I love shooting .22s. I also love sharing my .22s with friends and family. We’re truly blessed by the U.S. shooting industry’s contributions in .22 caliber to the world of shooting sports. In this article I’m covering 10 of the .22 pistols I believe to represent the best the industry has to offer.
TaurusTX 22 / TaurusTX 22 Compact
Taurus set a new standard in .22 pistols with the TaurusTX 22; a standard quickly followed by Glock and SIG Sauer. The standard was to create a .22 pistol that looked, felt, and shot like a centerfire caliber pistol. More importantly, it loaded like one.
I’m listing the full-size TaurusTX 22 and the Compact TaurusTX 22 together here because they are the same in operation. The compact version has a shorter barrel and grip, and therefore, lower capacity. It also has a slide cut to accept a red dot sight. In fact, Taurus offers some models of the Compact TaurusTX 22 with a Riton red dot sight mounted.
My Compact TaurusTX 22 has a Crimson Trace red dot mounted. These guns are available in several colors, with or without a manual safety, and with or without a threaded barrel. The full-size model weighs 17.3 ounces, is 7.06 inches long, 5.44 inches high, and measures 1.25 inches wide. It has a 16-round magazine, with 10-round models available for states where there is a limit.
The Compact model weighs 16.3 ounces, is 6.7 inches long, 4.9 inches high, and 1.25 inches wide. Magazine capacity for the Compact is 13 or 10 rounds. These guns both have a big, wide trigger that is smooth as silk. The magazines on Taurus 22s load like centerfire magazines. Both of my guns have a threaded barrel and manual safety. They’re not ammunition particular, which is delightful since some .22 semi-automatics are very ammunition particular. Prices for both sizes run right around $300 or slightly less.
Not long after Taurus released its TaurusTX 22, another revolutionary .22 pistol came out of Georgia. This one came from the Glock factory. The Glock 44 is the same size as the ever-popular Glock G19 and is configured just like my G19 Gen 5.
It’s a bit lighter but comes with the same interchangeable backstraps as the G19. The size is 7.28 inches long, 5.04 inches high, and 1.25 inches wide. Weight is a mere 12.6 ounces. The magazine on the G44 loads like centerfire magazines and holds 10 rounds. Owning and shooting a G44 is one of the best ways to practice shooting a Glock G19. My G44 works with a wide variety of .22 ammo. These are selling for slightly less than $500.
SIG Sauer P322
SIG followed on the heels of Taurus and Glock to make a .22 that seems like a 9mm. This one has a higher capacity, though — up to 21 rounds. The slide is optics-ready, and the barrel is threaded. Configuration of the P322 is similar to that of the P320.
An interesting feature you don’t see elsewhere is an interchangeable trigger shoe. The trigger on the P322 can easily be changed from curved to straight. I have mine configured with a straight trigger. It has a very light trigger pull.
This pistol is almost identical to the TaurusTX 22, and the Glock G44 in size and weight. All three of the guns I’ve mentioned so far are a delight to shoot. They are very similar in handling.
Nobody can throw a lightweight, fun gun together better than KelTec. There’s a 33-round bigger brother to the P17, but for all-around inexpensive fun, ease of handling and ease of carry, the P17 takes the cake. The P17 weighs less than 14 ounces fully loaded, is less than a hand’s breadth long, and handles delightfully.
The P17 is ambidextrous (except for the slide stop), has a threaded barrel, and a Picatinny accessory rail, comes with three 16-round magazines, and sells for less than $200. This little pistol is a tack driver with an excellent trigger, fiber-optic front sight, and adjustable rear sight. You can shoot it all day long, building your skills as you do.
Built by German Sports Guns and imported by American Tactical, the FireFly was previously in this country as the SIG Sauer Mosquito. I experienced feed issues with my Mosquito. However, the FireFly has a spring set for the high-velocity rounds and another one for standard rounds.
I tend to leave the high-velocity spring in and shoot CCI Blazer, CCI Mini Mag, or Remington Golden Bullet ammunition. The FireFly is a sized-down version of the SIG Sauer P226. The safety and slide lock are ambidextrous, and the mag release can easily be turned around.
The FireFly has a little weight to it (24.6 ounces) as the frame and slide are both made of a zinc alloy material. It’s not a big gun, being 7.2 inches long and 5.3 inches high. It has standard three-dot sights and a threaded barrel. Mine is brown. I’ve seen it in pink, purple, and black — all for slightly less than $250.
Another German Sports Gun that American Tactical has brought us is the 1911. I’ve used several of these in my training classes over the years. They function well and are available in several different finishes. My gun is black with polished stainless-steel side. It came with black rubber grips, but I put some black and white G10 grips on it, and it’s a beauty.
Shooting 1911s is special to me anyway, but to be able to bang away with no recoil and inexpensive .22 ammo is really a blast. The barrel is stamped .22LR HV, and if you stick with high velocity .22 ammo you can shoot trouble-free.
A few years ago, my wife and I competed in a couple’s shooting league, and we used a pair of Ruger SR22 handguns as our primary handguns for the weekly events. What delightful little pistols! I say little, because they are small. Hers is black; mine is lavender. What? That doesn’t meet your stereotype? A guy can like colored guns, too.
These are small, hammer-fired pistols. The SR22 weighs 17.5 ounces, is 6.4 inches long, and 4.9 inches high. It is less than an inch thick. There is an external hammer with a rounded spur for easy cocking and single-action shooting.
The double-action trigger pull is light, and the single-action pull is light and crisp. The frame is made of polymer and comes with two interchangeable, rubberized grips, with angled serrations to allow shooters to select either a slim or wider palm swell option (no tools required).
The aerospace-grade aluminum slide has serrations on both the front and rear for better grip and slide manipulation. The dovetailed, high-visibility, three-dot sight system has a fixed front and a rear sight that is both windage- and elevation-adjustable.
A reversible rear-sight blade allows shooters to select two white dots or a solid black blade. There is a Picatinny rail up front for accessories. An inspection port allows for visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber.
The manual safety/decocking lever is an ambidextrous manual thumb safety/decocking lever as is the magazine release. The SR22 is easy to field strip. Two 10-round magazines are included along with two extended finger grip floorplates.
Browning 1911-22 Black Label
I believe John Moses Browning would be really proud of what the company that carries his name has done in this 85%-scale 1911 for use with .22 ammunition. For shooters with small hands, or who are recoil-sensitive, this is an excellent choice.
The gun features an alloy slide with anodized gray finish, rear cocking serrations, and a composite frame with stippled, laminated wood grips. Present on the grips is the Browning Buck Mark logo. This is a gun that is almost as much fun to hold and admire as it is to shoot.
This baby 1911 is 6.875 inches long with a 3.625-inch barrel. It has a 10-round magazine, extended ambidextrous manual thumb safety, 3-dot sights, and extended slide release. It is built for plinkin’, and admiring. These are available in several color and grip combinations. They are usually priced somewhere between $600 and $700, depending on the color and grip combination.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45
There are several Mark IV models. All are a modernization of Bill Ruger’s original pistol. I picked the 22/45 to represent the Mark IV pistols because it is the most common and affordable. They are usually priced a little under $400.
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 rimfire pistol features a 5.5-inch bull barrel, fully adjustable target sights, and a lightweight, polymer, 22/45 grip frame that matches the grip angle of the 1911-style pistol. Like all Ruger Mark IVs, the 22/45 features one-button disassembly, an ambidextrous manual safety, and comes with two drop-free magazines.
Internal cylindrical bolt construction ensures permanent sight-to-barrel alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving slide designs. The contoured ejection port, and easy-to-grasp bolt ears, allow for durable and reliable operation, round after round. The sighting system features an adjustable rear sight and a drilled and tapped receiver for a Weaver- or Picatinny-style rail for the easy mounting of optics.
The ambidextrous manual safety can be converted to left side-only, if desired. The Mark IV 22/45 weighs 34.4 ounces and is 9.75 inches long. It comes with two 10-round magazines.
S&W M&P Compact
Smith & Wesson builds a .22 that is the spitting image of its full-size M&P pistol. It also makes a compact model that I really enjoy shooting and sharing. Ideally suited for training or target shooting, this semi-automatic, compact pistol maintains standard M&P pistol-design features. It also includes a few extras.
It comes with a sound suppressor adapter kit that contains the installation tools and thread protector. Two magazines are included. It has a Picatinny accessory rail. It weighs 31.6 ounces, is 6.67 inches long, 5.03 inches high, and tapes out at 1.48 inches wide. The sights are three-white dots. The street price typically hovers around $375.
Are you a .22 LR pistol fan? Which model is your favorite? Share your answers in the Comment section.
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