.22 vs 9mm

Which is better for Self-Defense, Hunting or Plinking?

The 9mm and the .22LR are two popular ammunition out in the market. They are different in respect to cartridge sizes. Comparing the two in a head to head is easy when you’re only viewing the size of the caliber. The 9mm is bigger than the 22 round.
The .22 rounds have much less energy than 9mm rounds, the powder load is smaller. When fired has less acceleration and kinetic energy.
Which means the penetration and knock down power is not in the same class as the 9mm caliber. However, that doesn’t mean the .22 isn’t good for anything.
Beginner shooters can start with the .22. With the less recoil, it helps newbies in learning all the basic marksmanship shooting.
For the more seasoned shooter, the .22 does offer speed in shooting and accuracy.

Now thats not to say that you can’t do the same with the 9mm. The FBI commissioned the 9mm caliber as the standard carry for their agents. In this instances, from a beginner perspective the .22LR would be a good starting point to develop their marksmanship. As a more experienced shooter, its a matter of preferences. (more on this later)

Which is better is not a simple A or B answer. These two calibers are quite popular amongst avid shooters, some may be more of the die-hard but it seems that they prefer these calibers for self-defense, hunting and plinking.
Let’s take a look at why these purposes serve one caliber and not the other.

Self-Defense
For personal defense stopping an attacker in their track with good shot placement to the vital area takes paramount in priorities.
Which is why the 9mm takes the lead in this due to the bigger size and was specifically design for this purpose. (no brainer)
A quick word about “stopping the attacker” it means creating enough damage to cause significant blood loss and/or causing enough pain to make the attacker change their mind. So even if you’re packing a .22 J-Frame revolver and put 5 rounds into the attacker which compelled them to stop is also a good thing.

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Shooting accurately and reliably can be about the Indian. But both of these rounds can do the same. The .22LR is probably more comfortable to shoot.

Penetration is another important factor, the ideal penetration needs to be at least 12 inches. (according to the FBI)
Most 22 LR does not reliably penetrate deep enough to strike something critical. 22LR was never designed to be a self-protection round and it serves poorly as one.
However, in some self-defense circle they believe the .22 is more capable than a lot of people give it credit for. For example, with the advancement in loads, the CCI Velocitor 40-grain small game load has been known to perform relatively well out of handguns.


Lucky Gunner tested a 1.9-inch snub nose revolver with the 22 shooting at the ballistic gel. All five rounds penetrated between 10 and 12 inches. There was no expansion, which is expected for a .22. Penetration is by far the more important attribute. The FBI uses a minimum standard of 12 inches of penetration for duty ammo but 10 inches is nothing to sneeze at.
With good multiple shot placement, a bullet from a .22 handgun should be more than capable of reaching the vital organs to physically disable an attacker or create enough pain to make them stop.

Hunting
In this department its sort of unfair to compare the two for hunting because the 9mm was never meant for hunting purpose.
22LR ammo is a better choice for hunting for this purpose. The .22 is the more ideal round in this environment due to practicality. Of course we’re not talking big game here, but small game. Another thing is most .22LR for hunting is from a rifle. Unless you’re able to find a Stevens Model 35 pistol from the past.

This single shot pistol in rimfire calibers and the more rare .410 shotgun shell including the .22LR were the favorite of sportsman and target shooters of yesteryear.
The downside to this pistol is that its a single shot. This gun was knowns as “bicycle guns” because they were light and handy and perfect for bringing along on your country bicycle trip for small game and plinking. (back in the day)
The 9mm can be used for hunting, but its likely to cause much damage to small game, it would destroy the meat that you’re harvesting.

Plinking & Target Practice
Both rounds are accurate and easy shooting. Both are chambered in a variety of platforms and both are abundant and affordable. When it comes to basic target practice it seems either round will serve you well.
22 LR is often a much cheaper option as compare to 9mm ammo. The easy shooting 22 LR is excellent for new shooters and older people.
9mm is often the perfect caliber for shooters to move up once they are comfortable with the 22 LR. The 9mm can be used in rifle form for training and is still a blast to shoot. Both rounds certainly have their place when it comes to plinking.

Final Shot
Think about it this way — most of us who are serious about practicing our handgun skills on a regular basis tend to do the vast majority our shooting with a full size or a compact pistol chambered for a service caliber. That’s where we dedicate most of our training hours and our ammo budget.

Both rounds excel at what they are designed and to do, and that’s why they are the king of their respective bullet genres. Ideally its nice to have one of each.

If you are just starting out – it’s impossible to go wrong with a .22 LR caliber rifle/handgun as your first pick.
For a more experienced shooter and their purpose is everyday carry for self-defense, they will lean more towards the 9mm.
Then theres the prepper groupies, if they had to choose only one caliber, they will go with the .22LR. The .22LR is more pragmatic in that environment and conditions.
What would you choose?

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May 13th, 2019 by