The popularity of the .22LR

The Infamous Deuce-Deuce

Photo credit

The .22LR is a popular round, perhaps even the most popular in America if the ammunition shortage is any indication of its popularity. It flies off the shelf faster than most stores can stock it. The .22LR is also a versatile round with many uses ranging from plinking to hunting and many shooters have at least one in their arsenal.

This begs the question that many firearms owners ask themselves and others; is a .22LR an adequate self-defense round?

Is the .22LR adequate for self protection?

The short answer is no. Some people would disagree with this assessment and swear on their eyes that it is a capable self-defense round. These are the same people that have a fanatical obsession with shot placement and if given the chance would testify in front of Congress that their “buddy” took down an elephant with one “back in the day.” Don’t get me wrong, I personally love the .22LR round, it was the caliber of the first gun I shot and the first gun I owned. I also believe in shot placement, being accurate with the weapon you use and think that every shooter that goes to the target range on a regular basis does too.

I am however realistic and recognize its limitations; therefore I cannot in good conscious recommend the .22LR for a personal defense weapon.

22LR is still the most economical round for shooting

Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, in real-life situations you don’t always get a one hitter quitter and shot placement can’t always make up for shear physics. The larger the bullet, the bigger the hole and thus more physical trauma and faster blood loss. Another major factor to take into consideration is reliability. The .22LR is a rimfire cartridge and let’s just say that reliability isn’t its strong suit. Anyone who has shot a few bricks of .22LR can testify to this. Even with quality weapons such as the Ruger 10/22 a failure to fire or feed is inevitable. The LR in .22LR stands for long rifle and it was designed to be shot out of just that; a long rifle. The chances of getting a FTF increase exponentially when you shoot the .22LR out of a semi-automatic pistol platform.

Two of the main reasons people tend to lean toward the .22LR for a self-defense weapon is recoil and affordability.

Despite the current ammunition situation .22LR is still the most economical round to shoot at about 10 cents per round, that’s about half the cost of 9mm ammunition. While this price difference can be appealing, I would pose the question of; What is your life worth? If you don’t think it’s worth an extra 10 cents more per round then go ahead and risk it but I will personally stick with centerfire ammunition for my personal defense weapon and leave the rimfire for the target range.

Centerfire ammunition has always had the edge in the reliability category over rimfire ammunition and even with all the technological gains I don’t see this changing anytime soon. If you plan on shooting often to hone your skills (and you should) then reloading your own ammunition might be the way to go. After the initial cost of equipment reloading could save you a bundle, making those trips to the range more economical.

This brings us to the recoil situation. For avid shooters this is sometimes an overlooked or non-factor but for new shooters, older shooters and the recoil sensitive it is the deciding factor.

If you can’t handle the recoil of a particular gun the chances of you taking that weapon out to the range for practice are slim and the chances of hitting your target in a self-defense scenario are even slimmer.

Luckily, there are manufacturers catering to this recoil sensitive market by offering lighter loads in just about every caliber out there.

In essence, the .22LR is a great round and I recommend all new shooters start out with a .22LR and work their way up to larger calibers. It is a very versatile round that can be used for target shooting, hunting small game and can also be lethal against predators of the two legged variety. If a .22LR is the only gun you own then by all means use it for self-defense. However, when it comes to picking out a weapon specifically for self-defense we must remember that not only is the .22LR a very small round but it is a rimfire cartridge lacking the reliability required to make it an adequate self-defense round. Shot placement won’t help you if your gun doesn’t fire when you pull the trigger. For reliability reasons alone, I recommend sticking to centerfire cartridges for self-defense weapons. If you are insistent on having the .22LR caliber for your self-defense carry weapon then think about getting it in a revolver platform.


About The Author


Travis Box is currently a college student studying American history with a concentration on the Constitution, Revolutionary War, politics and legislation. As an active hunter for 5 years and a recreational marksman for over a decade, his writing brings with it years of real world experience from both the field and the range.