.22 Magnum For Self-Defense

If Life Gives You Lemons — Blast 'Em!
; .

David considers the Ruger Lite Rack LCP II .22 LR a last-resort pocket gun, but certainly better than nothing!

I’m a rootin’ tootin’ .45 shootin’ concealed carry practitioner and instructor — or, I was. For most of my years, I’ve been an adamant advocate of carrying enough gun. When people in my classes struggled with racking slides and begged me to tell them it was okay to carry a .380 instead of a 9mm, I wouldn’t. Instead, I would work with them, showing them various tricks for racking the slide and remind them once it’s loaded, you’ll be okay.

My concealed carry instructor was a former marine who insisted if it doesn’t start with a four it’s not enough gun. I was one of those people who wore the T-shirt with, “Why a .45?” on the front and, “Because They Don’t Make a .46,” on the back.


KelTec PMR30 are two good options if you want to carry a .22 Magnum defensive pistol.


I owe a lot of people an apology. I’m thinking right now about a retired school teacher in her late 70s who bought a tip-up Taurus .25 from us when we were running a special on them. When I found out she wanted it for her daily carry gun, I tried explaining to her why it wasn’t a good idea. She told me the gun would be fine if she was attacked because she would, “shoot ’em in the face.”
I turned 72 on my last birthday. I’m not really old but some days I can’t even open a package of saltines. I use an UpLula loader to fill my 9mm magazines. It’s rare I carry one of my favorite .45 1911s anymore. I can still rack the slide on a P229, a G3, an M&P or a Shield, but sometimes it’s a Taurus 856 UL I stick in my pocket when we leave the house.

When I reviewed the Ruger Lite Rack LCP II .22 LR, I confess I began to think of it as a possible carry gun on some days. In my case it’s arthritis accompanied by bursitis. Lots of us have such ailments but we don’t want to give up carrying a gun — we’ll just have to make adjustments!

I’ve written articles about shooting with hurting hands. But a .22? I don’t think so, but the thought of carrying a .22 Magnum for defense is starting to sound like an option, especially if it has a large capacity magazine.


The Rock Island TM22.


What kind of .22 Magnums have the capacity to make me feel comfortable? I’ve found two.

I came into our gun store one day and noticed my son, who was working behind the counter, wearing a KelTec PMR30 in his holster. Later when we were in the office counting up our meager sales for the day, I asked him about it. He said, “Dad, when you wear it all day you don’t even notice this lightweight gun. And I figure, it’s loud and has 31 rounds of magnum hollow points in it. No one is going to stick around and fight me in a gunfight when I’m shooting at him with the fire-breathing, loud gun that just keeps on shooting.”

I’ve thought about his response often when I’m out shooting one of my .22 Magnums, including the PMR30. My son is a young man with none of the arthritis, bursitis and other painful diseases plaguing us old folks but he occasionally has a hitch in his gitalong from a football injury. Nobody likes to get shot and the psychological aspect of lots of bullets coming at you fast could stop aggressive behavior as fast as the damage those bullets are doing.

The PMR-30 is very light. Total weight unloaded is only 14 oz. and a loaded 30-round magazine doesn’t add much weight. It’s 7.9″ long, 5.8″ high and 1.3″ wide with a 4.3″ barrel. The grip is big because of the 30-round double-stack magazine and the mag release is at the base of the grip. There’s an ambidextrous safety and a small slide lock on the left side. The book says the trigger pull is 5 lbs. but mine is closer to 3 lbs. with a short take-up and short reset.

The manual cautions the PMR-30 functions best with high power ammo, often with bullet weights of 40-gr. and up. They recommend CCI Maxi Mag 40 grain, Winchester Super-X 40 grain and Remington Premier Magnum 33 grain. I’ve shot it with all of those, and as long as the feed ramp is clean, it handles them fine. I’ve also used other types of ammo with good results. I would feel adequately armed with this gun loaded with 31 rounds of 40-gr. hollow points or even Hornady Critical Defense 45-gr. FTX cartridges. As far as holsters go, it fits into a 1911 holster pretty well.

So, the KelTec PMR30 is at the top of my list for guns I’d have with me if I absolutely couldn’t operate a 9mm. KelTec started advertising this gun in 2010, but for the longest time they were very hard to get. We had them on allocation at our gun store and the first six we got in were absorbed by our employees.

In order to get one from our wholesalers, we had to buy something else in the $1,200–$1,500 range. Eventually, my son and I each got one and they’re among our treasured guns. I’m no longer an FFL so my finger isn’t on the pulse, but I’m told they’re much easier to get now. I see the MSRP is currently $478.


The capacity of these two firearms makes a compelling argument for their
effectiveness as defensive handguns.

Plan B

The other gun I consider in my “adequately armed” rimfire category is one I reviewed in the December 2019 issue of GUNS, the Rock Island XTM .22 Magnum. This standard-sized 1911 carries 16 rounds of .22 Magnum ammo. I found it likes CCI’s Maxi-Mag 40-gr. hollow points just fine. The XTM .22 Magnum weighs in at 2.5 lbs., fits in a standard 1911 holster and even shoots like a 1911 because it is. Since I’m a 1911 guy, this under-$600 gun falls right in there as a low recoil, high volume ammo defensive handgun.


Upon Further Review …

I revisited the gun my retired school teacher decided to use for personal defense. Those guns are pretty and fun to shoot, so back when they were available I got one for each of my daughters-in-law. I borrowed one while working on this article. The Taurus PT-25 holds 10 rounds of .25 ACP and has the advantage of not having to rack the slide. Load the magazine, then tip the barrel up to load one there and the gun is ready to go. It’s small and easy to hide and at very close range would probably discourage an attacker, especially if you’re cool enough under pressure to shoot them in the part of the face in front of the cerebral cortex.

In no way am I advising you to carry either of the subcalibers mentioned as a defensive handgun. However, if you decide on your own to carry one, shoot for the face, specifically right at the bridge of the nose. Penetration there will be your best option of stopping someone cold as the bullet enters the cerebral cortex, thus disrupting brain function necessary to sustain life.

Nothing in this article should be construed as this pistol instructor recommending you carry a rimfire handgun or even a .25 ACP for self-defense. I’m just giving you some things to think about if you start having physical issues as I’m doing myself. What’s the old saying — “When life deals you a lemon, shoot it full of holes with a .22 Magnum!”

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