What Can’t You Learn by Using a Rimfire Trainer?

By olegv published on in Ammunition, Firearms, Safety and Training

What’s the first thing to do after buying a carry pistol? A range trip, of course! For many new shooters, this is the trying time when they discover that the nearest range isn’t near enough, and the price of centerfire ammunition isn’t close enough to free. They also discover the wear on the hands from the recoil of the lightweight carry guns. What’s a newly minted responsible citizen to do?

Bersa Thunder 390 is a popular carry pistol.

Bersa Thunder .380 in a Sideguard holster is an effective carry solution.

Many get a .22 upper or a rimfire trainer mimicking the centerfire gun. That’s great, but the critics are right in saying that a rimfire substitute doesn’t teach the recoil control afforded by using the real thing. Compared to firing a lightweight 380 or an airweight 38 revolver, shooting its rimfire clone is uneventful.

Bersa Thunder .22 clone of the 380

Bersa Thunder .22 clone of the .380

So learning recoil control is right out. Can you learn sight alignment? Yes. Breath control? Sure. Trigger control? Of course. Safety and mag catch manipulation? Definitely. Drawing safely and efficiently from a holster? Yep, you can learn that with a .22 just fine. They even work for teaching kids the basics of marksmanship.

You also get to enjoy spending $10 on ammunition for a range trip instead of $50 or more, wearing muffs or plugs but not both, not having an imprint of the pistol grip in your palm after firing off a magazine. Ammunition cost aside, the human endurance is a factor with many subcompact weapons. Rimfire trainers allow practicing in the basics for pennies on the dollar. The practice isn’t new — rimfire Martini rifles are nearly as old as the .45-577 model and so are the rimfire equivalents of .455 Webley. Even the navies used to have rifle cartridge adapters for small and medium caliber artillery pieces, both to reduce the cost of practice and stave off barrel wear. Another consideration is that in many areas, centerfire rifles are banished from indoor ranges but not their rimfire clones. Rimfire trainers: fun and useful.

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Comments (12)

  • RegT


    Additionally, double taps are useless if you do not attempt to control the recoil of your pistol. Recoil is controllable to a great extent with practice. As Duray stated, in hunting it’s not an issue. In self-defense, it certainly can be.


  • Glen Evans


    Anticipating recoil is in large part where a shooter moves off target. If a shooter trains with a .22, he/she is not necessarily developing the bad habit of anticipating recoil. I think there is value in training with a .22 for anybody.


  • Jay Sellers


    I agree with Robert. In the middle of an adrenaline dump, recoil is the least of your worries. Muscle memory for all the other motions will mean more.


  • olegv


    Gentlemen, you are both right.


  • Duray


    Robert, you seem to be referring more to controlling recoil as it affects accuracy and group size, whereas I believe Oleg was referring to its affect on the time required to re-align the sights and get additional rounds on target. You’re correct that, in terms of placing a shot accurately, it isn’t necessary to “control” the recoil of a weapon, but it certainly is necessary to get used to it if you want to be able to shoot multiple aimed shots quickly. If you’re picking off a deer with a large bore revolver, you can let the pistol recoil all you want after the trigger breaks, but if you’re trying to empty a .380 in a hurry, you need to be more assertive about the recoil.


  • Robert


    I disagree with the idea that a .22 cannot train you for recoil control. Controlling recoil is more about relaxing and not anticipating your shot than it is about “controlling” a force that really cant be controlled. When it comes to controlling recoil, its best to learn how to flow with recoil. Everything you need to learn about recoil can be taught with rimfire or even a pellet or bb gun. proper grip placement and not anticipating the shot is how you learn to “control” recoil. In fact, the Glock Store sells a reset trigger and laser “bullet” that allows you to train with your glock and not buy a single round and it has zero recoil. If you are reading this, reconsider the idea of “controlling” recoil. Its best to simply have good technique and not anticipate your shots.


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