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Best 22 Pistol For Self-Defense: Top Semi Auto LR Handgun

Jeramy Smith | Updated November 4, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
cover photo of best 22 pistol for self defense showing 5 handguns, logo and article title

A lot of people ask this controversial question, what are the best 22 long rifles? This question cuts across home defense, personal use, and concealed carry.

It is a widely debated topic, and the reason is that many people see .22 long rifles as being different from regular guns. But, some people are aware that this rifle has one of the smallest cartridges and the weakest. The chances are that you may get chambered in any form of firearm or handgun rifle.

Why choose a weaker cartridge for personal defense when there are lots of options? How well can you handle its recoil sensitivity? These are pressing questions to answer. Many people cannot take on the recoil of a 9 millimeter or 380. As they advance in age, a smaller frame fits their hands. Chambering with larger firearm frames is more difficult because the bullets are longer, and it has more mass and springs, and manipulating it is more complicated.

Some people prefer small, lightweight, portable rifles that are easy to rack, such as the .22 for concealed carry. When they fail to get solutions from other options during shooting, manipulating, controlling the gun becomes difficult. In such situations, I recommend a 9mm concealed carry gun. Personally, the 9mm is what I carry, including the Sig p365 xl, Glock 19, Smith and Wesson, amongst others. They are my first options for everything concealed carry.

If you feel a 22 long rifle is the only concealed carry you can use, you should also know some of the best options for personal defense, home, and civilian budget PDW.

best 22 long rifles for personal defense

Best 22lr’s For Personal Defense

Best at Everything- Ruger LCP II 22lr  

Coming in top overall we have the Ruger Lcp II.

The fantastic thing about this gun is that it is very tiny and is perfect for concealed carry or pocket carry. It comes in a box with a pocket holster.

If you’re looking for something small and discreet, this is the one for you.

For me, I have carried this handgun lot of times, and you won’t know there are ten rounds in the magazine. One round is located in the tube, and an excellent safety option on the side, making it a sturdy concealed carry handgun in terms of round counts. With 11 rounds in a 22lr, it’s a fair deal for this kind of micro-compact pistol.

You can easily use this handgun as it is very light to rack, and there are tabs situated at the back for easy racking. It is a perfect fit for anyone who has struggled with carrying a .380 and can’t handle a bigger gun’s recoil snappiness and weight.

These people prefer privacy, so they go for a pocket 380. They may often have issues with the chambering or recoiling, as manipulating the controls may be severe. I recommend this handgun for such a person.

*Jan, 2024 update: Due to the popularity of the Ruger LCP it has been on backorder for months everywhere online. The rep just emailed me to let me know that they just got in a shipment, so make sure to use the link below to check the stock.

**Feb, 2024 update: The LCP is currently on-sale until March 1, 2024, make sure to use the same link below to check the stock and get the savings:

image showing a 5 star review of Ruger LCP II

Best Pistol Length AR – S&W M&P 15-22 .22LR

S&W M&P 15-22 .22LR product image

If you’re looking for a pistol length AR-15 style 22LR, this is the one for you.

I recommend this product over the multitude of .22LRs because of the following reasons:

  • The capacity is big enough as it comes with 25 round magazines. They are many available and come at a reasonable price of $20 or more per mag. You can also get them on sales at a lower price so you can stock up for yourself, place them around your house and use them in personal defense around your home.
  • The next reason is that it has a quad rail or M lock rail for the new ones. This rail allows you to fix in light for use in personal defense. It comes with lasers, grips, optics, and they are comfortable and versatile.
  • Another reason is that the grip is adjustable to suit your needs and all these features portray uniqueness. It can be adjusted to suit your size, stature, and how you want to take on your defense situation.
  • The price is phenomenal for what you get. Many comparable guns cost 2 to 3 times more.

Another unique feature of this handgun is that it is very reliable. For me, it is more reliable than the 10/22 (the runner up pick), and although saying this may stir some reactions, this gun has 38,000 rounds, but with 15,000 to 20,000 rounds, the extractor and ejector on the side of the gun blew off.

It also had worn out springs, so I returned it to Smith, and they did a complete makeover for free at no costs. Since the rebuild, it has gone about 20,000 rounds, and I have experienced no issues whatsoever, and it is 99.99 percent functional.

I can remember counting about five to six malfunctions from the 38,000 rounds that I recalled from this gun (0.0013% failure rate, not too bad…).

There are new versions to this handgun with a threaded barrel that you can put off during personal defense. When shooting with this handgun, it is always an incredible experience.

I’d suggest using an optic with an automatic-on feature. All you have to do is load the 25 round magazine, one after the other, and dump rounds.

There’s no need for a recall; it has uncomplicated controls, and manipulation is also easy and designed to fit your needs well. It has excellent functionality and is very reliable. I recommend it for personal use in defense at home for a rifle rather than a handgun, depending on you, though.

It would be best if you had a purchase permit for a handgun because it is needed in my state, and this takes a long process now. But, you can go into a store and get this firearm if you’re more than 18 years and satisfy background checks. I have recommended this gun to a lot of people, and they all loved it.

*Feb, 2024 update: The S&W M&P 15 is currently on-sale like the LCP until March 1, 2024, make sure to use the link below to make sure you’re getting the best price:

Best “Budget” Pick – Kel-Tec P17

Next on the list is the KEL-TEC P17. This firearm is one of interest that you can easily get at a price of 250 or 300 dollars. Due to the price and capacity, you can categorize this handgun as being unique. Many .22s guns don’t have a lot in terms of capacity, especially those older semi-auto firearms. This gun can hold up to 16 rounds in its magazine, with one in the chamber, which makes it a 17 round handgun. It is efficient for use in personal defense in terms of capacity.

This firearm has three magazines in the box, fiber optic sights, ambidextrous safety, and adjustable sights. It also has a pick rail and paddle mag release that helps to attach different kinds of lights.

Furthermore, it comes with a light on the front, and the thread adapter in the box. You get all these and more at an affordable price, as well as guaranteed reliability. Other features include a large precision micro suppressor on the front and CCI standard velocity making it extraordinary.

When shooting with it, it runs swiftly like a machine, and no problem is encountered whatsoever. Imagine a self-defense scenario where you’re rattling 17 rounds with no challenges, sights in groups, like the size of your fist at a 15 yards range. It is sure to defend you from any form of harm. This firearm is formidable ammunition for up close and personal shooting as far as 22 long rifles are concerned.

Honorable Mentions – Ruger 10/22 And Taurus Tx22

The other gun on our list is the Taurus tx22 and Ruger 10/22. Both are popular 22 long rifles and are honorable mentions. The Taurus tx22 is on the list, and I strongly recommend it anytime.

The One To Avoid – Taurus 942

The last on our list is the Taurus 942 with chambers in 22 long rifles. A unique feature about this firearm is getting more rounds in a gun the same size with a larger caliber. This gun can hold eight rounds of 22, which is good enough, considering it is a concealed carry. But it’s just a 22 long rifle that you’re shooting.

This firearm has a set of rubberized grips with a bobbed hammer. Its weight will be more than most handguns that we’ll discuss in this article because its frame is made of only steel. It guarantees reasonable sights, and in the category of 22 long rifles, they are more reliable than semi-auto handguns.

If you encounter a problem with the round, all you have to do is pull the trigger, then the cylinder is rotated, and the next one fired. There’s no need to clear failure or malfunction as the revolver cylinders may seize up. It is seen when 22 long rifles get very dirty; thus, it is essential to clean revolvers always to ensure optimal performance. Generally, with bulk pack ammunition, if you get a firearm that doesn’t fire well, or the primer isn’t set right with the revolver, all you have to do is pull the trigger and continue shooting.

It has a smooth double-action pull for the trigger, and it is effortless to control. Also, the single action is unique, with a nice texture above the hammer when firing.

In general, it is an excellent firearm for shooting 22 long rifles out of it. However, it acts as a tack driver. The functions are great, and I strongly recommend the Taurus 942, for anyone on a budget. Although Smith has some 22lr versions of this firearm, it is very reliable and efficient, including the hammerless version.

No don’t get me wrong, the Taurus 942 is a very good gun, but for me it is how it feels in my hand. It just feels awkward, and I have a hard time gripping it. That’s just not something I want to deal with ever… especially in a personal defense situation. For that reason I’d suggest the Ruger LCP II instead.

More Reading

Best .22 Rifles

I hope now you have four new guns to add to your collection. If you’re determined to use a 22lr for personal defense, or you want to get one for yourself, these are the best rifles and handguns I strongly recommend for you. If you’re looking for more options, I’d highly suggest you check out our article on the best .22 rifles. (1)

1911 Pistols

If you’re looking for more on pistols, I’d suggest taking a look at our write up on the coolest 9mm 1911 pistol on the market.

Best Rimfire Scope

For the optic lovers, check this one out on the best rimfire scopes for 22LR on the market.

Our Top Pick – Ruger LCP II 22lr  


  1. Amos Kwon, The Long of It: A Sportsman’s Guide to the .22 Rifle. Retrieved from https://www.gearpatrol.com/outdoors/a117287/guide-to-the-22-rifle/

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