6 best .22LR pistols for concealed carry

6 best .22LR pistols for concealed carry

Written by Mark Buff , GunZee founder and CEO.

The .22 LR (long rifle) round is not as powerful as other cartridges but is sought after for its affordability, low recoil, and versatility. The small size makes .22LR pistols easy to conceal, although they are usually not recommended as primary self-defense weapons. 

Quick links:

Why .22 LR?

Walther P22 Q

Ruger LCP

Beretta 21A Bobcat

G44

Sig P322

Smith & Wesson 22

Pros and cons

How to choose?

We’ll highlight the top .22LR concealed carry pistols that combine effortless concealability with capacity and shootability for EDC. Read on and find out which one best suits your concealed carry needs.

Get a high-quality holster pad from GunZee and step up your concealed carry game. With one of these bad boys at your hip, your IWB holster will sit comfortably–no more chafing, gouging, or constant readjusting. 

Why choose a .22 LR pistol?

There are several different reasons to choose a .22 LR pistol. Here are some of them:

  • Cheap ammo. .22 LR ammo prices can't be beaten, making regular practice economically feasible.
  • Minimal recoil. The lack of kick makes .22s ideal for new or recoil-sensitive shooters.
  • Accuracy potential. Modern .22 pistols can deliver impressive precision in the right hands.
  • Lightweight and concealable. Easy to carry discreetly for target shooting or self-defense uses.
  • Fun training companion. A cost-effective training sidearm to complement larger caliber pistols.

With ammo prices where they are today, shooting a .22 LR pistol is within budget for most gun owners. We look at some of the best .22 LR handgun options available on the carry market.

Walther P22 Q

Walter P22Q Black .22 L.R.

Walter P22Q Black .22 L.R.

Image source: https://waltherarms.com/firearms/p22/p22-q

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.42”

Overall length

6.5”

Width 

1.1”

Weight (unloaded)

16 oz

MSRP

$299.00


The Walther P22 is a polymer-frame semi-automatic rimfire pistol, dramatically reducing weight without compromising comfort or function. With a weight of just 16 oz unloaded, the P22 can be easily concealed for hassle-free, undetected transport.

Despite its slim profile, the pistol excels across key performance metrics to deliver accurate and reliable shooting. The striker-fired design and locked breech barrel ensure solid functionality, while the adjustable rear sight and crisp single/double-action trigger enable precise shot placement for both target shooting and self-defense. For added versatility, Walther equipped the barrel with standard threading for accessory additions like suppressors.

Interchangeable backstraps accommodate various hand sizes for a molded, custom-like grip feel to sustain control shot after shot. Ambidextrous levers promote accessibility, while the textured grip supplies ample purchase in wet conditions. Together with the lightweight frame, the P22 offers top-tier concealability.

This YouTube reviewer thinks the P22 Q is “a nice shooting little pistol” although they had some hiccups along the way.

review

Ruger LCP

Ruger LCP

Ruger LCP. Image source: https://ruger.com/products/lcpII/models.html

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

2.75”

Overall length

5.20”

Width 

0.81”

Weight (unloaded)

11.2 oz

MSRP

$439.00


The featherweight Ruger LCP enables effortless concealed carry. At just 11.2 oz with a 2.75-inch barrel, this handgun vanishes under clothing without imprinting or weighing down. Textured glass-filled nylon grips provide a secure hold while shooting. 

Despite its compact size, the LCP is an accurate pistol. The integral dot sights and 1:16" rifling deliver reliable precision while the optimized Lite Rack system allows smooth slide manipulation and reduced recoil for comfortable training. The extended 10+1 magazine capacity ensures adequate firepower is on hand.

Ruger built the LCR 22 for reliability first through the inclusion of an alloy steel slide, stainless steel barrel, and robust Secure Action trigger system. The LCP is a perfect choice for those who are looking for a packable and capable rimfire handgun.

“I really enjoy the Ruger LCP in 22LR. It’s small, light, easy to shoot, and reliable with the right ammo. It might not be the best pistol for self-defense, but the .22LR in your pocket, which you can shoot accurately, is better than the 9mm you left at home.” —Travis, Gun University 

Beretta 21A Bobcat

Features

Details

Capacity

7+1

Barrel length

2.4”

Overall length

4.92”

Width 

1.1”

Weight (unloaded)

11.8 oz

MSRP

$649.00


The micro-compact Beretta 21A Bobcat rimfire pistol enables easy concealment at just 4.9” in length. With a weight of just 11.5 oz unloaded and a polymer frame, the Bobcat supports comfortable all-day carry.

In terms of function, the tip-up barrel allows rapid loading. The open slide design on this micro-compact pistol resists typical rimfire ammunition jams. For improved reliability, Beretta equipped this .22 LR pistol with manual safety, robust steel components, and a double-strike capability trigger.

Accuracy and comfort stand out with optimized ergonomics and texturing that enable positive grip purchase shot after shot. With its tiny yet eminently effective profile, the 21A Bobcat delivers proven rimfire performance in a deeply concealable package.

Glock 44

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

4.02”

Overall length

7.28”

Width 

1.00”

Weight (unloaded)

14.64 oz

MSRP

$379.99


Glock’s first ever rimfire handgun, the G44 chambered for .22 LR ammo, delivers concealed carry capability from a proven platform. Spanning just 7.28” in length on a lightweight polymer frame, the compact G44 disappears under clothing with ease.

The hybrid steel-polymer slide balances durable function with carry comfort. The advanced match-grade barrel maximizes precision potential from the versatile rimfire ammo for accurate defensive shots. Large adjustable sights, minimal recoil impulse, and ergonomic gripping enable rapid target acquisition.

For reliable defensive performance, Glock includes their Safe Action system with trigger safety, firing pin safety, and drop safety. Combined with minimal recoil and accurate repeat shots, the G44 brings Glock’s strengths to a concealable rimfire package.

This reviewer thinks the G44 is a good way to introduce semi-autos to new shooters.

review

Sig Sauer P322

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

4”

Overall length

7”

Width 

1.4”

Weight (unloaded)

17.1 oz

MSRP

$399.99


The Sig Sauer P322 delivers excellent capacity and modularity in a concealable design. The subcompact frame spans just 7” in length for ease of carry.

With the capability for flush fit 10+1 rounds or extended capacity with larger magazines, the accurate 4” barrel reliably feeds the versatile .22 LR caliber. Users can further optimize functionality via the optic-ready slide and threaded muzzle for compact suppressors.

Weighing 17.1 oz unloaded, the manual safety model balances portability with proven ergonomic control. Intuitive XRAY3 day/night sights and single-action trigger enable precise shot placement. With these well-rounded capabilities in a lightweight, compact platform, the P322 delivers solid .22 LR performance perfect for concealed carry needs.

Smith & Wesson M&P 22

Features

Details

Capacity

10+1

Barrel length

3.6”

Overall length

6.67”

Width 

1.48”

Weight (unloaded)

31.6 oz

MSRP

$439.00


Smith & Wesson’s 22 delivers the proven M&P pistol platform in a scaled .22 LR caliber perfect for concealed carry. The compact frame spanning just 6.5” fits close-body carry while weighing just 14 ounces unloaded.

It maintains familiar M&P design features including the durable polymer frame and Picatinny accessory rail, while offering extras like the ambidextrous safety and reversible magazine release.

Notable features that enable flexible training include the threaded barrel, accommodating most 1/2x28 suppressors to dampen sound, and the two included magazines. Positive ergonomics shine courtesy of the adaptable grip profile fitting most hand sizes comfortably, promoting smooth double-action shooting.

The M&P22 comes with two magazines, supporting extended shooting practice with quick reloads.

Disadvantages of .22 LR caliber

While .22 LR handguns offer deep concealment and have merit as defensive pistols, it’s fair to weigh some drawbacks too. 

Here are some of them:

  • Stopping power. The smaller .22 bullets typically lack the terminal ballistics of some larger calibers like 9mm
  • Over-penetration. The light round may fully pass through a target, posing risks to bystanders behind. Choose a defensive ammo designed to expend energy on the target.
  • Misfires. Temperamental rimfire rounds may have more duds than reliable centerfire ammo. This possibility demands practice to rapidly clear jams.
  • Accuracy penalty. For defensive purposes, the reduced recoil and muzzle blast of even 9mm guns can translate to better shot placement compared to tiny .22 pistols.

When people weigh these limitations against the easy carry of .22 LR pistols, they select them as backup guns or combine them with higher caliber pistols. 

How do I choose the right .22 LR pistol for concealed carry?

A .22 LR handgun is a recpectable choice for self-defense, offering deep concealment along with enough stopping power to slow down or wound a target at close range.

Here are a few factors to consider when checking out .22 LR pistols.

  • Size and weight. Since it will be carried often, find a slim, lightweight pistol design that won't weigh down a pocket or waistband.
  • Build quality. A concealed carry gun sees wear and tear, so inspect fit and finish for solid construction that will hold up over time.
  • Trigger quality. Choose a trigger with a smooth pull and crisp break.
  • Sights. Find a pistol with low-profile sights that won't snag but that will allow accurate shot placement in high-stress defensive situations.
  • Reliability. Any failures to feed or fire could cost critical seconds, so test extraction and feeding with chosen ammo.
  • Capacity. Consider the number of rounds the gun can hold. More rounds are advantageous for self-defense.

About GunZee

GunZee makes concealed carry comfortable. Rigid KYDEX holsters can cause itching, chafing, and painful gouging, but we have the solution. Maximize the comfort of everyday carry with our triple-layered memory foam holster pad, perfect for your EDC holster.

Our holster cushioning molds to your body's natural contours, making it perfect for all body shapes and sizes. You'll wonder how you ever lived without this holster pad perfection.

.22LR pistols FAQ

What does LR stand for?

LR stands for "long rifle". This refers to the type of .22 caliber cartridge that has an extended casing and bullet profile compared to the shorter .22 cartridge. The longer profile enables more velocity and consistency.

Why is 22 LR bad for self-defense?

The .22 LR is generally seen as a poor choice for self-defense situations compared to larger calibers like 9mm. Some of the reasons include:

  • Less stopping power
  • Less expansion when using hollow points
  • Shorter effective range
  • Less reliability to feed or fire without jams

What is the quietest 22 LR pistol?

The quietest .22 LR pistol can depend on various factors such as the specific model, ammunition used, and additional sound suppression mechanisms. According to user experiences, pistols like the Browning Buck Mark, Ruger Mark IV, and Volquartsen Black Mamba TF are known for their quietness when suppressed.

Is it worth it to buy a 22 LR pistol?

The decision to purchase a .22 LR pistol depends on the intended use. It is suitable for target shooting and small-game hunting due to its low recoil and cost-effective ammunition. However, it is generally not recommended for self-defense purposes due to its limited stopping power.

Is a .22 LR lethal?

The .22 LR caliber can certainly be lethal if shots impact vital organs or arteries. The likelihood of stopping an attacker with a single shot is far below calibers like 9mm and above. Proper shot placement is paramount with rimfire calibers.

Is a 22 LR or 380 ACP more powerful?

The .380 ACP generally has more stopping power than the .22 LR due to its larger caliber and higher energy. For self-defense purposes, many prefer the .380 ACP over the .22 LR.

Does a 22 LR have stopping power?

Minimal stopping power is the biggest downside of .22 LR ammunition. The bullet generally lacks the mass and expansion to rapidly halt an attacker unless precise vital organ shots are achieved. This leaves a significant risk of repeated attacks compared to larger calibers.

Is a .22 LR pistol better than 9mm?

A 9mm pistol has superior stopping power over .22 LR models due to larger, heavier bullets—making caliber the key factor over the firearm itself. Among equivalently sized pistol platforms, 9mm provides faster incapacitation thanks to almost 5 times the muzzle energy on average.

Do .22 hollow points really expand?

.22 hollow points are designed to expand upon impact, increasing their effectiveness in causing damage. However, the reliability of expansion can vary based on the specific ammunition and the target.

What pistol features help with shooting competitions?

A competition pistol benefits from a sight system with an adjustable rear sight, dot front sight, and interchangeable front sight options like fiber optic or tritium. An adjustable trigger with a modular trigger shoe improves shot performance. Grip texture choices and backstraps provide customization for optimal trigger guard fit and control.

How does grip frame design impact concealed carry comfort?

Elements such as the grip frame width, centered design within the frame, and contoured grip angle influence how naturally a compact pistol conceals while supporting a secure, comfortable grip. The grip material itself, with choices like black polymer or aluminum, further affects the carry profile.

How can you tell if a handgun is suited for left or right-handed shooters?

Ambidextrous slide releases, thumb safety levers, and reversible magazine releases indicate support for both left and right-handed pistol operation. The presence of only a left-sided external hammer generally indicates optimized handedness. Centered grip angle geometry also signals adaptability.

About the author: Mark Buff is the founder and CEO of GunZee. He is an ardent firearms enthusiast and has been carrying concealed for more than 15 years. He created GunZee to solve his own problem: that of uncomfortable KYDEX holsters. His patented GunZee memory foam holster pad makes inside-the-waistband carry super comfortable.

Further reading

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Best concealed carry tips for small frame

What is the best holster for micro-compact guns?

What is the best AIWB holster?

What is the best 9mm full-size pistol?

What is the best full-size pistol for concealed carry?

What is the best snub nose 38 Special revolver for backup?

What are the best CCW guns for big guys?

What is the best IWB KYDEX holster?

What is the best compact handgun for IWB carry?