TFB Round Table: 5 BEST 22 Magnum Rounds for Self-Defense and/or Hunting

    22 magnum

    Welcome back to another edition of TFB’s Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB will discuss the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I will offer up some tips on picking the BEST 22 Magnum Ammunition for Self-Defense and/or Hunting! The properties that are desirable in a good self-defense round for anyone who is contemplating carrying a 22 Magnum firearm are often the same traits we look for in a hunting cartridge as well. We all understand that 22 Magnum is near the bottom of the caliber spectrum so we need something with high Foot-Lbs of energy and something that will penetrate (as best as one could hope for this smaller cartridge). So with that being said, let’s dive into what we are looking for in the BEST 22 Magnum rounds for Self-Defense and/or Hunting!

    TFB ROUND TABLE: SELECTING THE BEST 22 magnum self-defense and/or HUNTING AMM0

    I know what some of our readers are already thinking… Why would someone use 22 Magnum for self-defense?! Or even hunting?… Well, there could be a multitude of reasons that would lead someone to this diminutive cartridge for defense or hunting. Not all shooters are young, strong, able-bodied, and love recoil. Some people may have arthritis making it difficult to manipulate the functions on a centerfire semi-auto handgun. Others may have different ailments precluding them from controlling even moderate recoil. Our aim here is to not judge what brought someone to their infatuation with the 22 Magnum cartridge, but simply offer up ideas as to how they can get the most out of it.

    There are lots of small and large frame revolvers chambered in 22 Magnum for shooters to pick from. There is even the more modern Kel-Tec PMR-30 semi-auto handgun for those that love magazine capacity. For the hunters in the audience, there are bountiful options in long guns as well. So while 22 Magnum might not be everyone’s 1st choice for self-defense or hunting, you have a moderate gamut of firearms to pick from in today’s market. Today we are not discussing the merits of what goes into a good 22 Magnum firearm though. So what makes a good 22 Magnum round for self-defense or hunting?

    TFB ROUND TABLE: Stopping pow-ah in 22 magnum is your ally

    This might sound like we are beating an old drum at TFB, but the attributes you are essentially looking for are our beloved STOPPING POW-AH (aka Foot-Lbs of Energy) as well as penetration. No one is presenting the case here that 22 Magnum has oodles and oodles of energy, but if you are not discerning in selecting your ammunition, the Ft-Lbs of energy can vary pretty wildly from one round to another. While the Ft-Lbs of energy of 22 Magnum pales in comparison to many other common defense cartridges like 9mm, we are almost certain no criminal is going to volunteer to play “catch” with you if the need ever arises.

    Some explicit varmint rounds meant to explode on impact can have screaming velocities of up to 2,000+ FPS, but will do little in the means of self-defense or hunting medium sized game like fox or coyotes. The energy may barely eclipse 100 Ft-Lbs. That is why it can be important to read packaging (if they show that data), or at worst Google up the manufacturer’s website on your smartphone while in your local gun shop.

    TFB ROUND TABLE: once you send it, how far does it go in?

    Our other important element is the penetration depth. In order to humanely harvest game like squirrels, foxes, or coyotes you need your round to not only have energy but to penetrate deep enough to impact vital organs. Likewise in self-defense, in the horrific scenario that you use your firearm, you want your discharged rounds to stop your assailant from further attempting harm on yourself or loved ones. That is where penetration depth matters. If a round barely breaks the surface, it could injure or maim an animal you are hunting as opposed to humanely downing it. Similarly, if a round does not achieve an effective depth on an attacker that individual may be extremely hurt, but still be in the fight to inflict atrocities on you or loved ones.

    WRAP UP – BEST 22 magnum self-defense and/or HUNTING AMMo

    Since the metrics for a good 22 Magnum round we have been discussing are Ft-Lbs of Energy and penetration depth, those will be the metrics we look for in our list of the Top 5 BEST 22 Magnum rounds for self-defense and hunting available from our friends over at Ammunition to Go. We do not want to be brand preferential or bias in who makes the Top 5 list so that is why we always throw down some type of defining metric. While you read over the Top 5 let us know if you own some of this ammunition or have experience shooting it yourself.

    1. CCI Maxi-Mag+V .22 Magnum 30 Grain HP (Energy: 322 Ft-Lbs | Penetration: 16.76″)
    2. CCI Maxi-Mag .22 Magnum 40 Grain HP (Energy: 312 Ft-Lbs | Penetration: 16.52″)
    3. Armscor Precision .22 Magnum 40 Grain JHP (Energy: 312 Ft-Lbs | Penetration: 15.98″)
    4. Winchester Varmint LF .22 Magnum 28 Grain JHP (Energy: 301 Ft-Lbs | Penetration: 14.7″)
    5. CCI TNT Green .22 Magnum 30 Grain HP (Muzzle Energy: 280 Ft-Lbs | Penetration: 13.92″)

    As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for TFB’s Round Table brought to you by Ammunition to Go! Also, let us know what you think in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.


    #5 CCI TNT Green .22 Magnum 30 Grain HP (Muzzle Energy: 280 Ft-Lbs | Penetration Depth: 13.92″)

    22 magnum

    22 magnum

    Your .22 WMR will make quick work of varmints with these CCI TNT Green cartridges. This ammunition is designed to fragment “explosively” on contact with squirrels, rabbits, and other nuisance animals for an easy kill. Each cartridge in this box of 50 fires a light 30 grain hollow point bullet at a high velocity that encourages rapid expansion. This ammo is lead free and satisfies regulations that require non-toxic or lead free bullets. Like other CCI ammo, it is loaded in Lewiston, Idaho.

    #4 – Winchester Varmint LF .22 Magnum 28 Grain JHP (Muzzle Energy: 301 Ft-Lbs | Penetration Depth: 14.7″)

    22 magnum

    22 magnum

    In 1959, Winchester released the 22 WMR, but didn’t chamber a rifle fo it until several other manufacturers had come out with multiple firearms for this excellent round. Although it lost significant popularity upon the arrival of the 17 HMR, the 22 WMR is now regaining significant influence due to the release of the V-Max, jacketed hollow point bullet, making this round effective against the likes of coyotes.

    Although these 28 grain, Winchester LF rounds are not V-Max, they still fly fast and true and are fantastic for range training. With the added accuracy of the hollow point bullets, these rounds are sure to perform without a hitch on the range.

    #3 – Armscor Precision .22 Magnum 40 Grain JHP (Muzzle Energy: 312 Ft-Lbs | Penetration Depth: 15.98″)

    22 magnum

    22 magnum

    Armscor started out in business in 1905 as a print shop in Manila, of all things. They began to sell imported hunting goods including ammunition, and eventually grew big enough to open an office in America in 1985. Now they churn out over 100 million rounds of ammo a year — affordable stuff, to be sure, but in no way undeserving of use for any number of applications.

    This 22 WMR cartridge’s chief use is for varmint hunting. Its 40 grain projectile’s partial jacket strengthens it for surer penetration through varmint hide, and controls the expansion that is next unleashed by its exposed core’s hollow point nose cavity. This round is SAAMI and CIP compliant, and features a brass casing, sensitive rimfire primer, and clean burning propellant. Run these rounds through either a pistol or a rifle and you’ll pleased with the result — absolute varmint wasting power, but also something you can afford to shoot targets with as well.

    #2 – CCI Maxi-Mag .22 Magnum 40 Grain HP (Muzzle Energy: 312 Ft-Lbs | Penetration Depth: 16.52″)

    22 magnum

    22 magnum

    This is .22 Magnum CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr. Hollow Point Ammo. CCI is known for their quality 22 Ammo. It comes packed in 50rd. reclosable plastic boxes.

    #1 – CCI Maxi-Mag+V .22 Magnum 30 Grain HP (Muzzle Energy: 322 Ft-Lbs | Penetration Depth: 16.76″)

    22 magnum

    22 magnum

    This is 22 Mag CCI Maxi-Mag +V 30gr. Hollow Point Ammo. That’s a “V,” as in “velocity.” CCI Maxi-Mag +V is the worlds first hypervelocity 22 Magnum load. A 17 percent increase in velocity over 40 grain 22 magnums makes Maxi-Mag +V a formidable varmint cartridge. This ammo is packed in 50rd. boxes.

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