is better than an empty hand any day. Most people~ BGs as well~ do not care to verify caliber when a gun is pulled on them, there is after all the pressing issue of survival.

    • I don’t disagree, but .22 WMR is significantly more reliable than .22 LR. Additionally, in a DA revolver there’s no stoppage to clear. Just pull the trigger again and you’re onto the next round. I’d think it’s a pretty good choice for a highly recoil-sensitive shooter. Not sure how it would compare to a .32-something revolver, though, which can be pretty darn soft on recoil with the right load choice. Plus, there are some .38 Special loads specifically geared towards female shooters and others who are recoil-sensitive. I suppose another benefit of the revolver platform is that the ammo doesn’t have to be above a certain power level to cycle an action… you can light-load any caliber and make it a pussycat on recoil. But full-power .22 WMR loads still have no recoil at all, sound like a dang .44 Mag when fired from a handgun, and loads like the Speer Gold Dot achieve solid velocities even from short barrels and are no joke. They’ll usually achieve full FBI-spec penetration and will expand quite a bit. Plus the sound and fireball is intimidating. A .22 WMR from a handgun usually sounds a heck of a lot meaner than .38, 9mm, .45, and some others…

      • I especially agree with your last two sentences, however I would add that there IS recoil from the 22 WMR when fired in the lightweight NAA revolvers.

        • Agree.

          I had the LR-WMR convertible version…

          There’s more recoil, but not a ton more.

  13. Once the bang bang starts, I don’t know many people who stop to look and go hum that’s a baby gun. I think I’ll stick around. A .22 mag in a small revolver makes as much noise if not more than a 9mm and with the right shot placement just a deadly.

  14. Cannot put rimfire weapons on a CCW here in SoCal which relegates this to home or camp pocket carry or as a plinker. I don’t see a reason for it.

    • That varies by sheriff. Not that it matters (since they don’t issue anyway), SF states that it will not allow anything less than .38. Some sheriffs its is .380 or .32. (Actually, .32 FM is a very potent round.) Others do not care; it is your ass, not theirs, and if you are happy with the caliber, they are happy too.

  15. A concealed firearm is not a “deterrent” it is a (potentially) deadly weapon.

    I did once have a retired homicide detective tell me the worst wound he ever saw was a contact shot to the eyeball with a .22 WMR revolver, was massively damaging.

    I personally wouldn’t carry one as rimfire priming is not as reliable as centerfire. 9mm is pretty much perfect for me.

  16. Too few bullets in a revolver for it’s size and the “wheel” makes it more bulky. Less bulk with more capacity is why I would go with a semi-auto rather than a revolver for any caliber. Main reason not to carry regular 357 or 44 mag.

    • My EDC is a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum.

      It is roughly the same size as a compact single stack 9mm or .380 and has five rounds instead of 6+1. I shoot it well with Barnes 125 grain solid copper .357 Magnum which has a relatively mild recoil and flash for a .357 Magnum cartridge in a snub gun.

      As to the topic at hand. A J frame sized revolver in .22 LR holds eight or even nine shots, enough to kill someone pretty quickly if you are dumping the gun into their center mass at bad breath distances. And if you carry one of the medium frame .22 revolvers, like a S&W 617 or a Taurus Tracker, you have ten and nine shots, respectively. And when the gun is empty, you still have a have a heavy Magnum frame revolver as a bludgeon if need be. Not ideal, but far better than nothing.

  17. Misleading question/title. Should read “Is a .22 Magnum Revolver Enough Gun?”

    There is a big difference between round nose .22 LR and hollow point .22 WMR.

    • I’ve noticed a lot of misleading titles/questions on TTAG lately. Are these guys getting lazy or is just another way to poke a bigger hornet’s nest?

    • Nah. The article cited tested magnums, but that does not mean that the question asked has to be so limited. Would I arm my 85 year old mother with a .22 LR revolver? Yes. If she were to be attacked in her 1 bedroom apartment, the range would be so close that the round would be adequate.

    • “There is a big difference between round nose .22 LR and hollow point .22 WMR.”

      In a rifle, yes. In a derringer, not so much.

      ShootingTheBull 410 did a comparison on ballistics with the NAA mini in .22lr and .22WMR.

      One of the .22lr derringer loads was comparable to .22WMR in velocity.

  18. ‘Would you feel confident deploying a .22 wheelgun against a bad guy?”

    Like it was said above and better, 99.9996% of the time it’s as effective a weapon as a 30-06 and for the remaining .0004% a 30-06 might not be enough gun.

  19. I’ve been looking for a 9 shot Taurus in .22 mag for quite some time.
    Nice, lightweight pocket rocket.
    Yup. I’d carry it.

  20. .22LR is the most deadly caliber. For reals. My cousin’s neighbor’s brother’s boss told him about a guy he knew that got shot with a .22LR in the foot, and the bullet exited this forehead. Not only did the guy who got shot die, but the guy who shot him died too because the bullet came back and hit him in the hand but traveled up his arm and through his shoulder blade, and ended up lodged in both his lungs. That’s how deadly effective .22LR is for defense. You could even die if you shoot some one with it. True story.

  21. Not a bit of it.

    I’m comfortable with a Nagant or Tokarev, as a “.30” and several hundred foot-pounds will give almost anyone enough pause and a trippple tap will give almost anyone stop.

    Yeah, a .22 can eventually be lethal as it ping pongs all over the place and Mister Mook bleeds out internally, but it’s not exactly a rapid stopper unless you hit an eye.

    Not no way; not no how.

    • A trigger finger with enough strength to do a double-action triple-tap from a Nagant revolver probably won’t fit inside the trigger guard… 🙂

  22. Better than nothing. But the problem for me isn’t the caliber; a .22LR is fine for defense IFF you have enough rounds, like a minimum of 16. Oops — there goes the revolver; I’ve handled a .22 with ten rounds (serious cylinder!), but 16? Don’t think one has ever been made.

  23. For one who owns a WMR 22 Mag. Grew up with wheel guns and elected to purchase after a few chamber jams with my SR22. The good, shoots a flame 2 feet and if misfires, another yank on switch gets another go. Control is good and its the only armament that blisters me finger after 100 rounds (heavier pull than standard 22 smacking the rim). Close in gun fight aka Oswald take down, no issues using it. Saying all that, rim vs. CF one can’t beat center-fire for reliability and for that I have the LC9.

  24. .22 is more than enough to kill a man, a .22 magnum only does it louder..

    If rimfire could be made as reliably OR migrate over to centerfire, with a good enough barrel length to lend balance between ballistics and noise..it’ll be plenty deterrent enough.

    Goes without saying, bigger is better, but if it’s what you got, it’ll do.

    My girlfriend aunt swears by her .22 revolver she’s owned and protected herself with for 20-years after being the victim of two home invasions back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.. sleeps with it under the pillow. Older lady now, hits what she means to with it, handles it and its dynamics with ease and confidence..that’ll do..

  25. In a self-defense situation it’s likely enough 99% of the time. You might come across a amped-up person who could run through a buzz saw and keep going, this would be your bad luck, and a shotgun ball may not stop such an advance. Also, if you have ever had a gun pointed at you you may have noticed how large you perceive the barrel to be.

  26. Against a single attacker, yeah I’d be pretty confident. But I’d be even more confident with a different gun, so why wouldn’t I go with something else?

  27. From my perspective shot placement outweighs bullet size in a defensive situation. As I have aged and have become nearsighted, firing a pistol with standard sights leaves me in a position where I am so inaccurate that at one point I thought my 9mm semi auto was defective. I subsequently had two other people on separate days try my pistol and both shot tight hand sized groups at 30 feet proving it was me and not the gun.

    Being nearsighted, even with bifocal contacts the sights are blurry. Removing my contacts or glasses causes the sights to be clear but then the target is a blur.

    I resolved this situation by later adding a green laser to my 9mm – with glasses or contacts I can now shoot tight groups at 30 Feet, as I am only focused on one sight plane – the target.

    In terms of the bullet caliber, I would not carry a pistol without a laser. I would feel far more confident in a defensive situation with a 22wmr or even a 22lr with a laser than with a 45acp without a laser.

    Bottom line – it sucks to get old!

  28. As soon as people start volunteering to be shot by my 22 mag then I would say it is time to stop carrying it. Some of the air rifles they have out now are pretty impressive, almost same level as 22lr.

    • This. Concealed carry instructor mentioned sometimes he carries a .22, guy in the class snickered. Instructor asked if that meant he volunteered to take a round. Crickets….

  29. No – 22WMR is not enough. Need a 700 nitro pistol. Why do I need to consider things like shot placement??

  30. No .22 for me, thanks. I prefer something with more power. But for people who can’t handle a bigger round, the .22LR is good enough.

    The problem with .22WMR is recoil in small revolvers. That little b@stard will probably be too snappy for people who can’t handle, say, a compact 9mm.

  31. To start, you are mixing .22 and .22 Magnum together. I would have no qualms at all about using a .22 mag revolver, particularly if it was one of those 7-to-9 round jobs that are out there. And I read an article once long ago wherein Massad Ayoob recommended the .22 mag as a viable BUG–as did, I think, Bill Jordan. I have carried a nine-round .22LR semi-auto before as my SD gun when walking the dog, not the best but I figured at bad-breath distance a face full of .22s would adequately discourage a bad guy. I would not carry a 2-shot .22 derringer, that is just cutting the odds too short for me, personally.

  32. I chose a .22 Magnum 7-shot DAO J-frame over a 5-shot .38 Special. It’s 4 oz lighter and holds 2 more shots. When I had a J-frame .38 Special I would shoot 50 wadcutters and 5 or 10 of the +P carry ammo. With the .351c I practice with the same ammo I carry, the Speer Gold Dots. Recoil is mild, so I can shoot 100 with no pain.

  33. .22 magnum is a wheel gun for self defense, nope.

    My .22 magnum rifle was great at helping me get rid of my feral hog infestation though.

  34. I don’t have any qualms about only having 6 rounds of .357 magnum on tap, but I think if I was carrying a .22 magnum I’d like to have more. The .22LR LCR has 8 chambers, the .22 magnum has only 6. I’m guessing that getting shot 8 times with a .22 magnum would be a lot like getting shot once with 12ga. 00. Of course the odds of needing to fire it even once are pretty slim. For some people it’s probably the best option, if simplicity of use and very low recoil are top priorities.

  35. Comparing 22lr with 22 mag is like comparing 380, 9mm and 357 because they have the same size barrel. There is no comparison because the 22 mag is much more potent. I have no problem with trusting 22 mag. I have never had one fail to fire and I have used them to kill groundhogs at long distances with my rifle.

  36. An old friend w/10 years as a Sheriff’s deputy and investigator told after all the autopsies he’d seen, he’d rather be shot with a .38 than a .22. He said b/c .22’s ricocheted sound inside so often and tore up so much meat. (this was in the late 70’s & early 80’s, when hollow points were not as good.)
    In any case, no one wants to get shot, and a determined person behind the gun is enough deterrent to stop a criminal 97% of the time. So if a .22 is all you have, go with it.

  37. Bullet choice is like business property, PLACEMENT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS!
    While working for law enforcement we answered a call of a double shooting .22 vs 12ga.
    The person hit with the 12ga (birdshot) at close range the other in the upper arm by the .22. The ER took the shotgun victim in to surgery. The .22 victim was bandaged and told to wait for the next Dr. The 12ga victim lived the .22 victim died (yes it did follow the vein to the heart and he died of the blocked heart) But dead is dead.
    If you downsize in caliber you must work on placement.
    Old saw time “Better to have a gun and NOT need one, than to need a gun and NOT have one”
    A lot of officers carry a backup piece back in the day we did not have a great selection of small concealed back up choices. I carried a duty 9mm HP’s semi-auto and a .22 with HP’s semi auto in a boot pocket.
    Yours in service
    James Acerra

    • Mr Acerra,

      Jumping on your comment for the opportunity to thank you for your service:-

      As a UK resident my opinions are purely theoretical, but as one of the few who troubled themselves to acquire a firearm certificate and then some handguns I rather enjoyed shooting, I’m less ignorant than most on this side of the Atlantic.

      Our shooting club (the route to ownership was a defined roadmap, its only real virtue was that only one legal holder a decade went significantly Crazy Eddie) started us out on .22LR and we had to demonstrate both safety and adequate accuracy with that before graduating to fullbore: once shown competent there (my club had 9mm semi-auto and .38/357 revolver available) you would be supported for buying your own kit, which in my case was first a S&W 4506 which I enjoyed, found some limits with, and traded for a Glock 21 which I owned until the ban came down in 1998.

      The reason I digress thusly is that I had the chance to shoot everything from lots of .22LR up to some .44 Magnum, and since I dragged my wife along and persuaded her to enjoy it as well she was a useful addition to the sample. I wouldn’t choose a .22 handgun as my primary defensive weapon, but if there was a credible need to be armed and it was a .22 pistol or nothing, there are many graves filled by folk who discovered that even a small bullet can kill; and even before triggers get pulled, “a gun” is far better than “no gun”.

      If I was limited in the size and bulk of what I could carry, if I had an incapacity (a friend suffers from joint hypermobility and probably couldn’t shoot anything bigger), then a .22 could be a very good choice of “what’s usable” and some people simply have a ceiling of what they can comfortably fire: my wife was happy to shoot a .44 Desert Eagle and loved it (I would have owned one if I’d had the money spare) but – for instance – found .357 from a 6″ S&W 686 just a bit too snappy and lively for comfort, while she enjoyed driving nails with .38 Special from the exact same firearm. If she’d been carrying for self-defence, she’d have been better off with .38 – it might be somewhat ballistically inferior in its terminal effects compared to a hot .357, but to worry about terminal performance YOU HAVE TO HIT! (sorry for shouting) and confidence, comfort and accuracy mean you have a better chance of placing rounds on target, at which the idea that a decent .38 lead semi-wadcutter (the target loads we used to commit an unreported genocide against refugees from Cardboardistan) somehow “won’t hurt” fails that wonderful US phrase of “the giggle test”.

  38. When on road trips I have my daily carry 9mm and about 100 rounds. I also grab my 10/22 takedown and about 1000 rounds packed up in a get home bag. Great for both defense and offense should the need arise. Not so bad for bagging dinner either. I also believe the .22LR is the perfect Zombie apocalypse round. Can carry lots of them and they just rattle around in the brain pan. As for choice .22 handgun, my S&W MP22C is one fine shooter.

  39. my main objection to .22lr as defense round is that its rim fire and not a s reliable as center fire. As for caliber, I doubt many bad guys would shrug off being shot with .22. Still prefer a 9mm JHP

  40. The advantages of stoping power for larger caliber bullits, hollowpoints, or hotter loads ( in whatever combination you choose) are fairly obvious when you can put a round on target. When you cannot all those advantages mena nothing.

    one comment I read on a blog somewhere has stuck with me. To Paraphase –

    “The best caliber / gun to carry for self defense is the one that you can accuratly put on target. A 22 to the chest is better than a 45 in the door frame.”

  41. What nobody told me about gun ownership is that these things breed like rabbits, so sure–a .22 wheel gun is enough gun for those times that I have a .22 wheel gun and need to use it, and not enough gun when I have instant access to something more potent.

    Personally, I think a .22 revolver would be a great choice for target practice, trigger fundamentals and perhaps as a carry option when better options are impractical or otherwise not available. I don’t own one, but I would as an option for new shooters who might be intimidated by bigger calibers or semi-autos.

  42. Better than nothing, but I’d say .22 is good mostly as an introductory caliber, much like 9mm. Carry it for a year or until you’re comfortable with the gun and, more importantly, with carrying. Then upgrade and never look back [though it wouldn’t hurt to keep the smaller guns as range guns]. I just recently started carrying as a first-timer, and I chose a 9mm. I’m not new to guns, but I am new to carrying, and I figured it was better to start small and work up once I’m comfortable, then either sell my original EDC or keep it as a range gun/backup carry gun. I did the same when I got a motorcycle–started with a small 250cc, saving up now to buy an upgrade now that I’ve outgrown the smaller bike.

  43. That’s not enough gun for me. The smallest I carry is a .357 snubbie with .38 +P reloads. Given the situations I’ve already been in, I’m more of a 9mm minimum guy. I’ll carry the biggest possible gun into either a gunfight or as a concealed carry piece.

  44. I used to carry a j-frame .38 special +P, then a compact .45acp, then a compact .40, now a subcompact 9mm, but I still occasionally carry a small .22 WMR revolver in contexts where I would otherwise feel fine without a gun.

  45. Nope. For me defensive handgun calibers start at 9mm and go up from there. Also .22 (LR or Magnum) is pretty hard to find around here (Southern Indiana) and for the money they want 9mm makes a lot more sense when it does show up.

  46. We have discussed this before here:
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/foghorn/ask-foghorn-22l-for-self-defense/

    From the article:
    “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.”

  47. My dad and I gave my mother that exact gun a while back. LCR in 22 mag. In most DGU reports, the perp stops and/or flees at the sight of a gun or a shot fired. We figured that for a woman who isn’t interested firearms, a lightweight, simple, and extremely low recoil revolver would increase the likelihood of her actually carrying it. For myself, I won’t carry anything less than a 9mm. I don’t explicitly carry for personal protection. I’m in my mid 20’s, 6’3″ and 210lbs, common thugs can and will most likely choose easier targets. I want to be prepared to deal with multiple perps as in a takeover robbery or the extremely unlikely chance of finding myself in the middle of an active shooter situation. I’m not some Rambo wannabe, I know these scenarios will probably never happen to me. I just like the piece of mind of being prepared. Like I always tell people, “I don’t carry to make me more of a man, I carry because a real man is responsible for the safety of himself and others around him”

    • With guns and power tools, the question is always asked: “is he compensating for something?”

      Yes. Yes we are, because I can’t naturally drill tiny holes in wood, or fling lead blobs at a thousand feet per second. Like with all technology, I am augmenting my standard issue human body to take on more tasks.

  48. Look at the lethality of the 5.7×28 used at Ft. Hood. Lots of dead from CoM shots. Large bones in arms or legs broken.
    Like the 5.7, the. 22WMR is low recoil for fast follow on shots, similar wound cavities. Shot placement is king, the ability to get back on target for the next round is, to me, paramount.
    The 1989 FBI report concludes that no caliber is a one shot stop unless it hits the brain. Psychological stop is also independent of caliber, so a. 45 doesn’t “kill the soul.”
    I carry a FiveSeven and have confidence that IF I need to fire I can stop the threat. I do so like three mags and 91 rounds on my shoulder holster!

  49. I carry a NAA PUG .22WMR loaded w/ Speer GD-SB as an accompaniment to my S&W Shield but have carried the PUG when any larger firearm would be noticeable. Better to have then have not.

  50. Have a Ruger SR .22 w/10 round mags. Used it to learn to shoot pistols accurately with it. Eats CCI mini mags like M & Ms, have to keep feed ramp clean but that’s true with most pistols. Was very accurate with the weapon but have now graduated to Bersa UC9 and very accurate with that as well. Best SD handgun is a weapon you are deadly accurate with and enjoy training/practicing with, just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

  51. If you are being attacked and need to stop a human sized creature in a hurry, .45 .357 or 10mm will do the job most effectively. Failing that, whatever other object is in your possession. Failing that, fists and feet. But I would personally choose a gun with larger hole in the business end.

    • au contraire, mon frere, no handgun “will do the job most effectively”. To really be asured of “effectiveness”, a rifle or shotgun is required. But some handuns, such as the .357 mag, are better than other handguns for stopping power.

  52. Got a Beretta 21A that hides really well and has been a welcome companion when other options were not practical. Having that little guy cupped in my hand walking thru a parking lot is very comforting. Better than throwing rocks.

  53. The argument I always read is that small calibers and small guns aren’t enough because they’ll just escalate a situation and get you killed.

    It seems to me that the fault lies with the shooter; if having a tiny pistol gives you the confidence of holding an AR-15, then yes, maybe that will get you killed. But that’s something you can train around, or unlearn. Part of carrying is being conscious and cautious anyway.

    So of course a .22 revolver is better than nothing. It’s probably even better than a .22 semi-auto, because you can skip a failed round and go to the next one, and the capacity of 8 rounds is probably better than most .22 semi-autos as well.

    So the better question is probably: is .22 WMR enough better than .22 LR out of a short barreled handgun to make the decreased capacity worth it (in the Ruger LCR, 6 vs 8)

    And also, I have to question the supposed unreliability of the .22 LR in the first place. I haven’t been shooting for very long, but the only times I’ve had failures with .22 LR was with cheap magazines, and in my first 1500-2000 or so rounds of .22 I’ve never seen a dud cartridge.

    • The thing about 22 WMR is there are self-defense rounds like Hornady Critical Defense, Speer Gold Dot, and Winchester PDX that are designed specifically for short barrels pistols (2 inch).

  54. Would you feel confident deploying a .22 wheelgun against a bad guy? I would prefer an 88mm anti-tank gun, but .22 WMR is not super terrible.

  55. If the BATFE would not construe this to be a machine gun: A .22 revolver that discharged three rounds with each trigger pull, (each triple chamber with corresponding rifled bores, fired by a hammer with three firing pins), would be a dandy self defense weapon. Six trigger pulls firing 18 cartridges would be nothing to sneeze at! Gee, that would be 120 grains of lead per trigger pull!

  56. First rule of gunfighting: have a gun…

    .22 WMR is waaaay better than nothing.

    .22 WMR is waaaay better than a pocketknife.

    Not optimal, not even adequate, but better than nothing and better than a pocketknife.

  57. i personally carry a glock 23 .40 caliber w a glock 42 .380 as backup but can attest to a .22 having stopping power. Years ago when I was much younger while wearing a very heavy leather jacket I was shot in the gut accidentally with a .22 which had gone clean thru the jacket and into my chunky gut from point blank range. 22 does work as it instantly dropped me screaming and cursing out my friend. It took me like 15 seconds to come to my senses and taking the steps necessary not to die. A .22 will instantly stop an attacker at point blank range long enough for you to escape or decide if another shot is necessary

  58. The question is not: “is the .22(lr OR wmr) effective?” The question is: “How many times do I have to shoot you in the eyeballs before you stop being a jerk?!” Regular practice with virtually any modern rimfire made by a reputable manufacturer can yield ASTONISHINGLY tiny groups, even while moving against moving targets.
    CCI ammo is boringly reliable, especially in a wheel gun. If 3 or 4 mini-mags through your eyes doesn’t stop the attacker, no caliber starting with a 4 would have made a difference.

  59. Well no gun is a death ray. I’d still rather have more gun, but IF (big glaring if) the numbers I remember seeing are correct, caliber won’t matter like 90% of the time, ’cause all you’ll see is their hind end tearing off in the other direction anyway once lead starts flying. They aren’t going to be breaking out the calipers.

    Still if you have to dispatch someone, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult with a mouse gun. So it must be weighed. I’d probably carry it in the right gun, though. I do not get overly angsty about such things. Heck I’m still not able to carry at all, soooo my opinion may not carry much weight.

  60. I really do love this topic . I carry a PMR 30 nearly 100% of the time now for my ccw , confidently , and I have what I believe to be very legit reasoning . 1st , shoot it very regularly and mine is extremely reliable with the Gold Dot 40 grainers . I load up 28 of those little rockets and with only the factory sights I routinely can place 3 to 4 shot burst in a 2 inch target under stress drew situation . This bullet will go through 4 milk jugs of water almost intact with a 10 m/m expansion and 75 % weight retention at 10 yards . I can not achieve this kind of accuracy with any of my other pistols . I believe shot placement is the most important factor in the proper management of a fire arm . It doesn’t matter what your shooting , whether hunting or defending yourself , you don’t want bullets flying everywhere . If I could attain this accuracy with my 9 m/m or 40 cal. I may consider carrying one of them again . My PMR is big in my hand , light in my pants , shoots straight and with 28 rounds in my magazine I don’t have to worry about more than one bad guy . I keep 10 magazines loaded with 28 each rounds each that work both my PMR and CMR . Thanks Kel Tec , I’m a fan . I’ve also mentioned on another post here that I also have an option of stopping you two ways . Two or three shots to the head or fifteen to twenty in the knee caps . My choice . I am confident I can do either or both if need be with my 22 wmr . from Kel Tec and for that matter , If I was to open carry something I may carry my Ruger single six in 22 wmr because I can flat out trim the wings off a fly with this gun . I wish every man , woman and youngster could experience shooting a target with this all time favorite simple machine . Ruger makes some great firearms . I think what anyone needs to do is practice stress shooing at silhouette targets with the carry gun of choice and try out all calibers , several manufactures and different ammo to make an informed choice and then remember that every shot that misses the target goes somewhere else . Shot placement is the primary goal . I would rather be killed myself than to miss a bad guy and kill a kid or be afraid of doing so . I am 6 foot 4 and top the scale at 230 pounds and have hands like a NBA farmer and have no manhood issues carrying a 22 wmr every day for personal protection and the protection of those around me . My wife carry’s a Ruger SR 22 LR and is a proficient shot . I am confidant with either of these bullets for protection and particularly with todays modern loads .

  61. If my choices were .22 WMR or a blade, I’d probably choose the blade.

    Since that essentially is the choice forced upon me in Floriduh, I’ve all but quit carrying a gun. I can OC the blade, I have to deep conceal a nearly useless gun. Blade wins.

  62. I carry a 22 magnum, and I think it’s enough. I guess I should say that it’s a Keltec PMR-30, and I can pump out all thirty rounds in about 10-15 seconds. I think that will stop somebody!

  63. I carry a NAA Black Widow 22 Magnum with Spear Gold Dots.
    It is small enough to fit in my pocket regardless of what I am wearing so I always have it with me.
    There is more than enough evidence that 22 WMR Spear Gold Dots which are designed for a 2 inch barrel are lethal when shot from a NAA Black Widow.
    Anyone who says that 22 magnums aren’t good enough. Let me shoot you 5 times with my Black Widow, after I’ve shot you can shoot me as many times as you want with your 9mm Glock or 1911 45acp. I bet you come out on the losing end of that arrangement.
    As far as reliability, I’ve never had a dud in hundreds of even cheap 22 LR practice rounds.
    And if for some reason a 22 WMR Gold Dots didn’t fire, I’m using a revolver so the next round is just a hammer cock and trigger pull away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *