It’s A question these of us Inside the gun writing enterprise typically get requested. “What’s Definitely one of the biggest caliber for a self-protection handgun?” Those anticipating a one-to-three digit reply from me Shall be disapleveled. I Reply to their straightforward question with A posh one. “What’s In all probability the Strongest cartridge You can shoot rightly and proficiently that Is out there in a handgun which is snug enough To primarytain That you merely’ll carry it On A daily basis?” Depfinishing on the particular person asking, The reply will differ. For some, it’s a full-measurementd .357 Journal. or 10 mm Auto. For completely differents, it’s Definitely one of many current .380 ACPs provided in a 9 mm-measurementd handgun. And in sure circumstances, it’s the .22 LR.

When many regulation-enstrainment enterprisees transitioned from .40 S&W to 9 mm Luger, internet boards exploded with discussions of how this proved thOn the 9 mm was “simply Almost as good,” ballistically, As a Outcome of the .40 S&W. No, the .40 S&W has A a lot hugeger diameter and heavier bullet shifting at greater velocities. It’s straightforward physics. However regulation-enstrainment enterprisees are choosing their go-to caliber on The idea of many factors, ballistics being Solely A Sort of. Furtherly they Take A look at ammunition prices, service Lifetime of firearms, and The power of their trainees To Wind up to be proficient and right comparatively shortly. For these causes, the 9 mm is Starting to win out. 

Civilians who carry a firearm for self-protection are confacetring A lot of The identical factors, collectively with ammunition value and availability, but their most important confacetration Ought to be using a firearm That is reliable and thOn They will persistently hit their goal with at self-protection distances. Ballistic benefits goes out the window when your bullet doesn’t join. 5 .22 LRs Inside the bullseye beat one .44 Journal. that missed utterly. To paraphrase famed regulationman Invoice Jordan, ballistics are nice, but accuracy is final.

Recoil is one problem Which will hamper accuracy. Even cartridges on the decrease finish of The power spectrum, Just like the .380 ACP, can produce A lot of recoil when paired with one of right now’s ultralight, micro-compact handweapons. Lack of recoil is the .22 LR’s primary benefit When it Includes capturing rightly. The matter of the .22 LR as a self-protection cartridge has been fought As quickly as extra and again in digital and print boards.

This textual content material Isn’t an argument thOn the .22 LR is “Definitely one of the biggest” spherical for self-protection, Or maybe A great selection For a lot of firearms house owners who can use a extra extremely effective cartridge. However the .22 LR Might be The one selection Needless to say shooters, as a primary or again-up firearm, and In that case, They Want to choose Definitely one of the biggest ammunition and firearm for the job. To that finish, in a two-half collection, We’ll consider each ammunition (Federal Punch .22 LR and Winchester Silvertip .22 LR) and a firearm (Smith & Wesson Mannequin 43C) particularly designed for self-protection with the .22 LR cartridge.

This yr two producers, Winchester and Federal, launched .22 LR cartridges designed particularly for self-protection, the Silvertip (left) and Premium Punch (proper).

The .22 rimfire cartridges has An extfinished historic previous as a self-protection spherical. The cartridge was launched by Smith & Wesson in 1857, As quickly as they chambered their first revolver, the Mannequin 1, Inside the tiny rimfire. The petite handgun was not a army or regulation enstrainment firearm. It was designed for civilian self-protection. The seven self-contained .22 rimfire sphericals its cylinder held Might be quickly loaded, offering A particular firepower benefit over The only-shot pistol or five And 6-shot blackpowder revolvers of the day, whose ball, powder and primers Desired to be loaded particular personly. Whereas the ballistics of the .22 Brief (As a Outcome of it later turned acknowledged) blackpowder cartridge have been pretty poor (it launched its 29-grain bullets at simply over 800 f.p.s. for an power yield of about 44 ft.-lbs.) it was An in depth-differ weapon of final retype.

By way of the yrs, the .22 rimfire grew in efficiency. A “Prolonged” model was launched in 1871, adopted by a “Prolonged Rifle” cartridge in 1884. The Prolonged Rifle (“LR”) .22 rimfire spherical, The Commonest right now, effectively tripled The power of The distinctive .22 Brief. As self-contained ammunition superior, extra extremely effective sphericals have been developed that had the .22 rimfire’s quick loading benefits, but the .22 LR reprimaryed A properly-appreciated selection for self-protection. A huge-differ of small And pretty worthd handweapons have been out there Inside the caliber and In lots of rural housesteads, a .22-cal. rifle served triple obligation by placing meat on the desk, eliminating varmints and dissuading two-legged predators.

The .22 LR has found trfinishy army and regulation-enstrainment purposes, particularly the place noise or over peinternetration are a confacetration. The quietness of the spherical when suppressed implyt it was Utilized by intelligence enterprisees, Just like the U.S. Office of Strategic Providers (OSS) and British Particular Operations Authorities (SOE) all thtough World Wrelaxationle II. Prolonged-differ U.S. bomber crews in The identical battle have been problemd Stevens 22-410 rifle and shotgun combination weapons as survival weapons. Full metallic jacketed ammunition was provided to the flyers, simply in case they Wanted To make the most of the .22 LR for defensive features.

Military and regulation enstrainment use of .22 LRs continued after the war. U-2 pilots carried a suppressed Extreme Regular .22-cal. pistol. In the Nineteen Seventies, the British Military problemd .22-cal. Walther PPs (designated the L66A1) to their troopers in Northern Ireland for self-protection while off-obligation. The Israelis have used the .22 LR in a quantity of regulation enstrainment and army purposes. Their air marshals famously carried Beretta Mannequin 71s in .22 LR and effectively used them in a quantity of incidents in the direction of closely-armed terrorists Attempting to hijack an airliner. The IsraelMay even be modified a model of the ArmaLite AR-7 survival rifle Right into a “particular personal protection weapon” For his or her F4 Phantom pilots.

The .22 LR rimfire cartridge was typically Utilized by army and regulation enstrainment, Similar to this Walther PP, Utilized by off-obligation British troopers in Northern Ireland and designated Inside the service As a Outcome of the L66A1.

Whereas technological advances creep forward Inside the firearms area, Definitely one of many largest revolutions Prior to now 20 yrs was in ammunition. Modern advances in powder and bullet designs have turned formally “out of date” or “insufficient” cartridges, Just like the .32 S&W or the .32 ACP, into viable decisions for self-protection. The .22 Winchester Journalnum has recently been given critical self-protection confacetration, with a quantity of producers creating a load for the rimfire cartridge For his or her premium self-protection strains.

In 2021, two ammunition producers, Federal and Winchester, launched a .22 LR cartridge particularly designed for self-protection purposes. These two cartridges take completely different approaches to how They’re designed to work. The Federal Punch .22 LR is designed To fulfill the FBI standard of 12″ of peinternetration in ballistic gelatin from the short barrel size of widespread hid carry handweapons.

Rather than The standard .22 rimfire lubricated lead bullet, the 29-grain bullet Inside the Punch cartridge has a nickel jacket over its lead core and has a flat-nostril bullet profile. The Winchester Silvertip .22 LR makes use of a plated segmented hole-level bullet that weighs 37 grains. The bullet is designed To interrupt into 4 gadgets upon influence, the three “petals” of the bullet creating an preliminary wound canal, while The backside continues to peinternetrate.

The two .22 LR sphericals launched for self-protection take completely different design approaches. The Federal Punch .22 (left) makes use of a flat-nostril bullet design with a full nickel plating designed For max peinternetration. The Winchester Silvertip .22 LR (proper) makes use of a plated segmented hole level, the “petals” of which create an preliminary wound canal while The backside continues to peinternetrate.

The Federal Premium Punch .22 LR was designed for peinternetration. In problemy look ating, the bullet peinternetrated 13.75″ in 10 % ballistic gelatin. Photograph courtesy of Federal Ammunition.

Both cartridges are optimized to carry out with The velocity generated by A quick barrel. Federal clpurposes 1070 f.p.s. out of a 2” barrel, with the 1.875” barrel of the Smith & Wesson Mannequin 43C yielding A imply velocity of 1196 f.p.s. for the Punch. The similar revolver yielded 1008 f.p.s. from the Silvertip load, Barely under the problemy’s clpurposeed 1080 f.p.s. velocity from a 3.5” barrel. For accuracy look ating, the Smith & Wesson Mannequin 43C revolver yielded five-shot teams of Barely under 2″ at 7 yards with the Punch and Barely under 1.5″ with the Silvertip.

Definitely one of The factors with using the .22 LR for self-protection is reliability. As anyone who makes use of bulk pack .22 LRs can Inform you, you get the occasional failure To firefacet from rimfire cartridges. Small rimfire cartridges are extra fragile–tough dealing with tfinishs to dent circumstances, bfinish bullets or loosen them Inside their circumstances. To beat these weaknesses, Federal clpurposes it rigorously look ats and screens its Punch .22 LR manufacturing for reliability.

The cartridge’s case May even be nickel plated To cease corrosion from the dealing with that protection ammunition will get in repeated loading and unloading and To assist in chambering and extraction. Winchester additionally clpurposes thOn the plated bullets Inside their Silvertips assist in reliability. In the midst of our look ating, we averaged about one Punch .22 LR that Did not firefacet, even after a quantity of firing pin strikes from completely different handweapons, from every 50-spherical area. The Silvertips had no failures To firefacet.

Self-protection handweapons in .22 LR differ from objective-constructed safety weapons To focus on and plinking firearms That Can be pressed into service. Pictured, from left, are the Walther TPH, Glock 44, North American Arms (NAA) 22MC, Smith & Wesson 43C, and Walther P22.

As We’ll level out Inside the second article On this collection, the revolver has distinctive benefits when using .22 LR for self-protection. However, semi-automated defensive handweapons in .22 LR are are provided and Shall be properly-appreciated for some clients. To that finish, we look ated each the Punch and the Silvertip in semi-automated handweapons.

Both cartridges functioned reliably Inside the fashions we tried them in, even a Glock 44, a firearm which our earlier evaluation conagencyed to be finicky with cartridges that used bullets weighing Lower than 40 grains. Semi-automated handweapons in .22 LR Are typically choosy about whOn they eat, and That Is notably true for compact ones, so anyone Eager to make use of the .22 LR for self-protection in a semi-automated handgun should utterly look at their ammunition of selection for reliability.   

How does the ballistic efficiency of a .22 LR stack up in the direction of completely different properly-appreciated protection calibers Inside the short barrel sizes of the firearms people typically carry? We examine the ballistic efficiency of properly-appreciated handweapons and cartridges Inside the chart under. Notice, Particularly, the .22 WMR. Initially implyt as a varmint spherical, the magnum .22 delivers over twice the muzzle power of a .22 LR from a rifle-size barrel. As barrel size decreases, however, so does the magnum’s benefit. From a two-inch barrel The velocity distinction between a Prolonged Rifle and .22 Journal., each loaded with 40-gr. bullets, is about 100 f.p.s. or 14 ft.-lbs. of power.

What about recoil? It’s very troublesome to quantify how a shooter perceives a firearm’s recoil. Elements like The peak of the bore above the physique, grip angle and measurement Together with physique supplies Could make The identical quantity of recoil exactly feel very completely different in completely different firearms of The identical caliber and weight. To purpose To match how a .22 LR firearm stacks up in the direction of completely different defensive cartridges on paper, we used calculated free recoil.

This takes Beneath confacetration The load of the firearm, The load of the bullet and powder cost in its cartridge and The velocity the bullet is launched at. Using these factors, we in contrast free recoil based mostly on The subsequent properly-appreciated self-protection firearm and cartridge combinations:

So how do these quantitys on paper translate into the “exact world?” To seenly quantify and examine power and recoil we Arrange a non-scientific water jug look at evaluating the two .22 LR self-protection masses to completely different widespread self-protection ammunition and firearms. Water jugs By no implys duplicate ballistic gelatin, nor have been we making an try To imitate the problemy look ating Of these cartridges, but they do give us A seen “apples-to-apples” comparability of the placing strain and peinternetration of the Several Kinds of ammunition, As properly as to a medium By which to lure the fired bullet.

As An factor of our evaluation, we did An off-the-cuff ballistics look at evaluating the placing power and peinternetration of The model new .22 LR cartridges versus completely different widespread self-protection cartridges Briefly-barreled handweapons using water-crammed jugs. 

The jugs have been positioned 5 yards away from the muzzle of the firearm. We first look ated velocity at this distance To decide The exact strain the bullets Can be placing with. Then we recorded each the response of the water jugs when struck and recoil of the handweapons In the meantime of firing in the direction of a reference grid and these are in contrast Inside the acagencying video On The very Extremeer of this article.

The Punch .22 LR showcased the peinternetration it was designed for. It went thtough three jugs, coming to relaxation Inside the 4th. Its bullet stayed intact and conagencyed no damage, save for the imprint of the rifling. The Silvertip .22 LR additionally carried out exactly as marketed. The hole level segmented Inside The primary jug, with two of the three petals staying Inside the jug and one exiting out the facet. The base of the bullet, which weighs roughly 26-gr., continued into the third jug the place it ceaseped.

The reprimarying sphericals, the .22 WMR Hornady Essential Defense and the Federal Punch .380 ACP, 9 mm Luger and .38 Spl., all ceaseped Inside the third jug with their bullets growing as marketed. The fact That Each one Of these cartridges exhibited nearly The identical peinternetration is a look atament to the goodion that self-protection bullet design has obtained. However The identical peinternetration doesn’t imply The identical efficiency. The distinction in recoil and placing power between the cartridges Is certainly apparent in our video. Greater bullets equal extra power, but that horsepower comes at A worth on the again-finish in phrases of recoil.

So Do you have to’re going with a rimfire for self-protection, are specialty sphericals Well worth The Further worth? As a administration, we fired a Federal Champion .22 WMR into the jug look at. Its 40-gr. .FMJ bullet zipped thtough five jugs and stored on going into the againcease, with the exit hole of The final jug displaying little enlargement. Self-protection ammo is engineered with a singular objective and its efficiency benefits are Much extra critical Do you have to’re using rimfire cartridges, That are already on the decrease finish of the efficiency scale, For particular personal safety.        

Some good benefits of the .22 LR for self-protection come Right down to 2 factors: recoil and ammunition value. The scarcity of recoil, noise and over-strain from the .22 LR cartridge, even from a compact handgun, Is a bonus for shooters Who’re recoil delicate As a Outcome of of age, damage or inexperience. It additionally makes relaxationoration and Adjust to-up photographs faster and simpler.

If accuracy is final, then apply makes good. The MSRP for 50 sphericals of Punch .22 is $10.99. As a comparability, Federal Premium’s .38 Spl. +P Punch loading has an MSRP of $26.99 for a area of 20. Winchester’s Silvertip .22 LR retails for $9.99 for a area Of fifty, As in contrast with $25.99/20 sphericals for The agency’s Silvertip .38 Spl. load. [Notice: “MSRP” implys “Producer’s Suggested Retail Price” – not what You will Have The power To exactly discover this ammunition for on the cabinets of your native gun store These days]. Not only are premium .22 self-protection sphericals cheaper than their centerfire counterhalfs, .22 LR goal ammunition recurrents A good hugeger value financial savings. This makes it a lot extra pretty worthd to get Inside the apply needed for one To Wind up to be proficient with their firearm.

Whereas the .22 LR cartridge Will not be Definitely one of the biggest ballistic selection for self-protection, trfinishy ammunition, Just like the Federal Punch and Winchester Silvertip, makes it a extra viable selection for these for whom the .22 rimfire is Definitely one of the Most relevant selection.