August 2006

U.S.-Made .22 LR Popguns: The Taurus DAO PT-22 Is Our Pick

A .22 LR would not be our first choice for serious backup, but any gun is better than nothing at all. We think the cheaper Taurus is a better buy, but we still liked Beretta’s Bobcat.

There are a few clever innovations in handguns that have specific usefulness to certain groups of individuals. One of these is the pop-up barrel that permits loading one round into the chamber of semiautomatic pistols without the need for weak or possibly arthritic hands to work a slide. This feature has been mighty handy over the years for a few folks, to our certain knowledge. We found two modern .22 LR pistols with this feature and decided to see just how well they worked in the field, and against each other on the target.

They were Beretta’s Model 21A Bobcat, $250; and Taurus’ PT-22, Model 22B, $227, both chambered for .22 LR. The mechanisms were a bit different, the Beretta being DA for the first shot and SA thereafter for all 7+1 shots, and the Taurus being DAO for all its 8+1 shots. But we thought they were within a nickel of each other for overall size and usefulness. Each gun came with just one magazine. Neither gun had an extractor, nor did they need one. With the open-top design, spent cases had lots of room to get out, and all fired rounds from both pistols ejected perfectly, as it turned out.

Either pistol could be carried in the pocket, and it seems to us that’s the service for which they’re designed. Our general feelings are that a .22 LR would not be our first choice for serious back-up work, but hey, any gun sometimes is much better than nothing at all.

We won’t recommend any specific usage for these tiny pistols. We’ll leave that up the individual; but if you own one of these you should expect to be able to shoot it inexpensively, hit your target, and have some fun with it. In that vein, we thought either gun could be used easily and well as a single-loader for training purposes. Let’s see what else we found out about them:

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