Monday, May 11, 2009

In my continued praise of the .22LR firearm...

Yes...while all the other "gun nuts" in the world are debating the AK v. the AR, the 9mm v. the .45ACP, the handgun v. shotgun v. short-barreled rifle for QCB, et cetera, I am forever the "black sheep". I'm that random weirdo that says you should be able to use whatever works best...FOR YOU. You can take all the trajectory calculations, ballistic gelatin cross-sections, rate-of-fire comparisons, et cetera, and throw 'em all out the window...because they all mean dick squat, if you can't hit what you're aiming at.

Now, let's look at the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. For those who aren't "gun nuts" like myself and the rest of my friends and family, the "Long Rifle" designation DOES NOT imply the use in an actual long-barreled rifle. In the .22 rimfire category, you have four distinctively-sized cartridges. You have the .22 Short, the .22 Long, the .22 Long Rifle (typically referred to as the ".22LR"), and the .22 Magnum.

Amongst these, the .22LR is the most commonly-used and most commonly-chambered cartridge. The .22 Long is currently only available via "specialty manufacturers", as its commercial viability simply no longer exists. The .22 Magnum is still manufactured for those who choose it for its projectile velocity, as it travels quite a bit faster than the typical .22LR round. The .22 Short is also currently manufactured, and is quite useful in general training and short-range target-shooting scenarios. For those of you who know me personally, I'm sure you've seen the photos the "laundry room possum". I used an available short-round for that shot, because it does not produce the sound level typical of the .22LR. My father tells me he used to target-practice with .22 Short in his living room, because he could safely use an old telephone directory as a backstop!

Most single-shot and "repeating" (meaning non-single-shot) firearms that do not use a semi-automatic action are capable of chambering the .22 Short, .22 Long, and the .22 Long Rifle. Most do not accept the .22 Magnum, because this is a relatively "modern" (it being only 50 years old, as opposed to more than 100, like the other .22 rimfire cartridges), and is more of the "specialty" type. The revolver I shot the possum with, as well as the bolt-action rifle I was shooting yesterday afternoon, will both accept the three lower-velocity rounds.

Most semi-automatic firearms do not accept the .22 Short or .22 Long rounds, when specifically chambered for the .22LR round, as they do not produce enough recoil force to adequately operate the action.

There is a very high probability that, if you happen to own a .22 rimfire rifle or handgun of the semi-automatic variety, it is going to be chambered for .22LR. Every single semi-automatic rimfire firearm that I've ever laid my hands on has been chambered for .22LR...and I can guarantee you that's quite a few different species of weaponry.

Because of this reason (the "common usage" aspect of it), .22LR is DIRT CHEAP, even in times like now, when ammo is short. Even today, it's not uncommon to purchase a thousand rounds for under $20US. I guarantee you that you'll get tired of the heat, the reloading, or the walking out to inspect your targets, before you'll finish off a 500-rd brick of .22LR ammo. In all probability, you'll spend more on a package of decent targets, than you will on a 500-rd brick of ammunition.

Now that I've got all of that squared away, let's look at why you should own a .22LR firearm. Actually, you should own three of them.

First and foremost, they are excellent "trainer" guns, for anyone looking to get started in shooting, or to hone their mechanical shooting skills...because, as I stated before, they are DIRT CHEAP to shoot. 20USD will buy you 1,000 rounds of *HIGH QUALITY* .22LR, whereas 20USD might buy you 20 rounds of whatever random standard-grade ammo for your center-fire pistol or rifle.

They are also a great way to promote "family bonding". If your family is anything like mine, your family is highly competitive, but not necessarily "athletically able". You don't need to run a 4-minute mile or do 200 pushups in two minutes, in order to shoot well...but you do need to be able to focus on the fundamentals, and put them to use.


The last, but certainly not the least, important reason for owning a .22LR firearm? When you're confronted with the inevitable "When the Shit Hits the Fan" scenario, do you want to concern yourself with trajectory, force, and velocity, or do you want to be able to get the job done?

We can talk about "stopping power" all night long, but typically (and erroneously), this will end up in the arena of damage caused to the human body.

"Stopping power", contrary to popular belief, is not limited to immediately putting an "enemy" on the ground. True "stopping power" is, effectively, doing whatever necessary to take the enemy "out of the game"...regardless of whether it kills him, makes him physically unable to remain a threat, or merely makes him turn around and run while thinking about how he's just screwed up. Regardless of what has happened, if you produce either of these three results, you have achieved "stopping power"...because you have effectively neutralized your enemy.

Many people feel like the .22LR simply is lacking in the "ass" department, meaning that it is simply not strong enough to get the job done...and that is one subject that I would definitely find arguable. While a slug from my 12ga can literally crack an engine block, and will most certainly penetrate a Kevlar vest, it is utterly useless against a man if I can't hit him with it.

On the other hand, there's not a predator in the world (two-legged or four-legged) aside from possibly a rhinoceros, that won't either drop dead, stop in its tracks, or run away as fast as possible if hit in the face with a .22LR slug.

The "when the shit hits the fan" scenario can include damned near anything...including a wild animal attack, a carjacker, a home-invader, or even agents of a tyrannical government.

I've been shooting .22LR firearms for the past two decades. Almost as long ago, my uncle gave me my first firearm that was "mine", and was a .22LR "break-down" rifle. At the age of 16, my father bought me my first pistol which was a .22LR Smith & Wesson. Between these two firearms (and due, in a large part, to the economic viability of shooting them), I've literally fired thousands of rounds through them.

Unfortunately, my S&W pistol was stolen from my father's home a few years ago...but I still have the rifle my uncle gave me. I took this rifle, along with an antique bolt-action rifle and an antique Hi-Standard semi-auto pistol, to the range with me yesterday. I brought a box with more than 500 rounds in it, and the contents of that box can fit in my pockets.

While my cousin, his friend, and his mom were shooting the "high-powered" pistols they brought, they had difficulty hitting the targets on the 25m range. The Hi-Standard pistol that I was firing for the first time on that day was able to hit the target repeatedly without difficulty. How wide is your head? I was shooting a target 8" in diameter, at 25 yards.

With my breakdown rifle, at that same distance, I was able to put a full magazine into a space the size of a cigarette pack...and that grouping got smaller when I took out the longer-barreled bolt-action rifle.

At 100m, I was still able to put most of that magazine into that same 8" target, with that same breakdown rifle. With the bolt-action rifle, at the distance of 100m, I can put one between your eyes without using a scope.

An SKS, an AR15, a Glock 21, and most certainly a 12ga shotgun pack more "firepower" than the .22LR firearm...but if I can put SEVERAL rounds of .22LR in your face (or your neck, your nuts, your knees, your ankles, et cetera), at rapid fire, who's gonna win that firefight? How many rounds' worth of practice have you had?

Did I mention that until yesterday, I hadn't shot the breakdown rifle in ten years...and that pistol and bolt-action rifle EVER?

When the shit hits the fan, do you want to be throwing a "bull's eye" to win the game in a dart or two? Or would you rather throw cinderblocks, resting on the knowledge that a direct shot wins the game, but you might throw 30 of them before you hit your target? How many rounds does your mag hold? Can you get those rounds off, before I get off a single shot?

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