Advocating the use of a .20-caliber bullet for personal security is fraught with peril. Of all the trainers whom I respect, none consider a .22 or .25 a serious “manstopper.” But it’s easy to find reports of aggressors being stopped by the lowly .22. In some of these cases, it only took one shot to end the threat. In others, it took several shots. Does that differ from other handgun bullets? I think we can all agree that the bigger the bullet, the better it will perform when defending one’s life—unless, of course, a small caliber is all you can shoot accurately due to age, strength or health issues. Mark Moritz had it right when he said, “The first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun,” and any gun in any caliber is better than empty hands.
Additionally, the .22 has long been known as an excellent training cartridge. Its low recoil and cost make it a natural for working on the most difficult shooting skill: trigger control. The primary reason most new shooters flinch when shooting is because they anticipate recoil and its explosive effect at the end of their extended arms. But using a .22 virtually eliminates this issue, making proper trigger control easier to achieve. When I go through periods where I just can’t seem to hit targets as I should, I slap a .22 conversion slide onto my carry pistol and focus exclusively on trigger manipulation. And, believe me, it really helps.
Ruger’s LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolver) snubbie is one of the few truly revolutionary designs of the past 100 years. Its patented friction-reducing-cam trigger system differs from all other revolvers in both design and trigger feel, offering a very smooth action straight out of the box—not 1,000 rounds down the road. When taking into account the aforementioned advantages to shooting a .22, it makes sense for Ruger to chamber their LCR revolver for this venerable cartridge. Jeff Cooper once said the .38 snubbie was a gun that was “carried much and shot little” because, even without +P ammo, it could be hard on the shooter after a few hundred rounds, especially when shooting an alloy-frame gun. But anyone of any age can shoot a .22 all day.
While the LCR-22 might be chambered in a new caliber, it has the same features of its larger cousin, including the 1.88-inch barrel. Its polymer fire control housing not only reduces carry weight but also houses all the internal components in the proper dimensional relationship while reducing recoil. The friction-reducing-cam trigger system is highly regarded throughout the firearms community for offering the smoothest trigger action available—it lacks the “stacking” that is so apparent in other double-action (DA) revolvers. The trigger pull on my test gun weighed 8.25 pounds and was quite smooth.
The monolithic frame that supports the cylinder and barrel is made from 7000-series aluminum, as are the .38 Special models (the .357 Magnum frames are made from stainless steel). The eight-shot stainless steel cylinder is aggressively fluted to reduce weight and is finished in what Ruger calls Advanced Target Grey for enhanced durability.
The grip peg allows Ruger to offer a variety of grip options, including the standard Hogue Tamer grip or the Crimson Trace Lasergrip. The Hogue grip offers excellent recoil absorption when shooting .38 or .357 ammo. When shooting .22 LR ammo, the Tamer just keeps the gun locked in place for fast, accurate, recoil-free shooting.
A couple of additional features I like are the pinned-in front sight, which can be replaced with an XS Big Dot Sight if desired, and the smooth, rounded trigger that seems to capture the trigger finger and hold it in place while keeping the finger free to move and function properly. For a rear sight, Ruger has machined an integral U-notch into the top. All in all, it’s a desirable package that only weighs a scant 14.9 ounces empty, and it will work for anyone between the ages of 10 and 100.
I headed to the range to run the LCR-22 and see just how well it would work. For test ammunition, I brought along various .22 loads from Winchester, Federal, PMC and Remington. I originally thought I would test the LCR-22’s accuracy by firing groups at 7 yards, but after I shot it a bit to get a feel for the gun, I realized the little snubbie was more accurate than I had given it credit for. This being the case, I moved back to 50 feet, where I benchrested the LCR-22 on a stack of Giles Bags from The Wilderness, shooting five 8-round groups with each load. I also charted the velocity of each load by shooting eight rounds across the screens of a Shooting Chrony chronograph placed 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle, with the average reported.
Considering the LCR-22’s sights, short barrel and long DA trigger, I was very pleased with its accuracy. I read an online review of this same gun in which the writer claimed he got 2- to 5-inch groups at 25 yards when using a Ransom Rest—and I completely believe it. For whatever reason, the Ruger LCR-22 is one accurate snubbie, regardless of the load used.
Since I seldom get to practice with a snubbie revolver and had plenty of ammo, I decided to conduct some of my regular practice drills with the gun. Since I did not have speedloaders that would work with the .22, I isolated my practice session to drills that involved drawing and movement. Using a Fobus paddle holster with my hands in a forward-fending position, I easily drew and shot on an 8-inch circle in 1.5 seconds or less, which is a very “survivable” time. While I could not reload quickly, I could certainly extract without hesitation, as the ejector rod of the LCR-22 smartly ejected the rimfire cases without fail.
Of course, shooting eight rounds of .22 LR quickly proved to be more about the length of trigger travel than how much it recoiled (as there was none). I was able to shoot eight rounds of .22 LR into a 5-inch circle at 5 yards in lass than 3 seconds with boring regularity, which is also a very survivable time. Regardless of where your loyalties may be in the “caliber wars,” eight rounds of .22 delivered to the high chest in several seconds would be hard for even the toughest human to ignore.
After shooting 1,000 rounds of various .22 loads, I had no malfunctions or failures to fire. Like all Ruger firearms, the LCR-22 proved to be extremely reliable. While the LCR-22 can be a viable (note that I did not say optimal) self-defense handgun, it can also offer security in other environments. When loaded with CCI shotshells, the LCR-22 would make an excellent camp or trail gun for venturing out into the wilderness, since it’s light weight won’t even be noticeable in a pocket or backpack.
I readily admit that I like the Ruger LCR-22. After putting 1,000 rounds through the gun, I came to appreciate its high level of accuracy and reliability—and I really appreciate its cost effectiveness. If you are packing an LCR in .38 Special or .357 Magnum as your regular carry gun, it’s a no-brainer to also have an LCR-22 for more prolonged practice sessions mixing, say, 50 to 100 rounds of .38 with several hundred rounds of .22. The grip, trigger and sights of the two guns are the same, so the only difference would be the level of felt recoil. Economical, efficient and effective—those might be the best words to describe the Ruger LCR-22. And I’ll gladly add that you won’t be disappointed. For more information, visit ruger.com.