Firearms

The 10 Best .22 Pistols

Taurus TX22 semi-automatic pistol with a supressor

I love shooting .22s. I also love sharing my .22s with friends and family. We’re truly blessed by the U.S. shooting industry’s contributions in .22 caliber to the world of shooting sports. In this article I’m covering 10 of the .22 pistols I believe to represent the best the industry has to offer.

TaurusTX 22 / TaurusTX 22 Compact

Taurus set a new standard in .22 pistols with the TaurusTX 22; a standard quickly followed by Glock and SIG Sauer. The standard was to create a .22 pistol that looked, felt, and shot like a centerfire caliber pistol. More importantly, it loaded like one.

TaurusTX 22 semi-auto handgun, right profile
Taurus broke new ground with the TaurusTX 22, a .22 semi-automatic that faithfully replicated a centerfire handgun in loading and operating characteristics.

I’m listing the full-size TaurusTX 22 and the Compact TaurusTX 22 together here because they are the same in operation. The compact version has a shorter barrel and grip, and therefore, lower capacity. It also has a slide cut to accept a red dot sight. In fact, Taurus offers some models of the Compact TaurusTX 22 with a Riton red dot sight mounted.

My Compact TaurusTX 22 has a Crimson Trace red dot mounted. These guns are available in several colors, with or without a manual safety, and with or without a threaded barrel. The full-size model weighs 17.3 ounces, is 7.06 inches long, 5.44 inches high, and measures 1.25 inches wide. It has a 16-round magazine, with 10-round models available for states where there is a limit.

The Compact model weighs 16.3 ounces, is 6.7 inches long, 4.9 inches high, and 1.25 inches wide. Magazine capacity for the Compact is 13 or 10 rounds. These guns both have a big, wide trigger that is smooth as silk. The magazines on Taurus 22s load like centerfire magazines. Both of my guns have a threaded barrel and manual safety. They’re not ammunition particular, which is delightful since some .22 semi-automatics are very ammunition particular. Prices for both sizes run right around $300 or slightly less.

Glock G44

Not long after Taurus released its TaurusTX 22, another revolutionary .22 pistol came out of Georgia. This one came from the Glock factory. The Glock 44 is the same size as the ever-popular Glock G19 and is configured just like my G19 Gen 5.

Glock G44, .22 LR handgun, left profile
The Glock G44 is essentially a rimfire version of the Glock 19. Some of the best .22 pistols offer a good training platform to mimic your defensive firearm.

It’s a bit lighter but comes with the same interchangeable backstraps as the G19. The size is 7.28 inches long, 5.04 inches high, and 1.25 inches wide. Weight is a mere 12.6 ounces. The magazine on the G44 loads like centerfire magazines and holds 10 rounds. Owning and shooting a G44 is one of the best ways to practice shooting a Glock G19. My G44 works with a wide variety of .22 ammo. These are selling for slightly less than $500.

SIG Sauer P322

SIG followed on the heels of Taurus and Glock to make a .22 that seems like a 9mm. This one has a higher capacity, though — up to 21 rounds. The slide is optics-ready, and the barrel is threaded. Configuration of the P322 is similar to that of the P320.

An interesting feature you don’t see elsewhere is an interchangeable trigger shoe. The trigger on the P322 can easily be changed from curved to straight. I have mine configured with a straight trigger. It has a very light trigger pull.

SIG Sauer P322, .22 LR semi-automatic pistol
SIG Sauer got on the bandwagon of producing .22s that faithfully replicated its centerfire models with the SIG P322.

This pistol is almost identical to the TaurusTX 22, and the Glock G44 in size and weight. All three of the guns I’ve mentioned so far are a delight to shoot. They are very similar in handling.

KelTec P17

Nobody can throw a lightweight, fun gun together better than KelTec. There’s a 33-round bigger brother to the P17, but for all-around inexpensive fun, ease of handling and ease of carry, the P17 takes the cake. The P17 weighs less than 14 ounces fully loaded, is less than a hand’s breadth long, and handles delightfully.

KelTec P17 .22 LR semi auto gun, right profile
The KelTec P17 is lightweight, easy to load and shoot, and lots of inexpensive fun!

The P17 is ambidextrous (except for the slide stop), has a threaded barrel, and a Picatinny accessory rail, comes with three 16-round magazines, and sells for less than $200. This little pistol is a tack driver with an excellent trigger, fiber-optic front sight, and adjustable rear sight. You can shoot it all day long, building your skills as you do.

GSG FireFly

Built by German Sports Guns and imported by American Tactical, the FireFly was previously in this country as the SIG Sauer Mosquito. I experienced feed issues with my Mosquito. However, the FireFly has a spring set for the high-velocity rounds and another one for standard rounds.

I tend to leave the high-velocity spring in and shoot CCI Blazer, CCI Mini Mag, or Remington Golden Bullet ammunition. The FireFly is a sized-down version of the SIG Sauer P226. The safety and slide lock are ambidextrous, and the mag release can easily be turned around.

The FireFly has a little weight to it (24.6 ounces) as the frame and slide are both made of a zinc alloy material. It’s not a big gun, being 7.2 inches long and 5.3 inches high. It has standard three-dot sights and a threaded barrel. Mine is brown. I’ve seen it in pink, purple, and black — all for slightly less than $250.

GCG Firefly .22 LR scaled down SIG P226 handgun
Made by German Sports Guns and imported by American Tactical, the Firefly is a .22 caliber scaled down version the SIG P226.

GSG 1911

Another German Sports Gun that American Tactical has brought us is the 1911. I’ve used several of these in my training classes over the years. They function well and are available in several different finishes. My gun is black with polished stainless-steel side. It came with black rubber grips, but I put some black and white G10 grips on it, and it’s a beauty.

Shooting 1911s is special to me anyway, but to be able to bang away with no recoil and inexpensive .22 ammo is really a blast. The barrel is stamped .22LR HV, and if you stick with high velocity .22 ammo you can shoot trouble-free.

.22 caliber GSG 1911 pistol, right profile
This .22 caliber GSG 1911 is faithful to the centerfire 1911 in both operation and in takedown for cleaning.

Ruger SR22

A few years ago, my wife and I competed in a couple’s shooting league, and we used a pair of Ruger SR22 handguns as our primary handguns for the weekly events. What delightful little pistols! I say little, because they are small. Hers is black; mine is lavender. What? That doesn’t meet your stereotype? A guy can like colored guns, too.

These are small, hammer-fired pistols. The SR22 weighs 17.5 ounces, is 6.4 inches long, and 4.9 inches high. It is less than an inch thick. There is an external hammer with a rounded spur for easy cocking and single-action shooting.

The double-action trigger pull is light, and the single-action pull is light and crisp. The frame is made of polymer and comes with two interchangeable, rubberized grips, with angled serrations to allow shooters to select either a slim or wider palm swell option (no tools required).

Ruger SR-22 with a pink lower, left profile
The Ruger SR-22 is the perfect size for a small lady or a child to operate comfortably. The author likes to shoot it, too.

The aerospace-grade aluminum slide has serrations on both the front and rear for better grip and slide manipulation. The dovetailed, high-visibility, three-dot sight system has a fixed front and a rear sight that is both windage- and elevation-adjustable.

A reversible rear-sight blade allows shooters to select two white dots or a solid black blade. There is a Picatinny rail up front for accessories. An inspection port allows for visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber.

The manual safety/decocking lever is an ambidextrous manual thumb safety/decocking lever as is the magazine release. The SR22 is easy to field strip. Two 10-round magazines are included along with two extended finger grip floorplates.

Browning 1911-22 Black Label

I believe John Moses Browning would be really proud of what the company that carries his name has done in this 85%-scale 1911 for use with .22 ammunition. For shooters with small hands, or who are recoil-sensitive, this is an excellent choice.

Browning Black label 1911 Commander, right profile
Browning’s 75%-scale 1911s in Government and Commander versions are available in multiple color schemes. It is a delight to shoot.

The gun features an alloy slide with anodized gray finish, rear cocking serrations, and a composite frame with stippled, laminated wood grips. Present on the grips is the Browning Buck Mark logo. This is a gun that is almost as much fun to hold and admire as it is to shoot.

This baby 1911 is 6.875 inches long with a 3.625-inch barrel. It has a 10-round magazine, extended ambidextrous manual thumb safety, 3-dot sights, and extended slide release. It is built for plinkin’, and admiring. These are available in several color and grip combinations. They are usually priced somewhere between $600 and $700, depending on the color and grip combination.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45

There are several Mark IV models. All are a modernization of Bill Ruger’s original pistol. I picked the 22/45 to represent the Mark IV pistols because it is the most common and affordable. They are usually priced a little under $400.

The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 rimfire pistol features a 5.5-inch bull barrel, fully adjustable target sights, and a lightweight, polymer, 22/45 grip frame that matches the grip angle of the 1911-style pistol. Like all Ruger Mark IVs, the 22/45 features one-button disassembly, an ambidextrous manual safety, and comes with two drop-free magazines.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 .22 LR semi-auto pistol, right profile
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 has a grip angle that mimics a 1911.

Internal cylindrical bolt construction ensures permanent sight-to-barrel alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving slide designs. The contoured ejection port, and easy-to-grasp bolt ears, allow for durable and reliable operation, round after round. The sighting system features an adjustable rear sight and a drilled and tapped receiver for a Weaver- or Picatinny-style rail for the easy mounting of optics.

The ambidextrous manual safety can be converted to left side-only, if desired. The Mark IV 22/45 weighs 34.4 ounces and is 9.75 inches long. It comes with two 10-round magazines.

S&W M&P Compact

Smith & Wesson builds a .22 that is the spitting image of its full-size M&P pistol. It also makes a compact model that I really enjoy shooting and sharing. Ideally suited for training or target shooting, this semi-automatic, compact pistol maintains standard M&P pistol-design features. It also includes a few extras.

Smith & Wesson compact M&P .22 LR handgun, left profile
Smith & Wesson’s compact .22 does the M&P line proud as its smallest member.

It comes with a sound suppressor adapter kit that contains the installation tools and thread protector. Two magazines are included. It has a Picatinny accessory rail. It weighs 31.6 ounces, is 6.67 inches long, 5.03 inches high, and tapes out at 1.48 inches wide. The sights are three-white dots. The street price typically hovers around $375.

Are you a .22 LR pistol fan? Which model is your favorite? Share your answers in the Comment section.

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 (34)

  1. Good article. I have a High Standard, Olympic Citation. Unfortunately I don’t have the original barrel. They were chambered for 22 shorts, used in the Olympics. It was my fathers. He sold the the original since he had no use for it. It would be pretty valuable today. Stil the gun is a keeper and has history. It was stolen once, used in an robbery, and recovered. Bought a Sig Mosquito. JUNK! Any 22 that requires only premium ammo is worthless in my book. That defeats the main reason most of us shoot and buy 22s. Would love to have a new Ruger Hunter, but can’t justify the price.

  2. Since the 1970’s, at least half for my gun collection has always been .22’s. I love them, and my children have loved them. I won’t include all the .22lr Revolvers I have owned in my comments here, just the .22lr pistols.

    My semi-current favorites have been: the classic S&W Model 41 albeit heavy for a now senior citizen female, Sig Arms “Trailside” (totally underrated super accurate nail driver) that has run any ammo I feed it, Sig Sauer 938-22( actually this Sig has also run flawlessly, ate any .22lr ammo I have feed it, and even though it is a pocket gun, it is quite accurate, and did I say FUN FUN FUN to shoot).

    My current newly released .22’s are the Ruger LCP II Lite Rack (another super fun pocket .22lr pistol; especially for senior citizens or others with medical issues that restrict their ability to rack a slide effortlessly),the full size Walther Colt 1911 Rail-Gun in .22lr (they have two other 1911 full size models all with 5 inch barrels, and finally the FN 502 Tactical .22lr pistol. It is the latter .22, that I would select as a Self-Defense or Home Defense pistol if I could only manage the recoil of a .2lr.

    There is nothing to dislike about the FN 502. I have a large selection of different “self-defense” (as marketed) .22lr ammo, and a large selection of target/plinking .22’s. I have yet to find ANY .22lr ammo that my FN 502 does not run flawlessly.

    You want a threaded barrel, check; a rail for lights/lasers. check; suppressor height iron sights, check; slide cutout for a micro dot, check (actually four different cutouts all with rear iron sights); large capacity magazine (15 + 1), check; then the FN 502 is your .22. I also love the trigger, the reset, the checkering, the ergonomics, and the ease of operation.

  3. I have several 22 pistols. There are two I really enjoy. The Ruger mark iv has upper and lower picanelly rails from the factory with a threaded barrel. Very fun to shoot . I put a red dot scope and a suppressor on it and can shoot it all day long with any ammo. The other is my Walter p22 with red dot laser and I bought the threaded barrel for my suppressor. Once broken in after about 1000 rounds of CCI ammo it does not jam and can feed any ammo through it now. My grandsons love shooting it suppressed. I really don’t care for my kal tech 22 very much just a higher capacity magazine is the only thing I like. Thanks for the article.

  4. I have a Taurus TX22 and love it. It is lightweight, a garbage mouth (NOT ammo sensitive), easy to field strip, easy to rack the slide with arthritic hands, and very accurate. I wouldn’t mind picking up a TX22 Competition model.
    I had the Glock G44 and was extremely disappointed with it. Sold it after my second trip to the range with it. In order to properly depress the blade safety I had to shift my grip. This would have been dangerous with a 9mm or especially a .45ACP. It was quite ammo sensitive. Most brands/loads had failures to feed, fire, and eject. Of the three loads that would feed, fire, and eject without problems, groups were no less than 2.5″ up 6″. Shooting was done from a rest.
    I haven’t used any of the others so I can’t make comment on them BUT I would like to at least try, if not buy, a Ruger Mk IV Standard with 4.75″ barrel (not the 22/45). After handling a couple of them I noticed that the Mk IV had the same balance and lines as my 1964 production Ruger RST4 Standard with 4.75 barrel. What impressed me most about the Mk IV was the single button takedown. A definite improvement over my old RST4.
    I mentioned earlier that my TX22 is very accurate. Of all the .22LR pistols I’ve owned or fired, my Ruger RST4 is probably the most accurate I’ve fired, with the TX22 almost as accurate.

  5. Beretta mod 70S, 22lr. Bought it early 80’s, flew with it for years. 6,000+ rounds, still a pleasure to shoot. Sand, mud, snow and occasionally a salt water bath. But still my favorite! Interesting article, thanks!

  6. You left out the Beretta M9-22, flawlessly reliable and as accurate as a Ruger MK4 or better. I wouldn’t touch the Kel-tec offering with a 10ft pole, and GSG is of dubious quality. I would take the Taurus TX over either of those, and the Walther P-22 has overcome its earlier woes to be a very solid performer.

  7. I understand the frustration with .22 pistols that won’t feed, but I’ve found CCI Stinger ammo makes them all work, at least for me. Although I have a lot of .22 ammo on hand, when it comes to an outing with a .22 autopistol I always grab Stinger. The Firefly works fine with it. The Mosquito probably would, too, but I no longer have one to try it in.

  8. David, I do have an H&K 416 pistol. Don’t know why I left it off this list. Probably the most fun gun I have to shoot. The whole family enjoys it. I have a suppressor on mine and another piece of hardware that would make me a felon if I didn’t live in Texas, a brace that the Feds now say makes it a Short Barrel Rifle.

  9. My favorite 22lr is my Hammerli 280. Bought it many years ago and it was a two year debate before buying it. Now looking at getting a Pardini SP.

  10. Glock 44 has been great for a 22. I’ve had over 1000 rounds of various ammo through it so far. The only time it has acted up was with arms core ammo. Been flawless with cci and Remington!

  11. I like my Ruger weapons. I have a Stainless 10/22 with laminated stock, box stock, shoots like a dream. I have a Ruger Redhawk, stainless a bit to much now for my 72 year old arthritis hands but was a joy to shoot pins with, thousands of rounds and it just got better and better. I have a Stainless GP100 for home defense, haven’t shot it a lot but it does shoot well. So I guess you wouldn’t be surprised to learn I cherish my Ruger MK II. It stays in my go bag these days with many boxes of CCI Mini Mags for those “Just in case” times. I would like to get a Ruger 22 Revolver, double action of course. But not really interested in a new pistol but if I was it would be a Ruger MK and not a 22/45 either, sheesh. The MKII fits my hands like it was custom designed for me.

  12. All the new issued ‘modern’ 22’s written about are all great options, the GSG 1911in 22 sparks my interest being an avid gov’t model and colt commander .45 shooter. I must say my favorite 22 is my older 1950’s Colt Woodsman .22. I understand there is only a few of them still around. The feel of an all-steel pistol with a little weight behind it, a smooth trigger and slide produces supreme accuracy and virtually no recoil to speak of. Then again, at almost seventy I consider it lucky to have some of the old masterpieces from my youth to still enjoy. If any of you other enthusiasts spot one on the range, ask to try it out and you’ll experience a real pleasure of the past.

  13. I’m not really impressed with your listings. I have an Sig 322 which has been back to the factory twice for problems with feeding and light primer strikes. I also purchased the GSG Firefly after reading your review. It’s a piece of junk! I was hoping to really like the gun since it’s very accurate, when it shoots, and feels great in the hand. It’s also been back for multiple repairs. My very favorite .22LR semi-autos are my Beretta M9-22 and my FN 502. They both will eat any ammo, never fail to feed or eject, and fail to fire on the rare occasion of a bad round. Can’t believe you didn’t have either on your list.

  14. I vote RUGER! Years ago got my first 22LR, a HIGH STANDARD, and then years latter got the RUGER (Mk II). While the HIGH STANDARD was a great pistol, it is now a semi collectable. The current generation of the RUGER – Mk IV, would now be my first choice for a 22LR pistol. Only issue would be as to what barrel length to purchase.

  15. Follow up to some of your comments: 1) Majestic Arms of Staten Island makes retrofit kits for the Mark II and Mark III Ruger pistols that makes them come apart and go back together as easy as the Mark IVs. They advertise in pretty much every gun magazine out there. 2) Regarding the FireFly, it works fine with CCI Stinger ammo. 3) Regarding the Beretta 9-22 I’ve never shot one.

  16. There is nothing like shooting a .22 firearm, is there Mr. Freeman? I love my ,22 H&R 949 revolver but I have both the Ruger semi models you mention. My Mark III is a tack driver with any ammo, but my SR22 prefers the copper clad bullet or it may fail to cycle. I have replaced the return spring guide rod and it’s a tad better but still likes to misfire. Keeps me in practice on how to safely handle a misfire.I love the size of the SR22 and its feel in my hand. Thank you for your article.

  17. I have used .22 pistols for years and while your line up here is great, if I were to choose one, and only one of these brands,.. it would have to be ANY of the Ruger MARK series pistols. No .22 is more comfortable to handle and more accurate. I have owned one since I was 18 ( I am 65 now) and I have never had an issue with them. I cannot say how many thousands of rounds I have shot through these pistols and I love them. Taking one down for cleaning is a little bit of a chore, but once you get used to it, it’s like riding a bike.

  18. I have used Ruger heavy barrel rifles mark VI pistols and their breakdown rifles. All are quality and dependable. Can’t go wrong there.

  19. Lot of good choices in .22LR pistols these days, and .22LR pistols AND revolvers seem to be VERY popular right now. Any Ruger MK series is about as accurate as an out of the box pistol can be, and is basically the 10/22 of pistols. If you have one of the later versions of the Glock 44, well then its just a Glock, but a whole lot lighter. The later G44s just run and run, if you load the magazines per Glocks video. Some of the early G44s did have some issues but Glock will correct them if you give Glock a chance. Guess we will need a follow-up article on the 10 best .22 Revolvers? 🙂

  20. I have both a Sig-Sauer Mosquito (awful pistol) and a GSG Firefly (not much better, dont know why I bought it); and while I keep reading references to them both having a zinc or ZAMAK frame, the do not. Mi e both definitely have polymee frame.

    I also have a modern Beretta 92 variant in .22 lr that waa advertised as having a metal, zinc or ZAMAK frame, but actually has a polymer frame.

  21. Ruger Mark 3 Integrally Suppresed….
    What about rifles, do me one article on 22lr rifles, Meriden, Stevens, Hopkins & Allen, Mossberg, Savage, Win, Rem, Brown, Ruge, H&K, S&W, Sears, JC Penney, Montg Ward?!?!?!?

  22. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the High Standard and Colt .22 pistols of the past. I much prefer them to any of the newer crop. The fine Browning Buck Mark is still around but was not listed here.

  23. Sir:
    I always enjoy your writings and like to add a few to your list. The first is a Ruger Standard that I got in like 1969 or sooner that I put so many rounds through it I couldn’t tell you the trigger pull was so bad you didn’t know when it was gonna go “Bang”. The beauty of it, I got so good with it, I qualified for the US Army and the OSU pistol team. The Sargent said it was the trigger on “that pistol” that made me so good. He did give me an S&W-41 which I used for two years. That would be my second recommendation. The third would be a Walther PPKL which was a little finicky on ammo but sure was handy in camping thrips! I also had some TPH’s in blue and stainless but you had to find the ammo it liked!!!? Just thought I’d share.

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