When mulling over the query of what’s the very best caliber for self-defense, the .22 LR is just not on the high of anybody’s listing. Nonetheless, carrying a .22 for self-defense isn’t unreasonable for some shooters and a few circumstances—and ammo makers have responded to that want.
The Federal Punch line of ammo spans many main self-defense calibers from 200-grain 10mm Auto on all the way down to the 29-grain .22 LR, which was launched in 2021.
In centerfire handgun calibers (.380 Auto and up) the Punch masses jacketed hole level bullets, however within the rimfire configuration it makes use of a nickel-plated flat nostril design. The printed muzzle velocity from a 4-inch barrel is 1080 fps and per Federal’s product specs the bullets are designed to realize deep penetration from short-barreled handguns, which might be the standard configuration for somebody carrying a .22 LR for private safety.
Once I purchased my first carry weapons again within the Nineteen Eighties, I added a Beretta Mannequin 21A as a backup choice. It was by no means very dependable—not less than with the ammo I put by way of it—so it spent the vast majority of its time in my protected besides for infrequent journeys to the vary. It had a bent to misfeed and I additionally didn’t take care of the micro-sized security, which I discovered awkward to control. I don’t know what number of instances I really carried it, but it surely wasn’t typically. I simply didn’t have faith in it, and when in comparison with my totally dependable .40 S&W Glock 23, I might by no means deliver myself to rely on the little .22 LR if carrying the .40 was an choice.
However instances have modified. We now have higher firearms and higher ammunition, so I used to be curious to guage the .22 LR Punch with an open thoughts to see if my age-old bias towards the .22 LR for self-defense nonetheless had advantage or was a relic of outdated pondering.
Caliber: .22 LRBullet: 29-grain nickel plated flat noseMuzzle Velocity: 1080 fpsMuzzle Power: 75 foot-pounds50-Yard Velocity: 951 fps50-Yard Power: 58 foot-pounds
To assist check the ammo, I reached out to Jeff Hoffman at Black Hills Ammunition. He agreed to do some gel testing with the .22 LR Punch utilizing a wide range of firearms, whereas I hung out on the vary evaluating it beneath sensible taking pictures situations.
.22 LR For Self-Protection: Who’s It For?
The traditional reply to this query is that it’s suited to girls and those that are recoil delicate. I discover this evaluation unsatisfactory. Even my aged mother can deal with a .380 Auto and a well-balanced .38 Spl. wouldn’t give her any points. She doesn’t have any particular handgun dealing with abilities that elevate her above the common shooter.
I feel the actual reply is that there are legions of people that have .22s and won’t personal every other handgun, or who don’t have a larger-caliber handgun that’s appropriate for all their carry wants. They could have a full-framed obligation pistol that isn’t handy to hold or have a compact pistol that they’ve problem concealing when sporting lighter clothes.
Then there’s the difficulty of ammo. Everyone knows that common coaching with any firearm is essential and particularly so with defensive handguns. Not everybody has the finances to buy a sub-compact auto or revolver and provide it with sufficient ammunition to maintain their taking pictures approach sharp. For these shooters—and there are a variety of them—a .22LR for self-defense is sensible. It’s additionally value noting that Federal simply expanded the Punch line to incorporate a .22 WMR providing as properly, which shoots a 45-grain jacketed hole level at 1000 fps.
Two .22 LR Revolvers for Private Safety
For this analysis I used two 8-shot revolvers, a Ruger LCR and a Smith & Wesson Mannequin 43 C.
The Ruger suggestions the scales at 14.4 ounces empty and comes with a generously sized Hogue grip. The Smith is extra svelte, weighing 11.4 ounces. Each revolvers are constructed on aluminum frames, however the Ruger’s body is bulkier and has a metal cylinder whereas the Smith 43 C’s cylinder is fabricated from aluminum. That, together with the Smith’s smaller grip account for the burden distinction.
Each are nice to shoot, nonetheless, and simple to manage. With their hammers hid inside the body, each are double-action solely. By way of set off management, the Ruger is the smoother of the 2—although the Smith’s isn’t dangerous by any stretch. The LCR’s fireplace management system incorporates what Ruger calls a “friction lowering cam” and it provides the revolver a constant and even stack because the set off is pulled to the rear. When working the Smith, in distinction, you get suggestions from the timing mechanism by way of the set off. The general pull is clean, however that tactile suggestions is current, whereas you don’t get something of the like with the Ruger.
Federal .22 LR Punch on the Vary
Virtually talking, each revolvers ran the .22 LR Punch equally properly. Each have notched rear sights with a entrance submit marked in white. The 43 C’s rear notch is U-shaped with a big spherical white bead up entrance, and the Ruger has a sq. notch with a square-sided entrance ramp sight emblazoned with white.
I did a collection of drills on paper and metal at 3, 7, and 15 yards. Each shot quick and precisely, and I feel most shooters will be capable of get plenty of hits on track rapidly with a little bit of apply. Recoil is negligible and so long as a shooter has a stable base of handgun taking pictures fundamentals their hit proportion ought to be glorious even when working the weapons at velocity.
Ballistic Gel Testing
Hoffman does a variety of bullet testing in ballistic gel. Lots of his prospects are army and LE and require documentation on how the bullets and ammunition they’re contemplating performs. Achieved appropriately, the gel is calibrated to provide apples-to-apples knowledge so you’ll be able to evaluate one bullet’s outcomes to others with confidence. (The calibration is finished by taking pictures a BB at a set velocity and measuring its penetration within the gel. If the BB penetrates too far, or not sufficient, that signifies the gel wasn’t correctly ready.)
Ballistic gel is supposed to imitate the density of human tissue, so the depth of bullet penetration in gel is indicative of how the bullet will carry out towards an individual. After all, elements like clothes, taking pictures by way of obstacles, putting bone, and others will impact a bullet’s real-world outcomes (and which is why the total FBI testing protocol—the business commonplace for defensive ammunition efficiency—requires knowledge on extra than simply plain gel) however the common expectation is for a self-defense load to penetrate between 12 and 18 inches.
Now gel provides as lot extra info than most penetration depth. The bullets create a wound channel within the gel that give a really feel for its terminal ballistics. Hoffman measures that wound channel, wanting on the cavity created by the bullet because it traverses the gelatin block. He information the place the cavity is at its widest, the place the cavity begins, and the size of the cavity.
Federal .22 LR Punch within the Lab
Hoffman ran the Federal .22 LR Punch by way of three firearms with completely different barrel lengths. They included a short-barreled (2.4 inch) Beretta Mannequin 21, a Ruger Mark IV with a 4.4-inch barrel, and a Ruger 10/22 with an 18.5-inch barrel.
“I used to be fairly impressed,” stated Hoffman. “Each the .22 pistols penetrated greater than 12 inches, which is the edge that the FBI likes to see. They need from 12 to 18 inches of penetration and this bullet achieved that.”
The chart consists of outcomes from a 9mm +P defensive load as properly, taking pictures a Hornady 124-grain Jacketed Hole Level at 1065 fps from a 3-inch barreled pistol. The numbers present how the 9mm outperforms the .22 LR, however the distinction is lower than I might have thought.
With 8 rounds on faucet that may be fired rapidly and precisely in an easy-to-carry and conceal revolver with purpose-built ammo, you’ll be able to see how a .22 LR for self-defense turns into a viable choice.
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Is a .22 going to displace my compact carry 9mms or my 5-shot J-Body as an on a regular basis carry choice? Most likely not. However I received’t look down my nostril the identical manner at somebody who opts to make use of a .22 LR for private safety.
The most effective gun to have in a combat is the one which’s with you—and in case your circumstance dictates that it’s a .22 LR, there’s no want so that you can really feel under-gunned when you’ve got one thing like Federal’s .22 LR Punch loaded within the journal or cylinder.