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Do .22 Mag. Snubnose Revolvers Make Sense for Self-Defense?
NRA Women ^ | November 30, 2020 | B. GIL HORMAN

Posted on 01/10/2022 7:48:04 AM PST by COBOL2Java

These little wheelguns pack more punch than .22 LR pistols. But is it enough to get the job done?

In a previous article we took a closer look at using .22 LR pistols for self defense. The conversation was inspired by the release of new rimfire models that look and carry like center-fire models. However, the second most popular rimfire rifle cartridge in the United States, the .22 WMR, has also been pressed into service as a low-recoil defensive option. More commonly known as the .22 Magnum, or just .22 Mag., this rimfire cartridge is carried more often than some folks might expect since it doesn't get much time in the media spotlight. In fact, unlike the .22 LR, some ammunition manufacturers offer .22 Mag. loads specifically designed for short-barrel handguns including Hornady Critical Defense and Speer Gold hollow-point loads. (Shown: A typical .22 LR cartridge (left) shown next to a .22 Mag.( right) hollow point handgun defense load.)

More Handgun Options Than You Think (But Mostly Snubbies)

A little research reveals some interesting handgun models for this potent rimfire cartridge. The Kel-Tec PMR-30 is a semi-automatic pistol which accepts a proprietary 30-round magazine. North American Arms makes an extensive series of diminutive Mini single-action revolvers that are carried as backup guns or when the smallest possible handgun fits the bill.

The Smith & Wesson 351 PD Airlite shown with a smooth rosewood compact grip

But the most common concealed-carry handguns made for this round are short-barrel, double-action revolvers. This year Taurus USA re-launched the previously discontinued 8-shot Model 942. This snubnose revolver series includes all-steel and aluminum-frame models chambered in .22 LR and .22 Mag. But Taurus is not the only option available. Smith & Wesson's 7-shot 351 PD Airlite J-Frame has been a steady seller for several years. Ruger offers the 6-shot, polymer-framed LCR with a concealed hammer or the LCRx with an exposed hammer that can be manually cocked for single-action fire. Like the Taurus models, the Charter Arms Pathfinder series includes steel or aluminum frames. Perhaps the most unusual .22 Mag revolver currently available is Standard Manufacturing's S333 Thunderstruck. This double-barrel handgun fires two rounds out of its 8-shot cylinder with each pull of the trigger.

Ruger’s lightweight LCR has a frame made of aluminum and polymer

Advantages of .22 Mag. Handguns

Although some folks don't care for the long, heavy double-action trigger pull of small revolvers, they do have some advantages, including a simple design and easy operation. If you pull the trigger and the cartridge does not go off, you don't have to go through a clearance drill like you do with a semi-automatic pistol in order to get the gun back into action. Just pull the trigger again to fire the next round in the cylinder. Over the years, I've worked with the Smith & Wesson, Taurus and Ruger models and found them all to be well-made reliable options.

At first glance the .22 Mag. cartridge looks like a stretched version of the .22 LR., but that's not actually the case. It's a much newer cartridge that was introduced by Winchester in 1959 as an upgrade to the older .22 Winchester Rimfire (WRF) cartridge. The .22 Magnum has a longer case, thicker case walls, and an ever so slightly larger bullet diameter. While .22 Mag. is less expensive than most center-fire pistol ammunition, it costs noticeably more than .22 LR. In most cases, the cost of .22 Mag. ammunition rests somewhere in between that of .22 LR and semi-automatic pistol cartridges.

One advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that these snubnose revolvers are built using the same frames, barrels and grips as their respective company’s .38 Spl. models. As a result, a wide variety of holsters is readily available and easy to find, like the Galco Scout 3.0 holster shown here.

The .22-Caliber Rimfire Cartridge That Packs More Punch

Designed primarily as a small-game hunting load for use in rifles, this cartridge generates much higher levels of pressure than the .22 Long Rifle. Cartridges topped with 40-gr. bullets can launch them at over 2,000 f.p.s. when fired from a rifle-length barrel. Shortening the barrel to around 2" in length causes the bullet's velocity to drop to somewhere between 1050 f.p.s. to 1260 f.p.s., depending on the ammunition used. Although recoil is mild, it can produce an unexpectedly loud report along with a bright muzzle flash that seem out of proportion with the cartridge's size.

Stick with 40 grain or heavier bullets for the best performance with snubnose revolver How does the performance of .22 Mag. revolvers measure up to other concealed-carry options? Like other short barrel handguns, it produces solid defensive accuracy at ranges of 7 to 10 yards. The following list shows the muzzle energy ranges for the Ruger LCR and the Taurus 942 along with test results for two .22 LR pistols. I've also included short barrel center-fired pistol and revolver results for comparison:

.22 WMR:1.87" Barrel = 113 to 126 ft.-lbs.(Ruger LCR Revolver)
.22 WMR:2.00" Barrel = 98 to 116 ft.-lbs.(Taurus 942 Revolver)
.22 LR:2.00" Barrel = 67 to 75 ft.-lbs.(Ruger LCP II Lite Rack Pistol)
.22 LR:4.00" Barrel = 79 to 113 ft.-lbs.(Taurus TX22 Pistol)
.380 ACP:2.50" Barrel = 163 to 174 ft.-lbs.(NAA Guardian Pistol)
9 mm:3.20" Barrel = 277 to 300 ft.-lbs.(Taurus G3C)
.38 Spl:2.00" Barrel = 296 ft.-lbs.(Ruger SP101)

Useful for Self Defense?

Small double-action revolvers chambered in .22 Mag. are comfortable to carry, they produce modest levels of felt recoil, similar to those of a .22 LR pistol, while packing more of a punch than .22 LRs do. A 4" barrel .22 LR can be loaded to produce results at the low end of the .22 Mag. snubgun's performance levels. But when loaded with 40 gr. or heavier bullets, .22 Mag. revolvers can more consistently meet FBI standards for effective penetration depths in gel tests (see Richard Mann’s test results here). In my experience, .22 Mag. ammunition on the whole, is more reliable than .22 LR ammunition with fewer bad primers and more sophisticated bullet design. (Shown: Speer’s Gold Dot bullet is specifically designed to expand when fired from short revolver barrels.)

That being said, the .22 Mag. is still a .22-cal. rimfire cartridge. Statically speaking it’s more likely to fail to fire than a center-fire round. Although its performance can sneak up into the .32 ACP pocket pistol ranges, it simply can't compete with the performance of a .380 ACP pistol or a snubnose revolver loaded with reduced recoil .38 Spl. loads.

Parting Thoughts

Based on results, this gun and ammunition combination can get the job done. However, it's not an optimal choice. If your health and shooting skill level are such that you can work with handguns chambered in a more potent center-fire cartridge, then moving up to a larger cartridge is a good idea. If you are considering a defensive handgun chambered in .22 Mag. for self-defense, then I would make the same recommendations as I did with .22 LR pistols. Keep the gun properly cleaned and lubricated. Test the ammunition you plan to carry thoroughly. In this case, ammunition with 40-gr. to .45-gr. bullet weights are better performers with short barrels. And remember to practice so as to be mentally and physically prepared to fire follow-up shots if needed.

The Taurus 942 all-stainless steel version

TOPICS: AMERICA - The Right Way!!; Chit/Chat; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: 22mag; banglist; betterthannothing
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1 posted on 01/10/2022 7:48:04 AM PST by COBOL2Java
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To: COBOL2Java

Great content in this. But myself? Rather have a .38 special in snubnose.

2 posted on 01/10/2022 7:52:12 AM PST by Openurmind (The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children. ~ D. Bonhoeffer)
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To: COBOL2Java

A shot is not fired in more than 98% of successful defensive gun uses, meaning that more than 98% of the time a mouse gun is as good as a cannon.

Fact: Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed.

Source:, page 21.

Fact: A victim may have a strong reluctance to talk to a government agent about a firearm brandishing incident (which are 98% of DGUs) because they may not know the act was 100% legal.

Source:, page 83.

3 posted on 01/10/2022 7:52:54 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum ("Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy." ― Mao Zedong [FJB])
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To: COBOL2Java

Looks like a good beginners or woman’s learning piece.

4 posted on 01/10/2022 7:58:36 AM PST by JerseyDvl (During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.)
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To: COBOL2Java

I’ve had a 22 mag pistol (PMR30). It was without a doubt the LOUDEST gun I owned. Shot big flames and made a helluva noise. People on the range next to me would step back and look over at what was being shot.

5 posted on 01/10/2022 8:01:05 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: COBOL2Java

Any gun is better than no gun...

That said, there are so many good compact defensive caliber (380, 9mm, 38SPL/357, 45, etc) guns available today, there is little reason to be using a .22 for defensive use. Not “no reason”, but little reason.

Some reasoning:
1) .22 is probably the least reliable, most likely to misfire, between rimfire and centerfire cartridges. Reliability would be my biggest issue.
2) Stopping power. Even after lethal hits, a threat may not be ‘stopped’ and may continue to attack not acknowledging he is minutes away from being a ghost. Larger caliber is more likely to address a threats forward “momentum”

6 posted on 01/10/2022 8:01:29 AM PST by Magnum44 (...against all enemies, foreign and domestic...)
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To: COBOL2Java


Maybe .223 or .22-250

7 posted on 01/10/2022 8:02:22 AM PST by wardaddy (Do we really think a culture vested in transgenderism can defeat 6000 years of mankind so easily...)
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To: COBOL2Java

I carry my J-frames in either 38 special or 357 - the latter with an oversized rubber grip. But the only time I’ve pulled a gun in self-defense, it was my 22 LR. I had it with me for plinking purposes out hiking a long way from civilization. When I returned to my car, 8 guys were drinking whiskey while sitting on my car. As I got closer, they got off and started to spread out.

I pulled my 22 LR and held it at low-ready. If they rushed me, I’d have raised and fired in one motion, as I normally do when practicing. one asked me the caliber. No one cared that I had 6 rounds to 8 of them. No one shouted, “8-6=2, let’s get him!”

They just stopped trying to surround me. I struggled to get my keys out of my right pocket with my left hand, then got in and started the car without putting my revolver away. Then drove off - and have spent the last 40 years carrying my car keys in my LEFT front pocket.

Even a 22 LR in the face can be devastating. Or the chest.

“Reagan was seriously wounded by a .22 Long Rifle bullet that ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the left underarm, breaking a rib, puncturing a lung, and causing serious internal bleeding. He was close to death upon arrival at George Washington University Hospital but was stabilized in the emergency room...” - Wiki

And of course, a 44 magnum round might go thru muscle tissue and do nothing serious.

So I PREFER to carry my 357, or at least my 38 special. But a 22 of any size isn’t without some self-defense potential. Heck, all things being equal, I’d prefer to be carrying my Model 29 loaded with high power 44 specials...but all things aren’t equal.

I’ve considered getting one of the 12 oz J-frames in 22 as an easy to carry and accurate to shoot little revolver. Kind of expensive though and probably not as good as the Ruger LCP I already own.

8 posted on 01/10/2022 8:02:31 AM PST by Mr Rogers (We're a nation of feelings, not thoughts.)
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To: Magnum44

Agree. I will stick with my Ruger LCPs. No need to change.

9 posted on 01/10/2022 8:04:28 AM PST by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: ad ferre non, velit esse sine defensione)
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To: COBOL2Java

I would say no since the barrel is too short to get good bullet velocity.

10 posted on 01/10/2022 8:05:29 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie (Let's go Brandon)
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To: Mr Rogers

The .22 mag is probably a nice carry for hiking. I’d have to check the Model but S&W makes one with a slightly longer barrel, Model 41 or something. I keep putting off getting a nice holster for mine. When I researched it they called it a rat gun.

11 posted on 01/10/2022 8:08:06 AM PST by 1Old Pro (Let's make crime illegal again!)
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To: COBOL2Java

I wouldn’t want to be down range of one. More powerful than a .22 long rifle and a .22 LR can kill you dead. It’s not a daisy red rider by any stretch.

12 posted on 01/10/2022 8:08:51 AM PST by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you. )
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To: COBOL2Java

Here is a Ruger LCR compared to a Sig 365 (via Sig gives you 10+1 rounds of 9mm in a slightly smaller package, that only weighs a couple ounces more. There is an argument for the ultimate reliability of a revolver, but you give up a lot of firepower.

13 posted on 01/10/2022 8:09:10 AM PST by Wayne07
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To: Openurmind

Same here. My carry gun is a snubnose Ultralite .38 Special.

14 posted on 01/10/2022 8:09:49 AM PST by Tennessee Conservative (My goal in life is to be the person my dogs think I am)
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To: Gaffer
I’ve had a 22 mag pistol (PMR30). It was without a doubt the LOUDEST gun I owned. Shot big flames and made a helluva noise. People on the range next to me would step back and look over at what was being shot.

I've got a couple of cowboy guns with swappable .22 LR / .22 WMR barrels. Switching over to the .22 WMR is definitely a lot louder.

15 posted on 01/10/2022 8:12:10 AM PST by COBOL2Java (Fauci is a despicable little turd)
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To: Openurmind; Magnum44; wardaddy

The local concealed carry class requires a minimum of 38 S&W Special. It is taught by former policemen and sheriff’s deputies so it’s safe they know what they are talking about.

16 posted on 01/10/2022 8:13:29 AM PST by packagingguy
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To: Vaquero

Sacrilege. Everyone knows that 22s just bounce off and the minimum self-defense caliber is 454 Casull.

17 posted on 01/10/2022 8:15:15 AM PST by Seruzawa ("The Political left is the Garden of Eden of incompetence" - Marx the Smarter (Groucho))
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To: Blueflag
Agree. I will stick with my Ruger LCPs. No need to change.

I've got a couple of .22 WMRs, but I carry the LCP in my back pocket holster. My LC9s goes in my IWB holster.

18 posted on 01/10/2022 8:15:43 AM PST by COBOL2Java (Fauci is a despicable little turd)
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To: COBOL2Java

We have a .22 mag stubby. 2 inch barrel 9 rounds. Older than the hills (High Standards Sentinel Mark IV). Shoots great.

19 posted on 01/10/2022 8:16:18 AM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped)
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To: COBOL2Java

I have an EAA Single Six with swap out cylinders 22/22mrf...Got rid of that plastic Keltec. Only problem now is that I have a thousand rounds of MRF that I’ll probably never shoot through it.

20 posted on 01/10/2022 8:17:27 AM PST by Gaffer
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