FIREARMS WEEK: 22LR as a Defensive Round?

In today’s tight economic conditions – there are many preparedness-minded folks out there looking to their Defense Budget and trying to get money to stretch as far as possible. One must consider what type of scenario the Defensive Budget is being prepared for and considered.

Even with that some folks just do not have the money to go buy an AR-15, an AK-47, or some other battle rifle. Obviously – a collapse of society and having to defend yourself and family against motorcycle-riding roving gangs of marauders is quite different than localized power outages from severe thunderstorms. With that said – I believe in preparing for the worst. With THAT said – decisions have to be made even when funds are limited.

The question as to what firearms can be purchased for the least amount of money and used effectively to defend yourself has been discussed more times than be counted.

I am also not going to argue with anyone that says that the .22LR is by far not the best round to have in a defensive weapon. It is not. With that in mind – I believe a .22LR can fill a spot as a defensive firearm if your budget is limited and/or other firearms are not an option for some reason.

There have been thousands of deer taken and numerous people have been fatally shot by the lowly .22LR. Shot placement is of paramount importance – more so with the .22LR than probably with any other round.

Beyond injuring – follow up shots may be required to end a skirmish permanently although inflicting injury would likely provide some second thought as to continue or not. This must be remembered when considering arming yourself with a .22LR and potentially entering a firefight.

We all know that the .22LR has limited range, limited ability to penetrate, limited stopping power, as well as limited reliability. What positives does the .22LR bring to the table? Let’s take a look:

  • Expense – The most obvious positive factor – there are many .22LR firearms that can be purchased for just a couple of hundred dollars. The cost of .22LR ammunition, although higher recently, is still much cheaper than it’s centerfire siblings and cost is getting better.
  • Recoil – The lack of recoil assists the shooter in two ways. First – quick follow up shots can be performed as the sights generally stay on target through the shot – even multiple shots. Second – those shooters that generally may be fearful of a full-sized rifle can become comfortable shooting the .22LR quickly.
  • Noise – The .22LR is not nearly as loud as a typical centerfire rifle. This helps conceal the shooters position as well as protect the shooters hearing so it can be used later. The “hearing” factor is often discounted and discussed little – however the ability to hear for days after the use of a firearm would be pretty important. Of course hearing protection can and should be used – however you never know when something might happen. Hearing protection might not be an option.
  • Weight – Rimfires are typically lighter than full-sized defensive firearms. This is important for those that may not be able to handle a heavier firearm due to a handicap or strength issue.

To consider the .22LR – lets look at what firearms are available. To consider any .22LR as a defensive weapon – it has to possess a few qualities.

First, it must be reliable. Second, it must be accurate out to 50-75 yards – if not more. Third – I believe it must be semi-automatic so as to provide effective and quick follow up shots. This narrows down the field quite a bit:

  1. Ruger 10/22 – The Ruger 10/22 is probably the most popular .22LR ever made. It takes a factory 10-rd magazine, accuracy is good, and is extremely reliable with the factory magazine. The factory high capacity 25-round BX-25 magazine is an excellent addition and is very reliable as well. There are lots of accessories to outfit the 10/22 with different stocks, sights, and more. Be careful with the non-factory higher capacity magazines – most do not work nearly as well as the factory 10 shot. I have had good luck with the HC3R 25-round quick-load magazines though. Price of the standard Ruger 10/22 is around $250.
  2. Marlin Semi-Auto .22’s – Marlin has been making .22LR semi-auto rifles for a very long time. They possess many of the same qualities as the 10/22 – except the ability to customize with lots of options. Price again is similar to the 10/22 depending upon exact model chosen – generally cheaper.
  3. Smith and Wesson M&P15-22 is their .22LR version of the AR-15. An absolute beautiful firearm – it is pictured here in the blog and accepts 25-rd magazines. This firearm also accepts most all accessories that would adapt to the standard AR-15 – such as scopes, lasers, lights, grips, etc. Priced at a retail price of $499. I own one and is my personal favorite.
  4. Remington makes a nice synthetic .22LR called the Model 597. Very handy – the gun takes a 10-rd magazine and easily mounts a scope. High capacity magazines are available – however reliability is questionable.
  5. American Tactical Imports GSG-5 Semi-Auto .22 LR Carbine – a very interesting weapon in that it is a very close replica of a HK MP5 9mm sub-machine gun. Never handling one – I have heard that reliability is good with high quality ammunition. Magazine capacity is 22 rounds. Typical price range is around $400.
  6. Colt M4 Ops Rimfire Carbine is Colt’s entry into the rimfire world. This is a close replica of the M4 and comes with a 30 round magazine. It is heavier than most rimfires and is not cheap at well over $500 even on sale. Advantages are controls very much like that of a standard AR.
  7. Mossberg Tactical Flat Top Carbine – Mossberg’s attempt to enter the AR-look with a rimfire. Reliability is very questionable and I would not recommend it to be considered.
  8. Sig 552 Classic is an excellent semi-automatic .22LR. Running in the neighborhood of $400 very reliable with the standard 25-round magazine.

There are lots of other semi-auto .22LR carbines and rifles from other manufacturers. In my mind the ones listed above are the leaders of the pack.

Once a rimfire is chosen – next is stockpiling ammunition. This has been a sore spot for rimfire shooters for months as ammunition has been in short supply and expensive. Things are getting better in both regards. I am a firm believer in stockpiling quality .22LR ammunition. Obviously you should stock that ammunition which performs well in your particular firearm. For me – that means CCI. CCI makes a very high quality round. Clean shooting, copper clad – this is truly beautiful ammo. From standard velocity to super fast CCI Stingers – it is not the cheapest – but well worth the price. Standard CCI Mini-Mags in solid point is my overall recommendation with the hollow point variant coming in a close second.


Can you tell I like CCI?

Accessories to personalize your new .22LR firearm: Typically most people can get by with a stock firearm. Accessorizing your .22LR defensive firearm with an optic can be beneficial – especially when shooting at farther distances. Red dot sights can get you on target very quickly and shooting both eyes open provide for better awareness of what is happening in front of you. Extra magazines are an absolute must as reloading during a tense situation will not be very easy. Slings can wonderful when trekking thru the woods on recon. Those accessories that enhance the usability and performance for your firearm should be emphasized.


Ruger 25-round BX-25 magazine

Do not get caught up in the “tacti-cool” accessorizing of firearms adding every possible accessory to the point the firearm is heavy and reducing the ability for it to perform as intended.

The reality is that I would rather have a semi-auto .22LR that I am comfortable shooting in case of trouble – than have nothing at all – but it would never replace my Stag AR.

The choice is yours…

Good luck all –


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12 thoughts on “FIREARMS WEEK: 22LR as a Defensive Round?”

  1. I’ve read that more people have been killed by a .22 than any other round in history. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was cusomary that ladies ,even soiled doves carried .22s. mostly small revolvers in 22short. None as muff guns. If I had to use a .22 pistol I would choose a .22WMR

  2. No doubt about it, the .22LR is a lethal round for human sized game but never forget there’s a reason no military nor police force uses the .22LR caliber in a battle rifle.


  3. A long time ago I purchased a Squire Bingham Arms model 16 rifle. This (sorta) M16 clone was made in the Philippines and shoots a 22LR and is really a great rifle. In the box it came in, along with assorted paperwork and manual was the history of the rifle. I can’t remember all the details but in this provided history was the story of how this rifle, chambered in 22LR was purchased by some poor, 3rd world government in order to arm it’s fledgling army against an invading force. As the story goes the invaders indeed where repelled and defeated. It was noted in the story that most of the enemies casualties did not come from the wounds suffered when shot by the 22 but from lead poisoning from the lead bullet… interesting.

  4. hey Jibbs, ther are people out there that will buy that Ruger 10/22 for under $200, save only the receiver and then build the $1000 rifle around it. LOL

  5. Heritage Arms Roughrider is also a good buy: Fit and finish is between a “Saturday night special” and a S&W; but you get a six shot .22LR/.22Mag (2 cylinders) in a single-action Peacemaker style revolver for about $200 brand new. Very good accuracy with a 6 1/2″ bbl. and adjustable sights. A .22 is a “kill you later bullet” but I don’t know anyone who wants to get hit by one.


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