Best .22 Pistols For Self Defense – Concealed Carry & Target Shooting

Best .22 Pistol - Featured Image

Looking for a .22 pistol can be a daunting challenge. Trying to narrow it down to such a small pool can give even the most knowledgeable firearms expert difficulty, let alone someone who is unaffiliated with shooting and the firearms market. Here we have compiled a comprehensive article about selecting the best .22 Pistol. We think there is enough information here for you to make a good decision on a firearm that will be a great fit for your needs.

It’s not as simple as just selecting a single gun or a single type of gun, when compiling this list. The uses that shooters who read this article will have, are varied, and they each will need something different. We’ve put a lot of different .22 pistols on this list and explained the use cases and different options that are common in the market. This information should help you understand the available firearms and avoid the so-called “Saturday Night Specials”, which are known as cheap, poorly made, dangerous firearms, and have at times in history been rampant in the market.

This article will walk you through everything from manufacturer information to uses for the .22 handguns to different caliber options and design differences. We wish you luck in finding the perfect gun as you navigate through this list of some of the finest .22 pistols ever made, all available on the market currently.

Top 22 Best .22 Pistols Comparison

Rifle

Action

Caliber

Weight (oz)

Cap

Barrel length

Length

Double

.22LR

11

8

2.8"

4.3"

Single

.22LR

4.8

5

1.63"

4.5"

Single

.22LR

8.9

5

2"

5.88"

Semi-Auto

.22LR

16

10

4.1"

5.9"

Double

.22LR

20

10

3.3"

6.1"

Single/ Double

.22LR

17.5-18.7

10

3.5-4.5"

6.4-7.4"

Single

.22LR

15.3

10

3.6"

6.7"

Single/ Double

.22LR

24.8

8

3"

7.3"

Single

.22LR

14

10

4.88"

7.88"

Semi-Auto

.22LR

23.7

10

4.6"

7.9"

Semi-Auto

.22WMR

14

30

4.3"

7.9"

Single

.22LR

22-24

6

3-4.2"

8-9"

Single/ Double

.22LR

26.08

10-15

4.9"

8.5"

Semi-Auto

.22LR

38.4

10

5"

8.63"

Semi-Auto

.22 TCM / 9mm

48

17

5"

8.75"

Single

.22LR

31.7

10

4.5"

8.8"

Single

.22LR

40.8

10

5.9"

8.9"

Single

.22LR

34

10

5.5"

9.5"

Single

.22LR

34.88

10

5.5"

9.5"

Single

.22LR / .22 WMR

33.4

6

4.75"

10.04"

Single/ Double

.22LR

44.1

10

6"

11.1"

Single

.22LR

44

10

6.88"

11.12"

Revolver, Semiauto or other?

Revolvers

The original, and most intuitive style of pistol, this is the best option for those who are new to firearms, or want a very straightforward, easy to understand firearm. The .22 revolvers on this list are all extremely high quality and the list offers a very good cross section of available .22 pistols with a cylinder. They are very well built and made from solid materials that add weight but give a robust feel in the hand.

Revolvers vs. Semi-Automatic Handguns

Semi-Autos

This is the most popular style of .22 Pistols because they offer bulk shooting of cheap ammunition and generally they function incredibly well and have a lot of benefits, including higher capacity, better sighting options and easily reloadable magazines instead of having to reload a cylinder, a round at a time. Handguns in the semi-auto variety are often, a hybrid of high quality plastics (polymers) and metals that have great wear characteristics.

Derringer or other varieties

We didn’t fit a lot of these specific types of firearms into this list as they are probably better suited for another article. That said: this list does include some very small “derringer style” firearms and you’ll see they have some carryover as revolvers. The single shot bolt action pistols in .22 caliber tend to not be very popular because of the reduced flight stamina of most .22 caliber rimfire projectiles, which limits the options available for these predominantly hunting style guns. They do exist though, and if you’re in the market for one, you can find them.

The material innovations and design changes since the earlier generations of firearms have made a robust market full of well thought out, high performance firearms in this market sector.

Different .22’s?

Not all .22 cartridges are created equal, but they are all equally fun. There is something just compelling about shooting the .22. It’s cheap, fun and easy to do. Here are some examples that correspond with the handguns in this article:

.22 Long Rifle

The biggest market in the gun industry in the world is the .22 LR (Long Rifle) market. This is the reason this article is so comprehensive - it needs to be. The .22 LR is a suitable cartridge for just about anything. You can even find, if you look hard enough, a story about some hunter who killed a ridiculously large animal like a moose, with a .22 LR. Note: that’s an irresponsible and dangerous (and illegal) use of a .22LR firearm, so don’t try to replicate it. Only in an extreme survival situation would we eve advocate for something like that.

The point is: the .22LR round is about as versatile as the most versatile cartridges in the world.

You can easily use the .22LR for hunting on small game, or even birds, but the sweet spot is squirrel, rabbit and groundhogs, or similarly sized animals. You can use the .22LR as a target or plinking round, in fact the word “plinking” originates from the usage of .22LR’s out in the field to play around with. The sound made by hitting a tin can with a .22LR is actually the word “plink”; hence the plinking concept.

You can easily use the .22LR as a backup firearm for self-defense, or as is the case with many people who do not expect to need a firearm, but carry one anyways, or who must have the smallest or lightest gun for concealed carry, the .22LR can be a popular self-defense option. While we love the cartridge and have nothing against it as a self defense option, there are more potent and powerful cartridges and firearms that are more suitable for use as a personal defense weapon most of the time.

In the case of this article, the guns on this list are overwhelmingly .22LR’s.

Common-Rimfire-Ammunition-Examples

.22 Magnum (.22WMR)

The .22 Magnum (or Winchester Magnum Rimfire) is significantly more powerful than a .22LR. The normal velocity of a mid-range round that has a 40 grain projectile in a .22LR is about 1200 feet per second and about 100-125 ft. lbs. of energy. The normal velocity of a mid-range round that has a 40 grain projectile in a .22WMR is about 1900 feet per second and about 325 ft. lbs. of energy. This is incredibly important for hunting purposes, and for self defense purposes. If you were to use a .22 pistol for either of these purposes, the .22WMR would make a lot more sense on a normal basis.

.22TCM

The .22 TCM (Tuason Craig Micromagnum) is a tiny distribution blip on the map but it is a very cool, innovative cartridge introduced by Philippines based Armscor (Rock Island Armory) in conjunction with Fred Craig a gunsmith. It is a lower recoil round like other rimfires, but with extreme performance ballistically. The length of the cartridge is slightly longer than a 9mm and it uses a .223/5.56 cartridge to make it. The performance is excellent with 2000+ feet per second velocity and 354 pound feet of energy or higher.

The Calibers that weren’t included in this article about the .22

Technically, you could call the some guns that come in .223 and other high-powered cartridges a .22 pistol. In fact, there is a whole market dedicated to the AR-15 pistol, and technically they are .22 pistols in a sense. For the scope of this article and because it’s already quite an exhaustive article, we have stuck with .22 rimfire and only included a few non-.22 LR firearms; and only to ensure the full gamut of firearms are represented properly.

We added a couple of non-.22 LR firearms because technically, the pistols are .22 pistols, and they represent a unique area in the sub-market of this category. We included a .22 TCM which you can read a little bit about above in the article. We also included two .22 Magnums, which we felt were right at home in this article. Together these guns make up a tiny portion of the market but are profound contributors to the vocal discussion of owners on the internet. The .22 Magnum and the .22TCM are very interesting calibers with innovations that the .22 LR just doesn’t have of late.

Another option would have been to include things like single shot hunting handguns that use high powered rifle cartridges that are based on the .22 caliber. Again, we decided it would make an already large article too long to make sense for most readers.

Is this a “You get what You pay for” type of purchase?

Yes, purchasing a .22 pistol is very much a “you get what you pay for” exercise. Most of the firearms on this list are of very high quality. That doesn’t mean that all rimfire pistols are high quality. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The rimfire pistol has a history of being cheap and low quality.

When you look at this list you will see guns that range generally from $250 to $850 or so with some basic outliers. We felt this is a comfortable range given the immense quality that most of these guns exhibit. It may seem pricey to some. Please note that it costs no less than other guns to produce a quality .22 firearm.

These pistols represent the best of the best for the mainstream market offerings. On the other end of the spectrum, there are ultra-high-end rimfire pistols that can cost thousands of dollars. They are very popular in certain subsections of the community of shooters, but do not represent a major portion of the rimfire marketplace. Therefore, we opted against including the very finest custom .22 pistols, despite many of them representing the “Best .22 Pistols”.

The list that follows is a very much mainstream list of firearms, but they do follow the concept of “you get what you pay for”.

Best .22 Pistol Reviews

1. Ruger Mark IV Hunter Rimfire Pistol

Ruger Mark IV Hunter

The Ruger is a great looking firearm with a German-Luger-like shape and an incredible amount of aftermarket customization potential.  The ease of use and the high-end iron sights as well as the inherent durability of the platform make this a very good option. It’s pricey for what many people expect to pay for a .22 Pistol, but this is well worth every penny you spend on it. It digests any ammunition, can function when dirty or in long range sessions and it’s quite accurate.

Pros:

  • Out of the box, this is about the best-balanced gun for customization potential, ease of use and durability as well as accuracy
  • Classic good looks
  • Simple maintenance

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best use: Target Shooting, Plinking and general fun

2. Heritage Rough Rider Rimfire Revolver

Heritage Rough Rider

Seriously good looks with the Colt Single Action Army heritage design, but on a smaller scale. There is a second cylinder that shoots a .22Magnum in addition to the standard .22LR cylinder. A great feel and nice fit and finish that has improved even upon the original fit and finish since the ownership change for the company. The fit and finish before the move was already noteworthy. The Birds Head grips made from Cocobolo wood are a beautiful addition to the looks.

Pros:

  • For what you get the price is good value
  • Classic looks
  • Simple

Cons:

  • Finish isn’t as durable as others on this list being just a blued firearm

Best use: long range days with new shooters or traditionalists who like the single action army

3. NAA LLR Revolver

NAA LLR Revolver

NAA revolvers are excellent pocket guns that can go anywhere you couldn’t normally use a larger gun. The price is easy to justify for the level of quality, especially in the fit and finish. The gun may seem slightly unsafe with the spur trigger, but the gun is surprisingly innovative on the safety aspects. The hammer can rest on a full chamber safely, due to the hammer lock and the small footprint and simple operation allows you to always be prepared. This is an excellent small backup gun for self-defense.

Pros:

  • Small size allows this gun to be carried anywhere in any condition without concerns for “printing’ or for lack of a firearm
  • Proven design

Cons:

  • May require a small learning curve to get to know the single action operation and the hammer safety as well as the spur type trigger

Best use: Self Defense or as a last ditch firearm

4. Beretta M9-22LR

Beretta M9-22LR

This Beretta is a gorgeous .22LR that is basically full size and offers serious potential across the board as a target or fun range type gun due to the full frame and the ambidextrous controls. Good looks, fine workmanship and an excellent reputation paired with above average accuracy and reliability.

Pros:

  • Almost an exact copy of the M9 9mm firearm so you can train for much cheaper and learn muscle memory.
  • Durable, proven design
  • Great fit and finish

Cons:

  • Magazines can sometimes be hard to find, so buy them when you can

Best use: Target Shooting and muscle memory practice for your 9mm or 40 S&W version of the Beretta pistol

5. Sig Sauer P226 22 SAO

SIG SAUER P226 22 SAO

A good looking, practical full-sized frame with great fit and finish that is a near carbon copy of the other full sized P226, which makes this an excellent practice gun for cheap shooting and muscle memory. It also represents a very high-end target firearm because the full-sized frame allows excellent control.

Pros:

  • Full size frame
  • Sig’s proven tolerances
  • Excellent fit and finish

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best use: Target Shooting and muscle memory practice for your 9mm or 40 S&W or .357 Sig version of the Sig Sauer pistol

6. Sig Sauer P938 Target Micro-Compact Pistol

SIG SAUER P938

A great compromise on size and functionality because you don’t have to actually compromise when you get the best of both worlds. The right size for carry, with the added bonus of a larger sight plane and a longer slide. The compact frame gives good concealability. The single action allows for “cocked and locked” carry. For those that are genuinely considering carrying a .22 pistol for self defense as a primary carry weapon, this is among the contenders for the best .22 pistol for self-defense, if you are wanting a .22LR.   

Pros:

  • Single action, with similar concept to the 1911 model
  • A nice size between full size and compact that allows a wide range of hand sizes
  • Stunning good looks and fit and finish

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best use: Target Shooting and Self Defense

7. Chiappa 1911-22

Chiappa 1911-22

Simple, direct concept that mimics a full sized 1911 for training purposes mostly as the fit and finish of the firearm is made for more practical uses and is built for target or range use generally.

Pros:

  • Spot on 1911 replica and functionally exact
  • Decent pricing for the quality build
  • Some good additions that improve capability

Cons:

  • May be a bit big for a primary carry gun, while still not offering impressive ballistics well-suited to the job

Best use: Target Shooting, Plinking and general fun

8. Smith & Wesson - 617 Handgun

SMITH & WESSON - 617 HANDGUN

A great hunting firearm in .22 LR, this is among the nicest fit and finishes of all the guns on this list and is built like a brick house. It is durable, accurate and well made and inspires confidence in the round and in your own skillset.

Pros:

  • An excellent hunting gun choice, with the robust build quality and accuracy
  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Legacy type firearm that will last generations if properly cared for

Cons:

  • Pricey

Best use: Target Shooting & Hunting of small game

9. Smith & Wesson - M&P22 Compact

Smith & Wesson - M&P22 Compact

A nice balance of value and capability; and a great candidate for an everyday carry gun if you are set on carrying a .22LR. Too big for a dedicated backup carry gun for most people. Good for a target or range gun and suitable for hunting but made for more general use. Excellent ergonomics.

Pros:

  • Great customizability form factory
  • Well made

Cons:

  • Can feel a bit cheaper than the regular centerfire models I certain aspects

Best use: Small framed and female shooters and for Self Defense in specific scenarios where a .22LR makes sense

10. Walther Arms - PPK/S

WALTHER ARMS INC - PPKS

Classy, well made and iconic, this is the same gun that James Bond carried, sort of. He carried a centerfire version, but it’s made to the same standards and offers a bit of luxury and a whole lot of functionality. This pistol is like a fine watch, it is form + function.

Pros:

  • Iconic
  • Very well made, built to last and capable of being passed from generation to generation
  • Great size and well built as a carry weapon

Cons:

  • No real CONS

Best use: Small framed and female shooters and for Self Defense in specific scenarios where a .22LR makes sense

11. Taurus PT22

_TAURUS - PT-22

This PT-22 is a great design that features a tip up barrel and is perfect for those with weak or small hands or for those who need to be trained how to keep in a state of operational awareness. The comfortable, small design is a very compelling choice for a backup gun and the generous magazine size plus the ability to load a round easily with the tip up barrel makes this a very user-friendly gun for new shooters and small framed individuals or those with weak hands – you never have to rack the slide if you don’t want to.

There are a few weak points, with the construction including the magazine catch and the barrel tip up spring, so you may have to replace those and check them to ensure they are working from time to time.

Pros:

  • Simple, easy design that helps new shooters handle operational aspects of the firearm
  • Uses a design made famous by Beretta that is easy to learn and very intuitive
  • Very small

Cons:

  • The barrel spring can be weak and break if not properly used

Best use: For new shooters just learning how to use a semi-automatic pistol and for women who prefer this style of gun and as a backup gun for all shooters who want to conceal carry

12. Browning - Buck Mark Camper

BROWNING - BUCK MARK CAMPER

An absolute legend of a target pistol, the Buck Mark is a fantastic balance of reliability, accuracy and quality in manufacture – typical of Browning in general. 10 rounds, with quality oozing throughout every component part, at a very reasonable price for something that is so reliable and accurate.

Pros:

  • The gun has been around forever and remains virtually unchanged exception of a few creature comforts
  • Solid brand with legitimate credibility
  • Lightweight but exceptionally accurate

Cons:

  • Aesthetics may not be for everyone

Best use: Target shooting and hunting of small game

13. Beretta Usa - 87 Target

BERETTA USA - 87 TARGET HANDGUN

Pricey but purpose built to be one of the most accurate mainstream production rimfire pistols in the world. It is a spectacular choice for the serious .22LR shooter that wants a gun capable of legitimate accuracy and needs something that feels substantial. Substantial is a good word for this firearm too. This .22 Pistol is more than 2.5 lbs. and boasts a 5.9 inch barrel with excellent sights and dual mounting rails. Beretta has outdone themselves with this target pistol and it truly is a flagship for the brand and a standard by which all production mainstream rimfire target pistols should be judged.

Pros:

  • Seriously accurate
  • Robust build quality made to be passed generationally if it is maintained properly
  • Crisp, light weight single action trigger set up

Cons:

  • Pricey

Best use: Target shooting where accuracy is exceptionally important

14. Browning - BUCKMARK BLK LT FLTD UFX

BROWNING - BUCKMARK BLK LT FLTD UFX

Browning has been a stalwart provider of production .22 pistols that the world just so happens to love. The Buck Mark is a classic inclusion to the Browning portfolio perennially. This version features an adjustable rear sight and has impeccable fit and finish which, despite the heavy price point, proves that the gun is worth every penny when you factor in the enjoyment and the accuracy it the other perks of owning a Buck Mark of this variety.

Pros:

  • Simple, proven design that has a resume that is beyond impressive
  • Accurate and ergonomic

Cons:

  • Distinctive aesthetic that may not appeal to some

Best use: Target shooting and Hunting of small game

15. Beretta U22 Neos

It may not be the prettiest looking pistol with the futuristic design, but it’s very functional and brings a lot of value to the shooter including shooter centric perks like 2 - 10 round magazines included as part of the original package at purchase.

BERETTA USA - U22 NEOS HANDGUN

Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive and innovative at the same time
  • A good all-around performer for those who aren’t considering a .22 pistol purchase for concealed carry or self defense

Cons:

  • Not particularly pretty

Best use: Target Shooting and general plinking, though it can be used for hunting as well

16. Ruger SR22 Rimfire Pistol - Best for women

Ruger SR22 Rimfire Pistol

Ruger has a penchant for developing innovative guns and then sticking with the platform for many years. That means that for the most part they tend to be very good designs, or the market wouldn’t bear it out, and the SR-22 has proven to be as loved as anyone could have expected from the company who brought you two of the most famous .22 firearms of all time – the Ruger 10-22 and the Ruger Mark IV (& I-III). Ruger is really good at making .22 pistols that everyone loves.

Pros:

  • Good versatility
  • Capable of being a carry gun
  • lightweight

Cons:

  • starting to approach the higher pricing tiers

Best use: Self Defense for makes and females who have decided to carry a .22LR as a primary firearm

17. Browning 1911 Rimfire Pistols

Browning 1911 Rimfire Pistols

You cannot look at this Browning firearm while knowing anything about the history of the 1911 design or John Browning, and not get sentimental about the journey this design has had. You also cannot look at this firearm and not see the impeccable quality and gorgeous attention to detail and finish work.

This is truly a legacy firearm that anyone would be proud to use and pass onto the next generation of shooters. After you pass away of course, because this thing is amazing; you’ll want to use it until you cannot shoot anymore. Exceptionally accurate, easy to use, and intuitive by virtue of the original 1911 design, but also due to the creature comforts the new Browning methodology has included in this design.

Pros:

  • Stunning Good Looks
  • A legacy build quality
  • Excellent accuracy and intuitive design (since 1911)

Cons:

  • No real CONS

Best use: Target shooting, fun, and as a legacy firearm to pass down through the generations

18. Smith & Wesson 63

Smith & Wesson Rimfire Revolvers

There is very little to say about this firearm that isn’t already inferred with a brief look at the gun. It is a perfect harmony of compact size for personal defense carrying; durable build quality and incredible accuracy. A truly all-in-one gun that may be the best .22 Pistol you can buy if you need to do everything with it, but don’t have a dedicated purpose already chosen.

Pros:

  • Superior build quality
  • Great for carrying, but well balanced enough to use for any purpose from hunting to target practice

Cons:

  • It’s kind of pricey

Best use: This gun is suitable for all the above listed best uses; it represents one of the most versatile guns on this list.

19. Ruger Bearcat

Ruger Bearcat .22-Cal. Revolvers

This is a legacy quality firearm by a maker that has a ton of credibility and is famous for producing amazing .22 Pistols in all forms. The classic SAA (Single Action Army) design is a nod to firearms from a bygone era, but the modern production methodology is very much on the leading edge.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design and fit and finish
  • Strong build quality and made to last for a lifetime and beyond

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best use: Target shooting, hunting and plinking for traditionalists.

20. Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol

Kel-Tec PMR-30

A very powerful firearm at a very nice price point which brings hunting capability and legitimate carry gun potency to the rimfire pistol segment of the market. This is the biggest PR piece from Kel-Tec in the last several years and represents an excellent bit of technology and innovation by a company that was already pretty good at innovation and new technology. Huge capacity with 30 rounds and offers the strong .22 Magnum cartridge.

Pros:

  • Powerful
  • High capacity
  • Innovative and very nice for the build quality, even if it is mostly polymer
  • A quintessential .22 hunting pistol

Cons:

  • People who hate polymer won’t love this firearm

Best use: Hunting small and moderately sized game at closer ranges Also makes a very good full time carry weapon for those who have decided on the .22 Magnum as a cartridge for such a purpose

21. NAA Black Widow

NAA Black Widow .22 Magnum AS

A beautiful offering from North American Arms that offers a heavy duty .22 WMR chambering for the bull cylinder. The striking good looks and exceptional build quality makes this an easy gun to fall in love with whether you ever have to rely on it or not.

Pros:

  • Strong Silent type
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Great grip

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive than the other items in the NAA lineup

Best use: Concealed Carry for defensive purposes.

22. Rock Island Armory TCM TAC Ultra FS HC Combo

Rock Island Armory TCM TAC Ultra FS HC Combo

RIA (Rock Island Armory) and Armscor have produced a revolutionary firearm that ticks many of the boxes that make up the requirements to get on this list. The powerful cartridge isn’t what you normally think of when you are talking about a .22 pistol, but it does offer something not many other .22 pistols can, that is a legitimate cartridge with true stopping power, that also has a realistic carry size and great accuracy. 

Pros:

  • Real Carry potential
  • A strong rimfire .22 cartridge
  • Great design that utilizes a modern take on the venerable 1911 design

Cons:

  • Pricey

Best use: Full Time Carry, for those who like the cartridge; fun and target shooting. This is also a very potent small and intermediate sized game hunting pistol and can be used to great effect on that arena.

The different .22 Rimfire Options

Most shooters are familiar with the .22 Pistol as a fun gun that doesn’t cost very much to shoot. The most recognizable cartridge in the world would likely be a .22LR; billions of rounds of the .22LR are produced each year by manufacturers everywhere in the world. But the .22LR is a versatile round, and the guns are a versatile set of firearms that can do a little bit of everything. There are myriad options for what to do with your .22 Pistol.

  • Target Shooting Firearms in the .22 caliber

A very nice choice for rimfire pistols, this is a very applicable use for these guns, because they are well suited to being accurate, and the best ammunition which can have a major impact on accuracy, is still quite cheap compared to centerfire ammunition. You can make a great target shooting gun out of a relatively mainstream .22 pistol offering.

Choosing the best .22 pistol for target shooting comes down to more than just an accurized firearm. You can find target shooting variants in all pistol types, including bolt action (generally suited for hunting); semiautos and revolvers. The best target shooting pistols will be built from the ground up as target pistols.

They will generally be heavier, have longer barrels and require more work at factory including the addition of certain design extras, which means they will almost always be more expensive. The benefit of this build quality however, is that you will have a legacy type firearm, that can be passed down to multiple generations - just like the finest .22 target pistols of the first and second generation that are now, valuable collectors items.

Many of those “antique” pistols are still usable and can hold their own in some cases with modern firearms. This is a testament to their being built specifically for accuracy and being treated like a fine firearm as they were quite expensive at the time they were built, relative to other .22 firearms.

General range and plinking with the .22 pistols - This is the sweet spot for most rimfire pistols. It’s a great use for these types of firearms and the fun that can be had and the cost savings of shooting with rimfire ammunition compared to centerfire ammunition makes this a very enjoyable pastime.  It’s a function of “target shooting” that’s a little lets serious and a lot more fun for some shooters.

  • The best .22 pistol for Suppressor use

Most pistols made new at factory can now be used with a suppressor with some basic modifications. Suppressors are very useful for any kind of shooting application, but because of the NFA (National Firearms Act) of 1934, they must be purchased using a background check and a tax stamp: an exemption that allows ownership granted by the Federal Government.

Those that want to use suppressors not only need to work through this federal law and its many compliance requirements, but they must also look for a gun that is usable with a suppressor. Generally, suppressors are made for thread sizes and specific guns.

They are somewhat modular, and somewhat portable, but for the most part it’s smart to buy a universally appointed firearm to gain access to the more popular (usually popularity and quality of suppressor go hand in hand); which generally requires a mainstream firearm with a threaded barrel of a specific diameter and thread count.

Many .22 pistols are now made specifically with these “universal” dimensions to make using popular suppressors easier. This list has no less than 5 variants that can easily/readily accept a common sound suppressor.

  • Using a .22 Pistol for Self Defense

You might look at a .22 pistol for self-defense. Though it’s not an obvious choice, given that the projectile is small and the power behind it is not particularly prolific, there are legitimate options if you’re looking for the best .22 pistol for self-defense. Generally, you may look at either an ultra-lightweight, ultra-small 22 pistol for personal protection, or at a .22 Magnum pistol, which will offer much more effective ballistics if you are trying to use a .22 Pistol for personal protection.

Because of the low power relative to other weapons more commonly used for personal defense, there may be less of a market for home protection .22 pistols, and more of a market for .22 Pistols as a backup weapon. Some smaller shooters will opt for a firearm that is less intimidating or easier to control as a primary concealed carry firearm.

The .22 has very little recoil and therefore becomes an excellent choice for new shooters and woman who have small frames to shoot as potential self defense weapons. Many male shooters who want a conceal carry weapon also prefer the small size and easy to use interface that a .22 pistol offers for personal protection. It is not a “woman versus man” thing, each person will have their own specific needs.

There are scenarios where this platform makes sense for self-defense, but in general, the rimfire pistols aren’t the best choice for stopping power in a concealed carry firearm or a personal defense pistol. Chosen carefully, the capabilities of the rimfire pistols are almost infinite.

  • Using a .22 Pistol for Hunting 

Pistols aren’t always as preferred for hunting as long guns are, but they are certainly suitable for the activity. It’s important to note that .22 pistols can easily be controlled in recoil and follow up and that will lend itself well to those who want to hunt with them. Generally, these rimfire pistols tend to be lighter weight than larger caliber firearms making .22’s easier to try to hunt with. Squirrel, rabbit and other small game, including birds can be good targets for those wanting to hunt with a rimfire pistol.

Basic overview of the brands covered in this list

These are not in any particular order. Nor are these companies representing a definitive list of the companies that offer a .22 Pistol. In fact, the popularity of the .22 Pistol whether as a revolver or a semi-auto or some other configurations (derringer or single shot), is so high that pretty much any manufacturer who even thinks about making something related to guns is making a rimfire gun these days. This list does however represent some of the finest companies producing a large volume of .22 pistols and represents a good cross section of the available pistols on the market. More importantly, this is a list of the best .22 pistols, which is a very accurate list for those shooters of all types who are interested in shooting the .22LR or other .22 cartridges.

Ruger

Ruger is based out of Northern Arizona in Prescott. Don’t call it “press-cott”, or you might be in trouble, they refer to it as “press-kit”. They are by far the largest local-only business in the area. Ruger has been making firearms since 1949 and have contributed perhaps more to the American rimfire market than any other company in the world by volume, where their infamous Ruger 10-22 and Ruger Mark IV (and previously Mark I-III) have accounted for millions of sales.

Heritage

Heritage is a subsidiary of Taurus, a Brazilian conglomerate that owns several firearm brands, since 2012. They are known for mostly producing replica style single action army type revolvers. They have a robust line of single action .22 Rimfire revolvers and are a serious manufacturer in the segment now.

North American Arms

NAA is primarily known as a producer of pocket sized guns and powerful rimfire magnums that utilize high quality stainless steel construction. They are a unique company in their offerings which ranges from super big bore to super small-bore firearms made based on innovations that don’t service the broad market so much as a tiny market segment. Nevertheless, they are a beloved company in the industry.

Beretta

It is said that Beretta has supplied firearms in every major European war since 1650, having been founded in 1526. It is one of the oldest existing companies in the entire world. You can almost count on one hand, the companies that are older than Beretta that are still in existence; it is easily the most profitable company of that bunch. Beretta has a long history of producing high quality rimfire pistols. That’s a bit misleading: Beretta has a long history of producing ALL their firearms. They were founded within fifty years of Columbus’s journey to the “new world” and they have a wealth of experience as a result of this longevity.

Sig Sauer

Sig Sauer is a Swiss and German company comprised of two sister companies, one in each country of origin. The company now has diversified production facilities in the United States. Sig has produced historically, a very high quality, high tolerance firearm with great accuracy and good reliability across the entire product portfolio.

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson, a company founded in 1852 in Springfield Massachusetts is a major player in the firearm world and has historically been so.  They produce some of the finest double action revolvers in the industry and there are a couple of Smith & Wesson firearms on this list. The company has a large diversified big box retail footprint as well as a large amount of law enforcement contracts.

Walther

James Bond’s gun has historically been a Walther PPK (though there have been other variations throughout the years), and there is a pistol on this list that is very much in the image of the Bond PPK ( generally a .380ACP firearm in the United States). Walther is a German company that has been in business since 1886 and offers some of the finest firearms historically, as well as offering some of the finest .22 rimfire barrels in the world under the Walther Lothar barrel trade name.

Taurus

First imported into the United States in 1968, Taurus guns have a long history in the U.S. Markets as a producer of cloned Berettas and cloned Smith and Wesson’s, both produced under licensing arrangements or partnership agreements. Taurus has since moved onto mostly producing their own designs for distribution throughout the world.

Browning

If it isn’t one of the most storied firearms companies in history, certainly you could justify calling John Moses Browning the most important Gunsmith in American history and one of the top designers in the history of firearms. The company was founded to market his civilian firearms in 1878. It is currently owned by FN Herstal and functions as a subsidiary company that produces very high-end shotguns, rifles and pistols in presentation grades as well as licensing firearms designs to other companies. Browning is a legendary firearms company.

Kel-Tec

Kel-Tec is a company whose firearms all seem to have a similar aesthetic to Grendel firearms, which may make sense because the founder was the same for both firearms companies. The aesthetic lives on through the Kel-Tec brand and the guns it is producing have a great reputation for low cost and high reliability. Such is the case for their .22 pistols. The owner George Kellgren also designed some guns for the Intratec brand and has created a thriving brand with Kel-Tec.

Chiappa

Chiappa is an Italy based firearms company that specializes in shotguns and now .22 pistols in the 1911 style in the United States. They are known for producing high level replicas based on older firearms that had loyal followings but did not represent the most popular guns on the market. The Chiappa pistols are not a massive portion of their portfolio but do represent a good market seller. The company was founded in 1958.

Rock Island Armory

Rock Island Armory is a Philippines based arm of the Armscor company, a Filipino powerhouse. They specialize in value priced 1911 style firearms generally and Armscor has a robust ammunition and accessory business that caters to the American market for civilians and offers military and law enforcement contract munitions and firearms in the Philippines and in other countries.

Armscor, and specifically RIA has worked to introduce a great .22 pistol innovation in the .22 TCM (Tuason Craig Micromagnum), that brings high level ballistics to the short, stepped cartridge that houses a .22 projectile. The company was founded in 1905 but found a change of ownership to the current family (Tuason) in 1941.

Conclusion

Finding the Best .22 Pistol, whether you are in the market for a self-defense pistol, something for target shooting and having fun, or just a plinking pistol, is an exercise in selecting something that caters to your aesthetic preferences, use cases and brand guidelines you may already have ingrained in your head. Whether it is a semi-auto or a revolver, whether you are a man or a woman, or whether you’re buying it as a second gun to add your expensive sound suppressor to, there is an element of customization, individuality and personal choice.

Rest assured, with the choices on this list, there are no bad decisions to be made if you pick one of these guns. They represent high quality manufacturing, reliability, accuracy and most importantly, fun. And that is the bottom line to what separates a .22 pistol from any other firearm, they are guns that induce smiles no matter what activity you have chosen them for. We hope you like your new .22 Pistol.

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