Defensive Terminal Ballistics of the .22 LR for a Prepper
Almost every forum I read has a thread questioning the “killing Power” of the .22LR in regards to human targets.
I love the .22 LR and own many. It was my first rifle and handgun given to me at age 7. Still use them and practice with them at close range as well as up to 300 yards.
The ability of the .22 LR to kill someone is seldom doubted. But is that the real question? The question should be how effective is it as a terminal round. Should a prepper use it for defense?
I have a cousin who was shot and killed by a .22LR – a gang banger gangsta scum shot him in the stomach. My cousin died of internal bleeding. A good team of surgeons could have probably saved him. I also have a friend who was shot in the belly with a .22LR and it barley phased him. He did require emergency hospital treatment. But recovered quickly. There are many factors in a gun shot wound.
Yes a .22 LR can be lethal. But is it a good defensive round? No.
The .22 LR lacks the terminal ballistics to effectively stop a person unless extremely close up, and perfect shot placement. To think otherwise goes against the grain of statistics and logic. Thinking that you have perfect shot placement when engaging an armed bad guy who may be shooting at you and moving is also a bit unrealistic.
There are numerous studies that show the single shot stopping power of various rounds. The .22LR does not fair very well, especially compared to real defensive rounds. For that reason, experts pretty much universally agree that the minimum defensive round should be a 9mm – and a few will accept the .380 as a defensive round.
It is difficult to believe that anyone would consider the .22 LR as a defensive round especially in a gun fight.
In a gun fight the other guy shoots back. Would you really want to face someone holding a .45 if you had a .22 LR? Granted you might shoot them and they may die a hour or a day later, but the chances are, even if you shoot them first they will return fire.
As a body guard, and a combat pistol instructor, I do not even count on the .45 to be a one shot man stopper. Although there are stats that show that over 90% of the time it has one shot stopping power (compared to about 10-20% for a .22LR). When training someone in combat shooting, I teach the triple tap. The triple tap is two quick shots to center mass then one shot to the head. That is a good man stopper technique.
Keep in mind, that unless you hit the Central Nervous System, the person will not always go down immediately. Even a shot in the heart will give some individuals up to 10 or 15 seconds before they go into unconsciousness and die. In that time they could do a lot of damage to you.
Large caliber rifle rounds are another matter. There are other factors involved like hydrostatic shock and cavitation. In many instances a center mass shot can often be effective stopper. Game over.
As a prepper bugging out or defending a retreat, versus a survivalist lost in the woods waiting for rescue, I need a defensive weapon that will effectively do the job. The .22 LR is not it.
If you are a prepper, please get a round that is considered an effective defensive round with the absolute minimum being a 9mm (maybe a .380).
I see the lethality of the .22LR issue pop up all the time on various forums. Hopefully this will lay it to rest. If you want to survive an encounter with an armed assailant give yourself a fighting chance and use an effective round.
I live in South Florida and it’s a war zone. The stopping power statistics that I spoke of are taken from real incidents and indicate that caliber size has a great impact on first shot stopping power. I concede that the .22LR is a deadly round – my cousin was shot and killed by a .22LR.
My point is in reference to the terminal ballistics of a round. Not whether a round is lethal. I am referring to a round being a defensive round. The .22 LR is simply not a defensive round. The .22 is designed and best used as a small varmint round or a sporting round.
There is a lot of idle talk claiming that the caliber size is not important, if you accurately place your shots. Everyone who uses a gun professionally is highly aware of shot placement. Shot placement? Hmm – maybe your are talking about Vito Corleone having a couple of guys holding the bad guy and placing a shot under the skull. Every sane person strives for perfect shot placement. However in the real world in a real gun fight, it does not always happen.
Attempting to place the shot is a bit more difficult than many people think. When someone is moving and shooting at you, and you are moving and shooting, even hitting center mass is difficult. If using a .22LR you would have to hit the central nervous system to be certain of stopping an assailant with the first hit. In the gun fights that I experienced, it was difficult enough to hit center mass – let alone trying to hit a vital organ, CNS, or a head shot.
If caliber is not critically important in reference to stopping power, why do you think so many police departments are dumping the 9mm and packing a .40 cal? Because they believe it has more stopping power. I do not know of one LEO who would trade their service weapon for a .22LR – or anyone in the military who would trade their AR for a .22LR. It would be insanity. The FBI does extensive testing on defensive ammo and the .22LR would not come close to passing any of those tests.
I do not know of anyone in LE, or military who would not feel outgunned in a conflict if they were only holding a .22LR. Of course it the only weapon you possess in self-defense situation is a .22LR, then by all means do your best. The question would be, why did you only have a .22LR as your choice of cartridges? That is the myth I am hoping to dispel. That a .22 is a defensive round. Because a sling shot may have been used at some time as a defensive weapon, does that justify carrying one for defensive purposes? I hardly think so. The same is true of the .22 LR.
There are people in forums who claim they do not feel outgunned using a .22 for self defense. Even though you might not feel outgunned, its a simple fact, if you use a .22LR against someone with a real defensive round, you are outgunned.
Stopping power, in part, can be measured by the amount of energy that is transferred into the body. The .22LR delivers about 120 foot pounds of energy from the muzzle – not all of it may be transfered if it passes through the body. A .380 pistol caliber has 200 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) energy for JHP. A 9mm has about 320 ft-lbs. The .45 ACP has 400 foot pounds.
Also you could compare would area in square inches and the .22LR comes up short every time. It is a lethal round but not an effective defense round.
This is a quote from a chuckhawks.com — “The .22 Long Rifle high velocity and hyper velocity hollow point ammunition allows humane hunting of game up to about 7 pounds in weight at .22 ranges with solid hits in the heart/lung area.” Most bad guys weigh a bit more than 7 pounds. And yes, I know of guys who shoot deer with the .22LR even in places where it is illegal. And sometimes they are lucky enough to hit a vital organ. But usually the deer runs off, bleeds out, and experiences a painful death. An yes, there are incidents where a .22LR is used in a defensive situation and stops the criminal with one shot. But the truth is, and the reality is, the .22LR is not considered an effective defensive round. As far I as know it has never been used anywhere in the world as a main battle rifle. No LE agencies use it as a service round. That is reality.
If you rely on the .22LR – you are in fact outgunned. But you might be a quick guy who can draw fast, jump around, and dodge bullets – you might be the Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls of gun fighting – if you are, then knock yourself out and use .22LR when facing a group of ganstas drawing down on you with AKs or their 10MMs. As for me, I’ll stick with my 9mm and .45s in pistol and 5.56 – 308 – and larger calibers in a rifle. Caliber counts baby.
This thread was written to dispel the myth of the .22 LR having first shot stopping power. Many individuals feel they are adequately armed for a self defense situation using a .22LR. This thread is to convince those individuals to consider a more effective round. It could help save their lives.
The energy, in terms of foot pounds, that a caliber delivers will certainly play a role in the amount of penetration. Given the same type of bullet, the more energy the more penetration. The .22 LR does not have the penetration of more powerful defensive rounds.
A .22LR is not very effective in creating temporary crush cavities or cavitation. In fact, most hand gun rounds that I know do not have the velocity and muzzle energy to where temporary cavitation is a factor. Rifle rounds, however, can cause considerable damage to surrounding organs without hitting them due to temporary cavitation and hydrostatic shock.
As far as permanent crush cavities the .22LR is not as effective as a larger round at creating a permanent would cavity. The .22LR is lethal and can cause damage that is not measured by some of the factors you mentioned. In the case of my cousin the .22 penetrated the lower abdomen and caused too much damage for the surgeons to repair. If the surgical team were more skilled perhaps they could have saved him. Keep in mind that although he died, it did not cause immediate incapacitation. He responded to the threat and was active until hospitalized. This activity could have contributed to the internal bleeding. I am not a doctor, and am only speculating on the extent of his injuries and repair. But he did die later.
The transference of energy into the body is very important regarding stopping power, as it creates a shock to the system, as well as fragmentation. A bullet that penetrates may be more lethal causing two holes where blood escapes but at the same time not has as much shock to the nervous system. The .22LR although it can be lethal, it cannot be considered or classified as a defensive round.
As far as everyone agreeing that the .22LR is not an ideal defensive round, you would be surprised. There are people who argue that it is. There is a person in this thread that claim if a round were used as a defensive round it is classified as a defensive round. A person could use a pencil or a sharp stick in a defensive situation and win a conflict – would anyone consider a pencil or a sharp stick a defensive weapon – look at my concealed weapon defensive stick. I am just highlighting that there are people out there that are not aware. There are people out there who constantly ask about the defensive nature of the .22LR.
I owned several martial arts schools and taught bodyguards, LE, Military, etc. I am well versed in bladed weapons including knives. But if I planned in advance, I would not want to take a knife to a gun fight. Why are people planning to carry a .22LR in a bug out situation, where defense may be one of the most critical factors. Preppers are supposed to be prepared ahead of time. So why plan on bringing a .22LR to a gun fight? I am merely highlighting the limitations of the .22 RL in relation to stopping power for preppers in a self defense situation.
Yes a .22LR is better than a sharp stick or screaming bad words at an enemy. But is that really a standard for measuring its defensive capability? In other words, any weapon better than a sharp stick or screaming bad words can be classified as an effective self defense weapon.
No matter how you stretch it, or the reality one is ready to face, the .22LR is not a defensive round. Period. If you are a prepper, use your .22 for it’s intended purpose. Not as a defensive round.