.22 for home defense questions

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Mar 6, 2008
We own a .22 Mark III. We will eventually buy other guns, but I'm not very good with a handgun and until I improve my shooting skills she won't let me spend the money on something else. She is excellent with a handgun as she has been shooting since she was about 9 years old.

My question is if our house was broken into while we were home, where to aim with a .22? I know center of mass is what most people say, but will a .22 do enough damage? Go for the headshot? I'm not good enough to rely on that but she is(drew and made a head shot at 25yds on a target at the indoor range while the guy next to her was firing 454cassull(sp?)). Or is the skull to thick to be reliably penetrated by a .22? I just read a story about a woman surviving a .44 head shot. Or do we go with Ayoob said and aim for the genitals?

Thanks in advance for your advice. BTW, where I live the most likely burglar would be some stupid kid just doing it for kicks, and the mere sight of an armed homeowner would scare him off. The crime report in the paper is usually consists of people getting their cars keyed or something similar and that's about it.
I think more often than not, in the situation you envision, the mere brandishing of a weapon, or firing a shot anywhere, is enough to send most banditos running back out the way they came in. A determined home-invader,on the other hand.........
I'm think your concern should be less with your shooting skills and more with your (understandible) inexperience and stress during a situation like this. I would say, concentrate less on aiming for knee-caps,gonads or teeth, and as you said, go for center mass, then run behind a locked door and let those idiots make the next move. 99 out of a hundred, it'll be the hell outa there !!
Really hard question. My advise is to go center of mass and if the bad guy keeps coming then go for the head. The .22 has killed many people, however the goal is not necessarily to kill,it is to stop the illegal action that is taking place. The .22 is not the best choice as I think you know to accomplish that. So if you are not that good with a handgun have you considered a shotgun?
I'm going with AS MANY HITS TO CENTER MASS AS YOU CAN. No one here is saying that .22 is ideal, but ten hits are a lot better than one. With that pistol, you can learn to fire it quickly AND accurately. Try for 10 hits through center-mass. There are very good odds you will get a critical hit if you can shoot that many times. My dad has a Mk I that has no bluing left, still cranks through a ten round mag every single time.

And since you DO have it, and it IS cheaper than other guns to practice with, practice a LOT. I still use a lot of .22 for practice, I have a .22 kit for my 1911 that I use a LOT. I go to the range, I wince when I buy 200 rds of .45, then when I'm done with that, I switch out and shoot .22 until my hand is tired.

I would use the most potent ammo I could, probably either stinger or velocitor HPs.
I don't know; with a .22 I might go for stomach-waist hits rather than chest-head shots. A .22lr may not penetrate the rib cage but there's nothing to stop it hitting the stomach or kidneys (or cojones).

That said, go practice until your wife will let you buy a shotgun.

P.S. Know your state's laws on deadly force. If you've got the Castle Doctrine then you're fine with pretty much whatever; other states require a duty to retreat and I've heard rumors that Massachusetts may even require you to flee.
Like other people said, COM as many times as possible. The primary reason IMO to aim there is because if you don't hit the center you likely hit elsewhere. If you don't hit the head, you likely miss completely.

The problem with a 22, I feel, is that if you're justified shooting and killing it likely isn't enough gun. Worst case scenario, psycho with knife or gun coming at you it isn't going to stop fast enough. Period.

Others may get overly semantic and say you can never have enough gun, etc, but something toward the more powerful end of the spectrum seems like a much better idea and that's hard to get out of your head when you really start to consider the type of situation where you would need a powerful gun.

Since the wife or gf or whatever said your proficiency is the issue, why not just convince her to let you either get a 9mm carbine (Hi Point 995, kel tec sub2000, etc) or a Mossberg shotgun? The Maverick or Hi Point would be about $170, and the Sub2000 can be had for under 300; a decked out Mossberg 500 won't be more than $230. And generally speaking those options are a much better overall choice, because of ease of use and stopping power, than most handguns. (Don't anyone say "I'll put my 45 against a 9mm carbine any day"...you know what I mean)

So, why not just make it your goal to get a rifle or shotgun, then get good with the 22 and "earn" a nicer handgun? The handgun isn't very good for a defensive encounter at home, other than the fact that it can be put on the nightstand. Its only real advantage is concealability, and that's pretty much unnecessary at home, right?
Ditto on going center of mass and practicing a lot. I'm not an advocate of the .22 for defensive purposes, but at least you have fulfilled the first rule of gunfighting "have a gun". Check your local pawn shops and guns shows to see if you can find a serviceable pump shot gun for your next purchase. One with an 18" barrel is ideal. In my time as a Sheriff's Deputy I have found that the sound of racking the slide of a pump gun is usually enough to deter any further resistance. Plus when you have a shotgun in hand loaded with slugs or 00buck you don't have to worry if you have enough gun.
Welcome to THR.

Good of you to share honestly about your skill level, and willingness to take personal responsibility for your and your wife staying safe.
We all have to start somewhere, and this is perfectly fine with me, and others around here.

Where to shoot?
Previous replies I agree and respect, COM is fine.

However, allow me suggest and share some other things.

-Legal and political flavor in your area, i.e, duty to retreat or not?
Defending one's self and how your locale views doing so, with, or without firearms?
So get informed on all this.

You and your wife as part of securing the home (locks, lighting, etc.), and plans of action ( which should be practiced) should include communication.
One is to use code words to indicate if need if something is all right, or not all right.
i.e. she is carrying in groceries and BGs get the jump on her.
You asked if she needs any help, one code word informs you she is in serious trouble, and has a gun at her back, another informs you, everything is fine.

In dealing with persons under Doctors , and Physical Therapist Orders of "No Recoil" such as those with Osteo, Neck, Back, Shoulder surgery, or Detatched Retnia, here are some other things we suggest:

-Gun has to run and ammunition is very important with semi auto guns, as are magazines.
Feed, extract, repeat, and put projectiles where aimed, repeat.

Each gun is different, and it will tell one what it likes.
For your gun, two loads to test and verify, still have worked with others with a gun like yours is the Win X22LR ( .40 gr LRN) and CCI Mini Mags.

For sure know a good load works, nothing wrong with a plinking load that costs less monies. Federal and Remington bulk packs work for some.
Ah...forgot, of late, Remington's Golden Bullet, the 40 gr LRN is working like the Win and CCI load mentioned earlier.

-Shooting to Stop A Threat.

While COM is often suggested, the reality is, one may have to shoot at the largest target "Available".
BG might be partially covered, or hidden and COM , Head is not afforded, instead a knee cap, upper leg, groin area, throat...

Problem is, folks get "programmed" shooting flat, face on targets.
Reality is, most serious situations do not present one a flat, face on target, nor is the shooter going to be in the same shooting position at the range.

So, starting out, get one with the gun on face on targets.
Then turn that target at an angle to you.
Change angle the other direction.
These two changes will reveal how simple angles , change presentations.

Get something 3D ( three dimensional) a box, a old pillow, get a inexpensive stuffed animal, whatever.
Now pin/ attach targets to this.
Index cards, playing cards are inexpensive.
6" paper dessert plates work too.

Now shoot this 3D target angled to you, start close, then move out downrange.

Get some water pistols, just the plain vanilla ones , as near the size of your MKIII.

Now one needs to keep safety in mind, and the reality is, in a home situation, one does not stand all the time.

This "safe gun" is to practice retrieving, draw stroke, and shooting when sitting up in bed, kicked back in a recliner, sitting on the couch, lying on the couch, lying in bed.

One has to remember they have upper legs, knees, lower legs, and feet, in producing a gun, and getting it on target.
Water pistol is a good, inexpensive, serious training tool.
This "gun" ( blue ones preferred) are deemed serious training tools, and not to be played with , cutting up and flirting with the wife or her you.

Instill your brains, this blue gun, is a real training gun, and treat it as such.

I don't expect you to shoot water in the house, or on beds , sofa or chairs ( thought we have using tarps), so go outside, and sit in a chair, recline back, even lay down and shoot a 3 D target.

I am serious, we do this , as some folks sleep in a power assist recliner recovering from surgeries mentioned above.

Live fire:
Yes we really do have folks shooting out of recliners, kicked back, feet on the foot rest, and one has to get the gun up, and out, and the draw stroke not be where they shoot themselves in upper leg, knee, lower leg or foot.

WE shoot "lying in bed", "sofas".
Folks that have hip surgery, or other surgeries and are in these positions.
Expectant moms, kicked back in a chair, do this, because down the road, sleeping in chair, is easier than a bed.
That belly gets big, and is another factor besides legs and feet.

Just start slow, crawl, walk run, and you and the wife will be fine.

Too many folks over too many years have been where you are.
Over the years I and mine have assisted too many folks, with what I have shared.
Mentors did these same things before I was born, and all these things shared, still work.
I appreciate all the replies and advice. I understand a shotgun is the best possible home defense weapon. I wasn't asking about that. My question was more theoretical, if all you have at hand is a .22 pistol where do you point it?

I'm in the market right now for a .22 rifle so I can teach her to shoot a long barreled gun, that's what I grew up with. I'm great with rifles and shotguns, just not handguns. I eventually want to buy a .357. However at the moment I have a .22 pistol and that's it. So if it comes down to it....

Love this forum and all the great advice I've found here so far.
When you set out for that home defense gun you might want to consider THIS: http://www.taurususa.com/video/taurus-theJudge-video.cfm

Just a thought. The 45 Colt is softer in the recoil dept than a hot 357 magnum and just as lethal. Watch the video, it speaks for itself.

I also agree 1000% with what sm said. Myself, instead of COM I might adjust that to HIGH com and shoot as rapidly as I can while staying on target and perhaps letting the rounds walk their way up from the high chest plate to the throat and face, until I'm on the forehead aka the "cranial vault."
I have a MK II and for awhile it was my only handgun. I kept it loaded with CCI Stingers and did not really feel sorry for myself.

A word on Stingers. I was told by many, including a gunsmith, not to shoot hyper-velocity cartridges out of a .22 auto pistol. The gun is made for standard or high velocity rounds, not the more powerful hyper-velocity. That said...it will not hurt you to shoot 10 or 20 of them off, just to see how they fire. Then practice with high velocity rounds and keep the gun loaded with Stingers for home defense.

While the .22 is not the best gun for defense, we had an incident in my city about 15 years ago where a man invaded another's home. The resident shot the invader several times with a Ruger MK II. The invader was dead on the floor.
Ten 22LR rounds to the groin would be unpleasant. I have a S&W 617 ten shot and usually keep it unloaded. I've been thinking that I should probably keep it loaded just in case five 357s and seven 00 Bucks aren't enough.:D
my advice would be to consistently back up as far as possible from the assailant and fire center mass. .22 does not have a lot of "stopping power" and if the person has a knife or object they might be able to get to you before you can take them down... even better advice would be investing in a higher caliber.
I'd put as many COM hits as you can. .22LR is not ideal, but I can reliably put five .22 hits in a circle faster than I can put two 9mm hits. One of them is bound to hit something he needs.
Time of year is important, too. If it's in the winter and he's got several layers of clothing on, COM may be nearly useless.
Eeee! If a woman ever talked like that to me, I would be like: "Eeee!!! Woman!!! Go back to the kitchen and make me a pie!!!"


But in all seriousness, land as many center mass as you can. OR shoot the eyes. Almost anything will enter the brain through the eye socket.
Great advice...in theory. But hitting the eye-socket of a moving target, in bad light, pumping high-octane adrenalin, and worrying about your kids? That's like hitting a hard-served Ping Pong ball in mid-flight. Not something I won't want to gamble on. Upper COM, Upper COM, Upper COM (Solar Plexus), nice nerve center with wide margin-of-error. Shoot 'till slide-lock, then reload.
Look. The .22 long rifle round has pretty good penetration. The problem is that it doesn't do much structural damage.

It hits like an ice pick. You want something that hits like a hammer, at least!

Last I heard, most people that are killed in America with a firearm were killed with a .22 long rifle. The problem is, it often takes hours or days for them to die.

If someone comes at me or mine with malicious intent I want them DEAD RIGHT NOW!

A .22 is not likely to provide that.

It might, and it's better than no gun at all, but... .
We will eventually buy other guns, but I'm not very good with a handgun and until I improve my shooting skills she won't let me spend the money on something else.

I know you didn't ask for domestic advice or advice about what we think is an 'appropriate" defensive firearm.

But I'm going to give it to you anyway. ;)

You are already waaay ahead of the game if your wife shoots. If only my wife gave me this kind of "problem" about shooting.

In the interest of domestic tranquility and your own peace of mind; I suggest you apply your efforts to "qualifying" with your .22 pistol.

You should talk with your wife (who you say is proficient with a handgun) and agree on what would be a reasonable qualification round. It should not be a bulls-eye competition - but instead should be geared to actual self-defense requirements. For example: 40/50 rounds in COM on a silhouette at 7-10 yards. With a little practice, you should be able to do this blind-folded with a .22. Then purchase a good, used .38 snubby and a Mika Pocket Holster.
Ditto to most of what you have heard, from people with a lot more experience than me, with one exception--don't get a snubbie, and especially not an ultralight one. More noise, more flash, and you are not looking fro concealment so why give up the easier control of a heavier frame and the better ballistics of a longer barrel?

.38 Special is fine and a revolver is least complicated gun there is, but we're talking home defense here, no concealment required. Any quality .38 (or .357 loaded with .38s) revolver would be fine, but get at least a three inch barrel, or better yet four. Small or large frame, five or six shot (or more) depends on the size of your hands, your budget, etc. There are lots of good revolvers out there (plenty of threads in the THR revolver section).

Of course, there are plenty of good auto pistols out there, too, but a revolver still seems to me to be the best bet for a home defense handgun for a beginning shooter.
You said you want to teach her how to shoot a rifle...if she can shoot a handgun it'll take about 30 seconds for her to learn how to shoot a rifle.

I know you said "It's already decided," etc, but the cheapest .22 semiauto rifle I know of is like $100-120 (Mossberg Plinkster)...and other than the cheap ammo, there is really no reason not to spend 30-50 more and get a rifle that will work OK for home defense, like the Hi Point Carbine. It will also be fine to teach her to shoot on (like I said, she may "teach you to shoot" on a rifle as well) and the ammo isn't too pricey at all. 9mm is about the second-cheapest, to 22, round.

See what I'm getting at? Rather than get another gun that's hardly good for defense at all, get one that's good for practice AND self-defense. And IMO something with more "bang" that can really rip a tin can up is more fun than a 22...look no further than the hi point 995 carbine :)

Also, defense questions are theoretical, but good answers to those theoretical questions are usually pragmatic.
hit COM, as fast as you can.

Obviously, don't use bulk pack ammo. Get decent hunting ammo I would go with CCI Velocitors. They basically use a Gold Dot bullet in a .22 LR and are rated for up to coyote.
Instead of the Hi-Point carbine, how about the Kel-Tech Sub-2000?

I only bring this up because (depending on the specs of the individual unit) it takes Glock, Sig, or Beretta mags, and if you already have the mags and the ammo then...
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