People often use 22LR cartridges for defensive purposes because they have a gun in that caliber close at hand in their homes. But, what are the best 22LR ammo choices on the market?
Since the ammo has next to no recoil, tends to be cheap, and still has enough power to stop an attacker, it’s also a reasonable choice for people who consciously choose their defensive weapon.
The caliber is popular, so it can be hard to sort through all the options. We’ve decided to solve that problem by making a list of the best 22LR ammo for self defense based on its reliability, power level, and accuracy.
Best 22LR Ammo: Top 10
Without further ado, here are our top 10 choices for the best 22LR ammo on the market.
10. CCI Suppressor
Suppressor cartridges from CCI are subsonic, so they are much quieter than most ammo.
The low volume comes at the cost of a low muzzle velocity, but the bullets compensate by using a hollow point to increase their ability to do damage.
The powder blend burns cleanly, which minimizes the amount of cleaning that the owner needs to do between practice sessions.
They are reasonably reliable, especially in the suppressed firearms for which the ammo was designed.
It’s among the best 22LR ammo when noise is a concern, but it is only adequate, rather than excellent, for other situations.
9. Norma TAC-22
TAC-22 ammo from Norma USA is messy but effective. It uses a round nose bullet, which is accurate and offers high penetration within the usual ranges for self-defense.
It feeds well in most guns, and the manufacturing variance between rounds is low, so it’s a reliable option. The downside is that this ammo can be messy, and the lubricant tends to melt in warm weather.
That’s fine if you’re willing to clean a little grease after you practice, but people who want to cut down on their cleaning time need to pick another option.
8. Eley Force
Eley produces Force ammo, which offers much more power than the average .22 cartridge. Some of that power comes from its high muzzle velocity, but the cartridge is meant to improve the bullet’s stopping power.
It has an oxidized coating, which increases the friction between the case and the bullet. That stabilizes the bullet to make it more accurate and more powerful.
This ammo does have more recoil than most, but it remains some of the best 22LR ammo for self defense because of its high power level.
7. CCI – Blazer Ammunition
Blazer’s 22LR ammunition is one of the best values on the market. While it does have the occasional dud round, it is more reliable than most ammo at its price point.
The propellant burns cleanly, which makes it one of the better choices for people who want to minimize their gun’s maintenance. It is less resistant to the environment than most cartridges, so it needs to be stored with care to prevent damage.
It’s a great choice for shooters who want to save money and can store it properly, but there are better options for everyone else.
6. Remington Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt ammo from Remington is a balanced option that works well for most shooters. The ammunition is cheap, accurate, and reasonably reliable, but it does have a couple of flaws.
While few cartridges will fail, the performance varies more between rounds than with most brands. It’s also fairly dirty.
That isn’t a problem for self-defense, but it can make practicing inconvenient. It’s a good budget option that will be fine for most shooters, but shooters with experience who can benefit from highly consistent ammo should pick another option.
5. Winchester Super-X
|Bullet Material||Copper-plated Lead|
Winchester’s line of Super-X ammo stands out for its accuracy, especially in rifles. It also has a high muzzle velocity and respectable spotting stopping when fired from a rifle.
Pistols chambered in 22LR often suffer failures when using it, but it is quite reliable in long guns. It doesn’t have problems in every pistol, but it is best to buy a small amount to try before depending on it.
It’s a solid choice for self-defense with a rifle, but most pistol shooters will need to try something else.
4. Aguila Super Extra
|Bullet Material||Copper-plated Lead|
Super Extra cartridges from Aguila are well suited for use in pistols. It’s adequate for rifles as well, but it feeds more reliably in most pistols that struggle with other cartridges.
The bullet’s copper plating helps with that reliability, but it also encourages consistent performance between shots. Defective rounds are slightly rarer from Aguila than from most other brands in this price range, but they do occasionally happen, so shooters who pick this brand should check their ammo for problems before depending on it in an emergency.
This is one of the best 22LR ammo choices for pistol shooters, but rifle shooters should also consider it.
3. Browning BPR
BPR ammo from Browning is one of the few cartridges in the caliber to be designed for defensive use, so it should be no surprise that it is a contender for the best 22LR ammo for self defense.
It offers significant stopping power and accuracy due to an oxide coating on the casing, and Browning’s quality control means that flawed rounds are rare.
It does suffer from a failure to eject in some rifles, but it works perfectly in others, so it’s best to buy a little and test it in your gun before buying in bulk. Give it a try if you want a powerful and cost-effective cartridge.
2. Lapua Polar Biathlon
Polar Biathlon cartridges from Lapua offer extreme precision, to the point where they dominate major competitions. The design is best for use in biathlons, so it excels at short range.
Since it works great in cold weather, it is the best 22LR ammo for self defense in the winter. Since it is manufactured primarily for professional shooters, it is massively more expensive than the other options, but still cheap enough for most shooters to use due to the small caliber.
Give it a try if you live in an area with harsh winters, but choose something cheaper if you don’t need polar adaptation.
1. Federal Premium Hunter Match
|Bullet Material||Nickel-plated Lead|
Federal Premium produces Hunter Match ammo, which offers excellent accuracy because it uses match-grade components.
The case is plated with nickel, which reduces the risk of a failed extraction or of corrosion during storage to make the ammo more reliable.
Since the rounds are for both competitive shooters and hunters, they also have adequate stopping power.
This ammo cost more than most alternatives, but the difference is only a few cents per shot.
The high performance and affordable pricing makes this the best 22LR ammo for self defense in the vast majority of situations, especially for shooters who can use the extra accuracy.
Things to Consider When Finding the Best 22LR Ammo
There are various things to consider when you’re buying 22LR ammo.
Number of rounds
Basically, there are two options when deciding how many rounds you want. These are your standard 50 or 100 rounds, or you can purchase in bulk with 500, 1000, or 5000 rounds.
Because 22LR ammo is inexpensive, your overall price is going to be lower when compared to other handgun ammo.
So, when you figure out how many rounds you want, it depends what you’re going to use it for.
If you are planning on using the ammo for target practice or range training, then purchasing it in bulk is probably your best bet.
However, if you’re using the ammo for self-defense, then you really only need to buy a standard 50 or 100 round box.
22LR ammo is arranged neatly and orderly in its box, giving you easy access for removal.
If you buy the ammo in bulk, you will get multiple boxes with 50 rounds in each one.
Bullet weight and type
Unit grains are the unit of measurement for bullet weight of 22LR ammo. Most commonly, the bullet weight for 22LR ammo is 40 grains or below.
The common types for 22LR ammo are Lead Round Nose (LRN) or Copper Plated Hollow Point (CPHP). The LRN is multi-purpose.
Because of lead stripping, there may be fouling in your barrel. However, this can be solved with proper maintenance and cleaning.
Additionally, lead metal is prohibited in some areas. CPHP is a good alternative if this is the case.
For CPHP, the hollow point of the bullet is gilded with thin copper plating. This is useful to reduce muzzle build-up and ensure that it keeps its shape upon impact.
Making The Right Choice
It’s important to have every advantage when defending yourself, and picking the best 22LR ammo for self defense can make a big difference.
Picking a powerful load will compensate for the caliber’s small size, choosing a brand with good quality control will ensure that you can rely on your weapon.
If you want more on self defense, you can read this article on the best home defense guns.
If you know of any such brands or loads that we missed, be sure to bring them up in the comment section below!