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.22 vs 9 mm (Bug-out Bag)

Are you trying to choose between the.22 vs 9 mm for Bug-out Bag? At first glance, 9mm seems like the clear choice. It has more kinetic energy and is specifically designed for combat, but 9mm ammo is much heavier than .22lr, and it has some other drawbacks when comparing .22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness.

The issue when choosing between the two calibers is the pack weight.

I am not a professional, and I’m siding with 22lr more to be the devil’s advocate and to induce you to consider which ammo will fit your particular survival scenario. I hope this information helps you plan what ammo to load in your bug-out bag.

In A bug-out bag used for hiking out, the 22lr is a better cartridge than 9mm based on the ammunition weight. 500 cartridges of .22lr weigh 3.95lb. 500 rounds of 9mm Ruger weigh 13.15 pounds, 9.2 pounds heavier than 22lr, significant when trying to get go-bag weight within 20% of your body weight.

Interesting Fact: A stock AR 15 with a 16″ barrel, iron sights, and no bling weighs 6.5lb. With one 30-round magazine, it weighs 7.5lb. A Ruger 10/22 takedown weighs 4.6lb.

.22 vs 9 mm (Bug Out Bag Weight)

It comes down to pack weight and the ability to move fast. Let’s look at an example of a 200lb man building a bug out bag with all the necessities of survival.

The suggested pack weight for a 200lb man is 40lb. Choosing 9mm cartridges over 22lr sacrifices room in your pack that takes the place of other emergency gear like food or protective clothing.

Most hikers who finish the Appalachian trail go ultra-light, carrying loads as light as 22 lbs. Hiking long-haul is brutal on the body, especially with an overweight go-bag.

Overweight Go-Bag: 4 Effects

I have first-hand experience hiking over 110 miles through rough terrain. I reached the point where the only thing that mattered was if I could eat and drink. Everything extra, everything non-essential, was dumped and irrelevant.

#1 More calories are burned

Hopefully, you have enough food in your go-bag to sustain bugging-out

#2 More hydration is necessary

Finding and treating drinking water takes precious time, so it’s in your best interest to minimize it.

#3 Injury is more likely

Ankle, foot, back, and neck injuries increase

#4 Morale goes down

Carrying too much weight is painful. Once the blisters form, you twist an ankle, or your neck and shoulders are on fire. You want to stay in one place.

If you are interested in learning more about bugging out in a catastrophe, check out Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, “16 Elements of a Bug-out bag.”

Vehicle Bug-Out (.22 vs 9 mm)

If you plan to bug out in a vehicle, ammo weight isn’t as much of an issue. Go ahead and load the largest caliber cartridges you’ve got; throw in extra pistols and rifles for good measure.

Is there a problem, though? There is a high probability that you will end up on foot. Your vehicle may run out of gas. You could drive up on an impassable blockade or be forced out of your vehicle by emergency personnel.

Load your vehicle up with high-powered ammo but have a lightweight go-bag with 22lr for exiting the vehicle and moving out on foot.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency discusses exiting your vehicle and moving out on foot. It’s in their guidelines for handling catastrophes and natural disasters. Following are some charts you can use to compare the weights of the more common cartridge types.

Chart #1: Pistol and Carbine Cartridge Ammunition Weight

# of Cartridges.22lr
.380 ACP
.38 Spcl.
.40 S&W
.45 ACP
50.391.07 1.441.321.631.282.352.54
100.79 2.132.882.633.253.564.695.07
These weights are estimated and can vary based on the weight of various primers, bullets, and casing types.

Chart#2: Rifle Cartridge Ammunition Weight

# of Cartridges .22lr
50.391.275 1.815 2.32.672.95 3.40
100 .792.553.634.605.345.916.81
These weights are estimated and can vary based on the weight of various primers, bullets, and casing types.

.22 lr Is the Cheapest Ammo (.22 vs 9 mm)

.22lr ammo is hands down the least expensive ammunition you can purchase. If you’re prepping, you know how things add up. It’s good that .22lr is cheap, so you can shoot proficiently with your weapon.

The military trains infantry ad nauseum with their weapons. They want a soldier’s reactions to become muscle memory. The only way to handle a weapon as second nature is to shoot a lot of ammo.

.22 is Good For Training

Use you .22 until it’s burned into your muscle memory. The damage sustained when firing a weapon in self-defense almost always lies with the shooter’s skill. This brings up another point, if you aren’t shooting a lot, you will not be effective when the time comes.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of shooting good and bad shooting practices.

Train With Your Guns

If you don’t train there is no need to compare 22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness. Get comfortable with how to load, draw and fire your survival weapon. A person with a substandard caliber crappy knock-off weapon and a high level of training has the upper hand against a person who just took their first rifle out of the box.

Don’t Be This Guy

He or she has a Glock44 22lr semi-auto with 10 rounds. This person has taken the gun out of the box once or twice. They don’t know where the safety is, how to use the slide, or how to align the sites.

They may not even know how to load rounds into the magazine. The gun was an idea but never became a useful tool. This person’s mantra was “get it and forget it.”

Be This Guy

This guy or gal has a .22 Ruger Wrangler single-action revolver that holds 6 rounds.

He has a .22lr because that’s what he plans on taking in his bug-out bag. He knows how to remove the cylinder, clean the gun, reload and draw the hammer to fire.

He likes to go to the range on the weekend and see how fast he can get the hammer back, how fast he can fire, and still get a good grouping. He knows his revolver shoots high and to the right.

Chart #3: .22 Cost Per Cartridge

Company22lr Price Per cartridge
Caliber Armory23.7¢
Fast Ship Ammo23.7¢
Ventura Munitions.24¢
Clark Amory.24¢
Old Arms Of Idaho.25¢
Top Gun Ammo.26¢
Outdoor Limited27.5¢
Fin Feather Fur Outfitters27.7¢
Gold and Guns.29¢
Kosher Surplus.30¢
Ex Ammo38.7¢
Information is taken from Ammoseek.com

Average Cost Of One .22 Cartridge is .25¢.

# of CartridgesCost At .25¢ Per Round
These costs were taken during the ammo Shortage of 2020/2021. Prices may vary. Cost does not include shipping and handling.

Chart #4: 9mm Ammo Cost Per Cartridge

Company9mm Price Per Round
Foxhole Armament.65¢
Miwall Corporation65.2¢
Ventura Munitions69.9¢
True Shot Gun Club.70¢
Palmetto State Armory.72¢
J&G Sales.77¢
Surplus Ammo.80¢
Ammo Center Mass89.9¢
Kosher Surplus.90¢
Outdoor Limited.90¢
Top Shelf Ammo.90¢
Cost Information is taken from Ammoseek.com

Average Cost of one 9mm Cartridge is .77¢.

# of CartridgesCost At .77¢ Per Round
These costs were taken during the ammo Shortage of 2020/2021. Prices may vary. Cost does not include shipping and handling.

Ease Of Shooting (.22 vs 9 mm)

Nobody is going to argue about which is easier to shoot. Hands down, the .22lr wins. With almost zero recoils, it’s more like shooting a BB gun than a firearm.

The 9mm has 3x the power of a 22lr cartridge, but it’s also snappier with more recoil. Recoil makes it more challenging to get back on target after you shoot a round.

How Loud is a .22 vs 9 mm When Fired?

  • .22lr is 140 dB, Hardly audible at 1/4 mile
  • 9mm is 160 dB- Hardly audible at 1 mile

Penetration (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

The 9mm is specifically designed for combat sidearms. and gives more round penetration and kinetic energy than the .22lr.

Kinetic energy and penetration are normally what stop an attacker.

In close quarters a 9mm is a deadlier round. Of course, this depends on the shot placement; either caliber will put a person in a world of hurt with a properly placed shot.

Velocity (.22 vs 9 mm)

The 9mm has a higher velocity than the typical .22lr round. 9mm 115gr, FMJ rounds move at a speed of 1,246.7 feet per second (FPS). The highest rate for a standard 22lr, 40 gr is 1,070 fps.

These velocities vary based on load, bullet, casing, and primer.

Hunting (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

When hunting, shot placement or where the round hits will determine a kill shot. Still, the average prepper will be better off with a .22 when hunting in a survival situation. ,22 vs 9 mm effectiveness depends greatly on the shooter’s skill.

If you are lucky day-to-day, sustenance will be supplied by a small game like squirrels, rabbits, and food you can forage as you move.

Large games such as Deer and elk are much more challenging to hunt than squirrels and rabbits. You need larger cartridges than the .22lr and the 9mm to hunt big game animals.

I don’t suggest shooting a black bear or a hog with a 9mm you might be what’s for supper.

9 mm vs 22 Accuracy and Distance: Best Case Scenario

Effective Range
Effective Range
22lr25 Yards150 Yards
9mm50 Yards100 Yards
Effective Range depends on powder load, bullet weight, barrel length, type of site used, wind drift, air pressure, altitude, humidity, temperature, and shooting skill.

.22 vs 9 mm for self-defense

When comparing 22 vs 9 mm effectiveness, both the .22 and 9 mm rounds are lethal beyond most shooters’ ability to shoot them accurately.

Watch Iraq Veteran8888 using the U.S. Armies’ 1/2″ pine board penetration test to show the potency of the .22lr and the 9mm from various distances.

.22 Pine Board Penetration Test

Iraq Veteran8888: How far will a .22 LR Kill? (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

9 mm Pine Board Penetration Test

Iraq Veteran8888: How Far Will A 9mm kill? (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

Reliability (.22 lr vs 9 mm)

You have a much better chance of a 9mm round firing when you pull the trigger than a .22lr.

this is because.22lr is rimfire ammunition which tends to be less reliable than centerfire ammo like the 9mm.

Here are some other issues with 22lr reliability. Most of them can be fixed by cleaning and oiling your gun and using premium ammunition and accessories.

7 Reasons .22 Isn’t As Reliable As 9mm

#1 The Weapon You choose (.22 lr vs 9 mm)

Some 22lr pistols and rifles are very unreliable. You won’t see this much with 9mm carbines, pistols, and revolvers.

#2 Quality of Ammunition

Cheaply made .22lr ammunition can be very unreliable. Higher-priced 22lr cartridges like such as CCI tend to be reliable.

#3 Quality of Aftermarket Parts:

I own a 10/22 with a bunch of aftermarket high and low-capacity magazines. Some of them are poorly made and cause failure to feed.

#4. Tendency to stovepipe (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

This is more common in 22lr than 9mm. A stovepipe occurs when the cartridge case hangs up when ejected and stops the next round from entering the chamber. This can be caused by poorly made magazines, underpowered ammo, or a dirty gun.

#5. Failure to feed (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

22lr is prone to this malfunction. This malfunction occurs when the spent round is ejected from the camber, but the hot round isn’t placed in the firing chamber. This malfunction can be caused by the gun’s mechanics, accessories, underpowered cartridges, or a dirty gun.

#6 Misfires

A failure to fire the cartridge when the trigger is pulled.

Rimfire cartridges have a less predictable primer than a centerfire cartridge like the 9mm.

You can usually get the 22lr round that misfires to fire on the second go. This is one reason I like revolvers for .22lr ammo. Just keep pulling the trigger

#7 Keep It Clean

9mm will be more forgiving if you aren’t 100% on maintenance. 22lr guns must be kept super clean. There is no way around it.

More than any other weapon I’ve used, the function of .22lr is affected by a lack of general maintenance.

This is especially an issue with semi-auto pistols and rifles cycled by blow-back. Residue build-up from burned powder can cause malfunctions like stovepiping and failure to eject or feed a round into the chamber.


Garand Thumb (22 lr vs 9 mm effectiveness)

This is a controversial subject for sure. If you have any thoughts, leave them in the comments below.

Keep on prepping.

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