The New Defender

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Uppercut package and cartridges on a table in front of a handgun

The 22 LR remains the most popular cartridge in America, but this century-old round was hardly conceived for protection. But that didn’t stop CCI from making the 22 LR a legitimate defender with new Uppercut.

The news of a dedicated rimfire defensive bullet comes as welcome news for millions of shooters. With concealed-carry permit applications and guns sales at a high point over the last several years, many new shooters are looking for ammo choices, and some might not be comfortable with the muzzle rise and recoil of a centerfire pistol. Uppercut answers the call for more 22 LR self-defense ammo, delivering power and performance CCI shooters already know and love.

The Case For 22 LR Defense

“Protection should always be personal. The decision should depend on how you prefer to carry. Your choice should be sized to fit your needs and built to defend you adequately and dependably,” says CCI product director Jason Slinkard. “There are a lot of people who can’t rack the slide on a centerfire pistol and most of those people can’t manage the recoil either. This product is for them, and for anyone else who uses a 22 LR pocket pistol.”

The 22 LR cartridge produces very mild recoil and is easy for new shooters to handle. In today’s marketplace, there are many compact, easy-to-conceal 22 LR revolvers and pistols available, and these guns boast significantly higher capacities than centerfire counterparts. Lightweight, low-recoil 22 LR handguns have always been ideal for concealed carry but were limited by a lack of effective self-defense ammunition.

“We’ve talked about making a 22 LR defensive load for a long time,” Slinkard says. “We finally decided people are already carrying 22 LRs, so we should build a bullet optimized for them. And the robust design we finalized is certainly quite different than any traditional 22 LR ammunition designed for hunting and target shooting. For self-defense rimfire, it is quite impressive.”

True Protection

Traditionally, 22 LR bullets have fallen into three primary categories: lead round nose, copper plated, and copper-plated hollow points. None of these consistently perform well in gel tests for self-defense ammo because they do not shed energy in a uniform and efficient manner. Over-penetration, under-penetration, bullet fragmentation and other issues have prevented the 22 LR from being taken seriously as a self-defense cartridge.

“When we set out to build Uppercut, we took what we already knew about our jacketed hollow point bullets, but we also worked with defensive ammunition engineers from our sister company, Speer , to achieve the best in terminal performance attributes. The team members at Speer are experts in law enforcement and personal protection ammunition. They know their stuff.”

Most 22 LR projectiles weigh around 40 grains and leave the muzzle at around 1,300 feet per second (fps) out of rifle-length barrels. Even when shot at lower velocities, such as when fired from short-barreled pistols, 22 LR still produces approximately 150 foot-pounds of energy. That energy can do the job for terminal performance, but the primary reason the 22 LR has never been adopted as a self-defense round has less to do with terminal ballistics and more to do with a lack of suitable bullets.

“From the start, we knew 22 LR was limited in performance, so we were not focused on barriers and other technical elements that goes into ammunition for duty guns,” Slinkard says. “By not being restricted by barrier test results, our engineering team concentrated on a bullet that was ideally suited for common self-protection scenarios—one that would perform exceptionally well in bare gel or light clothing.”

The result of CCI’s exhaustive research and development was the creation of an all-new projectile. Uppercut is far from the simple lead round nose or copper-plated hollow points typical of most rimfire ammunition. It’s an exclusive jacketed hollow point with the thickest jacket of any CCI 22 LR bullet. It initiates full and reliable expansion through short-barreled handguns. And it does that while also retaining the weight to hit critical penetration depths needed for self-defense.

“What makes this product stand out is its plating thickness. Typically, 22 LR bullets, such as those in our popular Mini-Mag line, have a thin flash plate that requires wax to keep the barrel from leading,” Slinkard says. “The copper jacket plating on Uppercut measures six thousandths, which is similar to popular 22 Win. Mag JHP bullets designed for self-defense from Speer. This design feature is a key to its overall effectiveness as a self-defense bullet.”

The thick plating on Uppercut bullets helps deliver the expansion without petal loss. The robust copper plating also replaces the wax traditionally applied to 22 LR ammunition to protect the barrel. Because Uppercut is plated, the bullets don’t need to be waxed, which is cleaner and more convenient.

uppercut cartridges sitting on a table

The Uppercut Concept

“Other 22 LR ammunition designed for self-defense is out there, such as Federal Premium 22 LR Punch . Although a great load, it is designed specifically for deep penetration, not expansion. CCI’s Uppercut bullet is designed for expansion and weight retention,” Slinkard says. “Uppercut achieves 8 to 10 inches of penetration in ballistics gel with controlled expansion out of short-barrel pistols. Upsets result in a beautiful, deep six-petal design.”

Uppercut features a 32-grain jacketed hollow-point bullet. Nose skiving ensures petals peel back for uniform and consistent expansion. The load’s velocity is optimized for performance through semi-automatic handguns with 2.5- to 4-inch barrels, yet the bullet penetrates to effective depths. The load clocks in at 950 fps out of a typical short-barreled handgun.

Uppercut also features extremely dependable CCI priming and propellant. And its unwaxed bullet reduces fouling and improves feeding in all temperatures,” Slinkard says. “CCI’s unmatched quality has created a legion of devoted customers. This kind of brand loyalty can’t be bought; it must be earned through years of excellence and innovation. CCI’s customers—hunters, shooters, plinkers, reloaders—and now, self-defenders, know that the name on the box stands for quality and performance. I know CCI Uppercut will live up to that reputation.”