Skip to comments.Ask Foghorn: Is .22lr The Best for Self Defense?
Posted on 06/04/2012 3:38:53 PM PDT by marktwain
Foghorn, my Dad is planning on getting his CCW license, and is already thinking about the handgun to use. But he says that he is going to get a .22lr or something similar, saying that accuracy is more important than force. He has hunted his entire life, and is an extremely good shot with both rifle and pistol, but I think he is too cocky when he says all you need to do is shoot someone in the head and the partys over. How can I convince him that he may not be able to hit what hes aiming at in a high-stress situation, and that he needs to look into a more versatile caliber?
Ive got some bad news your Dad isnt completely wrong. And, because I have nothing better to do today, were going to open up that whole can of worms . . .
Your dad is completely correct in that a properly placed .22lr round will take a man down for good. Despite the relative thickness of the human skull a typical .22lr round does have enough power to successfully penetrate and cause sufficient damage to kill a human from close range. And on the more fleshy bits of a human it is perfectly capable of inflicting some damage.
The issue we run into with the .22lr round, and one that you seem to have correctly identified, is that when you dont hit a particularly useful organ it doesnt do much immediate damage. The best example I can think of in this case is the wild hogs of Texas and the gulf coast, which have a nasty tendency to survive and escape if theyre not hit with a large enough caliber or in the right spot. Humans posess a similar ability to survive extreme punishment and damage without actually dying.
We could sit here all day long until were blue in the fingers discussing the relative merits of the different calibers, but the best solution is always the same: cold, hard data.
About a year ago Greg Ellifritz over at Buckeye Firearms concluded a pretty darn impressive analysis of gunfight data recorded over a 10 year period, the total count of incidents included in his analysis topping 1,800. It doesnt give us a statistically significant look at murders in the United States, but the data is sufficiently large and normal to give us the ability to use his results to compare the effectiveness of different calibers.
Admittedly 9mm does take up a disproportionate percentage of the observations and .32 data is a little skimpy, but its good enough for our purposes. So, using his data, lets take a look at how well the lowly .22 round does compared to other handgun calibers (and shotguns, just for comparison sake).
First things first, lets see what percentage of observed gunfights ended in a fatality for the person on the receiving end.
The graph is pretty clear on this: .22 caliber firearms are just as deadly in a gunfight as any other handgun caliber. In fact, it beat the average (far right). Surprisingly, every caliber that begins with a 4 (.40 S&W, .45, .44 Mag ) performed worse than the .22 caliber firearms in terms of putting the opponent in the dirt for good.
The next thing I thought was interesting was the metric about how many rounds it took to incapacitate the opponent.
In case you were wondering, the smaller the bar in this example the better the round performed. And, in terms of performance in putting the opponent down, only a shotgun beats the .22 round. I get the feeling that in reality you can chop a round off the 9mms numbers, as the double tap has been trained into almost every shooter these days and probably means the numbers are artificially high.
Greg also includes something about a one shot stop percentage, but I dont agree with his methodology on it and is not presented here. Go read up on it at the original site if youre interested.
Theres a small fly in the ointment: the percentage of incidents where the opponent was not incapacitated.
Another chart where large bars are bad, and here the mouseguns arent doing so hot compared to the big boys. However, I get the feeling that this chart is somewhat deceptive with its results. Newer shooters have a tendency to get the smaller guns with smaller calibers, and also have a tendency to not be as well trained as those carrying the larger rounds. So, instead of this chart being an argument against the lowly .22 round I see it as an argument against poor training. As we saw with the last chart, IF you can hit the guy theres a great chance hes going down. But the issue is hitting him, and incorporating some of the accuracy results from the original study seems to back up my suspicions.
So, in short, whats the answer? Is a .22 a good self defense round? According to the numbers, it looks to be among the best in terms of stopping the threat. Add in the fact that its lightweight, low recoil and uses firearms that are ridiculously easy to conceal and you can see where a .22 caliber firearm for concealed carry might be a winner.
So, in the immortal words of HAL, Im sorry Wade, I cant do that. According to the best numbers I could find, I cant come up with a valid reason to convince your Dad to move to a higher caliber. Not only is it an effective round, but its size and weight means that your Dad is more likely to actually carry the gun instead of leaving it at home because it was too inconvenient to bring along. And, as we all know, its often the mere presence of a firearm that can save ones life.
Does that mean Ill be swapping out my Wilson Combat 45ACP 1911 for a Derringer? Hell no. But it doesnt stop me from looking at some of those mouseguns for the hot Texas summer
The FBI data I mentioned (and that you are responding to) only considered “one shot stops”. Those things you listed have nothing to do with the FBI data.
You will only hear that sound in my house coming from the TV or if my first shot didn't do the trick. Mr Mossberg is locked, cocked, and ready to rock.
That 30-shot Keltec .22mag is high on my “want to try” list. Not sure if I’d buy one, thought. But I’d sure love to spend a few hours picking the brain of its genius inventor, whose shop is in FL between us.
I have a KelTec 32 as my “get to” gun. It will do until I get to my .357, .44, or 45 LC as the fancy strikes me on any given day. It is my primary bike gun, as it fits in my Wrangler watch pocket after I make a small slit for the barrel.
Oh, one shot stops. Mmmm . . . I vote for this (with 460 magnum loads):
What is the DA trigger pull on your wife’s .22 mag?
.45Colt 5 1/2 inch in shoulder holster under unbuttoned & un tucked shirt. .45 1911 in Milt Sparks Inside Waist Band holster under unbuttoned shirt, Colt Government model .380 in front pants pocket, Smith 642 .357 in front pants pocket. People don't notice when you bulge if you are not blatant and self concious.
You are giving the keyboard komandos a bad rep with stupid, uninformed comments such as this.
Thanks Travis, your opinion is appreciated.
Needs a mag loader because the 30 round mags are tight, but functions flawlessly with Winchester ammo so far. Very accurate. Small enough for CC.
Good thing it’s got that muzzle brake on the end of it. Otherwise that thing would be kind of hard to handle.
Here is a neat little 870...
Just a tad difficult.
Best is to use Birdman's Nuke .50 rounds
There’s a big difference between a bedside piece and a walkin’-around gun. The ability to hide a gun on your person makes the .22LR the ideal choice for most daily duties, at least in summer.
Yeah, I’d much rather carry a bigger hammer, but a tiny .22 in your pants pocket is better than leaving home half-dressed because you can’t hide your “buddy.”
And shot placement remains king, so practice, practice, practice. (Which is cheaper with a .22!)
My wife carries a Kimber .45 Ultra Compact and a Taurus Ultra Lite in .22 Magnum. Guess she covers both ends of the spectrum.
.22 is my main weapon of choice. I have 7 right now. Mainly cause the ammo is so much cheaper and the weapons are cheaper and easier to maintain.
I do have some other weapons also, but the .22 is my main weapon stash.
The racking of a shotgun is one of the scariest sounds of all time!
Yes but my 22LR holds 14 rounds and 14 shots will phase him.
Well if we are talking about .22 rifles, my Ruger 10/22 has 30 round mags. And I have 15 of them, so I can put enough holes that sepsis won’t be a problem. My pistal has a 14 round mag and that many holes will make sepsis not an issue either.
Just seems logical to me.
We weren't but yeah, a few dozen .22LR rounds from a rifle barrel might do the trick. Those 10/22s are fun to shoot. Cheap to shoot, too.
With all due respect MLS, I’d point out that having two guns is a good thing, having none when you need one, a bad thing. About that second gun ...
I’ve read up a little - you can search on “belly gun”.
Little tiny piece is all you need - two shot Derringer maybe but a 22.
Keep it in your pocket with your keys, if you’re up close and personal, jam it in their gut, shoot and that will be that.
I got the tip from a friend who carries a little Beretta. I think he’s right. ;-)
I have carried a weapon of some sort for over thirty years, generally bigger than may be necessary, certainly bigger than most would expect. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, we’ll put my weapon in the “or greater” category you mentioned.
People condition themselves for all sorts of things - long sleeve dress wear in the southern sun comes to mind - and do what it takes to live within those parameters.
I believe that almost anything (reliable) will do for meeting the needs of most personal self defense situations. However, having been at times in a position where I could only afford one of each type of tool (or less) in the box, I have always opted for the full size service pistol. Good up close, good farther away for those perhaps less “defensive” type situations as well, good when a high cap response is the only one that will do.
Once I got used to the idea and the weight, I feel as though I am wearing less than my best if I opt for a pocket gun.
Generally IWB. Occasionally hip pack, especially if water is involved.
My decision tree may look like this:
What type of weapon are you going to carry?
How or where will you carry it?
How or where, on your person, will you carry it?
How much concealment is necessary?
What clothing and other choices are necessary to do this?
I suppose I never really put the weight of the weapon in the rubric (for a handgun), that just came with the answer to number 1.
You may have to experiment a lot to find a comfortable holster for you. Then you get used to it. I hardly notice it is there most of the time.
Back on the holster thing - that probably has a lot to do with whether you adapt to comfortably carrying a larger weapon. On the hip, I have found that ones that position it vertically tend to dig into my lower ribs, which bugs me more than the weight, so I took one I generally liked and had one made which was angled so the curve of the grip met my ribs instead of the hammer or beaver-tail. That worked a lot better, and made carrying less burdensome.
I am still trying to find just the right adjustment for a shoulder rig, so I can’t speak to that. If anyone has any tips, feel free to pass them on.
I can do center of mass with a 45 or 9mm, but I can walk a pop can with my 22s....both ruger and walther. It’s a surprising plus up in accuracy. You wouldn’t expect it, but it’s definitely there. I have no doubt with my 22s I’d put 3 or 4 rounds in a target for every 1 with a 45.
Haven’t measured it, but lighter than many J frames I’ve handled. I think the lighter materials (scandium cylinder) and larger number of rounds (shorter travel between shots) makes the pull a bit lighter as the hand doesn’t have to do a much work.
And then you say "9mm Luger" in your post. Perhaps I got your post wrong and I missed that you were just trying to one up me with sillyness. My apologies.
.22’s HP’s are also a little messy to. They’ll cut up the guts if they hit a bone and splinter.
IIRC, the .556mm, the round used in the M16 is just about the same as the .22 caliber. Granted it has a lot more powder behind it and is longer, but it’s roughly the same diameter. BTW, it also is famous, when it hits a bone, for tumbling inside the body and causing extensive internal damage because of that.
Both my wife and I carry/carried the Taurus Millenium Pro line of handguns (3.25" barrels). My wife carries a 40 S&W and I a 45 ACP.
Even in the summer you can carry these compact guns on your hip. Make sure you wear shorts that can use a belt and wear belts that are strong, not those little rope things many like to wear.
Anyway, we use Fobus Roto Holsters that keep the gun up high on the belt and just about any shirt will conceal the pistol as long as it is baggy. Some women want to wear skintight tank tops and those will pose a problem but a standard shirt will hide the gun nicely. My daughter carries a Beretta Px4 Storm Compact (4" barrel) and complained she could not wear all her tank tops but decided the protection was worth more than turning on some random male.
I migrated from the PT145 Millenium Pro to a Beretta Model 96 (40 S&W) 5" barrel and it concealed just fine under any untucked shirt. I have since purchased a Beretta Px4 Storm full size in 45 ACP (4" barrel)and it is shorter than the 96. Works fine all year round.
Once you have carried these for a few weeks they become a part of you and you really do not notice them or their weight. As a matter of fact, if you leave home without them you will notice they are missing and go back to arm up.
And you use an off-shore reference for the proper designation of a U.S. cartridge?
The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (SAAMI) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) establish the full and abbreviated names of standardized cartridges. The "ACP" designations were obsoleted prior to World War II. Where have you been? And don't blame the gun writers. It has long been known that their only education in the guns and ammo field is by reading other gun writers. The blind leading the blind.
It is no more appropriate to use obsolete cartridge designations than it is to address a married lady by her maiden name. Please brush up on your knowledge before posting about a subject which you obviously have very little factual information.
I never had one of those, but I used to have a Charter Arms Bulldog Pug in .44 Special. I had an attack of the stupids and sold it a long time ago. I wish I had it back. It was perfect for pocket carry, and nothing says "back off!" quite like the gaping maw of a .44 revolver stoked with flying ashtrays.
Unlike yourself, I realize that common usage serves the purpose of communication just fine, and I don't feel any need to nitpick others in an attempt to fluff my own status. I'm sure you go into a tizzy concerning calling removable magazines clips, but I don't. The only possible confusion would with weapons using both (M1 carbine, M1A1, etc.), otherwise it is a difference without functional distinction.
To say “.45 ACP” has absolutely no possibility of being misconstrued and is in fact still used quite widely. Only someone chock full of themselves would insult another person's intelligence for using it. I tend to use it, as it is period to the weapons I own.
The most intelligent people generally don't feel compelled to be terminology Nazis, when no differentiation in meaning exists. You might know more about firearms than I do, but I seriously doubt it. Sadly, we will never know, as you are incredibly unpleasant to talk to.
Hmm, what if Smith and Wesson's website was to blame?
"Model SW1911 TFP SKU #: 108309 Caliber: .45 ACP Capacity: 8+1 Rounds Barrel Length: 5" / 12.7 cm $1,099.00 "
Or the Taurus website? "Home » Pistol » TAURUS 1911 .45 ACP PISTOL IN BLUE/GRAY TAURUS 1911 .45 ACP PISTOL IN BLUE/GRAY"
Then how will you feed that 45 ACP pistol?
I enjoyed the 22 at my first “Woman On Target” class this weekend....The instructor said the bullet travels once it’s inside and also it is the gun of choice for the mafia(:
My J frame .38 spl has about an 8# DA pull which is fine. Bought a Taurus .22 WMR and it has a 12# DA pull and can’t be lightened, something about mass of the hammer. Not a bad revolver other than that. Too much for the girls though.
Looking at the S&W, called them and they said that the J frame rimfires have a 12# pull due to the hammer too. I’ll have to find one and check it out I guess. Buddy has a .22 LR K frame with a nice trigger.
Checked out the Ruger LCR. Didn’t think I’d like it but it wasn’t bad at all. About an 8# DA pull, only comes in .22 LR at the moment though.
If you shoot a .22 into a head it’ll make soup of the brain.
I favor the .22 and .380. You get 6-8 shots per weapon plus carry extra pre-loaded magazines. Close groups are key.
You do realize that you have caused someone, somewhere to have a seizure, right? :-)
Then I hope someone doesn’t look at the factory websites for:
and surely many more.
I was going to expalin why I carry 147 gr hollow points (not +p) in my Glock 23/19, but the smartass comments show me there is little interest in the discussion, just one-upping.
I learned long ago to smile and agree with the gun counter blowhards, then go about my business. Once in a while, though...
Again, how many wrongs make a right?
No, it does not. Words have specific meanings that can be critically important concerning safety issues.
"To say .45 ACP has absolutely no possibility of being misconstrued and is in fact still used quite widely."
To believe that the .45 ACP, 45 Auto, .45 Auto+P and Cartridge Ball, Caliber .45, M1911 are the same cartridge because their dimensions happen to be similar is an irresponsible misconstruement of a high order. Each has a different maximum pressure specification. Three of those cartridges were/are pressure tested with entirely different units and techniques whose units are not interchangeable.
You seem to be advocating a violation of the first rule of firearm safety. Every carton of ammunition manufactured by a SAAMI member incorporates some form of the warning, "Use this ammunition ONLY in firearms marked and chambered for use of this cartridge."
Read the headstamp, stupid! If your firearm is marked "45 ACP" then that is the ammo you should use. As an aside, virtually none of the gunwriters or gun nuts in general seem to be aware that the U.S. military has NEVER chambered ANY of their firearms for either the 45 ACP or 45 Auto. Not the 1911 series pistols, not the 1917 Revolvers, not the Thompson SMG's, not the Reising SMG, not the Liberator Pistol and not the M3 (Grease Gun) SMG's. ".... I don't feel any need to nitpick others...."
I corrected my kids inappropriate grammar even though I full well understood what they were trying to communicate. It is a responsibility of the educated to help raise the levels of others, especially when safety issues are involved. So yes, I will point your irresponsible misinformation posted on this forum.
"Only someone chock full of themselves would insult another person's intelligence"
I didn't insult your intelligence, of which I have little input to base an opinion. I did point out your lack of knowledge about the subject of which you wrote, because of the safety issues involved.
"You might know more about firearms than I do..." Yes
"....you are incredibly unpleasant to talk to...." Only because you came to a factual discussion unarmed