.22 For Self Defense?

Let’s start where the rubber meets the road – for self defense purposes, a .22 caliber should not be anyone’s first choice. That said, I’d defend myself with a #2 lead pencil if the need arose. How about you?

Stopping Power

This is often the crux of any discussion about self-defense firearms. As such it is generally accepted that the larger the caliber, the greater the stopping     power. Okay. Fine. I get it. I’m sure you do too. Detractors may point out that while such weapons as  the venerable Colt 1911 A1 M1 tops many a list, you’d need to carry three extra mags in order to equal the number of shots of many 9mm and .40 S&W pistols with a single spare mag.  This begs the question – which of the above has more stopping power?

Then there’s the “shootability” issue. Some opt for a .22 because they simply cannot shoot anything larger due to the recoil and the strength needed to work the action. My own experience is limited to the .22, 9mm, .40 S&W, and the .45 calibers – not so much the .45 but I have shot them. For the most part, I think it is safe to say those “in-between” calibers such as the .32 and .380 may also be worth consideration.

Bluntly put, it wasn’t until recently that I even considered how the action of some semi-automatics may be hard to work for some people. I recently visited my local gun shop to check out some options. Sure enough, S&W makes an “EZ” model for their venerable M&P Shield line. Ruger, CZ, and Walther have similar offerings, though these last two might be .380 caliber. The shop had a S&W EZ in .380 and another semi (I forget what one) in a .22 caliber. Both were very easy to rack.

Of course the other, and obvious, solution is a revolver. No racking necessary and they are among the most reliable shooters around. Once again, recoil becomes an issue with the larger calibers. With the .22? Not so much. The other issue, of course is capacity. My old H&R .22 is holds a whopping nine rounds while others vary. Lots of larger caliber revolvers are five or six shots.

What’s the Bottom Line?

The bottom line is if you are thinking self-defense, it’s best to consider what is best for you. By the grace of God, I can shoot most anything, but for price of the ammo – for both practice and daily carry – and capacity, I’m sticking with my .40 S&W for the time being but I’m leaning towards a 9mm just because they tend to have slightly less recoil. That said, I will also load up on some self-defense ammo. Speaking of ammo…

As this blog is supposed to focus on .22’s – what might be some better ammo choices for self defense? In my research I found two that are held in higher regard than the rest. Federal’s 29-grain Punch 22LR Personal Defense and CCI’s 22LR Ammunition Velocitor  40 Grain Copper-Plated Hollow Point. Both currently run about 0.18 -0.20¢ for 50 rounds. While you can pick up regular .22 long rifle ammo for about 4.0¢ per round online (there are some deals for even less but quantities are limited). Expect to pay more at your favorite local establishment, but even the most expensive .22 ammo is still within reach for most of us.

While Federal actually markets a “self-defense” round in .22 caliber, I think we can all agree this should not be the first choice for anyone who can avoid it. Nevertheless, it IS a choice and one I’m glad to have. However there is one important aspect not yet discussed here. Practice.

In my web travels, I recent came upon a post where the author made a very important point – be familiar with the weapon you are using. In light of this discussion, ideally, one should practice as much as possible with your self-defense weapon of choice.  The second best option would be to practice with a lower caliber (like a .22 maybe?) clone. If neither of those options are available, you could at least practice with a similar firearm – a semi-automatic if this is your self-defense weapon of choice, or a revolver. Just keep the differences ingrained in your head. The  poster above lost a shot (at game) because he was carrying his friend’s shotgun rather than the one he was used to. Why did he lose the shot? The safety was in a different location.

No matter what, you’ll at least want to keep your shooting skills as sharp as possible so you don’t have to think about the shot before you take it. Also, regardless of what caliber firearm you are using, accuracy tends to score better than capacity every time. All debate ends up in the trash if you can’t hit what you aim at.



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