20 or 9mm

What is the Difference Between 9mm and 22 Calibers?


Mathew R Reed
October 30, 2022

The 9mm and 22 calibers are among the most popular ammunition available on the market. The 9mm cartridge is the cartridge that’s mostly used in semi-automatic handguns. When used with the right firearm, this cartridge is very powerful. That’s why most experienced shooters prefer to use it for self-defense.

On the other hand, the 22 caliber which is also known as the 5.6mm caliber is a small and common size of ammunition that’s designed to fit all firearms with a 5.6mm bore diameter. This caliber offers great speed in shooting and accuracy. It is also a deadly caliber as it’s capable of killing or injuring people.

9mm vs 22 Round Comparison

Choosing the right ammunition either for self-defense or hunting is very important for every gun owner out there. If you are new in the market, you are probably wondering which of these two ammunitions is better for hunting, self-defense, or plinking. To compare these two calibers, we will break down each round according to its features and its specific tasks. This should help you choose the ideal ammo for your shooting needs.

Size and Energy

Comparing the two calibers in respect to size is pretty easy. The 9mm ammo is bigger than the 22 round. That means that the 9mm will provide more muzzle energy but travel at a lower velocity.

When it comes to energy, the 22 rounds have less energy compared with the 9mm counterparts. When fired, it has less velocity and kinetic energy. What this means is that the 22 round won’t offer the same penetration and knock-down power as the 9mm caliber. But this doesn’t mean that the 22 caliber isn’t good for anything. It produces less recoil which makes it ideal for beginners learning the basics of gun safety and marksmanship shooting.

22 or 9mm for Self-Defense

Stopping an attacker during an attack is vital. You need to be able to make the shot accurately and reliably. Without any doubt, the 22 round is easy to shoot and highly accurate. It shoots quietly and has low recoil so it’s snug to shoot. Besides, you can fire your firearm rapidly and place most of the rounds in a tight group. However, most 22 rounds don’t penetrate deep enough to create a significant injury on the attacker. This makes them less suitable for self-defense.

The 9mm round takes the lead when it comes to self-defense. Typically, 9mm rounds are made for self-defense purposes. Due to the bigger size, they create enough damage to either cause a significant blood loss or cause a lot of pain which leaves the attacker with no option but change their mind. So, the 9mm round is the correct option for self-defense compared with the 22.

22 vx 9mm

22 or 9mm for Hunting

The 22 ammo is an excellent option for this purpose. Due to its practicality, it makes an excellent hunting round for small game. If you are starting your hunting hobby, this is your ideal round. It is easy to shoot, produces less recoil, and doesn’t spook the game as it shoots quietly. When it hits the game, it will stay in it and not send a random round in the woods.

On the other hand, the 9mm round is a handgun cartilage. Though it’s bigger and more powerful, it makes the poorest hunting round.

22 or 9mm for Target Practice

When it comes to target practice and plinking, both rounds do a tremendous job. They are not only chambered in numerous platforms but also abundant and cost-effective. Besides, both rounds are accurate and easy to shoot.


With the price, the 22 round is a cheaper option. If you are a beginner or you don’t want to spend too much, the 22 is your excellent choice. You can shoot as many rounds as you want and you’ll spend way less than when shooting the same number of 9mm rounds.

Once you are comfortable shooting the 22 round, you should move up to the 9mm round. You can use this round in rifle form for target practice or plinking. It’s a blast to shoot, but more expensive. Also, this round shoots loudly and has more recoil, which makes it more difficult to shoot.

Advantages of 9mm Ammo

  • Excellent for self-defense. 9mm rounds are powerful and more penetrating. When you take its high velocity and add its overall narrow size, it can pass through different objects and keep going. This makes it one of the best self-defense cartridges.
  • Multipurpose application. Most law enforcement departments use 9mm ammunition. The round is also widely used for domestic law enforcement, plinking, and target practice.
  • Wide range of options. With the 9mm, you’ll get a lot of options, particularly when it comes to pistol calibers.
  • Less recoil compared to most popular handgun calibers.

Disadvantages of 9mm Ammo

  • More expensive compared with 22 rounds
  • Less energy compared with other handgun calibers
  • Narrow wound channel. A standard 9mm ammo creates a narrow-wound channel because of the overall small diameter.
  • Loud shooting
  • Lacks enough stopping power

Advantages of 22 Ammo

  • Cheaper option compared with 9mm ammo
  • Virtually no recoil so it’s comfortable to shoot and suitable for people with smaller hands
  • Easier shooting which makes them suitable for beginners and older people
  • Excellent round for hunting small game
  • Great versatility. Besides small game hunting, 22 ammo is also great for plinking, target shooting, and self-defense.
  • Accurate, reliable, and powerful

Cons of 22 Ammo

  • Unreliable for self-defense
  • Less suitable for magazine-fed semi-automatic actions
  • Less penetration compared with the 9mm round

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, What is the Difference Between 9mm and 22 Calibers? was answered to your satisfaction and you have found this comparison post between the 9mm and 22mm round insightful. Both rounds shine at what they are designed and meant to do. That’s why it’s important to consider the shooting activity you intend to use the ammo for.

Ideally, you should get the 22 rounds if you are looking for hunting, plinking, or target shooting ammo. On the other hand, if you are an experienced shooter looking for a self-defense round, you should move up to 9mm ammo.

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of ArmorHoldings.com and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.