.22 Rimfire for serious defense?

I’ve always scoffed the use of .22LR for Self / Home defense.  But consider the following.

The HK MP5, in .22 LR.
CCI Stinger, a .22 round at 1640 FPS.

A combination such as the above as a lot of potential for a .22LR House Gun or Truck Gun.  The Stinger is pretty much the hottest thing going for .22LR that I know of.  It claims 1640 FPS, which is smoking for these little Rimfires.  Put 25 of those little suckers in a little carbine such as this HK MP5, or an S&W M&P15-22, or even a good Ruger 10/22, and you just might have something there.

I know I don’t want to catch any of these Stingers, and certainly not 25 of them.  That’s a pretty goodly amount of fire power in a package that even a small child or frail adult or very strange ladyboy could handle with little problem.

We’ve nodded at the value of a training analog using such rimfires to offset the cost of ammunition with 5.56mm and the like.  Ammo is expensive, but luckily .22LR can be had in bulk at the average price of 20 bucks for 500.

As a survival tool, .22LR is a clear winner for sure.  Packing 500 rounds is pretty easy compared to 500 rounds of anything else.  Lots of ammo on hand, cheap ammo, it has a lot going for it.

.22LR is a very lethal little round when used with good accuracy.  It’s killed quite a few things over the years.  And it’s been used with success as a defensive tool as well.  However the point of Defense is not to Kill.  The point of Defense is to Stop A Threat.  The mad man with the knife is the model often used as an example, and perhaps this is unfair for the rimfire, as it’s also unfair to most handguns… only thing that really works there is a 12 gauge anyways and even then you are going to use multiple shots, so what chance does your 9mm have let alone a .22?    The most often “Defense Use” of a weapon is pulling the gun up, pointing it at the Threat and saying “STOP”.  This usually works because even stupid bad guys don’t want to get perforated regardless of caliber.  And a scary looking .22LR like the picture posted is probably going to be every bit as effective for this purpose as anything else.  If not, you have 25 bullet points in your argument to present… I am thinking that this might be convincing enough.

Wild animals don’t speak English, and can be unimpressed with your fancy gun regardless of caliber.  Noise often scares them away and any gun shot can do the trick quite often.  Having a high capacity here is a very good thing though because if the warning shot (ONLY FOR WILD ANIMAL THREATS OUTSIDE OF THE CITY) fails to send the critter running away, it’s going to come at you.  Some animals are much tougher to stop than others.  Badgers for one.  I hit one with a car and then a .45 and it just got pissed. (I was the one that ran away!  Evil little fucker!)

The key here with a .22 LR for Defense is ammo.  You want to use the good stuff for this.  And I’m talking STINGERS or VELOCITORS.  I’d not use anything else.  The cheap bulk stuff is good for plinking and practicing, but for serious use, keep your mags full of the quality made stuff.  Mini-Mag HP’s are the Minimum.  Shot Placement is more critical than ever here because the stopping factors such as hypovolemic shock are not going to come into play here.  The hotter rounds as mentioned are your best bet for penetration and tissue/organ disruption.  Hollowpoints are advised as well.  Not because they expand, because they rarely do reliably… but because the flatter ogive cuts more tissue instead of pushing it apart out of the way.  To get the Shot Placement that is so needed, practice becomes very important and again, the .22LR lets you do this.  So if you are practicing all the time with your .22 and you can make 5 fast hits in a blink at the sound of the buzzer… that’s a pretty solid defensive response.

Feel free to discuss or argue below.

44 thoughts on “.22 Rimfire for serious defense?”

      1. Loughner shot Giffords in the head with a 9mm and she survived. Phineas Gage had a 1.25″ dia X 3 1/2″ foot long tamping rod blown throw his skull and he survived.

        1. True, but bullet placement still matters, and when it doesn’t work the first time, place more bullets.

    1. Actually, 4 people were hit during that shooting. Secretary Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a Washington DC officer were all hit, and all 3 went down instantly. The bullet that hit Reagan first ricocheted off the limousine door before hitting Reagan. So that’s a 100% instant incapacitation rate if you only count direct hits. 75% instant incapacitation rate if you count the shot that first bounced off the door. Not bad for any caliber…especially fired out of a cheap revolver.

  1. I do believe in shot placement as well but there has also to be something behind the shot. A high stress situation diminishes accuracy and it is very possible that only 1 or 2 shots can be fired so the arguement of empty the magazine won’t matter. Even if it takes a full magazine to stop 1 threat (God forbid if there are 2 threats…) there are some states that would view that as excessive force. In the end it does boil down to personal choice and for me it would be one of my last choices.

  2. Certainly not the first choice, if a choice is available. Better out of a rifle than a hadgun. It’s better than a sharp retort, and fortuneatly most critters don’t wanna get shot with ANYTHING, and will run if they meet armed resistance. But no pistol round is certain. I recall an incident recounted by Ayoob, IIRC, of a perp who took six .41 mag. rnds, 4 while on his back on pavement (riccohets coming back up into him!) who not only survived, but had to be tied down on the litter, was still fighting!?! PCP was involved, IIRC.

    1. Actually this was a cop shooting in my county, (late 70’s or early 80’s) I met the shooter. Bascally correct about the hits from the heavy .41 round flat point exposed lead. The Depty who took two rounds to the vest (one of the first issued in the county) from the shooter who was stopped on a traffic violation jumpped out of his car and ran back the 9 feet to shoot the Dpty while he was still sitting behind the wheel of his patrol car helped fight the goblin into the the ambulance…

      1. AND leave us not forget that all the time this was going on the Dpty’s K-9 partner who jumped out the rear window was doing her level best to turn him into a used chew toy…GOOD Dog!

        “I met the shooter” Ment to day I met the Dpty on the road before he retired.

  3. There’s also the problem of an ignorant jury being told that the defendant shot the perp over a dozen times. Probably need to double that if they were on bath salts.

  4. FN should come up with a .22 version of the PS90. For $600 or less. That shit would sell.

    Scratch that, I want a .22 Magnum version!

    1. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Kel-Tec comes out with a fairly decent .22 Mag Bullpup in the next few years. Their only problem will be supplying it. I know here in AZ, I’ve only seen one of the PMR’s and never seen their .308 Bullpup. Their SUB-2000’s sell like hotcakes (I’ve bought two, gave one to a friend) and I’ve hardly seen them since. They have a lot of great guns, great ideas, and excellent service, but they are horrible at their production. If they were to get a bigger plant, maybe contract out to a larger manufacturer, (I’d say S&W, because if Remington gets ahold of it, they’ll jack the price three-fold) they could continue producing and still have more time for R&D.

  5. Hi-velocity solids, modified w/a nasti-nose tool to a flat,shallow cup ojive to inhance bullet performance. Even better would be the same treatment on a soft nose magnum .22 round. Kel-tech is supposed to be making a semi-auto carbine that uses PMR- 30 30 round magazines. Wot say you, George?

    1. I can testify that the flat cup shape imparted by a Paco Kelly tool or equivalent both improves accuracy and terminal effect. At least on small game at small game ranges. I was amazed at the effect on squirrels and rabbit of the Aguila Interceptor after modifying the nose. After the modification, even CB Caps or the el cheapo Blazer rounds seem to have a lethality beyond what the numbers predicted.

      Nevertheless I’m not sure many people would care enough to spend the time to modify their ammunition. Also, some autloaders choke on them badly. My Beretta Neos jammed on every other round. My Rugers, OTOH, eat them like barbecue.

  6. George:

    Are the Stingers that claim to seperate in 3 different pieces on impact better than the hollow points? I have never heard pro or con on this? Your input would be appreciated.
    Thanks Mike

    1. I can’t find the exact article I read the other day but in it the ammo your talking about the “quick shot” only penetrated as far as the BB used to calibrate the gel.

      Here is a good link with 22 ammo and how it performs in gel. The quick shot is the first one and only penetrated 6 inches.


    2. Scott’s right… it’s very low on penetration. It’s only good for SMALL GAME and SMALL GAME ONLY.
      I know for a fact it’s awesome on Opossum.

  7. I’m pretty sure if I took a couple of .22 bullets in my face, I’d stop what I was doing. Unless what I was doing was lying on the ground bleeding.

  8. I really don’t know about this…IMO .22lr is a very poor choice as a defensive round and personally I’m not going to cheap out on the rounds that will potentially save my life. Rimfire rounds are plated and are still pretty soft and will shed weight when going through clothing and whatnot. I don’t want to have the possible need to pump the target w/multiple rounds to be effective when in reality only 1-2 shots is possible. Lastly I have found that a good number of rimfire carbines aren’t even close to 100% reliable and it is possible for it to go down at the wrong time.

  9. I can see it as a suitable round for home defense in some situations. If the wife doesn’t enjoy shooting the shotty or centerfire handguns then she may enjoy a .22lr pistol, revolver or rifle. The HD distances are short and it is not difficult to pump many rounds into a target with a .22lr compared to a centerfire (just about) anything with great accuracy.

    I have enjoyed tremendous reliablility with .22lr ammo. Any reliablity issues have been from poor quality feeding of the firearm. M personal issues have been horrizontal machining marks on feed ramps of semiauto cheap rifles. This is easly fixed with a dremel or file and ceramic rod.

    When I was looking for a tiny carry gun I considered a Beretta Bobcat in .22lr. Ammo is cheap to practice with, it is very small, but my LCP was slimmer. As I do not prefer pocket carry and always intended to carry IWB this was a selling point. Someday I will have a Bobcat. I have more .22lr than any other ammo. In a REAL ammo shortage I may be able to feed it longer.

    I would personally stick to Velocitors. They have been the round that ALL of my .22s have liked the most for precision. I tend to shoot Winchester 333 bulk or Federal 525 bulk pack more, as they are typically a close second. This is more a case for HD as the distances are a little longer than what I would use a Bobcat for. The stingers have not typically liked my guns much for accuracy.

    I have also heard that people that carry the tiny .22lr hanguns use the 60gr SSS round. They do not stable out well in a 1-in-16″ twist BBL, but for very close work they may do the trick.

  10. A.22lr (in the form of a Beretta M70) served Ehud Barak and Ben Netanyahu well enough in Operation Isotope. But for most, something more forgiving of lackluster marksmanship is the better choice.

  11. .22 LR beat a 9MM….

    My 16 year-old son dropped an extremely violent home invader dead nearly 3 years ago.

    Bad guy was armed with a 9mm pistol and a shank screwdriver. My boy was armed with a Ruger 10/22 rifle (solid point ammo, 25 rd hi-cap magazine w/1 in the pipe).

    The Ruger 10/22 won that fight.

    2 rounds in chest cavity from 5 feet away and bad guy sprang backwards like he’d been hit by a lightning bolt. Bad guy went unconscious laying face-down coughing up up a ton of lung tissue.

    Won’t go into all the details here (far too many), but I’ll answer any questions posted.


    1. Glad your son was prepared and did what he had to do. Thanks for sharing and testament to what the ER techs talk about.

      To all: any validity to the mythic “bouncing around” effect?

  12. israeli mossod went across europe killing the munich terrorists,,they used .22s
    i was in a gun store looking at an h&k and i started talking to a lady there who was buying a .22
    i asked her why a 22. she replied she was a emergency room nurse and had seen the damage a .22
    does on numerous occasions…i was a .45 guy for years now i think more about shot placement than caliber.
    but nothing like a 10mm with good shot placement….lol paul

    1. Well ya but these were ambush shootings with mostly head shots at VERY close range into targets who did not know what was coming. Not the same IMHO against a agressor coming at you and determined to win.

  13. FWIW-

    I run the Velocitors in my ready mags for the 10-22, and keep them chambered in the single six as well.

    I like the stingers for smaller critters. BUT- They get the crazy speeds by being a bit lighter, usually leading to a little less penetration than I like on anything bigger than a coyote or fox. Accuracy usually isn’t quite the best either.

    ‘Course if we’re talking room distance whole lotta lead all to onect, then the above is moot. Survival situation now? Give me velocitors over stingers all day long. I’ll even trade you at a 2 for one rate.

  14. Couple more things:

    1. Coastie, glad it ended as well as it could, and I hope your son’s doing alight.

    2. Keith, yeah, there is. I’ve read more than a few autopsy reports detailing such. In fact, one of the videos I am required to show in hunter education classes goes over just exactly what “only a 22” did to a boy that was accidentally shot and killed by a friend. That little slug played one hell of a game of pinball in the deceased boys body.

    1. Every gun has a niche, with several scenarios and positives and negatives in each .
      Weigh all the scenarios and eachs pos and negs then decide.
      ALL things being equal,if you want the best chance to stop a threat, the larger the caliber the more likely the the intruder will be incapacitated better .
      i think overall ,penetration is what you want, That implies shock and penetration potential .
      In the 22 you have less asuredness of either. So its no match for larger calibers,but you still have a chance on stopping the invader nevertheless. i think the 22 RN has better penetration
      and richochet potential which leaves bleeding carnage withing the subject being shot. I notice this in squirrels and rabbits. I use RN as a preference,but for the most part they drop with either hollowpoint or RN. if youre in survival mode and packing your stuff you can cary a whole lot more 22 ,but ccnsidering all the situations youre going to run into I might want bigger cal with less ammo.
      Close ups like inhome or urban warefare:Shotgun 8 shot or more. Plus backup pistols/rifle 22 and a 45.(and maybe a pellet rifle for quietly obtaining small animals or birds for food.
      Still carrying alot of weight,but covers many of the situations that likely will come up in extreme invironment. This is the best i can come up with for now
      need to practice carrying around the weapons so youre able to do so in a real event. Must get used to the weight you will be adding too.
      There is no easy answer, there are too many variables to contend with,

      1. In no situation is a .22 better for defense. And handguns, especially .22’s, do not cause hydrostatic shock in living tissue.

  15. To ME, as joe blow average citizen, there is EASY POCKET concealed carry DEFENSE – & then just DEFENSE……..2 generally different discussions. Having said that, I would use 22lr for ANY defense ONLY with the following caveats ( & be very comfortable with it ): QUALITY REVOLVER – QUALITY LEVER RIFLE TUBE FED – QUALITY CCI COPPER RN SOLID AMMO ( penetration ).

    22lr. Nothing blinding ( nightime ) or deafening. And no recoil – which equals many quick on-target 40 grain hits………..now that’s REAL “segmentation”. And “simplicity” of operation with the guns themselves – so you can give undivided maximum thought to what may be your most critical “life” decision………….the pulling of a gun in self-defense or protecting another innocent ( stopping, OR impeding the offensive threat – to create distance & evade it ).

    The fact of the matter is that most criminals are cowards & will run at the sight or first shot of a gun ( no matter the caliber ).

    We infinitely talk of the “meth-head” who won’t stop aggression…….what if it’s 5 meth-heads ??……….what if it’s a black bears lost & walking the hood ????? One could go on & on with this until you need a tank.

    Point is, that you “play the odds” for YOUR situation.

    Finally, to ME, there’s something to be said ( regarding odds ) for EASY LEGAL POCKET CONCEAL CARRY ON ONE’S PERSON of a defensive gun. A QUALITY 22lr REVOLVER ( which are lightweight ) with at least an 8 shot cylinder & the AMMO SPECS I mentioned earlier – can make a ton of sense in today’s environment. Ruger LCR 22LR 1.875″ barrel ( about 17 ozs. )……. & S&W Model 63 with 3″ barrel ( about 25 ozs. ) immediately come to mind.

    MOST will not legally carry on one’s person unless it is relatively LIGHTWEIGHT & slips in the pocket ( without “strap” holstering up ). Making it EASY TO EMPLOY, if need be.

    May no-one have to pull a weapon on anyone ever, GOD willing.

    1. Another problem with the caliber is that Rimfire guns and rimfire ammunition is/are less reliable than more potent centerfire options.
      And while it remains a popular choice do to the popularity of light and small… it’s just a poor choice. And often times there are guns just as small and light as .22 options, but in more potent calibers.

      1. Understood. That’s why I emphatically made my very detailed caveats in my first paragraph above. Quality 22 REVOLVERS & Quality 22 LEVER TUBE FED RIFLES, combined with Quality copper CCI ammo are very reliable functioning systems…….& easy maintenance.

        Deviate from ANY one aspect of the above regarding 22 caliber, & I’m then not a fan of 22 caliber for self defense.

  16. Something I’m very interested to test (haven’t gotten my hands on any yet) is CCI’ s 22 LR “SGB” (Small Game Bullet). A simple 40 gr Flatnose profile, rather than a Roundnose or a Hollowpoint design. I’ve noticed from years of hunting deer with big center fire revolvers, that this shape is a Constant good performer.

  17. When weight and concealment is vital, I sometimes carry a .22 pistol. I know it’s not ideal, I know there are better options, but it sure feels good compared to the usual 1911. As the author said, Stingers or Velocitors.

  18. I’ll probably never find it again, until a month after I stop looking for it, but I did see/read a .22LR gelatin test with a focus on defense use. Their winner was a Federal HP load with moderate expansion and 9″ of penetration.

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