9mm Vs. .22: a Quick Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Ammo

9mm vs 22 ammo comparison

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A lot of people opt to have at least some sort of self-defense weapons in their house, and guns are one of the most popular options in the USA. In fact, about 42% of U.S. households had at least one gun in possession, as of 2020. And one of the most calibers that people use is either 9mm or 22mm.¬† It’s not an easy choice picking between the 9mm vs. 22. And while you may have heard a lot of people stating the clear difference between the 9mm and .22 is clear, with the 9mm round being more powerful, there is a lot more to know about these calibers. So to help you understand what each of these offers, as well as which caliber is best for you, we’ve compared the two popular bullet sizes in this article. Here we‚Äôll go through the history and key advantages of each caliber to determine which one is the best. We’ll also cover popular firearms that use .22 or 9mm, and more.

9mm vs. .22: Ammo Overview   

9mm Caliber

9mm vs. .22: Ammo Overview

The 9mm bullet dates back to 1902. It was initially a service cartridge in the famous Luger pistol (Pistole Parabellum). This cartridge is still one of the most used ammo for target practice because it’s relatively cheap. Plus, the tactical advantage from 9mm’s reduced recoil has made it popular in law enforcement. They can now reacquire targets quicker for more accurate follow-up shots. And the small size of the cartridge allows officers to load more ammo. The 9mm cartridge goes into popular handguns like Glock 19, Heckler & Koch VP9, and Sig P226. Plus, 9mm guns like Ruger PC Carbine and Kel-Tec SUB-2000 are a good budget option for a rifle. The two most widely used 9mm variations are the full-metal jacket ball and jacketed hollow points.

 Pros & Cons  

9mm Pros 9mm Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Mild recoil (improves accuracy)
  • Small size, you can fit more of them in a magazine
  • Noisy
  • Too powerful to hunt small game

.22 Caliber  

22 Caliber

.22 caliber rimfire cartridge dates back to 1871. Initially loaded into revolvers, it soon gained a good reputation as an excellent hunting rifle cartridge. Most 9mm vs. .22 reviews points out that the .22 cartridge makes less noise, which is especially good for novice shooters. Because newbies are often startled by the loud noise of some cartridges which can make them lose focus or get startled. So a low-noise cartridge like .22 allows beginners to focus on the correct technique. The main advantages of .22 caliber are very similar to 9mm. The cartridges are lightweight, making them perfect for a bolt bag you have to carry for many hours. Low recoil allows you to quickly return to the target, making this cartridge suitable for hunting. People are also using the .22 for self-defense because it has lots of penetration power. The .22 cartridge comes in many different variations. The most common type is the .22 Long Rifle (LR). It has a heeled bullet, meaning that its diameter is the same that the case around it has. The “heel” part is narrower to fit the case. .22 ammo is used in a lot of popular handguns like Walther P22 or Ruger SR22 pistol. It’s also widely used in hunting rifles like Marlin Model 60 or Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle.

Pros & Cons     

.22 Pros .22 Cons
  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • Effective against animals
  • Low Recoil
  • Cheap
  • ¬†
  • Not much shock value, low speed
  • Shooting has to be accurate

9mm vs. .22 Comparison     

To figure out, which is a better option, let’s take a look at the 9mm vs. .22 reviews and see what they can be used for:


According to a study about shootings in Boston, bullet size affected the death rate from shooting wounds. .22 compared to 9mm was less lethal. But to stop an attacker, you need to strike something critical and cause a good deal of pain. 22LR vs. 9 mm ballistics gel tests show that, unlike a 9mm round, the .22 bullet often fails to penetrate. At least not deep enough to hit a vital organ. Plus, the bullet’s hollow points expand very little. And of course, the .22LR is a lot more comfortable to shoot thanks to the low noise. So you can fire your gun rapidly and accurately.¬† On the other hand 9mm, designed for combat, is much more powerful. It penetrates deep into ballistic gel. Plus, 9mm guns are very accurate. You can fit this cartridge into a Glock 43X or 9mm 1911 magazines. Some top-rated small pocket pistols like Kimber Micro will also work fine with this cartridge. Either way, you’ve got an effective gun for home defence.¬†


When talking about .22LR vs. 9mm for the hunt, then the former is a winner in this regard. That is because the 9mm cartridge is mostly for handguns. But you can fit the .22LR ammo in some of the best hunting rifles on the market, like the .300 or 308 rifle. The problem with the 9mm round is that it will damage the meat of your prey, especially when you’re hunting smaller animals. The .22LR is perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game. The bullet kills the animal without damaging the meat much. Plus, the rifle shooting .22LR ammo is quiet, so you won’t scare off other animals in the area.

Target shooting     

.22 vs. 9mm is a hard choice when it comes to simple target shooting. Both cartridges are very accurate. Plus, they’re cheap. You can buy plenty of ammo for an entire day of shooting at the range. The main downside of .22LR ammo is that it’s too easy to shoot. So if you’re looking for more challenges and want to train your self-defense skills, go with 9mm. In terms of the cost, .22 vs. 9mm is pretty much a draw.

Competition Shooting     

The winner of .22 caliber vs. 9mm in competition shooting depends on the type of competition. Bulls-eye tournaments tend to prefer the .22 caliber ammo because of the low noise levels. But the 9mm is more suitable for tactical competitions. 3 gun competitions that involve speed, quick draw, and defensive shooting, require a centerfire handgun. And most of these fire 9mm.


So this was our comparison of the two popular ammo sizes, .22 and 9mm. They’re both cheap and reliable ammo, but they each have advantages in different situations. 9mm ammo is for battle use, and it’s more effective for self-defense. But you wouldn’t want to go hunting small game with a powerful 9mm gun. If you’re buying your first gun, you should go with the 9mm for better self-defense capabilities. And for the second gun, you can get a .22 rifle to go hunting. So the choice between 9mm vs. .22 ammo ultimately depends on how you intend to use the gun, so keep that in mind and choose accordingly.