Does anyone use the .22 Caliber round in wartime?

One of the few guns I ever fired was back in my childhood days was this .22 caliber long rifle, where you drop the bullets in the barrel and then putt his rod in it, and then you can fire. I also fired a semi-auto .22 pistol that looked like one of the WWII german ones.

I have heard this .22 round is very cheap, and light weight, so technically speaking, soldiers could carry this in war by the bucketful. Yet I know of no Army that has ever issued .22 caliber weapons, even pistols.

Does the .22 caliber round have any use in wartime? Wouldn’t it be effective with well trained soldiers firing .22 rifles? Does or did any country use it in their military? Police? Why is it not powerful enough – does it not hurt and kill? – and if it isn’t powerful enough, why haven’t armies moved towards more .50 cal weapons? And if bigger bullets are better, why did the US army adopt that .223 m16 round, when they used .30-06 and .30 cal in the Springfield '03 and Garand rifles?

The .22 long rifle round lacks power and range. Typical load is a 40gr bullet at around 1000-1200fps. The 5.56mm/.223 round is 52 gr at 3000-3200fps(original m-16). The larger .30 rounds are heavier meaning a soldier can carry fewer into battle and the recoil with automatic fire is uncontrollable for most soldiers.

The 22 LR is not an effective mankiller at anything beyond point blank (less than a few yards) range. By the time you’ve gotten close enough to an enemy to kill him with a 22LR, he’s put several dozen or hundred far more effective rounds into you.

In terms of what calibers the military does use - it’s all a tradeoff. 50 cal rounds are big and heavy, so a soldier can’t carry very many of them. Plus the rifle used to shoot them is large, heavy, and unwieldy, so for personal use it’s relegated to special purpose snipers only. The US Army first went from the .30-06 to the .308 (7.62mm) round in the 50s. They use the same bullet, but the 308 is a shorter & lighter round due to advances in propellants. Then the Army moved to the .223 round (5.56mm), because it’s even smaller and lighter, meaning a soldier can carry a lot more ammo. It’s not as effective at long ranges as the 7.62, but the thinking at the time was that most fighting was actually done at shorter ranges (<500 yds), where the 5.56 was just as, if not more, effective as the 7.62. This is debated endlessly on firearms forums BTW.

The silenced .22 was the favored round of the OSS for assassinations, the up-close-and-personal kind. (Cite-PDF)

Other than that, it doesn’t have much utility for the military, unless you consider the 5.56 NATO round, which was based on the .223 Remington and is used in M-16 rifles, to be more or less a hot-loaded .22, in which case it’s exceptionally useful.

Note that while the .22 long rifle and the .223 have approximately similar bullet size, there’s a lot more gunpowder in the .223 cartridge. That’s what gives it a higher speed. Also realize that the energy in a bullet is proportional to the square of its velocity, so with a slightly larger bullet and three times the velocity, the .223 is (roughly) ten times more powerful than the .22 long rifle.

We used to use a .22 with hollow-point ammo to kill porcupines at the cottage when I was a kid many years ago (reason: they were killing trees by ‘topping’ them; my dad owned a small tree-lot.)

Those did a lot of damage, creating horrible wounds (in this case merciful, as a hit was an almost certain kill). I can’t picure anyone getting up and fighting after being hit with one.

Though I read somewhere that soldiers are not allowed to use hollow-point ammo on people, under the rules of war.

Hollow-point ammunition is banned by the Hague Convention.

Still, it wouldn’t do much good in .22. It’s simply not effective enough against human targets for the military. There are countless stories of people who get hit with a .22 bullet and never notice that they were hit until someone points out the blood. Of course, shot placement remedies many of those complaints, but in combat incapacitation is as good as a kill, and sometimes better because then his buddy has to drag him away (yes, I know how heartless that sounds).

I thought it was banned by something.

I find it hard to believe that a person would be hit by a .22 hollow-point and not notice. The effects on animal flesh, from what I’ve seen, are startling (and horriffic). The hole going in is tiny, but the hole comming out is - gross. If it did that to a porcupine, would it not do the same to a person?

That being said I’m no expert on either gunshot wounds or combat - that’s just my impression.

A person is much larger than a porcupine and adrenaline can mask the effects of rather horrific injuries.

Certainly a person is larger, but the wound made would be the same size, more or less.

Looking at that wound, and transferring it to a human body, it appeared to me to have a lot of ‘stopping power’.

There are countless incidents of people being hit by much larger/more powerful rounds and not noticing until later.

But a .22 (especially a hollow point) won’t have any useful penetration. It’ll be stopped by the lightest body armor, or a thin wall, or the multiple layers of sheet metal in a car door.

So can police use hollow point though? And if so, why don’t they have police guns in .22? They could carry far more rounds and it would have less recoil and noise. Or forgetting the police, why aren’t there more .22cal self-defense guns? I don’t know of anyone who has .22cal pistol for self-defense, I am told by I think wackipedia that .38special is the minimum for self-defense. Why not .22 hollow point?

Yes, in general, subject to departmental rules, the police can use hollow points.

But to condense what has been said above, the round lacks stopping power compared to, say, a .357 magnum or 9 mm. Range wouldn’t be too much an issue in police work since most of those shooting situations tend to be up close and personal, but the cops don’t want some crazed felon who’s trying to kill them or someone else to keep on doing what he’s doing; even if he dies later from the wound(s), the idea isn’t to do this, it’s to stop him right now.

sound of can of worms being opened

The .22 is too small and weak to be an effective stopper i.e. put the bad guy on the ground NOW.

This is the concept of “knockdown power”, delivering a shock to the system that results in an immediate collapse of the hitee. (Much disputed).
Big, slow bullets (.45ACP) or small, fast bullets(9mm) or in between (.40 S&W) results in endless debate as to which is most effective.

President Reagan, for one. If memory serves they had to search pretty hard to find where he’d been hit.

Military organisations do use the .22 rimfire for training people to shoot, and have done for a century or more. Frequently this allows training on indoor facilities independent of light and weather. Sometimes the arms used are conversions of the service weapon, or they may be lookalikes that resemble it in general functioning. Collecting these is a speciality in its own right. In some cases removable .22 barrels are inserted down inside the service barrel, together with a different breechblock of some sort so that the changeover can be made very easily.

At one time Stoeger Arms marketed a .22 automatic which they called the ‘Luger’, although internally there was little resemblance to the German service pistol. They held the rights to this name as a trademark in the USA.

Well, it’s a very hot and very heavy round. They share a common diameter only. The M-16 is a 63 grain round, .22 LR is between 32-48. So a gob more powder and 50-100% more weight than your everyday varmint round.

I’d love to have a chain gun in .22 caliber - fun and cheap!

Yeah, what’s that line Clancy used once? “A tiny bullet that travelled at Warp speed.”

Get almost anything going fast enough and it’s going to catch the attention of anything it hits.