Who Made the List: 6 Top .22 Caliber Pistols for 2019

By Vitaly V. Kuzmin - Vitalykuzmin.net, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29146766
June 10, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: PistolsHandgunsGuns.22Self Defense

Who Made the List: 6 Top .22 Caliber Pistols for 2019

What would you have picked?

All this said, there are a few factors that mean that the Sig Mosquito is not suitable for absolutely everybody:

  • The slightly smaller size can be a problem if you are particularly large. Some of the guys who tested this pistol felt that it was hard to use for this reason.

Overall, however, the Sig Mosquito offers amazing value. If you are looking for a .22 pistol that gives you all the features you would expect in a premium item, while not breaking the bank, this is the one to go for.


A very common problem with .22 pistols is that the flared rounds tend to jam pretty easily. For this reason, for many years we have recommended getting a .22 revolver pistol.

A revolver keeps the rounds separated better, and reduces the possibility of the gun jamming. This was good as far as it went, but down the range it is a little annoying to shoot a revolver – sometimes you just need more ammunition than it can carry.

Luckily, recent advances in manufacturing now mean it is possible to make magazine-fed .22 pistols that are really reliable, no matter what ammunition you chuck at them.

This is the case, for instance, with the Walther P22. In all of our tests, whether using powerful premium ammunition or junk cartridges, it ate them all.

Being designed from scratch as a .22 pistol, and not as a scaled-down version of a full-sized gun, this pistol also works very well in most other respects:

  • First and foremost, it looks really great. This should not be a surprise, of course, because the pistol is a Walther. While James Bond probably doesn’t use .22s very often, if he ever did this would be his choice.
  • In terms of accuracy, this gun is dead on. This is likely aided by the fact that the gun features a fixed barrel, which helps to reduce vibration during firing and keeps the pistol zeroed. The sights themselves can be adjusted for windage, and the front sights can be swapped out to change their elevation.
  • Another great thing about this pistol is the threaded barrel, which does not require a thread adapter nut to fit a silencer.
  • And back to that magazine. The action is really smooth, and the gun went through a few hundred rounds of variable quality ammunition with no problem, which is quite a mean feat for a .22 pistol. The magazine release is on the trigger guard, which might seem a bit strange to some in the US, but is quite common in Europe and only takes a small amount of practice to get used to.

In terms of disadvantages, this pistol has one drawback:

  • This is the slide mounted safety catch. I know it’s a personal preference, though one I also know is shared by a lot of people, but I find safeties like this very annoying to use.

Apart from that, however, if you are looking for a .22 pistol with a hugely reliable magazine, the Walther P22 is the one to go for.

If you are fed up of your .22 pistol jamming every time you go down the range, it is probably time to get a new one, and this Walther is one of the best.


Ah, plinking. The quintessential American pastime.

If you’ve recently had a kid and want to re-live those childhood memories of shooting at cans in the back yard, a .22 pistol is by far the best weapon to buy.

However, what you are looking for in a plinking gun is slightly different from the high-performance handguns I have reviewed above.

There is no need, with a .22 pistol for plinking, for quick reloading speeds. Taking it slow is what plinking is all about, after all.

Equally, it’s not necessary that your plinking gun is a super-lightweight firearm that you can carry concealed all day. This gun is going to stay locked up at home for most of the time, save for occasional trips out to the backyard.

Our recommendation for the best .22 pistol for plinking is therefore to get a revolver, and specifically the S&W Model 17. This gun was originally designed back in 1931, and has been used by several generations for plinking, making it perhaps the original gun for this purpose.

In addition, it has several big advantages as a .22 pistol for plinking:

  • It will last for ever. Seriously, I know people who’ve had a Model 17 almost since they were introduced, and with regular care it will essentially never wear out.
  • It’s actually really accurate for such an old gun. Whilst having pin-point accuracy is not necessarily required in a pistol for plinking, it certainly helps. Your life is not going to be endangered by missing a plinking target, of course, but ultimately you should be improving your shooting skills every time you handle a gun, and for that reason it is frustrating if a gun can’t hit what you are pointing it at.
  • The classic design of this revolver means that it is great for teaching kids about weapons, and about weapon safety. You – and they – can see precisely how the gun works, and this makes it a good educational tool.

That said, there is one drawback to this gun:

  • The lack of any safety features. I mean, obviously they were not thinking about this back in the 1930s, but in comparison to some modern pistols you need to be a little more careful with this one.

Overall, though, I think this revolver is the best for plinking. The fact that it is arevolver means that it will never jam, and the classic design and feel give an extra element to messing around in the backyard.

If you are looking for a weapon you can keep in the shed, and just take out to fire off a few rounds occasionally, this is the one for you.


Last, but of course not least, we come to the best .22 pistol for target shooting.

\What we are looking for here is accuracy, of course, but bear in mind that accuracy is about a lot more than just machining tolerances.

In order to hit a target reliably, you need to be completely comfortable with a gun, and that means that it needs to have an ergonomic design.

Our recommendation in this category will come as no surprise to .22 competition shooters – the Browning Buckmark.

You’ll notice that this pistol is a little different from the others we have chosen, being a sports pistol rather than a classic design, but for target shooting you really need something that is specifically designed for the task.

This pistol is great for the following reasons:

  • Despite the barrel and slide being significantly smaller than the other .22 pistols I’ve reviewed above, this one still comes with a full-sized grip. This means that the pistol stays still and stable in your hand, improving accuracy.
  • The Buckmark comes with an integrated scope mount, simply because so many people use this pistol for hunting. Even without a scope fitted, the sights are completely adjustable.
  • The recoil on this pistol is almost imperceptible. There is a very slight jolt, and that it is. For this reason, the Buckmark is often used to train new shooters, because it is so easy to handle. It also means that when unloading a few rounds in a go, you aim will stay true.
  • The accuracy of this .22 pistol is something else. Even a child can hit a tin can with this.

The only disadvantage of the Buckmark is perhaps the fact that:

  • The trigger is extremely light, so new shooters should exercise caution when using this pistol.

Overall, however, if you are looking for a .22 pistol for target shooting, and one that will ensure pin-point accuracy, this Browning is the one to go for.


So there you go. Six .22 pistols, all great, and even better for specific circumstances.

If you still don’t own a .22 pistol, now is the time to reconsider adding one to your armory. Whilst not offering the power of larger caliber pistols, they can be reliable, long-lasting, and most importantly great fun.

For serious shooters, getting a .22 pistol is a great an inexpensive way of squeezing in more training. And, if you are looking to train someone up to fire a pistol, getting a .22 pistol is the logical place to start.

So think about your priorities, have at look at our reviews above, and make sure you get the perfect .22 pistol for your purposes.

This article by Will Ellis originally appeared at Gun News Daily in 2019.

Image: Wikipedia.