Some folks might balk at the idea of using a .22 pistol for concealed carry. Just do an Internet search for the phrase "why carry a .22 for concealed carry"; you will see a lot of mixed opinions gracing the headlines of the results. At We The People Holsters, we know that there are some advantages and disadvantages to concealed carrying a .22.
The .22 LR pistols that have come out in recent months have a lot of the same features and aesthetics as other concealed carry pistols. But does a small rimfire make sense for self-defense? A lot of firearms experts say "no" and reinforce that manufacturers make these guns for sport over self-defense. But there is no denying the fact that they are small and can easily fit into IWB holsters or inside of your purse.
Obviously, these small .22s are in demand, hence why manufacturers are producing so many of them lately. Still, experts and owners sometimes talk these guns down as not being as effective for self-defense as their 9mm competitors. So, before we go over our picks for the best .22s for concealed carry, we will go over the advantages and disadvantages of carrying them this way.
The .22 LR cartridge is a popular pick among American buyers, including women who are looking for a self-defense firearm. At one point, manufacturers were struggling to keep up with the demand for .22 LR cartridges, which led to a shortage. So, you do have the popularity factor that is driving the manufacturing of these guns. They won't be going out-of-style any time soon.
Then you also have to consider their cost-effective nature. Cartridge prices range between $0.05 to $0.20 per shot (at least, that is when the demand for them isn't insanely high), and you can get a good load quality. Match that up against the 9mm's estimated cost ($0.19 to $1.00 per round), and you have an incredibly affordable option.
Just because it is affordable doesn't mean it is a great gun, right? We all know you often get what you pay for. But the .22 LR is known for its soft report and low recoil. If you are a new shooter, this is an especially effective gun for learning how to shoot on. You can easily master all of the basics. But it is also a choice weapon for seasoned shooters who enjoy a gun that is lightweight and gives so little in the way of recoil.
No firearm is perfect, and the .22 might not be right for you. This caliber has some downsides when being used for personal protection. The first issue is its reliability. This rimfire is one of the oldest cartridges still used today, having been modified into the .22 Long Rifle (LR) cartridges that are now in such high demand. They are called rimfire cartridges due to how the powder gets spun into the inner part of the hollow rim of the cartridge. A tiny part of the rim is struck and compressed by the firing pin, which causes it to ignite the priming compound. Unfortunately, this design has a major drawback - failure to fire.
This cartridge is simply not known for its reliability because of the gaps in the primer compound that stop the gunpowder from igniting when the firing pin strikes it. While you might get about half a dozen duds in a 500-round bulk box of .22 LR ammo, this is a minor qualm if you're just shooting at the range. It's a cheap loss. But if you are actually using this gun in a self-defense scenario, you do not want to deal with a jam or failure to fire. That's why you will need to buy the more high-quality loads, even though you still run the risk of the gun not firing.
Is a .22 really effective? Hold a .22 LR bullet next to a .357 Mag, a 9mm, or even a .45 ACP, and you will notice a size difference. The .22 LR bullet is built to cause some serious damage, sure, but how serious? The problem here is the fact that it launches lightweight bullets with powder charges that were not designed for this type of gun; they were instead made for 16" to 20" rifle barrels. This means the bullets lose energy when fired from a 2- to 4-inch barrel, and the hollow point bullets don't expand upon impact from a handgun like they do from a rifle. A lightweight bullet traveling at a slow velocity doesn't make as much of an impact as a heavier bullet.
With that out of the way, we can discuss some of the .22 pistols that we like for concealed carry. And our first one up is the Glock 44. Glock definitely capitalized on the .22 LR rush with the introduction of the G44. Inexpensive and relatively fun, the Glock 44 is great for training. This is Glock's first foray into rimfire pistols, and making a striker-fired one (not an easy task, mind you) is probably the reason why they have taken so long. Aside from the Taurus TX22, the other rimfires on the market have an internal hammer.
What we like about the Glock 44
- the non-fixed 22 LR Marksman barrel
- the polymer/steel hybrid slide (which reduces weight but keeps the gun durable)
- Glock's awesome front slide serrations
- size is the same as the Glock 19
- a 10-round magazine
This gun is tough and looks like a 9mm at first glance. Many of the Glock 44's features are ones that other manufacturers haven't found ways to put into their rimfires quite yet, so kudos to Glock for their innovation. Brownie points for configuring the polymer/steel hybrid slide, which tackles the rimfire issue of light slide mass head-on. Glock doesn't go the cheap route with lightweight materials, but this hybrid also doesn't add any bulk.
The Glock 44 shoots with accuracy most of the time. The slide is a soft operator, and the magazines seem to need to be broken in. Reliability is the only spot where the Glock 44 loses points, we're afraid. Otherwise, this is a fantastic .22 LR for concealed carry.
Ruger SR 22
The Ruger SR 22 is a .22 LR pistol that is hard to ignore. Unlike many of the other Ruger rimfires, this gun is not based on the Japanese Nambu design. The SR 22 is more conventional in its appearance, but Ruger nails it with the gun's features and dimensions. The safety switches and magazine release are reversible, so lefties and ambies (ahem, we mean ambidextrous folks) can comfortably hold, aim, and shoot the SR 22.
What we like about the Ruger SR 22
- reversible magazine and safety switches
- plenty of surface area on the controls
- a well-placed safety
- a comfortable grip that is customizable
- four handle combinations to select between
This gun's stature means it works well for IWB carry. But, as far as firing goes, the SA pull is a bit too long while the DA comes off as being somewhat more like that of a revolver - uncomfortable at times. Overall, though, the SR 22 is reliable, accurate, and easy to conceal.
Beretta 21 A Bobcat
Having made its debut in the 1980s, the Beretta 21 A - based on the Beretta 950 Jetfire from the 1950s - has been a staple of the concealed carry market. And people like the Bobcats. This double-action has a manual thumb safety situated on the left, underneath the slide - a design that allows you to carry it with the hammer back if you want to do so. The DA pull is somewhat heavy, but it is easy to load. Without much recoil, the lack of grip on the Bobcat can be negated.
What we like about the Beretta 21 A Bobcat
- the tip-up barrel
- easy for women and seniors to operate
- easy to clean a misfire
- a reasonable price tag
Bear in mind that the Bobcat is picky about ammo. You have to get ammo that is suited for this gun since it doesn't have an extractor. That means it strictly relies on blowback inertia in order to take fired cases off from its chamber. You can't cycle the action when a bullet fails to fire. You have to tip the barrel up and manually remove it. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. It might just be different from what you're used to.
Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact
Lightweight in its design, the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact is scaled to 87.5 percent of the regular M&P 22's size. And we think that S&W perfected this gun's size, making it ideal for concealed carry. If you have ever tried the regular M&P 22, then you are going to find that these two pistols are a lot alike, save for the obvious size difference.
This American-made model (Walther manufactures the regular 22 in Germany) has an incredible number of safeties, but that's not unusual for a rimfire. The lefty-friendly manual thumb safety is big and easy to use. If you're used to the 1911 style of thumb safeties, then you might like how unobtrusive this safety is. The magazine disconnect safety is a questionable choice on the 22 Compact, and not everyone is a fan of it. That being said, though, the M&P 22 Compact is accurate and easy to shoot.
What we like about the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact
- easy slide manipulation
- comfortable grip
- well-placed controls
- a clear front dot sight
The frame-mounted thumb safety is our biggest gripe with the M&P 22 Compact. The drifting rear sight is somewhat problematic too. However, the pros outweigh the cons since this gun has phenomenal ergonomics and is easy to conceal carry. The front sight dot is extremely bright and clear, which helps with quickly and accurately finding and hitting your target. It makes for a fun plinker gun or a great competitive shooter.
Getting the right concealed carry gun is important, and .22s aren't exactly for everyone. A lot of people prefer other calibers. But we think that there are some stand-out .22 LR pistols that work well for concealed carry. If we had to pick our absolute favorite from this list, it would clearly be the Glock 44. (It is hard to go wrong with a Glock, after all.) But we'd advocate for any of these .22 pistols, especially for beginners who need something to train on.
Of course, here at We The People Holsters, we know you need the right holsters to take care of your firearms. Whether you choose to get a .22 or go for something else, we've got you covered. Want to carry your .22 IWB? We've got you. Prefer OWB? We've got you there too. Not only do we want to protect your Second Amendment rights, but we also want to help keep you and your gun safe. Our Kydex designs provide the kind of durability you need while still being easy to conceal. Whatever you need, we can help you out. Just give us a call at (866) 998-6191 and let us know how we can assist you with holstering and getting accessories for your new .22 pistol.