How Far Will A .22 LR Kill?

*Spoiler Alert* farther then you’re capable of accurately shooting:

Myth busted.  Your thick sweater or jacket probably wont save you. :P

Say what you will about these gun store guys, but they answer some interesting questions.




James M&P May 26, 2012 at 02:04 am

I didn’t agree with the idea that 5.56 was developed to wound and not kill. It was developed cause it does very well in controlled environments and situations the variables of the battlefield weren’t thought of i.e. vegetation and its effects on trajectory, effectiveness.


Aaron May 26, 2012 at 05:22 am

I doubt that any bullet was designed to wound, and not kill.


JonMac May 26, 2012 at 09:33 am

Yes and no. Early FMJ rounds, at least as far as surgeons and politicians were concerned, were intended to be ‘humane’. The military knew better, of course.

But no, 5.56 was NEVER designed to wound. It’s an old myth.


dave w May 27, 2012 at 05:02 pm

Its much better for armed forces to wound than kill, that has been a long proven military standard. Kill a guy and you go past him, reduce fighting number by 1. Wound a guy and some one has to get him. So now there’s wounded guy and 2 guys hauling him on a stretcher. reduce fighting number by 3 temporally. then maybe the medic has to stop and do stuff. I bet there’s even figures in some study somewhere that really goes into a great explanation of tying up enemy resources in this way.

Of course with the non traditional battles now fought i am sure its better to kill them right of the bat than have the basterds show up on cnn crying about being just an innocent goat herder.


dave w May 27, 2012 at 05:04 pm

should have read further. jason anderson already made the same point. doh!


JonMac May 28, 2012 at 02:27 pm

You’re right in that the traditional ‘civilised’ military objective has always been to incapacitate (render ‘hors de combat’ as the phrase went). And as I’ve said in my own comment, the original FMJ rounds were in part designed to be less lethal than rounds like .45-70 or .450 British. The military were happy because they still did the job, usually just as well, were lighter, and had flatter trajectories.

The practical problem with the idea of deliberate incapacitation-only rounds is that incapacitated often = dead (depending upon shot placement for one thing), and it isn’t really possible to design a round to only incapacitate, without it failing to do so in many cases.


Vhyrus May 26, 2012 at 02:49 am

Lethality does not equal stopping power. I could use a fork to kill a man but it will take a long time for the blood loss to incapacitate him and he will probably bash my brains into soup long before he starts feeling dizzy. A 22 may poke a hole in someone but it is a very small hole. The energy dump is what stops the fight, and that is what is important in a self defense situation. People like to compare military testing to self defense but it really is not the same thing. The military is interested in causalities but not necessarily in response time. It is exactly the opposite in a modern civilian self defense situation. They also talk about foot pounds on a pine board but they are forgetting to normalize their data and look at psi which is the truly important factor. For example: How much force is required to push a needle into someone? Not very much. How much energy is required to push a baseball bat through someone? A whole lot more. The difference is the contact area is orders of magnitude larger on the bat which means psi is significantly lower for the same amount of force. A 22 is a very small round, it takes much less force to put it through a pine board than a 9mm.

That being said, 22 magnum is one of the meanest little buzzsaws on the planet and has enough energy dump to stop a fight clean.

Oh yeah, 30 feet is NOT 15 yards, its 10.


bbmg May 26, 2012 at 04:43 am

“The energy dump is what stops the fight”

The FBI disagrees:

“Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed “shock” of bullet impact is a fable and “knock down” power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding.”

This doesn’t mean the 22LR is ideal, a wider bullet makes a bigger hole, double the diameter and you have 4 times the hole area. This is why hollowpoints are more effective, because they make a wider temporary cavity. That they trade this for penetration depth in incidental, not causal.


bbmg May 26, 2012 at 06:49 am

That should have read “wider permanent cavity”.


m-cameron May 26, 2012 at 06:51 am

im inclined to agree………the fact remains, you can have the biggest baddest round out there, but if you dont hit someone in a vital area…..its not going to kill them regardless of what you shoot them with. hell, there are reports of people surviving being shot with a .50bmg.

also, i dont care who you are, no one is going to stand there and take 5 shots to the chest and then shrug it off saying “meh, its only a .22″…… one.

and before anyone brings up the ‘reliability’ argument, let me squash that right now……ive shot honestly somewhere on the order of over 10,000 rounds of .22lr…….and i think in all that shooting, ive had maybe 3 failure to fires………ive found that so long as you dont buy the cheapest stuff they have at walmart, .22lr is just as reliable as any center fire round.


Dillankid May 26, 2012 at 04:54 pm

I don’t remember any ftf’s in my 10/22 with as many rounds. Just keep it clean and use decent ammo.


bbmg May 26, 2012 at 04:38 am

First off, the premise that 59 ft/lbs is enough to penetrate the pine board is meaningless. A 145 gram baseball travelling at 110 feet per second has an energy of 60 ft/lbs, and that will not penetrate the board. It might be lethal if it strikes you in a vital area, but not reliably so.

Then there’s the old chestnut of “just because it *can* kill, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best solution. That being said, there are a couple of 22 rimfire weapons that are of interest:

The Russian SV-99 “sniper” rifle is chambered in 22LR: – what it lacks in muzzle energy it makes up for in stealthn and this is the point from the link above: “If a target is closer than 100 meters, You don’t have to defeat a ballistic jacket. An exposed neck, face or head is just enough!”

The American 180/MGV-176 submachineguns are also interesting, they make up for lack of individual bullet energy by dumping a high volume of them: – one second on the trigger puts 25 or so rounds downrange, and you can do that at least 6 times before you have to change the magazine.


Yaboi July 27, 2018 at 08:45 am

Im sorry, but that fact about the bat at the beginning of your post doesnt really help your argument. A bat is leaps and bounds bigger than a 22 bullet, therefore there would be less concentration of force to one area. Also, a bullet has a rounded side, making for even a more concentrated blow, whereas a bat doesnt. Just thought i needed to point that out.


Jason Anderson May 26, 2012 at 09:42 am

When I was in the Marines they taught us that the 5.56 ball round was designed to wound the enemy by tumbling through the body. The instructors said it was designed this way to cause battlefield casualties that would make the enemy slow their offensive in order to evacuate the wounded. This has not been working with the middle eastern threats due to the fact that every one of the the enemy threats are in the fight for their own religious beliefs and not because of their duty to a fellow brother in arms and country like the U.N. forces. Often times the bullet would hit a bone after entering the body in one location and exiting the body at a completely different trajectory, giving it the name “Magic Bullet”. This has led the the military going back to the drawing board to get a “better” bullet. Stopping power is needed by the troops right now and the only way to do that is to increase the over all mass of the bullet, yet at the same time make it light enough and accurate enough to be a long term sustainable round. Because lets be honest here, no sense in having a large round if you can’t carry enough to last through a firefight or even be able to still fight if your out of energy from carrying too many.


JonMac May 26, 2012 at 09:56 am

Not quite. ALL military bullets (i.e. FMJ) are less than optimally lethal due to legal and ‘moral’ restriction, and in fact FMJ was touted in the 19th century as being a ‘humane’ round compared to earlier soft lead bullets. But 5.56 itself was never ‘designed’ to wound. They were looking for light weight and flat trajectory, but not at the expense of lethality. Clearly it’s a compromise round, but it was not meant to be in any way ‘less than lethal’.


Jim P. May 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

Going off the video evidence — when they shot the soda bottle with a .22 it stayed standing. I wonder what the difference would have been with a .45, 9MM or 5.56?

I need to get a private range set up so I can do this kind of shit.


overkill556x45 May 26, 2012 at 01:10 pm

This wasn’t as derpy as some of their vids. The point was good–respect all firearms. Kinetic energy doesn’t tell the whole story. Don’t get sloppy with safety ‘cuz it’s “just a .22”.

Also, my grandpa survived the depression killing everything from squirrels to deer with a .22short. Probably not an ideal caliber, but it worked.


Josh May 26, 2012 at 02:00 pm

Interesting test and results. These guys continue to crack me up… “The one thing that we can come to gather here from this test is a couple of things…”


Yaboi July 27, 2018 at 08:46 am

Quit bein a cunt.


Church May 26, 2012 at 04:19 pm

Ineresting. I like them when they’re talking about evidence and testing, not when their opinion comes in to play. Good video!


matt RRC May 27, 2012 at 08:24 am

Interesting video. I noticed these guys have good trigger discipline. After they pull the trigger they hold it in and then slowly release it to the reset position where you hear an audible “click”. I just remember taking a Front Sight class where they taught this technique and it has improved my shooting.


Ninjavitis May 27, 2012 at 02:31 pm

My only issue with the .22LR for a self defense round is not that it can’t kill, it’s that it’s inconsistant. It might drop your badguy with a single shot or you might riddle him with holes with minimal effect.


NikonMikon May 29, 2012 at 05:23 am

I don’t really like these fellas but I like this video. I also laughed pretty heartily when he said at 6:09 “People can talk all the crap they want about a 22, but a 22 will kill the CRAP out of you.”

I know someone who actually thought denim would stop 22. Talk about a tard.


mike June 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

Being a Retired Police Officer with 25 years under my belt, I have seen more people Killed or seriously wounded with a .22 caliber than any other caliber. The .22 goes in the body and just bounces around off anything it comes in contact with thus doing damage to different organs and body tissue. Then enters the fact of internal bleeding, lead poison if not treated right away by a Doctor. The other factors I have seen is 2 to 4 shots in or near center mass with a .22 has shown to STOP all aggression and put the subject down. Cases where a .22 Magnum was used has shown deadlier results. So, in my opinion, a .22 caliber, and a .22 Magnum are very, very Lethal rounds and 1 well placed head shot or 2 to 4 center mass shots will stop the threat and can cause a very LETHAL results.



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