New Respect for the Humble .22LR


June 5, 2010, 08:08 PM
At the range today (just a country farm with deep woods), my friends and I did a lot of run-and-gun, tactical type simulations with handguns, shotguns and rifles. Lots of quick draws, moving, reloading, 2-6 targets per run, and distances from 2 to 40 yards.

It was a lot of fun.

But here's what I didn't expect:

My friend just got a .22LR conversion kit for his AR. I dare say that thing was scary and deadly! Because of the nearly non-existent recoil, we were all able to put 4 or 5 head-shots, or a seriously tight group of body shots, at any of those distances, in the time we could have given maybe 2 good shots with our other weapons. And we had the mag capacity to make it work. Same time in the runs, and more holes (and more accurate holes).

The sheer control we had just blew me away. I still wouldn't advocate it for home defense, police or military. But good gracious, it can hold its own!

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Shadow 7D
June 5, 2010, 08:15 PM
actually, consider that you are shooting .22 lr at lower speed, pushing 25-40 grn, vs .223 at high speed pushing 45-60 grn, for most close in target practice, .22 is very cost effective.

June 5, 2010, 08:17 PM
We all know it's a cost-effective training tool.

I'm saying it actually borders on being an adequate threat-stopper (if wielded in a high-capacity carbine by a competent shooter).

Of course, I would not advocate anyone using it instead of the .223 in this case....but if you're stuck with it, you still aren't in a bad spot.

June 5, 2010, 08:37 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // I respect the .22 greatly even the pistol.
12 shots of Federal bulk as fast as possible fifteen feet, each shot starting at low ready.

I'd say that would be a belly full.
I used this in my CWP class for the very reasons the OP mentions.

June 5, 2010, 11:25 PM
For years the only gun I owned was a Ruger Mark 2.
I felt comfortable using it as protection.
Putting a couple of rounds into an eye socket would allow me time to get away.
I still practice with it a lot.

June 5, 2010, 11:50 PM
When I took EMT training, one of the paramedics teaching the class told me that he has seen people shot 5-7 in the torso with a .45 and live just fine, but he's also had people who took one shot from a .22 and didn't make it.

Am I saying that a .22 is more deadly than a .45? well, yea... if the .22 is loaded and the .45 isn't. I would have no problem with carrying a .22 like a walther P22 or a small 7-shot snubby, but I'd prefer something in the .357 or .45 family.

June 6, 2010, 01:37 AM
There was a case here in Lexington some years back where a woman in a parking garage was assaulted by her estranged husband. She had her father's Ruger Mk 1, and dumped a 10 round magazine at him at distances the ME estimated from 10 to 30 feet. She hit him with 9 of the 10 shots. She ran inside the hotel and called the police. The ex was DOA at the hospital.

That was extraordinary shooting considering a garage full of cars and a man ducking and weaving, but the .22 did get the job done.

Stopping power is important, but it's no substitute for accuracy.

Also, the .22 Magnum may be the most overlooked small defense round available.

Anyone who has ever shot chucks with a .22WMR rifle will testify to the mess that cartridge can make of flesh and bone.


June 6, 2010, 05:47 AM
yes i know.i do a lot of practicaltactical shooting with my ruger mkIII

the splits are so small its frightning and my QuadTaps are literally hole in hole up to 10 yards :D

but i would still prefer my arsenal ak over a .22 anyday if the **** would hit the fan.

June 6, 2010, 06:14 AM
My mom was looking for a home defense gun and asked me for advice. I knew she needed something that needed little to no maintenance and was very reliable and simple to use. Something that she could "point and click" in an emergency. I actually considered recommending a .22LR pistol; even if it doesn't kill them, I doubt anyone is going to continue an attack after taking a few .22s to the upper body.

But since it's a rimfire cartridge, I had reliability concerns; aren't rimfire cartridges more likely to be duds? I ended up telling her to get a .38 instead.

June 6, 2010, 09:19 AM
I ended up telling her to get a .38 instead.

That was a good call. I bought my Mom a S&W airweight (hammerless, ultralight alloy). It's as reliable as it gets and she can shoot it comfortably. I handloaded a box of .38 specials (not +P) using Winchester Silvertips in front of a medium velocity/lower recoil load. I wanted a load she felt comfortable shooting that would still be an effective attack stopper.


June 6, 2010, 09:45 AM
i love 22's id say there effective i can put 25 rounds from a 10/22 into an 8 1/2x11 sheet in a couple seconds without much fuss and jams can usually be cleared with little effort

Taurus 617 CCW
June 6, 2010, 09:54 AM
With the exception of price, that was the idea behind the FN P90 PDW.

June 6, 2010, 10:06 AM
One of the surgeons I worked with at a hospital in the DC area told me of a patient that was hit in the stomach with a 22 hollow point. On impact the ball broke up into three pieces causing incredible damage. Forty two holes in the small intestine, three in the stomach, six in the large intestine, damage to the lungs and several other organs. One piece of the ball was found in the stomach, the second in the left clavicle and the third resting on the pelvis.

The patient was in intensive care for over three weeks and hospitalized for two months at taxpayer expense. (I was told it was a self defense situation.)

The .22LR may be small, cheap and considered a 'kids gun' but it is capable of causing massive damage to the human body.

June 6, 2010, 10:43 AM
Watching someone capable train tactically with a rifle is kind of scary in terms of its inferences to personal defense. This is essentially LEO, SWAT, and military special forces tactical training which has been brought into the civilian arena because it's popular.

However, this is an offensive use of a firearm. They say that the best defense is a good offense. Probably true. But I doubt in a US court the defensive aspect would win over the overt offensiveness of the approach. Afterall, you could simply choose not to engage the perp or "enemy" and walk away. You are not going to defensively attack a building full of perps. This is police business. You would likely already be inside the building, your home or business.

Aspects of the training have very good application to defensive use of a firearm. The training helps to teach you in enemy recognition, disipline, protection, quick target acquisition, quick reloads, and efficiency of dispatching a target. So the training is applicable to defensive scenarios. The "battle" would be over in seconds in a normal criminal defensive scenario.

This brings us to the 22LR. It is very applicable to a training, I think. In all likelihood, shooting 25 rounds into a fist sized target area is not going to happen. The objective is to take out the perp and render the situation safe for you and your loved ones, not necessarily kill them. This brings us to the utility of using larger caliber firearms as in all likelihood, fewer rounds would be needed in a defensive scenario to take out the threat.

The 22 is much more useful than most give it credit for home defense. I personally would feel perfectly safe using a Ruger 10/22 or Ruger Mark II/III handgun to defend my home. The compactness of the rifle makes it a very good pointing firearm for quick reasonably accurate shot placement even when simply pointing the rifle versus shouldering it and aiming in the traditional sense. Shooting instinctively is not that difficult with a carbine sized rifle. I do believe a semi-auto 22 rifle would more than hold its own as the OP said.

You're better off in my opinion with a handgun for typical scenarios, but the rifle or shotgun is quite effective when it is used in an environment that makes it practical. Again, it is not likely that the "fire fight" is going to last more than a few seconds unless it is a mob/gang that has entered your home intent on doing harm.

June 6, 2010, 12:09 PM
.22 Rimfire,

IF I follow your post (I'm a little hazy on some of your reasoning) you argue that a shooting involving a .22 rifle might be tougher to sell to a jury as self-defense.

I'll offer two thoughts:

1. Many self-defense cases involve homeowners facing intruders in the house. I find it very believable that a homeowner facing an intruder in his house might pick up a .22 rifle to defend himself. It wouldn't be my first choice, but if I were facing an intruder in my home, I'd use anything I could get my hands on, including the family cat.

2. A lot of folks still live out in rural areas. When I walk the back areas of my property I take a rifle. If I were to run into trouble with trespassers or poachers I'd much rather have the rifle than a handgun in the open spaces.


June 6, 2010, 01:04 PM
KY Rifleman; we agree. My points, however cloudy, are that you are unlikely to shoot 25 rounds into a human without a judge finding something amiss. But I go on to say that I feel perfectly comfortable using or keeping a 22 whether it be a rifle or handgun for home defense. There are better choices, but more people probably have 22's than larger caliber rifles or handguns. The round count might be important, but I'm no attorney or judge. It is a consideration. It is one of those things you deal with after the fact as best you can. The first consideration is self preservation.

I would also prefer to have a rifle if I ran into trespassers, poachers, or drugies as they are much more lethal in 22LR than a handgun. I doubt you "patrol" your property, so that having a 22 rifle in hand is incidental to walking around on your property. The likelihood of having to actually shoot at someone is small, I think, even in KY. (I used to live in rural SE KY.) A verbal warning is probably all that is necessary in most cases. If they want to shoot at you, you have the means to shoot back. Things can get darn unfriendly if the right conditions align together.

My point about the tactical training is that it is primarily offensive training geared toward military and police. But many of the techniques are applicable to defensive use of firearms and a 22 such as the OP used might be useful. A 223 might be a bit more useful in a worst case.

The OP's shooting sounded like a lot of fun by the way. I was thinking that I would have liked to have shared in the experience.

June 6, 2010, 01:14 PM
My points, however cloudy, are that you are unlikely to shoot 25 rounds into a human without a judge finding something amiss.

Okay, that's clearer to me. I guess if I were questioned about the number of rounds I poured into a target, I'd have to cite instances where trained police officers have dumped whole magazines into suspects during firefights. I'm not even trained in any formal sense :D


June 6, 2010, 03:32 PM
From personal experience, the .22 LR can penetrate 16 inches of human muscle, and after 42 years I still have the scars to remind me.

June 6, 2010, 04:10 PM
From personal experience, the .22 LR can penetrate 16 inches of human muscle, and after 42 years I still have the scars to remind me.
That sounds like an "interesting" story.

June 6, 2010, 05:06 PM
As a retired officer of the law, in 20 years I've seen more people killed with a .22 then anything else. Shotguns were second.

As far as shot but lived, I don't recall all of the calibers but there were some 22s that bounced of a shoulder blade or two.

June 6, 2010, 05:44 PM
Wasn't it the concept behind the 5.56 x 45?

June 6, 2010, 06:27 PM
When speaking to the power of the .22, I always reference a little test I did to see if there was any difference between round nose .22 cartridges and hollow points. I noticed a lot of the .22 LR bullets had an incredibly shallow depression in the nose, which I figured would translate to very poor expansion/explosion (for lack of a better word).

For the record, it was the Remington Thunderbolt bulk .22LR. Not exactly high-performance stuff.

So I filled two aluminum cans with water and set them on a fencepost. I shot the first one with a round nosed bullet. The entry hole was ~1/4 to 3/8 in. in diameter and the exit was ~ 1/2 in. in diameter.

The second can was shot with a hollow point .22LR with a light depression making the distinction. I don't think it was even a millimeter deep. I shot the can from about 25 feet away out of an 18 in. barrel. It blew the can into about fifteen shards with the top of the can and the bottom barely holding the scraps together. At fifteen years of age and with limited shooting experience - the result left me slack-jawed and wide-eyed...surprised to say the least.

That was when I realized how much energy a traveling bullet carries in equatable terms - not to mention how important bullet choice is for its chosen role - even if it is only a .22LR. The un-scientific test added a significant amount of understanding to an already healthy respect of firearms and the reasons we should follow very strict handling rules.

I just kept thinking, "It's a .22LR for goodness sakes!" Translate that release of energy to a .30-06 or even a .30-30! When punching holes in paper all day and trying to make a comparison to a cartridge's effectiveness, I can see how people can get overly concerned with bullet diameter, etc.

It is also hard for us to grasp the difference in cartridge/bullet effectiveness when the only examples most of us see in person of something being shot are limited. Honestly think about how hard it is to measure how "blown up" a cantaloupe, apple, or a soda can get in terms we can see for ourselves.

But if you take a round like the .22LR, which garners little to no respect in the selection as a defensive round (due to the relative difference in energy to other selections) and conduct a demonstration such as this, you can help people understand the issue and choices in tangible terms.

If you are trying to get a good idea of how much energy a round carries, I highly recommend finding a farm or other piece of land you can shoot whatever you please vs. just paper. It is a very effective (and just as important - easily/cheaply done) demonstration for both new shooters and guys who have been around a while. It highlights the need to respect firearms, no matter if it's a squirrel gun or the latest hand-cannon. It also demonstrates the important of bullet choice, not just cartridge size.

I worry, since people are usually only reading/comparing numbers and other's opinions, their lack of personal experience limits the ability to make informed/effective decisions based on the information presented.

Therefore, most of the arguments presented in such threads are academic. We do not see, in clinical terms of tissue damage, the results of the other ways in which bullet energy is measured. It's all a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper or a web page. Therefore, we only have an abstract understanding of the issue at hand.

Not only is it abstract to us, but without seeing results in numerically significant examples, there are very few "experts" who can make informed choices and statements on the issue also with significant accuracy. I would think that the most respected and educated person would be a surgeon who has been through a war, has operated on an incredible amount GSW, and was able to compare that to the numbers we constantly pour over to select defensive cartridges and bullet types. Even then, he would probably only have a baseline which to compare to since most battlefield GSWs would be from the predominant cartrige of the enemy's choice.

We "have" to err on the side of severe overkill when choosing a handgun or rifle. The stakes are too high when considering a failure in the area of self-defence. I believe this is why most people do so, even if a .22LR is adequate enough to kill or maim someone to interrupt an attack in many situations.

June 6, 2010, 07:18 PM
Wasn't it the concept behind the 5.56 x 45?

Yep, and in those respect, the .22LR takes it even farther. But you lose out on too many other ends. But for maneuverability, quick/repeated accuracy with multiple shots, and expense, it can't be beat. There is more to the game than that, though.

June 6, 2010, 11:04 PM
I have absolute confidence in my ability to make a head shot with my Marlin 60.

June 6, 2010, 11:23 PM
Well if you really want to be impressed by "stopping power" try buying some blanks. Fill up your magazine, then shoot some styrofoam cups or whatnot at a few feet. And that's with no bullets!

June 6, 2010, 11:33 PM
I wouldn't use a .22LR weapon for defense unless I had to.

June 7, 2010, 12:08 AM
I have seen a couple of newstories recently describing homeowners who defended themselves with 22s, 2 of those involved one shot stops and fatalities. 22s are NOT toys.
Jeff Cooper: "First Rule of Gunfighting: Have a gun."
Elmer Keith responding to a reader asking about what Elmer considered a "mouse gun"-"Sure beats your fists."

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