One could compare the variety of the rifle world to the diversity of countless biomes found on our planet. Every environment has its signature representatives of flora and fauna that are easily recognizable and often met. They live side-by-side with their less notable neighbors, outshining them and drawing all the attention to themselves. Such hermits can be found in every habitat, and our improvised rifle world is no exception.
While some calibers enjoy the laurels of popularity, others get frowned upon, with the mistrust developed to them preventing people from seeing their merits. Both .22 LR and 9mm are calibers that have a time-tested reputation for reliability, and many people all across the world enjoy shooting handguns chambered in them. The thing is, one of them is hardly the first choice for someone planning to buy a rifle. Some people don’t even consider 9mm rifles worth their attention, thinking it’s only viable in handguns.
Like a mother who loves her children despite all their flaws, Gritr Sports, being a gun store with an extensive firearm collection, believes that every caliber deserves to be judged fairly, based on its characteristics and performance rather than people’s prejudices. In this guide, we will compare .22 LR rifles with 9mm ones to discover their strong and weak sides.
22 LR Rifles
The renowned .22 LR caliber stands alone as a Rimfire Island in the Centerfire Sea. Acknowledged by handgun and rifle users, it earned a reputation of the most beginner-friendly caliber out there. It is extremely forgiving in terms of recoil – one of the main enemies of a precise shooter. Due to low production costs, 22 LR cartridges are the most affordable ammo one could possibly find.
Easy to handle and fun to shoot, 22 rifles have established themselves as the best guns for recreational shooting, firearms training, and small game hunting. They don’t shine in self-defense situations but can still inflict damage that could potentially tip the scales in your favor. Because of their structural peculiarities, 22 LR cartridges cannot be reloaded, but they make up for it by being shamelessly cheap.
The unmatched popularity of this caliber affected the number of rifle models available. There is a small army of all sorts of rifles chambered in .22 LR, so you will definitely find something to your liking. As you can understand, 22 rifles are members of the laureled group we mentioned in the very beginning. They may not have seen many hunting trips and haven’t stopped as many encounters as their more powerful siblings, but they keep nurturing new generations of shooters. Your first gun is always the most memorable one, and for many a shooter, it is a .22 LR.
The black ship of the rifle family, 9mm rifles bear the burden of some of the most underestimated firearms. While its close relative, a 9mm pistol, basks in the glow of love and appreciation, a 9mm rifle has to scrape through the thicket of mistrust and suspicion. Even though many well-known and respected brands like CZ, Sig Sauer, Beretta, and Colt produce their own variants of 9mm rifles, this caliber is often overlooked.
Maybe that is because all rifles, chambered in 9mm, are actually carbines and differ from regular rifles in that their barrel is shorter. But do people really think that a shorter barrel makes them less effective or good-looking? That we don’t know. But we know several reasons why 9mm makes for a fine rifle caliber.
First of all, we assure you that if a cartridge works well in a handgun, there is no way its effectiveness will drop in a rifle. The 9mm is rated as a caliber suited for self-defense, which means it’s quite capable of dealing sufficient damage. Now you can put your big-caliber elephant gun back in the attic or above the fireplace and take a look at something more compact. 9mm carbines are not a popular choice for everyday carry (guess why), but they can still fit the home-defense niche quite well.
Then, there is recoil, or to be more precise, the lack of it. The 9mm can boast one of the less-felt recoils among handgun calibers, so you can imagine how superior it is to rifles. Some will say: “If I wanted a 9mm recoil, I would simply buy a handgun”, but there are at least two reasons to choose a pistol-caliber carbine over a handgun: even less recoil and improved ballistics. Since carbines are bigger than handguns, the frame absorbs more recoil, conveying only the tiniest bit to you.
Carbines also have longer barrels, which gives the bullet more time to speed up and spin before exiting the barrel, so 9mm carbine ballistics is better than handguns’. As you can see, PCCs take the best from the two worlds and bring it in one package.
Now that we know a bit about both rifles, we can finally start comparing them. Even though 9mm is usually reserved for handguns, comparing these two calibers makes sense in a way: they both fall within the group of low-recoil calibers. Without further ado, let’s get down to comparing.
22 Rifle vs. 9mm Rifle
It’s not entirely fair to compare these two calibers since they were designed for different purposes. 22 LR is a rimfire cartridge that doesn’t possess enough power to be viable for inflicting significant damage. Of course, it’s all about the shooter’s mastery, and your eye will definitely feel the touch of a 22 LR cartridge, but a 9mm will take things further by exploring your inner world and leaving, showing everyone how vibrant and rich it is. No firearm is a plaything, but 9mm is a caliber adopted by many law enforcement agencies and police departments, which can’t be said about 22. LR.
Neither of the calibers suffers from notable recoil, but 22 LR is unmatched in this race. However, we are comparing two champions, so a silver medal is still a significant achievement. Those are also cartridges from different leagues: 22 LR is a rimfire, while 9mm is a centerfire. It’s honestly quite impressive that the latter can compete with the former. But .22 LR bears the title of the best caliber for beginners for a reason.
Cartridges for both calibers are relatively cheap, especially when comparing 9mm to rifle cartridges. If you are concerned about environmental impact, you can also find Lead-free Ammo options for both 22 LR and 9mm rifles.
The one that would be closest to 9mm is 7.62x39mm if we talk about rifles. But 22 LR once again takes the cake, this time, with a frosting lettering The Cheapest. It wouldn’t be a compliment in the majority of cases, but this time we seek caliber with the lowest price per round ratio. And no one can compare to 22 LR in this one. If we talk about rifles themselves, 9mm carbine prices tend to be lower than those of rifles chambered in more popular rifle calibers.
Nothing to win or lose here since possible applications are just different. You won’t use a pen to write on a whiteboard, but this doesn’t diminish the pen’s writing ability. 22 rifles shine where 9mm don’t, and vice versa.
If you are primarily interested in target shooting, either of them would do the job. If you want to shoot as many rounds as possible paying as little as you can, then 22 LR would be your choice. In case you like the two-world nature of a carbine and enjoy shooting it, you will lose nothing by choosing a 9mm rifle for target shooting.
For those looking for a hunting firearm, 22 and 9mm rifles won’t offer much. A 22 LR rifle fits the small-game niche pretty well, but 9mm is hardly a good choice: it will cause severe damage to hide and flesh, and you might have nothing to pick up after the shot. You might resort to it if all you need is killing vermin.
If you need a home-defense weapon, 9mm rifles make for good guardians of peace. That’s because their stopping power exceeds that of a 22 LR round. Equally important, 9mm inflicts low collateral damage, so you won’t be piercing your walls with bullets.
What is the bottom line of this article? One, 9mm rifles are great and deserve more appreciation than they get. Two, 9mm rifles and 22 rifles are good at what they were designed for and are not direct rivals. Three, choose a gun relying on your personal needs and not the gun’s fame or even performance. Sometimes, too little is just enough.