Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: The Perfect Handgun Just Might Be Any Decent .22LR Pistol

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Okay, maybe “perfect” is a little strong. Nothing in this world is perfect, after all. It could be that there are perfect moments, but they are few and far between. That said, a person could argue that the perfect handgun is actually any decent .22LR. Revolver or semi-auto; it doesn’t matter.

Some people even put one in a concealed carry holster for personal protection. While not the best option for this purpose, it’s better than nothing.

What, though, makes something at least close to perfect? Maximum utility with minimal cost. Some things are very useful but cost so much to use or acquire that they couldn’t be considered perfect to those who can’t afford much – or any at all – of whatever commodity or service it might be.

For instance, Aston-Martin makes some incredible cars. They are bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeous. They are blisteringly fast. However, they are wickedly expensive to buy, to repair, frequently need servicing, probably won’t last to 200,000 miles and most models only seat two. A Toyota Corolla, on the other hand, is easily bought, easily run, cheaply(ish) repaired, seat up to five and the darn things run forever. A person could say the Corolla, on that basis, is close to the perfect car. Toyota has sold 40 million of them, so there’s something to the idea.

On that basis, a good .22 handgun is as close to the perfect handgun as it actually gets. It might sound a little ridiculous, but there are some good reasons why a Browning Buckmark, Ruger Mark series or Six series, Rough Rider, or other .22 LR handgun larger than micro-compact size could be seen that way.

First, to cost. Pistols in .22LR can be very easily acquired; a Heritage Rough Rider will set you back maybe $200 in most stores. Heck, some even have a swappable cylinder in .22 Magnum to go with the one chambered for .22 LR. There are plenty of models that can be picked up for $500 or less in most stores.

Just like handguns in most defensive calibers, you can spend a little or a lot; just about anyone can afford one.

Ammunition is even more cost-effective. Even the good stuff isn’t that expensive; a box of CCI Stinger hollowpoints costs less than $10, which is a very decent round. You can find a box 9mm for under $10, but it generally isn’t that good!

In other words, you get to do a lot more shooting for less money, meaning you get to spend more time at the range. This is beneficial to your handgunning in general as it keeps your skills sharp.

So…you spend less money, but can get a lot more out of your shooting due to the lower cost. Also, .22 LR pistols – indeed, .22 LR guns in general – are just a whole lot of fun to shoot.

What about the practical side?

While a .22 is not as good a defensive pistol as, say, a .380, 9mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum .40 or .45 is, the fact is that .22 LR has been used to down a lot of people. With accurate placement, it kills and in fact a lot of people have died or been stopped by wounds from .22 LR and .22 WMR firearms. Heck, Bella Twin killed a world-record grizzly bear in 1963 with a .22 Long, which is a slightly softer loading, just with good placement.

The extra practice can lead to that kind of accuracy.

Additionally, you can do a bit of small game hunting if so inclined. Squirrels, rabbits, and certain bird species (grouse, for instance) are commonly hunted with this caliber and they also make for a good snake gun.

Point being that you get the most amount of enjoyment, more practical potential, and will usually spend less in the bargain than most other guns. That makes a decent .22 pistol close to perfect.

But what do you think? Do you have a plinking pistol that you dote on?

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit