These days, shooters are blessed with almost every type of firearm imaginable, from replicas of 18th-and 19th-century firearms to the most-modern of pistol and rifle designs, as well as shotguns for every possible use. We are blessed with more choices than were ever possible before in history.
However, there is a niche in the firearms market that needs to be filled, and that is a good, reliable, lightweight .22 LR pocket pistol.
Three decades ago, there were a few on the market, but most were cheap and unreliable and went away over time. A couple were really pretty good, such as the little Iver Johnson TP22 and the Walther TPH. The Walther was a bit ammo-sensitive but worked pretty well, if a bit on the heavy side.
Today, there are a couple of pocket-sized .22 pistols on the market, such as the Taurus and Beretta. But what I have been lobbying for in recent years is a .22 of modern design such as the Ruger LCP and the little Kel-Tec pocket guns. I am thinking they would sell like crazy, because everyone who owns the little .380 pocket pistols will want one for an understudy, and those who find the .380 too difficult to fire will want one as an alternative.
Making The Case
The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is no powerhouse, especially when fired from a short-barreled pocket gun, but it does have its uses. For defense, no one is recommending the .22 as a first-line primary fighting gun, but it can (and has) serve as a defensive pistol when needed.
The .22 Long Rifle makes a small hole, but it makes a hole, and most people do not want extra holes poked into them … they tend to leak blood and let in air. A pocket-sized .22 pistol can make those little holes very rapidly, without a lot of recoil and blast, so those who are recoil-sensitive find them easier to shoot well. The .22 LR bullets also penetrate pretty well to get to the important parts inside the body. As a backup gun to another primary defensive weapon, the .22 pistol can work as a last-ditch hideout. A lightweight .22 pistol can be carried without notice to either the carrier or to others.
Besides its use as a backup to a backup, a .22 polymer-framed pistol would make an excellent understudy for those who own and carry a small .32 or .380 pocket pistol. The .22 allows for economical practice with lighter recoil and is an excellent way to train a shooter who will be depending upon one of the centerfire variants as a daily carry gun. While neither the .32 nor the .380 is an ideal defensive pistol, both are carried daily by thousands of people as their primary and only means of defense, and a .22 understudy would allow for hours of inexpensive practice and lighter recoil.
Another good purpose for a small, lightweight pocket .22 is as a little trail companion, whether your trail carries you hiking in the wilderness or in more-urban settings.
Sometimes, things just need to be shot. Running into a raccoon or opossum in the chicken house or a cottonmouth down by the creek, a handy, little .22 that is always in the pocket can serve well to cleanly dispatch such critters. Such small, handy .22 pistols were once referred to as “kit guns,” because they were often included in a fisherman’s or hiker’s “kit” to have available if needed. I don’t hear that term used much anymore, but a .22 pistol is a very useful tool around camp for plinking or for putting meat in the camp pot.
Another great reason—and perhaps the most important—is that little .22 pistols are just fun to shoot. A .22 semiautomatic pistol and a brick of ammo make for a very fun and inexpensive afternoon of fun, especially away from the public range and out in the rural areas of our country. Plinking at targets-of-opportunity, such as rocks and sticks, or shooting biodegradable targets such as vanilla wafers or Lifesavers is fun and inexpensive; plus, the leavings help to feed birds and such. (A bonus of using Lifesavers candy is that the hole in the middle provides a good alibi if you miss but still claim that the small bullet went through the hole. No one can prove otherwise.)
So, there it is—my definition of the niche in the firearms market that needs filling. It is not as if I am asking for a stainless, highly polished Schofield replica or something. I have been shot down on that one a few times.
I am suggesting a dandy, little pistol I believe would have wide popular appeal and that would sell as well as the small polymer centerfire pistols sell—a pistol for which almost anyone could find a need.
Hopefully, this niche will be filled sooner rather than later.
Jeff Quinn is a full-time writer/ reviewer on Gunblast.com, an online gun magazine started in 2000. He has also written for the Gun Digest Annual and enjoys living life in the woods of Tennessee, where he raises Longhorn cattle … and his grandkids.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.