22LR as a Defensive Round?

This post was originally published over at ModernSurvivalOnline quite a while ago. I believe its contents are still viable and really needs to be updated. Let me emphasize something here – I am not endorsing the 22LR as a defensive round. What I am saying is that if it is what you have, and what you can afford – it is better than a mean stare.


22LR as a Defensive Round?

by Rourke


Via my previous blog before it was moved here – slightly updated: 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. 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 sometimes be made 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 can 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 limiting.

There have been thousands of deer taken by the lowly .22LR. Numerous people have been fatally shot by the .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. 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 potential firearms to choose from. 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.
  • Recoil – The lack of recoil assist 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 – don’t you think? Of course hearing protection can and should be used – however you never know when something might happen. Hearing protection might not be an option.

To consider the .22LR – you must first 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 decent, and is extremely reliable with the factory magazine. There are lots of accessories to outfit the 10/22 with different stocks, sights, and more. Be careful with the high capacity magazines – none work nearly as well as the factory 10 shot. Price is around $200.
  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 just introduced a .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 am looking forward to getting one soon.
  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 between $500-550 – not cheap.

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.

Ruger 10-22 Tactical

Once choosing a firearm – next you need to look at stockpiling ammunition. 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 bullet. 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.

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

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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