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Best .22 Pistols of 2024

May 15, 2024 - Blog

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The demand and popularity of .22 pistols continues to rise with each passing year. Manufacturers have taken note of this expanding market and have produced a wide array of .22 pistol configurations. Rimfire handguns provide shooting enthusiasts with endless hours of plinking at the range, a unique variety of hunting opportunities, and double as capable personal defense weapons.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first-time gun owner, a .22 caliber handgun is both a practical and valuable asset to own. Filtering through the endless models of .22 pistols can be a daunting task. Below are eight of the best .22 pistols that should be considered next time you are in the market for a new rimfire. 

Browning Buck Mark Hunter 5.9

Sig P322

Browning 1911-22 A1

Walther WMP 

Ruger Wrangler

Taurus TX-22 Compact

Ruger Mark IV 22/45

Smith & Wesson SW-22 Victory

Walther PPK/s 22 Black

Smith & Wesson Model 43C

How I Picked the Best .22 Pistols

Narrowing down the plethora of .22 pistols on the market to just eight sidearms was no easy task. I leaned on my own 20+ years of gun knowledge as well as other extremely experienced and qualified individuals to assemble this list. I also did my best to include a variety of .22 pistol configurations to cover the spectrum of .22 handguns. At the end of the day, there are many capable and reliable .22 pistols on the market and this list is an objective compilation of .22 caliber handguns. What fits and feels good to one person, may not work for the next. 

The Best .22 Pistols: Reviews & Recommendations 

Browning Buck Mark Hunter 5.9

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Key Features

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 10+1

Action: semi-auto, hammer-fired

Barrel: 5.9-inch, blued, bull

Overall Length: 10 inches 

Weight: 41 ounces

Frame: Machined aluminum alloy

Sights: Vortex Crossfire Red Dot; TruGlo fiber optic front, adjustable rear

MSRP: $899

Pros

Reliable

Accurate

Comfortable grip

Includes Vortex red dot sight

Cons

Price tag

Heavy

First introduced in 1985, the Buck Mark pistol has been a staple in the Browning lineup for decades. Thirty eight years later the Buckmark has become one of the most recognizable and reliable .22 pistols on the market. Browning currently has numerous models available to appeal to everyone from the backyard target plinker to the serious competitive shooter. 

New for 2023 is the Buck Mark Hunter 5.9. This handsome Buck Mark rendition sports a precision machined alloy frame with a 5.9 in. matte blued bull barrel and laminated cocobolo-colored target grip plates. The Buck Mark Hunter 5.9 also comes standard with a suppressor-ready threaded barrel, muzzle break, and TRUGLO fiber optic front sight. The cherry on top of this stylish pistol is a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sight.

The Buck Mark is one of the most comfortable pistols to hold in your hand and is well balanced for its size. Buck Marks are known for their accuracy, much of which is contributed to its crisp, easy to control trigger. The Buck Mark Hunter 5.9 does feature several upgrades from a standard Buck Mark and the price reflects that. There are several Buck Mark models that are sub $500 if you are set on a Buck Mark but don’t have the additional funds for the Hunter 5.9 model.

Sig P322

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Key Features

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 20+1

Action: semi-auto, recoil-operated, hammer-fired

Barrel: 4-inch, carbon steel, threaded

Overall Length: 7 inches 

Weight: 17 ounces

Frame: Polymer/ stainless-steel

Sights: Fiber optic 3-dot, adjustable rear

MSRP: $399 (street)

Pros

Full-size pistol feel

excellent capacity

Suppressor and optics ready

Great trainer

Cons

Excessive lead fouling with some ammunition

The Sig Sauer P322 is an excellent example of a modern .22 pistol. It’s accurate and reliable, and functions well as a trainer for centerfire pistols. The P322’s shape generally follows the lines of the P365 series; though it’s larger than the original Sig P365. It has a fixed barrel with a slip-over recoil spring. The slide is aluminum, but features a steel insert that houses the firing pin, extractor, and supports the case head. It’s a hammer-fired pistol that has a concealed hammer and a good trigger pull. The P322 uses 20-round double-stack magazines that feel and load like larger 9mm magazines. I’ve put a couple thousand rounds through my P322 and the only issue I’ve encountered is that with one type of ammunition the end of the bore would foul substantially. If you want to use a suppressor, shoot a couple hundred rounds of your ammo first to ensure that it won’t foul excessively. 

Read our full Sig Sauer P322 review to learn more.

Browning 1911-22 A1

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Key Features

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 10+1

Action: Semi-auto, hammer-fired

Barrel: 4.25-inch, stainless steel

Overall Length: 7 inches (85 percent scale of original 1911)

Weight: 15 ounces

Frame: Aluminum alloy

Sights: Black A1

MSRP: $749.99 (street) 

Pros

Great “trainer” for using 1911 centerfire pistols

Lightweight (15 oz.)

Easy to disassemble

Variety of grip and finish configurations

Cons

Price Tag

Slightly smaller that standard full size 1911 handguns

For the better half of the 20th Century (1911-1985), the Colt 1911 served as the standard issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces. Today, pistol enthusiasts’ admiration of the 1911 has prompted many manufacturers to keep building modern pistols on the iconic platform,

including a few in .22 caliber. Browning’s 1911-22 A1 full-Size pistol is built to 85 percent of the scale of John M. Browning’s original 1911 chambered in .45 ACP.

On the outside, Browning’s 1911-22 handgun mirrors a modern 1911-A1 with a high strength/lightweight alloy frame, matte black slide, textured hammer, grip safety and laser checkered composite grips. True to its 1911 heritage, the Browning 1911-22 A1 sports a basic fixed dovetail-notched rear sight and a post front sight. The key thing about the Browning 1911-22 pistol is that it generally follows a true 1911 action and recoil system design—just scaled down. Most full-size .22 1911 pistols look like a 1911 on the outside, but are made with fixed barrels and a totally different recoil system.

Lackluster trigger pull has been the downside of many fine sidearms. Browning’s 1911-22 A1 does have a stern trigger pull but it breaks crisp and is comfortable to shoot. The Browning 1911-22 A1 provides shooters endless enjoyment plinking at the range, and the ability to improve their marksmanship skills with their standard centerfire 1911s at a fraction of the cost.

Walther WMP

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 WMR

Capacity: 15+1

Action: Semi-auto, hammer-fired

Barrel: 4.5-inch

Overall Length: 8.2 inches

Weight: 27.8 ounces

Frame: Polymer

Sights: Front, fiber optic; Rear, serrated

MSRP: $549 (street)  

Pros

Chambered in .22 WMR (Greater velocity and increased down range energy)

Concealable

Comes standard with two magazines

Cons

Chambered in .22 WMR (More expensive ammo)

Last fall, Walther created quite the buzz with the launch of their new hammer-fired, semi-automatic WMP (Walther Magnum Pistol) rimfire sidearm. The WMP, differs from the other .22 caliber pistols mentioned in this article in that it is chambered in .22 WMR as opposed to .22 LR. What’s the difference? .22 WMR is a “magnum” .22 caliber cartridge, giving shooters a noticeable advantage in muzzle velocity and downrange energy when compared to the .22 LR. The WMP is primarily advertised as a self-defense pistol designed with a high-capacity mag (15+1) and minimal recoil, but it also doubles as a fun handgun to shoot at the range.

Walther’s new WMP features a polymer frame and aluminum slide for a combined length of 8.2 inches and a total weight of 27.8 oz. (with empty magazine). While not considered a compact pistol, its weight and size are easily concealable for most. Other features include Walther’s patented Quad Release ambidextrous reloading mechanism, fiber-optic front sight and serrated rear sight, and an integrated accessory rail in front of the trigger guard.

The WMP fills a niche for those that want to carry but are not comfortable handling bigger bored sidearms. In terms of ammo, Walther has done extensive research on what shoots best through the WMP. They conveniently placed a diagram on their website of their findings of what does and does not shoot well. It is also worth noting that .22 WMR ammo is more expensive than .22 LR ammo, but not by much.

Ruger Wrangler

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: Six

Action: Revolver, single-action

Barrel: 4.62 inches

Overall Length: 10.25 inches

Weight: 30 ounces

Frame: Aluminum alloy, black cerakote finish

Sights: Front, blade; Rear, integral

MSRP: $269  

Pros

Simple design

Easy to operate

Very affordable

Cons

Cylinder is not a swing-out design, must be taken out completely to access

Ruger’s single-action Wrangler .22LR revolver is a modern pistol with a nostalgic tie to the Wild West. The Wrangler revolver may not be entirely practical to most applications, but there is no denying the fun that you will have plinking soda cans and ringing steel targets with it. 

Ruger offers several renditions of the classic revolver with various barrel lengths and metal finishes, but the mechanics remain the same across the board. The Wrangler is comprised of an aluminum alloy frame and cylinder, cold hammer-forged barrel, textured hammer, and a crisp, clean trigger. The hammer also doubles as your safety as the gun cannot fire without manually cocking the hammer back.

Coming from someone who grew up idolizing cowboys, the Ruger Wrangler was one of the very first firearms I purchased. While it isn’t used nearly enough, it still gets pulled out on occasion for some fun at the range and on the ranch. It was also my go-to weapon for dispatching racoons and skunks when I was a young trapper with more time than brains. No matter your skill level, the Ruger Wrangler should be a welcomed addition to any handgun collection. The Wrangler is simple in design, easy to operate, and easy on the checkbook.

Taurus TX22 Compact

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 13+1

Action: Semi-auto, SAO

Barrel: 3.6 inches

Overall Length: 6.7 inches

Weight: 16.5 ounces

Frame: Polymer

Sights: Front, fixed; Rear, Drift adjustable serrated

MSRP: $399

Pros

Compact/easy to conceal

Proven reliability

Comfortable to shoot

Two magazines included

Cons

 Does not offer a fiber-optic front sight option

Since its introduction in 2019, the Taurus TX22 pistol has been a favorite amongst rimfire pistol enthusiasts. Taurus has continued to build upon that line with their recent announcement of the TX22 Compact pistol.  With an overall length of 6.7 in., and an unloaded weight of only 16.5 oz., this compact rimfire pistol is the ideal candidate for a lightweight EDC sidearm. 

For a compact pistol, the TX22 is loaded with features. These include a 13-round staggered column magazine, threaded barrel, and an accessory rail in front of the trigger guard. The TX-22 Compact also uses Taurus’s noteworthy Performance Trigger System that aids in accuracy and is a joy to shoot. Ergonomically, the TX22 Compact was well thought through with a comfortable textured grip and easily accessible safety and magazine release.

The launch of the TX22 Compact brings the running total of different TX22 models to 16 in a wide variety of configurations for different shooting tasks and tastes.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 10+1

Action: Semi-auto, recoil-operated, hammer-fired

Barrel: 5.5 inches, bull

Overall Length: 9.75 inches

Weight: 34.4 ounces

Frame: Polymer

Sights: Adjustable rear sight (drilled and tapped receiver)

MSRP: $519

Pros

Accurate

Accommodates a red dot sight

Two 10-round magazines included

Cons

 Trigger pull is long

Ruger’s Mark IV 22/45 is a recent addition to their long-standing line of semi-automatic .22 pistols that dates back to 1950 when Ruger launched the Mark I Target handgun. The Mark IV 22/45 is a capable pistol that closely resembles the grip angle of the 1911, making it a great “trainer” sidearm. It is also a favorite amongst .22 enthusiasts for its accuracy and ability to utilize a wide range of accessories. 

The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 can accommodate accessories like optics and a silencer. Scott Einsmann

One of the primary complaints about previous renditions in the Ruger Mark .22 pistol family was in regard to its difficulty to disassemble. Shooters’ complaints did not fall upon deaf ears and Ruger made several improvements that make the Mark IV 22/45 a cinch to disassemble with its simple one-button takedown. The Mark IV 22/45 is built upon a precision-molded polymer grip frame and a cold hammer-forged barrel. It also comes standard with a drilled and tapped receiver to accommodate either a Weaver or Picatinny style rail to easily attach your favorite red dot optic.

Unlike most .22 pistols, the Mark IV 22/45 also features an ambidextrous manual safety that can be easily flipped to the left side of the receiver. Coming from a southpaw, that is a feature that I truly appreciate. 

The Rugler Mark IV is one of the best .22 pistols ever designed. Read our full review of the Mark IV to learn more about it.

Smith & Wesson SW-22 Victory

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 10+1

Action: Semi-auto, hammer-fired

Barrel: 5.5 inches

Overall Length: 9.2 inches

Weight: 37.1 ounces

Frame: Stainless steel

Sights: Fiber optic front sight, adjustable fiber optic rear sight

MSRP: $454

Pros

Quick and easy takedown design

Adjustable fiber optic sight

Adjustable trigger

Aftermarket grips available

Cons

On the heavy side at 36 ounces (empty)

Non-threaded barrel

Smith & Wesson’s SW-22 Victory pistol is a full-size, internal hammer-fired, .22 caliber sidearm that shooters can use across a wide variety of shooting activities. The SW-22 Victory is built upon a stainless-steel frame and features textured polymer grips and a match-grade, interchangeable barrel to ensure precision and performance.

The SW-22 Victory incorporates several high-end features into an affordable price-point sidearm. Like the Ruger Mark IV previously mentioned, one of the hallmark designs in the SW-22 Victory is its simple one-screw takedown design. Other notable features include adjustable fiber optic sights, included picatinny rail, and a steel reinforced thumb safety.

Smith and Wesson worked through the aesthetics and ergonomics of the SW-22 Victory with a fine-toothed comb. While it is a full-size pistol, the SW-22 Victory feels surprisingly comfortable and balanced in the hand and displays better than average accuracy at the range. The finishing touch to the SW-22 Victory is the adjustable trigger stop to fine tune its feel to your liking.

Walther PPK/s 22 Black

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: 10+1

Action: Semi-auto, hammer-fired

Barrel: 3.3 inches

Overall Length: 6.1 inches

Weight: 19 ounces

Frame: Steel

Sights: Fixed black front blade, windage adjustable rear

MSRP: $349

Pros

Easy to conceal

Iconic design

Proven reliability

Threaded barrel

Cons

Heavy-ish trigger (6.1 pounds)

Fixed sights

German small arms manufacturer, Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen, produced the first PPK pistol in 1930. Fast forward nearly a century and the PPK design continues to be a favorite concealed carry weapon for many handgun aficionados as well as the beloved sidearm of choice for Mr. Bond, everyone’s favorite British spy. Walther saw the potential in a rimfire PPK model and released the first PPK/s 22 in 2013. Ten years later, rimfire pistol enthusiasts continue to hail the PPK/s 22 pistol as a favorite for recreational shooting and everyday carry.

The PPK/s 22 is a fun gun for plinking, especially when suppressed. Scott Einsmann

The PPK/s 22 is an exact scaled replica of the PPK/s chambered in .380 ACP with a few varying internal features to accommodate the .22 LR chambering. Weighing a mere 19 oz. and sporting an overall length of only 6.1 in., the PPK/s 22 can easily fit in the palm of your hand and is ideal for an everyday concealed carry sidearm. Better yet, the PPK/s 22 features a 10-round capacity magazine, packing a substantial amount of fire power into an extremely compact pistol.

Since the launch of the PPK/s 22, Walther has introduced various models that incorporate different metal finishes and grip materials. The PPK/s, like the 1911, is a timeless sidearm that will continue to be praised for a long time to come.

Smith & Wesson Model 43C

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Key Features 

Caliber: .22 LR

Capacity: Six

Action: Revolver, double-action

Barrel: 1.88 inches

Overall Length: 6.25 inches

Weight: 11.4 ounces

Frame: Aluminum

Sights: Front: XS Sights, white dot; Rear: fixed U-notch

MSRP: $759

Pros

Compact and Light

Easy to conceal

Cons

Spendy

Fixed sights

Is a .22 pistol an adequate choice for self defense? For some folks, in some very specific situations, the answer is yes. Recently, OL shooting Editor John B. Snow and Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills evaluated Federal’s Punch .22 LR self-defense ammo and found that the loads “penetrated more than 12 inches [into ballistic gel], which is the threshold that the FBI likes to see. They want from 12 to 18 inches of penetration and this bullet accomplished that.”

“With 8 rounds on tap that can be fired quickly and accurately in an easy-to-carry and conceal revolver with purpose-built ammo, you can see how a .22 LR for self-defense becomes a viable option,” Snow wrote in his review. “Is a .22 going to displace my compact carry 9mms or my 5-shot J-Frame as an everyday carry option? Probably not. But I won’t look down my nose the same way at someone who opts to use a .22 LR for personal protection.”

With that in mind, you should consider the & Wesson Model 43C if you’re looking to concealed-carry a .22 pistol for personal protection. The 43C is an AirWeight variation of S&W’s Centennial Model. It’s svelte and light thanks to its aluminum frame and aluminum cylinder (it weighs just 11.4 ounces) weighing 11.4 ounces. The hammer is concealed within the frame, and it’s a double-action only pistol. 

Snow ran a series of drills on paper and steel at 3, 7, and 15 yards and found that he was able to shoot the pistol quickly and accurately. Recoil was negligible and as long with solid fundamentals.

Read Next: The Glock 44: Tested and Reviewed

Things to Consider Before Buying One of the Best .22 Pistols

There are several factors to consider when purchasing a pistol, or any firearm for that matter. These break down into three categories: cost, function, and reliability.

Cost

The first factor that must be taken into consideration when purchasing a .22 pistol is cost. Set your budget and stick to it. If you only have $500 to spend on a new pistol, do not even bother looking at the more expensive options behind the gun counter no matter how hard the sales associate pushes you. I am a proponent of the “buy once, cry once” mentality, but I also understand a budget and do my best to get the most bang for the money that I do have. Also keep in mind that you will want to set aside a chunk of change for ammo and other accessories that your pistol may need when setting your budget. Your fancy new pistol is nothing more than a paper weight if you do not set aside sufficient funds for ammunition.

Function

.22 pistols are used in a wide variety of scenarios to include everything from recreational target shooting, to dispatching vermin on the trap line, to high-stake shooting competitions, and many other endeavors. Deciding what .22 pistol will suit your needs best will largely be driven by your intended purpose for it. If you are looking for an every-day-carry, you will most likely turn most of your attention to compact options that are easy to conceal. On the flip side, if you are simply looking for a fun gun to punch holes in cans with then you might consider a full-frame pistol. Line out what you intend to use your .22 pistol for most and begin your search with that in mind. 

Reliability

While most of us purchase firearms with hopes of never having a problem, the reality is that it is usually only a matter of time before a jam occurs or some other minor setback. Do your homework before purchasing a pistol and see what others have to say. While I always take the information dished out on the internet with a grain of salt, there is some good information out there to be consumed. When mulling through owners’ opinions, watch for patterns. If one person has had a bad experience, they may have just gotten the bad apple. However, if there are multiple users running into the same issues then these are worth noting. Best case scenario is that you know someone that owns one and can pick their brain on their personal experience with it. They are much more likely to give you a straight answer than the gun counter associate trying to make a sale. 

FAQs

Q: What .22 pistol is the most accurate?

Handguns in general are not known for their abilities to consistently print clover leaf groups in targets. However, handguns have come a long way and in capable hands can produce impressive accuracy results. I never have and likely never will compete in any sort of pistol competitions, but I can confidently say that in my opinion and experience, the Browning Buckmark is the most accurate .22 pistol in this round-up. Shooting 40-grain CCI target loads, my Buckmark consistently shoots 1.5-inch groups at 20 yards. There are also many, many prairie dogs that have also fallen victim to my Buckmark beyond 50 yards. Throw on a red dot sight like the Buckmark Hunter 5.9 model has, and I would be shocked if it didn’t produce sub- 1-inch groups.

Q: What’s the best .22 pistol for self defense?

When looking at a .22 LR handgun for self defense, your best option is one of the 8-shot revolvers on the market. Both Ruger and Smith u0026 Wesson make wheelguns that are reliable, affordable, and easy to conceal.

Given that .22 rimfire ammo is less reliable than centerfire pistol ammo, you should think twice before carrying a .22 LR semiauto for personal protection. If you encounter a dud with a revolver you can just keep pulling the trigger to bring a fresh round into battery rather than have to perform a failure drill.

It’s also important to select the right ammunition for a .22 pistol for self defense such as Federal’s Punch. 

Q: What is the best 1911 .22 pistol?

Browning’s extensive line of 1911-22 pistols embodies the nostalgia that pistol enthusiasts have come to expect when purchasing a sidearm built on the iconic platform. They are well made, reliable, and most importantly downright fun to shoot, thus earning the title of best 1911 .22 pistol on the market. It is also worth noting that there are a few other manufacturers that have produced quality .22 caliber 1911 handguns. Sig Sauer’s 1911-22 is no longer in production but is highly praised and would be a great purchase if you come across one on the used market.

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.

Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts on the Best .22 Pistols

The benefits of owning and shooting one of the best .22 pistols are tangible. Some of these perks include increased proficiency and comfort with bigger bored pistols, great EDC sidearms and unique hunting opportunities. But most importantly, they are downright fun to shoot.

The post Best .22 Pistols of 2024 appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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