Is the 22 LR Viable for Defense?
Dr. John Woods 07.06.20
The 22 long rifle rimfire cartridge has been around since 1887 from the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Company. It is probably the most widely used and shot powder driven cartridge in the world. Though it is touted as having been responsible for the most kills ever on white-tailed deer, I believe that award goes to the classic 30-30 Winchester.
Be that as it may, there can be few detractors for the 22 Long Rifle used within the suitable realms for which it was designed to be effective. You likely have read of accounts of this rimfire being used in Africa by poachers to quietly dispatch elephants to secure their valuable ivory tusks. It has likewise been used by shooters in this country to take game illegally, or for the pure sake of hunger back in more trying times. The 22 LR is no doubt a killer with reasonable restrictions.
Many preppers and survivalists, hunters along with general shooters have ping-ponged the tactical aspects of the 22 Long Rifle around bug out campfires for eons of time. However, when asked the direct question if they would pick the 22 rimfire for personal or property defense, to the letter, nobody would pick it as their top choice. That’s understandable.
But, when considered as a supplement to more substantial tactical arms, a good shooting rimfire rifle as well as handguns are highly recommended for inclusion in any prepper arms battery. Why?
Rimfire ammo is cheap, lightweight, in ample supply (right now), and quite accurate. A typical round of 22 rimfire costs about 6 cents. Compare that to a 223 at .50 cents, and a .308 at nearly a whopping $1.00 per shot. If you had to carry a supply of these ammo choices, a 500 round block of rimfire weighs about 5 pounds. An equivalent “brick” of 223 would weigh about 15 pounds, while 500 rounds of .308 would go around 30 pounds. If you were headed out to patrol a property perimeter, which would you rather tote for 5 miles?
I know, power wise, we’re talking apples and eggplants. While there are literally dozens of 22 LR rimfire loads available, the typical 40 grain load yields a muzzle velocity of about 1150-1435 mv with an energy of 117 to 183 foot pounds. Puny. Well, yes compared to a 223 or 308 for example.
I’ve always had this idea that more rounds downrange was always better than throwing rocks. I’m quite sure I’m not going to peek around a corner where bullets are busting the plaster off the wall right by my eyes. Same argument as bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The 22LR is not the first tactical choice, but is better than nothing, and really good for a whole lot of prepping and survival work where centerfires are not needed. Throw another log on the fire and ponder on that for a while.