Should I Use a .22 Magnum for Self-Defense?

KelTec PMR30 with a box of Remington ammo

My concealed carry instructor was a former marine who insisted if the caliber doesn’t start with a four, it’s not enough gun. I was one of those people who wore the T-shirt with, “Why a .45?” on the front and, “Because They Don’t Make a .46,” on the back. I owe a lot of people an apology.

After almost 20 years of instructing basic pistol and the Texas License to Carry Course, I find myself now at 75 years old having to rethink a lot of things. I know 75 is not old, but some days I can’t even open a package of saltines. I use an UpLULA to load my 9mm magazines. It’s rare that I carry one of my favorite .45 1911s anymore.

UpLULA Magazine loader
The UpLULA loader is a must have for loading full-capacity magazines.

I can still rack the slide on a P229, G3, or M&P Shield, but sometimes it’s a Taurus 856 UL I stick in my pocket when we leave the house. My particular physical limitations are related to arthritis accompanied by bursitis and enhanced by peripheral neuropathy. Lots of us have these maladies, but they don’t affect our ‘want’, and we don’t want to give up carrying a gun.

So, we adjust. I’ve authored articles about shooting with hurting hands. I still won’t recommend a .22 for self-defense, but the thought of carrying a .22 Magnum — at times — is starting to creep into the outer edges of something I might consider. However, only if it has a large capacity magazine (I don’t live in a socialist state).

.22 Magnum

The U.S. military M4 rifle makes the same size hole as a .22 Magnum. Both rounds measure .224 inches at the base… admittedly, there is a significant difference in performance. An AR shooting a 5.56 drives a 55-grain bullet at 3,200 fps while a .22 WMR handgun drives a 40-grain bullet at something around 1,200 fps. The terminal concept of both rounds is to destroy flesh or internal organs by a tumbling action.

Sometimes the names by which the caliber is called can be confusing. The caliber is sometimes called .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire but also called .22 WMR, .22 Magnum, .22 WMRF, .22 MRF, or .22 Mag. These are all different names for the same cartridge. These cartridges are loud and from most handguns they spit fire out the muzzle when fired.

In no way am I advising you to carry a .22 Magnum as a defensive handgun. However, if you decide on your own to carry one or find yourself with no other option, consider instead of aiming at center body mass to think about aiming for the face — specifically the bridge of the nose. Penetration there will be your best option of stopping someone cold as the bullet enters the cerebral cortex thus disrupting brain function necessary to sustain life. Also, you should probably load your gun with hollow point rounds, which are available from several manufacturers.

Remington MAgnum Rifle and CCI Maxi-Mag .22 mag ammunition
Several manufacturers, including Remington and CCI, make hollow point rounds in .22 Magnum. Hollow points are recommended when using .22 Magnum for defense.

I’ve got several single-action .22 revolvers with swappable .22 magnum cylinders, but that’s not the kind of .22 magnum you’d carry for self-defense. There are, however, a couple of .22 Magnums that have the capacity to make me feel comfortable.

When my son and I operated a gun store, he was the onsite manager. Much of that time, I held down another job to help pay the bills. I came to the store one day to find my son working behind the counter wearing a Kel-Tec PMR30 in his holster. Later, when we were in the office catching up, I asked him about it. He said, “When you wear it all day, you don’t even notice this lightweight gun. And I figure, it’s loud and has 31 rounds of magnum hollow points in it. No one is going to stick around and fight me in a gunfight when I’m shooting at him with that fire-breathing, loud gun that just keeps on shooting.”

I’ve thought about that day often when I’m out shooting one of my .22 magnums, including the PMR30. My son is a young man with none of the arthritis, bursitis, and other painful diseases that plague us old folks. Occasionally however, has a hitch in his gitalong from a football injury. Nobody likes to get shot, and the psychological aspect of lots of bullets coming at you fast is probably just as effective in stopping aggressive behavior as the damage those bullets are doing.

KelTec PMR30 semi-auto .22 Mag, left profile
The PMR30 groups well at defensive distances up to around 10 yards.

Kel-Tec PMR30

Therefore, the Kel-Tec PMR30 is at the top of my list for guns I’d have with me if I absolutely couldn’t operate a 9mm. Kel-Tec started advertising PMR30 in 2010, but for the longest time they were very hard to get. We had them on allocation at our gun store, and the first six we got in were absorbed by our employees. To get one from our wholesalers, we had to buy something else in the $1,200–$1,500 range. Eventually, my son and I each got one, and they’re among our treasured guns. These guns are much easier to get now and are usually in inventory at most places that sells guns. It has always been an under $500 gun.

The PMR30 is very light. Total weight unloaded is only 14 ounces, and a loaded 30-round magazine doesn’t add that much weight. It’s 7.9 inches long, 5.8 inches high, and 1.3 inches wide. The barrel is 4.3 inches in length. The grip is big because of the 30-round, double-stack magazine. The mag release is at the base of the grip. There’s an ambi safety and a small slide lock on the left side. The book says the trigger pull is 5 pounds. However, mine is closer to 3 pounds with a short take-up and short reset.

The manual cautions that the PMR30 functions best with high power ammo, often with bullet weights of 40 grains and up. Kel-Tec recommends CCI Maxi Mag 40-grain, Winchester Super-X 40-grain, and Remington Premier Magnum 33-grain. I’ve shot it with all of those, and so long as the feed ramp was clean, it handled them fine.

Rock Island XTM .22 Magnum semi-auto .22 mag handgun, left profile
The Rock Island XTM .22 Magnum carries 16 rounds of .22 Magnum ammo.

I’ve also used other types of ammo with good results. I would feel adequately armed with this gun loaded with 31 rounds of 40-grain hollow points or Hornady Critical Defense 45-grain FTX cartridges. As far as holsters go, it fits into a 1911 holster fairly well.

Rock Island XTM

Another gun that falls within what I consider my ‘adequately-armed rimfire’ category is the Rock Island XTM .22 Magnum. This standard-sized 1911 carries 16 rounds of .22 Magnum ammo. Mine likes CCI’s Maxi-Mag 40-grain hollow points just fine. The XTM .22 Magnum weighs in at 2.5 pounds, fits in a standard 1911 holster, and shoots like a 1911 — because that’s what it is. Since I’m a 1911 guy, this under-$600 gun falls right in there as a low recoil, high-volume ammo, defensive handgun.

Final Thoughts

Nothing in this article should be construed as this pistol instructor recommending that you carry a rimfire handgun for self-defense. But I wrote this article to give you some things to think about if you start having physical issues similar to mine. What’s that old saying? “When life deals you a lemon, shoot it full of holes with a .22 Magnum!” or something like that.

While few would choose the .22 LR or even .22 Mag as a first choice for self-defense, it is an option for some. What’s your take? Do you know someone who relies on a .22 Mag for self-defense? Why? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • >22 magnum bullet next to a .223/5.56
  • KelTec PMR30 in a standard 1911 holster
  • Two high capacity magazines for .22 magnum bullets
  • UpLULA Magazine loader
  • Rock Island XTM .22 Magnum semi-auto .22 mag handgun, left profile
  • Rock Island XT-22 Magnum pistol, right profile
  • KelTec PMR30 semi-auto .22 Mag, left profile
  • Two .22 magnum handguns with a eye protection and a portable radio
  • Remington MAgnum Rifle and CCI Maxi-Mag .22 mag ammunition
  • KelTec PMR30 with a box of Remington ammo

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (51)

  1. I really like the 22mag round. My home defense gun is an 8 shot S&W 648 revolver with the 6 inch barrel. Its loud, has a great muzzle flash and spits the Federal 22mag punch 46 grain rounds out mighty fast. Much faster that the Rock Island 1911 22 Mag that I owned. On another plus, its a blast at the range and pretty inexpensive to feed… LOL

  2. I use the Smith and Wesson M&P 22 Mag as a reliable daily carry. I did carry my Keltec PMR30 until I bought this pistol. Both are accurate, light and easy to shoot. I will take 31 rounds of 22WMR over 11 of 9mm any day. Watch the news…the chances of having many more than a single attacker is becoming much more common. 22 Mag has a stunning visual/audio presentation, it is loud and has a huge muzzle flash. Most people think it is a much larger caliber than it actually is. BTW, both guns like to run clean and slightly wet. After initial break in, I never have any failures (well over 1000 rounds in each gun). I also have the XT22 and I find that it is a bit heavy for me as a daily carry. 22 Magnum is my round of choice, this is obviously just my opinion.

  3. I’ve owned the PMR30 and sold it to get the XTM. Had to use Federal 50gr ammo and load no more than w0 rounds to have it cycle reliably. The XTM has it’s quirks but is much less fussy.

  4. I love the PMR 30. The bottom line is if you are getting attacked, you want to immediately stop the attack. With the nearly zero recoil of the PMR, I can put 31 rounds into a small area (face size) very quickly and accurately. If you know of anyone, drugged up or not, that would still be a threat after that, I would like to shake their hand, because they are the toughest human to ever walk the planet.

  5. 22 Mag will absolutely work for self-defense. Self-defense is not the same as combat or competitive shooting. Shot placement (and just having a firearm pointed at a person with violent intent ) is the best remedy. We aren’t min-maxing a video game here.

    More important is… effective use of the pistol, not getting it taken away and used against you or getting stabbed before you can draw and fire. A 22 mag is perfectly fine for self-defense. A person hyped up on drugs isn’t going down even if you shoot them with a 44 mag or sabot round from an Abrams tank.

    Preparation and training are the most important things. A hit with a small round is better than missing with a large one. Inguinal wounds, head/neck shots, groin… there is no fair in self-defense. Win or lose. Live or Die. If you are forced to draw, you’d better be ready to shoot.

    I don’t CCW much anymore, but I have carried a few different handguns. S&W 9mm bodyguard, S&W .40 bodyguard, Ruger SR22 LR, S&W 357 mag, Ruger 357 mag and even a Makarov 9mm (I was young and just liked it). In a self-defense moment, shot placement counts way more than shot size. I promise you a 22 mag to the face will give anyone pause. And six inches of fire out of the barrel of a 22 mag pistol isn’t doing their eyesight any good either.

  6. Love coming back to read all the comments. Where everyone is missing the point is – Can you shoot your gun accurately and rapidly??? I shot 22LR Small Bore matches, and at only 50 feet, the “X” Ring still looks so SMALL. The Rapid Fire portion of a match was always where everyone drops points. So – Where the 22LR or 22 WMR handgun comes into play is mainly as a TRAINER. Using a 22LR handgun about 100+ years ago for personal protection is why JMB created the 25 ACP, 32ACP, and then the 380 ACP rounds. Mob Hitmen would empty the entire magazine as quickly as possible when using a 22LR pistol. Goal was to get many bullets into the head/throat so as to be lethal. Currently, a 22 WMR round costs almost the same as a 9mm round, As even a BLANK load can kill under the right conditions, and a 22 WMR is equal or maybe even more powerful than a 25 ACP round, handgun rounds can never be considered to be as effective as a shotgun or a rifle round. Hope is that nobody would ever have to use any firearm for self-defense, but if you do have to, and all you have is a 22 WMR, know that bullet placement is critical.

  7. Hello all, I read the article and all comments, I found many interresting points, I to at 67 have found I do have some issues with my loved Llama 1911 IX bought around the time when large cap mag 9mm were really taking off, ie early to mid 90s I wanted a 1911 .45 ACP but didn’t like the idea of only a 7 shot mag besides not being able to afford the $1200 for a name brand 1911 I walked into a new neighborhood gun store one day just to see what they had there I was drawn to the 1911s they had on hand and as usual was disappointed with the pricing then I noticed this one sitting off to the side with a price of just over $300, I could see right off it was fat in the grip, I started a conversation with the salesman upon finding out it held 13 rounds in the mag and was not a used gun I bought it on the spot even though I knew nothing about the manufacturer, this being California I had a 14 day wait before I could take it home, but the first time shooting it I knew I’d made a good purchase. The one big downside was finding extra mags they were rare and expensive the one I did manage to find was $100 then many years later while at a gun show I came across a Para Ordinace P14 mag $20 that looked identical to the Llama mag so I took the chance and bought it, it was almost identical, it fit perfectly but wouldn’t lock in when inserted so upon further inspection I found all that was needed was to open the catch on the mag by about 1/16 inch on the lower edge, Perfection, they run flawlessly, yes I now have several, all that being said I do have some difficulty racking the slide and since it was my EDC, yes it’s very heavy hince the Uncle Mike’s cross draw shoulder holster. Some years later I was dating a beautiful divorced woman that had a stocker Ex that would fly from the east coast to the west to harass her, one Friday afternoon ( I worked 2nd shift ) after spending the night at her place I noticed from her second floor window a man across the street that looked like the man in the photo she had shown me looking at her place so I opened the blinds and made sure he saw me and I saw him, the next morning I woke her at 8 and told her to get ready to go shopping, she was excited, while getting dressed she asked where we were going I said the gun store she asked why I simply said I just feel the need for another gun, she was thrilled, never having been in a gun store before. We went to a store run by a friend, we walked in and were greeted warmly, I locked onto a MAC10 under the glass and asked what caliber it was, I’d been looking for one for a couple years in .45 but all I found were 9mm, it turned out it was .45, so while I was drooling over it my GF was marveling at all the firearms available, she came to me asking what I would recommend I told her nothing less than a .357 magnum she asked why I replied because it’s a man stopper to which my friend the shop owner agreed, I also told her a semi auto in stainless steel because they are easier to maintain, she informed me she liked the cowboy type handgun Lol, after some discussion she wouldn’t budge, then she asked how do I know which one would be right for me, I told her to have the salesman hand her each gun she liked, handle it dry fire it a few times then select the one she likes best, Just then a customer walked in and loudly announced he wanted the MAC10, my friend looked at me and I said to late it just sold my buddy removed it from the counter top where I’d been checking it out, then the salesman assisting my GF jokingly said this one too holding up a nice looking stainless steel wheel gun, I asked him to bring it over and let me have a look as it turned out it was a Tarus .357 magnum again a brand I’d never heard of, but I’ve had good luck in that area so I said yes that one too, My GFs eyes got big, she asked you’re going to buy 2 guns I said yes, the paper work for both gun was placed on the counter I slide one set in front of my GF and told her to fill it out, She said but you are buying them I said yes I am but by you filling out the paperwork it makes it your gun she looked at the store owner and he said that right, she looked at me confused I then told her about seeing her Ex the day before and that we might not always be together but I wanted her to be safe, We have now been married for 28 years, she love’s her gun and will only shoot magnums, You gotta love that kind of woman. I now own 2 9mm and am not impressed at all, why do you see or hear that in LEO shootings they fire what seems to be an excessive number of rounds, because they are taught to ride the target to the ground, this tells me the 9mm isn’t a one shot one kill type bullet, I’ve taught my wife and son pretty much the same, a minimum of 2 shots no less always shoot until the target is incapacitated be prepaired to fire multiple shots, do not draw unless you know you will pull the trigger a gun itself is not a deternt. All the ballistics I’ve read about the .22Lr and the .22Mag at close range it doesn’t matter even at 100 yards sometimes the .22Lr will out perform the .22Mag, don’t get me wrong I love my .22s they are big fun you can shoot all day without breaking the bank unlike my .44 magnum and our AKs and ARs, I asked my wife what she wanted for mothers day a couple years ago Lol she asked for an AK to which I happily asked her to marry me again and on mothers day presented her with her own AK. Now back to my 1911 I have loaned it to my son as an EDC just after I bought myself an EAA .357 magnum snub nose that is now my EDC, it is heavy being all steel but the weight is a comfort. I just can’t trust something that requires more than one shot to do the job effectively. Yes all the other calibers can do the job with good or great shot placement but in the heat of the moment I want something that can easily penetrate a car or truck since the 2 times I’ve had guns pointed at me was from a motor vehicle. Yes 9mm ammo has gotten much better over the years now it has a tendency to over penetrate while the tried and true .45 ACP is still very reliable using ball ammo. I guess what I’m saying is to each his/her own, My choices are base on well know facts and ballistics gathered over many years of reading and use Lol that’s how I found out my .44 magnum is useful only for fun and hunting I don’t want to worry about what’s in the next room or house. Let me end by saying you do you but do a lot of research before your final decision. Have fun shooting y’all.

  8. The Kel-Tec PMR30 had its share of issues early on and the improved models are running much better , I own (3) and love them, The 22 Magnum round is not a 45 cal. but its capable of ending the conflict , especially when you figure in 30 chances to score a critical hit with Defense ammo. In my early days in law enforcement I’ve seen many citizens die due to a 22 cal. let alone 22 Mag. So go ahead and believe what you want. As far as old age goes I’am almost 80 and still use 45/ 357Mag./9MM Luger / 22 Mag. Stay safe and use what suits you. Now days for me its CZ 75 D PCR Compact 9MM.15rds.Sweet Potato

  9. Very good article. I really like the 22 magnum. I almost bought the PMR30 but I kept hearing that there were issues with it. So I decided to buy the Rock Island XTM. I truly love this pistol. The aggravating thing about the purchase was the gun store owner sold me two boxes of pricey brass case ammo. I took the gun home, cleaned it like the paper said then tried it out. It jammed, wouldn’t feed, wouldn’t eject. So then I read further in the manual… ..which it stated to only use nickel plated ammo. Got some and it’s a dream boat…Absolutely no problems whatsoever. There’s two little glitches. One there’s a little ball that’s easy to loose when you break it down. That’s a problem for me which might be my age. The other issue I have is when the mag is empty the slide doesn’t lock open. I called the factory because I thought something was wrong and they said it was the blow back design and won’t lock open after the last round. So trying to protect the firing pin and barrel I use a dummy round as the first round loaded. I recently emailed the tech support asking there advise…….they said try not to dry fire it😡. Other than that it’s a beautiful piece. I am thinking about the new S&W as long as it locks open when empty, which the videos I watched it does.
    My normal carry is an Argentina built Hi Power Detective(9mm) with the BHSpring SFS system.
    Thanks again for your article.

  10. I dont know why anyone would shoot a 25 or 32 cal. Ive shot both. worst round for penetration. i would use a 22 lr before recomending the 25 or 32. lol

  11. darn near 80 years old and have arthritis etc.
    I was looking at getting a 9mm, EZ shield, or Equalizer etc.
    I went back to my 1911 in 45 ACP. it’s slide retraction effort is 16 pounds. YOu learn to grasp the slide by the rear site with all 4 fingers and thumb of the left hand, and shove your right hand forward and then let go of the slide! Keep your left hand on your chest so you don’t blow a few fingers off of it.
    The secret. Well, I went to a rhemetologist (arthritis) doctor and he prescribed plaquenel (aka hydrochlorquine usuallly a malaria drug) and it allowed me to get some grip back. Buy some of those soft silicone rubber balls to squeeze with your hands a few times a day and you will be back in business.
    Good Luck.

  12. Just talk to EMT’s who routinely have to handle gunshot victims. Mostly the ones shot in the chest with small caliber weapons like 22LR and 32ACP are taken to the hospital to be patched up and the ones shot in the chest with 9mm and 45acp etc. are taken to the morgue!

  13. They are referred to as cop killers, also hitting that I was in infantry Marine and Marksmanship instructor I know a lot about ballistics, I know a lot about 5.56 as well as a lot of other arms they’re designed to be fired in a series of two to three rounds Center Mass which creates this shock wave effect between the two impacts and when those shock waves collide they would tear more internally than the rounds themselves. Also I’d recommend not hollow point if you’re going to go 22 just for the fact that we want them to penetrate and then bounce around in there more so than fragment on the surface or just beneath the skin best case scenario it would bounce off the back side and Ricochet around. I’ve seen the Damage Done by AK rounds, and I saw the exact same wounds done by 5.56. The 5.56 actually did a lot more damage even as they both went through and through then the AK. Due to strenuous circumstances if you were in that situation where you needed a gun I would still suggest aiming Center Mass for at least a few rounds then switch to that T box on the Head.

  14. The gun you will better then the one you will not. I carry a seacamp 32 in document pocket of 5.11 shirt it’s always there with me. In Texas summers it’s a great option.

  15. I understand that something is better than nothing but with the options with modern slides and magazines such as the m&p shield EZ as the best known, it is a lighter shorter more easy to conceal firearm than any 22 WMR on the market. As far as dependability neither the rimfire cartridge or the firearm are very dependable. I’ve seen temperature and humidity cause any 22 firearm to malfunction. You can get a good lot of 22s were nothing goes wrong and you can get another lot where 8 out of 10 don’t fire. Even worse you can get that one out of about 5000 that squibs loads. You can talk about effectiveness all you want. Go get a steel target shoot it with that WMR shoot it with a 9 mm and shoot it with a 45 The sound will tell you which one is most effective. It amazes me some of the opinions on defense such as a 380 is just as good as a 9 mm because it’s the same diameter it’s just a little lighter and not as fast, yet you can comment to that same person I think I’ll use 762×39 to go deer hunting because it’s the same diameter as a 30-06 it’s just a little lighter and it’s not as fast and they’ll call you an idiot. Then they will explain to you that yes it will kill the deer but you’ll have to track it down where it’s not going far after being hit with a 30-06 if both shots were equally well executed. If I’m defending myself or my family I’m not worried if the person dies or not I really hope it’s be a life-changing event I just want them to stop and I want them to stop quick if I’ve had to make the decision to pull the trigger. Now a 22 WMR might be great for a criminal because it’s enough to threaten anybody it’s not going to make as much noise when it’s fired so they can leave you lying there slowly bleeding to death because they ain’t calling the cops like you would if you shot up perpetrator. As a matter of fact the point blank shot into a human body may work to muffle the sound similar to a suppressor I doubt the blast would even pass 95db. Which brings me to my next point. Police officers that have unfortunately had experiences with shootings when switching from the 9 mm to the 40 back to the 9 will say that just because of either the blast or the sound it seems that people who are shot or shot at lose the fight and sometimes pass out because of the intensity. You can also look online and find several stories from military that’s been in close combat using again a 22 caliber although it’s 5.56 rifle round that have been shot at multiple times from opposition fire after they’ve been hit several times. Which is The reason behind the development of 458 socom. Although it was never used by our military the fact that they were developing because of the ineffectiveness of the 5.56 and the reason it was not adopted was because The bulk and the reliability. Although JSOC do use 300 ACC blackout In certain CQB operations because of the ineffectiveness of a 22 round even 55gn 3,200 ft per second. So my conclusion if the military can’t be effective with all of their training to take down an enemy before the enemy takes them down with a 22 caliber necked down rifle round why would you trust your life to a lighter slower less dependable round from a pistol? As a matter of fact the only reason why I can think of anybody suggesting this would be because the manufacturing cost is cheaper and even though the price tag on the firearm may be less the profit margin between the two is greater. So you can make more money.

  16. Rock Islands 22 TCM is another round to consider 1911 holding 17 rounds . Little to no recoil and if they’re close can act as a flame thrower.

  17. Watch the video from Mcarbo ( on the mods they make to the PMR30, it makes the gun amazingly reliable, it will put 30 rounds in the target in 15 seconds, he shoots it before and after the upgrades, you also learn a lot about the gun, Keltec will install the Mcarbo parts for you and does not affect the Keltec life time warranty.

  18. i’ll start by saying no one wants to get shot with anything. if i am looking at a .22 mag with double digit capacity, i will respect that every damn bit as much as a .45

  19. Grew up in MT shooting rifles thus not as ploished a pistol shooter yet. But PMR30 is the easiest pistol to shoot accuratly. Begineers are on the paper immediatly. And hell yes with 29 more rounds coming after the first flame throwing shot I could scare of multiples. I bet every shop employee still owns their PMR30 cause it makes you grin from ear to ear. Please go enjoy one!

  20. I love my Walther WMP .22 mag, but it is a large weapon, and as expensive to fire as any 9mm. For EDC I am much more happy carrying my Walther PPKs in.380 IMO these hi-cap .22mags are range-fun plinkers or back country open carry pieces…I do think I’m going to pick up the new S&W .22 mag model as well.

  21. I DO know that a 22mag will also out perform a slow moving round that has more kick/muzzle flip. 32acp is a round that comes to mind also 25acp, when i worked in emergency room a guy came it who was shot 7 times back of the skull, point blank. They were FMJ BALL rounds, all rounds followed the skull around to the forehead, not one penetrated, they were just under the skin and were cut out from the forehead area. It did knock the man out and caused alot of blood and mess. Ive tested 22mag on 1/8 in mild steel at 6ft and even 45deg angle it popped through, very impressive

  22. I agree David, “firearms are tools, pick the right one for the job and make sure you are proficient with it and skilled”. Words of wizdom from my grandpa, ive seen a 22lr drop a 2000 pound bull straight to the ground when we butchered, barrel right in the middle of the flat forehead . Like flipping a switch. I hunted all year around with a 22mag and ive seen it go completely through the chest hitting ribs and the heart of a large white tail buck over 100 yards… in pistol form ive done the same at distances of around 50 yards. I was raised in the mountains and waste not want not was the motto..when i hiked and stayed out for months or days i carried a snubnose 44 mag for protection, 22lr single shot for game. I have used a pistol to defend myself as a civilian 3 times. Once was a black bear that i had to scare away with a 1911, it was bumped by a vehicle and rolled down a large hill and landed 150 feet or so away, saw me and must have thought i had something to do with it. I was fishing in a very shallow stream . It took 2, 7 round mags to scare the bear enough to keep its distance while i made the walk a hundred yards back to my car. A 45acp wont penetrate much on a bear so shooting it was a last resort. I always carried 3 mags total…after that i aquired the 44mag snubnose. Point is I always carried a 1911 becouse i shot them competively and was very proficient but i was carrying it for 2 legged critter protection. I didnt have the proper tool for that job so i had to adapt. Adaptation is the key to survival. If your physical abilities limit you in some way then adapt. I can rapid fire a 5.7×28 or a 22mag putting 10rounds in a 6in ring at 30feet way faster then my 9mm m9, or my glock22 40, . I can tell you from my experience shooting starts and people run!, real life shooting you miss quite a bit after first round or so, people jump like rabbits and if they are shot they want to get away from the threat. In drills i have put 5 rounds center mass 6in, in .4 sec from a draw with my 22mag and 5.7. Thats devastating👍🏻.

  23. One last note regarding point of aim. You should definitely practice delivering hits to the face ; it and the gun hand are the only parts of your opponent’s body you are guaranteed to see throughout the gunfight!

  24. Read your article and all the comments. Only thing I can say is …”to each his own!” But make sure it’s enough! Short story…I’m a retired 100% disabled Veteran with 3 combat tours (Abn Infantry, 101st Abn..1st Bde) 1st tour in RVN, ‘67 &n “68, they allowed personal own weapons to be brought in. What a collection! Up in the Central Highlands around An Khe, many tunnels Our tunnel guy went into one with a 22. Mag…heard several “ping…ping” followed by much swearing (Abn Style). He quickly crawled out and asked for a .45 auto! Crawled back in and the loud “Boom…Boom” came out. He had two “Chucks and the biggest SNAKE” we ever saw! Story is “ use what is necessary””. Later on we used the 22 mag to open C Rations cans!

  25. When I carry, I have two. A 22lr Taurus or my Walther WMP 22 magnum. The Taurus I fire the fastest round I can get! The Walther I fire the Federal Punch 45gr, or the CCI A22, 35gr round.

  26. 22 mag for self defense? I have heard all the stories about why a 22mag shouldn’t be used. I carry a Kel-tec 22mag because it gets the job done. I do a lot of hog hunting. When you are pulling 150 pound hog from traps and they get a little rowdy sometimes you have to defend yourself. The 22mag is what I use. Well placed shot gets the job done. Just like any firearm Shot placement. The fact that there are 29 more rounds helps also.

  27. What do you think of a .32 acp, like the CZ82? Isn´t the .32acp a better option if I have some health issues?

  28. Many years ago on the range I had a police officer question why I was running defensive drills with my Super Blackhawk, suggesting I get a proper defensive handgun. I showed him my 1911 and replied “But I don’t carry this when I’m hunting with the SBH!”
    So the question really is, “Do you have to carry something else TOO if you already have your .22 mag?”

  29. Interesting article but I do take exception to his advice to aim for the head, specifically the bridge of the nose. This is a ‘kill shot’. Period. I always thought the idea of self defense was to stop a threat. If the threat dies from the wounds received, such is life. But when you are aiming for a spot that you know will result in death, this could play into the hands of an unscrupulous anti-gun DA looking to make a name for themselves.

  30. I just so happen to agree with the writer. Later built pmr’s (mine anyway) hasn’t the feeding issues properly loaded, and Mc Carbo kits improve even more.

  31. The 1911 never felt good in my hand; just too much grip circumference for my smaller than average hand, plus no allowance for a left handed shooter. The Kahr pistols ft my hand very well. As I age, they are getting harder to rack and 9mm recoil has begun to irritate my arthritis. I like my new LCP MAX, though I may try out one of the light rack 380’s that are becoming available.

    I’ve always liked snub nosed revolvers, but lightweight 38’s have much more recoil than a 9mm and I can’t comfortably carry a steel framed 38. I’ve started looking at lightweight 32 H&R magnums. I wish there were more choices available. If only Ruger had chambered the LCR in 32 H&R as well a 38. Yes, I know about the 327 Federal Magnum, but that’s larger and heavier. If only I could find (and afford) a S&W 32 magnum Airlite j-frame.

  32. As another “senior shooter”, but with a number of LEOs family members in the 60’s and 70’s, told Hitmen working for the Mob families back then would use a 22LR for their “hits”. Many LEOs back then were using a 38 revolver, including my father, and suffered because of the limited effectiveness of those police approved rounds. I got hooked on the “45” because they don’t make a “46” thanks to Col. Cooper. Now at 74, and with the better bullets available, a good 22 WMR in either a good pistol or revolver does make sense. Issues would be if that handgun works reliably, and can you hit what you are aiming at. Like the Hitmen of old, only a well-placed shot (head, throat, etc.) will be effective. Contrary to Biden, a poor hit with a 9mm often will be non-fatal. So – a modern 22 WMR round, with proper bullet placement, is only a poor choice because the 22 WMR round now costs nearly the same as a 9mm round.

  33. As an official old guy, gonna be 76 soon, I can relate. Here’s a couple of options to consider. I acquired a Taurus 942 stainless 22 mag with a 2 inch barrel from a pawn shop a few years ago. I don’t carry it, really not much on wheelguns, but it holds 8 rounds and seems reliable. Rock Island Armory also makes a series of pistols based on the 1911 but chambered in 22 TCM. This is a proprietary round from Armscor, meaning any ammo you buy has to come from them. It is a .223 case shortened and necked down to hold a 40 grain bullet. I have one of the early RIA FS models that is 9mm/22TCM. It has interchangeable barrels and recoil springs. With the 22TCM barrel the recoil spring is very light. The 22TCM smokes out of a 5 inch barrel at about 2,000fps and is extremely loud and a flame thrower. RIA makes a 17 round doublestack and a 10 round single stack. The ammo is pricey, but it can be reloaded.

  34. I now own 4 or 5 22WMR Semi Auto pistols, with Capacities of 15 to 30 rounds, and the new S&W M&P 2.0 , 30 round Capacity, is a good balance of firepower, magazine capacity, weight, and reliability..I have a Holsun 507 Green Dot sight on it..It has twice the Mag capacity as my Walther 22 WMR Semi Auto I bought 9 months before. I agree the the KelTEC PMR 30 has reliability issues, unless you use 50 grain ammo.However, the PMR 30 is hands down the lightest weight of them all, and is a delight to carry, weight wise. But the S&W 22WMR, is a close second at 23oz, I think, and equals the PMR 30 in mag capacity, at 30 rounds. All of my 22 WMR pistols throw a flame out the barrel 2 feet as well. Which is NOT optimal for Low light conditions, which could obscure a person’s Night vision, momentarily. These factors are all things to consider when choosing a 22 WMR pistol for Self defense.

  35. Several layered physical mechanics produce the dramatic differences we see from low velocity high mass pistol rounds to the lower mass high velocity rifle rounds. There are also fairly dramatic performance differences within certain criteria rifle round to rifle round. Any intermediate caliber rifle is going to deliver significantly more disruptive and damaging energy onto the target than a pistol caliber round. Your comparison of .224 bullet to .22 Magnum is way out in left field- 1400 versus 3000 fps. The 5.7 x 28mm is much stronger at 1800 fps over the Chronograph. Please consider your comparisons more carefully

  36. zetetic
    22 TCM actually about 150 fps faster than 5.7

    Just not many ammo types

    I consider the .22 Magnum at best good for game of about 35 pounds thats it.

    .32 or .380 Buffalo Bore maybe- or a .38 special standard pressure 148 rain wadcutter for low recoil.

  37. I am a big fan of the 22TCM. Rock island Armory makes some excellent 1911s in that caliber. Comparable to the 5.7 while being less expensive to shoot. They even make a double stack 1911 if you want higher capacity.

  38. I carry either a 9mm officers model or a Browning Hi-power as my edc, both are modified with Cylinder&Slide’s SFS system: put a round into the chamber by racking the slide once a day before leaving the house apply the safety which drops the hammer, your weapon is on safe, when you need to flick the safety off which cocks the hammer and the weapon is ready to fire, I also like the 22mag in a 1911 model

  39. Bob Campbell

    I’ve always wondered about why no rimless 22/22mag:)

    A cartridge which I thought made a lot of sense but gained no traction was the 32 NAA. It’s a 380 case necked down to 32. Similar to a 357 Sig. Higher velocities in this cartridge mean probable expansion for HP ammo albeit a smaller bullet in size and weight. Only one gun is made for that cartridge the 32 NAA. There were some barrel conversions out there for LCPs and such but expensive. I carry the LCP “mouse gun” and hollow points do not work like they should. I thought something like the 32NAA would solve that problem.

  40. Andrew

    Brilliant! A rimless .22 rimfire would be very easy to invent- just a few adjustments on the CNC machine. Very little change in the extractor– or magazine- would cure so many problems. And while they are at it also change the heel base bullet to crimped in like the .22 Magnum. I think that a .22 Super or something like that would make a great deal of sense. I hope Federal and S&W are listening!

  41. There are lots of good comments here that people that prefer to run a 1911 or similar in .45 but are hindered by the ability to grip and rack a slide. I will be in that group in just a few years myself. In that situation, you can also consider adding a common reddot site. With well-mounted reddot you can rack the slide by pushing the reddot with your palm. They are tough and can easily handle that pressure. They will keep their zero.

  42. .22’s have killed many people. A 22 magnum should be no less successful. There are some ez rack 9’s and 380’s on the market. I carry a 380 Ruger and do not feel undergunned that being said I carry monolithic fluted ammo (68 grain 1300 fps) as HPs in 380’s are prone to either over penetrate or under penetrate. The question is with so many 22 semi auto rifles and pistols on the market and now 22 magnum semi autos why no rimless rimfire ammo. The rim interfering with feeding is usually the cause of stoppages.

  43. @David, as someone who has seen too many GSW patients to count, I would posit that before you decide if the .22 Magnum is legitimate for self-defense, you owe it to yourself and your readers to talk to some of your local law enforcement officers asking them about good self-defense rounds for the average citizen on the street. More than anyone else out there, the local constabulary has probably seen more people who have been stopped with a handgun than anyone, including those in your local EMS or ER. Much of what I have based my comments and thoughts concerning the inadequacy of certain calibers is based on what my local law enforcement officers had seen (and found to be lacking) when it came to meeting (or not) the expectations of the carriers of said caliber.

    I would ask the officers how many gunshot victims they have seen and what calibers that officer has seen that did not do the job. By not doing the job, I mean did the selected caliber take the assailant out of the picture or did it irritate him enough that he severely injured or killed the shooter. I would consider the caliber a failure if when shot the shootee kills or injures the shooter, just saying.

    Now if an officer says that he has seen a given caliber take someone down, the question to ask is how many times has he, or she, seen it work effectively. One time out of four or more is not a good sign. You have better odds flipping a coin. And ask, did that caliber prevent the shootee from hurting the shooter. Only if it was able to prevent injury to the shooter can it be considered to be a viable option. I would also suggest that if the weapon was not fired, there is no indication of its efficacy. For people who carry and think that flashing a gun at a possible assailant will provide protection, I ask what about if you need to actually use it as a weapon? There may be the perp that is unimpressed by the gun due to drugs, or alcohol he has on board. The time to discover the weapon will not perform the task at hand is NOT in the moment of need.

    I would also steer away from those calibers that the local cops have not seen used in a shooting unless it is one of the known performers. Otherwise, if it is a newer caliber that has not been widely used, carrying that weapon is just wild @$$ guess that it will work, no matter what the numbers say. I say that because the shooter many not have seen the numbers and in his drug infused state may not know he is supposed to be dead and continue to wreak havoc until (finally) there is no blood getting to his brain and he drops to the ground, leaving his shooter dead or severely damaged to the point of being permanently disabled.

    There is an old adage that the flashlight in the trunk is a storage compartment for dead batteries. Dead batteries in a flashlight correlates with a weapon a person carries that just pisses off an assailant if they are on drugs or really drunk. Neither one fulfills the function for which it was intended. Depending on the situation either of those can have a fatal outcome for the one using that tool, be it a flashlight or gun.

  44. I just started carrying the S&W 5.7×28 with 22 round mag. I don’t ( yet) have any issues with 9’s or 45’s, but I’am 62. Over all I find the gun very light, extremely accurate, and with the Holosun 507 red dot finding my target is easy and quick. I really like this gun and I find sturdy and it fits my hand perfect. I’ve fired the melted and it feels like a toy gun. The think with the 5.7×28 is the cost of the ammo is expensive at 1$ per bullet. ML

  45. Interesting article. Looks like an opportunity for small high capacity revovlers too. At my age I have issues racking a 1911 slide, without first cocking the hammer, or using some other alternative method, like the rear sight against a table or something solid. Which is why I would like to see the 1911 safety slide lock eliminated, or at least optional, like on the micro 9’s, so the 1911 can be loaded and unloaded with the safety ON.

  46. As a lifelong fellow Texan and 1911 devotee, and with just a few more years than you under my belt, I hear you loud and clear on all counts. Arthritic hands make for issues with grip strength, finger mobility, and so on. I can’t remember the last time I carried one of my beloved .45s, and so far I haven’t found a 9 mm that works well for me.
    Living in a rural area, the likelihood of self defense issues is different than in our major metropolitan areas. We have a couple of NAA .22 magnums for deep concealment, but I had not considered a .22 magnum for my primary EDC. You’ve given me some things to think about.
    The Rock Island XTM is of great interest, as the short single-action trigger of a 1911 is easier than any of the double-action ones. I wonder if they are considering, or might consider, something in an Officers size in .22 magnum – that would be ideal, IMNSHO.
    Keep up the interesting columns!

  47. I have owned both pistols mentioned in this article and my opinion is that the XT22 is by far the better weapon. The PMR 30 has a much larger magazine capacity but there are too many failure to feed or eject. It needs 50gr rounds to function reliably. Often had to only load 20 rounds to avoid these issues, even with 50gr bullets. No such issues with the XT22 loaded with 14 rounds per manufacturer directions.

  48. I am a retired Marine and a Concealed Weapons Instructor in NC. I tell me students to carry the most powerful gun that they can continuously hit the bullseye with. A .22 to the forehead or hear, beats a .45 ACP to the finger all day long.

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