Asking Too Much

American Rifleman asks the question:

The .22 Magnum: Good for Self-Defense?

Short answer:  no.  Longer answer:  Hell, no.

I’m going to put my bias out front:  I love the .22 Magnum cartridge, when I’m shooting it in a rifle.  On varmints, I can personally attest that it’s absolute mustard;  I’ve shot maybe a dozen African silver-backed jackals with the .22 Mag, all were one-shot kills and only one of the little beasts made it more than a couple dozen yards before dropping like a stone.  Rock rabbits (Seffrican:  dassies), maybe thirty or so, with only one which ran off and I never found (probably a clean miss, as there was no blood trail).

And as Longtime Readers know, I carry a little .22 Mag NAA Mini-revolver in my pocket against the threat of snakes when I’m out anywhere near Texas brush country (e.g. the little creek which runs past our apartment complex), but it’s loaded with #9 shot shells, not boolets.

Now:  would it be pleasant to be shot in the face with one of these?  No, of course not.  Would even that stop a hopped-up lunatic with a knife?  You can try it out;  I’ll stick to a .45 ACP, thank you, if that situation presents itself.

As the above article suggests, the .22 Mag is a little powerhouse out of a rifle barrel, but out of the typical short-barreled revolvers which typically carry them:  not so much.  Sometimes you can ask just too much out of a .22 bullet, and self-defense would be one of those times.


  1. A story from my days as a range officer at a large municipal range.
    A customer was slowly practicing with his compact .22 LR autopistol. Arthritic hands and he had a few years on him. He was using CCI Velocitor ammo and doing pretty darn well on the 15 yard target. The .22 was clearly his EDC pistol and he was quite familiar with it. Another shooter nearby was haranguing him and others nearby as to the uselessness of a .22 RF pistol for defense. After the haranguing shooter loudly claimed that any bad guy that got shot by the puny .22 pistol would just laugh and then stick the .22 where the sun don’t shine in its owner. I politely suggested to the the loudmouth that he step over to the firing line & I would shoot HIM a couple of times with the “puny, laughable” pistol.
    Amazingly, he did not take me up on the offer, muttered under his breath for a while & went away.
    Bottom line: .22 RF even with excellent ammo (Velocitors or equivalent) is not now nor will ever be a “manstopper” It will however be an effective deterrent, easily shot well and quickly. Practice ammo is cheap and mostly available. Is it my first choice in an EDC pistol? NO, but it is enormously ahead of “Please mister don’t hurt me.”

  2. I dunno, Kim, But I ‘spect that 30 rounds of .22mag from a Keltec/nee Grendel .22 mag pistol would probably discourage all but the most hardened aggressor, heh, heh.
    Personally I always liked the video of the A-180 .22lr mg powdering a concrete block wall… ‘course that does kinda make your point of rifle-v-pistol.

  3. Every time someone mentions .22mag, I’m reminded of the guy in the Southeast barbershop who took out two BG’s with a two shot derringer. Both headshots. Oddly, the one standing next to him survived to make it to court, but the other one was DRT. Both, however, hit the floor instantly, and remained there for the cleanup crew.

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