A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Beauty of the .22 Pistol

There is a sublime beauty to the .22 semi-auto pistol. It is often thought of as a training gun, and indeed, it is the perfect trainer. If the person is unable to hit what he or she aims at, then the gun in their hand is little more than an expensive noisemaker. If a shooter has not learned safety, it is a dangerous noisemaker. Ruger MKIIsThe best option for learning marksmanship is an accurate and reliable .22 pistol. Ammo is cheap, meaning a novice can shoot a lot, and not have it eat a hole in their wallet. The instant feedback one recieves from shooting is much more effective than dry firing. Recoil is minimal with a .22 pistol, meaning a new shooter will not develop bad habits such as flinching. A flinch is a difficult problem to eradicate. It is better to not develop a flinch in the first place.

Even after a person becomes an adept marksman, the .22 pistol retains it's allure. Five holes shot by a .45ACP can be touching and measure an inch across. Five touching holes of .22LR is half that. In short, an accurate .22 pistol is a precision instrument that demands the best in a shooter. If a man can shoot one hole groups with a .22, he can shoot one hole groups with anything!

I was at the range today training a new shooter with a Ruger MKII when the typical air bag wandered up and began his diatribe about the takedown power of a .44 magnum. He asked my student if she would like to shoot a "man's gun". She politely declined, batting her eyelashes, and we sat back on the bench to watch our antagonist pepper his target with a 24 inch group. We then went back to shooting one inch groups with our little gun. He never did get the picture.

If you are new to handguns and want to learn marksmanship, seriously consider a .22 pistol such as a Ruger MKII. In my opinion, the Ruger MKII is the best overall .22 package out there to learn on. A used one will run under $200. Ammo is around 2 cents a round. It will give you lots of practice to build your proficiency quickly. That proficiency will transfer directly to every handgun you shoot. Later you can use the MKII to instruct new shooters with. I prefer the Ruger MKII, but that is because I like to customize my guns. The MKII offers the most options for that. I have a lot of parts, and the aftermarket is only exceeded by the 1911. The Ruger 22/45 is actually a better choice if you are looking for a trainer gun. Reassembly of the Ruger, often touted as akin to neurosurgery, is not that difficult once you learn what to do. It's kind of like a secret handshake, once you learn the trick, it will never confound you again. Both the MKII and 22/45 are durable, and accurate. I would avoid the MKIII types until the bugs are worked out.

Browning also makes a good gun in the Buckmark. The Buckmark is the only alternative .22 auto pistol I would buy in this price range. All the others are not the first line gun of the company. They are "me too" guns, and IMHO not that well done. The Ruger MKI and MKII are great pistols, very durable, and will likely never wear out if cared for. It is neglect that kills these guns, not use. If they are reasonably cared for, they will last generations, training hundreds of new shooters the joys of precision marksmanship.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my Mark I, but I'll offer a vote for the Ruger Single Six as the ideal training pistol.

They are cheap, astonishingly durable, mechanically obvious, and wear a grip that fits almost everybody. They force the beginner to slow down and not spray their shots. They are more forgiving of the common beginner's mistake of leaving the finger on the trigger.

Best of all, you can leave a few chambers empty and spin the cylinder before you start to shoot. Best cure for flinching they ever made.

But, I'm the first to admit, the MarkI/II is a lot more fun...!

9:13 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Very Good Points Anon!

9:22 AM  
Blogger keewee said...

Just over a year ago, for the first time in my life, I started to shoot. Mr. Completely gave me a Beretta U22neos.
I have been competing in pin top and steel plate shoots ever since and have done rather well.I have also shot other caliber guns, but for competition I am sticking with the 22.That is for now, maybe I will try something else in the future.z

11:58 AM  
Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Excellent post, but I would advise even new shooters to buy as good of a pistol as they can afford. Used High Standard Supermatics, for example, can be found in the $400 to $450 range if you keep your eyes open. The quick change barrel feature is handy as you can set up one barrel with a red dot sight, and shoot the second barrel with the iron sights. You can change barrels in about ten seconds. There is very little available for the High Standards in terms of aftermarket "hop-up" parts, but everything is already done for you at the factory. The trigger is excellent out of the box, and is adjustable for pull weight to suit your taste. If you shoot a lot (10,000 rounds or so a year) The Rugers and High Standards are both good choices, as a steel frame and bolt/slide will last a lot longer that anything out of aluminum.

In addition to a .22 semi-auto, you should ALSO own and SHOOT something like the Single Six.

..... Mr. C.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I have to agree about the MkII. It was my first autopistol and because I spent a lot of time with it as a kid, I was a good shot once I grew up.

It still shoots better than I can hold it and feeds everything. I love that gun.

24" groups, this guy? You should have offered him a lesson, first in marksmanship, then in humility.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently can shoot a boxful of ammo out of my Hi-Standard Model 103 and cover it all with a folded-in-half dollar bill (offhand at 30 feet), but I usually also take my 1911A1 to the range, and do better with it, shooting several mags into a sub-2" group, also offhand.

I will second your idea that one should always train on a .22, but I did my initial training on a Colt Woodsman, which, sadly, I had to sell to pay some overdue taxes. The Hi-Standard is every bit as accurate, but isn't quite as handy as a Woodsman. That fine Colt filled my belly on many backpacking trips when I walked into a partridge grove, and many a snake met its Maker by challenging me and the Woodsman on the trail.

I miss it still.


1:23 AM  
Blogger Zendo Deb said...

cool blog

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat little article. Can we reprint this over at handgunclub.com?

5:23 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Certainly, reprint at will!

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, I really enjoy all your posts on all the forums, your web-site, blogs, etc. It's nice to know that you know what you are talking about. I really appreciate you and your stuff.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Peripatetic Engineer said...

When I shot for my Concealed Carry Permit, I hadn't made up my mind as to what I was going to buy for my carry pistol. Therefore, I took my Ruger MkIIto qualification. I expected, and received, some good natured ribbing from the instructor but I assured him that it was not my intent to try to carry the Ruger. After a round of shooting, he walked down the line and commented on the marksmanship demonstrated by the students. When he got to my target, he said, "Nice shooting......but the holes are so darn small!"

4:08 PM  
Blogger Ed Harris said...

I agree that the Ruger Single-Six is the real sleeper of modern guns. For serious field work the Single Six needs better sights. I put Bowen Rough Country ones on mine. Mine is a 32 H&R Magnum. As as a trail gun it has more power than a .22, and flatter trajectory which makes reliable game hits out to 100 yards feasible. The .32 H&R approximates a .32-20 Winchester with better accuracy than all but the best 22s.

In my survival ruck is a High Standard Model B with 6-3/4" barrel. I inherited it from a retired bush pilot. I haven't seen anything in current .22 handguns which is going to make me replace it. A used High Standard costs less than and out shoots a new Ruger by the time you trick it out and it doesn't need a trigger job. The pre-war trapper's .22s are better than anything made today. Any Connecticutt High Standard which you can still see rifling in will put modern .22s to shame.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first pistols were a .45 ACP and a 9mm. Then I picked up a .22LR Ruger and it is my most used pistol. I don't care what people at the range think because I'm not out there to impress anyone with the hardware. I'm there to hone my shooting and the Ruger does the job. It's also damn fun to shoot.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hey Xavier, I just stumbled across your blog today and I'm really enjoying it so far.

I'm expecting my FOID card (we have to prove we're not criminals or insane before buying a gun here in IL) over the next week so I'll be heading out to buy my first gun (some kind of .22 pistol) soon. I've been out shooting with family but after reading some of your 'shooting neophytes' entries, I realized I need to take a gun class to make sure I'm doing everything safely. I appreciate you posting them.

I'll be digging through some of your posts over the next couple days and following from now on, keep up the good work!

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I've had the best luck this month. I entered the GlockTalk.com fundraiser* which ended in Dec. 2011, and won a Ruger Mark III Target with a bull barrel. Picked it up this Monday, and only had to pay state police fee (NICS?) and transfer fee ($30 in small-town Virginia). Off to the range!

*No purchase required; I just sent in my name and address.

8:58 PM  

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