.22 pistols

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Another Fabulous Firearms Friday……

I would guess that the most ‘fun’ firearm a person can own is, in my opinion, a .22 pistol. They’re cheap to shoot and, for some reason, I find handguns to be much more fun than most rifles. While ‘fun’ is a great reason to buy something, I’ve hit the stage where I’m pretty much buying only stuff that has ‘practical’ use. Fortunately, the .22 pistols are quite useful.

I’ve owned a mix of .22 pistols over the years….RG, Ruger, Smith, etc, etc. Over the years I’ve had some pistols that were quite nice, some that weren’t, and some that were just ‘okay’.  I hate to sound like a shill for Ruger, but the EOTWAWKI .22 handguns tend to be Rugers. Not necessarily because I like Ruger, I’m actually more of a S&W kinda guy, but the simple facts are that Rugers are durable as heck, and depending on the model they have excellent aftermarket support and logisitics.

Ruger, in a position that is rather unique, manages to hit all the high points in .22 pistol offerings – singleaction revolver, double action revolver, semi auto pistol, semi auto ‘unlimited’ pistol (“Charger”).

The Charger is a 10/22 with no stock and a short barrel. Oh, there are some minor differences to keep you from dropping it into a 10/22 stock but otherwise it’s a pistol-gripped 10/22. (This has actually been done before with the ill-fated Intratec ‘Scorpion’ .22 autopistol that took 10/22 magazines back in the ’90s.) It’s nice that the Charger can use the same magazines as the 10/22 but the Charger really doesn’t fit the niche normally occupied by ‘handguns’. It’s really more of a specialized pistol. However, if a person didnt mind the paperwork, it would make an excellent candidate to SBR with a little folding stock. They’re interesting, and I think I’ll wind up getting one eventually, but they’re a low-priority compared to other pistols.

My first handgun was a Ruger Single-Six. These little guns usually came with a spare cylinder to allow the user to fire .22 LR or .22 Mag. Six sots, single action, reliable and handy, these are excellent guns for carrying around in the sticks for popping squirrels, finishing off wounded animals, plinking, and just about everything else that you would use a .22 for. Drawbacks are the six-shot capacity, slow reload time, long lock-time of that hammerfall, and the barrel-light weight (IMO). To be fair, there arent a lot of circumstances where you need a fast reload or more than a half-dozen shots in a .22 pistol that your’re not shooting at zombies.

Ruger used to offer some double-action .22 revolvers off-and-on over the years. I always thought it was a little odd that Ruger would try to position themselves as having the broadest product line of any manufacturer and then neglect the DA revolver angle. I’m a revolver kind of guy at heart, and their new .22 DA revolver looks pretty tempting. Why a revolver over an auto? No real reason except that there’s no worry about magazines.

The Ruger series of .22 autopistols seems like everyones ‘go to’ choice for preparedness. Their latest incarnation is the Mk III which I’m not a fan of. The MkII had a long history, plenty of aftermarket support, and great mag availability. With the introduction of the MkIII, which uses a completely new and non-compatible magazine, Ruger managed to muddy the waters. Still, for my .22 pistol needs this is the gun that goes to the top of my list. Ruger makes (made) enough variants to fill just about every need, running the gamut from basic no-frills models to target/competition models. I like the simple 5″ heavy barrel models. The taper  barreled ones are probably just as good but I like the extra weight up front. Whenever I can find a MkII at a reasonable price, I’ll buy it.

Smith and Wesson, for a brief time, made a series of pistols that I was very fond of. These were the ’22′ series of pistols….622,422, etc, etc. They were all modern variants of the old S&W Escort model.  I think they were great guns..lightweight, flat, compact, accurate and cheap. It’s kind of sad that S&W discontinued it. I have one that I bought solely because the price was right and there was no paperwork attached. It is lightweight and handy enough to go into a backpack when hunting and fishing with almost no notice. I understand S&W doesn’t carry spare parts for these things anymore (the guns were, as I understand, actually contracted out so it isn’t surprising Smith orphaned it) so it is definitely not a choice for a long term relationship.

Colt made the Woodsman and some variants thereof, as well as the Cadet/Colt .22 pistols. The Woodsman (Woodsmen?) are great guns but for my needs there has to be a good logistics base behind a gun for me to actaully drop money and buy one. Same with High Standard…those things were great guns but I want something where I don’t have to call Gun Parts everytime I need a rear sight screw.

The only other non-Ruger auto I have is a Beretta 21A. Yup, a mousegun. Bought it back in..uhm…’94 I think. It’s been mostly a safe queen ever since. I carry it very rarely since my S&W 640 is about the same size and a better caliber. I bought the Beretta back in the day because I wanted the smallest possible gun I could stuff in my pocket for when I was still making trips to the Big Eastern City and wanted something discrete. It’s a reliable gun as long as the chamber is kept clean and high velocity ammo is used. I use CCI Stingers in it. About the only thing I use it for now is stuffing it in my vest pocket when I go hunting in case I need to put a hole in Bambi’s brainpan if the .308 didnt do an instant kill. Even then, I usually take the Glock or P35 with me so this thing really is just a safe queen but I cant bring myself to get rid of it.

Other guns I’ve had are an amazing RG-22 that was the textbook definition of a Saturday Night Special. ( I say ‘amazing’ not because the gun was accurate or well-made, just the opposite…I was amazed that something of such design and construction was considered worth the hassle of serial numbering. I think the fit, finish and quality was slightly less than your average $39.99 Crossman CO2 pistol.) I think I paid $20 for it and immediately had buyers remorse. I literally could not give it away. I think I shot it once in my basement, with CB caps, just to see if it worked. I should have mailed it to a friend in NYC for a gun buyback program and split the difference. Same story with a couple Davis derringers in .22 that came my way. (Those were a little easier to give away. This was back when a new one, dealer price, was around $79…so you could actually use them as stocking stuffers around Christmas.) The wife has a little NAA minirevolver and I gotta admit..its cute. Surprisingly well made for something so tiny. We keep it in the truck in case we hit a deer and need to put it down. I think when she was still doing uniformed patrol she carried it around in her bag for the same purpose.

I know some folks are gonna chime in with “What about………” and then mention their favorite. Hey, I can only comment on the guns I’ve actually owned. I’m thrilled that youre happy with your Taurus/Rossi/Smith/Sig/Whatever….but I can’t give opinions on guns I havent owned so if I didnt mention your favorite it’s probably because I’ve never owned one.