What can a .22 do for you?
For many shooters reading this, your first gun was likely a .22 rifle. It was a right of passage, given to you by your grandfather, dad or favorite uncle. For others who didn’t live in a gun-friendly house hold, your first exposure to shooting was likely with the Boy Scouts of America. BSA still has a marksmanship merit badge, and summer-time scout camp serves as the first shooting “competition” many young men participate in.
Regardless if it’s backyard plinking, shooting on a NRA small bore team, or finally turning 18 and buying your first rifle, the veteran .22 Long Rifle cartridge is the most common cartridge new shooters are taught on. As far as rounds produced per year, it is by far the most common cartridge in the world today.
The cartridge got its start way back in 1887, with links to its origin going back as far as 1845. One of the most prolific and successful metallic cartridges of all time, it’s also one of the oldest still produced. The truly great thing about the .22 is that it’s one of the few cartridges accepted by an unlimited variety of rifles and pistols. Every year, firearms manufactures continue to design new platforms to propel the little lead pill. With virtually no recoil, and soft report in rifles, it makes a great gun to teach youth and novice shooters. But there is something strange about the .22, which is the focus of this article.
For whatever reason, at some point some guys feel that they have outgrown it.
First off, the .22 LR will kill you dead, just as much as any other cartridge out there. Just because it throws a little 40 grain piece of led slightly over the speed of sound, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve respect. Its lethality is well known by mafia hitmen, poachers, assassins, and other unsavory characters just as it is to small game hunters across the world. The .22 can hit the bullseye exceptionally well at 50 yards, and hold respectable groups at 100. Most sport shooters and those who attend firearms training shoot inside that 100 yd envelope, and rarely go outside of it. When you are killing paper robots, what difference does it make if there is massive recoil or just the “putt” of the .22? Granted, the .22 has its limitations. It’s not a massive powerhouse or an impressive magnum, and you’ll never see someone wearing a pith helmet carrying one in a howdah hunting triceracrocs in the jungles of Madripoor.
What it does, have, however, is great usefulness in its small, humble package. It can serve as a means of gaining meat for the table, or keeping your proficiency up without breaking the bank. That’s the fallacy of those who think its “just for kids” or not “cool enough.”
The key to marksmanship is always following the fundamentals, no matter what. That is seconded by the frequency in which you apply them. The majority of shooters gain or retain proficiency by hitting the range frequently. Especially with handgun shooting, long lapses in shooting will lead to backsliding in your individual skill level. The .22 might not be as cheap to shoot as a few short years ago, nor as abundant due to ammo hoarders and relentless demand. But it’s still relatively cheap to shoot, and somewhat easy to find.
There are many popular pistols and rifles chambered in .22 that mimic their large-caliber brethren. Countless people buy “matched” .22 pistols the same as their carry gun, or buy .22 conversation kits to use as a training aid. If you are rusty or need to focus on the fundamentals, the little .22 will cut paper just the same as a 9mm or .45 ACP. If you use poor fundamentals, your deficiency will show on paper just the same, only you can identify these issues a hell of a lot cheaper with the .22 cartridge!
Even if you don’t have a Smith and Wesson M&P 22 set up to match your full size AR-15, or a Glock conversion slide to practice your draw, all is not lost. That old bolt action or pump your dad gave you for your 12th birthday still has a role in your adult life. If you don’t believe it, here is a challenge. Go place a silhouette or bullseye of your choosing at fifty yards. Grab that dusty, worn, iron-sighted boyhood rifle and shoot a simple drill. 10 rounds standing, 10 kneeing, 10 sitting and 10 prone. The results down range just might surprise you…
.22 LR can be used for a lot of different drills and types of training, and not just for your kids. It’s a cartridge that will never go out of production, and has a lot of offer if you put a little thought into it. By going back to basics now and then, you just might discover a few things about yourself as a shooter as well.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.