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The 7 Best .22 Pistols: Small Caliber, Big Impact preview image
Aug 17 2023
14 min read

The 7 Best .22 Pistols: Small Caliber, Big Impact


If you’re on the hunt for a compact, easy-to-shoot, and versatile firearm, then look no further! Today, we’re diving into the world of the best .22 pistols, where the small caliber meets big fun.

If you’re like me, .22 pistols (or perhaps rifles) were among the first guns you learned to shoot. And if you’re like me again, they’re still among your favorites to shoot. I’m spending at least a little time shooting a .22 pistol just about every time I’m at the range, and I have several in my gun safe. They’re just so fun!

Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a beginner looking to dip your toes into shooting sports, .22 pistols offer an enjoyable experience for everyone.

But don’t be fooled by their size! These little wonders have a lot to offer. In this guide, we’ll explore the best .22 pistols on the market, breaking them down into various categories to suit different needs.

So, let’s load up and aim for a memorable shooting experience with the top .22 pistols!

Best .22 Pistols & Recommendations

Best Overall – Ruger Mark IV Target .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length5.50 inches
Overall Length9.75 inches
Height5.50 inches
Weight42.8 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Exceptional accuracy for precise shooting
  • User-friendly takedown for easy maintenance
  • Comfortable grip with a contoured design
  • Adjustable sights take accuracy to the next level
  • Ruger has a reputation for quality and reliability
  • Slightly heavier compared to other models
  • Not as suitable for concealed carry
  • Price point is on the higher end for a .22 pistol

The Ruger Mark IV Target is a standout .22 LR pistol that excels in accuracy and ease of maintenance. Whether you’re a seasoned competitive shooter or a range enthusiast seeking precision, this pistol delivers consistent performance. Its one-button takedown simplifies cleaning and reassembly, making it a favorite among those who value hassle-free maintenance.

The contoured grip adds to its appeal, providing a comfortable hold that improves control and reduces fatigue during extended shooting sessions. Topping it off are adjustable sights, enabling shooters to fine-tune their aiming for different distances and shooting styles.

Ruger’s reputation for reliability is evident in the Mark IV Target, as it consistently performs without hiccups. However, potential buyers should consider its weight, as the 34.6-ounce build may not be ideal for all users, particularly those seeking a lightweight carry option. Its size and capacity may not make it the most suitable choice for concealed carry in general.

Best Value –  Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length5.5 inches
Overall Length9.2 inches
Height5.6 inches
Weight50.8 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable and offers excellent value for your money
  • Interchangeable match-grade barrel for accuracy
  • Sleek design with customizable grips
  • Lightweight and comfortable to shoot
  • User-friendly design makes it great for beginners
  • Slightly heavier than some competitors
  • May require some break-in for optimal performance
  • Accuracy drops some at longer distance
  • Factory sights are a bit basic

For shooters seeking a budget-friendly .22 LR pistol without sacrificing performance, the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory is an excellent choice. Thanks to its interchangeable match-grade barrel, it boasts remarkable accuracy, a feature typically found in higher-priced firearms. The option to swap barrels allows shooters to optimize accuracy for different shooting situations, catering to both precision-focused target shooters and plinking enthusiasts.

The SW22 Victory’s customizable grips add to its appeal, allowing shooters to find their most comfortable and effective shooting grip. Weighing in at 36 ounces, the pistol strikes a good balance between being lightweight enough for extended shooting sessions and stable enough for accurate shooting. Its user-friendly design and controls make it accessible to shooters of all experience levels.

While the SW22 Victory’s accuracy is commendable for most distances, those seeking highly specialized target pistols might consider more advanced options. Additionally, the pistol may require a break-in period to achieve optimal performance, but this typically improves over time with use.

Honorable Mention – Browning Buck Mark Camper .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length5.5 inches
Overall Length9.5 inches
Weight34 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and easy to conceal
  • Lightweight and suitable for all-day carry
  • User-friendly ambidextrous controls
  • Comfortable, ergonomic grips
  • Smaller grip may not be as comfortable for some shooters
  • Slightly less accurate at longer distances
  • Factory sights are just so-so but can be upgraded

The Browning Buck Mark Camper is a reliable and user-friendly .22 LR pistol, making it a favorite among plinkers and recreational shooters. Its consistent performance and easy operation make it an ideal choice for beginners and experienced shooters alike.

There are multiple sight options, allowing shooters to customize their aiming setup. While it may not come with high-end sights, the pistol’s versatility allows for aftermarket upgrades to suit individual preferences. It also features an ergonomic grip which ensures a comfortable hold, enhancing control and accuracy during shooting sessions.

Weighing 34 ounces, the Buck Mark Camper strikes a balance between being lightweight enough for enjoyable shooting and providing stability for accurate aiming. It excels on the range, delivering consistent and reliable performance.

Best .22 Pistol for Self-Defense – Walther P22 .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
 Barrel Length3.42 inches
Overall Length6.5 inches
Height4.5 inches
Weight16 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and lightweight build allows for easy handling and concealed carry
  • Recoil is light, even for a .22
  • Ambidextrous mag release and safety
  • Built-in Picatinny rail for easy customization
  • Some shooters report experiencing ammo sensitivity
  • May require more frequent maintenance 
  • Accuracy may diminish at longer distances

The Walther P22 is a compact and lightweight .22 LR pistol, making it a popular choice for concealed and everyday carry. Its low recoil is a significant advantage, particularly for new shooters or those seeking a comfortable shooting experience for extended sessions.

With a built-in Picatinny rail, you can easily customize it with various accessories like lights and lasers. Its modern aesthetics and sleek design make it visually appealing to those seeking a contemporary-looking firearm. The ambidextrous controls add to its appeal, accommodating left- and right-handed shooters without sacrificing convenience.

While the P22 performs admirably for self-defense and close-range shooting, its limited magazine capacity may be a drawback for shooters seeking more rounds in a single magazine. Some shooters have reported sensitivity to ammunition type, requiring experimentation to find the most reliable loads. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure the P22 performance optimally over time.

Best .22 Pistol for Women – Ruger SR22 .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length3.5/4.5 inches
Overall Length6.4/7.4 inches
Height4.9 inches
Weight17.5/18.7 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comes with two interchangeable grips
  • Low recoil, even for a .22
  • User-friendly controls and helpful slide serrations
  • Versatile options that can be used for plinking, self-defense, or training
  • Mag release isn’t intuitively placed
  • Can be sensitive to some ammo types
  • May require more frequent cleaning and maintenance

When it comes to the Best .22 Pistol for Women, the Ruger SR22 earns the top spot. Its compact and lightweight build makes it an ideal choice for female shooters with smaller hands. Its adjustable grips provide a customizable fit, ensuring a comfortable and secure hold, which is especially important for women shooters seeking a personalized experience.

The low recoil of the SR22 adds to its appeal, making it accessible to beginners and reducing fatigue during extended shooting sessions. Its user-friendly controls and slide serrations facilitate smooth operation, benefiting shooters with limited hand strength or dexterity.

The Ruger SR22’s versatility makes it an excellent option for women looking for a firearm that can serve multiple purposes, from training and plinking to self-defense.

Some shooters may find the magazine release location slightly less intuitive, but it’s a minor concern once accustomed to the pistol. With a standard 10-round magazine capacity, it may have fewer rounds than higher-capacity pistols, but it’s still sufficient for most applications.

Best .22 Pistol Suppressor Host – Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length4.40 inches
Overall Length8.40 inches
Height5.64 inches
Weight25 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Threaded barrel allows use with suppressors and other muzzle devices
  • Lightweight and maneuverable design
  • User-friendly takedown system for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Adjustable rear sight
  • Accurate and reliable
  • Some users will find the magazine disconnect safety inconvenient
  • Some shooters may not like the large 1911-style grips
  • Not suitable for concealed carry

The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite .22 LR pistol stands out as an excellent choice for a suppressor host. Its threaded barrel accommodates suppressor attachment, providing an enhanced shooting experience with reduced noise and recoil. The pistol’s lightweight aluminum construction makes it easy to handle and suitable for extended shooting sessions.

The user-friendly one-button takedown system simplifies maintenance, while the adjustable rear sights allow shooters to fine-tune their aiming for optimal performance. Ruger’s commitment to reliability and accuracy is evident in the Mark IV 22/45 Lite, making it a dependable companion for suppressor enthusiasts.

On the downside, some shooters may find the magazine disconnect safety inconvenient, particularly if they prefer to shoot without a magazine inserted. Additionally, the standard magazine capacity of 10 rounds might be limiting for those seeking more rounds between reloads.

But despite these minor drawbacks, the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite .22 LR pistol excels as a suppressor host, delivering a high-quality shooting experience with its suppressor-ready design and reliable performance. Whether you’re a seasoned suppressor user or exploring the realm of suppressed shooting, the Mark IV 22/45 Lite is a top-notch choice to elevate your shooting adventures.

Best .22 Pistol for Target Shooting – Browning Buck Mark Standard URX .22 LR Pistol

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Capacity10 rounds
Barrel Length5.5 inches
Overall Length9.5 inches
Weight34 ounces

Pros & Cons

  • Highly accurate for plinking and target shooting
  • Simple takedown process for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Consistent, reliable performance
  • Comfortable, ergonomic grip design
  • On the pricier end, if you’re just looking for a plinking pistol
  • Mag release is in a bit of an awkward position
  • Lack of an accessory rail limits aftermarket upgrade options

The Browning Buck Mark Standard URX .22 LR pistol shines with its impressive accuracy, making it a top contender for target shooting and precision-oriented tasks. Browning’s dedication to reliability shines through, as the Buck Mark Standard URX functions seamlessly with various .22 LR ammunition types. The fixed barrel design further enhances consistency in shooting.

It boasts an ergonomic grip and user-friendly controls, ensuring a comfortable shooting experience and easy operation. Its ambidextrous thumb safety adds to the convenience, catering to both right and left-handed shooters. A straightforward takedown system makes maintenance a breeze, allowing shooters to spend more time on the range.

Some users may need to adjust the factory sights for optimal accuracy, but like the vast array of available models within the Buck Mark series, this pistol offers a solution for different sight preferences. Additionally, a few shooters may find the magazine release position slightly awkward, but this can be overcome with practice.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Our process for choosing the top .22 pistols involved thorough research and analysis of various critical factors. We prioritized accuracy, reliability, and user-friendly handling to ensure a positive shooting experience.

Considering the diverse needs of shooters, we selected pistols suitable for various use cases, from target shooting to self-defense. Renowned brands with a track record of producing reliable firearms were given preference.

Quantifying our selection involved objective performance metrics and verified information from reputable sources, including user reviews and expert evaluations. Of course, we also made our judgments based on our own experiences with these various weapons. .22 pistols were among the first guns I shot back when I was a kid and still are one of my favorite guns to shoot. My own Buck Mark, for example, gets plenty of use pretty much every time I go to the range.

By combining data-driven analysis and expert insights, our curated list of the best .22 pistols aims to assist you in making a well-informed decision for your shooting endeavors.

Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to selecting the best .22 pistol, there are several essential factors to consider. Regardless of if you are a seasoned shooter or a beginner, the .22 caliber is popular due to its low recoil, affordable ammunition, and versatility.

Whether you plan to use it for target shooting, plinking, training, or even small game hunting, a well-chosen .22 pistol can be a reliable and enjoyable firearm. To ensure you find the perfect match for your needs, let’s explore the key elements to consider during the selection process.


Before diving into the specifics of different .22 pistols, you must first determine your primary purpose for owning one. Is it for target shooting, self-defense, training, or even small game hunting? Understanding your intended use will help you narrow down the most essential features.

Action Type

There are three main types of actions for .22 pistols: single-action, double-action, and semi-automatic.

Single-action pistols require you to manually cock the hammer before each shot, providing a lighter trigger pull, which can enhance accuracy. Double-action pistols allow you to fire the weapon with just a trigger pull, but the trigger pull can be heavier. Semi-automatic pistols offer rapid-fire capabilities and are generally the most popular choice among shooters due to their ease of use.

Ergonomics and Comfort

The feel and comfort of the pistol in your hand are crucial for accuracy and enjoyable shooting experiences. Consider the grip size, shape, and texture, as well as the placement of controls like the safety and magazine release.

We always recommend testing out different models to see which fits your hand comfortably and provides easy control access.


Accurate shooting heavily relies on good sights. Some .22 pistols come with fixed sights, while others have adjustable sights.

Adjustable sights allow you to fine-tune your aiming for different distances or ammunition types, making them more versatile. Consider whether you prefer traditional iron sights or modern optical sights like red dots.

Durability and Build Quality

A well-built pistol ensures longevity and reliability. Look for reputable manufacturers known for producing high-quality firearms. Check the materials used in construction and read reviews to assess the overall durability and reliability of the pistol.

Safety Features

Safety is paramount when handling any firearm, and .22 pistols are no exception. Look for pistols with reliable safety mechanisms, such as thumb or trigger safeties, that prevent accidental discharges. Some pistols may also have a magazine disconnect safety, ensuring the pistol won’t fire without a magazine inserted.

Magazine Capacity

.22 pistols tend to have a magazine capacity of 10 rounds as a standard, but capacity can vary quite a bit. Consider how many rounds you want your pistol to hold, keeping in mind that larger capacity magazines might be preferable for recreational shooting or training.

Ease of Maintenance

Like any firearm, regular maintenance is essential to keep your .22 pistol in optimal condition. Choose a model that disassembles easily for cleaning and has accessible parts. User-friendly maintenance ensures you’ll be more likely to care for your pistol properly.


Set a budget that aligns with your needs and stick to it. While .22 pistols are generally more affordable than larger calibers, prices can vary significantly depending on the brand and features.

Remember that investing in quality often pays off in the long run.


Is a .22 pistol enough for Self Defense?

.22LR’s use for self-defense has long been debated in the firearm community. On the one hand, a single round of .22LR doesn’t do that much damage. On the other, enough holes will stop most anything eventually, and some .22s can hold plenty of rounds.

Is a .22 pistol a good first gun?

A .22 pistol can be a great first gun since it’s easy to handle and shoot thanks to its low recoil. To make it even better, .22 is widely available, very affordable, and can be used for many different purposes.

Is it easier to shoot a .22 or a 9mm?

It is generally easier to shoot a .22LR due to its lower recoil than a 9mm. The .22LR’s reduced recoil makes it more manageable for beginners and allows quicker follow-up shots.


There you have it! We’ve explored the top .22 pistols across various categories to provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you choose the perfect pistol for you and your needs.

For those seeking a versatile and reliable choice, the Ruger Mark IV takes the title of Best Overall. Its superb accuracy, user-friendly features, and sturdy construction make it a standout option for all kinds of shooting activities!

Whether you’re looking for a pistol suitable for concealed carry, plinking, self-defense, or specific purposes like snake shot or suppressor hosting, our reviews and recommendations offer valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.

Remember, choosing the right firearm is a personal decision, and it’s essential to consider your skill level, intended use, and comfort when making your choice.

Tell us which model you’d lean toward in the comment section below!

Written by Megan Kriss
Megan Kriss photo Megan has been an avid recreational shooter since she was a young child and she's thrilled to have the opportunity to combine this love with her passion for writing. Megan Kriss is a seasoned writer and firearms enthusiast with contributions to a variety of publications, including Pew Pew Tactical, American Firearms, A Well-Armed Woman, Recoil, and Faxon Firearms. In addition to firearms, Megan also enjoys writing about pets, outdoor recreation, and other lifestyle topics. When she's not busy writing, Megan enjoys tabletop games, reading, and being outdoors. She shares her Georgia home with her partner, dog, and two cats.


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