Self Defense: 22 Magnum

A sensible personal defense plan should include a handgun, without a doubt. However, it must be one that you’re comfortable with. Once you become more experienced with shooting, you can test out larger, more powerful alternatives but everyone has to start somewhere. That optimum starting point may be a handgun designed to fire a 22 Magnum Rimfire cartridge. These cartridges are easy to shoot, easy to find, and affordable.

Although there are many cartridge options for self-defense purposes, the 22 Magnum has been a popular choice for quite some time. It pairs well with the 16-ounce Ruger LCR because it’s a compact and light revolver. North American Arms makes 6-ounce revolvers that are able to fire the 22 Magnum, as well. This handgun is about as small as it gets, but it’s due to this small reputation that many people consider the 22 Magnum worthless in self-defense situations. Is this true? Let’s look into it!

Self-Defense Is Unique

First and foremost, we must understand that self-defense differs from hunting or any other shooting activity. Typically a victim is not intending to kill their attacker. Instead, they are trying to prevent the bad guy from proceeding. A concealed handgun can do this in three ways. The first is by inducing so much pain that the bad guy either submits or voluntarily halts their actions. The next method is incapacitation, which is completely disabling an attacker. The final, most effective method is inducing fear. Think about it. What would you do if you had a gun pointed at you? Many law enforcement officials say that pointing a gun at a criminal will get them to surrender more often than not.

.22 Magnum As A Self-Defense Cartridge

Now that we have that settled, we’re going to analyze how effective the 22 Magnum is compared to other self-defense cartridges. If simply pointing your weapon is enough, then it does not really matter what you’re carrying. However, if this happens to not be the case, it’d be smart to know what will trigger the previously listed outcomes. We’re going to be comparing the 9 MM, .45 ACP, and 22 Magnum. To do this, we’re going to perform ballistic testing on ordnance gelatin. Although ordnance gelatin doesn’t exactly simulate the density of the human body, it’s close to muscle tissue, which is good enough for test purposes.

In terms of penetration depth, the 9 MM and .45 ACP averaged about 13 inches. When the 22 Magnum was fired from handguns with barrels ranging from 1 to 4.5 inches, the average penetration depth was 12 inches. In that aspect, there was not a big difference.

The next variable we analyzed was velocity. When the 9 MM luger was shot from varied barrel lengths, the average velocity was 1,175 FPS. The average muzzle velocity of the .45 ACP was a little slower at 1,000 FPS. However, the average muzzle velocity of the 22 Magnum was about 1,050 FPS. Therefore, you can see that the 22 Magnum was not slower whatsoever.

The final variable we evaluated was energy and expansion. This is the area where we saw the biggest difference. The average hole diameter produced by the 22 Magnum was about .27 inches, which was significantly less than the 9 MM and .45 ACP. The 9 MM consistently made holes that were about .55 inches in diameter, while the .45 ACP made holes that were .61 inches. With that in mind, the 9 MM and .45 ACP will generally affect more than 3 cubic inches of tissue. However, the 22 Magnum will only affect about 1 cubic inch. This is important to understand because the cartridge that causes the most damage will likely be the most effective.

Overall, we still believe that having a concealed handgun is better than having nothing at all. Our testing was not meant to discredit the 22 Magnum. We hope that you never have to actually use your handgun for self-defense, but its’ effectiveness will also depend on the pain tolerance of your attacker. Therefore, the 22 Magnum is still a great choice, especially if you’re a novice shooter.

About LAX Ammo

LAX Ammo is one of Southern California’s best ammunition providers. Originally established in Inglewood, LAX Ammo has expanded to San Diego and is continually looking to expand. Their success can be accredited to their array of options, great prices, and knowledgeable yet friendly staff. LAX Ammo is a great place to pick up any self-defense cartridge, including the .22 Magnum.