I am the first to admit, I don’t shoot a lot of .22lr. While it was the first round I ever shot as a kid, it is not a cartridge I can say I shoot regularly as an adult over 20 years later. However, a recent conversation with a retired infantry officer and dedicated survivalist/backpacker led me to purchase 2 .22lr rifles. The first the semiautomatic Remington Model 597, and the second the Savage MK2. After over 5000 rounds of various .22lr loads I felt confident in my ability to discuss the philosophy of use of the .22lr, and make a case as to why you should dust yours off, or purchase one.
Reason number 1: they are affordable
Yes, I know the .22lr isn’t much more than a glorified pellet gun. However, the ammo is extremely cheap (.22lr shortages of the past notwithstanding.) The rifles themselves, even the more expensive models (e.g. the Ruger 10/22) are very affordable. I purchased the Remington Model 597 with 3 magazines for less than $300 CAD!
Reason number 2: magazines are less restricted
There are few firearms available in Canada that are not heavily restricted in terms of ammunition capacity. With a .22lr rifle you can enjoy rapid fire shooting with a high magazine capacity. In fact, if this is something that appeals to you can check out the IPSC mini-rifle competition manual.
Reason number 3: there is more to the .22lr round than meets the eye
The .22lr cartridge itself is something of a sleeper agent. Don’t believe me? There are videos abound of the .22lr being used to take down hogs in the southern United States. The lethality of this tiny (and with the right load) high velocity projectile is not in question in my mind. Is it an ideal protection round? No. However, for a trail gun/survival rifle you will be hard pressed to find better. You can easily carry multiple magazines, or upwards of 100 rounds of .22lr in your pack for survival purposes if things go south on the trail.
Reason number 4: no real recoil
The .22lr has no particularly noticeable recoil. An easy shooter for any skill level, it won’t leave your body battered after firing thousands of rounds. To this end, the .22lr allows you to practice fundamentals. Trigger press, sight picture, shooting position, grip etc. all still hold true with a .22lr. It is important to note however that the .22lr can breed bad habits. The lack of noticeable recoil means you don’t necessarily need the fundamentals. How do you counter this? Challenge yourself and the platform! While range testing for this article I took shots past 100 yards with both platforms, it was challenging when even the slightest wind can throw your groupings off.
Reason number 5: customization
The customization of rim fire rifles is second only to the AR-15 platform. Magazines, optics, stocks, and grips the list goes on, as a project gun you can give yourself hours of affordable enjoyment.
To conclude, the .22lr is a fun platform. You don’t need to spend large amounts of money to enjoy a reliable firearm that will serve you well in a variety of applications. As a final point, small bore rifle competitions offer shooters the opportunity to participate in competition without the high cost of IPSC or IDPA, if you aren’t sure on your ability to excel in a competition environment small bore is an excellent way to test the proverbial waters.