The Epic Collection of the Best 22LR Pistols

22 caliber pistols

If you've never shot a .22LR rimfire gun, you are missing out. The .22 Long Rifle caliber is super fun to shoot. The rimfire cartridge has low recoil so you can go pew, pew, pew without saying ow, ow, ow. 

Compared to other calibers, .22LR also is cheap to purchase, with non-shortage prices hovering around 5 cents a round. And if those are enough reasons to consider .22LR, even the best .22LR guns themselves tend to be very affordable.  

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

Browning Buckmark

Browning-Buckmark

Browning Buckmark

  • Caliber: 22 LR
  • Weight: 32.00 oz
  • Capacity: 10+1-Round

Ruger Mark IV

Ruger-Mark-IV

Ruger Mark IV

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 34.4 oz.
  • Capacity: 10+1-Round

Taurus TX22

Taurus-TX22

Taurus TX22

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 17.30 oz.
  • Capacity: 16+1-Round

Walther P22

Walther-P22

Walther P22

  • Caliber: .22lr
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Capacity: 10rds

Glock 44

Glock-44

Glock 44

  • Caliber: 22lr
  • Weight: 14.64 oz.
  • Capacity: 10+1-Round

Ruger LCP II .22LR

Ruger-LCP-II

Ruger LCP II .22LR

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 11.2 oz
  • Capacity: 16+1-Round

Smith & Wesson M&P 22

Smith-&-Wesson

Smith & Wesson M&P 22

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 15.3 oz.
  • Capacity: 10+1-Round

Ruger .22 Charger Pistol

Ruger-.22-Charger-Pistol

Ruger .22 Charger Pistol

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 3.13 lbs
  • Capacity: 15+1-Round

Ruger Wrangler

Ruger-Wrangler

Ruger Wrangler

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 30 oz.
  • Capacity: 6-Round

Heritage Rough Rider

Heritage-Rough-Rider

Heritage Rough Rider

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 33.4 oz.
  • Capacity: 6-Round

Cheap ammo, affordable firearms, and almost no recoil. What are you waiting for? Every gun owner should have a .22LR pistol in their arsenal.

We’re going to go over all the best .22 LR pistols on the market, as well as how to choose between them to get the best one for your specific needs.

How and Why the .22LR Became the Most Popular Round in the World

The .22LR is one of the oldest cartridges still used by modern firearms. The predecessor to the contemporary .22LR, the .22 Short, was initially developed in 1845 by Louis-Nicolas Flobert for the growing sport of indoor shooting. 

It was one of the first cartridges that could be safely carried without the risk of detonation because the priming material was folded into the rim of the cartridge. 

Over the years, the bullet's size and the amount of powder changed several times to improve accuracy. These tweaks lead to the .22 Short, which is still in use today, the .22 Long, and the defunct .22 Extra Long. 

Finally, in 1887,  the Stevens Arms Co. developed the modern .22LR rimfire cartridge. 

It took the heavier 40-grain bullet from the .22 Extra Long, crammed it into a .22 Long casing, and added a healthy powder dose. This magic combination improved the accuracy of the bullet, and its popularity exploded.  More than 130 years later, the .22LR is one of the most popular cartridges globally and is enjoyed by shooters worldwide.

The .22LR has since become the world's most popular recreational shooting and competitive shooting cartridge. It is ubiquitous. 

You can find .22LR single shooters, revolvers, semi-automatic handguns, and even rifles. It's cheap enough that you can shoot a lot of it and mild enough that even young kids and new shooters can handle the recoil before they move onto a centerfire caliber. 

It's a great starter caliber for kids and adults new to firearms. Though many people use .22LR for plinking, it's also used in competition with precision rimfire events taking the shooting world by storm. Even skiers competing in biathlons use the .22LR for the shooting part of the sport.

How Do You Choose the Best .22LR rimfire pistol?

You need to consider several things before you buy a .22LR. The type of pistol you want and the gun's reliability are two of the most important criteria when choosing a rimfire pistol. 

Reliability & Feeding

.22LR ammunition is known for being dirty to shoot and inconsistent in quality.  

It tends to jam, which leads us to one of the features you need to consider when purchasing a .22LR pistol. Does it shoot any brand of .22LR ammunition? Or is the gun selective and can only handle a specific brand like CCI or Aquila? 

Read reviews, especially those who test different types of ammo. Find those .22LR handguns that are not finicky and can fire a wide variety of .22LR ammunition. 

Cost

Most .22LR pistols are affordable, with prices under $500. Some pistols, like the Taurus TX22, can be purchased for less than $300. 

Single versus Double-Action 

Many handguns, especially revolvers, are available in either single-action or double-action. The difference between a double-action and single-action firearm is what happens when you pull the trigger. With a double-action only handgun, the trigger has a heavier and longer pull as you are pulling back the hammer and then dropping it with a single pull.

A single-action gun has a very light action as the trigger is used only to drop the hammer. There is a catch with the single-action handgun. Before you pull the trigger on a single-action pistol, you need to manually pull back the hammer. This makes some single-action revolvers very accurate, but a little slow to fire.

best 22lr pistol

The Colt Single-Action Army is probably the most iconic example of a single-action revolver.

Self-Defense

You can't talk about the .22LR without bringing up the controversial topic of self-defense. Ask any gun enthusiast whether a .22LR gun be used for self-defense, and you'll get a wide range of answers. 

There is no getting around it, the  .22LR is not a powerful round. It’s best use is in target shooting or hunting small game. It may not have the power to penetrate to a lethal depth, which is 12 to 18-inches, according to the FBI standards. 

Other people point to the low recoil and affordable ammo, making it easy for people to train with a .22LR handgun. The more training a person has, the more likely they are to hit an assailant in a critical area. 

Even a .22LR round will do significant damage when it hits someone in say, the face. It may not be lethal, but it likely will stop an attack.

You may also want to look into .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) if you’re looking for rimfire self-defense. 

22lr pistol

.22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, and .22 Hornet (left to right)

Pistol Versus Revolver

.22LR handguns come in all shapes and sizes. Though we focus on pistols in this article, there's another category of .22LR firearms that you often run across when shopping for .22LR handguns -- the revolver.

Revolvers use a spinning cylinder that holds between six and ten rounds. People love revolvers because they are easy to use and fun to shoot. You simply load the ammunition and pull the trigger to fire. 

Because of their simplicity, revolvers hardly ever fail. The biggest drawback to a revolver is the size. Revolvers tend to be bigger, making it harder to carry them concealed or to store in a pack. They’re also slower to reload.

A semi-automatic pistol, on the other hand, uses a magazine to hold the ammunition and can hold significantly more rounds than a revolver. Semi-autos tend to be smaller, making them ideal for concealed carry. Many .22LR semi-automatics are modeled after their 9mm or larger caliber counterparts for training. For example, the Glock 44 is basically a replica of the Glock 17. It is ideal for G17 owners who want to train with cheap .22LR ammo. 

Semi-automatics are slightly harder to operate and maintain. You have to rack the slide before the gun is ready to fire. You also need to train yourself to hold your hands below the slide so you don’t get clipped during blowback. 

A semi-auto uses a magazine that feeds the rounds of ammunition into the gun one at a time. When it works, this auto-feed mechanism lets you fire several rounds in a short amount of time. 

It also can be finicky.

Any problem with the magazine or the ammo can cause a jam. You have to learn how to clear a blockage safely. It's not difficult, but it's one more thing you need to know if you choose a semi-automatic. 

The Best .22 LR Handguns: Reviewed

There are a huge number of .22 LR pistols and revolvers out there, and many of them are really excellent. We’ve tested as many of the most popular options as we could to find the best of the best.

1. Browning Buckmark

Designed with competition in mind, the Browning Buckmark has a great trigger with a crisp breakpoint and nearly perfect reset. 

Couple the fantastic trigger with outstanding ergonomics, and you have one the most accurate, match-grade .22LR caliber pistols on the market. It also is available in a bunch of different configurations so you can purchase the model that suits you the best. 

It comes in with a mid-range price that starts around $350 and climbs over $500 for tricked out models.

Browning-Buckmark

Browning Buckmark

The price of Browning Buckmark varies, so check the latest price at

2. Ruger Mark IV

The Ruger Mark Series IV traces its lineage back to the Ruger Standard Model, which was introduced in 1949. The Standard model was the first firearm produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. and set the fledgling company on a successful track. 

Designed by founder William B. Ruger himself, the Standard Model and its successors are widely regarded as some of the best performing pistols ever. The latest version, the Mark IV, keeps with Ruger's tradition of building robust but affordable guns.

best 22 lr pistol

The Mark IV is known for its reliability, but it also has one essential improvement -- cleaning has been simplified. 

Previous Mark models were criticized for their difficult disassembly, which required exceptional care and sometimes even trips to the gunsmith when cleaning. The new Mark IV  has a simplified method for cleaning. 

Owners no longer have to worry about the alignment of the housing, plunger, and other internal components. They can simply lift out the barrel/receiver assembly and slide it back in. 

Ruger-Mark-IV

Ruger Mark IV

The price of Ruger Mark IV varies, so check the latest price at

3. Taurus TX22

With a price tag under $300, the Taurus TX.22 is one the cheapest .22LR pistols on our list. 

Don't jump to the wrong conclusion though...just because it is cheap, it doesn't mean it's junk.

 In fact, the performance of the TX.22 is quite the opposite. The .22LR pistol earns praise for its reliable performance, shooting all types of .22LR ammo flawlessly, and it's affordable price tag. 

Even with today's inflated prices, you can purchase two TX22s for the price of one average 9mm handgun.  It also holds 16 rounds per magazine, which is impressive. 

Taurus-TX22

Taurus TX22

The price of Taurus TX22 varies, so check the latest price at

4. Walther P22 

best .22 pistol

Glock may be considered the king of the polymer 9mm pistols, but Walther (probably best known for James Bond’s gun, the Walther PPK) shines in the .22LR world. 

The Walther P22 resembles the company's P99 handgun, but is smaller and features an external hammer. This external hammer makes it possible to shoot the P22 as a single-action pistol. This single-action mode allows the owner to pull back the hammer and have a hair-trigger to shoot with. 

The P22 has outstanding ergonomics as well. It has a very comfortable grip angle, and the grip itself is texturized, includes finger indentations, and has an extended lip on the magazine for your pinky finger. It is also highly customizable -- you can choose from a range of colors and features like a threaded barrel.

Walther-P22

Walther P22

The price of Walther P22 varies, so check the latest price at

5. Glock 44

This is a controversial choice as the Glock 44 had some serious performance issues when it first debuted. Reviewers complained of jams and other reliability issues. Thankfully, those have been resolved and new models continue Glock’s legacy of rugged dependability.

best .22 pistols

More recent reviews don’t mention these problems suggesting the firearm is much more reliable. It’s possible that Glock heard these criticisms and quietly tweaked the gun to improve performance. The G44 is an excellent choice for Glock owners who want to practice with the Glock platform without spending an arm and a leg on ammunition. 

For the same cost, you can train an hour with G19 or train all day with G44. The muscle memory you get from training with the G44 is well worth the cost of the gun. Like most Glocks, the G44 is pricey, costing, on average, $400 or more. One other minor drawback, each magazine only holds 10 rounds. 

Glock-44

Glock 44

The price of Glock 44 varies, so check the latest price at

6. Ruger LCP II .22LR

Like the Glock 44, the Ruger LCP II .22LR is a .22LR version of  another gun, in this case Ruger’s top-rated LCP II lineup of subcompact pistols. 

22 lr pistol

You can leverage the advantages of .22LR for training, knowing that all the muscle memory you are developing will transfer over to the LCP II. This is especially true for the .380 ACP model which, like the .22LR, has less recoil than a 9mm. It is small enough to fit in a pocket, perfect for concealed carry and holds 10 rounds per magazine. 

Some people don't like the all-black sights and wish it had a white dot sight. Another gripe is the magazine disconnect, which is a safety feature found in semi-auto pistols that prevents the gun from firing when the magazine is removed.

Not every gun owner feels this additional safety measure is needed, to say the least. Still, despite these few negatives, the LCP II overall is a great gun at a great price (~$300). 

Ruger-LCP-II

Ruger LCP II .22LR

The price of Ruger LCP II .22LR varies, so check the latest price at

7. Smith & Wesson  M&P 22

Like so many other guns on this list, the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 is the .22LR version of the company's hugely successful M&P line of full-size handguns. 

It's readily apparent that a lot of thought went into the design of the Smith & Wesson model. The gun feels good in the hand, especially if you have smaller hands. This S&W model is ready for target practice with a three-dot white front sight and rear sight combo that is accurate out of the box.

Like most of the Smith and Wesson M&P models, the rack on the .22LR model is easy to slide, and the trigger pull is smooth and light. It is an ideal handgun for those into training or new gun owners learning to shoot. 

Standard on all models is a tactical rail at the bottom for a flashlight or other accessory. Other models ship with a threaded barrel that can accommodate an aftermarket  suppressor. 

Smith-&-Wesson

Smith & Wesson M&P 22

The price of Smith & Wesson M&P 22 varies, so check the latest price at

8. Ruger .22 Charger Pistol

22lr pistols

The Ruger Charger may look like a rifle, but it is technically a pistol, which is why it is on this list.  

Using the same basic hardware as the company's outstanding 10/.22 rifle,  the Charger is a must-have for any .22LR enthusiast. 

It's an accurate gun and will fire nearly any ammo you feed it. It ships with a 15-round magazine, and a Picatinny rail for optics. Depending on the model you choose, you also can get a threaded barrel or an adapter for a pistol brace. There's even a take-down version that lets you break the gun down into two pieces that'll easily fit into a backpack. 

Because it is so similar to the Ruger 10/.22 rifle, there is no shortage of accessories for the Charger. From folding stocks to carbon fiber barrels, you can really transform this pistol from a rifle wannabe into something spectacular.  

Ruger-.22-Charger-Pistol

Ruger .22 Charger Pistol

The price of Ruger .22 Charger Pistol varies, so check the latest price at

A Note About Revolvers

There’s more to the .22LR world than just pistols. There also are a few revolvers that are worth mentioning.

9. Ruger Wrangler

22 caliber gun

Though not a pistol, we can't help but mention a few high-performing and fun revolvers. The six-shot Ruger Wrangler is the quintessential cowboy gun and an absolute joy to use while plinking. 

It's a single action gun, so you have to pull back the hammer before each shot.  It's also a single load style revolver, so you have to load and unload the six rounds into the cylinder one at a time. 

You can't use speed loaders to load your ammo or a multi-cartridge ejection rod to remove them. It may be tedious to load and unload the Wrangler, but the gun is a ton of fun to shoot. 

Ruger-Wrangler

Ruger Wrangler

The price of Ruger Wrangler varies, so check the latest price at

10. Heritage Rough Rider

Another cowboy-style rimfire revolver, the Heritage Rough Rider stands apart because of its variety. 

You can choose between a standard 4.75-inch barrel, a longer 6.5-inch barrel, and even a whopping rifle-like 16-inch barrel length.

Like most other western guns, the Rough Rider is a single-action pistol that requires you to manually pull back the hammer before each shot. It’s available in matte and stainless steel finishes.

Heritage-Rough-Rider

Heritage Rough Rider

The price of Heritage Rough Rider varies, so check the latest price at

Conclusion

The .22LR caliber is popular and for a good reason. It is affordable, so you can fire a thousand rounds for less than $50 (during non-shortage situations). 

You can do target training, moving training, and more without it costing you a fortune. .22LR pistols also have minimal recoil making it ideal for young shooters and those new to guns. 

They can focus on their grip and trigger control without worrying about the flinch that often accompanies heavier rounds. The .22LR pistol is so versatile and fun to shoot that everyone should have at least one in the collection. 

Which of these .22LR pistols are you thinking about adding to your collection? Is there one that stood out? Let me hear from you in the comments! Also, for more rimfire goodness, check out our list of the best .22 rifles. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *