Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Think A .22LR Isn't Useful For Self-Defense?

Mall ninjas and Internet commandos will tell you that "bigger is always better" and that "if the caliber doesn't begin with a 4" it's useless. I hate to break it to them but even a .22LR can be used successfully for self-defense.

A case in point. Yesterday evening in Magalia, California (Butte County north of Sacremento), John Randolph Shanks III found out the hard way that even one shot from a .22LR can kill you. Mr. Shanks had just forced his way into a Magalia residence along with an accomplice when the homeowner shot him once in the chest with a .22 handgun. When Butte County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived, they tried to revive him to no avail. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

So was Mr. Shanks just some down on his luck guy looking for food and a warm place to crash? Not really.

According to Butte County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Hail,
Shanks was released from state prison in mid-November, but he reportedly failed to report to the Butte County Probation Department as required.

Hail said probation had issued a request that law enforcement be on the look out for Shanks, and were in the process of getting an arrest warrant for the man.

According to Butte County Court records Shanks was sentenced to state prison in April 2010, after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and felony attempting to evade a peace officer. In 2007 he was also convicted for attempting to evade a peace officer. He was sentenced to prison then.

In 2003 he was sent to prison on a charge of "resisting an executive officer."
The best part of this article is where they say "no charges have been filed against the shooter".

I don't recommend a .22LR for self-defense but if it is all you have, then go with it. I'd say the homeowner was lucky and, obviously, Mr. Shanks was not in this case.

Michael Bane has been making the point recently in his podcasts concerning the debate between the 9mm Luger and the larger cartridges that more holes are better even if they are smaller. Moreover, he makes the point that even if it is "only a .22", no one wants to be shot.

H/T Guns Save Lives


  1. I think the problem with .22lr isn't that it can't be deadly, but it's less consistent against for a large target like a human. I think a good aspect however is the recoil, it's probably easier to maintain good accuracy with it in a stressful situation, provided you practice of course.

  2. @Pyrotek85: I think are correct. In this case, I'm guessing the homeowner made a lucky shot.

  3. John, check your email. Sent you a Christmas card... ;>)

  4. The gun you've got in your hand is infinitely better than the cannon in your safe ....

    I'd pick the hottest .22 hollowpoint over the hottest .25acp hollowpoint any day, especially out of a mousegun.

  5. There was a girl who shot a would-be rapist at a motel here in either NC or SC not too long ago. A .22 wouldn't be my caliber of choice, but whatever works I guess.
    Merry Christmas!

  6. Without getting into the advisability of using a .22 for self defense in terms of power, my biggest other objection to it would be reliability. I don't shoot match grade ammo, but any brick of your average hollow point will have 5 to 15 failures to fire, at least the first time around. Rimfire priming is inherently less reliable than center fire.
    In terms of power the .22 beats the .25, but bang beats click any day, and no I am not suggesting that a .25acp is an adequate self defense round.

  7. CCI mini-mags in temperate or hot weather are very reliable in the rifles I have used. Bulk federal much less so and bulk remington worse. I suppose handguns may be less robust and freezing temps do have a negative effect on 22lr.

  8. There's a huge difference between "can kill you" and "will kill you." Yes, a shot be a .22 may be fataly, but only a fool would fail to hedge their bets and choose a .22 when a larger/superior caliber is available.

    I'd rather be an Internet commando than dangerously naive.

  9. Plus we don't score successful self-defense like our adversaries do, as body counts. We're not allowed to kill criminal per se (that's the job of the judiciary), we're only allowed to stop them, and we care very much about stopping them before they mortally wound us or our loved ones.

    As a Facklerite, it's my impression that at defensive handgun velocities "stopping power" scales with the diameter (area) of the projectile, including expansion, whereas killing scales the number of holes put through someone. Massad Ayoob relates how testimony of this nature in Massachusetts with agreement in principle by a respected doctor legislator stopped the "ban hollowpoints" movement cold. As I recall New Jersey is the only state to ban them.

  10. Whenever people sneer at the uselessness of .22s, I remember that it was a .22 that very nearly killed Ronald Reagan.