Sunday, August 30, 2009

22 LR : 7 reasons why it should have a place in your survival gear.

Being by far the most popular cartridge world wide should be enough, but there’s much more.
Indisputably the most versatile caliber, the 22 LR is a terrific general purpose round.

Left to right: 22LR, 9mm, 357 Magnum, 308W and 12 Ga.
Don’t let size fool you. Even though not the most appropriate for the job, the 22LR has saved more than enough lives in self defenses encounters since its creation.

1)It’s cheap, small and light. And not only cheap, no other caliber comes close in terms of bang per buck.
Today this is an issue of great importance, and will be even more significant as the crisis gets worse: Even these days you notice it in the firearm’s forums. More and more people can only afford to shoot only 22LR, and maybe an occasional big bore box once in a while.
Regarding wieght and size; Remember when you just want to go for a walk and maybe shoot something that seems to require shooting? like a twig, leaf, frog, or mouse that happens to run by? The little rascal is just begging for it. He’s probably thinking “you’ll never hit me! you’ll never hit me!”.
Other calibers would mean considerable weight to be carried, but with the 22LR you just brag a handful out of a 550 Value Pack, and throw it in your pocket or in your bag and you’re good to go, knowing you have about 200 rounds of ammo. More than enough to spend the afternoon plinking. 200 rounds in their cardboard boxes take somewhat the same space than a box of 50 rounds of 9mm. Something to consider when backpacking.

2)It’s great for plinking. There are hardly better ways to spend and afternoon than plinking with your kids. Try shooting balloons, sticks, or invest in a couple of metal targets in various shapes, or do some of your own. The “cling!” sound never gets old.

3)Perfect for pest control. Even though air rifles are good enough for smaller rodents, the 22LR has more authority and can even manage medium sized animals with the right ammo if the shots are well placed.
4)For occasional warning shots (in a safe direction) to send the right message to the occasional poacher or petty thief, without wasting a hard earned dollar every time you do so. (Warning: What you read here is for entertainment purposes only. Respect the laws that apply to you. Don’t do stupid things that can land you in jail)

5)Finishing wounded game or farm animals for butchering, killing sick animals with a merciful head shot.

6)It works for self defense. You usually have 10 rounds in autos an 9 or 11 rounds in some revolver cylinders. The 22LR sure isn’t perfect but as they say, still more effective than a sharp stick or foul language if you ever need to defend yourself.
I’d go for Stingers or even better, the slightly heavier CCI Velocitors. Remember: 22LR kills people everyday.

7)Almost no recoil. Just perfect for the novice shooter, specially those that are a bit scared about guns and/or recoil sensitive. Some people just can't handle anything bigger or with more recoil because of health issues. For them a 22LR loaded with good ammo fits the bill.

Bersa 22LR pistols.
I knew how important it was to own a 22LR but it took me a while to find one I really liked. I tried and owned many, and there was always something I didn’t like.
Usually it’s a matter of reliability. 22LR guns are very picky and not nearly as reliable as big bore calibers. The ammo itself is of questionable quality sometimes, specially in their bulk presentation where you’ll often find rounds that either need an extra strike or just refuse to fire at all.
I owned some that were very accurate, but weren’t reliable enough, and the commands where just too different.

Customized Bersa Thunder 22. Aluminum frame, steel slide

Bersa 23. Steel frame and slide.

Both use the same 10 round magazine. Except for the slide release, all other parts are interchangable.

I wanted accuracy of course, but I also wanted something that had the typical controls found in a defensive auto.
I also wanted it to be reliable and if it ever had to fill a defensive role, a gun that could be carried in the pocket for social purposes. Of course there are much better alternatives, but 10 rounds of CCI Velocitors will ruin anyone’s day.
The Bersa Thunder 22 falls easily into a jacket pocket. It’s accurate enough for small critter and the occasional medium range shot around a farm. Get some old cans and sticks placed against a safe background and it’s a great way to spend the afternnon with some buddies without hurting the wallet to much.
The Bersa is surprisingly accurate for its size, most reliable 22LR handgun I ever owned.
I came close to putting several bucks down on the counter and buying a nice Ruger, but why fix it if it ain’t broken? I just bought another Bersa 22LR (the blued one).
The blued one is actually a model 23, prior to the Thunder series and has no slide release lever which I don’t care for much anyway. Both have adjustable sights and the Thunder had quite some customization done by a previous owner which makes it a tackdirver. It has a red plastic insert which helps during fast shooting. You shoot when the round dot comes at eye level.

Customized red plastic insert in the front sight.

I have an IWB (inside the waistband) for them, so it can be used to practice defensive shooting drills.
I highly recommend the Bersa to anyone looking for a general purpose 22LR auto.
I also like the idea of a 22LR revolver, but had a Taurus )4 that would fail to shoot half the cylinder ( so much for the revolvers never fail load of bull) A S&W 22LR revolver with a 3 or 4 inch barrel might be just perfect. If you find any of those old “Kit” guns in good conditions they are worth buying.

The steel frame makes it heavier, but it also means it can take a steady diet of Hiper velocity ammo with no concern.

The survivalist side of me wanted something that would last forever. That could take hundreds of thousands of rounds and never worry about an aluminum frame stretching.
The 23 is a bit heavier, but the all steel construction makes it such a gun. Solid as a brick. Heavier, but still as compact both easy to carry and shoot.
That’s it for now guys.
Take care folks, and have fun!

Edited to add: Ammo for the Bersa: If I remember well, Bersa recommends heavier than 38gr., High Velocity. The customized Thunder 22 is very sweet, and will shoot anything.
The blued Model 23 has a slightly stiffer spring and I've had a couple failures with lighter and standard velocity. It needs a bit more power. With high velocities of 38 gr or more I never had a problem with either gun.
I read somewhere (was it the Model 23 manual?) that Bersa tests their 22 LR with Remington Thunderbolt 40gr., and that's the type of ammo that functions the best. I never had problems in either Bersa using that ammo. GO heavy and hot.



Anonymous said...

Love the 22LR - I have a Ruger 10/22 rifle, and a Taurus 94, a Ruger Mark II, and a Ruger Single Six 22LR/22MAG pistols. I would buy any decent 22 rifle or pistol if I can find it at a great price. 22LR rounds are cheap, and great for training kids & adults.

Unfortunately Bersa 22LR pistols are very scarce in the U.S. I would like to get one if I could find one. I do see a lot of used Bersa 9MM (former police or military) going for about $250 at gun shows. Any recommendations about what I should look for if I want to buy one of those?


George Donnelly said...

For rifles, you can get something like an AR-15 and a 22LR conversion kit (brownells). Best of both worlds. Shoot 22 when you want, 223/556 when you need something heavier.

Anonymous said...

avoid fancy "locks". I purchased a brand new taurus .357 with a hammer lock feature several years ago. after a shot the "lock" would vibrate to the locked position disabling the weapon. i took it back and the same thing happened to the gunsmith in the shop. they gave me my money back and i bought a s&w with no "lock". something to consider.

Don Williams said...

1) One other thing worth mentioning: silencers. Most of the silencers I see at gun shows are for 22 pistols.

2) You don't NEED a lot of power if you do head shots. What you need is penetration -- and the 22 FMJ stacks up well. Specifically, take the circular area of a bullet ( 3.14 times the radius squared ) and divide it by the momentum ( mass times velocity).
That gives you a rough index of the penetration capability of a bullet although bullet shape (round nosed, full metal jacket vice wadcutter hollow point) plays a role. I myself prefer FMJs over hollow points for this reason.

3) In the early days of the Cold War, President Eisenhower was very concerned about Joseph Stalin's nuclear capabilities. Since recon satellites were not well developed (especially for high resolution needed to compensate for their 200 mile high orbits) the Government had U2 pilots like Francis Gary Powers fly over the Soviet Union and photograph missile sites.

4) Obviously, if such pilots had to bail out over the Soviet Union, they had a long hike across Siberia to escape to the coastlines
where they could be picked up by US submarines. It is interesting to look at their kit.

5) The weapon in their kit was the High Standard 22 pistol with a silencer. For when you need to gather game up to the size of deer in hostile territory without anyone knowing you are there.


Don Williams said...

The predecessor to the US CIA -- the OSS -- also found the silenced Hi Standard 22 pistol to be of value inside high-threat, extremely hostile Gestapo-controlled territory
during WWII.


Bones said...

Bersa 22's are imported under the firestorm brand.

Walmart is now carrying a new line of .22lr ammo from winchester.

There's a 40 grain @ 1425 fps - equivalent to CCI velocitors. Velocitors are hard to find - hopefully this will fill the gap.

The new bulk pack is 36gr @ 1280 fps for $16 USD or so. I hope it's reliable.

Here's a writeup.

parabarbarian said...

I pretty much agree with your assessment of the 22LR.

A tool I find enormously useful with the 22LR is the Paco Kelly accurizer. I use it to modify ordinary 40 gr HV LRN or copper clad RN. This tool has two benefits for me. First, the increased accuracy and, apparently, better ballistic coefficient enables me to double the effective range for small game. Second, the reformed bullets -- a cupped nose similar to a semi-wadcutter and a gaping hollowpoint -- seem to make the bullets more effective at cleanly killing the prey. Admittedly the second effect may be because better accuracy makes for better bullet placement.

So far I've only used the reformed rounds in a revolver (S&W 617) and a lever action (Browning BL-22). As soon as possible I'll be trying it with a 10-22, a 22-45 and a Beretta Neos plus whatever anyone else in the club might want to try them in.

FerFAL said...

Any recommendations about what I should look for if I want to buy one of those?

About buying a used Bersa 22.
They hold up pretty well, specially the older ones, model 23, the ones with steel frame.
Those can fire enormous amounts of ammo and keep ticking.
Around here any ½ decent gun aficionado has his “Bersita” 22, as we affectionately call them in the local gun community.
Even the aluminum frame ones seen today, dude they can take a lot of shooting, no problem. And of course the weight difference is there.
Just check for good rifling, strong springs (specially the one that pushes the trigger back forward). Check if the slide spring is ok. I once had a Bersa that had a new spring that was too strong, and sometimes failed to eject well. Cutting 2 or 3 curls off fixed that.
Check for chipping on the inside, the ejector(chipped and tension), or if the gun had been dry fired (big no no in most 22s, you need dummy rounds) since the firing pin will either break or make a mark were it hits.
Check for a cracked frame (not likely)
Best thing I forgot to mention: Lifetime warranty by Bersa, which is just around the corner for me here in Buenos Aires. :-)

Don, the Bersa 22 with the SS (chupete in the local slang, which means “baby pacifier”) added ROCKS. …Or so I’ve been told. :)


FerFAL said...

Disclaimer (just in case anyone wonders): They aren’t legal here, but I saw people using it at a range once (didn't ask, not my business). Makes almost no noise, and the SS was pretty small.


Sam said...

I bought a couple of Phoenix Arms HP22 pistols two years ago. They are inexpensive ($140 new), but well built. I had to spend some time tweaking them, yes. I bought 10 spare mags, enough spare parts to rebuild them each two times (springs & high wear parts) from the manufacturer (wholesale prices are in the manual). READ the Instructions! I disabled two of the four safeties (now they are safer!)

They are just about perfect for emulating the Kel-Tec 9mm. I've put 4,100 rounds through mine, the wife has put 3,300 rounds through hers. We have a problem of one sort or another every 700-800 rounds, usually needs cleaning. I had a lot of initial problems with the mags till I figured them out.

There are a lot of reviews online about this little pistol. The true experts agree you need to tweak them a bit, but they are good pistols. Those that do not understand mechanics blame the gun instead of their lack of mechanical understanding.

My 2 cents on a decent .22 pistol.

Anonymous said...

Good article.

I recommend .22 kits for ARs, and the Advantage Arms .22 kit for Glocks.

I often go to the range and burn a 550 pack of .22 ammo, then follow up with centerfire for recoil control practice.

Joseph said...

I'll be looking for the Bersas (or Firestorms, as the case may be) at gunshows in the future. I do have a Walther P22, but they are reputed to have problems. I have never had one yet, but hey, a spare .22 pistol never hurt anyone!! (esp. those of us shooting on a tight budget).

Idahoser said...

A lot of us word the virtues of the venerable .22LR in a way that makes "manly men" decide it's not necessary for waste any time with that wimpy cartridge. Nothing could be further from the truth! The good shooting habits you need when shooting a "manly" gun are acquired best, and kept in tune, by spending a lot more time with a .22. Preferably a similar style of gun, IOW use a revolver to practice for a big bore revolver, for example. There are conversion kits for many semi-autos to use your own real big bore handgun with .22LR ammo; I have little desire for one of those however, I'd rather have a second complete gun that can be used without disassembling my 'real' gun. The same type of action, and the same generation of size and shape, are desirable, but not critical. Shooting is shooting, and practice helps even if it's different.

Anonymous said...

That Bersa looks good. I have a Thunder 380 that has been very reliable, so this would make a good understudy.

I have a much older and long discontinued Erma RX22 that has been quite a good semi-automatic 'kit gun' - its one of my 'high milers'. These are extremely useful guns - definitely one of my must haves.

BTW, Charter Arms also makes .22 revolvers, you might check them out as well. The original company Charters are especially nice - somewhat rare, but if can be found, worth the money, about half the cost of the S&W kit guns.

Great post Ferfal.

Anonymous said...

Another benefit of the 22 is that there are lots of different kinds of ammunition for it. From shot shells (although I don't know what they would be good for except snakes - the crawling kind) to Quik-Shok segmented rounds, which break into 4 pieces on impact to maximize trauma.

Plain vanilla stuff is fine for practice and hunting. For "serious" self defense, you should get the premium ammunition.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a Bersa .22lr. I want a 4" semi-auto .22lr but would settle for revolver if the price is right.

I'd love an old Walther .22lr but they're out of my price range now as is the Diamondback.

Anonymous said...

pretty old post, but always up to date. i live in brazil, where cash is hard to get, just as firearms. I'll get a pair of bersas soon, a .22 and a .380 Plus. nice post!

Anonymous said...

Live in Brazil, got my Bersita too, a Thunder blued one. Broke it in with both std velocity and hypers from CBC/Magtech. Many expected FTF and FTE from the std ones. Cleaning and oiling the contact points of the slide as well as the spring and barrel resulted in much greater reliability. It now shoots stds as a champ. Definitively a keeper. Got a very old box of std vel ammo (about 25years old) and shoot it completely. Had only 4 or 5 FTE. Otherwise it ran great. Great value for money, I recommend them highly!!!