Best .22LR ammo for self defense

This is a discussion on Best .22LR ammo for self defense within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I haven't handled a weapon in over 45 years, but that was fine as long as I did not see a reason fior one. I ...

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Thread: Best .22LR ammo for self defense

  1. #46
    New Member Array oldefoxx's Avatar
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    Where I'm at on this subject

    I haven't handled a weapon in over 45 years, but that was fine as long as I did not see a reason fior one. I got broke in on about two months back, and was lucky that it was only one to two teens. They left when they realized that I was home, just in another part of the house. I was once expert with rifle and pistol, even served as a range instructor for about a year. Learn to shoot right, you shouldn't really forget. You just need to keep practicing to be really proficient at it.

    Now I am buying a semi-automatic pistol for self and home defense. I wanted a 22LR rather than something heavier for several reasons. One, It is plane easier to shoot a lighter weight weapon. You want to do some real damage, just keep pulling on the trigger. I can fire a semi-auto very fast and still hit the target. I haven't lost my motor skills, though a head injury in 2008 forced me to relearn to type.

    It was argued that I really should go for a 9mm, 380, 40, 44, or 45 instead of a 22LR. I don't want a round that tears things or people apart, I want control over some of the damage done. But I was persuaded to at least look at some of the other calibers. Trouble is, finding any gun is pretty hard right now, and the web links update so slowly (or the search engines only rescan every week or so) that you may think you are the on a good one, but you follow it through, the gun could be gone (or jumped up in bid price on an auction). Fact is, it was looking like I might have, or to wait a long time to place an order for a gun, and I was trying to find where I might find the ammo first. But I also had to be concerned whether it was just a plinking or varmit round, or what might be adequate for self and home defense. Now don't forget, anybody coming at you wants the advantage to all be their way, and you might find (but can't count on) the possibility that you can just drive them off. They know that if they get shot, even just wounded, that their life as a thief is going to come out and they are likely to get caught.

    I was almost persuaded to go for a 380 and was looking in that direction, but most pistols I came on were too
    abrupt (short grip, short barrel) and I wanted something a bit bigger. A longer barrel works to give you a better sight picture even if you are not eyelevel with the gun, and a longer grip means I can use all my fingers with it.
    I did not want a target or hunting handgun because that would be too bulky, and I wanted some ability to work the pistol from a recliner if I have to. Then my grandson arguend in favor of a 40, so I started looking again.

    What I settle for is backordering a Smith & Wesson 22LR, and at a very good price at that. Likely have to wait months for it, but at least it is settled at my end. Now I know what ammo to settle on. Or do I? Again, the arguments presented here as which might be best.

    What I can see is that the more weight to the bullet, the more that actually hits and hopefully penetrates the target surface. But a backlash might be that the powder charge is not quite adequate. Go with a high velocity or minimag round, and did you have enough bullet mass there to do the job. The suggestions are to go one way or the other. And also consider fragmentation or hollow point rounds, though the HPs (as they are referred to) are going to be somewhat lighter. But I don't see any conclusive answers, and I don't know what will stand up when the time comes, so I am thinking HV (high velocity) and 40 grams as maybe close to maxing out the 22LR category. This is not to exclude the CCI brand which has the Stinger and the minimag offerings.

    Here is something I know: With 22LR, you generally get more rounds per magazine, typically 10+1 (meaning one round in the chamber as well). Now with a Glock and some other brands, you may get extended magazines that carry 17 or even 30 rounds. That's a lot of shooting, and with extended magazines, you are not going to do as well from a recliner. I figure that rather than the typical 5, 6, or possibly 7 rounds, I liked the number that you get with the 22LR.

    You can currently get high caliber ammo at various places (particularly online) because you pay more for each round, but if you are willing to buy a quantity of 22LRs, they can be found as well. It's just how much you feel you can pay, how much you need, and why you want it. Many multi-gun or higher caliber gun owners also get a 22LR because the ammo is fairly cheap normally and they can target shoot or go plunking with that gun and not spend too much by using the others instead. If you get a high enough caliber gun, you can figure that you are going to do real damage with it -- if you hit your target. The kickback from a bigger bullet and more powder to drive it is going to mean you need a two-hand grip on it, need to face the target directly, and have to bring the gun back to bear after each shot. I've seen videos on YouTube where a shooter with a 22LR can blaze away with one hand from any position and make hits. Wouldn't you call that a tradeoff, of getting in one good shot or two with a high caliber gun or up to 11 shots with a 22LR? You won't hit the target in the same spot each time, but if you are good enough, it (or he) will get hit.

    Instead of mentioning just one ammo brand and type, I think it would be more meaningful to rate a whole series of bullets of a given caliber. For instance, with 22LR, I keep running into posts that don't care for Remingtons as much as they might like others. Federal and CCI are two brands that seem to get good marks. But the brand may be rated differently with other calibers.

    Right now it looks like 4 stars for CCI 40-gram minimag, and maybe 3.8 stars for CCI 32-gram HV minimag.

    The above is just a guess. Topped ranked would be 5 star, and I am going under that in case there is something else available that is even better.

    The gel they use to represent the density and resistance of the human body is what everybody turns to it seems for getting an idea of what ammo does most, but I don't think that is really needed. You don't have to try to rate on body penetration, you just work out a way to do comparitive evaluations between different rounds. One trick used to be to put up a rack of 1" pine boards and see how many boards a round would penetrate in sequence.
    Then you mark out or over over the holes already to keep using the same boards in testing other rounds. You could do something of the same by lining up same size drink or water containers that are full and seeing how many a round goes through. Or you could fill them with sand for instance. Find an old mattress and see what goes farther if shot in from foot to head. The gel is just the latest is a long history of how to test these things.

    Let's face it. If you are just target shooting or plinking with ammo that seems to work fine for you, you are not really getting enough first hand experience to know what is the best round for self or home defense because that is not where you have been at. Now moving up to a higher caliber is one way to deal with it, but then you are not likely to work with the weapon enough to be ready to use it effectively. Not unless you have plenty of money to spend, would be my guess. I don't. I want the gun. I want some ammo. I hope it is going to be enough.

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  3. #47
    Distinguished Member Array alachner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adric22 View Post
    Currently, I only have 1 pistol that uses .22LR, that is the Walther P22. I have been looking at some other pocket pistols and even one of those assault rifles that use the .22LR round, such as the Ruger SR-22.
    Only ones calling it an "assault rifle" are the antigun. Here we call them an AR-15 or a carbine.
    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That's ridiculous... If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid for?" [Clint Smith - Thunder Ranch]

  4. #48
    Distinguished Member Array Exacto's Avatar
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    The 22LR has a potentially lethal range of over 400 yards. It will go through a 1/2 inch pine board at that distance. Up close and personal, I wouldn't want to be in front of it.
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  5. #49
    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldefoxx View Post
    I haven't handled a weapon in over 45 years, but that was fine as long as I did not see a reason fior one. I got broke in on about two months back, and was lucky that it was only one to two teens. They left when they realized that I was home, just in another part of the house. I was once expert with rifle and pistol, even served as a range instructor for about a year. Learn to shoot right, you shouldn't really forget. You just need to keep practicing to be really proficient at it.

    Now I am buying a semi-automatic pistol for self and home defense. I wanted a 22LR rather than something heavier for several reasons. One, It is plane easier to shoot a lighter weight weapon. You want to do some real damage, just keep pulling on the trigger. I can fire a semi-auto very fast and still hit the target. I haven't lost my motor skills, though a head injury in 2008 forced me to relearn to type.

    It was argued that I really should go for a 9mm, 380, 40, 44, or 45 instead of a 22LR. I don't want a round that tears things or people apart, I want control over some of the damage done. But I was persuaded to at least look at some of the other calibers. Trouble is, finding any gun is pretty hard right now, and the web links update so slowly (or the search engines only rescan every week or so) that you may think you are the on a good one, but you follow it through, the gun could be gone (or jumped up in bid price on an auction). Fact is, it was looking like I might have, or to wait a long time to place an order for a gun, and I was trying to find where I might find the ammo first. But I also had to be concerned whether it was just a plinking or varmit round, or what might be adequate for self and home defense. Now don't forget, anybody coming at you wants the advantage to all be their way, and you might find (but can't count on) the possibility that you can just drive them off. They know that if they get shot, even just wounded, that their life as a thief is going to come out and they are likely to get caught.

    I was almost persuaded to go for a 380 and was looking in that direction, but most pistols I came on were too
    abrupt (short grip, short barrel) and I wanted something a bit bigger. A longer barrel works to give you a better sight picture even if you are not eyelevel with the gun, and a longer grip means I can use all my fingers with it.
    I did not want a target or hunting handgun because that would be too bulky, and I wanted some ability to work the pistol from a recliner if I have to. Then my grandson arguend in favor of a 40, so I started looking again.

    What I settle for is backordering a Smith & Wesson 22LR, and at a very good price at that. Likely have to wait months for it, but at least it is settled at my end. Now I know what ammo to settle on. Or do I? Again, the arguments presented here as which might be best.

    What I can see is that the more weight to the bullet, the more that actually hits and hopefully penetrates the target surface. But a backlash might be that the powder charge is not quite adequate. Go with a high velocity or minimag round, and did you have enough bullet mass there to do the job. The suggestions are to go one way or the other. And also consider fragmentation or hollow point rounds, though the HPs (as they are referred to) are going to be somewhat lighter. But I don't see any conclusive answers, and I don't know what will stand up when the time comes, so I am thinking HV (high velocity) and 40 grams as maybe close to maxing out the 22LR category. This is not to exclude the CCI brand which has the Stinger and the minimag offerings.

    Here is something I know: With 22LR, you generally get more rounds per magazine, typically 10+1 (meaning one round in the chamber as well). Now with a Glock and some other brands, you may get extended magazines that carry 17 or even 30 rounds. That's a lot of shooting, and with extended magazines, you are not going to do as well from a recliner. I figure that rather than the typical 5, 6, or possibly 7 rounds, I liked the number that you get with the 22LR.

    You can currently get high caliber ammo at various places (particularly online) because you pay more for each round, but if you are willing to buy a quantity of 22LRs, they can be found as well. It's just how much you feel you can pay, how much you need, and why you want it. Many multi-gun or higher caliber gun owners also get a 22LR because the ammo is fairly cheap normally and they can target shoot or go plunking with that gun and not spend too much by using the others instead. If you get a high enough caliber gun, you can figure that you are going to do real damage with it -- if you hit your target. The kickback from a bigger bullet and more powder to drive it is going to mean you need a two-hand grip on it, need to face the target directly, and have to bring the gun back to bear after each shot. I've seen videos on YouTube where a shooter with a 22LR can blaze away with one hand from any position and make hits. Wouldn't you call that a tradeoff, of getting in one good shot or two with a high caliber gun or up to 11 shots with a 22LR? You won't hit the target in the same spot each time, but if you are good enough, it (or he) will get hit.

    Instead of mentioning just one ammo brand and type, I think it would be more meaningful to rate a whole series of bullets of a given caliber. For instance, with 22LR, I keep running into posts that don't care for Remingtons as much as they might like others. Federal and CCI are two brands that seem to get good marks. But the brand may be rated differently with other calibers.

    Right now it looks like 4 stars for CCI 40-gram minimag, and maybe 3.8 stars for CCI 32-gram HV minimag.

    The above is just a guess. Topped ranked would be 5 star, and I am going under that in case there is something else available that is even better.

    The gel they use to represent the density and resistance of the human body is what everybody turns to it seems for getting an idea of what ammo does most, but I don't think that is really needed. You don't have to try to rate on body penetration, you just work out a way to do comparitive evaluations between different rounds. One trick used to be to put up a rack of 1" pine boards and see how many boards a round would penetrate in sequence.
    Then you mark out or over over the holes already to keep using the same boards in testing other rounds. You could do something of the same by lining up same size drink or water containers that are full and seeing how many a round goes through. Or you could fill them with sand for instance. Find an old mattress and see what goes farther if shot in from foot to head. The gel is just the latest is a long history of how to test these things.

    Let's face it. If you are just target shooting or plinking with ammo that seems to work fine for you, you are not really getting enough first hand experience to know what is the best round for self or home defense because that is not where you have been at. Now moving up to a higher caliber is one way to deal with it, but then you are not likely to work with the weapon enough to be ready to use it effectively. Not unless you have plenty of money to spend, would be my guess. I don't. I want the gun. I want some ammo. I hope it is going to be enough.
    I'm afraid what you know is incorrect. If you want a full-length grip handgun (as you said earlier), say, a full-sized Glock 17, the 17 round magazine is not extended--it is flush with the grip. If you put it in a subcompact Glock--say, a Glock 26--then, yes it sticks out...but you won't have the full grip you said you were looking for.

    As for the rest, well...it's based on personal preference. I know that a .22LR would not be my first choice as a defensive pistol...but others' situations may vary.
    OD* likes this.
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  6. #50
    Distinguished Member Array Nmuskier's Avatar
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    oldfox- I have to disagree with your tactical assessment. Cuda is right, a 17 rd Glock is standard capacity. .22's are largely limited to 10 rounds.

    In considering a .22, you've limited your capacity, limited your bullet weight, and penetration. I believe you've also reduced reliability. I've had more .22 misfires than center fire cartridges. The assessment of not wanting to "tear apart" your target is not a criteria in my personal choice of SD ammo. My criteria is stopping the threat now. My goal is not to have the BG die of an infection next week.. That is why I lean toward the heaviest weight for caliber. 9mm is subjective because some pistols will not cycle the 147gr. I still stay above 124gr.

    The .22 is a plinking, varmint, small game round. Unless you suffer a severe disability, you need to begin your search with a service caliber.

    OP- the best .22 for SD is a rifle. It is still marginal and underpowered compared to other platforms of similar size.
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  7. #51
    Distinguished Member Array onacoma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alachner View Post
    Only ones calling it an "assault rifle" are the antigun. Here we call them an AR-15 or a carbine.
    I believe the current terminology is: Modern Sporting Rifle

    AR-15 and/or Carbine seem to go to the Military version.

    Not that I'll ever be PC!


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    Distinguished Member Array onacoma's Avatar
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    On the note of 22 ammo, Winchester has developed a PDX version of their 22 Win Mag which the bullet will expand out of a two inch barrel. The expansion with 22LR or 22 Win Mag has been an issue in the shorter barrels. Now a 10/22 rifle shoundn't have any problem with expansion.


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    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    Any good Hi velocity Hp would be ideal IMO. I shoot stingers out of my short barreled ruger mk2 and it does a hell of a job on ground hogs and squirrels. I wouldnt want to get hit by it. Out of a short barrel it still blows straight through a 2x4 . I have actually looked at a P22 as a hi cap pocket pistol. I would think a few rounds in short succession dropped into the kill zone would be more tha sufficient to deter most attackers.

  10. #54
    Senior Member Array zamboni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onacoma View Post
    On the note of 22 ammo, Winchester has developed a PDX version of their 22 Win Mag which the bullet will expand out of a two inch barrel. The expansion with 22LR or 22 Win Mag has been an issue in the shorter barrels. Now a 10/22 rifle shoundn't have any problem with expansion.
    Some of the 10/22's you can not shoot Stingers out of because of the extended casing: As it says in the owners manual. I think you can only use um in the carbine 10/22~22LR model, but not the target or tactical. Or something to that effect.

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    ...I would respectfully ask you to rethink your rationale about the effect of your shots on a person...I think it's great that you're not bloodthirsty and Rambo...but when you consider that your only reason to shoot another human being is to make him stop the activity that he's pursuing that is hazardous to your or your family's health...choosing a caliber/bullet should be done with a view to a combination that you can count on doing that...stopping them right NOW...the fact that you will be doing them damage is a given to keep them from doing you damage...and the .22 is no less likely to do long-term damage than the .45ACP, for example...it just lacks the STOPPING power to quickly end the danger...we don't shoot to wing, wound, scare, or warn...only to stop...
    ...to explain why I shot someone in the arm or leg on purpose...and shattered a joint that "maimed or crippled" them for life might set off bells in a juror's(or Grand Juror's) mind...to explain that I shot them to stop their life-threatening activity and that I shot until they stopped would be less problematic...shooting someone "just a little bit" isn't the goal we should have...I'd recommend that you go for a more powerful caliber that will stop more reliably...and end the danger quicker...
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  12. #56
    Distinguished Member Array onacoma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zamboni View Post
    Some of the 10/22's you can not shoot Stingers out of because of the extended casing: As it says in the owners manual. I think you can only use um in the carbine 10/22~22LR model, but not the target or tactical. Or something to that effect.
    Here you go right from the Ruger's Man-U-Well"

    NOTE: The following warning applies to RUGER® 10/22® Target and Tactical rifles only:

    “Stinger” cartridges have a longer case than 22 LR cartridges loaded to U.S.
    Industry specifications. They can stick in the tighter chambers of target rifles,
    including the Ruger 10/22 Target and Tactical rifles, which can result in a
    hazardous ruptured case and release of hot powder gasses and brass when fired.

    DO NOT USE “STINGER” AMMUNITION IN 10/22 TARGET or TACTICAL RIFLES

    We can only assume everyone reads their manual?


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  13. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldefoxx View Post
    Now I am buying a semi-automatic pistol for self and home defense. I wanted a 22LR rather than something heavier for several reasons. One, It is plane easier to shoot a lighter weight weapon. You want to do some real damage, just keep pulling on the trigger.

    It was argued that I really should go for a 9mm, 380, 40, 44, or 45 instead of a 22LR. I don't want a round that tears things or people apart, I want control over some of the damage done.

    ... and you might find (but can't count on) the possibility that you can just drive them off.

    A longer barrel works to give you a better sight picture even if you are not eyelevel with the gun, and a longer grip means I can use all my fingers with it.
    I did not want a target or hunting handgun because that would be too bulky, and I wanted some ability to work the pistol from a recliner if I have to.

    What I settle for is backordering a Smith & Wesson 22LR, and at a very good price at that. Likely have to wait months for it, but at least it is settled at my end. Now I know what ammo to settle on. Or do I? Again, the arguments presented here as which might be best.

    What I can see is that the more weight to the bullet, the more that actually hits and hopefully penetrates the target surface. But a backlash might be that the powder charge is not quite adequate. Go with a high velocity or minimag round, and did you have enough bullet mass there to do the job. The suggestions are to go one way or the other. And also consider fragmentation or hollow point rounds, though the HPs (as they are referred to) are going to be somewhat lighter. But I don't see any conclusive answers, and I don't know what will stand up when the time comes, so I am thinking HV (high velocity) and 40 grams as maybe close to maxing out the 22LR category. This is not to exclude the CCI brand which has the Stinger and the minimag offerings.

    Here is something I know: With 22LR, you generally get more rounds per magazine, typically 10+1 (meaning one round in the chamber as well). Now with a Glock and some other brands, you may get extended magazines that carry 17 or even 30 rounds. That's a lot of shooting, and with extended magazines, you are not going to do as well from a recliner. I figure that rather than the typical 5, 6, or possibly 7 rounds, I liked the number that you get with the 22LR.

    You can currently get high caliber ammo at various places (particularly online) because you pay more for each round, but if you are willing to buy a quantity of 22LRs, they can be found as well. I

    Let's face it. If you are just target shooting or plinking with ammo that seems to work fine for you, you are not really getting enough first hand experience to know what is the best round for self or home defense because that is not where you have been at. Now moving up to a higher caliber is one way to deal with it, but then you are not likely to work with the weapon enough to be ready to use it effectively. Not unless you have plenty of money to spend, would be my guess. I don't. I want the gun. I want some ammo. I hope it is going to be enough.
    It seems your mind is made up in favor of the .22, but I'd like to point out a few things. First, you said you don't want a round that tears things or people apart. This suggests to me that you are trying to force a non-lethal encounter if you do have to draw your weapon, but think about it. You are generally legally entitled to the use of deadly force only if you are yourself are threatened with grievous bodily harm. And if that's the case, there's no such thing as a fair fight. If someone is coming after you with intent to kill you, you need to stop them now, not give them pause to re-think their choices. If you've read a lot of the foregoing discussion in this particular thread, you know that the .22 LR is indeed lethal, but it is a poor fight-stopper. You don't care about the assailant dying of internal bleeding an hour from now - you want to stop the attack NOW.

    You say you want a maneuverable gun, and praise the virtues of a longer barrel for its sight radius. You want a gun you can shoot one-handed from your recliner. I'd strongly suggest a 4-inch .38 revolver (like a K-frame S&W) is a better defensive choice than a 10-round .22 auto unless your only attackers are squirrels and bunnies. This gun from any maker will allow you a full-hand grip, recoil is mild, and it points naturally.

    You talk about .22s penetrating pine boards... that's great, but the stories of .22s glancing bouncing off skulls are legion. .22s might break ribs and arm bones, but they will rarely break bones that support the skeletal structure such as the pelvis or leg bones, whereas .38s will do so routinely. A .38 offers two and a half times the area of a .22, doubling the chances of hitting critical nerves or blood vessels.

    Then there's the ammo itself. I shoot a lot of .22, normally more than a brick a month. I shoot mostly rifle, but the .22 handguns come out often enough. I'm a little fussy about ammo, generally avoiding the economy bulk-pack stuff, but my observations are that even the "good" stuff is prone to misfires in semi-autos. I can't recall if I ever had a .22 fail to fire in any of my revolvers, but that happens with certainty in the autoloaders. Bulk-pack ammo for me has about a 5% failure rate in the autoloaders which is why I never use that stuff for matches when I'm shooting against the clock. My point here is that centerfire ammo is far more reliable than rimfire, and that's one of the things you get with the higher price you pay for centerfire ammo. And as for availability, right now there is virtually NO .22 rimfire ammo available at retail in Maricopa County, and none available (save for the expensive match ammo) on line. But the local Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse both had .38 Special last week. That's not a guarantee it's available in your area, but it is an indicator that that caliber has been less affected by the panic buying going on.

    That's all I'll say about persuading you toward a more effective defensive handgun. As to which ammo you should use in the .22 you've ordered, I've seen compelling arguments for both hollowpoints and solids for use as defensive rounds. They're both made of soft lead and will deform when they hit tissue, and the HPs will deform more if they hit uniform tissue (like ballistic gelatin). But the .22 gets its lethality from bouncing around inside the body and hitting random organs and blood vessels, not from punching through tissue, so it really is a tossup. We gun folks understand the notion of using expanding bullets for hunting and defensive work, but when you're down in the lower energy levels of the .22 LR the effectiveness of one over the other is about a third decimal place effect. If pressed for an answer, I'd say go for the solids and get that full 40 grains working for you.
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  14. #58
    Senior Member Array NCSoxFan's Avatar
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    The best .22LR ammo for home defense is lots of it. In the event my wife ever has to engage an intruder her weapon of choice is the 10/22 with 25 round magazine.

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    Chronograph 5 shot averages for consideration

    From a 6" S&W 622:

    36 grain CCI Mini Mag HP = 996 fps
    40 grain CCI Velocitor HP = 1094 fps

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin3840 View Post
    From a 6" S&W 622:

    36 grain CCI Mini Mag HP = 996 fps
    40 grain CCI Velocitor HP = 1094 fps
    I can get similar muzzle velocities from 158 gr .38, 147 gr 9mm, and 180 gr .40

    I like what Taurahe said, "A good hi velocity HP". How about a 60gr .22 at 3,100fps? That's my entry level SD rifle (5.56 NATO).

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