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  4. 5 Best .22 Pocket Pistols [2024]: Compact Pocket Power
5 Best .22 Pocket Pistols [2024]: Compact Pocket Power preview image
Jan 04 2024
12 min read

5 Best .22 Pocket Pistols [2024]: Compact Pocket Power

ImageProductPrice
RUGER LCP IIBest Overall – Ruger LCP II .22 LR
Charter Arms PathfinderBest Value – Charter Arms Pathfinder
North American Arms Black WidowBest For Concealability – North American Arms Black Widow 
Ruger LCR .22LRBest Revolver – Ruger LCR 22
Smith & Wesson 351CBest .22 Magnum Pocket Pistol – Smith and Wesson Model 351C

.22 pocket pistols don’t get a lot of love. But they’re small, easy to use, and cheap, and so is the ammo.

What’s not to love? You can use it as a backup gun, throw it in a survival bag for varmint hunting and food, or just have fun with your family in the backyard.

I’ve shot plenty of pocket .22s in my day. There were a few good ones that made it to this list, and there were others that did not.

Take, for example, the Ruger LCP II. It’s extremely compact but holds ten rounds in the magazine and utilizes the Lite-Rack system to make it easy for everyone to use. Those with hand strength deficiencies, like my grandma (who loves her LCP), appreciate the assistance.

To me, that much attention to the customer makes it the best, not to mention how fun and reliable it is.

Then we have the Pathfinder from Charter Arms. It’s a robust and reliable revolver that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like some of the Smith and Wesson revolvers.

As for why the other firearms made it on the list, you’re going to have to read and find out.

Best .22 Pocket Pistols & Recommendations

Best Overall – Ruger LCP II .22 LR

RUGER LCP II
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Specifications

Caliber.22 LR
Capacity10+1 Rounds
Weight11.2 Ounces
Barrel Length2.75 Inches
Overall Length 5.2 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Great magazine capacity 
  • Easy to manipulate for those with hand strength deficiencies 
  • Low recoil for comfortable shooting 
  • Front and rear slide serrations
  • Familiar pistol configuration
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Sights might be difficult to see for some

The Ruger LCP II easily took the #1 spot for best .22 pocket pistol.

It’s a compact semi-automatic pistol chambered in .22 LR with a 10+1 round magazine capacity, front and rear slide serrations, and low recoil. If you struggle with hand strength, the LCP II features a Lite Rack System, making chambering a round easier than other pistols.

Ruger LCP II in 22LR
Ruger LCP II in 22LR via: _beeeft_/IG

The semi-aggressive grip texture and the extended magazine floorplate help to provide a solid grasp for those who may not have extra-small hands.

As I mentioned above, my grandma loves this gun, and I have had a blast shooting it as well.

Ruger LCP II
Ruger LCP II in 22LR via: _beeeft_/IG

I choose it for the best all-around due to the familiarity of the platform and the ease of use who may need to carry a .22 pocket pistol.

And it’s cheap. What more can you ask for?

Check out our Ruger LCP II (.380 Auto) review for more info.

Best Value – Charter Arms Pathfinder

Charter Arms Pathfinder .22LR Stainless Revolver with 2" Barrel and 8-Round Capacity
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Specifications

Caliber.22 LR
Capacity8 Rounds
Weight19 Ounces
Barrel Length2 Inches
Overall Length 6.7 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • 8 Round magazine capacity in a revolver
  • Accurate even with the simple sights
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • It’s a little long overall

The Charter Arms Pathfinder in .22LR is one of those revolvers that is great for pocket carry, even in sweatpants.

Charter Arms Pathfinder .22LR
Charter Arms Pathfinder via: bullseyegun&rangellc/FB

It holds eight rounds in the cylinder and has almost no recoil. It’s not super fancy; it has everything you need and nothing else. However, the low price is set accordingly.

The grip is larger than you’d expect, which aids in control and accuracy, and I found the hammer to be very easy to cock, thanks to the small grooves that are cut into it.

Best of all, the Charter Arms Pathfinder is legal to own and carry in even the strictest gun states.

Best For Concealability – North American Arms Black Widow 

North American Arms Black Widow .22LR/.22WMR 2" Barrel 5-Rounds Stainless Steel Revolver with Adjustable Sights
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Specifications

Caliber.22 LR
Capacity5 Rounds
Weight8.9 Ounces
Barrel Length2 Inches
Overall Length 5.9 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Smallest pistol on the list 
  • Surprising 5-round magazine capacity 
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Adjustable sights
  • Interchangeable .22 WMR cylinder
Cons
  • Not the easiest to grip

If you’re looking for the smallest pistol you can stuff in your pocket, here you are.

Black Widow in 22LR
Black Widow via: northamericanarms/IG

Black Widow is an excellent name for this small revolver. At only 5.9 inches overall, it’s no more significant than the screen of your iPhone, and it’s small enough to essentially disappear in your pocket. Then, when it’s time for action, you have five rounds of .22 LR at your disposal.

Or, if you swap the cylinder, you can have .22 WMR (or .22 Magnum) with even more bite. The .22 WMR is nothing to play with.

Black Widow
Black Widow via: northamericanarms/IG

The Black Widow features adjustable sights, oversized rubber grips, and a heavy vent barrel, making it very fun and relatively easy to shoot. If only the grip were slightly larger, it would be very easy to shoot.

No better backup gun is available in a pistol as small as this.

Best Revolver – Ruger LCR 22

Ruger LCR 22LR 1.87" 8-Round Matte Black Revolver with Hogue Tamer Monogrip
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Specifications

Caliber.22 LR
Capacity8 Rounds
Weight14.9 Ounces
Barrel Length1.87 Inches
Overall Length 6.5 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Easy to stow in your pocket
  • Rubberized grip with finger grooves
  • Accurate and simple ramp front sight with white bar
  • 8 round capacity
  • Monolithic frame
Cons
  • Pricey for a .22 LR revolver

Another Ruger on the list? Yes.

The company does well with small pistols like this, so it’s only natural to find more than one Ruger offering on a .22 pocket pistol list.

Ruger LCR 22 Red Dot Install
Ruger LCR 22 via: wrightarmory/IG

If you’re looking for a simple revolver that is easy to stow and use when the time comes, the LCR .22 is great.

Usually, it’s hard to get a grip on a pocket pistol. That’s why I always shy away from them. But not this one. The rubberized grip has a well-placed finger groove to help maintain control.

I have big hands, and while it wasn’t as comfortable as gripping my Glock 19X, it’s still fairly easy to do.

Ruger LCR 22
Ruger LCR 22 via: wrightarmory/IG

And, since there is no hammer on this revolver, you limit the amount of snagging that could take place when pulling this gun from your pocket.

It’s a little on the pricey side for a .22 LR revolver, but it won’t leave you feeling that you didn’t get what you paid for.

Best .22 Magnum Pocket Pistol – Smith and Wesson Model 351C

Smith & Wesson 351C Classic Airlite .22 WMR 1.88" Black Revolver - 7 Rounds
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Specifications

Caliber.22 WMR (.22 Magnum)
Capacity7 Rounds
Weight11.4 Ounces
Barrel Length1.9 Inches
Overall Length 6.25 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Seven-round magazine capacity 
  • No hammer means less snagging 
  • XS Sights white dot front sight
  • Small enough to fit in the pocket (of course)
Cons
  • Expensive for a .22

Smith and Wesson J-Frame revolvers are extremely popular, and for the longest time, they were loved by undercover detectives.

Smith and Wesson 351C 22 mag
Smith and Wesson 351C via: nega_guns/IG

You know, the type that roles up to a warehouse in Miami to bust a drug dealer in the 80s?

For good reason. These pistols are easy to shoot and are accurate (as long as you are). They now come with an XS Sights white dot front sight, which helps with the accuracy, and they have a snag-free internal hammer, which makes carrying them even easier.

Smith & Wesson Model 351C
Smith and Wesson Model 351C via: sootchOOfungunreviews/FB

Pair that accuracy with the angry little .22 Magnum, and you have the recipe for a tremendous pocket gun capable of severe close-range damage. Of course, it recoils more than .22LR, but not as much as a 9mm. I found it very easy to control despite the extra kick.

The .22 Magnum and the 351C are a great pair. If you want a pocket pistol that maximizes the power of the .22 caliber, start here.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Although I want to keep my time on the range training with my AR-15 and 9mm, it’s fun to whip out a .22 for some plinking.

The low recoil makes shooting with a .22 caliber a guilty pleasure. You know you won’t miss a steel target within 100 yards, so you shoot and shoot, and before you know it, two hours have gone by.

I came across most of these pistols at a gun show in Everett, Washington. So, I played around with them as much as I could. I didn’t get much quality time with them until after the show when a bunch of the guys at my FFL brought in what they call their “miscellaneous guns,” which they bought for no reason.

It was a hoot. Among those guns were these picks, and I had the most fun with them, even though there were way more exciting firearms in there, like an 1886 Colt SAA that one of them won in a raffle.

After several hours of shooting, I went home and looked around on the internet to see how others liked the guns I picked. I also contacted some of my friends who had success getting their parents and grandparents to carry, and they all agreed that these .22 pocket pistols were the best for those looking.

.22 Pocket Pistol Buyer’s Guide

In the market for a .22 pocket pistol now? Here are a few things to consider beforehand.

It’s Not The Best Carry Option

You’re most likely thinking of using it for carrying to the store on the days you want something simple, or maybe you just want to carry it full-time.

Either way, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the .22 caliber is not the best for defensive purposes. There are better firearms for that purpose, even for those with low grip strength.

The 9mm Shield EZ from Smith and Wesson is a great example.

The .22 just doesn’t have the penetration capabilities that other rounds have. If an attacker is wearing a jacket or multiple layers, you risk not getting the penetration that you need to put them down.

Sure, a .22 caliber bullet to the face is going to stop someone, but headshots are not what we go for in defensive shooting. The target is too small, and especially if you are new to shooting, it may not be a shot you can make.

So it’s best to go with a larger round, like the 9mm.

.22 LR vs. .22 Magnum

Caliber .22 Long Rifle.22 WMR
Parent Case.22 Long.22 WRF
Bullet Diameter0.223 in0.224 in
Base Diameter 0.226 in0.242 in
Case Length 0.613 in1.055 in
Overall Length 1 in1.35 in
Max Pressure (SAAMI)24,000 PSI 24,000 PSI

What does any of this stuff mean?

If you look at the numbers, you don’t see much difference, but the WMR is a harder-hitting round. It is better suited to ethically kill small game and put a hurt on a human in a self-defense scenario.

The cost of .22 WMR ammo is significantly higher, especially when comparing the price of hollow-point .22 WMR rounds to those of the .22 LR.

Due to the differences in size, it is also important to note that it’s not possible to shoot either from a different chamber (.22 WMR out of a .22LR barrel and vice versa).

Choosing A .22 Pocket Pistol

Consider the clothes you wear. Are they tighter? Looser? Are your pockets deep enough to carry a pocket pistol?

This is what every shooter who wants to carry must consider first and foremost. If you’re using it for defensive reasons, consider the weather and what a potential threat will wear if the time comes.

You’ll also need to consider the size of your hands.

Pocket pistols are notoriously small. That’s fine for those with smaller hands, but those with larger hands will start to see an issue with getting their hands to grip the pistol properly. And if you aren’t comfortable shooting the gun, you shouldn’t carry it.

How many rounds do you want to carry?

A revolver with eight rounds in the chamber is an option, or you can go with a semi-automatic pistol with a detachable magazine that often holds more rounds.

I usually recommend semi-automatic pistols due to the ease of use and how quick it is to reload, but revolvers are more reliable due to the fewer moving parts they have.

Are you going to customize it?

.22 pocket pistols don’t get a lot of love, as I’ve said; this means the amount of aftermarket support is minimal.

None of the options on this list have optic cut slides, and while you can get it milled, it’s a hassle and an expense. Make sure you can satisfy your aftermarket needs before you buy any firearm.

FAQs

Can a .22 pocket pistol be effective for self-defense?

A .22 pocket pistol can be effective for self-defense, but the odds are against you when using a small caliber like the .22 LR. I know that there have been plenty of videos conducted using ballistics gel, which show the .22 LR performing well, but your attacker will most likely be wearing some sort of clothing. And the more clothing they have, the more likely the round will get stopped before it can get optimal entry into the target.

Are pocket pistols legal for concealed carry everywhere?

Pocket pistols are not legal for concealed carry everywhere. They are just like any other pistol and are subject to local, state, and federal laws. Be sure to know the laws and regulations of your particular location before carrying a firearm.

Can I use a .22 pocket pistol for concealed carry and home defense?

Technically, you can use a .22 pocket pistol for concealed carry and home defense. But again, the odds start to stack against you depending on how much clothing the attacker wears. If they are wearing a heavy jacket, a sweater, and a shirt, the .22 caliber round will have more trouble penetrating deep enough to stop the target.

Conclusion

There you have it. These are the best .22 caliber pistols for pocket carry and the corresponding things you should consider before buying one.

Other guns were considered for this list as well.

For example, the Smith and Wesson 43C was considered but didn’t make the list due to how expensive it is versus the stopping power it delivers. It’s a great pocket gun, but the price is too high to justify for a .22 LR.

That’s why I recommend the Ruger LCP II as the best overall .22 pocket pistol. It’s inexpensive and easy for anyone to use. The EZ rack slide helps those with hand strength deficiencies, and the pistol offers a double-digit capacity.

Not to mention, it’s fun to shoot and accurate. So, if you’re in the market for a .22 pocket pistol, give the Ruger LCP II a look and the other picks on this list. You won’t be disappointed.

Be good and take care.

Written by Brian Zerbian
Brian Zerbian photo Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things. His goal is to help new gun owners and people who are getting into guns get all the best knowledge in the simplest ways. With no technical jargon and seasoned with fun.
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