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Using a .22 caliber handgun for self defense…

December 29, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Firearm and Caliber Advice No Comments

Question: I have a 9 mm handgun, but due to its size and weight i prefer to carry my Walther P22 all the time…..I want to know how effective a .22 gun can be in stopping an attack…..

Answer: Your seemingly simple question could generate a fairly lengthy answer if I covered all the details.  In the interest of being concise I will say the following:

1.  Generally the person that lands the first gunshot in a gunfight wins.
2.  Accuracy in many cases is the key to lethality.
3.  A well placed shot in a vital area with a small caliber can be more lethal that a poorly placed shot from a much larger caliber gun.
4.  Having any gun with you will improve your chances in a fight versus having no gun at all.

In general, larger calibers such as the 9mm will do more damage to the human body than a .22 if the shot placement is the same.  This is why most people prefer larger calibers as they have greater ‘stopping power’.  What I mean by that is more energy is delivered and more damage is done by a single shot from a larger caliber if the accuracy is the same.

Unfortunately, many people cannot shoot a larger caliber gun as accurately as they can shoot a .22 caliber gun.  I see this all the time in the handgun courses I teach.  Students that can’t hit the target with a 9mm or .40 caliber might have no difficulty at all with a .22 caliber pistol.

My conclusion would be this.  A well placed .22 caliber round can do lethal damage, but it will not do it as quickly nor will it give you the margin of error in terms of accuracy that a larger caliber gun will against a human adversary.  You will have to land more shots to do the same damage and the efficacy of peripheral hits (non-vital areas) will be questionable.  Still having any gun is better than no gun at all.

If you can shoot a 9mm accurately, I would suggest you adapt to carrying the 9mm.  It will give you a much greater advantage against an attacker.  If size and weight are the primary issue, I might consider purchasing a 9mm that is more in line with the size and weight of your Walther P22.  Kahr, Glock and Kel-Tec all make small, lightweight pistols in 9mm that would fit the bill.

Certainly the Walther is a great pistol for target shooting and practice.  It is inexpensive to shoot and will help you practice and improve your marksmanship fundamentals.  I would just suggest that .22 caliber has some pretty serious limitations when used for personal defense.

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