22 LR or 22 MAG or .380 for selfdefense?


Senior Member
It depends! Cold weather,or hot weather & light clothing makes a difference in what we can get away with. None of them give me a warm,fuzzy sense of confidence! However...I’ll take a FMJ 22 Mag in a revolver over the other two choices. More punch & penetration than a 22LR. Lighter & More concealable than a .380..of any make. I figure the gun I have ON me..that I can hide in any clothing..is the best choice.MOST of the time I carry a 5 shot NAA 22 Mag,with the grip on the handle. Very concealable & will penetrate both sides of a metal drum for a ways. My Sig P238 is a close second,but is much heavier & a lot less concealable in MY thin work clothes😉 I kinda wish Ruger would make a flyweight 4-5 shot LCR in .380.. that’d be interesting. I’ve also made the mistake of touching/handling a Sig p365 recently..that’s a mighty fine feeling concealed carry 9mm..and I’m picky😉
.380 is going to transfer more energy than the .22 calibers, and it is going to do so with greater reliability. .22 with you is better than a .380 at home though.

Joe EC

Senior Member
.380 is going to transfer more energy than the .22 calibers, and it is going to do so with greater reliability. .22 with you is better than a .380 at home though.
Quote from the FBI's report following the 1986 massacre in Miami.

"Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed “shock” of bullet impact is a fable and “knock down” power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding. Penetration less than 12 inches is too little, and, in the words of two of the participants in the 1987 Wound Ballistics Workshop, “too little penetration will get you killed.” Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet."

.22 & .380 just don't get it done effectively. Carry one at your own peril.
Not saying they are optimal, but I'd rather have one of those with me rather than a .44 Magnum sitting in the safe at home.
Yeah, but why not just get something more suitable, and carry it?


Senior Member
A lot of variables involved, up close and personal a .22 or .380 to the head or neck will get the job done, but through a heavy coat or layers of clothes, not so much. I don't even have much confidence in 9mm through heavy clothes, I consider a .40cal to be the minimum if there is a good probability I will actually need my handgun.
Yeah, but why not just get something more suitable, and carry it?
I think most people should get something more suitable.

Choosing a carry weapon is a balancing act where you weigh cartridge terminal performance, shootability, and concealability. As suggested in the FBI study, larger diameter bullets that penetrate deeply are more effective at neutralizing a threat. However, these guns tend to be harder to shoot and conceal, like the 44 Mag I referenced in my other post. There are people who say a .45 cal full-size 1911 is the absolutely minimum when it comes to concealed carry, but most people can't carry one all day. It's all a matter of finding balance. For most people, I think 9mm or .40 S&W or .38 Sp +P ends up being the acceptable balance.

For a lot of people, there isn't one firearm that perfectly balances all of those factors all the time, so we have more than one carry gun. There are some instances where deep concealment is necessary (When wearing light summer clothing with few pockets for example). In these cases, something very small like a Kel Tec P3AT or Ruger LCP offers the preferred balance of cartridge terminal performance, shootability, and concealability. It's undeniable that the .380 does not offer the performance that even a 9mm does, but it has been shown that Hornady XTP bullets expand reliably and penetrate more than the minimum 12" and do so through bare gelatin and layered denim over gelatin, even in short barrels like the LCP, P3AT, Sig 238, ect. It's in precisely these instances where a larger, more powerful weapon would be left at home, but a smaller, less powerful weapon will be carried.

There are a lot of variables that determine how people decide to balance cartridge terminal performance, shootability, and concealability. I think a .22 rimfire should be an absolute last resort, but statistics show that it is better than nothing for stopping an attacker. Switching to rimfire also introduces higher probability for misfires which is a strike against it, but in certain rare instances, a .22 may be the only acceptable option.

Is it optimal? No. Far from it. Is it better than nothing? Yes.

I'm not advocating .22 for concealed carry for the typical person or a .380 for primary EDC for a 6' 4" 275lb man. Obviously, there are far better choices for most of us.


Senior Member
Im 6-4, and ohhhh, 230-ish....and a .380 Bodyguard is my EDC. I, in no way, feel undergunned with that gun.

I think a better way to look at what is an appropriate EDC weapon is what is the scenario you see yourself using a gun for defense. For me, it's scenario would be at close range in a parking lot or similar situation. In that scenario, a .380 is perfectly acceptable in my judgment. I do not foresee myself having a shootout with somebody at 40 yards where a larger caliber with more capacity would definitely be advantageous. If the aggressor is that far away from me, I'm going to be trying to extricate myself from that situation rather than engaging. If you see yourself as someone who would rather take up a gunfight when the possibility of running from it is there, then by all means, go with a larger gun with 15, 16, or 17 shots, and you certainly need to carry the second and third clips. But statistically speaking, the vast majority of the situations where you will need a pistol for EDC, the range will be inside of 10 feet. A .380 will penetrate through-and-through on even the largest man at that range.


Senior Member
After dropping a hog in it's tracks at over 20 yards I will stick with my 40.

However it all depends on shot placement. Like a buddy of mine who was shot at point blank with 22 in the hand. To say it stopped him would be a lie, just made him madder but hey, he done it to himself lol
The .380 is a real self-defense caliber.
For 60-ish years in the USA, and almost 100 years in Europe the .32 and .38 S&W ( short, not the .38 special) were standard police pistol rounds. They worked most of the time, and when they didn’t perform well it was as much the fault of the round-nose non-expanding bullet as the cartridge.

I carry a KelTec P3AT as a deep concealment pocket pistol, or something to carry around my house and when in the yard.

It pokes much bigger holes than any .22 rimfire, drives deeper into soft tissue, and is of a design that is inherently more reliable than a rimfire as to both ignition and feeding into the chamber.

P.S. I haven’t done research lately but as of15 years ago I tested 22 Magnum handgun performance in soaked wet newspaper, and the penetration was very small compared to any centerfire caliber. In fact the 22 Magnum only went a little bit deeper than high velocity long rifle rounds.

A .22 WMR needs a long barrel to burn that gunpowder.


Senior Member
Those studies were based on LEO encounters and expected encounters. LEOs are expecting drug dealers, addicts and the like that may take several rounds to go down and are shooting back with lots of fire power. And shooting at someone that is chasing them to put them behind bars.

Average Joe (me) will rarely encounter those folks. Someone that attacks me is looking for an easy target. Those same folks will most likely run when the thought "I just got shot" crosses their mind and they will get the heck out of dodge whether it penetrates deep enough or not. Read the "Armed Citizen" in the NRA mags. In almost every case, when the perp was shot or shot at, they leave. Can't recall any case where they hung around and said, "that is just a puny 22lr". There is a certain primal fear of "I am being shot at, or I just got shot".

Someone jumps on you, you take that NAA 22lr and stick to their gut or neck, pull the trigger and I bet my paycheck that person is going to stop what they are doing and leave unless they are bleeding out.

Now, I could be eating those words later today, but hopefully I will never have to.

Watch the video where the guy is robbing the liquor store and the woman shoots him repeatedly with her little revolver until she runs out of ammo and he keeps coming and takes it away from her and starts hitting her over the head with it. If not for her daughter starting shooting him with another little cute gun, she would be dead, even after her shooting the guy over and over. In real life, people don't usually fall over dramatically dead when they're shot. This guy was just getting madder. And he still grabbed more stuff and got away after those two women both unloaded on him. If you think a couple small-caliber bullets are enough to stop most confrontations where someone is trying to kill you, you don't value your life as much as I do.

As for concealment and light summer clothing, I can and do easily conceal a Glock 23 .40 every day IWB in shorts and a t-shirt. If I have to go smaller, I have a Ruger LC9 loaded with +Ps. It's only a tiny bit bigger than an LCP, but packs a lot more juice.
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