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Ruger Mark IV Lite
Courtesy Duke’s Sport Shop

Now that the nerve-rattling blasts of Independence Day have faded and the days of summer march toward fall, it’s time to dust off some .22s for plenty o’ fun – and not quite so loud – shooting. If you want lots of recreational shooting enjoyment at the lowest cost – sadly, it’s not nearly as cheap as it once was – you still can’t beat the little .22 rimfire cartridge.

There are so many outstandingly fun guns made for rimfire pursuits, both rifles and handguns. The rifles include semiautos, bolt guns and lever actions. As far as handguns, well, you can find any kind of semi-auto or revolver that meets your needs.

Even smaller guns don’t preclude fun and increase the challenge. If you’re involved in recreational shooting, challenge adds to the fun.

The Taurus Model 942 snub (above) and the Ruger Wrangler .22 LR Revolver (below with bird’s gead grip in a Simply Rugged holster) can make plinking more challenging due to their relatively small size. That increases the fun, though, and makes the shooter concentrate more on the fundamentals.

If single action revolvers like the Wrangler are your preference, you can get into the game at an attractive price with Ruger Wrangler and Super Wrangler guns and the Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider series. You’d be surprised at how well they shoot, given their low asking price.

On my first trip to Wyoming to work on ranch pests with centerfire rifles, one of the guides packed a Rough Rider in his truck. I had some .22LR ammunition and exacted a fearsome toll on the local ground squirrel population.

 

For double action revolvers, you can go from the value priced, like the Taurus M942 small frame revolver, or to premium priced guns like the Smith & Wesson Model 617, the Colt King Cobra Target 22, or, if you can find one, the Ruger GP100. Each outstanding rimfire wheelgun has its own advantages and you can’t really go wrong.

The double action trigger pul weight on rimfire revolvers is necessarily high to ensure reliable ignition. For rimfire steel competitors, Apex Tactical has worked on the S&W Model 617 to get that trigger weight down without sacrificing reliability. They’ve done well, too. I use the harder-trigger .22 revolvers to hone my snubbie revolver trigger skills without spending my ammo budget on louder, more-costly-to-shoot boomers.

For bolt guns, there’s the old Revelation single-shot I got second-(or third- or fourth-)hand for my eldest son, and a “gifted” Remington Model 34. The sole modern bolt action .22 I’ve used is the Ruger American Rimfire Compact. It’s a handy little .22 with more accuracy than I could take advantage of with irons so I added a Vortex Diamondback made specifically for rimfires.

The addition of the optic made a remarkable shooter a better-than-I-deserve shooter. It’s ideal for hunting, ammo testing, target work or as a nearby utility rifle for farm or ranch. I’m not sure there’s anything better.

While we have Ruger on the mind, the venerable 10/22 is – next to the Marlin M60 and variants – one of the most popular .22 semi-autos on the planet. The ten-shot rotary magazine has been one of the reasons for its success, along with the ease of maintenance. That’s led to vast customization options and, after patents expired, the most-commonly copied semi-auto rifle action there is. It’s a very personable little gun and I find myself preferring the take-down variants.

As a utility rifle, it’s hard to beat. The 10/22 is accurate, dependable, and lots of fun. It’s become a staple of the American gun-owning public.

For lever gun lovers, you can go back in time for the Marlin Model 39, for example, but now we have the handy little .22s from Henry Repeating Arms. I’ve owned a couple, the original, and the Henry Lever Action Small Game Carbine. It’s heavier with a just-over-16-inch octagonal barrel, nicely polished, with Skinner Peep sights atop the gun.

I find the peep gives me more precision over the semi-buckhorns on the original. The additional weight out front doesn’t hurt anything either.

For autoloading handguns, the Ruger Mark IV species works well for precision shooting and plinking fun. I have experience with the MK IV 22/45, but the “standard” models are fine range and field guns as well. The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory, with a trigger like a Model 41, adaptability from aftermarket suppliers like Volquartsen, and innovative design gives up nothing in the fun department.

These days, I’m more of a paper-puncher as that helps me assess my relative skill level. Commercially available “fun” targets abound. We no longer shoot at the city dump and the target makers turn out lots of entertaining reactive target options.

Be careful with steel targets and observe the makers’ distance recommendations. “Shoot-through” reactive targets like those from THROOM are handy for fun shooting without the hazards of steel.

Get yourself a .22, some ammo and get out there. Observe the four rules and have fun. I’ll see you at the range.

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