Ladies, have you been wondering what the best .22 pistol for women is? You’ll find far more detailed reviews online, and I’ve even provided links for each handgun I review, but from a woman’s point of view, here is what I liked and disliked about three different .22 handguns.
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Where I Started
The very first handgun I ever fired was a .22 Ruger, if I recall correctly. My husband and I took a quick, spontaneous detour to an indoor shooting range, and before I knew it, I was suited up with “eyes and ears,” aka safety goggles and ear plugs. Moments later, there I was. Standing in front of a target, with hubby alongside giving me my first shooting lesson with a .22 pistol.
3 Great Things About .22 Pistols
I still love shooting .22 handguns, and what’s not to love?
- The ammo is cheap,
- there’s virtually no recoil,
- and it’s generally very easy to become proficient with these little troopers.
To top it off, it’s not a bad self-defense weapon, either, but training and practice are key!
Which is the best .22 pistol?
In this article, I review three .22 handguns that I have personally owned and/used. They are the Walther P22, the Ruger Mark III 22 LR, and the Sig Sauer Mosquito.
This little pistol was the very first gun I personally owned. It’s light, compact, and has a solid feel in the hand.
If you decide to carry a .22, this fits easily into a holster and is fairly easy to conceal with a loose fitting blouse, shirt, or with a jacket. You can read a review of CanCan Concealment holsters here and the Flashbang holster review here. I own the Black/Black version and prefer it. If I ever need to pull out a gun at nighttime, I don’t want there to be a flash of anything light-colored or metallic to give away my position or the fact that I’m armed. I prefer, what I call, Ninja guns!
The P22 comes in other colors, including pink. (If you ever buy a pink gun, please don’t tell me. That’s just plain embarrassing!)
It also comes in two different barrel lengths, 3.43 and 5 inches. I own and use the smaller version.
The P22 comes with two easy-to-load magazines. With smaller and hands that aren’t exactly construction-worker tough, I appreciate magazines that don’t require an enormous amount of force to insert each and every round.
The P22 magazines are lightweight at just 1.8 ounces each, empty, and are small enough to tuck an extra inside a cosmetic bag. (See? I told you this review was for women!) Each magazine holds 10 rounds. The magazine release is directly under the trigger and is easy to find and operate. All in all, everything about the construction of the P22 is woman-friendly, but how does it shoot?
How does the P22 shoot?
After firing well over a thousand rounds with this pistol, I’ve noticed a real difference in accuracy depending on the ammunition used. This gun is a little finicky about what it’s fed. I find that I have more jams, which is precisely what you never want to experience in a self-defense situation.
Unlike our other handguns, I’ve found that the Walther gets really dry, and I have to keep a little bottle of oil on hand every time I use it. Also, because the gun is so lightweight, my accuracy is never as sharp as with a heavier .22 pistol, such as the Ruger Mark III.
Are laser sights worth the money?
When my husband bought the P22, he went all out and paid extra for the laser sights. Now, I don’t have the steadiest hands in the world when it comes to shooting. I mean, I’d make a really lousy surgeon. So, on the range when I was lining up a shot using the laser, the little red dot would dance all over the target. It’s hilarious, really, and I would start to laugh, sending the laser all over the range, literally. Now the only time we pull out the laser is when our cats are bored and need something to chase.
Does the Walther rate as the best 22 pistol?
All things considered, I give the Walther 3.5 out of 5 stars based on its great size and weight for carrying, light recoil, easy to load magazines, and decent price tag at $350 or so.
I mark it down a bit because accuracy is harder to maintain and its tendency to jam when not using the recommended ammo. You can read a detailed review of the updated P22 here. This handgun is easy for kids to operate and shoot, under supervision!
Ruger Mark III, 22 LR (Discontinued 2016)
“Ooooh! I like!”
Those were the first words out of my mouth when I got my hands on the Ruger Mark III. It fairly screeches, “Spy gun!” with its long barrel and very cool look.
The first think you notice, though, is that it would be very difficult to conceal this pistol without a wearing a long, black trench coat. However, it’s a boffo target shooting pistol and could be used for self-defense if you carried it in your car or stored it in a safe location at home. I’ve talked with gun nuts who tell me they love and own several of the Ruger Mark .22s.
Again, I prefer the all-black version for reasons mentioned above, but you’ll find it in other, probably more attractive, versions.
Ruger provides two choices of barrel length with the Mark III, 4.75 and 6 inches. I tested the model with the 6″ barrel. Any time you use a longer barrel, you’ll notice increased accuracy and less recoil. The shorter pistol weighs 35 ounces, the longer weighs 37 ounces.
This pistol has a few safety features moms will appreciate.
First, it’s equipped with a magazine disconnect safety feature, which prevents the gun from firing when the magazine is removed. It’s very possible for a round of ammunition to remain in the chamber, just waiting for a pull of the trigger. This feature would prevent an accidental shooting in that situation.
A second safety feature is the Mark III’s manual safety, which is easy to operate, and when the gun is loaded, a small metal bar protrudes along the left side of the receiver, or chamber. It can easily be seen or even felt with a finger, leaving no doubt as to whether or not the gun is loaded.
Loading, inserting, and releasing magazines are all simple and comfortable with this pistol. Again, my hands are probably about as strong as the average woman’s, and I hate struggling when it’s time to reload magazines. Just about everything with the Mark III is woman-friendly.
I found that my accuracy increased rapidly once I fired a few rounds at my target. The heavier gun and longer barrel provide an enjoyable shooting experience, and it was point, click, and hit right where I wanted the round to go.
Does the Ruger Mark III rate best 22 pistol?
I give the Ruger Mark III 4 out of 5 stars, and only mark it down because it isn’t a gun useful for concealed carry. Its price point is in the mid-$300 range, making it nicely affordable. For the woman looking for an accurate, easy to operate handgun, this one is a winner!
Sadly, the Ruger Mark III was discontinued 2016, although perhaps you can still find one somewhere. I’ll leave this review for those who might come across one. They now have the Ruger Mark IV, which is said to be easier to clean and troubleshoot, however, I haven’t use it.
Sig Mosquito (Discontinued 2013)
Prepare to fall in love with almost everything about the Sig Mosquito. Sig Sauer is my favorite gun manufacturer, second to none, so it was natural that I would begin longing for a Mosquito of my own.
I’ve used the Mosquito at the shooting range several times, and every time I start off loving it. I love the ergonomic grip, the size and weight of it, and the fact that it’s a .22 and, usually, fun to shoot. In many ways it’s the ideal. 22 pistol, and the fact that it’s a member of the Sig Sauer family is a huge plus. But then it jams, and jams again, and I realize that maybe it’s not so perfect after all, which is a shame.
To be fair, part of the problem with the particular gun is that it’s a range loaner and doesn’t get cleaned on a regular basis. However, “failure to feed”, FTF, has been an ongoing problem with this particular pistol, especially in the older models.
I tried using different types of ammo, and had better luck with CCI’s Velocitor .22 ammunition hollow points. The guys at BulkAmmo sent me a couple of boxes to try out, and this particular ammo turned out to be a good match with the Mosquito (as well as the Walther P22 and Ruger III). If you’re going to rely on a .22 for self-defense, don’t take chances with cheap ammo if you’re using this pistol. You don’t want to risk a jam at a critical moment.
(I keep a couple of magazines loaded with CCI ammo for when I’m using a particular handgun for concealed carry, but when I’m at the range, I use cheap Walmart ammo for practice.)
The Mosquito weighs a comfortable 24.6 ounces, with magazine, and has a price tag of about $400.
Then why is it so popular?
One of the reasons for the popularity of the Mosquito is that it looks and feels like a “real” gun, or at least that’s what hardcore gun-nuts say! It’s frame size is very close to the typical 9 mm or .40 caliber handgun. It doesn’t feel like a toy, but then, as a Sig Sauer, I didn’t expect anything less. In my experience, the slide, magazine ejector, and trigger are comfortable and easy to use.
Owners of the Mosquito report they were able to solve most or all of the FTF problems by, first, breaking in their new gun with 500-1000 rounds of CCI ammo. Some owners claim their Mosquitos are now happy with any .22 LR ammo, even the cheap stuff.
Does the Sig Mosquito rate best 22 pistol?
If your purpose for choosing a .22 pistol is for cheap practice, there are less expensive choices that are just fine with cheap ammo. If you want a handgun that has a solid feel and quality appearance, has the Sig Sauer brand name, and is good. Most of the time, the Sig Mosquito is a good choice.
For More Handgun Reviews and Info
If you’re loving handgun reviews and info, check out the podcast and website of my friend Bob Mayne, Handgun World.
What do you think are the best pistols for women?
Originally published 8/5/2011; updated by Team Survival Mom.