Can a .22LR Pistol be an Effective Defensive Gun?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

One of the biggest arguments amongst gun owners and aficionados is what the best caliber for self-defense is. There are two basic camps in this argument; those who are in favor of 9mm Lugar and those who are in favor of .45 ACP. As a long-time shooter of both calibers, I can tell you that both are better; albeit better at better things. The 9mm Lugar round was developed for penetrating power, which it excels at and the .45 ACP was designed for knockdown power, which it is excellent at.

But I’d like to talk about another caliber for self-defense, one which most of us dismiss out of hand. I include myself in that, as I’ve been one to dismiss it too. The caliber I’m talking about is one of the most common and popular calibers out there, the .22LR.

I actually learned to shoot with a .22, specifically a .22LR revolver. It was my dad’s favorite sidearm, the one he carried with him when he went hunting. Looking back on that, I think he was a bit underarmed; but that’s what he decided to do.

I’ve followed in those footsteps, at least to some extent, buying a .22 LR semi-automatic pistol that I taught my family to shoot with. I’d never really consider using it as my carry gun, for a variety of reasons, but it’s a great target pistol and the small caliber, with little recoil, makes it ideal for use as a training gun. That’s probably even more so for training women, who tend to be afraid of noisy guns.

While I wouldn’t use that .22 as a carry gun, it’s not really because of the caliber. The gun is just too long, with a rather long barrel, to make it a good carry gun. So it sits in my range bag and is used for practice and training. I still shoot it, mostly because it’s a whole lot cheaper to shoot than either my 9mm Glock or my .44 caliber Springfield XDS. Shooting it improves my accuracy, especially for long or otherwise difficult shots, which is the whole point of practice shooting anyway.

But what about using it for self-defense?

I’m going to go a bit off the reservation here and state that a .22 can be used as a self-defense gun. If we look at the gun fatality statistics 20 or 30 years ago, we find that a fair number of people were killed by .22LR and other calibers (like .380ACP), which we don’t normally think of as effective self-defense rounds.

The thing is that any gun can be used for self-defense, if that’s what you’ve got. I’d personally much rather use a larger caliber for self-defense; either my 9mm or my .45. But not everyone can carry those guns and not everyone can shoot them effectively.

Some women have trouble shooting a 9mm, let alone a .45. In that case, I recommend that they use a .380, specifically the SigSauer P230, chambered in .380ACP. Of all the semi-automatic pistols I’ve seen out there, that’s the easiest one to rack the slide. Considering that racking the slide generally requires more hand strength than firing the pistol, that’s an important consideration, even though the .380 is considered to be a “marginal” self-defense round.

But that’s still a whole lot bigger than a .25LR. So if the .380ACP can be used for self-defense, can the .22LR? Again, I say yes. While it isn’t the best caliber available, it’s certainly better than nothing. If that was all I had to use, you can be sure that I’d use it. Not only that, but if I needed a gun that I could conceal easily, I’d definitely look at some of the smaller .22 pistols that are available.

From what I know, there are a lot of police officers, including some personal friends, who carry a .22LR as their backup piece. Their main reason for that choice is the ability to conceal it. A .22LR derringer or even semi-automatic is smaller even than the Ruger LCP, which is a .380 caliber pocket gun with a 5 shot magazine.

In reality, the real issue boils down to knowing what a particular gun can do and what you can do with that gun. In other words, the issue isn’t how big the gun is, but how good the aiming system is. In case you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, I mean you. The better trained you and I are, the better chances there are that we’re going to be effective with whatever gun we use. Based on that, I’d rather take on a bad guy with a .22 and the skills I have today, than take one on with either a 9mm or a .45 and the skills I had 10 years ago. I’m much more likely to hit the 10 ring now and that’s really the name of the game.

So, if you’ve got a nice compact .22, you might want to consider keeping it around as a backup. You never know when you might need it. And if you have a .22 target pistol, make sure it’s available to use in your home. It’s all part of being prepared, just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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