Many shooters overlook the .22 long rifle caliber in favor of harder-hitting rounds, but self-defense with a firearm is more about shot placement than any other factor. Hitting someone several times with a small round is far better than missing them with a big round.
It can be easier for an elderly individual or someone with a debilitating illness to hit what they are aiming at with a .22, because of small recoil and light weight with these weapons. Other reasons to own a .22 are inexpensive ammunition and practicing sound fundamentals.
Many makers offer .22 versions of their more powerful models, allowing good habits to develop with a package you are already familiar with, and the low cost of ammunition allows more practice time.
Another good thing about a .22 is that it can be far less intimidating for someone who is a first time shooter.
If you want to teach your children to shoot, the last thing you want to do is frighten them with a large, powerful and noisy handgun that hurts their hand when they pull the trigger.
This list is in no particular order, but these are some of the more popular choices in use today as the best 22lr pistol.
Best 22LR Pistol – Top 5 Reviews
1. Walther P22 .22LR Pistol
It is distributed by Walther America, which is a joint entity with the Smith and Wesson Company. The exterior of the P22 largely resembles the Walther P99 although it is only about 75% of the P99’s size and its action chambers the rimfire .22 LR cartridge. What is most noticeable about the P22 when compared to the P99 is that it is slide mounted, thumb operated and has ambidextrous safely and its external hammer is different.
The P22 also features a cast polymer grip frame. Its slide frame receiver inserts are made from Metal Injection Molding cast zinc alloy and its barrel features a rifled steel insert with a steel barrel sleeve. The internal lockwork and fire control elements are a combination of metal injection molding cast steel and steel stampings.
There are some options where the P22 is concerned. It can be purchased with a 3.4 inch short barrel or a five inch barrel that comes with a barrel mounted weight compensator which mimics the profile of the slide.
The P22 is also offered in a few different color choices. The colors most commonly offered are black, olive drab, grey, carbon fiber and three different shades of pink. There is a newer option that looks like Damascus steel; with the slide assembly being either black-blue or it may have a nickel or stainless look.
The P22 is a blowback action pistol that has a 10 round detachable box magazine feed system. It has adjustable open sights and weighs in at about 15.2 ounces. It also measures about 6.3 inches in length and has the two different barrel lengths, as was previously mentioned.
The Walther P22 has a high tech cool factor, with ergonomic styling that makes shooting fun. It comes with grip side panels that can be replaced with different choices to fit larger or smaller hands and the curve of the palm.
The P22 is a 75 percent sized version of Walther’s P99. If you own a P99 in 9mm or .40 S&W, the P22 allows much more time practicing on the range with the same platform.
The safety and magazine release can be operated with either hand. The P22 features a manual safety, a magazine disconnect safety and firing pin safety. The three-dot sightsystem is easily replaced with optional sights of differing heights and dot materials for use in the dark.
2. Ruger Mark III 22 LR Pistol
The Mark III has a reputation for accuracy and is a favorite of both target shooters and small game hunters. There are four styles available, the Standard with a tapered barrel, the Target with a heavy “bull barrel”, the Hunter with its fluted barrel and the Competition with a flat sided barrel.
An indicator tells the user when there is a cartridge in the chamber that can be both seen and felt. Sights are rigid mounted, and there are several different types to choose from, including a scope mount.
The Mark III is available in black or stainless and has impressive fit and finish. This gun is more expensive than most consumer level .22 handguns.
3. Beretta Neos
Beretta first got its start in 1526 when Maestro Bartolomeo Beretta of Italy sold 185 arquebus barrels to the Arsenal of Venice for a payment of 296 ducats. Passed on from father to son, in the early 1900s, Pietro took control of the company and introduced many modernized manufacturing methods, making Beretta one of the most modern firearm production facilities in the world.
Now, almost 500 years since its creation, Beretta produces approximately 1,500 pieces a day and exports more than 75% of its arms to nearly 100 countries. Covering nearly the entire range of portable firearms, Beretta manufactures over-and-under and side-by-side shotguns for competition and hunting, autoloaders and pump action guns, express double rifles, assault rifles and semiautomatic pistols.
Beretta competition shotguns have won more World Championships, Olympic Games and International Competitions than any other shotgun. Used worldwide by civilians, police and armies, the Beretta name has become synonymous with unyielding quality, design, materials, construction and performance.
The Beretta U22 Neos 22LR Pistol
The Beretta U22 Neos has wild styling like some kind of science fiction laser pistol, and was designed by legendary Italian designer Giugiaro. The side panels on the grip can be replaced with bright colored inserts that change the shape of the grip to fit different sizes and shapes of hands.
This handgun is very light weight and maneuverable. The front sight is replaceable and the rear sight is fully adjustable. The Neos has a cocking indicator that faces the shooter at the rear of the gun, so the shooter doesn’t have to look at the top or side to determine the state of the weapon.
The safety and the magazine release are ambidextrous and can be operated single-handed. This gun is very accurate and reliable on the firing line. One interesting accessory offered by Beretta is a kit that converts the Neos into a rifle.
Beretta initiated a recall on the Neos in September of 2010 due to a condition that allowed the gun to fire with the safety on. Make sure you inquire with the dealer as to the manufacture date of the gun you are looking at. At all times, proper gun handling means no finger on the trigger unless you are going to fire the weapon. That rule will help to avoid problems if you have doubts on this issue.
4. Browning Buck Mark
The Browning Buck Mark is a legitimate classic, and has a precise build with fit and finish that are exemplary. The frame and slide are machined from a single piece of billet aluminum, and the result is substantial feel and impressive quality. This gun has reliable operation and great accuracy.
There are 15 different models of Buck Mark and Browning offers several different barrel types and grip styles. The Buck Mark is an easy gun to field strip and reassemble.
This gun is designed for right-handed use only and has no ambidextrous features. There are rail mounts for accessories such as lights, laserand scope. Pricing is quite reasonable, at the lower end for a high quality pistol in this class.
5. Smith & Wesson 22A
Since the production of the first ever self-contained cartridge revolver, the first ever Magnum revolver and the first ever double action auto-loading pistol, Smith & Wesson has continued to raise the bar in the production of innovative and quality handguns.
Now a world leader in the design and manufacturing of reliable handguns, Smith & Wesson firearms have gained popularity among nearly every military force and police agency as well as countless civilians from around the world.
The 22A LR pistol is reliable and very accurate. One potential problem is the magazine release’s location on the front of the grip. This could cause accidental magazine release by shooters with small hands. This might be considered a disqualification for teaching the youngsters to shoot.
The geometry is generally considered quite comfortable by most shooters and points instinctively, allowing good marksmanship to be attained without a lot of practice. One potential issue for elderly shooters or those with glasses is the lack of dots on the sights.
For practice plinking, recreation or competitive target shooting, there is no better choice than this beauty. Known for superior performance the 22A is the perfect first handgun to hone your skills. This extremely accurate target pistol is well liked by skilled shooters everywhere. Features polymer fram and adjustable rear sights too.
When looking for a quality .22 handgun, any of these guns would be a good choice as the best 22lr pistol for training, practice or self-defense. If you would like to suggest your favorite to the best 22LR Pistol list, feel free to post a comment.