Everyone needs a good .22 rifle. For tactical training, small game hunting, and target shooting a good quality .22 is a must. Many press the .22 into defense use. More often than not the .22 rifle will serve well in that niche. I don’t recommend a rimfire for defense use and I hope you have something more powerful you have mastered. But you aren’t naked before the enemy either. Another role is pure relaxation. All of us can afford a good .22 and a bunch of ammunition to burn off without a clear purpose. I have been an instructor at several levels and there is nothing wrong with making brass for the hell of it as long as you know the difference in making brass and training.
When the subject of the Ruger 10/22 comes up it seems everyone in the group owns one. I find the Ruger 10/22 among the most reliable .22 Long Rifle firearms ever designed and built. It is a great plinker, trainer, small game and pest gun, and one of most versatile firearms any of us will ever own. The ten round rotary magazine is among the most reliable magazines ever designed. The Ruger X magazine in 15, 20 and 25 round versions provides an even greater edge. A drawback to reliable function in any .22 Long Rifle is the cartridge design- which is about 150 yards old. The .22 rimfire features a heel based bullet. This is a bullet that tapers into a heel at the base. This base is press fitted into the cartridge case. Centerfire cartridges and the .22 Magnum use a crimp to hold the bullet in place. Fairly often the bullet is dislodged and twisted during the feed cycle. The .22’s rimfire ignition is more prone to misfire than centerfire ammunition. I have gone as much as 2,000 cartridges in the 10/22 without a tie up quite a record. I have gone through a 500 round brick and experienced a half dozen failures to fire. Modern production seems more reliable.
The Ruger 10/22 is a simple blowback operated rifle. Maintenance is simple enough and there are ton of aftermarket accessories available including stocks, custom triggers, sights, optics, and barrels. A .22 is very effective on small game up to racoon and even bobcat size given good shot placement. In my time as a peace officer there were a number of incidents I was familiar with involving .22 caliber firearm. I don’t recall a single one shot stop with any .22 handgun. A single shot seemed the norm with the rifle, although in once case a burglar was peppered with 16 shots before he went down. None were good hits. I recall an incident in which a female defender peppered a fellow who had shot her husband during a break in, severely wounding him, and she also wounded another robber with her Ruger Standard Model .22. Both crooks were able to flee the scene. The secret is shot placement. While the .22 caliber rifle has greater velocity and penetration than a handgun it is also much easier to get hits with. The three points of contact with both arms and the cheek add up to easy accuracy and good handling. The .22 caliber rifle is a reasonable choice for personal defense for those on a strict budget. Quite a few of us own a rifle for small game hunting. It isn’t unreasonable to press this rifle into service for personal defense. After all we will have a great deal of familiarity with the rifle. And that may prove superior to the larger caliber rifle we have hardly fired.
All firearms have tradeoffs in handling, accuracy, and reliability. The 10 22 rifle has virtually no drawbacks save the caliber- and then the rifle wasn’t designed for home defense but small game and target shooting. The 10 22 is a semi automatic firing a shot with each pull of the trigger. It offers an instant second shot. Ten rounds is a lot of shots in a home defense situation but the rifle may also be deployed with a 25 round magazine. After years of dealing with poor quality aftermarket magazines the Ruger X magazine is reliable. The Ruger 10/22 is light and handy but its 16 inch barrel provides plenty of velocity. Like all long guns kept at home ready loaded for emergency the rifle should never be chamber loaded. Keep the chamber empty over a loaded magazine. It only takes a second to rack the bolt and make the rifle ready. Practice safely unloading the rifle as well. Remove the magazine and work the bolt to unload the rifle. The rifle is semi automatic, remarkably easy to handle well, reliable, and not very powerful. I keep repeating the not very powerful comment but it is something to remember. Fire as accurately as possible in practice and be prepared to fire multiple shots. Hopefully hunting and recreation will be the only chore the rifle is put to. We have taken time to run ballistic testing on the 9mm, .223, .357, .45 ACP and other calibers. Few consider the ballistics of the .22 rifle. Lets examine a few tests in water.
.22 Long Rifle load testing
|Load Velocity from Ruger 10/22||Penetration||Expansion|
|Fiocchi 38 grain HP||1199 fps||16.5 in. .30|
|CCI Mini Mag 40 gr.||1208 fps||18 in. .32|
|CCI Velocitor 40 gr.||1355 fps||20 in. .35|
|CCI Stinger 32 grain||1478 fps||13 in. .30|
Accuracy is important. Most 10/22 rifles in stock form will group three shots into two inches at 50 yards with a mid grade optic and good ammunition. Adding a heavy barrel helps. The Ruger target grade 10/22 with middle weight barrel is even more accurate. I own several 10/22 rifles and a Gator edition is my wife’s only rifle. You must have one of these rifles!