The .22 caliber revolver for home defense
Recently someone asked us to recommend a gun for home defense. We felt that this person faced little risk, and that having a gun for home defense was not necessary. Instead we recommended Aerko’s Freeze +P and appropriate training. This would minimize the danger of anyone being killed.
They were, however, insistent on having a gun. What we recommended was a .22 caliber revolver. The .22 caliber revolver has a number of virtues as a home defense gun. For a start, they are relatively inexpensive, both for the revolver itself and for the .22 ammunition. You can get .22 revolvers that hold up to ten rounds. Plus they are lots of fun to shoot, if you wish to actually shoot them. In addition, compared to semiautomatics, revolvers have relatively little that can go wrong with them, so that makes them a good choice on a strictly technical basis. And .22s have little recoil, making them easy to shoot and control compared to larger calibers.
Some have rightly objected that the .22 cartridge has little stopping power, to which we say, “so what?” Think about it. If you are planning to be in a gun fight (a plan which we think you should try to avoid), stopping power is important. Which is why this editor’s business gun is a 2 3⁄4” .45 acp Smith & Wesson 625-3 revolver, which gives us the stopping power of the .45 acp cartridge and the simplicity and reliability of a revolver (the .357 magnum is too much for us to control, and while 9mm will kill your opponent, we don’t think it will stop them as fast as .45 acp). But if someone breaks into your home it is unlikely that they are doing so with the intention of engaging you in a duel. Rather, they are breaking in with the intention of robbing you.
If this is the case, they don’t expect you to be shooting at them, and if you do start shooting at them, it is unlikely that they will be thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what caliber gun they are using, and what is the statistical likelihood of it incapacitating or killing me?” Instead, they are likely to be thinking, “Feet, get me out of here!”
Therefore, in balancing cost and ease and reliability against stopping power, we stick with our recommendation of a .22 revolver for home defense if you feel impelled to have a gun at hand, although we also stick to our recommendation of a personal defense spray as a better option for most, considering the low probability of needing anything in the first place.
Do we object to people keeping a gun for home defense? No! A strong case can be made that it is both a right and an obligation for citizens to own a gun.
And what, you might ask, do we ourselves keep for home defense?
Well, our most paranoid editor, largely involved in high-threat protective services throughout his professional life, lives in Manhattan, which is so safe that he rarely even locks his door, keeps nothing for home defense. Another editor, who lives in the West, has a barky dog, which obviates the need to keep a gun at hand. A third editor has cats, which provide no significant level of protection, but are awfully cute. Then again, he lives in Bakersfield, California – which he says is one of the most heavily armed communities in the United States – and can have a posse of neighbors respond with deadly force to any criminal threat long before the police dispatcher can answer a 911 call.