I get many messages to my page and quite often they are questions or queries from shooting fans from all over the world. Today was no exception and the question posed was an interesting one and a subject debated endlessly on American forums across social media. Wayne from the beautiful state of Georgia (I censored his pic on request) asked the following “Is .22LR a good defensive round for home defense?” He was kind enough to donate $30 for my opinion so I am more than happy to give him a summary of my thoughts as I view that as a commission.
As I’m sure you’re already aware Wayne the US and the UK have vastly different attitudes towards firearms for self defence, the mere discussion of such a question here can get you in trouble with authorities however, as you are American and only want my hypothetical opinion based on a commission I don’t think I’m breaking any laws for simply stating my point of view.
IS IT GOOD FOR HOME DEFENCE?
The .22LR in my opinion is a highly underrated round and quite often overlooked by many American shooters simply because of its size however, anyone that writes it off as useless or ineffective is a fool. Any round when fired is dangerous and the .22LR is no different, in the hands of a good marksman it is highly effective and perfectly capable of killing or seriously maiming someone.
While it’s true in a home defence situation a .45ACP will put them down with one shot due to the impact and resulting wound that doesn’t mean the rimfire should be overlooked or indeed written off. There are a few factors you have to take into account in a situation such as this, for example you are firing in an enclosed space, will the round go through the target and if so do you have real brick walls or plaster board? Or in other words do you have to worry about ricochet or the round going through a wall and potentially hitting family members.
Even if you have a safe shot do you have the skill to place it accurately in a high stress situation? Especially if they are also armed. It is perfectly plausible that in a scenario such as this one where your life or your families lives can be in danger that your aim might be off a little from the adrenaline and fear factor.
DOES IT HAVE ENOUGH POWER
While the .22LR is small there is no denying that it has the same potential as any other projectile. For example below I conducted a little experiment. I took on American Eagle .22LR round and fired it at a pumpkin (it was around Halloween) from 100 yards away to see what impact the little round would have.
Needless to say it did exactly what I thought it would do, it made a hole right through it and shown the path the little round took as it spun through the flesh of the pumpkin, even at 100 yards and in a 18mph crosswind. Now imagine you had say a 1911 chambered in .22LR within reach when faced with an armed intruder at 5 to 10 yards, I would say that it would be more than capable of putting them down if you had to.
So Wayne you asked did I think it was a good round for defence well my answer is yes and no. If you are in a location where guns are a legitimate/legal form of self defence then yes the .22LR can potentially be an effective round however I wouldn’t make it my go to.
As I stated before the rimfire is more than capable of seriously injuring or even killing someone, if used properly it is just as dangerous as any other bullet. Especially given the fact that if shots were fired in a home burglary situation it would be in close proximity to the target.
The round has less chance of going right through the body than a larger caliber rifle round for example minimising the chance of a projectile penetrating a stud wall and injuring family members. But (and it’s a big but) why would you use a .22LR when a shotgun is the ideal firearm in a life and death situation like this one? Powerful at close range, has a spread and will do the job.
I also stated that the .45ACP has the power to put an intruder down to the floor in one shot (if well placed) and this is due to the size and the velocity of the round, it’s short and fat therefore it makes a bigger hole and causes more damage, I’ve seen footage of someone being shot repeatedly with a .22LR yet they kept coming forward only 10 seconds later dropping to the floor realising they were wounded. In those few seconds it could be your life that was taken but it can be argued that shot placement is a factor here and that is entirely accurate.
Anyone that uses rimfire regularly for target practice can attest to the fact that it isn’t always reliable due to the very nature of how the round works. They can fail and usually will once in a while. If you were using a .22LR semi auto handgun would you want to take the chance? A revolver of course wouldn’t give you as much of a problem in this instance but why would you if you had a more reliable centerfire option available?
In the right hands yes it is an effective defensive round but for me and seeing as you’re in the land of the free, you have so many better options available to you. A good pump action is what I would have if in your situation and location, for something easier to conceal or use in limited space then a .45 1911 (like the Ruger pictured below), if you want more capacity then a 9mm (perhaps a Glock or a Sig), for ultimate reliability a revolver in .357. But I would leave the .22LR for only if nothing else is to hand to be honest, but make no mistake it is just as dangerous.
I hope this answered your question and thank you for the donation. I realise as someone from the UK my opinion may be very different to what you hear stateside but it is my opinion nonetheless. Take from it what is useful and I hope you never have to use the advice.