Fighting .22 Rimfires, by Steve in Missouri

The .22 rimfire cartridge is the oldest self-contained round still in use today.  It was introduced in 1856, and you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter who didn’t learn to shoot with a .22 caliber firearm.  Even many non-gun people have a .22 somewhere in the family, and I’d hazard to say a home is not properly kept if there isn’t a .22 rimfire pistol or rifle available.  It is considered by many to be the optimum round to have in a long term survival situation, and is perhaps the most useful cartridge one can have.

That being said, there isn’t a self defense instructor out there that will recommend the .22 as the optimum defensive round.  Most will recommend something along the lines of a .380 ACP or larger for that job.  However, there are a number of individuals who simply don’t have the hand strength to handle anything larger, whether it is due to limited hand strength, arthritis, injury, or a sensitivity to recoil or noise.  Does that mean that they are just out of luck when it comes to defending themselves?  Absolutely not.

A common misconception is to equip a new shooter with a small handgun because, the thinking is, it will be easier for them to shoot.  This is actually the furthest thing from the truth.  Recoil has more to do with the size of the gun, as opposed to the size of the cartridge.  The .22 Long Rifle cartridge, in a moderate-sized firearm, is comfortable for almost everybody to shoot, once a new shooter gets past the muzzle blast and noise.  For those of you who think that someone is worse than defenseless if they have a .22, or they should “just get used to something bigger,” I have a message for you: stay away from new shooters, you’re not helpful.  Get out of your bubble, and actually talk to people, maybe get out and learn something new that might not conform to your world view.  Those who have severe arthritis, permanent hand or wrist injuries, or conditions like fibromyalgia, are some of the folks who will benefit from using the .22 semi-automatic pistol. Even Col. Jeff Cooper, the Guru, was a believer in the .22 for self defense, if one wasn’t able to handle anything larger.  The good Colonel wanted to people to be armed and trained, even if that meant using something other than his beloved 1911 in .45ACP.


So, what are some of the better choices in the field of .22s for defensive use?  They are definitely not all the same.  As far as handguns go, one of the better choices is the Ruger SR22 semi-auto.  It follows the Ruger tradition of being rugged and reliable.  I’ve had several examples that have gone through many hundreds of rounds, without cleaning and without malfunction.  This is not something I recommend, but it gives you an idea of the reliability factor, which is the most important element in a defensive firearm.

Another excellent choice is the Browning 1911-22, either the standard version or the Black Label version, which has many of the extras that come on custom 1911s, such as a beavertail grip safety, extended ambidextrous thumb safety, high visibility sights and other features. Like the standard 1911, it is designed to be carried cocked and locked, meaning with a round in the chamber, hammer back and the safety on.  Once the safety comes off, the short trigger pull makes for easy shooting.

But wait, doesn’t recommending a semi-auto fly in the face of the common advice, “just get a revolver, that way you don’t have to mess with pulling back the slide, or using a magazine, or taking off a safety, because you’re too stupid to learn how to use those things?”  I added that last part, because that’s what you’re really saying when you tell someone to “just get a revolver.”  Absolutely it does.  Because I’ve had several students in their older years who just could not manage the trigger on a double-action revolver, but could still manipulate the slide on one of the above mentioned .22 semi-autos, I’ve learned this advice is not always right or good.  The recoil springs on these two semi-autos are very light, and therefore much easier to manipulate than on a centerfire semi-auto, especially one of the small, compact ones made for concealment.

For example, I have an older student, who came to me very nervous around firearms, and during our beginner handgun class, she was very happy with my Ruger SR-22, so much so that she has one as her carry gun, qualified for her concealed carry permit with it, and shoots anywhere from 250-300 rounds each week, using both hands, right hand only and left hand only.  How many of you shoot that much or train that much with each hand?

As far as long guns, the Ruger 10-22 .22 rifle is as common as snow in Alaska.  They are available everywhere, and parts and accessories can make it into any style you could desire.  The standard 10-22 comes with a 10 round magazine, but higher capacity magazines have been available for many years, such as the Butler Creek 25 round magazines.   Recently, Ruger began offering their own 25 round magazines, as well.  Both styles of magazines clip together, giving the shooter 50 rounds available. It is perhaps the most rugged .22 rifle made, and will outlast anything else out there.

One of the accessories that was useful for one of my students is the barrel band laser made by Lasermax for Ruger.  It replaces the barrel band, and also has a short Picatinny rail section for attaching a light or similar gear.  My student could only move in a wheelchair pushed by her husband, and had little strength in her wrists and hands.  She couldn’t hold the pistol up, or shoulder the rifle. Her husband was an over the road truck driver, and wanted her to be able to protect herself.  The laser allowed her to see where the muzzle was pointed, even while laying in the bed.  It was not a solution I would recommend to everyone, but in this situation, it was the best we could come up with.

A small, veteran-owned company called Mason Leather makes a very neat butt cuff that will hold two ten round magazines.  While not ‘high capacity,’ it does give one the ability to have ammo on the gun without having to search for somewhere to carry it.


Using the .22 for personal defense requires that one strive for accuracy, as much as possible.  Being able to place your rounds where they will do the most good is always important, but it is even more so with a .22.  Placing multiple shots in the upper part of the chest, into the throat and face, will make up for the lack of power in the .22 cartridge.  I would recommend using some of the full color scenario targets that are available, to give you an idea of where your rounds need to go.

It amazes me the number of people who say, “If anyone shoots me with a .22 and I find out about it, I’m gonna be mad!”  Yet, if you read the ‘Armed Citizen’ column of the NRAs publication American Rifleman, you’d be surprised at the number of people who use a .22 caliber firearm to protect themselves successfully each year.  Noted trainer Claude Werner probably has more experience with teaching the .22 for defensive purposes than anyone out there, and I urge those who are interested in learning more check out his blog: The Tactical Professor.  One item of note that he has done is modify the old FBI qualification for the Thompson submachine gun for the .22 rifle.  It’s an easy course to set up, and can be run at an indoor range, as well.

One point that must be brought up is the quality of .22 ammunition available.  The primary argument to using the .22 for personal protection is the reliability factor.  It is common to have failure to fire with much of the bulk .22, such as the Remington Golden Bullet.  Bulk ammo is typically not of the same quality as match ammunition or hunting ammunition.  If using a .22 handgun or rifle to protect yourself with is in your future, ensure that you use high-quality ammunition, such as the CCI Stinger or Velocitor, or some of the higher end match ammunition, such as Federal or Eley.  These brands generally exhibit greater reliability than the less expensive brands.  The redeeming factor is that .22 ammo is usually inexpensive enough that you can buy a large quantity of it for practice and carry.  Be sure to test your ammo in your gun, .22s are notorious for being more picky about ammo they like and don’t like than anything else.

The guns I mentioned here are not the only choices available by any means, but they are ones that I have found to be reliable, affordable and easy for anyone to operate.  Don’t listen to the naysayers about the ineffectiveness of the .22.  Attitude and skill are more important anything else.  There are no ineffective calibers, only ineffective shooters.  A .22 in the tear duct beats a .45ACP to the toe any day of the week!


    1. Michael

      “One-shot stopping power”

      You my friend are one of those people the author is talking about. Your limited knowledge of handgun calibers is showing! There is no handgun caliber that will produce “one-shot stopping power” to center mass. This a myth and a dangerous one.

      While yes, it’s all about shot placement with a handgun, 90 percent of all handgun shooting victims in the U.S. that reach a hospital survive.

      The only way to ensure a one shot take down with a pistol is to sever the brain stem just below the cerebellum. There have been numerous documented cases where people have been shot through the heart and still fight for 30 to 60 seconds after they’re technically dead. A lot can happen in 30 to 60 seconds, including you getting yourself killed.

      So, exercise your mind and get proper firearms training.

    2. “Fighting 22″ is a misnomer. In the context of self defense, .38 Special has one-shot stopping power statistically 50% of the time, .45 ACP 95% of the time and 20 Ga. shotgun is equivalent to two .44 Magnum rounds at one time. Stopping power means 12” penetration and wound channel sufficient to cause physiological damage to vitals and psychological impact to counter the assailant’s adrenaline dump to stop the attack. This does not mean one shot will always kill the assailant. It does not mean .22 will not kill. It does not mean .22 should not be used if it is all there is. Defenders with .22’s need to be able to deliver head shots instead of shots to center of mass. A .22 does not meet the requirements for choosing a defense gun.
      Defense guns, ammo and accessories can be adapted for challenged Shooters. Shooters can overcome challenges. Anecdotal evidence could prove fatal.

      1. Again, I reaffirm you are showing your lack of knowledge. You cites stats but offer no links or other proof. Percentages mean nothing if you don’t have the actual data it is based on. For example of the 50% you cite on the .38 special, where was the shot placement that account for “one-shot stops”. Were they head shots? Stats mean nothing if they can not be independently verified through peer review.

    1. Oh yeah.
      I’ve got an original Ciener kit for the AR. Sometimes a bit ammo sensitive. The hotter the better. Check bullet weight and speed on the ammo boxes.
      I’ve also got a CMMG kit. It’s a bit less sensitive, but still runs 100% if using good quality ammo. (Again, the hotter the better.)
      YMMV, but those are my experiences.
      Best part, you can practice with your AR using cheap ammo. If it causes malfunction drills? It’s good practice.
      I would NOT recommend one of these kits for home or self defense. Good for limb rat hunting, plinking, quieter drills, or just experimenting to see what works.
      I’ll take the CMMG kit all day long. JAC May have improved their product, I just don’t have any experience with their newer stuff.

    2. If you get one, they work great, but don’t readjust your sights if you go back to 5.56 because the rounds in .22 definitely have different flight characteristics.

    3. Live free,,,,,,,,the CMMG unit is top notch. Only complaint is would like a smaller mag ,say a shorter 10rd ,it you use cheep ammo there are problems,

  1. More and more thugs like Antifa are being found wearing soft body armor that will stop any common hand gun ammo. So this is an excellent article. Shot placement trumps caliber if your center of mass pistol hits are striking effective body armor.

    A person that actually practices with their 22 pistol-revolver-carbine to me is better prepared than the fellow that buys a nice 1911 and a box of ammo and *might* fire one magazine out of it at tin cans or a large paper target. I know a lot of folks that have done just that. Some haven’t even fired their weapon in the past year over ammo concerns. Gun safety and shooting skills under stress is a very perishable skill set.

    I’ve set up a cowboy action shooting range with shoot and NO Shoot targets using plywood, cardboard, fishing line and such. Even set up for a pellet pistol or pellet rifle you get real time moving target work in. For extra credit a short wind sprint between each shot will simulate the stress of the situation. Just leave the pellet gun on the starting table as you sprint for muzzle control.

    So folks whatever your caliber get a pellet gun that simulates your carry gun. Set up some sort of range to train in gun safety and active shooting with wind sprints

    So in short I agree with this article. A couple of throat shots with a 22 is effective as I’ve seen in real life EMS runs.

  2. I agree a .22 auto may be easier than a .22 revolver DA to shoot, but as you mentioned the .22 cartridge has reliability problems. Regardless if its CCI or a quality brand, a .22 just isn’t that reliable compared to a centerfire round. I would think pulling the trigger on a revolver to engage the next round would be easier for someone with arthritis or an elderly green shooter performing the rack-clearing procedure in a high stress situation. That said, either type is better than none, and that’s the main point I agree with.

    1. I recently bought a Glock 44 and my daughter has put over a 1000 rounds through in the last month. Two different brands of .22lr and cleaned only once. She has had zero fail to feeds and no misfires. I swear I never thought I would see a .22lr pistol that would feed whatever you gave it and not jam. Well it has happen and pig still don’t fly without a plane.

  3. My “go to” .22’s include a 10/22 Stainless rifle with Black Poly stock and target sights (it has NEVER malfunctioned with CCI ammo)

    A Glenfield (Marlin) bolt action rifle with 7 shot clip, scoped 4 power on high mounts that also allow use of iron sights, (bought in 1979 for $47.50 brand new, this rifle is a tack driver)

    and a Browning BL-22 Lever, Grade 2 lever action (also shoots very tight groups)

    When CCI Stingers went on the market in the early 80’s it set the .22 long rifle world on fire with near magnum velocities and reach, and no woodchucks were safe.
    In my experience, CCI is top quality for feed, fire and function. I concur the Remington bulk pack is now highly questionable, many squibs and weak fires even in a bolt action, although i never had one fail to exit the barrel. But the sound of the shot tells the tale.
    I avoid Remington now and look for Federal and CCI bricks.

    A Ruger 10/22 with 25 round clips can lay down economical, effective suppressive cover fire to keep those who would do harm at bay until a larger caliber is needed, saving more valuable high power ammunition. Also, the.22 rifles look “less intimidating” but do very effectively get the point across that you are armed, as i have met strangers on the property in the past that have always noticed that rifle on your shoulder without it being mentioned.

    1. I’ve actually had worse results with Winchester XXX than Remington ammo. Prefer CCI, but when ammo is scarce, I take what I find and hold the good stuff for when I really need it. Most goes bang, and I haven’t experienced the issues some of y’all have brought up.

  4. I have 3 older women in my household. I think that a barrage of 30 rounds or more of .22 flying at an intruder is pretty effective. The comment above about getting exercise is not practical for many older folks.They would not even be able to throw a heavier handgun at someone.
    And while armor is available, it is generally for the torso. Multiple hits to the extremities are more than the typical SJW is going to handle. If you really think that the .22 delivers no more than a bee sting, then have a buddy shoot you a couple of times and see how you fare.

  5. We have 3 Ruger SR22 pistols in the family. They are reliable and have a rail to mount a light. They seem to really like the CCI Stingers as the best combo for power/accuracy. The magazines are easy to load and the slide is easy to manipulate.
    For a long gun it’s the Ruger10-22. Lightweight folding stocks help with length of pull and weight reduction.
    The arguments against are more to boost the person making it than reality. I’ve even heard silliness such as “if that’s all they can handle they are better off without”. I grew up in southeastern Oklahoma and I knew better as a young teen. Seen many a man and many a deer taken with it.

    1. Being a life long Okie myself I know that the poaching caliber of choice is the twenty two. Eastern Oklahoma boys are good at it and feed their families venison year round. It’s a way of life there and I believe the local game rangers let a lot of it go on because it’s so prevalent and because they don’t want their barn to catch fire.

  6. To the other Michael relax dude, read the article. Some folks cannot “Exercise” and get a “One Shot Stop” caliber weapon. Also from personal experience in the sand box even with a M4 the “one shot stop” is a scary myth with a drugged up or enraged enemy. Even the mighty 45 ACP with hollow points doesn’t always “Stop” someone with a single shot.

    I’ve been taught to shoot until they stop, just saying. Also notice my comment about Thugs with Body Armor, seems center of mass with a pistol *Might* not be the best option? FYI I have been shot with a 38 Special and near point blank range wearing a soft body armor vest. Hurt like *ell but I would have been able to respond if I wasn’t an unarmed EMT at that time.

    I am VERY Curious about the “unreliability” described by so many about 22 rimfire. They ARE not sealed like military and most centerfire rounds SO you can get moisture issues if improperly stored. In my few decades of plinking with 22 rimfire most every weekend I’ve not seen more than a small hand full of misfires and some of that ammo was moldy box 22 from improper storage. I’ve had to do the misfire drill far more often with my M4 in the sandbox than I remember with my 22’s.

    1. The reliability issues usually pop up with the bulk ammo. Especially with the stuff that’s been manufactured during the ammo panics over the last 20 years, ammo that normally wouldn’t make it into the package has made it’s way into the plastic buckets. During a CCW class or just shooting in general, I usually anticipate about a 5% failure rate. With match ammo, or higher quality hunting ammo, the failure rate is almost non-existent.

    2. Agreed. In my small amount of experience with the AR-15, I’ve had a failure to fire rate of about 1.5%, using factory ammo, and getting a solid pin strike. American Eagle 5.56 has been as unreliable as anything. On the other hand, I’ve used a lot of .22 LR, and in a revolver or manually-operated action, have had very, very few failures to fire. However, I still prefer the AR over the 10/22 for reliability. And I do NOT like the 25-round magazines in a 10/22! The sloppy fit is too unreliable. However, the standard 10-round rotary mags are excellent.

    3. Shoot. Last year I found a couple boxes of Winchester? .22LR Yellowjacket in the old shooting box from college. That was multiple decades ago. The box lived in a humid storage locker in Ohio, a humid basement in Virginia, and many other places since college.

      I was curious. But I wasn’t dumb. We loaded them into a couple bolt guns, and every one of them functioned properly.

      I’ve certainly had duds, and ‘low power’ combustion where you can watch the bullet barely leave the barrel, but over the decades of generally shooting plinking ammo, I can’t say I’ve seen 20 out of the thousands of bullets that have left the barrel.

      Maybe 10% of those thousands of rounds were labeled “high velocity” ammo. Maybe I got lucky. None were match ammo.

  7. One thing that I learned teaching women to rock climb along side men in the Army was that it took a different mindset, and approach, to accomplish the goals. Once I understood how to tailor the teaching to a different physic, and especially a different mindset, I found that women often became competent climbers far more quickly than men did, simply because they understood from the get go that they were at a physical disadvantage, thus they actually LISTENED to what we instructors were saying to them. And did not try to use physical strength to OVER POWER THE ROCK.

    I think the same type of mindset has to be applied to equipping, and training someone with a. 22 rimfire for self defense.

    I fully agree that a .22 long rifle rimfire cartridge, is among the last choices any self defense firearms instructor WOULD WILLINGLY CHOOSE when picking a weapon for someone to defend themselves with.

    OTOH, if someone is faced with health issues such as mentioned by the author, or fear of loud noises, or really any mitigating reason for which a more powerful cartridge cannot be utilized; then I see no earthly reason NOT TO equip and train someone with a .22 semi-auto. As long as that person remains clear In their mind AT ALL TIMES of the utter disadvantage that they are placing themselves by their choice of the .22.

    And the absolute need for PRACTICE- PRACTICE-PRACTICE. As much practice as they can tolerate, and afford. Of course, shooting a .22 is going to allow for a LOT MORE ROUNDS FIRED, per dollar spent on practice.

  8. if you want a defensive edge on some raider types – plink away with your .22 speedsters until they get cocky >>> open up on the bastards with your battle rifles and shotguns when the time is right ….

  9. I’ve carried a Walther P22 a lot. It’s small and light weight, accurate at the distance needed and mostly enjoyable… because of the conversations had with other shooters carrying the latest greatest holsterable.
    Steve is 100% right about attitude and ability. Anyone who trains for a fight should be able to use every weapon at their disposal. And those with disabilities are no different, other than their ability to manipulate their weapon of choice. And if you cannot hit a 8 inch plate at 7yds with a 22 ~ don’t think a bigger caliber will make a difference for you.
    Lastly, one comment regarding the lady Steve mention above. She shoots 100’s of rounds a week and uses both hands. Most concealed carry and even home defenders would be well advised to heed her example once the basics have been mastered. If I’ve learned one thing… it is that there is alway new things to learn.

  10. Rule 1 of winning a gunfight is ‘have a gun’. All things equal, bigger is better, but any gun is better than no gun.
    The small Berettas with tip-up barrels like the .32 ACP Tomcat are a good choice for people who have difficulty manipulating a slide. OTOH, I don’t understand the author’s antipathy to revolvers. There’s no safety to forget, a misfire is corrected by another pull of the trigger, and they can be less intimidating than a semi-auto for beginners.
    Practice, confidence, and determination are more important than caliber. As Col. Cooper said: ‘Man fights with his mind. His hands and his weapons are simply extensions of his will, and one of the fallacies of our era is the notion that equipment is the equivalent of force.’

    1. I have no problems with revolvers. I probably have twice as many revolvers as I do semi-autos. However, the double action trigger pull is usually very heavy, to the detriment of the shooter. This is especially true on the small .22 revolvers, since they must have enough power to set off the rimfire cartridge, which takes more to do than a comparable centerfire. I’ve seen this many times with new shooters and older shooters. The slides on the SR22 and the Browning 1911-22 are very easy to pull back, and the triggers are much easier to manipulate. Once shooting is done, the safety on both is easy to put on.

  11. As a kid growing up in salt lake city, I cut my teeth on the marlin 60. I remember catching the bus to the holiday gun club with my marlin and a brick of 22’s in the mid 70’s. Mom would make me a couple of sandwiches and Id wait at the bus stop with my lunchbox with my lunch and a brick of ammo and my marlin in the vinyl zip up case. Dad had a membership there and the range master was a buddy of his. I was around 12 at the time.

    More than once I would miss my bus and chose to walk until the next bus came. a 12-13 yr old kid walking down Wasatch BLVD, gun over his shoulder, to the next bus stop, a move now that would surly get you plastered on the news or sitting in a jail cell, and your parents prosecuted.

    1. Wow. Yes, simpler times.
      In high school, at old Mt. Miguel in the 70’s, those of us on the rifle team would walk to the armory and check out our rifles and ammo after school.
      No carrying cases, we just walked across campus to the parking lot to load them in the trunk and drive to the range.
      After practice, we’d reverse the process.

  12. Very good article, thank you. I’m a firm believer in .22 rim fire and the broad spectrum of jobs it can fulfill. It isn’t my first choice for self defense, but would certainly use one if it’s what I had. I also would not want to be on the receiving end, they penetrate and expand fairly well for their size and leave a correspondingly sized squishy mark if one fails to find cover.

  13. Keltec P17 makes a light semi auto 22. Slide is easy to pull back and with 16+1 rounds and under $200 out the door. Browning makes a prefragmented round that should increase the shocking power(???) of the 22 LR but still penetrate.

    1. I concur. Killed a groundhog the other day with my Ruger 77/22 WIN MAG (another fine .22 rimfire caliber) from 50 yds out. Hit him above the shoulder and he dropped without a peep. Had a kill on a coon like that recently too- hit her right in the heart and she dropped dead. Never a clean kill if you hit em anywhere else.

  14. Of course in most cases bigger can be better, but a good hit with a .22 is much better than any miss with a larger caliber. Another plus for the .22, especially in a rifle, is the ability to be very quiet. Add a suppressor and you have a medium range weapon that has an ability that a larger caliber may not.

    A .22 can be very effective.

  15. I have a smith and wesson model 41 and a ruger takedown 10-22 for each of my girls families and I keep a smith and wesson 617 revolver in my desk just in case. One of the model 41s was made in 1967 and still shoots like it was brand new.

    1. Interesting thing about old 22s. Many of them didn’t have serial numbers. Kinda hard to trace one if there is no record. hmmm.
      My 10-22 was made before the takedown model was available. I added a folding Ramline stock to it. Not the best thing, but it folds up nice and short.

  16. One thing I didn’t mention in the article. Some of you have mentioned that you haven’t seen the reliability issues others, including myself, have. I was teaching Missouri CCW classes when we had to shoot 70 rounds through the revolver and 70 rounds through the semi auto.

    1) I saw quite a few failures to fire with .22 ammo, especially with the bulk ammo. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, when guns and ammo got scarce, a lot of us began seeing issues with ammo across the board as manufacturers were rushing ammo out the door.

    2) Our classes then were getting quite large, and I had a lot of first time and older shooters in our classes. By far, the least favorite gun of all for the older shooters was the double action .22 revolver. After 30 rounds or so, it became a challenge for many of them to continue pulling the trigger. The semi auto was much easier for them to shoot and manipulate.

  17. I wrote a published article for SurvivalBlog some years back about 22 as a survival weapon. ..I concur with the author’s article would like to add that there are a couple of 22 rifles to consider in addition to the ruger 10/22……my favorite are a Winchester mod 62a mine (3of them) have been serving me and my shooting needs for 40 years with thousands of rounds thru them. The oldest was made in 1949…..these guns are tack drivers and have taken a variety of critters over the years including deer. I prefer only head shots that take the critter in a humane harvesting way. The other two manufacturers that I like are the Henry ar7 survival takedown rifle and the Remington Apache and mohawk. As far as ammo I only use hyper velocity 22s hypervelocity long rifle cartridgeS are a person stopper in my shooting experience With critters. Starting back in 80s with cci stingers which travel about 1650 feet per sec, and Remington had for a time viper 22 at 1410 feet per sec, then cci came out with copper 22 at 1850 feet per sec, lastly Aquila entry Was the interceptor 22 about 1400 feet per sec. I have stored cci stingers for forty years and they still shoot today with no misfires or noticeable degradation. I highly recommend cci stingers and Aquila 22s great products to trust. I don’t like the spray and pray attitude that some adhere to….guess I am old school as I am old……but one shot one kill still is my motto. I was a range instructor at a world famous Indoor shooting range in Kansas City in the 70s, I witnessed a unfortunate shooting fatality with a person shot through the heart by a standard 22 lr …pretty sure he was dead before he fell down. If I was faced with a shooting situation requiring a firearm a 22 would be high on my usage list. Happy trails in these very uncertain times. John in Nevada

    1. John in Nevada,
      I grew up in K.C. in the 60’s & 70’s (yes, I’m that old!), and wondered what was the name of that famous indoor shooting range in K.C. in the 1970’s?
      Thanks for the info on .22’s! Much appreciate the info to supplement my centerfire gear.

  18. Thanks for the great article. It echoes what I have been saying for a long time. While my first choice of self defense weapon isn’t the .22, I would certainly have no qualms about carrying one (and I do on a regular basis). At the gun store I work at, people always ask, “Whats the best handgun caliber for self-defense carry?” My answer is always to carry the biggest gun, in the biggest caliber, that you can safely, securely, and accurately shoot. For some people that’s a .45 ACP. For some, a .22 LR. Lets face it, if it was me doing something so heinous that somebody felt a need to shoot me, I’m not going to stop and ask, “Uh, wait a moment please. Is that a .22 or a .38 special you are shooting at me?” I am going to STOP what I’m doing and run like hell! Regardless of caliber. And that is the whole point of self defense, getting the bad person to STOP what they are doing.

  19. James poses a good question about slavery in its historical context.
    If we think back to NYC during the 1970s, a simple power outage caused rioting for days. Race relations were awful with Mayor Dinkins running the city. Then came Rudy and the Broken Window policy.
    When 9/11 happened, millions of New Yorkers had to walk ten or more miles to get home through some tough areas of the city. I am not aware of any crime occurring during that incident. Americans pulled together for a common purpose. Months later, a tree branch in Ohio fell on a power line and shut down the grid in the entire northeast. Again, New Yorkers had to walk home. Again, none of the nitwittery we are seeing now took place. None. Americans got along pretty well in those days.
    The big difference I see is eight years of The Community Organizer In Chief, with the Al Sharpton types making hundreds of visits to the White House in a single year. Don’t know what was said in those meetings, but some serious organizing was going on, as we now see.

    On my three years on military academy rifle teams, I can say that I never had a misfire using Olin Winchester .22 ammunition. When that ran out, some clown ordered Remington standard velocity ammo. I had about 2% misfires. All of us hated the Remington ammo. Federal is pretty reliable (never used it during the competition years).

    I own three 10/22s, and none of them are reliable with any species of magazines. I’d never bet my life on a 10/22, though used with surgical precision a .22 LR will kill deader than a sack of hammers. And surgical precision is what I practiced 2 hours each day for three years. I keep my hand in.

    For those who believe the myth of the one-shot-stop with pistol rounds, search The Peter Soulis Incident, and Why One Officer Carries 145 Rounds of Ammunition. Some useful enlightenment is found there.

    My favorite mentor, a former combat Marine, shot an NVA soldier from two feet away with his .45 ACP directly in the solar plexus on a jungle trail. He saw the strike on his bare chest. The man ran away. His platoon searched he area for two hours and never found him. Do not have unrealistic expectations for your handgun or rimfire rifle. To a lessor extent, lower your expectations for your shotgun, too. A quick read of Tales of the New York Stakeout Squad by Jim Cirillo will shatter the myths we carry around about what works and how often. Believe it or not, undercover detectives who shot scores of armed robbers in the city preferred the M1 .30 caliber carbine over the shotgun, using Winchester’s 110 grain hollow soft point. Men shot with 12 gauge slugs in the lung ran away. Buckshot, too. But not. Very. Often.

    Left untreated, syphilis kills most of its victims. But it takes decades.

    1. If you re-read the paragraph the author is correctly talking about small handguns for beginners. You may want to try this exercise putting yourself in the role of a new inexperienced shooter. Shoot a .38 or .357 out of a lightweight 1.78″ snub-nosed revolver, and then shoot the same out of a 4-6″ steel barrel. Or try a .40 or .45 out of a subcompact polymer gun vs a 4.5-5″ steel barrel duty sized pistol like a P220 Sig. Imagine that you’re new to shooting, or physically not that big, or maybe have arthritis, etc. BIG difference! Size of a gun does matter as much, or more than just caliber for a new shooter.

      I personally know people who were uncomfortable, intimidated and afraid after shooting a polymer .45 ACP in a subcompact or compact, but when I handed them my 4.4″ P220 their world changed. Suddenly the weight and length of the gun compensated for the recoil they felt in the ‘snappy’ little polymer pocket gun. They realized they could not only handle it, but shoot the heck out of it!

      Different tools for different needs!

    2. This really is a thing if you consider perceived recoil. I have large hands. I have less perceived recoil shooting 10mm from a Glock 20 with a nice fat grip than I do shooting almost all smaller caliber hanguns. It took years for me to realize how important a hangun’s grip is for managing recoil. I also like to shoot S&W in 44 magnum. However, I have to replace the grip with a larger grip to get minimum recoil.

      If you have average sized hands you may never realize this because most gun grips are made to fit you. For me, the tiny Keltec P3AT in .380 jumps all over because it is ridiculously small for my hand.

  20. After a number of years in Alaska ,homesteading , in the Bush , in remote villages ,i’ve seen some things , know of a brown taken with a 10.22 ,i killed a garbage grizz with a 22 pistol,would be willing to bet more big game is taken with a 22 than high power stuff by folks that truly live in the out lands ,have a friend that use to hunt cairboo on his snow machine with a 10.22 ,my first thought was in indans in the old days hunting buffalo ,he would string them together and drag them back to the village for all to use ,
    My carry is a Browning 1911 22 , with stingers , not a lot of work to pack ,works as a pocket gun and it works

  21. As a last resort for some who is ill and very weak, yet has a 10 round magazine would work, if they shot all 10 rounds into the chest area. A revolver in .22 magnum would be a better choice, and the ammunition is only a few cents more per round. I had a Sgt. who on a traffic stop and was shot 6 times with a .22. He proceeded to arrest them and take them to jail.

  22. The average male weighs 180-200 lbs. The average steer (Bovine) ready for butcher weighs in around 1500lbs. One shot to the head with good quality 22 ammunition and they drop like a rock. No question I’m my mind that a 22 round is lethal. Practice often, shoot small, and fear only fear itself.

  23. Just another comment or two ( or more ) from another old fart ( never see 70 again ), had a friend ( retired Secret Service agent ) tell me that during his time on duty ( he was stationed in Minn when Reagan was shot ) that more than 50% of the people killed in the U.S. are shot with .22 lr. If you are lucky to hit then in the right spot the first shot and have them drop, most will die within the next 2 to 6 days of being it with a .22. And as far as using a .22 on large animals, I know from experience that a .22 will drop a 1,000 to 1,500 lb ( or bigger ) beef in it’s tracks as I had worked in the stockyards division of a packing plant and later when working in the plant, I would listen to guys bragging about spotlighting deer using a .22. One more tidbit, I watched my dad shoot a dog at about 200 yds to scare it, yup, he scared it alright, he hit the dog behind the right front leg, it died three days later and mom was pissed. It was her dog.

  24. I will say again, I have met many men who swear that the small calibers are useless in defense, but I have yet to meet the man willing to take a round at seven yards to prove his point. Actions over words.

    Bullets more than likely equal severe injury. Do not pass go, proceed directly to advanced medical care. Smaller rounds are less likely to deliver said severe injury, but I still would not bet my life that a smaller bullet would not ruin my day. There have been documented cases of .22 rounds being deflected by bone, but again my goal is to never find out for myself.

    In a grid down situation, any gunshot wound is likely to be fatal over a few days, if not hours.

    Surprised JWR has not mentioned this, but the main limitation of the .22 is that the ballistics drop off after 100 yards or so. Depending on your AO, that may work just fine.

  25. I taught several people with the Beretta Bobcat, 22LR. Wonderful pistol. My M&P 15-22 is hands down one of the best, IMO. Absolutely zero recoil and just about spot on when firing as fast as you can. All of the rounds are close enough it wouldn’t matter. Even some weaker/older folks were able to fire this one without any issues. I know everyone has a favorite, but those are mine for a 22LR.

  26. S&W Model 41 has proven extremely reliable with quality ammo like CCI

    I hAve had nothing but problems with Remington Thunderbolts in both the Marlin 60 and S&W 41.

    I agree 100% with this article. I can put multiple rounds, rapidly and very accurately with .22 LR fireArms.

    P!us, the fact that you can afford to train a LOT, makes it very viable for certain folks, as it is better than not having a firearm

    1. I carried a Beretta Model 21 for over 42 years as a backup, put a fresh magazine of ammo in each wee after I fired the mag in the gun! As mentioned body armor or shot placement is an issue BUT nobody mentioned the pelvic area it’s got a lot of important stuff down there and 6 – 7 rounds will put a stop to somebody coming after you. It also has a huge mental value on a male attacker, Of those 42 years in law enforcement I’ve seen numerous DOA’s with a 22 so don’t discount the small caliber and the best gun to have is the one with you and my Mod 21 is in my pocket now,

  27. One of the greatest of all twenty two rifles ever produced was the Remington Nylon 66, IMO. I grew up with one of those rifles and have shot 765,409,230 rounds through my rifle and it never jammed! I could be off a number or two.

    1. I had one also, it was a ‘death stick’. My Mom and Step-dad got me the Apache model at Montgomery Wards for my 16th birthday in 1974 and made me pay half of the $70. Shot rabbits, squirrels, birds, and rarely missed. My younger brother tells about me taking him out in the field with us and him pointing to a jack rabbit in full sprint about 150 yards out. He said I turned and fired once and made a head shot. I don’t remember that hunt but it gives credence to the gun’s ability.

      I always wonder why it went out of production if it was so popular. Fourteen rounds of CCI stinger hollow points would make anything think twice about further aggressive action.

  28. Greetings Steve. Thanks for the good write up!

    I got a humorous “Sea Story” to share regarding Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper (USMC). Around 1988 our eight-man boat crew (from a certain Naval unit under the umbrella of Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC) went out to Gunsite for a one-week “Special Carbine Course of Instruction.” Stayed in a decent hotel in nearby Prescott, Arizona. Beautiful part of the country.

    We showed up sporting casual attire with long hair, big mustaches and vague “DOD” ID’s along with B’s & C’s (badge/credentials). The Colonel instantly disliked us. The next morning and first day of training Col. Cooper rolls up on his ATV and begins to loudly berate his lead instructor saying, “Jarvis! Why are these men not toeing-the-line?!”

    I thought the man was about to bust blood-vessels while we strapped on our battle rattle and upon loading our CAR-15’s (A1) the Colonel spat on the ground as the man hated the 5.56mm round: he being a fan of the 7.62mm round. Then as we were locking/loading our Berretta M-9’s he really pitched a shit-fit (as he was mostly a .45 Cal guy). It got worse. Our boat crew Pointman was a hillbilly from Alabama, “Barefoot Bobby” and as he loads his CHICOM AK-47 Col. Cooper was besides himself.

    During this course-of-instruction we were taught to engage from only 3 feet away and out to 400 yards. Lots of various sized steel targets (LOVE ‘EM = instant gratification, right?) At one particular training event, around mid-week, the Colonel had arranged a scenario to (-attempt) prove that fully automatic fire was ineffective and a waste of ammo. What the Colonel didn’t know was that our boat crew had recently attended former FBI Special Agent Bill Rogers’ outstanding COI at his facility in the hills of Ellijay, Georgia. Bill taught us some very effective techniques for the accurate usage of fully automatic fire. So, Col. Cooper asked for a volunteer. I raised my hand. The drill involved me engaging a full-sized silhouette steel target, whilst running 25 yards. 30 round mag dump. Dust is blinding. Upon expending my mag Col. Jeff jumped the gun and stated, “You see now how ineffective…” and at that point the large steel target bonged down to the ground. My Team-mates were laughing their asses off.

    In the end of the course the esteemed Colonel gave us high praises and told us he’d never seen a group of men that performed so well. Hoo-Yah. I’ve heard that he was a very brave and valiant Marine during WWII and Korea.


  29. I to am a 7.62 and 45 fan. I guess it is likely because of my military days pre 5.56, well actually at the start of the changeover. I kinda agree with the Sergeant in “We Were Soldiers” it just feels like a toy to me. That being said, no, I’m not interested in standing in front of you while you shoot at me with a 5.56.

    But to the point of the article on the lowly 22. It is because of years of hunting rabbits and other small game as a boy that I was a proficient as I was with the 7.62 and .45. It is a ‘deadly’ round. A boy from my home town was shot while hunting with the lowly .22, entered his back at the kidney and ruptured his spleen, dead before he got to the hospital. As has been stated many times, placement, placement, placement.

  30. Steve,

    Great article.

    I would guess that many people who “don’t want to mess with slides, magazines or a safety” aren’t unable or unwilling to learn, they just want the simplest tool for the job.

  31. Loved the article. I carry a 40 on my person and a takedown 22 in my get home bag. My ability to hit anything with a pistol at more than 10 yards has diminished faster than my ability to fire a standard pistol. There are times that any rifle is better than a pistol and 3 – 4 pounds in a get home bag is much easier on an old man than 7 – 10.

    Hyper velocity 22LR such as stingers, velocitors and interceptors cycle much more reliably in my AR-7 and at least as reliably in my 10/22. I might use other ammo to practice with, but I keep only hyper velocity ammo in my get home bag. Besides, they have 30% more foot pounds of energy which with a 22LR is really needed.

    1. The more powerful hypervelocity 22 lr helps ensure the cycling effectiveness of the semi-automatic pistol or rifle. Standard velocity rounds function in any or the rifles mentioned but in let’s say 100 you may have three of four failures due to the blowback force is not sufficiently strong enough to cycle the next round..

  32. Keltec pmr 30 in 22mag. 30 rounds on tap. Have a student with a DA 22 mag revolver she cant easily fire due to heavy trigger. Can drive nails with the PMR. As to stopping power BS, get some education man. As Claude Warner says, you shoot a man in the eye and the dick and he will change his behavior. Statistically, the 22 is as deadly as a 44 mag, but the time between shot and death is different. One of the first officer deaths on dash cam came out of East Texas. 6 rounds of mighty .357 into perp, one round of 22lr through the armpit thought the heart. officer died on camera, perp lived.
    Shot placement is key. Good luck all of us. We all need it

  33. I would not feel under gunned w my mkII, pistol optic and loaded w cci velocitors ..i can put 10rnds into the upper thorax pretty damn fast and accurately too..

    Gimme a 10/22 with the fab defense m4 folding stock, sig red dot optic, several bx-25 round mags, loaded w velocitors and another 1k in ammo on my person/ghb bag and i doubt most folks will stand around under aimed or withering fire….

    again, training, shot placement and confidence go a long way…

    Is it my perfect set up, nope, but it will work if need be….

  34. The Weapon an Individual CAN Make Hits With,
    As Opposed to
    The Bigger Bullet that Misses…

    Said the Guy That Builds ALL His ARs in 7.62×39 or 7.62X51, But Loves the .22LR

  35. I have a pair of regular old ordinary 10/22’s and a Nylon 66 in black and chrome (stainless?) One of the 10/22’s I bought for my Dad in 70 or 71, the other I bought for myself in 94. My Dad gave me his when he moved near me, finally, a few years ago. The Nylon 66 I bought for my wife sometime in the mid 70’s. I ain’t givin’ up my .22’s to anybody for any reason. My nephews get those, but only after my wife and I are gone. I really mean it when I say “From my cold dead hands!”

  36. Out of my many firearms I own, I have 7 rifles and pistols in .22LR ( one is a Ruger 77/22 mag ). Would theseby my first choice for defense, or what I carry everyday, no. But training on my own range with my S&W MP-15/22 is cheap and simulates AR controls and handling very well. Shot various varmints with my heavy barrel Ruger 10/22 and performs quite well. When I have the young people or others who have little experience with firearms they always love shooting that gun. They invariably hit with it after a modicum of instruction. Most of my ammo prep is .22LR as the cost was so low back 8-10 years ago I put back 20,000 rounds with relative ease. So this round has a lot going for it. One should always have a couple guns that use it.

  37. A 22lr is a great training gun for beginners. My wife had a problem with flinching every time she pulled the trigger due to recoil. I switched her to a .22lr pistol and she does much better now. We prefer the M&P line of handguns so the M&P .22 was the natural choice for the training gun. I also use the .22 since ammo is scarce and I don’t want to go through all of my full size gun ammo. I also have the Chiappa AR-22 upper for the AR-15. This is a full upper you can swap onto any AR-15 lower. It is self contained and takes less than 60 seconds to install or remove. Uses the same magazines as the CMMG conversion. The Nice thing about the Chiappa upper is I can adjust the sights for the .22 round I am shooting. Combine this with targets from The Appleseed project and we have some training on scaled to targets to “400 yards”. The best thing about .22lr is in a pistol regular ammo can be easily suppressed.

  38. I see a lot of posts referring to various data & info on .22 vs. better “one shot stoppers”. I was a paramedic in L.A. (’75-’80) and saw a LOT of the “knife & gun club” results there. A study done at the time noted that most GSW’s and gun homicides were from .22LR. I saw a man die from a 1 lucky/unlucky shot to the abdomen cutting his aorta, while another shot in the forehead calmly drinking beer on his porch waiting for us. Another young man was shot w/ .357 from 20′ had the bullet glance off leaving a minor wound. While that time period was before 9mm became standard issue on both sides of the law, and ammo updates became deadlier, there were many other factors involved in the “real world”. I switched to law enforcement in ’81 and saw many other shootings that defied all logic in their results. For the average citizen with limited finances or experience, go with what you got. I never saw a criminal stay and shoot it out once shot and have an easy escape.

  39. Never under estimate a 22 LR
    As a young kid growing up my parents were very anti gun. My best friend’s dad was not. He let me keep a single shot 22 rifle in his barn & hunt his property. Whatever I shot his wife cooked for their large family. Over a few years I shot 7 deer and it only took 11 rounds of 22 LR to harvest the 7 deer. After Getting a center fire I never again shot a big game animal with a 22.

    50 years later I still remember the 4 lessons learned from hunting with a 22.
    The deer needed to not know that you were there, Getting close and Shot Placement is a must. Also found that 40 gr solids were better for deer than 36 gr hollow point.

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