So, you think the .22 Long Rifle is a kids round? Don’t bet your life on it. This grand old cartridge predates anything we previously reviewed. It came about in 1887 and up until 1890; manufacturers loaded it with only black powder. It is one of the oldest self-contained cartridges still in mass production—and it is lethal.
Posts Tagged ‘Rimfire Ammunition’
If you haven’t lot-tested rimfire ammo in your 22 LR rifle, then GIGO will certainly bite you — GIGO being the programming acronym for Garbage In, Garbage Out. Shooting 22 LR rimfire rifles accurately presents an unavoidable problem for small-game hunters: You can’t load your own ammo.
Lisa Bedford, better known as The Survival Mom, is a preparedness-minded writer, blogger, trainer, and mom who encourages other women to adopt a calm and common-sense approach to an uncertain future.
Not everyone can shoot powerful centerfire guns. For a person with wrist damage, even a mildly recoiling 9mm service pistol would be too much. A person with little upper body strength would be hard-pressed to handle an AK or an M1 carbine, though they feel very light to most shooters. Shoulder damage would make recoil of a .223 feel excessive. Many turn to rimfire guns as the best alternative, counting on landing a greater number of hits to make up for the lower power of the round. Is that prudent?
Let’s look at the home defense application first. The reduction of power from the oft-recommended 12ga or 20ga shotgun to a .22 rifle is drastic. A typical .22LR bullet weighs 40 grains, same as a .30 caliber #1 buck pellet. A single round of buckshot contains 16 of them, more than a typical rimfire magazine. Penetration is very similar at 10″ to 14,” with 40gr hollow points expanding to about .30 caliber in gelatin when fired from rifles. While rifle bullets retain velocity further downrange, that’s irrelevant for the typical in-house defensive use. Due to insufficient penetration, 30-grain varmint rounds are less effective against human size attackers.
By this comparison, we can expect a magazine dump from a sporting semi-auto .22 rifle to have an effect similar to a single shotgun blast. A rimfire rifle has no muzzle flash and much less pronounced report compared to a shotgun. Given the minimal recoil of such rifles, good practical accuracy is actually quite typical in home defense situations. For the same reason, diligent practice is possible even for those who cannot handle the recoil or the weight of the bigger rifles.
The down sides to using rimfire used to be the reduced reliability of the ammunition, the awkward rimmed cartridge shape for autoloaders and the limited magazine capacity. Fortunately, these problems are now largely imaginary. Let’s consider them one by one.
“Everyone knows” that rimfire ignition is less reliable than centerfire. That is certainly evident with bulk ammo. Some brands and lots may have a misfire every 20 rounds. This lack of reliability is most certainly not an issue with the higher grade cartridges. A CCI competition shooter has recently reported a million rounds fired without a single misfire. While not up to a million rounds, I’ve had zero malfunctions over tens of thousands of such defense-oriented types as CCI Mini-Mags and Velocitors, or any of the Eley-primed types.
Rimmed cartidges are indeed rather tricky to fit into magazines. Fortunately, we’ve had well over a century to perfect the feeding devices. Straight box magazines can hold up to a dozen, tube magazines up to 18, curved box magazines up to 32. They all work fine. Some people prefer the smaller flush-fitting box (or rotary in the case of 10-22) magazines, others like the higher capacity and the additional leverage at reload time afforded by the extended models. Rimfire drums can hold 50 rounds but keep only the few rounds in the feed tower under spring pressure. The remaining 40-odd cartridges are supported by the individual cogs. That solution drastically reduces the friction inside the rotary magazine and also eliminates possible deformation of the unjacketed lead bullets. 275-round pans for the American 180 submachine guns remain a less practical curiosity. The plus side of the rimmed design is the simplified headspacing which permits looser chambers and thus greater tolerance for fouling.
The sporting background of the traditional rimfire rifle makes it a bit challenging to operate under pressure, especially when reloading is required. Fortunately, a large number of rimfire clones of fighting rifles are now available. These mimic Sig 556, AR-15 and SU16 carbines in all but the caliber and the weight. Most use polymer lower and sometimes upper receivers to shave off a pound or two of weight, with almost another pound saved by the lighter ammunition. These guns have familiar oversized controls, accessory rails and tend to be fairly robust. When recoil is a concern but weight isn’t, rimfire conversion kits become an option.
Peter Grant, a friend who has trained many handicapped shooters, favors .22LR in very few cases, mainly when centerfire is just not an option. He said that the low cost of the ammunition and the minimal wear on the shooters allowed his trainees to hit a rolling ping-pong ball reliably after expending hundreds and even thousands of rounds in practice. Three of his students used laser sighted rimfire pistols to fight muggers, all with the same outcome: dead thugs had their faces cratered by multiple .22 slugs. With the same rounds being notably more energetic when fired from rifles, there’s no doubt that they can be adequate for self-defense. A 12-gauge shotgun or a centerfire rifle may be the choice for most Americans, but the lowly rimfire rifle is far from inadequate. In many cases, it gets pressed into defensive service simply by being closer at hand than a dedicated fighting rifle. In any case, it’s worth knowing what it can and cannot do in combat.
OK, I admit it. I don’t do dry fire practice nearly enough. To me, training with my defensive firearms means live fire at the range, which means range fees and ammo costs and cleaning the guns afterwards, and that means I don’t train as much as I should. And supplementing my training with dry fire practice is boring and tedious and in my opinion has a serious flaw—without a projectile going downrange and impacting a target, I don’t get feedback on whether I’m screwing it up. Momma always told me “practice makes perfect,” but the truth is “practice makes permanent.” I need a hole in the target to show me that I’m practicing correctly.
Enter the Advantage Arms LE .22lr Conversion Kit for Glock. The mid-sized, 9mm Glock 19 is my daily carry piece and therefore the gun that I need the most training with. Pistol marksmanship and manipulation are perishable skills. I want to train specifically with the trigger, controls, and grip of my Glock 19. If I substitute my Glock practice with a Ruger MkIII target gun, the trigger is different, the sights are different, the grip angle is different, the magazine doesn’t drop free… you get the idea. Pretty soon I’m just plinking, not training, right? The Advantage Arms kit is a replacement .22lr slide assembly that drops right onto my Glock 19’s frame with no modifications. At a casual glance the slide looks just like the factory 9mm slide, with identical cocking serrations milled into it and factory Glock adjustable sights. It attaches and detaches just like the factory slide, which means I have to dry fire a .22 to take it off. That’s normally a big no-no, but the barrel is relieved where the firing pin would normally impact it and get mangled. The included 10-round plastic magazine drops free like the 9mm mags do and locks the slide back after the last shot like the 9mm mags do. Shooting the .22 kit uses the exact same manual of arms and sight picture as a factory Glock 19, but firing ammo that costs one-fourth as much as the cheapest 9mm I can find. Put another way, I can shoot four times as often per dollar spent on ammo. Or, if I paid $250 for the conversion kit, it will pay for itself in shot-for-shot ammo savings after about 7000 rounds of ammo fired (around thirteen of those 525 round value packs I like to buy).
Shooting the .22 kit is a real hoot. I was able to get a 2.5 inch group at 10 yards away with supported, slow fire, but the five-pound trigger in my Glock isn’t a target trigger, the sights aren’t target sights, and I was shooting cheap value pack ammo, not match grade stuff. Honestly, that’s about as straight as I can shoot the gun in 9mm configuration anyway. I told you I need more practice! The kit only comes with one magazine, I’ll acquire more since they are only about $15. A plastic, Glock-style magazine loader is included with the kit, and I’m glad. Even though the mag only holds ten rounds it has a lot of spring pressure and the last couple of rounds are tiresome to mash into place with my thumbs. A basic cleaning kit and some oil are also included. I had some failures to extract spent casings during my first range trip, but they didn’t really bother me. Most .22lr conversion kits are known to go through a problematic break-in period before they “settle down” and become more reliable. Additionally, the cheap ammo I was using is not on the list of recommended ammo types which is printed off and included in the box with the kit. Next time I’ll buy some better ammo.
I’m planning on using the conversion to practice realistic drills such as drawing from my concealed carry holster and firing a controlled pair into a target seven yards away. Why not just dry fire the drill? When I draw from concealment I’m using gross motor skills (big muscles moving as fast as they can) to get the gun out of the holster and pointed in the right direction, followed up by fine motor skills (little muscles that have to move with precision) to acquire my sight picture, squeeze the trigger, recover from the recoil, find the trigger’s reset point, and squeeze again. The natural mistake to make in this drill is to mash the trigger hard and skimp on the front sight alignment because I’m in a hurry and didn’t successfully switch from big fast movements to precise movements. If I’m dry firing, I won’t even realize I’m doing it, but if I’m training with the .22 kit, I’ll know immediately that I screwed up as soon as I see the holes in the target. And with dry fire I have to cycle the slide myself if I want to feel the trigger’s reset, which means taking my support hand off the grip and… well, its just not the same. The only place where the conversion kit allows me to really “cheat” in shooting drills is with rate of fire, because the felt recoil impulse is much smaller with .22lr (in fact there is pretty much no recoil). So I can really blaze away with the conversion kit, putting aimed rounds down range much faster than I realistically could with the same gun in 9mm. Sure its fun, but again that’s plinking, not training. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
I’m excited about picking up the Advantage Arms Conversion Kit and my plans to increase my live-fire training time with it. Of course I will still be putting a lot of 9mm holes in targets as well, but I believe that my shooting fundamentals with the Glock 19 will improve by the extra practice I can afford now. Hopefully my practice will make perfect, instead of just permanent.
It’s cheap, abundant, easy to find, and fun to shoot. It’s the most common and most popular round on the market, but it is often derided as having little practical use outside of target practice and plinking. The .22 LR cartridge is often lauded and condemned in the same breath, but why? Despite its shortcomings, I feel it has a serious role as a practical survival rifle.
Almost every shooter started out with the humble .22 LR rimfire cartridge. It’s versatility as a training round and a small game hunting cartridge is well known, but the usefulness of a lightweight and reliable .22 rifle is often downplayed due to the round’s relatively low energy and reputed lack of “stopping power”. Despite the small punch it packs, the .22 LR cartridge can still be enormously useful in the right hands.
As a survival tool, the .22 rifle serves its purpose well. In addition to being effective against small game such as squirrels and rabbits, the .22 long rifle cartridge can also be used to take larger game with the proper shot placement. Game wardens have long targeted poachers who use quiet .22 rifles to surreptitiously and illegally take deer. Anecdotal accounts of hunters using .22 ammunition for feral hog and coyote control abound on the internet. Using rimfire ammunition and rifles to take large game such as deer is illegal in most areas, but in a survival situation it is possible to harvest such game with a single well placed shot.
For personal defense, the .22 is not necessarily ideal. Detractors point out that an aggressor can withstand multiple shots from a 40 grain .22 caliber bullet before being significantly incapacitated. Yet, all it takes is one well placed shot from the same gun to end a fight. In some circumstances, the mere fact that there is incoming fire may cause an attacker to rethink their plan.
While the .22 LR may not be the most ideal round for hunting or personal defense, it can get the job done. In a survival situation having a .22 is better than having no weapon at all.
In terms of the best “Bang for your buck” it’s hard to beat a Marlin Model 60 autoloading rifle. This reliable rifle has been around for 50 years now and has earned its reputation as an inexpensive, accurate and dependable firearm. The Model 60 is a tube fed semiautomatic rifle that comes with iron sights, though a rimfire scope can be fitted. New Model 60s can be found for less than $200.
The Model 60 isn’t your only option of course. There are a number of other fine .22 caliber rifles that work well as a survival rifle. The Marlin Papoose and Henry US Survival rifle are both good examples of .22 survival rifles that break down to be able to be stored more easily. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what is probably the most popular .22 rifle of all time, the Ruger 10/22. Unlike the Marlin Model 60, the Ruger 10/22 uses a detachable box magazine for quicker reloads. Like the Model 60, there is an enormous amount of aftermarket accessories for the 10/22. If you can think of the accessory, someone somewhere probably makes it for the 10/22.
One thing that is important when feeding an autoloading .22 is your choice of ammunition. Mr. Completely shared his thoughts on rimfire ammunition choices a while back. Bulk packs of Federal seem to be a popular choice. These copper plated rounds tend to feed in most automatic rifles and handguns with very few problems. Still, they aren’t the most accurate and tend to have misfire rates at slightly less than 1%. CCI Standard ammunition tends to be a bit more accurate, and their Green Tag ammunition is sorted by weight for consistent performance. But for most autoloaders, the best bet is CCI Mini-Mags. Even the roughest semiautomatic actions can digest Mini-Mags with little fuss.
When storing your .22 ammunition, make sure to keep it in a location where it cannot be affected by moisture. Exposure to moisture can easily cause .22 rimfire cartridges to fail to fire. Ziploc or vacuum sealed freezer bags are cheap insurance to keep your .22 cartridges dry.
The .22LR may not be the best round for any number of roles, but it is versatile, cheap, plentiful, and easy to store in large amounts. The ability to have a small rifle capable of taking small game as well as improvising as a defensive weapon can prove incredibly useful in a survival situation. For around $200 you can purchase a small .22 rifle and 500 round of ammunition; a small price to pay for such a useful tool.
I tend to take shooting very seriously, which makes sense because shooting guns is part of my job. So when I go to the range, I always have goals, and I’m there for “serious range time practice”. That’s all well and good, but lately I had been missing one of the most important aspects of trips to the range: fun. It seems in all my training and practicing, that I had forgotten that guns are supposed to be fun to shoot. So last night, I grabbed a bunch of boxes of Winchester .22 Magnum and went to the range with two guns that don’t get shot that often, my Marlin 25M and an old Colt SAA clone in .22 Magnum.
Somewhere in the middle of all the split times, draw times, FAST Drills, and other training, I had forgotten the simple joy of shooting a bolt action rimfire rifle. No recoil, no muzzle flip, and even with the simple notch and post sights, quite capable of ripping the 4 inch circle out of a Bianchi Cup target at 25 yards. I shot about 250 rounds of the Winchester .22 Magnum, simulating some of the drills that I’d do with an AR or a pistol with the “archaic” rifle and revolver I had with me. I did learn one thing though – if the zombies ever come and all I’ve got is a .22 Magnum bolt action rifle and a pile of .22 Magnum, I’ll be OKAY.
There is actually a point to all of this – it’s important to have fun when you’re shooting. For a lot of guys who are serious about self-defense, or serious about competition training, it’s easy for the simple pleasure of plinking to get lost. I’m not saying to stop practicing, but every now and then it’s not a bad idea to haul the rimfire out to the range and just have some good old fashioned FUN. Personally, the best way to do that is get a couple of bricks of BVAC .22 LR and go to the range with your favorite .22 pistol and rifle. A Sig Mosquito, S&W 22A, Ruger 22/45, S&W M&P15-22, or Sig 522 are all great choices to just plink and have some fun. There is also a huge training benefit (I had to work that in somehow) to just going to the range and shooting for fun and not worrying about time or drills – spending a little time with a .22 can get you back in sync with your front sight and trigger press if you’ve been having issues with that.
So take some time, grab some .22 ammo, and head out to the range. Shoot for fun, just plink zombie targets in the face, do whatever. But most importantly, take a break from all the serious defensive/competition training for just a day, and have some fun.
Mr. Completely, one of the foremost authorities on rimfire pistols on the internet has added another primer on Rimfire Magazines. This is only part one of his essay on rimfire magazines, so keep your eyes peeled for part two of his series.
Once again, Mr. Completely has written an outstanding piece that I felt just had to be showcased in this blog.
Getting a rimfire semi-auto pistol to function for several hundred rounds in a row without a single stovepipe, mis-feed, failure to fire, or other malfunction is truly a challenge under any conditions. You can be sure, though, that if it’s going to malfunction, it’s most likely to happen in a match where time lost clearing the problem will cost you dearly. Rimfire pistols, just like computers, KNOW the worst possible time to act up, and they seem to take fiendish pleasure in your misfortune!