Best .22 Magnum Pocket Pistols [2021]

For Personal Defense, Would You Carry one?

Having a reliable pistol that you’re comfortable with is ideal for pocket carrying. If you’re a newbie and want to start with a reliable pistol while working on your skillsets before going onto a higher caliber. Why not start with a .22 cal snub nose?
Before we get into the nittty gritty of pocket carrying a .22 caliber pistol. Here’s the quick list of some of the best .22 caliber pocket pistols that shoots the LR and WMR.

  • Ruger LCR 22

    The Ruger LCR line of revolvers is one of the most modern revolvers on the market. Ruger makes heavy use of polymer in the construction of their revolvers. This reduces the weight of a revolver and more affordable than using materials like Scandium. This Ruger LCR is a snub nose which has an enclosed hammer that makes the revolver easier to draw.
    The Ruger LCR series is an excellent everyday option for someone looking for a small, but low recoil pocket pistol. The LCR weighs in at 14.9 ounces and is superbly small. This makes carrying the weapon very easy and very comfortable.
    The LCR in 22LR holds 8 rounds, giving the user a good capacity for a revolver. The LCR 22 Magnum houses 6 rounds, which is one more than most snubbie revolvers. This increased capacity gives the user more shots and allows more forgiveness if a round fails to ignite.
    The Ruger LCR line of revolvers has one of the best triggers out there. While the trigger pull is as long as a traditional DAO revolver, the pull is much lighter than a standard rimfire revolver. If a shooter has reduced hand strength and needs a 22 caliber round then they probably don’t have the strength for a heavy DAO trigger.
    Even though the Ruger LCR is light and small there is almost zero recoil in both 22 LR and 22 Magnum. The 22 LR version has about as much recoil as a squirt gun. The 22 Magnum version has just a little more recoil, but it’s pleasant and tame.
    If you’re into red laser, you can attach a Crimson Trace Laser grips. You can also attach a laser unit to the frame with the LaserMax device.
  • Smith & Wesson 43 C

    This snubby at first glance can pass as a .38 Special, which is probably why its overlooked by plinkers. Consider a lightweight double-action revolver, weighing in at 12.3 ounces fully loaded with 8 rounds. This snubby comes with XS white dot front sight and a large U-shaped notch for the rear sight. Which really helps picking up the flash sight picture quickly.
    The trigger break is not smooth pulling at 12 pounds which is common for j-frames. (stiff double action trigger) For some that have shot this are saying, “Its a hoot to shoot!”
  • Beretta 21A Bobcat

    A semi-auto .22 pocket pistol size from Beretta. The pistol has a tip-up barrel that lets you chamber without racking the slide. Has a manual safety and a mag release on the left side of the grip. This gun has a very small sight and is a double action/single trigger. Weighs in at 16 ounces, smaller than a Ruger LCR and holds 8 rounds.
    Clearing a malfunction in this Bobcat can be a pain.
  • Taurus PT-22

    Another truly pocket size semi-auto pistol. This Taurus PT22 is very small and lightweight, easy to shoot, and has very little to no recoil. Similar to the Beretta Bobcat 21, the barrel tips up to load/unload the first, chambered round. There are no advantages to carrying this but a really nice gun for a newbie to learn to shoot with.
  • NAA LLR Revolver

    NAA revolvers are excellent pocket guns that can go anywhere you couldn’t normally use a larger gun. The price is easy to justify for the level of quality, especially in the fit and finish.
    The gun may seem slightly unsafe with the spur trigger, but the gun is surprisingly innovative on the safety aspects. The hammer can rest on a full chamber safely, due to the hammer lock and the small footprint and simple operation allows you to always be prepared. This is an excellent small backup gun for self-defense.
    With all that said, and if you’re still seriously want to carry this, you would need to practice with it. Shooting this NAA revolver takes some time getting used to, especially while under stress.
  • Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR

    The LifeCard is small. Smaller than a deck of playing cards. The LifeCard is 1/2-inch thick and is 3.375 inches long when it’s closed, around 4 inches when open.
    The LifeCard is a single shot .22 and has storage for 4 more rounds of .22LR in the grip. To reload, you need to tip the barrel, load a round, then manually cock the hammer. Think of it loading like the classic side-by-side double-barrel shotguns. On the practical side of things, we’re not sure if this is worth having. Yes, the LifeGuard hands down is the ultimate James Bond concealed backup gun.
There are others with longer barrels that just did not make the pocket pistol category. (2 inch barrel & under) Such as the Kel-Tec PMR30, SIG SAUER 938 .22 Pistol and S&W 63 due to its bigger size.
For the rest of this article we look at the different .22LR and WRM loads that were tested against the ballistics gel with these smaller pocket pistol.
If you know of a truly decent pocket size pistol please let us know.


Ballistics
Prices on the .22 LR and WMR are really affordable, even the premium ones. The first two are ballistic gel test results were collected from Lucky Gunner Labs. These were sorted to view from the short barrel results.
.22LR

From this testing we see the Winchester 37 gr Varmint HE 3 average 5-shot depth is 12.7 inches of penetration.
The CCI 40 gr Velocitor CPHP 3 average 5-shot depth was at 13.1 inches.

22WMR

These magnums penetrations were much better than the LR. The best came from CCI 40 gr Maxi-Mag JHP 5-shot average depth at 15.8 inches. The next best was Fiocchi 40 gr Performance JSP was at 15.1 inches.

This chart below on .22 WMR gives you another set of numbers from different brand ammo – its just to see where the numbers fall into place from two different sources.
ballistic charts w different loads



Its still Manly to Carry a .22 Caliber Pocket Pistol

For the intermediate to advanced shooters, we’re not saying to drop your 45’s and convert over to .22s. For some of us that are budget challenged and some how the .22 caliber just fits the bill for personal defense and survival. (preppers)
Our pick almost hands down is the snubby from Ruger and/or S&W 43C for reliability over the semi-auto pocket pistols. And, the extreme joy of shooting.

Personal Defense
Some may argue that the .22 WMR is too small for personal defense. Those that think this way are looking at it from a hunter mindset, that is one shot one kill.
However, for self-defense purpose the primary objective is stop the bad guy from doing bad things.
There are three ways to stop a threat with a pistol:

  1. Causing enough pain that the bad guy submits or voluntarily decides to stop
  2. Incapacitation, which is an involuntary reaction on the part of the bad guy in response to being shot, this can be instant or it can take some time.
  3. Using Fear as a psychological deterrent, no one wants to get shot at when there is gun pointed at them.

Let’s move onto the cartridge itself, yes, its not a .357.
The .22 WMR does not have the stopping power of a .357, it does have velocity. Back to this later, many gun experts will test out these cartridges against a gel. Its simply a ballistic test medium which is thought to offer the same resistance to a bullet as would muscle tissue.
However, it does not replicate skin, ribs, cartilage or fat and, in fact, very often the way a bullet performs in living tissue is quite different than how it performs in gelatin.
Ok, you’re still stuck on the different calibers and how a .22 compares.

Caliber Comparisons
Here an interesting comparison that pitted the .22 WRM, 9mm and a .45 ACP. The penetration from the heavier slugs was deeper at 13 inches. The .22 WRM was going in at a little over 12 inches. One inch differences.

Velocity
The average 9mm Luger velocity ran about 1,175 fps.
The average .45 ACP ran at 1000 fps.
The .22 WMR fps came in at 1,050 fps.
Again not much differences

Terminal Performances
When looking at terminal performances its about expansion but on a short barrel we’re not going to see this. Unless, its from a higher caliber or from a longer barrel.

Expansion is important because if you have two holes that are the same depth, the hole that has the largest diameter will also be the one that is likely to do the most tissue damage.
Penetration is the length of the bullet path after entering soft tissue, in this case we see it in the ballistic gel. The goal is to see the depth at 12 inches, according to the FBI standard. (image below)

The average frontal diameter of the .22 WMR bullets is about 0.27 inches.
The 9mm Luger was at 0.55 inches.
The .45 ACP came at 0.61 inches.
The damage is translated into cubic inches of tissue.
9mm Luger = 3 cubic inches
.45 ACP = 3.79 inches
.22 WMR = 1 inch
If you’re a statistical person and just going by terminal performances, obviously you wouldn’t pick the .22 WMR as a choice to carry.
What’s misleading in the world of self-defense is that people seem to think the one shot that incapacitates normally doesn’t happen. True that the .22 WMR does not bring instant incapacitation.
But for deterrent and quick shooting a .22 WMR can still be effective to put some pain on a bad guy to get them to stop so you can run away to get help.

Sources: Featured image, Video and chart from Lucky Gunner

Bulk Ammo In-Stock





22 WMR Ammo

The Power of the .22 Magnum for Pocket Pistols

In our continuing discussions on whether pocket pistols are good enough to carry for personal protection. We sometimes hear of the small few gun enthusiasts that carry these .22 pocket pistols.

For personal defense the goal is to always “break contact” from the “Bad Guy” if you’re ever caught in such dire situation. Breaking contact is to get away from the BG either you had the six sense to avoid the confrontation or caught in the fight. Once you have fired on the BG, the goal is to stop the BG from his attack so you can run away.


Terminal Ballistics

From a terminal ballistics stand point the .22 is not that impressive from a short barrel pistol.
But the .22 is more capable than people think. To make this point we looked at these tests that were conducted by the fine folks from Lucky Gunner. Lucky Gunner ran a 1.9 inch snub nose pocket pistols with several types of .22 Magnun loads against a ballistic gel.
This was for measuring the penetration and seeing the expansion. What we’re striving for is a good 12 to 15 inch penetration with less expansion. These depths are considered good from the FBI standards. So ideally, when combined with good shot placement to the vital areas of the torso, this should deter/stop the BG from attacking you.

Stopping Power
Yeah, yeah its just numbers, don’t expect a lot of knock down power here. So theres a study done by Greg Ellijah on “Stopping Power”, its based on 1800 real world shooting incidents. He discovered that 60 percent of the time a person shot with a .22 was incapacitated after a single hit to the head or torso. Looking at the chart and comparing to the bigger caliber that’s pretty good.
But a third of the time a person hit was not incapacitated no matter how many times they were hit. That’s roughly twice as many failures as the bigger caliber pistols. Could it be that 60% of the hits that were successful was due to hits to the vital organs? Who knows, Ellijah study doesn’t have the details at this level.

Double Action
Another thing to note is that most .22 pocket guns are double action. The trigger pull is heavy, they tend to be more so than the centerfire pistols. The rimfire pistols primer needs more force to ensure a reliable ignition. Having said all that we shouldn’t disregard the .22 altogether.

Maybe its for the Advanced Shooter
The .22 caliber pistol actually can benefit the more proficient shooters. Some of the benefits is that the ammo is cheap, You can a run through a box of 50 for a few bucks. If you were to practice with it more often than the standard size handguns, you can outperform against it terms of speed and accuracy at close range. (within 7 yards)
Far too often most gun enthusiasts practice more with their standard size handguns. The thinking is that this is their preferred pistol to shoot with not for personal defense. If they own a pocket size gun then this gun usually does not get as much range time.
Now with a .22 pistol if they shoot it more often, this can be funner and become more proficient with it. Will this change your mind to rely on the .22 pistol for personal defense? Some gun folks may and probably many won’t, depending on who you ask.

.22 Magnum – More Umph
For the loyal .22 fans the answer for some more umph to your load is the .22 Magnum. Yes, its what we all been waiting for. Shooting it from a two inch barrel is quite loud, the recoil is a little more than a .22LR but still easily manageable. Failure to fire at times does still exist with the .22 Magnum. (light primer strike)
Many gun nuts know to slighly remedy this by installing a heavier spring, but the trigger pull is now at between 12 to 15 pounds. Yeh, more so than the standard .38 Special. So if this doesn’t deter you from not investing in a .22 pocket pistol, lets move on to some decent loads that are specifically for personal defense. You’ll also see some velocity, penetration and expansion info results from the ballistic gel.

.22 Magnum Loads
Speer Gold Dot 40 grain – 1105 ft/second – penetration=13 inches – some expansion
CCI Maxi-Mag Hollow Points 40 grain – 1089 ft/second – penetration=15 inches – no expansion
Hornady FTX 45 grain – 1105 ft/second – penetration=11″, 12 inches – some expansion


With these decent penetration capabilities these .22 loads can carry its weight when you hardly notice the recoil. Before we forget take a look at these .22 pocket pistols.

S&W J-Frame

Ruger LCR

S&W 351 C – These last two revolvers are considered the lightest in the market – weight 11.2 – 11.5 ounces

S&W 351 PD – weight 11.2 – 11.5 ounces

What do you all think? Do you carry a .22 Magnum Pocket Pistol? Let us know of your experience.



Load tests conducted by Lucky Gunner

Best Revolvers for Concealed Carry

What is the best revolvers for concealed carry?
Here’s the quick answer:

  • Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace
  • Ruger LCR .22
  • Taurus Protector
  • Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless
  • Taurus Judge

In this modern day gun world the semi-auto pistols have a huge hold of the market for self-defense guns. But concealed carry revolvers can still hold their own for personal defense.
Revolvers can be a strong choice for concealed carry, as they’re reliable and easy to use.
Not everyone is a fan of a small semi-auto for concealed carry.
However, there is a large fan base of shooters that will only look to revolvers for concealed carry.
If you’re in this group and interested in carrying a revolver for CCW, read on of the pros and con and see our picks of good quality revolvers for personal defense.
Pros
Here’s a few reasons why revolvers are reliable, its the feeding and magazines.
-You say there is no magazines on a revolver thats right.
Magazines in semi-auto pistols are the main cause of malfunction.
-Feeding works pretty good in semi-auto but when you’re plugging in hollow point rounds it does have its issues on magazines.
Revolvers don’t have any of these issues.
Lets talk about another feature that doesn’t go wrong, is the triggering.
-The execution of it is simply triggering the hammer and cylinder.
Pull the trigger hammer goes back, cylinder turns, hammer goes forward and bang. Pull the trigger again same operation over again without a hitch.
Downside
-A revolver holds less rounds than a semi-auto pistol.
Most revolver wheel a 5 round vs a semi-auto holds 6+1 at a minimum.
-The width on most revolvers are a little thicker than a popular CCW Glock 33 Gen4.
So this brings us to the types of revolvers, which is two types: with a hammer and hammerless.
The hammerless is design for snag free ideal for CCW.
These hammerless are normally “double-action,” there isn’t any cocking for a lighter pull.
The following is our pick of revolvers that blends in well with the concealed carry, a few may not fit the category, it may be more of a cannon for bear intruders.

  • Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace

    Probably one of the two or three most popular revolvers for concealed carry, the Bodyguard just won’t let you down. The hammerless design won’t get stuck in your pocket and the five shot capacity of .38 special ammo is useful for personal defense at close range less than 20-25 yards.
  • Ruger LCR .22

    Really… a .22? Yes. When it comes to those close quarter situations where you need a “Get Off Me” gun, any gun is better than no gun. The concealability of the LCR is second to none, and being able to produce one in a hurry can make a difference in life or death.
    What you might lose in stopping power, you will gain in follow up shots. The LCR allows for an eight shot capacity of low recoil, highly accurate rounds and supplement with good defensive Mano Mano hand-to-hand moves.
    May be the same concept as the FBI choosing to go with a lighter load like the 9mm for accuracy and rapid multiple shots.
    Here’s a video from Lucky Gunner on this cool piece.
  • Taurus Protector

    Who doesn’t want a small .357 revolver that can be used for CCW? Well, Taurus sure figured it out here. This small little pocket shooter only has a two-inch barrel. After that, it fires five rounds of either .38 special or .357. Regardless of your choice, it’s a good powerful punch.
  • Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless

    the M206 Spurless, means it has an internal hammer. This particular model has a wood handle and a black finish, but you can also get ones with black polymer grips and a stainless finish.
    The Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless is a cheap way to get into an internal hammer wheel gun and its plenty reliable like most revolvers for CCW.
  • Taurus Judge

    This is a different kind of gun because its an awesome hand cannon.
    This Taurus Judge caught our eyes because it’s a friggin beast. Also, its namesake says it all. The story is there were a number of judges who carry it into the courtroom just in case they need to lay down the final verdict on someone, or so the legend goes.
    This choice is a bit bigger than the others on the list. This revolver is longer and heavier…but it can shoot .410 3” shotgun shells or .45 Long Colt rounds if you want a little more distance between you and your target.
    Both rounds have some serious stopping power, not just for bad thugs but to stop bears as well.
    This beast is not meant for any ankle holster but more so for the shoulder holster.

Best CCW Revolver?
In conclusion if you’re looking for just concealed carry purpose, look for the width and size.
If you’re looking for more power, look for the caliber of a mini-hand cannon.
If you’re not sure go for the lighter and shoot more than you’ll find what you like. Let us know which revolvers that you carry for CCW below.

Sources: Ruger, Lucky Gunner, Rock Island Armory