Should 22Mag be Taken Seriously as a Defensive Caliber?

   11.13.14

Should 22Mag be Taken Seriously as a Defensive Caliber?

When 30 carbine was introduced during WW2, many called it inadequate. It became massively popular, and not just with the rear echelon troops. Far from the sheer power of the 30-06, it was more useful to a radio operator, a cook, or a typist. Likewise,  22WMR is nowhere near the power of 223Rem (already deemed inadequate by many), yet its ballistic cousins 5.7×28 and 4.6×30 are well regarded for certain niche uses. Until recently, 22WMR was mostly used in hunting guns, the occasional exception like Grendel carbine aside. But consider it in the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) format: lightweight, accurate, nearly recoilless, and effective.

PMR30 and CMR30 use the same magazines. The pistol is lighter and smaller, but the rifle adds 700fps to the bullet velocity.
PMR30 and CMR30 use the same magazines. The pistol is lighter and smaller, but the rifle adds 650fps to the bullet velocity. Lucid M7 red dot is very appropriate for rapid defensive firing.

For my test, I used two CMR30s updated to the production configuration. Both were reliable and well received by the numerous shooters who tried them.

Even complete novices did well with CMR30, thanks to the light weight, good balance and crisp trigger.
Even complete novices did well with CMR30, thanks to the light weight, good balance, and crisp trigger.

While slow fire provides about 1.5MOA dispersion, we did rapid fire standing at 18-20 yards. The target was a 1/4″ hardened aluminum, diamond plate backed, with 2x4s. 9mm +P and .357Mag defensive ammunition shot through 4″ barrels left minimal impression on the plate. 22LR let just a tiny splatter. From the carbine barrel, 22WMR ball blew through the metal and the wood behind it. We tried CCI hollow point load with the same result.

Our target.
Our target.

The complete absence of recoil and minimal muzzle blast are a big deal to some people. For example, we had a shooter who had brain surgery two days prior and who couldn’t shoot a .223 rifle. She did very well with 22wmr. The old and the young and those who have shoulder injuries definitely benefit from a viable defensive weapon that’s half the weight of an AR15 rifle yet provides an adequate, if not overwhelming, impact. One might not end a fight but there’s thirty more where the first round came from.

Recovery from recent brain surgery didn't get in the way of fun and competent shooting at the range.
Recovery from recent brain surgery didn’t get in the way of fun and competent shooting at the range.

CMR30 is only available as a pre-production review batch at this time. But 500 to 1,000 of them are on track for commercial release before the end of the year. It’s a relatively simple gun, but Keltec has been debugging it for over three years and it won’t be a “public Beta test.” For example, the stocks got revised and no longer wobble. The charging handle is far better shaped than it was on the original. Reliability has been flawless since my carbines got updated to the production standard. And Keltec does understand mass manufacturing; in 2014, they are on track to produce nearly 150 thousand guns. Despite all the complaints about KSGs being unavailable, around 40-some thousand of those were shipped last year. So there’s a good chance that CMR30s will become available in more than token amounts.

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