by Jesse Mathewson
In these United States, we have seen hundreds if not thousands of 22lr caliber rifles come and go over the years. Arguably the Ruger 10/22 is the most well known and oldest version of the semi-automatic 22lr rifles still in production today, originally coming onto the scene in 1964 with a rotary style magazine, as compared to the other rifles in today’s review, which all utilize stick style magazines. This rifle was ahead of its time and served to make Ruger a household name, along with the further innovations in the Mini (14, 30 etc.,) series rifles and a variety of handguns.
It is important to understand that my choice personally for 22lr caliber rifle; for the purposes of this article, is not based on anything other than testing, function, weight, price and overall effective efficiency in filling the role as meat provider for the table in a grid down situation, or even as a defensive tool. (And all arguments aside, 22lr is a deadly round, this has been proven time and again over the years, I will attach links to several factual stories of defense against BG’s with the lowly 22lr, not too mention its use as a premier fly swatter for individuals intent on fulfilling pest control of a two-legged variety of varmint.)** On a personal note I have used it quite actively over the years for varmint control, freezer filling and more, sadly the caliber .22 being banned for hunting in many states now, though this is not a serious issue in a grid down situation. After all, some laws are simply not moral or necessary.
The following four rifles include four of the top brand names and are modern, still in production, semi-automatic magazine fed 22lr caliber rifles. The specifics for each are listed below for your perusal. I am not including bolt action .22lr or tube fed, I am not including any 22lr caliber clones of AR, AK or other military variants. I am also not including conversion kits for AR styled rifles as these have their own set of issues and costs.
Marlin Model 795
- .22 long rifle
- 10 round stick magazine, 1 in chamber
- 18” barrel
- Sights, adjustable open rear, ramp front sight with grooves in receiver for scope mounting
- 1: 16 rh twist
- 4.5lbs unloaded
- 37” overall length
- Suggested retail is 239.99
Relatively new, not many aftermarket parts, somewhat based on the Marlin 60 which was a truly fine 22lr and shone in many areas. Very accurate rifle and for the cost is extremely nice. Only ammunition issues were Remington flat tips, otherwise, shoots everything.
I had one, and loved it, however, as the cost is more than the Mossberg 702 which follows, I haven’t invested more in additional copies. And as I am a KISS proponent and fan, it is essential that those within my core group are armed in a similar fashion so as to reduce the number of possible problems when arming, rearming etc.,
Mossberg 702 Plinkster
- .22 long rifle
- 10 round stick magazine/ 25 round factory extended magazines available
- 18” barrel
- Adjustable sights (replace with Tech Sights) grooved for scopes, not milspec, you will need to get a 3/8” scope mount or adapter, which is easily found on Amazon for milspec additions and rails.
- This is not abnormal with non AR styled .22lr firearms, to be more pointed, many hunting rifles come with this mount approach. So it is in fact a standard mounting for hunters.
- 1:16 twist rh
- Synthetic Stock, Wood Stock and or additional colors available if needed. However, the standard black synthetic stock works effectively.
- 37” overall length
- Suggested price 176.00
Based on an older model, several companies make aftermarket parts, however, magazines are still only available from the factory. It is not as popular as the 10/22 and as such suffers from a lack of aftermarket parts availability. Extremely reliable and accurate. Only ammunition issues were Remington flat tips, otherwise, shoots everything.
This is my top choice, they can be found for around $100 at most Wal-Marts, or used for even less depending on location, rarely have I seen them over $160. Pinned barrel, simple action blowback action. A bit of sandpaper and a philips head screwdriver will have the barrel free floated in under 15 minutes. I currently own several, with 10 magazines for each one. An inexpensive one-inch nylon sling, $79 on Tech Sights (Amazon), and you will have a rifle that will easily get you a rifleman badge at the local Appleseed shoot, keep it clean and you will never have an issue with it.
- .22 long rifle
- 10 round cyclical magazine/ 25 round factory extended magazines available
- gold bead front sight (replace with Tech Sights)
- 1:16 twist rh
- 18.5” barrel
- 37” overall length
- Suggested price 379.00
Extremely popular there is no shortage of aftermarket kits, parts, and the bells and whistles you may require to make your survival gun both pretty and relatively functional. Have owned 4 from the mid 80’s through 2009, all were ammunition specific firearms, or finicky. Accuracy was decent, however, magazine issues (factory magazines) and some ammunition feed issues had me selling them all.
After spending two years helping out with local Appleseed shoots in Arizona, I witnessed two or three failures every shooting day of every Appleseed from the Ruger 10/22. Now, this does not mean you wont find solid shooting 10/22s, it just means that during that two year time, my Mossberg 702s never failed, not once, and the 10/22 in multiple configurations from factory basic through $2000 plus add on configured did.
Savage 64 F
- 22 long rifle
- 10 round stick magazine
- open sights, drilled and tapped for scope mounting
- 1:16 rh twist
- 21” barrel length (slightly better accuracy and ballistics should result)
- weight is 5lbs.
- Suggested price $140.00
True free floated barrel, several variations available, generally considered to be most accurate out of the box and having shot one or two, I would tend to agree. It is an extremely accurate, ammunition picky, but VERY accurate. It has also been out since 1964, though the first model met with bad reception due to using plastic magazines. Its following is not nearly as large as the base for the Ruger 10/22. Less market share, less possibility for parts being made by companies other than Savage.
I really enjoy this gun, and you will as well. Make sure you can get magazines for it, and check ammunition reliability in it. Otherwise, it’s a great firearm.
Remember, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, .22lr is going to be a very important caliber. Local harvesting laws will not matter with regards to game, they are relatively quiet, and with an accurate (sandbagged and properly sighted in) version of one of the above models you will do fine. Personally, I prefer Mossberg 702’s and will gladly submit to competition between any one of the several owned and any .22lr you choose. I do not like the AR styled, AK styled or kits that allow shooting of .22lr in regular firearms. Though I can understand the desire for some people to keep things as similar as possible, in most cases, practice is severely lacking in individuals preaching this approach.
If you need to practice with your AR then, practice with the AR. Recoil, noise and all the accompanying parts of shooting the .223 or 5.56 round is essential to solid practice. If you want to practice fundamentals of shooting and accuracy, the type of firearm will not matter nearly as much as the fundamentals themselves. If you are able to “run and gun” than do so, but make sure you practice and train with legitimate trainers in these areas. In my strict opinion as a lifetime shooter, who does okay for himself when shooting, rifleman basics are not stylistic or reliant on type of rifle, but rather on the approach used and fundamentals practiced.
This is why I do not have, recommend or use three point slings, single point slings or any number of special “tactical” attachments that so often take a 6lb AR and make it a 15lb monstrosity. KISS, always, for the sake of those reading, this is a very easy word to decipher. Keep It Simple Silly. A solid two point sling, understanding why laying down is more stable than seated and seated is more stable than standing and resting the rifle is more stable than standing without resting the rifle is essential to accuracy. Hollywood does a great job of making gun owners stupid, its up to us to ensure we don’t reinforce the ridiculous notions regarding gun owners in the media, politics and Hollywood.
So now you have four choices for a TEOTWAWKI rifle, remember, even in “gun free” nations, .22lr is used and owned in most cases by people interested in hunting, target practice and simply having for self-defense. A .22lr firearm must be cleaned every 300 rounds on average or after every practice session, I clean all my firearms every two weeks with a basic rubdown and lube, in depth twice a year, and after every range session. The sole exception being cached and or stored firearms- which are stored soaked in lubricants and in ZCORR storage bags, review to follow. These .22lr firearms also work very well to introduce non-shooters and or non-preppers to the world of prepping/ shooting without hurting their shoulders, ears and easily showing them the benefits and sheer pleasure of hitting a target where you want too.
Shoot on fellow Wolf Pack members, be safe, smart and above all, be free!
**Links follow, some are graphic in nature, please be aware.
http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/using-the-22-for-self-defense (statistics regarding various calibers used for defense of self)
http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/20/news/bangor/man-who-shot-home-invaders-in-hermon-i-had-to-protect-myself/ (self-defense with .22lr handgun)
http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/news-northern-kentucky/Boone-County-homeowner-shoots-kills-intruder/16463942?item=0 (92-year-old man shoots and kills home intruder with .22lr rifle)
https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2010/04/29/elderly-iowa-woman-uses-her-22-handgun-in-self-defense/ (89-year-old woman uses 22lr handgun to defend herself)
http://gunssavelives.net/self-defense/13-year-old-armed-with-ruger-1022-saves-his-mother-from-intruder-thought-to-be-on-drugs/ (13 year old uses 10/22 to defend family)
There are many, many more verifiable stories, and I am sure if any of us has spent time in the woods, we all know someone who has harvested game with a .22lr, legal or not. (Though I do not openly recommend doing anything that will bring you in contact with authorities, eg., don’t do illegal things. Understand there is always consequences to every action, always.)
Free the mind and the body will follow.