If there is a more welcome addition to anyone’s shooting battery than a good quality 22 caliber kit gun, I do not know what it could be. This class of light revolver, chambered for the .22 rimfire cartridge, is a fun gun, a good trainer, and even a small game handgun. There are few handguns that will see more use in a family setting than a .22 revolver.
The simplicity of double-action revolvers makes them ideal as a first gun. While there are plenty of larger .22 caliber revolvers—that may be more accurate in the practical sense—the Rossi Plinker is light enough to be carried when hiking and fishing, and will not frighten youngsters learning to shoot. The aptly named Plinker is chambered for the .22 rimfire cartridge. While self-loaders generally demand the .22 caliber High Velocity loading, the Rossi Plinker will accept .22 Short, Long, Long Rifle, and shot cartridges.
CCI offers the CCI CB cap as a quiet practice loading. Shot loads using #12 shot are useful for rodents and snakes at close range. My 8-shot Rossi Plinker revolver is equipped with a two-inch barrel. I have seen a few four-inch barrel revolvers, and a six-inch barrel version is also available. The two-inch barrel just seems right for me. It fits in the back pocket or hangs comfortably on the belt. (If any handgun is carried for personal defense a proper holster is mandatory. For plinking the rules are less stringent.)
The Rossi Plinker features a steel frame, barrel, and cylinder. A stainless steel version might be ideal for outdoors use, but I like blue revolvers. These revolvers are built by Taurus Firearms. They purchased Rossi a few years ago, and the less expensive revolvers are now branded Rossi. Quality is higher than the previous Rossi production—on a level with Taurus revolvers.
The Plinker may be regarded as a less expensive version of the Taurus Tracker. Both serve a purpose; the Plinker is lighter and less expensive than the Tracker. The Plinker features the reliable double-action lockwork shared with other Taurus revolvers. A transfer bar system allows the cylinder to be fully loaded, and the revolver carried safely. Fit and finish are good.
A problem with many maker’s .22 caliber ‘kit guns’ has been the skinny grips. These revolvers are often fitted with the same grips found on snub nose .38 revolvers. There isn’t a lot to hang onto and practical accuracy suffers. The Plinker features a well-designed rubber grip with a surface that Rossi calls the Ribber grip. I like this a lot. The grip allows a shooter to properly hang onto the revolver, and even with the two-inch barrel, good shooting may be done.
The Plinker features a red, fiber optic front sight. This offers an excellent aiming point. The rear sight is fully adjustable. When sighting in the revolver, I discovered it fired high as delivered. It was no problem to lower the rear sight into its lowest position, properly sighting the revolver for 15 yards. The screw was pretty stiff toward the end of its travel but the rear sight properly bottomed out and I was able to sight the revolver for 40-grain loads. The hammer and trigger are wide and designed for deliberate target shooting, but also allow good double-action practice. With a two-inch barrel, the Plinker weighs but 25 ounces.
When firing a .22 caliber revolver—and particularly one this light—it is important to properly grip the handgun. You cannot loosen the grip simply because the revolver is a light kicking .22. With the proper grip, sight picture, sight alignment and attention to the trigger press, good accuracy was obtained. I used several loads, primarily the affordable CCI Blazer loading. I also used the CCI Velociter and CCI Quiet load.
I fired several two-inch groups at 15 yards. There were a couple of five-shot groups that were smaller. Accuracy potential is high for a lightweight handgun. I ran the loads over the chronograph and was pleasantly surprised. Even from the two-inch barrel, the CCI Velociter clocked some 950 fps. I fired a few Mini Mags and had another surprise—the Mini Mags were just a few feet per second short of 1,000 fps. That is plenty of velocity from a two-inch barrel!
The Mini Mags, incidentally, are about 100 fps slower than the Velociter when fired from a rifle barrel. I fired the CCI Quiet load as well. This is a true subsonic round at 480 fps. This load is useful for short-range practice and would do for pests at close range. Range is limited.
Since many of us use a light .22 for personal defense practice as an understudy to a heavier caliber revolver, I fired a number of rapid fire drills, emptying the cylinder as quickly as possible. The Rossi is controllable, the action is smooth, and results were excellent. I cannot recommend a .22 caliber handgun for personal defense, but a reliable revolver that is easy to use well; accurate, and reliable just may serve.
There are some pretty ridiculous theories and stories concerning the .22 and its bouncing around in the body, even that it can travel in a vein to the heart. Please consider the science and reality involved. A .22 is actually faster than many revolver cartridges and has something that is an aid in wound potential—penetration. It doesn’t have frontal mass or bullet weight, but it does have adequate penetration. Most .22 caliber 40-grain bullets will penetrate 12-14 inches of ballistic gelatin. That is respectable if not ideal. I would prefer a bullet that penetrates straight to the vitals to one that bounced.
When skinning small game, I have never noted a tendency of the .22 to bounce, although rabbits, squirrels and even raccoons are pretty small. In investigating a number of .22 caliber shootings as a peace officer, I was surprised by the through and through chest wounds observed in average-sized individuals. No bouncing was apparent. While I regard the Rossi Plinker as a fun gun, it does have a certain utility as a personal defense handgun if properly handled. Peace of mind for those that cannot handle a .38 is priceless. As for my example, it is going to be used a lot. It is too much fun to leave at home when I head to the range.
Have you shot the Rossi Plinker? When would you use a .22 revolver? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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