I love the .22 Rifle.
In my opinion, if you are going to own one firearm or if you are taking up shooting or getting back into shooting, regardless of your eventual long term goals (deer hunting or hunting Cape Buffalo in Africa) you really should get yourself a quality .22 Rifle. They are super fun, relatively cheap (180-270 dollars), cheap to shoot (15 to 20 dollars for a box of 500 rounds), and a great way to hone your marksmanship skills.
That being said, I also think the .22 caliber rifle is the rifle of choice for a survival situation, be it natural disaster, apocalypse, or even Zombie Apocalypse. The following are my top three choices for the .22 Rifle you should own for any situation.
1) Ruger 10/22: Some say the Marlin 60 is perhaps the better rifle and in fact there have been more Marlin 60’s built (11 million vs. Ruger 10/22 5 million built). Nevertheless, the Ruger 10/22 is somehow a more popular rifle meaning there are more after market parts/add ons and it always seems that everybody has a Ruger 10/22 and you can find them anywhere. These rifles are reliable even when using very inexpensive ammunition. They are accurate right out of the box and cleaning and disassembly is relatively easy and straightforward, although I’ve heard of people who’ve never cleaned their 10/22 and they claim it still fires flawlessly. The 10/22 is a semi-automatic rifle and comes with a 10 round capacity magazine.
Price: Ruger 10/22 Carbine $229-249
2) Henry Lever Action .22 Rifle (H001): I love this rifle. Cowboy action shooting! Go watch True Grit and then go get yourself a Henry Lever Action .22 and you will have the time of your life. While the Ruger’s semi-automatic action is fun, cycling through 15 rounds of .22lr with a Henry .22 rifle is Nirvanic. More fun I have not had with a firearm (more fun than a 50 cal in my book). The Henry is a reliable weapon that will take inexpensive ammo. It’s a straight shooter right out of the box. If you wanted to you could put a scope on your Ruger, but I wouldn’t put a scope on my Henry if only for purely aesthetic reasons. Get yourself a Skinner peep sight if you’re looking for more accuracy. The Henry Lever action .22 is tube fed and will hold 15 rounds of .22lr, 17 rounds of .22Long, and 20 rounds of .22 Short. The owner’s manual states that you don’t have to disassemble the Henry for cleaning. However, eventually you will want to take off the stock and receiver and clean the bolt and trigger assembly. This process is somewhat complicated but not terribly difficult.
3. Marlin 925 .22LR Rifle: A good single shot bolt action .22 is about as close to idiot proof as you are going to get in a firearm. Under most circumstances less moving parts equals less likelihood of a mechanical failure and if you’re a decent shot then you can accomplish what you need with the “one shot”. That being said, a single shot bolt action .22 can wear on you after a while, especially if your buddy is shooting his semi-auto or lever action right beside you. So how about a bolt action (because there is something really cool about shooting a bolt action rifle. It makes it easy to pretend you are in a WWII movie) rifle that is magazine fed? Presenting the Marlin 925 .22 rifle. Marlin makes a great rifle and the 925 is no exception and in many ways it is the “rule”. It is a very reliable, accurate out of the box gun. It looks great and while it makes a great entry level rifle, it’s also unique enough and cool enough to carry with pride at the range or on a small game hunting venture. Furthermore, unlike the Ruger or the Henry the Marlin comes with sling attachments which for backpacking, hunting, and Zombie Apocalypse situations are very nice to have. Great value to boot.
One thing that is annoying about some of the “gun forums” you visit is that you get some people that say “the XXX is the best gun” or “this gun sucks”. Now I’m not going to say these three are hands down the best. However, in my opinion they are some of the best all around multi-purpose .22 rifles out there. Furthermore, each weapon is very reasonably priced and each weapon would work fine as a stand alone small game hunting rifle, home defense weapon, plinking rifle, or survival rifle (I’ll talk more specifically about survival rifles in my next post).
Furthermore, these are rifles you can be proud to own and if you are just getting into shooting, no one is going to look at this weapon as an obvious sign that you are a newbie (although you might otherwise give them plenty indication that you are a moron and don’t have any business owning a firearm). For me, the .22 Rifle is my favorite caliber rifle. It’s fun, cheap to own and shoot, and gets the job done in almost every imaginable situation, within reason.
Let me know what you think.