Is the .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) a viable defensive round? Rob Pincus does ballistic gelatin testing to bolster his contention that this lightweight, familiar, and easy-to-use rifle should not be ruled out as a family choice for home defense.
.22 WMR for Defensive Use
What are some of the advantages of a .22 WMR defensive rifle? It’s light, easy to use, and many people already know how to use it. If a .22 WMR rifle were purpose set up for defensive use, with a rail attachment, light, laser, and sling, it could work as a lightweight home-defense weapon for a person who doesn’t want to learn how to use an AR or an AK or doesn’t want to deal with the recoil of a 12-gauge shotgun.
Ballistic Gelatin Testing
Rob fires three rounds into a 16-inch gel block from about 15 feet away, simulating an across the bedroom or down the hall distance. We normally look for 12 to 15 inches of penetration in a 10% gelatin block after going through clothing. Rounds penetrated 13.5, 14 and 14.5 inches, so all were contained within the gel block. Rob is not claiming that the .22 WMR is comparable to a 9mm, a 5.56 or a 7.62x39mm round in terms of the energy it delivers to the bad guy.
But he does believe the .22 WMR may be a viable option if you have a reliable firearm that’s lightweight and easy to use — in fact, everyone in the house can use it. This is an important consideration for home defense. Family members who are unfamiliar with or not strong enough to reliably operate an AR or a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun may well be familiar with and able to shoot a .22 WMR.
Further Analysis of Gel Block
The widest place of the wound cavity is important. Here it’s between .75 and 1.25 inches wide. The rounds also fragmented within the block, meaning they would cause more widespread damage to the bad guy. One round has total spread of four inches, while the other two are about 2.5 inches.
Rob is not recommending this over an AR, AK, or shotgun for those who know how to use them for home defense, but encourages people not to rule out the .22 WMR for family members who don’t know how to operate those tactical weapons.