Reality check .22 long rifle vs .22 magnum gas house pike frederick md


So a shorter barrel doesn’t push the Hornady Critical Defense FTX bullet as well as it could, but don’t forget it’s a heavier projectile and should stand up better to bone. Since this information is pure foot-pounds, we cannot infer that these are the best or worst performing rounds. They are just the ones with the most energy from a solid test barrel. The cylinder gap will cost some performance and it varies from gun to gun and even by how clean the gun is.

To throw some gel test info in here, a 2" Black Widow CCI Maximag +V gets 17" of gel penetration with zero expansion and usually the round flips inside the gel and ends up traveling base first. The Fed TNT round out of the same gun expands or even fragments and only does 6", this means a massive energy dump as this round actually expands unlike many .22 magnum rounds from a short barrel.

It begs the question: What defines the terminal performance of a round? Penetration, energy transfer? Expansion or rounds tumbling inside the target? I pose that shot placement makes these things less important while still getting the job done.

Also keep in mind that the energies of the top rounds were tending to be less than 10 foot pounds in difference, while the worst rounds could be nearly half of that number. The Hornady FTX round really isn’t that bad from a supershort, it’s just that I noted a trend of energy approaching the same value as the barrel is shorter and shorter. The FPE didn’t quite converge to the same number, but oh well. That’s what makes this stuff interesting.

Owning a NAA .22LR and .22WMR, both 1 1/8th inch barrel, this discussion has been interesting. Since NAA already provides ballistic information regarding velocities for quite a lot of popular ammo choices versus various barrel lengths, I converted a few of these (using the mean velocity value) to FP using the ballistics calculator at The results are:

To my uneducated view, in .22LR the Stinger gets the edge. Between LR and WMR, the WMR has more punch, but the significance of 44FP to 58FP is arguable . The WMR is definitely louder (a lot!) and has an impressive flash plume from a 1 1/8th barrel, but does that have any SD importance? Some will say it does, and some won’t agree.

It seems there’s a lot of choice reliance on "one shot stopping power" in the "which caliber is best" argument, but is that realistic? When it hits the fan, taking one shot and then admiring the work is not what’s going to happen. A minimum of a double-tap (and probably a lot more) can be expected to occur no matter what kind of handgun is involved, and that impacts the "stopping power" argument. So, from an SD standpoint does two WMR shots equal three LR shots – is that what matters?

SD and manhunting are two different things. if we are talking SD, then the questions should be how much power is necessary to negate the threat, and is it realistic to believe that only one shot will be fired? If we are talking manhunting, then single-shot takedown power is indeed the prime consideration. I don’t know anyone who has only a concealed-carry permit who is lawfully involved in manhunting.

I tend to alternate between carrying the LR and the WMR, with no good reason to explain why one or the other. The ballistic numbers don’t really justify a particular choice, but I suppose if a louder "bang" and a brighter flash plume might be more threat-negating, then the WMR should get the edge in certain environments.

Back in the "wearing the green" days the concern of too much penetration didn’t exist. If it was down-range, it was a good target, and down-range was anything beyond the intended target. That is a common military concept, but a darned dangerous one for civilian CCW. The potential of innocents being behind the intended target is quite high in the CCW environment. Too much penetration means everyone/thing behind the intended target (despite walls, windows or other impediments) is at risk if/when the bullet exits the intended target and continues until stopped.

This brings us back to "risk assessment" and what works to mitigate that risk without creating additional risk. For me, the risk environment includes innocents all around me when in the open (public streets, at windows, etc.) and inside my home and other buildings (drywall makes a lousy bullet barrier). For these reasons I don’t want anything with a >12" penetration factor. I want that on-target bullet not to exit that intended target. I anticipate that more than one shot will probably be fired at the intended target, and multiple hits of any caliber bullet fills the CCW intent (for my potential risks) adequately.

This is not to say that my risk assessment is correct for everyone. My point is that blasting a hole completely through a target is not necessary to fulfill "threat mitigation" in all circumstances. I’m a firm believer in the Law of Unintended Consequences, and over-penetration can indeed have consequences far beyond mitigation of the initial threat.