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Friday, February 20, 2009

The .22 Rifle-Fun Plinker and Survival Must

Today's post comes from Chris W over at the 1acreohiohomestead!

First of all, I won't go into anything on weapons for defense or other reasons. The intention of this is to cover firearms suitable for general survival hunting. Someday I may cover deensive weapons, but not in this post. I also won't cover manufacturer names or models. I have my favorites which I'm not afraid to mention, but I don't want to neg any others that some of you may love. Keep in mind that everything is my view and opinion, and not gospel, lol.

I spent 11 years in the gun business, 2 years behind a counter at a large chain store, (see the last post on my blog) ,and 9 years at an actual gun shop. I saw everything from one extreme to the other, from actual German pub rifles to a .50 caliber single shot, and everything in between. (YES-they actually shot rifles in the pubs instead of darts!)Over the course of that time, I saw any common calibers/guages sell over and over. Today I'll start with the most common of them all, the .22 rimfire.

I love a good .22 rimfire, always have. I've had more .22's in my life than anything else, and still own one that was given to me at birth (marlin 39a golden mountie) , my dads first (winchester 67) , and the first one I bought with my own money. I spent many a weekend shooting a weeks worth of allowance money through that old lever action, and it never failed me once. They are by far the least expensive of anything to shoot, the most fun, and the most versitle of any firearm going, past or present. Those .22's always brought me home with game like rabbits and squirrels, and were always deadly with varmit like barn rats, groundhogs, raccoons, possums, crows, and the occasional feral domestic rodent as I call them. (here kitty kitty) . I've even
taken down foxes and coyotes with a .22 rifle, and I know of guys who have taken deer with one.

I've had all kinds of .22's, lever actions, bolt actions, semi-auto's, a gatlin gun, heavy barrels, single shots, and even an actual East German olympic trainer, and I've loved them all. (still have a soft spot for a 52 Winchester) But my top choice has always been a bolt action, and that is what I will recommend for the purposes of this post. Semi auto's are great, but face it, they fail. Internal parts can break, wear down, and leave you stranded with nothing more than a wood and metal walking stick. Semi's can also be finicky about ammo. I had 3 identical rifles, and one
would feed brand X, one jammed occasionally with the same ammo, and the other oughtright just ouldnt feed it. The lever action is a classic, but same as the semi's,
parts can fail. The trusty bolt action very rarely fails, and jams/misfeeds are easily extracted. A bolt action will feed cb caps, shorts, longs, and long rifles, while semi's and levers will only feed LR's. Given an emergency situation, with a bolt action, you could just grab whatever is handy and you're in business. Even if the magazine won't feed them, (like cb caps), they're easily loaded one at a time in a bolt action. Ever try to feed a cb cap in the side of a marlin lever gun? Not the easiest thing I have ever done....lol.

Now that I've stated my opinion and choice of action, lets go on to feed mechanisms. I've disliked detachable box magazines since I got my first .22 with my own money. I set off proudly with my new sighted-in rifle to get a few squirrels. I had 2 or 3 in my pouch when I took a shot at another one and missed. A quick jack of the bolt left me empty because I somehow bumped the release lever and dropped my mag somewhere in a 10 acre area. I still had more that I could feed one at a time, but that defeated the purpose of having a magazine. The next day I bought 2 more
mags and wrapped them with a 1" ring of bright orange electric tape, just so they might be easier to spot if it happened again. After that day, the thought of dropping one was always on my mind, and I spent more time checking my mag than I did concentrating on dancing fox squirrels. That rifle got set aside as a backyard plinker not long after, and I went to a tube feed. I had that rifle for about 10 years and never had a problem, and the old lever action still has it's origional tube. I've seen them get bent, but it's far more rare than a lost magazine. A single shot bolt action would be the logical choice to eliminate ANY magazine/feed problems, but I just don't care to have just one shot....though I would take a good .22/410 over and under if I found one at a good price. I'd still give my left *** for a nice Springfield M1 Scout!!! I'd settle for a savage though, lol. (pre-war wood stock of course)

On ammo storage, it's common sense. Store in a cool dry place. Keep what your rifle shoots best, but keep it something readily available too. I've had a few rifles that absolutely loved RWS target ammo or CCI Green Tag, but those aren't available at your local wallyworld or Xmart. Get something that shoots well, it readily available, is fairly inexpensive, and that will do what it should. If you want to use it for hunting, sight it in with hollow points and stock hollow points. Keep some handy, keep some in your hunting rig or vest, and keep some in you BOB if you
have some. Keep good cleaning supplies around, and keep a small one in your vest and/or BOB as well. I have a small snake-like cleaning rod that fits in the pocket of my vest,(Brownells Bore Snake) and a small bottle of bore cleaner with cleaning patches, bore brush and lens cloths(packet-size eyeglass wipes) that are always handy in both. Those big bottles at the gun shop are more economical, but you can't carry a quart with you very easily. The same as carrying spare lantern mantles, the cleaning kit can get you out of a jam,literally!

Last but not least....
To scope or not to scope, that is the question. Really, that all depends on your personal preference. I used to love open sights, but my eyes arent what they used to be. Both have good points, and both have bad. Unless you're extremely well practiced with your rifle and it's sights, open sights are limiting. Scopes are awesome, but they can break, scratch, or be bumped off center. If you prefer a scope, PLEASE get a decent one!!! Nothing got my panties in a bunch
more than seeing someone back then with a $1000 rifle with a $30 scope sitting on it. ( I honestly remember seeing someone with a Sako Finnbear in 300 Win Mag with a 4x scope and see through rings!!) I'm not saying to buy the $400 Leupold, but at least get something that will hold up to rough use. If its for hunting and survival, it's going to take a beating no matter how much you baby it. Get the good scope, get good rings, and think about investing in flip-up scope caps. You won't lose them like the stretch-over kind. They're far worth the extra money when a sudden rainstorm pops up. I dispise the see-through rings, but again, that's your choice. They make sighting in difficult and make the scope a bit more vulnerable to damage. If you stick with
open sights, by all means take them off and locktite the screws in place. (BLUE locktite) If it's a ramp-style rear sight, pick up an extra ramp or 2 and keep them handy. Before I forget, get a good sling for it. I love the look and feel of leather, but for a survival rifle, nylon is a much better choice to brave the elements. I prefer the clip-on style with the screw-lock mechanism on the latch, but thats just me. I dont want them getting bumped and coming unhooked when I least expect it like a box-magazine.

So.......pick your .22, get what you need for it, and take care of it. That rifle may be a fun weekend plinker and varmint getter, but someday it may mean the difference between a squirrel over a fire instead of eating mayapples and dandelions.

Thanks for the post Chris!

10 comments:

Mamma Bear said...

FarmerGeek.... I love my .22 rifle for rabbits and plain old target shooting. My Mom has a .22 pistol that she has had a long time that is a little 4 barrel and cute as a button. The entire thing will lay in the palm of a ladies hand.

I am not afraid of guns but for ladies who are, a .22 would be a good gun to start with. They are light weight and aren't loud when you shoot them.

FarmerGeek said...

Mamma Bear, this one is from Chris W over at the 1acreohiohomestead! My bad, I forgot to put his name and link on it. (my brain was really dead today and I didn't realize I hadn't given him his due!) ((Sorry Chris!))

So everyone, head on over and check out his blog at 1acreohiohomestead.blogspot.com.

Good post, Chris!

Chris W said...

ooooooooo Mamma Bear,it sounds like your mom has a PEPPERBOX!!! Look that thing up in a book, like Petersons Blue Book of Gun Values (best one in my opinion), some of those are worth a dandy few bucks.
Farmergeek, no biggie lol, not like I'm looking for publishing rights. I started another one last night on firearm cleaning and storage, and I'll get it to ya soon. I like telling stories from behind the other side of the counter, some of them are hilarious..wait till I tell ya the story of "scoop", you'll laugh at this one for sure!!!

Marica said...

Third time-- I keep getting a word verification that shows up as a Q mark. ??? One more time.

Great post, Chris. Totally agree. Strike that. I like a lever action, but other than that.. !

A .22 is excellent for practice. My husband needed to learn to shoot left-handed, so he picked up the .22 and didn't shoot much else until he became a leftie.

Mama Bear-- you're right! Whenever we take newbies shooting, teh women & girls always wind up liking the .22. (Guys like the shotgun. Go figure!)

Looking forward to the cleaning post, Chris.

Chris W said...

Marica,
That lever action Marlin will always be my baby. I've shot more through that one than probably everything else combined! I've grown up with that rifle in my hand, it's a part of me. It's never once let me down, but if I was to take just one with me in a survival situation, it would be a bolt.

Marica said...

Chris!! Marlin 336C from the late 1970s. My personal all time favorite. I had a crush on The Rifleman when I was a little girl.

This does bring up something interesting: the different likes/dislikes of males & females, and how these relate to differences in how we are built. I wonder if my preference for the lever action is because of the differences in the physical actions of levering vs. bolting. Bolting is focused on upper body, while levering is a downward movement. So it's a difference between upper and lower body-- different centers of mass, male vs. female.

What do you think?

Here's an interesting article that talks about this:

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/ayoob63.html

Chris W said...

LOL Marcia, I loved those Winchester Wrangler (big loop) rifles like he used on that show, at one time I had one in every caliber they made. Then again..in 11 years in the biz, I had about everything at one time or another.

Lisa likes the lever action too. She says she doesnt like jacking a bolt back towards her face. Its the same with her an semi's, she's nervous of the empty brass hitting her somehow. Even with a shotgun, she'll grab one of the good 'ole double barrels over the Benelli, Remington or Browning semi's. I just think she wants to be a combination of Ma Ingalls,Grandma Walton, and Annie Oakley,lol. Just hopefully NOT grandma Waltons attitude with Annie's shooting ability....baaaaaaaad combination!!!

Marica said...

Funny! I'm partial to... what was her name? "Little sister" in True Grit (I think b/c she reminds me of my daughters!)

Same as Lisa w/ the semi-autos. I don't mind the brass, but I'll be danged if I can find one that I can actually rack back efficiently, time after time. Lever action & good old fashioned revolvers. My faves.

Speaking of .22s-- we want a scope. But there are no scopes in Cincinnati. (Of course there are, somewhere, but three hours calling around, and then driving, only to discover the scope didn't fit, and some other place had the scope but not the rings... . Frustrating.)

Charles said...

,308 bolt action of a good SKS if you could choose just one Help me out I hace to choose
charlesbklyn@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hey, exellent article this helped me out a lot thanks!

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