Questionable Choice?

I have to say that while I’m intrigued by this new cartridge development, I’m more than a little skeptical, in principle:

Featuring a deep-penetrating bullet that Federal says “makes the popular rimfire cartridge a viable self-defense option,” the company’s new .22 LR Punch Personal Defense has hit the market.
Part of a 2021 expansion to Federal’s ammo line, the rimfire Punch uses a 29-grain nickel-plated lead-core bullet, pushed at maximum velocities (1,070 fps through 2-inch barrel handguns) for the deepest penetration when coupled with short-barrel handguns.

The concept comes from the fact that people have carried .22s for personal protection for generations. After all, the cartridge dates to the 19th Century, so why not actually provide said mouse gun users with a valid option to stoke their carry piece with?
“We’ve talked about making a 22 LR defensive load for some time. We finally decided that people are already carrying 22 LRs, so we might as well build a .22 bullet optimized for protection,” said Compton. “After much research, we decided that for a .22 LR defense bullet, penetration was more important than expansion.”

Watch too the embedded video from .22Plinkster.  (When he says “Stanger”, he is of course referring to the venerable CCI Stinger.)

Ordinarily, I would dismiss the entire concept out of hand, mostly because if you shoot someone with a little-bitty 29gr (!) bullet, he’s going to get really angry at you once he realizes he’s been shot.

However, I want you to note how quickly Dave was able to get the shots off, and how accurate he was because his target reacquisition time was minimal.  And here’s the thing.  I once taught a lady how to shoot (hi, Dee!) and after a single one-hour training session, she was able to empty a 10-round magazine into the head of a silhouette target in about 2.5 seconds, at seven yards.  While a single round of .22 LR may not stop a goblin, I would suggest that five or six (let alone ten) rounds of .22 buzzing around in his skull cavity like angry bees may cause a change in his plans for a weekend picnic.

And going back the Plinkster’s video, note the penetration and wound cavity made by the Federal Punch bullet fired from a longer-barreled handgun, which is what I’d choose over a 2″-barreled mouse gun.


I’m not going to drop the 1911 and start carrying a Ruger .22 pistol anytime soon, of course.  But if it ever comes to the point where I’m too old and feeble to work the 1911’s slide and handle the .45’s recoil, you can bet that there’s be some kind of .22 handgun strapped to my wheelchair.

Because any gun is better than no gun.

Food for thought, yes?

Update:  Peter Grant agrees with me.


  1. 1. Always a good idea to see what the wonderful Paul Harrell has to say. He is pretty clear, having tested on the Meat Target, that 22LR is pretty fucking deadly. Just hit them in the right place.
    2. Also very good to view Deadly Effects: Wound Ballistics (an all-time classic of firearms common sense) and understand that penetration is nearly always more important for lethality than just energy. Again – when landed in the right place (brain or heart not necessarily testicles if a kill is what you’re after).
    3. My own view, partly prompted by 2 above, is that ammo specs should rate Momentum. It is the product of Force x Time. A measure of the impulse of a moving body. On this measure smaller faster rounds will often get outperformed by heavier slower ones. Big game hunters almost always choose the latter for this reason – they kill better. Penetration aligns much better to momentum than to muzzle energy. If in doubt choose the heavier bullet. 4. So I think Federal have the right objective – to maximise penetration – but may have got better outcomes with a 35gr plus bullet and a roundnose hard bullet. Need to do some meat target testing to confirm!

  2. I recall Jeff Cooper saying the proper target if using a .22 or .25 for self defense was the tear duct.

    I can see usage for such a cartridge in situations where your self-defense needs aren’t primarily against two-legged varmints, such as carrying a revolver with the first two stuffed with snake-shot and the rest with these for when the coyotes get rambunctious. No, I wouldn’t want to use one against a bear, but one of these in a coyote’s or feral dog’s head would make him rethink his choice of prey.

    Also bearing in mind that in most self-defense usages the event ends without a shot being fired, the mere presence of an armed potential-victim makes the goblin cease and desist. No one wants to get shot, not even with a .22, and I’d imagine a couple rounds of this stuff sent thru the forehead would get his attention.

    Mark D

  3. I always thought that a Keltec PMR30 would make a pretty good zombie gun – lots of zippy little bullets that only have to crack open the skull. However the cost of .22 magnum in the BC (before Covid) days and the difficulty of finding anything that goes bang in the current ammo apocalypse might dictate other plans.

    When we consider stopping power, whatever that really means, from a pistol or rifle cartridge we need a combination of mass and velocity. You can only get so much powder into a shell casing and when the volume of the case is relatively small such as with the .22 LR there are practical limits to the velocity side of the equation. The only other way to get velocity is to lighten the bullet and that seems to be Federal’s solution to the math. CCI did the same with their Stingers. You can cheat the math a little with hotter powders or magic bullets but there’s only so much energy to play with. The other side of the argument says that stopping power or firepower or whatever is putting rounds on target. Lots of little holes are obviously better than one big miss and in the case of somebody like my 90 pound, 4’10” 73 year old wife a mag dump of .22s is about what she can handle. She can’t even pick up my 1911, much less shoot it accurately.

    All cartridge choices are a compromise. If she’s shooting well I think that Mother has at least one bad guy in the magazine of her Browning .22 and maybe a couple of zombies in the next magazine.

  4. When this subject comes up I always tell this story…

    In my yoot, I worked for the Feds in LE. One guy who was pivotal in my thoughts on this was Roger. He was a big man. No…he was huge. So large when he tried to hide behind a building support post (those concert covered steel i-beams) he stuck out on both sides ! Probably 350lbs and 6’ 3”. Huge…

    One night when going home he made the mistake of stopping at a red light in a crime ridden neighborhood. He was set upon by a gang. Shooting his wheelgun and bad guys shooting at him. When the cops arrived, they found Roger out of his car flat on his back in the street. He still had his kevlar vest on. The EMTs could not figure out what was wrong with him. Only in the hospital did they see and figure out what happened.

    In shooting at the bad guys he bladed himself holding the wheelgun (this was 40 + yrs ago). Bad guy had fired a single 22lr that hit him in the open area from the vest around his armpit. Almost no bleeding on the surface, hence why the EMTs saw nothing. But the tiny pill drilled into chest cavity and lung. He had bled out internally very quickly. This huge guy taken down by one 22lr round. Lesson….its all about bullet placement. That stuck with me all this time….RIP Roger…

    Good ending to the story ? 20 years later (having moved on long ago) I am sitting on the crapper reading the morning paper. Little article buried like on page 10. Agents from my old agency had tracked down the guy who shot Roger. He was in jail already but they now charged him with murder of a Federal officer. Finally justice acheived for a really good guy….

  5. Yeah, I was talking to the guy behind the counter at a gun store years ago and he pointed out that while the .22 is a small round, putting a lot of holes in someone is bound to have an effect.

  6. Some years ago I put up an article on this subject:

    .22LR as a defensive round

    I’ve trained dozens of disabled and handicapped shooters, who can’t handle recoil, to use a .22LR pistol or revolver. So far, five of them have had to defend themselves with one. All five are still with us. Their assailants . . . not so much. Three have shuffled off this mortal coil, and two will spend many more years behind bars.

    I love happy endings . . .

    1. Pete, thank you for that. I’d read it before, but age-induced amnesia prevented me from remembering the author, or else I would have linked to it — which I’ve done now.
      I’m curious as to your opinion on the new Punch ammo…

      1. I haven’t tried it yet, but based on bullet weight, I’m not impressed. Penetration to reach the vitals is affected more by mass than velocity. To illustrate:

        Energy = mass x the square of velocity

        Momentum = mass x velocity

        One can have very high energy (see, for example, varmint rounds) with very low momentum (they blow up within the first inch or two). For penetration, to reach vital organs, momentum is much more important; so bullet mass becomes a far more important factor, given adequate velocity.

        My preferred self-defense load in .22LR is CCI’s Velocitor: a 40-grain hollowpoint moving at over 1,400 fps from a normal barrel. It’ll do over 1,000 fps from a 2″ snubby. (It’s currently on sale at CCI for $9.99 per box of 50, which in today’s ammo climate is extremely reasonable.)

        Second choice would be CCI MiniMag 40gr. JRN, or Federal Automatch 40gr. LRN, in both cases for their penetration.

        1. 100% agree re the Momentum point. As a physics aside, if you only have a short barrel then you want the bullet to spend as much time getting pushed as possible (within reason) because impulse (the change in momentum) = force x time (strictly speaking the integral of force / time function). Heavier bullets soak up the gas pressure more slowly. For any given barrel length most of the time you get more useful momentum from the heavier bullet and more energy from the lighter one.

  7. My only question would be … where the hell do I buy some Punch?
    As an aside, I’ve always fancied the little mouse guns, not for their practical value, but as beautiful little machines. Beretta 21, Ruger LCP, Walther TPH, all cute as can be. I have to believe the only reason the Baby Browning doesn’t exist in .22 is the unreliability of the ammo at the time it was conceived. A pity.

    1. Lucky Gunner, as it turns out, has some Punch in stock (well, slightly less now than before).
      CCI Velicitor was still available at CCI, as of a few minutes ago. Thanks for the tip, I needed some more of that.
      I’ll second the recommendation on 40gr as the best .22 weight, but I’m curious about Punch, so we’ll see.

  8. Some years back a young lady who was a student in one of my NRA classes approached me after class and inquired about some advice for her grandmother; Grandma lived in an “evolving neighborhood” and refused to move because all her friends, stores, etc. were there.

    Anyway, she got Grandma – who very well recognized the usefulness of guns, and had shot some in her younger years, but at 76 didn’t have the strength to manage anything of “reasonable” caliber – to the range a couple weeks later. I ran out of guns trying to find one she could consistently operate successfully; not enough hand/arm strength to rack a semi-auto slide reliably, or control the recoil on one of my heavy-barrel Model 10 student guns or a steel-frame 1911 in 9MM.

    I’ve had a S&W 317 since they came out, a “pocket plinker” just to play with and enjoy; it had received an action job from the wizard who worked over my competition revolvers and student guns and had a 9 1/4 lb DA non-stacking trigger, and a set of Uncle Mike’s boot grips. I let her try it.

    Instant success. In 20 minutes she was putting all 8 rounds into a 9″ paper plate at 15 feet at about 1.5-2 seconds per round.

    Last I heard, granddaughter had bought her a 317, sent it to my revolver wizard, and it was riding daily in Grandma’s apron pocket. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a .22 as a first choice in defensive weaponry, but several rounds of 22LR in the face from across the kitchen is not an insignificant deterrent, and if things develop into a clinch situation, contact shots with even a 22LR can be quite effective.

    Plinkster commented on the reliability he found in the Federal Punch ammo he shot. I would hope that Federal is fully cognizant of the purpose for which they designed Punch and takes whatever steps necessary to ensure reliability, especially given how regular 22LR usually performs (and, I wonder if they’re working on something similar in 22 WRF, I have an S&W 351 and a Ruger LCRx in 22WRF…….).

  9. One more point: Kel-Tec’s P17 pistol may be a game-changer in terms of the defensive use of .22LR. Most .22 pistols hold ten rounds in the magazine; the P17 holds 16, plus one in the chamber for a total of 17. That makes a very respectable round total, even if one has to expend multiple rounds on multiple attackers. Four people trying to get to you? Four rounds in the face for each of them (easy to do at close range with the P17) should put them off their stride. Even better, the P17’s MSRP is only $199 – cheaper than almost all its competition. It’s one of Kel-Tec’s most useful offerings. It’s even got a threaded barrel, if you want to attach a suppressor.

    I reviewed the P17 on my blog last year:

    For home defense, where portability and concealability aren’t as important, consider Kel-Tec’s CP33. It holds 33 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. It’s big, and relatively heavy compared to smaller weapons, but it’s not difficult to handle; and I don’t think anyone wants to charge through 33 rounds of anything to get at the shooter!

    There are some who swear by Kel-Tec, and some who swear at them. I’ve never liked their pocket guns, but I’ve had good results from several other models. YMMV, of course.

  10. Mas Ayoob told a story a long time ago about a fellow who should have been completely paralyzed, but managed to retain some arm and back function. “Mas, I can hold a smoke in one hand and a martini in two, but I can’t find a gun I can shoot”. Mas got him a Beretta Bobcat, and was going to see later if he could upgrade to a Tomcat.

    There are a lot of cartridges and loads these days searching for a problem. As long as you understand what this round can do and what it can’t, IMHO this load isn’t one of them.

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