It’s been a great couple of years for the ole .22LR round. The little round that could has been around for over a hundred years and will likely be around for another 100 years. It’s a fantastic round for numerous tasks like sports shooting, hunting small games, and having fun. This year the industry has embraced the little .22LR and given us a few new handguns. Two top-tier companies have given us new, modern, dare I say tactical .22LR pistols. These top tier pistols are the SIG P322 and FN 502.
SIG P322 Vs. FN 502
While the P322 and the FN 502 look like firearms in SIG and FN’s catalog, they are both unique firearms. The FN 502 certainly has some FN 509 looks and influence, and the SIG P322 can likely trace its lineage to the P320 and the P365. Even so, they are both separate and unique firearms.
Both pistols look and function like very modern pistols. SIG and FN allow you to mount optics to the slide, making them unique among most .22LR pistols. These guns use polymer frames outfitted with Picatinny rails for mounting accessories. These are ultra-modern guns, both vying for your hard-earned cash, so which is better?
Modularity and 22LR pistols have never walked hand in hand, but it takes center stage with the P322 and FN 502. Both guns have slides cut to allow you to utilize miniature red dots with the Shield RMSc footprint. These mini dots have become quite popular these days and are a great upgrade to your modern handgun.
The FN 502 comes standard with a threaded barrel to allow for suppressor use. The P322 also comes with a threaded barrel. Although, the P322’s threaded are hidden under a cap and require an included adapter. SIG also includes a flat-faced and curved trigger for shooters.
One advantage the FN 502 offers over the P322 is compatibility with FN 509 holsters. Currently, there aren’t many P322 holsters on the market.
.22RL is a rimmed cartridge. As such, the rim can create issues in truly double stack magazines. What’s the problem here? Well, this limits capacity. The FN 502 is a big gun but can only hold ten rounds in a flush-fitting magazine, with an extended magazine holding 15 rounds.
The SIG P322 blows it all out of the water with a 20-round, flush-fitting magazine and a 25-round extended magazine. SIG found a way to make a double stack .22LR magazine work and work well. The capacity is king in this regard, and SIG gets the crown.
Both guns come optics ready, and both come with iron sights. FN’s iron sights are suppressor height, so they can co-witness with your dot and see over your suppressor. With SIG’s depending on the optic, you can co-witness with the front sight, but the rear sight is removed when the optic is installed.
Both guns also use a single action only trigger. Both are quite heavy, but it’s necessary to ensure proper ignition. That being said, I think the FN 502 has a better trigger. Good enough to affect accuracy? It’s tough to say. To me, it’s a slight edge, but it’s so slight it’s hard to really give a point to either gun.
Ergonomically both guns fall into that nebulous realm of compact handgun. They aren’t full-sized duty type .22LRs, but more Glock 19 sized. This provides them a rather nice and long grip to fill your hand. We get thin, comfy grips with each gun. FN’s has a more aggressive texture, but it’s not a major issue for a .22LR.
SIG and FN embraced ambidextrous operation with their pistols, which is nice to see. Each pistol’s slide lock and manual safety are ambidextrous, and the magazine release can be reversed.
One advantage FN offers is the exposed hammer. SIG uses an internal hammer, but the FN pistol is like a 1911. The ability to thumb the hammer back manually makes the gun easier to rack. This is a big deal for new shooters, especially youth shooters, and gives the FN 502 an advantage.
Reliability with a .22LR automatic can be perilous, but FN and SIG hammered reliability into these guns. Even with the extra weight of an optic, they run like clocks. Both guns seem to digest the cheapest .22LR I throw down the pipe.
Of course, you’ll have your rimfire failure to ignite here and there. With that in mind that exposed hammer can be handy. You can manually thumb the hammer back to try for a second shot if you so choose. With the SIG, you’ll need to clear the round and rack the slide.
The king for many consumers will be how much money they have in their pocket when they arrive at the gun store. The SIG P322 is the newer gun, but not by much. It carries with it a price tag commonly around 400 dollars.
The FN 502 retails for about 500 bucks, making a significant price difference. I don’t see enough of a difference to justify spending the extra money. At least as far as a .22LR goes.
Plink and Train
Both the SIG P322 and FN 502 offer modern, easy-to-use .22LR pistols that are perfect stand-ins for affordable training and for the joy of plinking. Both are rock solid guns and it seems appropriate that 2022 is the year of the .22LR.