Personal defense loads for the .22 LR

Posted May 5, 2014 by muzzlevelocity in Ammunition

It’s unlikely that any reputable firearms instructor would recommend anyone ever choose a firearm in .22 LR as a dedicated personal defense weapon, but it’s a fact that any gun is better than no gun at all during a crisis. This begs the question, if the only gun you had was a .22, what would be the best choice of ammunition for defense against two legged threats? A number of formal and informal ballisticians have addressed this very question and have been kind enough to post their findings online.

While far from a scientific test, this blogger sent a number of high-velocity .22LR rounds into blocks of 10% gelatin and recorded the findings. To summarize the results, the Remington 36-grain Viper penetrated the deepest and left the largest cavity in the gel block.  The tested CCI Mini-Mag and Stinger also left fairly wide for caliber cavities in the gel.

Scientific tests on the potential wounding effects of various .22 LR loads have been carried out over the years by Brass Fetcher. The details of their results can be found here. Loads that performed notably included the CCI Velocitor at an impact velocity of 1280 f/s (penetration in 10% gel = 10.8”) and the Aguila 60 grain Sniper Subsonic at an impact velocity of 935 f/s (penetration in 10% gel = 13.3”).

It is true that the .22 LR is ideal only for use on small game and varmints, but it should be noted that in a pinch, the round has been used to kill the largest of game animals and defend against a variety of human and animal threats.

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