Ruger SR22 Pistol Review: Make Plinking Fun Again

Introduced in 2012, Ruger SR22 pistol is currently available in up to two dozen color schemes with the options of one of two distinct barrel lengths: 3.5” and 4.5”. Beyond its SR designation, it shares no design or ergonomic features with the full-size SR pistols by the company. However, its controls are not too dissimilar from “full sized” pistols making this a readily acceptable choice as a competent, or even comfortable, trainer. It is an especially good choice for shooters of smaller stature or those who are initially recoil sensitive.

The Ruger SR22 is a straight blowback pistol that is light weight with a double/single action trigger system. Additionally, it possesses an ambidextrous magazine release and safety/de-cocking lever. The slide stop/release, however, is not ambidextrous. Of note to those considering this for training purposes, the manual safety and the exposed hammer offers easily verifiable condition status, and there is also a visible port at the rear of the barrel to inspect chamber to see if there is a cartridge “in the pipe”. With a price point at approximately half to two thirds of most quality service pistols and typically under most target grade .22 pistols, these features solidify it as a suitable choice for handgun for training.

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Sight plane

The Ruger SR22 is a compact pistol with a 3.5 inch barrel as standard, offering just another nominal 2” for a sight radius. While the rear sight is adjustable, this is more to accommodate the overwhelming variety of .22 Long Rifle ammunition on the market rather than making it a precision shooter. The 4.5” barrel variant offers that much more (an inch) in a sight base, but given the caliber, the “effective”, or accurate range of this pistol is considered <50 yards, typically most shooters will have the most fun at 7-15 yards. Target and competitive shooting beyond that range is not impossible but will require practice.

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Ruger SR22 Pistol Review: Barrel Length

As indicated above, this pistol is available in 3.5” and 4.5” barrel lengths. There is, on occasion, a threaded barrel variant also available to take advantage of sound suppressors. Use of which without a suppressor offers negligible, if any, differences in performance, while a suppressor will of course reduce velocity and range when employed. However, where suppressors are permitted, this makes the Ruger SR22 a comfortable shooting indoor trainer as well as a discrete pest control tool (where legal, of course).

Grip frame size

Ruger offers an additional rubber sleeved grip standard with a larger palm swell to accommodate larger handed shooters, but the pistol is small. There are no two ways around it: shooters with large, bearlike paws may find themselves tripping over their own fingers manipulating the pistol’s controls and trigger. This does not rule the pistol out for above average sized individuals, but comfort may be sacrificed for convenience and size.

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Balance of the build

The plus side to being so small and made of reduced-weight materials is that the pistol is a noticeable lightweight, and though it is a direct blowback, inflicts only a manageable bounce while firing. Size and weight lend to it being also an acceptable choice for use as a deterrent when backpacking, hiking or simply going out for a walk. It is not an ideal personal defense piece but, as the saying goes, it far better than throwing rocks. Further, the economy of its caliber allows for sufficient training to make every shot count.

Sight choices and accessory options

The Ruger SR22 has an accessory rail under the barrel for use with a laser, light or combination. It is short, and care should be taken to order a compact accessory if one does not want it sticking out too far (also larger laser/lights may not latch on as the Ruger’s rail is short). This allows the pistol to be used as a night stand piece or a quick draw and fire with a laser for those who seek to employ it as such. More on that below in the Best For and Conclusion sections.

HIVIZ and some other after market companies have also
started offering replacement sights that include fiber optics for quicker sight

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New in box, the pistol comes with two 10 round magazines. As of yet, there does not appear to be any incentive to produce mags of higher or lower capacity.

Ruger SR22 Pistol Review: Conclusion

Ruger rarely makes a lemon. At worse, their products may simply be not as top of the line as other options, but their price point and durability often make up for it. The company has a strong reputation for standing behind their product, and most Rugers manage to stick around through heavy use (and even long-term neglect) and continue to function as desired.

The Ruger SR22’s closest competitor in size and function is Walther’s P22, but Ruger offers more options in skins and has the benefit of being an American made product, to those who favor such things. The Ruger SR22 defies a specific classification: it is a .22 “plinker”, but not a target pistol; a duty pistol trainer, but not a “man stopper” itself; it comes in multiple “skins” but has relatively little in the way of after-market mods. It is a fun gun, no argument. For someone who has younger or beginner shooters that are destined to learn how larger caliber semi-autos work, it is a good choice. This means it is something of a stepping stone, but one that can be a stop gap filler or serve as a defense pistol if nothing else works as well for their individual circumstances. If it must be classified into a specific role (or roles), it is probably best considered a transitional gun for training that can reliably serve as a back up piece in most casual encounters.


Light, simple, affordable, great for beginners, plinkers and trainers, available in different colors if that is important. Ambidextrous safety and magazine release (though, lamentably to some “southpaws,” not an ambidextrous slide release).


For defense it falls short on stopping power. If an attacker can be scared off, then ok, but if it comes to pulling the trigger, even hollow point/expanding, hyper velocity rounds will do less than a regular 9mm can. While practice and cool nerves can help put those shots where they need to go, the same can be done with a cartridge with better stopping power. For target shooting, it also falls a bit short due to its compact size: competitive shooters arguably have better options.

This is best for

New shooters, young shooters, small shooters, or anyone looking to have a light companion while hiking to deal with human sized nuisances and smaller. Obviously, those hiking in areas where aggressive animals the size of coyotes are larger wildlife possessing little to no social graces would benefit from something with a bit more power, but what the .22 Long Rifle lacks in stopping abilities, it makes up in controllability and capacity for a small sized firearm.

This is also a good consideration for shooters with weak hand strength: the recoil spring is not much stronger than that which is found in a ball point pen, the accessory rail for a light and the easy manipulation of having up to 20 rounds available with relative ease makes this a good choice for someone who cannot use anything stronger. The caveat, of course, is that at the end of the day, it is still “just” a .22.

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