With costs and availability of ammunition sure to go berserk again, you’re probably trying to figure out how to keep enjoying the shooting sports. Whether it’s getting out with your family for some target shooting fun or to practice and maintain skills, don’t give up just yet.
Hopefully you already have the firearm you want or need. Already, getting them is starting to get as hard as finding ammunition. Not everyone out there is trying to gouge you, so choose wisely. When you do find ammo, it obviously has gone up in price, but there are still some pretty good deals.
With a presidential election on our horizon, practicing with large caliber guns is already expensive. So if you shoot as much as I like to, you’ve begun to notice. Thankfully .22 ammo is back on the mend—availability and pricing still beats most of the center-fire rounds. Some of your best trigger time these days may be with a good old .22 for the most cost-effective option.
Shooting .22 rimfire has always appealed to me. There are many great .22 caliber stand-alones and look-a-likes in a wide array of arms. The past few years have produced some really fun and training relevant options.
For example, conversion kits have been popping up like crazy for Glock, SIG Sauer and 1911’s. Not just aftermarket kits either—manufacturers are starting to make and sell their own for optimal fit and function. Conversion kits for AR-15 rifles are great and many companies are making dedicated rimfire options available. Don’t forget about all the great .22 AR uppers made by manufacturers like Tactical Solutions, Volquartsen, Chiappa, CMMG and DPMS. Some of these companies make the best pistol conversions as well.
So as you can see, the selection of dedicated .22s available is better than ever and some of these guns are so similar to their large caliber predecessors that training with them translates directly. All but the costs. However, there are many offerings from so many companies. Smith & Wesson’s M&P .22 now comes in a compact version, SIG Sauer's Mosquito, Ruger’s SR22, Umarex 1911’s and a host of revolvers. Also, there are AR-15 .22 caliber look-a-likes, like the Smith & Wesson M&P 22/15. It’s not the only one out there that functions exactly like my standard AR but, it has become a training tool I’ve come to rely on. To defer student’s costs, I allow .22 rimfire in my AR classes regularly now. Therefore, you’re only limited by your ability to search the internet.
Along with pistols and AR-15s, precision rifle is fun and challenging also. Thankfully there are rimfire bolt guns on the market that can keep you tuned up. My favorite is a Savage Tactical with a good one piece rail on top. The rail keeps hold of my SWFA 3-9x42 FFP Mil/Mil optic. I know it seems like a lot of glass for a .22, but don’t knock it till you try it. Shooting targets with .22s out to 275 and 300 yards using mil dots for holds is a hoot. Trying to read and hold wind with that little caliber can be just as challenging as making that 1000 yarder with a .308 Win. So, many manufacturers are building quality .22 trainers these days—CZ and their new 455 Varmint Precision Trainer, Savage and Sako, Marlin etc.
However, some scoff at training with .22’s and they may have valid points but pair your .22 training with increased distances, increased speed and reduced target size.
Training with .22 caliber guns, similar in function and cycle to your regular caliber guns, can be highly beneficial. You can always work the mechanics and mental aspects of shooting. Trigger management, sight picture, grip and presentation are physical skills, but the hardest part is the mental game and follow through. Thus, maintain all of the fundamentals of marksmanship through the break of the round by keeping your head on the gun and not trying to make the shot more perfect than possible and follow the sights through recoil and back to the target. That’s the hard part and you don’t need full power ammo to work on those skills. Rimfires can work fine.
Overall, the .22 caliber has a myriad of uses beyond training. I’ll save the practicality of the .22 in the zombie apocalypse for another article. Until then, don’t get frustrated, get shooting and training. And remember, stockpile that .22 ammo!