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Old August 4, 2013, 08:03 PM   #1
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Is .22 Cal the Best for Handgun Training?

I've been shooting awhile, but my wife is new to handguns. She currently owns a .380. Because of the price of ammo, one of our friends told us that she should be practicing with a .22 handgun. The purpose he states is: 1) price per round and 2) muscle memory. I can see some logic to this but I am just not sure. Practicing with the handgun she will use to defend herself seems to make more sense to me - getting used to the weight, feel and kick after each shot. I have taught her how to squeeze the trigger through "dry fire" so this idea seems to have some merit. Is a .22 the best to train and target practice with? I would appreciate your advice. Thanks
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Old August 4, 2013, 08:17 PM   #2
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So, you may be able to find a nice .22caliber to purchase and it fits.....
where you gonna find ammo ?
Changing horses in the river at this point of panic times is fine....provided you have the ammo to go with it.
If you have plenty of .22lr, then buy a gun that shoots it.
If you don't, then spend your time and money finding more ammo for the gun you have.
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Old August 4, 2013, 08:30 PM   #3
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It's pretty common to recommend a .22LR for less expensive practice, and there's good logic behind that recommendation. Lower ammunition cost (usually), lower recoil and less blast & flash are all conducive to helping a new shooter develop without bad habits.

Significant differences betwee the .22LR training weapon and the defensive weapon will reduce the value a little, but fortunately there is a wide variety of .22LR handguns available. You should be able to find one that is a good match for the defensive handgun.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old August 4, 2013, 08:56 PM   #4
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She currently has the Walther PK380. Walther makes the same gun in a.22LR. If I do this I think this would be the best plan - same feel and virtually the same gun. I do already have the 22LR ammo for our rifle, so ammo is not the issue. Is it worth it in the long run to train with the 22?
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Old August 4, 2013, 09:12 PM   #5
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Nearly anything that gets a shooter to the range more often and putting more rounds downrange is going to help at least some.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old August 4, 2013, 09:56 PM   #6
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I'm not a fan of practicing with a 22 If you'll be firing a larger caliber in self-defense. Much of what you need to learn to hit something has to do with overcoming recoil, flinching, etc. Start with a 22 If you have one, but get to the "real" gun soon. While it will help you to learn proper trigger control, it won't be the same trigger. After she learns to pull the trigger correctly, she needs to learn to pull it quickly.
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Old August 4, 2013, 10:15 PM   #7
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Why stop at 22? By that rationale you should have her train on airsoft. ;-)

Honestly, if she will be carrying the pk380 then it would be unwise to train with a p22. The recoil factor is first and foremost. Additionally, although similar in design, the p22 has a slide lock and manual safety. They are similar, but still very different guns. I would bite the bullet on the cost of ammo...
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Old August 4, 2013, 11:05 PM   #8
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if you wanna shoot more and get practice, look in to buying a cheap lee reload press, once you get one you will see how easy and affordable it is. i don't mind practicing on other weapons, but i try to practice the most using the gun i carry. i also do not leave the range w/o my carry gun being the last gun i shoot before i go home.
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Old August 4, 2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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Is .22 Cal the Best for Handgun Training?
In a word, absolutely! The fundamentals are the same no matter what you're shooting and nothing builds skill like trigger time. As such, nothing affords more trigger time than the .22LR. 99% of the fundamentals occur before recoil, so recoil is really a tiny portion of shooting.
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Old August 4, 2013, 11:43 PM   #10
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Too many people have been permanently turned off shooting by starting with too much gun, usually on the recommendation of some "experienced" shooter. I have seen a slight woman try to fire a .44 Magnum and end up in pain while her husband laughed at her for being a wimp. I would not be surprised if she ended up hating guns and maybe even campaigning against them.

Yes, it is a great idea to start with a .22. And don't believe the macho BS that a .22 is worthless for defense. "If you shoot me with that and I find out...." was said by a very stupid (and maybe very dead) man.

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Old August 5, 2013, 06:08 AM   #11
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Buy a .22lr that both of you can enjoy. To many shooters here look at only the training with what you carry and that does pay off if you ever need your carry gun but shooting is not just and only about being at your best with you carry gun. That's also assuming you can afford the ammo. You have to have some kind of fun aspect to shooting too.

Something to make a day at the range also enjoyable and nothing does that like a .22lr. from target plimking to fun matchs. Now if you can buy a .22lr in a handgun like what your wife carries you can build on muscle memory, draw and fire drills just two keep it simple and cheaper as the years go by and all ways finish up with your CC pistol.

You should still own a larger sized enjoyable .22lr .

Bottom line, buy a .22lr, a very different feeling pistol for a very different use, FUN. And regaurless of anything else you will still be shooting that same .22 in 30 to 50 years from today.

My first pistol was a colt woodsman 6" barrel. It still gets used at the range 50 years later and theres nothing like picking off small objects at 10 to 25 yards with it. Shooting up a 100 or 200 rounds . That pistol has for me nothing to do with personal defense or hunting with a handgun, just fun.

I also have a .22lr snubby that was the same size and make as the 38sp snubby handgun I carried for 20 years that was also used for cheap carry practice with draw a fire drills and to say it does not help just shows the lack of skill and knowledge as a firearm owner.

I would bet that .22lr snubby revolver have 26,000 rounds shot thru it in its 26 year life. Don't think I could not draw and fire it or my 38sp egually as well by sharing practicing time with the .22lr .

Some of use carry and practice for that. Hunt with a handgun , a very differ handgun and practice for that and own handguns simply for the fun you can get from them.

Nothing wrong with a airsoft ether. Shoot in your house basement when you can't get away or weather sticks. It all worth while.
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Old August 5, 2013, 06:40 AM   #12
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Is .22 Cal the Best for Handgun Training?

I was planning on going down the .22LR route but after and afternoon of shooting a 9mm, I decided against it. Now, that's not to say your wife should not get a .22. But do it for fun and just to get shooting time in. She does need to get what works for HER, not what you think works for her. Sounds like she has a .380 that she likes and also there is a model of the same gun in .22LR. That might be good to go with, if the feel is right and she will enjoy shooting it.
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Old August 5, 2013, 07:15 AM   #13
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If you shoot me with a 22 and I find out. . .

"If you shoot me and I find out about it, I'm going to turn you across my knee."


I hope I got the quote right. It's from Mark Twain's "Roughing It", a mostly true story, so he says, of his stagecoach trip across the American west. The gun he carried was a Smith & Wesson top break 22, a No. 1, if memory serves me correctly. The old Smith & Wesson top break will chamber a modern 22, but you would risk damaging the gun, if you touched one off in it. It was designed to shoot black powder 22's probably closer in power to our CB caps. Twain showed the gun to a fellow passenger and that's where the 'turn you across the knee' quote came from. Mark Twain was a great humorist, but I wouldn't particularly look to him for practical gun advice. I wouldn't want to be shot with a 22 of any persuasion.

I think your observation about new shooters being turned away by starting them with something too big is exactly right. Even a 380 can have a sharp bark to a beginning shooter.
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Old August 5, 2013, 07:19 AM   #14
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I shoot my .22 pistols mainly for fun, and when at the range I shoot them last, after I have shot my centerfire pistols. The reason for this is that there is very little recoil with .22, and I find my technique can get sloppy with how I grip the pistol, and handle recoil. While some things translate from shooting a .22 to shooting a larger caliber pistol with recoil, I would not rely on .22 to help your centerfire pistol skills that much.

Buy the .22 to have fun with, and have another excuse to go to the range. I would NOT get the Walther P22, but something more accurate and reliable, like a Ruger MK II or Browning Buckmark.
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Old August 5, 2013, 08:06 AM   #15
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I will suggest that as noted previously, .22 is hard to find right now. .380 is easier to find, in part due to the smaller population of folks who actively shoot it.

I will add a vote for saving all of the .380 brass and reloading. I made a bunch of .380 reloads that only go out at 600 feet per second (factory SD ammo moves at 1000 fps). Allows training on the fundamentals with .22 level recoil, using the carry gun. And if you pick up your brass you don't have to haunt Walmart for when the .22 comes in. And you might get good-guy points for spending hours making a very special load just for the spouse.....

Best of luck,

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Old August 5, 2013, 08:39 AM   #16
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Shooting fundamentals can be learned and practiced cheaper on a .22. These fundamentals translate to bigger caliber pistols even when the trigger systems are not exactly the same between pistols. Proper grip, sight acquisition, trigger reset, etc. can be studied and practiced with a .22LR.
Recoil management training maybe the weakest when using .22LR; Not lost, just lessened.

I have been shooting for a while. I still use my 22LR pistols more than any of my centerfires.
22 ammo maybe difficult to get now but It will come back and will still be cheaper than any centerfire.
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Old August 5, 2013, 10:05 AM   #17
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My suggestion is the same as SKIZZUMS. Get the simplest possible reloading press. You can even reload less powerful rounds to control recoil. Then she will practice with the same pistol and work up to thr same ammo she will be carrying. Also, you will find the cost simllar to the 22lr.

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Old August 5, 2013, 01:49 PM   #18
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Stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control can all be practiced very inexpensively with a .22 handgun. With the OP's idea, manual of arms will be the same, too. The only difference is recoil management.

For those who say that practice with a .22 is useless because of the decreased recoil: Do you practice and advocate dry fire?
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Old August 5, 2013, 02:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by James K
Too many people have been permanently turned off shooting by starting with too much gun, usually on the recommendation of some "experienced" shooter. I have seen a slight woman try to fire a .44 Magnum and end up in pain while her husband laughed at her for being a wimp. I would not be surprised if she ended up hating guns and maybe even campaigning against them.
I've seen this too often.

One doesn't teach anyone to love shooting by making it awful.

As to the PK380 specifically, it does have a mild recoil and a very small grip. Both traits are nice to have for a woman who is new to shooting. However, I sold the example I had because accuracy was pretty terrible.

I don't believe one can work toward the form and practice of accuracy with a very inaccurate firearm. The shooter can't know whether being wide of the mark is a failure of form, or just the firearm.
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Old August 5, 2013, 03:55 PM   #20
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Thank you all. It looks kinda like a split down the middle; which tells me my friend isn't so crazy after all. I think I will take her and myself to purchase a couple of .22LR. I forgot about one step when considering this option that some of you reminded me of....having fun too. Thanks for all the input. Off to the gun store....maybe I was just looking for an excuse to go buy more guns? Nah, who needs an excuse.
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Old August 5, 2013, 04:16 PM   #21
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Let me further explain what I said earlier in the thread. For a NEW shooter, I think a .22 pistol can be a valuable training tool. For an experienced shooter, it may still aid technique, but for me personally I find it can hamper my centerfire shooting it I just shoot .22 without alternating to larger calibers during a range session.

Get the .22's.
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Old August 5, 2013, 04:48 PM   #22
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It's all about money,,,

I shoot a lot of .22 because that's what I can afford to shoot the most of.

If I were a rich man I would shoot much more 9mm and .38 special.

I own several "pairs" of guns,,,
Such as my Model 15 in .38 Special,,,
And my Model 18 which is chambered for 22 LR.

The guns are identical except for the cartridge,,,
Except for the recoil factor they shoot much the same.

My typical routine (before the rimfire ammo shortage) was 50 rounds of rimfire,,,
Followed by one or two cylinders of centerfire ammo,,,
Repeat as often as desired.

There is no definitive answer to your question,,,
I feel that shooting a lot (even with the measly rimfire cartridge),,,
Has mad me a better shot than if I would have shot the same money in centerfire only.

Other people say that you should only practice with your main caliber,,,
They believe the recoil is very important for consistency,,,
I don't think either side can claim to be "right".

Can you afford for her to practice enough with a .380,,,
So that she has confidence in her abilities?

If so there isn't a problem,,,
Wear that .380 out.

If cash is limited,,,
You might consider a .22 for her.

Make your decision on what you think is feasible,,,
Not what we Internet experts say.


Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old August 5, 2013, 05:01 PM   #23
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Make sure - both your training - and her training are fun !! Shake up the routine....set up an interesting course of fire ( some reloads, etc )...and put some stress into it with a shot timer.

I agree with the sentiment that whatever it takes to get you both to the range more often, is it the best, maybe not .../ but its hard to argue that a .22 is bad for your training - especially if the .22 has a similar manual of arms.

Some guns have .22 conversion kits...where you use the same lower frame and change the slide isn't perfect either ( weight is different, recoil, etc...) but if you can't afford to train with the .380 ...( or the 9mm, or .45 acp or whatever ) its another option.
But many of us carry larger calibers ...( like .40S&W or .45 acp ) and we train with the same identical gun in 9mm as an example - for roughly 1/2 to 2/3's of the cost ...../ but yes, I'd use the .22 if that was the least expensive option ...and dry firing...or whatever....

Reloading, if you like it, is another way to stretch your ammo budget ...and shoot 3 times more with the same ammo budget....( plus I like reloading as part of the hobby )....
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Old August 5, 2013, 05:53 PM   #24
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I got a 22/45 and I love it but I ended up getting a conversion for my 1911, its great to practice with the gun Im practicing for!
Finding ammo is still a problem BUT I got an airsoft gun (I know) and its the same size weight and function as a real 1911!
Im shooting cardboard challenge in my backyard
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Old August 6, 2013, 01:30 PM   #25
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Thank you everyone. Great advice on both sides of the discussion. Thats the way it's always supposed to happen. I appreciate it very much.
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