Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The holy grail of guns: The perfect 22LR handgun

I’m using the words holy grail because, at least in my opinion and as of today, its something unachievable.

I can sit here and say a Glock 9mm is the perfect self defense firearm when taking all traits into account (durability, reliability, weight, size, accuracy, ruggedness and mechanical simplicity) and while a large percentage of people would disagree, it would be a tough debate and I could hold my ground nicely in such a discussion with more than enough facts and an impressive track record for the Glock.
As some of you know I prefer the Glock 357SIG myself, but as I was saying before, it would be a tight debate, with small margins of pro and cons that depend on personal choices.

Fighting semi auto carbine? AK. Again, lots of people will disagree but I’d have many on my side backing it up, again, history proving that the AK is the best at what it does.

Now, 22LR being the most common round in the planet, maybe the most versatile round, and the one that gives the best bang/buck, when it comes to 22LR rifles you have Rugers 10/22 and Marlins, the Marlin 60 the most popular 22LR rifle world wide. Better 22LR rifles? Of course, some other brands make more accurate rifles, but either of those well known models will serve you well.
But what happens with 22LR handguns?

First of all, the semi auto system is compromised form the beginning because of the 22LR intricate characteristics. The rimfire cartridge simply isn’t as reliable as centerfire ones. Its true that buying good quality ammo instead of cheaper bulk helps a lot (CCI Minimags work well in most guns) but the neat thing about 22LR is the price of bulk ammo, not spending several times as much on the expensive stuff.
Ruger, Smith, they make accurate, target or plinking guns that work ok and are pretty accurate, but you are still talking about firearms that are much more likely to have misfires, again, most of the time ammo related. My favorite 22LR autos, the Bersa 22LR (they like Thunderbolts) , they aren’t target guns but have greater tolerances and usually work well when using hot, heavy loads. And still…

Since the problem is ammo related, a revolver looks like a much smarter choice, and it might as well be.
That is until I tried a Taurus 94 22LR revolver. Talk about revolvers reliability! The gun, brand new, would only fire half the cylinder. Sometimes you weren’t even that lucky. Back to the dealer, back to Taurus, and it returned firing about 2/3 of the cylinder, or not, depending on how the Taurus was feeling that day.
I’m sticking with my Bersas. So far, they are the most reliable 22LR I’ve found or seen others use.

I believe the grail may be close to the revolver realm though, in the form of a “high capacity” cylinder Smith and Wesson revolver, 3 or 4 inch barrel and target sights. Such a gun isn’t exactly inexpensive around here, but it would be as perfect as it gets. You lose the auto’s ease of repair, and trade 10+1 round capacity with fast reloads for a 8 or 9 round cylinder. Still, not too shabby. Yes, I’m talking about something like the S&W “Kit” gun, used by camper, hikers and hunters as a trail gun for decades. That would be close to the perfect, general purpose 22LR revolver as it would get in my opinon.

S&W 22/32 Kit Gun

Smith & Wesson's Model 317 "Kit Gun" PIC from GunBlast, good review there too.

The 22LR is an important piece in your humble firearms battery, and I think these thoughts and considerations are worth making.

Take care people, and have fun.



parabarbarian said...

The Smith and Wesson 617 has a 10 round model available. You can also get speed loader for it though, being a specialty item, they are a little expensive About $25 each compared to say $20 for a 22/45 magazine.


I have a Taurus model 66 but I only use it with super colibris to dispatch rodents.

DaShui said...

Que Pasa FerFal!

Most 22 double action revolvers are very expensive for some reason. I bought a Ruger single action revolver to use for training women. Stay away from Ruger 22 automatics- too hard to reassemble after cleaning!
Also I have a CZ Kadet, its been 100% reliable with all the cheap ammo I like to use. And even if I get a bad bullet, then I can practice clearance drills.

I read you book- I will give a review soon.
But I have an idea- since you study architecture your next book should be about the modern survivalist house or apartment. Security, floor plan, location, redundant systems, ect..

Keep up the good work!

Ryan said...

.22 revolvers are nice. They do however lack in the plinking/ fun category which given the cost of ammo these days is a real niche.

Anonymous said...

Kit gun was good when made long ago. When S&W owned by others, went to crap. I sent my SS kit gun back to have cylinders smoothed twice (cartridges stuck) and it still is crap. Buy a real old one, if possible.

I have several Ruger .22 autos; they are, indeed, a pain to clean.

I also have a Walther PPK/S in .22 or I'd look for a Bersa.

Anonymous said...

.22 Holy Grail. i agree:
1. cheap to train/over/and over.
2. easy to introduce. non-gun
people like the non-recoil.
3. finally, lots to choose from.
make a mistake? not too costly.

Anonymous said...

Walther P22 is where it's at--mags are crazy expensive but it's a great little 22 semiauto.

Bones said...

The problem with .22lr isn't the guns, it's the ammo, because of the unreliability. CCI ammo seems to be the most reliable, along with the premium loads from other manufacturers.

KelTel is coming out with a .22 win mag pistol next year, the PMR-30, featuring a 30 (yes, thirty) round magazine. .22wmr is far more reliable than .22lr, but it also costs about as much as 9mm here in the US. Still, quantity has a quality all it's own and 30 rounds of anything is nothing to sneeze at, especially at a reported 19 ounces fully loaded. There is talk of producing a version in .22lr, presumably if the PMR-30 is successful.

More info on KTOG:



Don said...

Here's another nod to the CZ Kadet. You get 2nd strike capability which generally fires primers if they don't take the first time.

I've got the conversion kit for a 9mm, but either that or the dedicated pistol seem like a pretty good bet for a .22lr.

Merovingi said...

Sorry that you've had problems with your Taurus 94. I've had one for a few years and it's been a great little gun that's never failed to fire. I've used mostly Thunderbolt that I bought years ago and find my Taurus to be a fun and fairly accurate little plinker.

I agree that the Ruger Mk II is a pain to reassemble after cleaning.


Anonymous said...

I've had excellent luck with a Taurus 941 UL .22 Magnum snubbie, but haven't owned it that long. About 3 years, and maybe 6 boxes of ammunition through it. No misfires, but did notice after a few strings, the action did seem to get a bit harder to operate (maybe high heat galled the titanium?) Anyway, still works fine.

Good .22 revolvers are hard to find, the S&W kit guns and old Charter Arms PAthfinders are gold. Ruger Single-Sixs are also very very good. But if I had to pick one and only one .22 handgun, probably be the Ruger .22 auto. About as bulletproof as a rimfire auto can be.

Jack said...

I have an older model Taurus 94, stainless, 9 shot, 4 inch, 22lr, revolver. It is currently my favorite 22 pistol. It always fires, is pretty accurate, and is fun to shoot. But after shooting several cylinders of ammo and the weapon gets a little dirty, the trigger will start to bind a little. The CCI mini-mags will also get stuck in the cylinder after firing, but the cheap Federal's will fire and eject with no problems.

I also have the Ruger Mark II and the Ruger Single Six in 22lr: the Mark II is difficult to clean, the magazine is a pain to load, and I have had several misfires/failure to loads; the Single Six is great, super accurate, easy to clean, and it always fires when you pull the trigger, I really like it - but it's a single action revolver so it's not perfect.

I'd like to get a S&W 22 revolver, but they cost too much. I've never seen a Bersa 22 in the U.S., though they have a lot of old Bersa 9mm at all the gun shows.