I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
-Thomas Jefferson, 1789

.22 rifle practice

Far and away the most popular rifle caliber on Earth is the .22 Long Rifle (.22LR). Ammo.com has numerous listings for under 4-cents per round, and as they correctly describe, “Easily the most prolific and well known firearm cartridge in the world, the .22 Long Rifle (LR) is great for plinking and small-game hunting. The .22 LR is also considered the best choice for introducing new people to the sport of shooting, due to its lack of recoil and low noise.”

I will add the intuitive: inexpensive, wonderful training tool from cost of gear through expense to operate. You can defend and take small game with these, but far more importantly, you can learn to shoot on the most modest of budgets.

If I did not have a .22LR rifle, I would have to turn in my gun owner as well as prepper badges. Even in the Podunk wilderness, there is a small club shooting Precision Rimfire Competition (the link is to an NRA website describing the relatively young sport).

Locally, they run an 8-week series using the target pictured above, shooting at 25 yards, then 50 yards. The big circle has a 2″ diameter and they shrink by 1/4″ to the smallest which is 1/4″ total. At 50 yards with .22LR, that is not your average rifle, ammo or shooter.

I am considering going to meet ‘the fellas’, hit, and miss some targets with them. But I had to know if I would be hitting any at all with the gear I have. I am very definitely NOT gearing up for another hobby at this time.

I also looked around to see what the state of the art is today.
A $2,900 rifle and $1,500 scope will get you started… handy, but no thanks.
I have some other projects on my agenda this year.

A note for those unfamiliar with ammo/gun testing: Group Size is everything. A nice, small group of shot holes can be moved to target centers by adjusting the sights or scope, but you must have a small, repeatable group to make that work.

I own a Remington 541X relic from the Director of Civilian Markmanship ROTC program that was a good rifle in its era. It has very nice Williams iron sights, 26″ target barrel, military-weight trigger and would probably still hold its own in 4-position hand-held rifle shooting in the hands of a competent shooter, but I am sure that NOBODY uses those in modern Precision Rimfire bench-rest.

Today I gave it and my Ruger a go at 25 yards. I don’t expect I’ll get more than half way through the course of fire with the Remington. Nice rifle, great kharma points, but not good enough to play with the boys – unless there is a merit badge for using iron sights.

The most popular .22 semi-auto rifle on the planet is Ruger’s 10-22. Inexpensive, reliable and available darn-near anywhere. It created a genra of high-value plinking rifles that have many nice competitors available today. My 10-22 has an after-market upgraded stock and heavy 16.5″ barrel with a friend’s cast-off Weaver 4-power scope mounted atop. Quite a bit better results than with my 541X.

While there is nothing wrong with the CCI Blazer group above on the right, I felt the Federal bulk-pack Auto Match and Norma US TAC-22 each deserved a second group of 5 shots.

Conditions were not great. It was exactly FREEZING with light wind gusts. No big deal for tough guys, but my fingers were frozen and I really wanted to be FINISHED.

I settled on the Federal bulk-pack ammo which delivered a workable 3/4″ group of 5 shots from 75 feet away … but it is entirely possible that the one flier was the shooter, and that the rifle/ammo combination might get me some hits on a 1/4″ target from the 25 yard line. Particularly if the rifle range is above freezing.

From the 50 yard line … well I’ll get some of them… I’m betting on half.

If THAT FOUR-SHOT-GROUP was the capability of rifle/ammo, I could learn a lot from working on making them perform to their potential. I am definitely interested in exploring this possibility.

If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets

Real rimfire shooters know there are major differences among available ammunition. Serious competitors find one their gun likes and buy a case or numerous cases of THAT LOT of that brand, make, model. They don’t want to repeat the research. The information is not portable. Even among “identical” make/model rifles there are significant ammunition preferences. One person’s experience will not transfer to the next.

I dipped my toe in that process once upon a time, buying a box of every variety I could find locally and shooting sample groups with my antique .22LR target pistol, but I am nowhere close to serious enough to do the work. Several 5-round or 10-round groups with every make/model of .22LR available is A LOT of shooting.

To do it right you have to concentrate to make every single shot perfect!

People like me lose because of attention span. I don’t have it.

In the shooting world I can be a medium-sized fish in a small pond. I am okay with that.

I can hold my own with above average people… and smoke the posers.

Good enough for my purposes.

Real shooters aren’t gunning for me.