.22 mag for Self Defense?

by Woodsbum

There seem to be all sorts of debates around what is the best self defense round and firearm to carry. The LEO community always seems to think that the subcompact framed semiauto pistols are the only way to go where many of the tactical guys advocate carrying their favorite Glock or 1911 at all times. There is a startling reality in the world of self defense carry…….   Those large pistols cannot be carried at all times because they are TOO DAMN BIG!!!

Seriously. How many of these “I carry all the time” guys actually carry at all times? There is no way that someone advocating the carry of a Combat Commander can carry that huge monstrosity while working out at the gym. If they say that they do it is a lie. How can you conceal it? This is simple. You can’t.

This leaves you with pocket guns or mini revolvers. Of those, you really have the following calibers:

  • 380 acp
  • 32 acp
  • 25 acp
  • 22 mag
  • 22 lr

Now the big debate comes in as to which one to carry. Most of the time it comes back to the bigger is better debate, which is what got you in this pickle to begin with. If you pick too big then you can’t conceal the firearm and are back to square one. If you go too small then there might not be enough stopping power in the cartridge to save you if you need it. Truly, this is a sticky situation that leaves you without any real answers and just more questions.

Let’s look at the ballistics of each of these calibers. Maybe that will help you make your own decision. I am picking some decent loads and will try and stay with the same brand for each caliber. The 22 lr and mag will be different obviously. If you want to do some detailed research you can check out http://www.ballistics101.com for a huge list.

Here are some Hornady Ammo comparisons:

Hornady Ammunition Ballistics

Round Type Weight Muzzle Energy ft·lb Muzzle Velocity ft/sec.
32 ACP XTP HP 60 133 1000

Hornady Ammunition Ballistics

Round Type Weight Muzzle Energy ft·lb Muzzle Velocity ft/sec.
25 ACP XTP JHP 35 63 900

Hornady Ammunition Ballistics

Round Type Weight Muzzle Energy ft·lb Muzzle Velocity ft/sec.
380 Auto FTX CD 90 200 1000
380 Auto HTP HP 90 200 1000

Here are the specs for the CCI rounds I use in my .22 lr and .22 mag:

Maxi Mag # 0024

Caliber Bullet Weight (gr) Bullet Type Box Count
22 Win Mag 40 JHP 50
Velocity, ft/sec

Muzzle 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
1875 1574 1438 1319
Energy, ft-lbs

Muzzle 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
312 220 184 155
Trajectory if sighted at 100 yards

25 Yards 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
0.1 1.0 1.1 0.0

Mini-Mag HV # 0030

Caliber Bullet Weight (gr) Bullet Type Box Count
22 Long Rifle 40 CPRN 100
Velocity, ft/sec

Muzzle 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
1235 1092 1040 998
Energy, ft-lbs

Muzzle 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
135 106 96 88
Trajectory if sighted at 75 yards

25 Yards 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
0.7 1.3 0.0 -3.3

As you can see, there is a huge variance in the actual loads. The energy from the 25 acp, 32 acp, and 22 lr is really kind of dismal. There is not much energy to create a lot of hydrostatic shock and the bullet weights are not big enough to create a very large wound channel. This means, in layman’s terms, that these calibers just will not do a lot of damage. Of course you have that debate of damage versus firearm size. If you can get by with an LCR in size then do it. If you have enough fat rolls to hide an AR15 pistol then you are set. It all comes down to what you are comfortable concealing and carrying in various situations.

The 380 acp and 22 mag both have much more energy and or bullet weight. The 380 has over 2x the bullet weight, but only 2/3 the energy of the 22 mag. Again, you have to figure out if you want the blooshot meat or penetration/wound channel.

No matter what you use it comes down to one important factor. Are you TRULY going to carry your pistol with you EVERYWHERE you go? If not then quit bugging those that do about the size of your firearm or power of your pistol’s cartridge. It won’t matter because you won’t have your pistol with you anyway…….

This is just my take on the situation, but it stands to reason that those that do carry 100% of the time have the advantage over those that don’t. This also brings up the point that there is no reason why I can’t slip my M&P into a shoulder holster when I have on clothing that can conceal it – then I am carrying 2 pistols to your 1.

Think about it before you make up mind on what you really want to carry. Personally I will keep carrying my .22 mag for self defense and backup because it literally is with me 24/7. Of course I toss in a larger firearm if I need to.

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