By: Cary Kieffer

Goodmorning, I certainly am not the first guy to go over this but I am the first guy on TGR, so today we will discuss the pro’s/con’s of the 22 long rifle in case “the world as we know it” comes to an end. Is the 22 a necessity for a prepper? I think so.

I don’t care to turn this into a brand name war so when I talk about the stuff I have just take it as a suggestion. I know there are oodles of good 22’s available. So my suggestion is have several quality 22’s in your emergency plan. I have 2 Smith MP-15/22’s, 2 Ruger 10/22’s, a Savage MK2 Tactical Rifle and 4 Ruger 22 pistols, three of which are MK’s and one SR-22 pistol. I am also in the process of putting together a ZK-22 from Red Jacket with a Ruger 10/22 action and a custom aluminum barrel I am having made.

Is that too many? It might be but I decided the more the better. I have no way of knowing what the situation may be from day to day. One of those extra 22’s and a brick of ammo maybe some day will be turned into something I really need bad, possibly as a form of payment. So I don’t think I can have too many good 22’s.

Let’s discuss the cartridge in general first. It has a lot going for it and it has some pretty good points against it. Let’s cover the good first and the not so good last.

The Good:

1. The ammo is cheap, lite-weight and does not take up a lot of room. Mass quantities of it can be bought for pennies on the dollar compared to center fire ammo.

2. Today’s ammo, with the right brands, is reliable and accurate.

3. Comparatively speaking it is quiet, also it can be easily suppressed (where legal) as a lot of it is not supersonic.

4. You can carry a lot more of it on your back bugging out than you can bigger calibers

5. There are many kinds of shells, low/standard/high/hyper velocity. Segmented hunting rounds, shot-shells, hollow points, copper plated, lead, match grade stuff and even some with no gunpowder in it, that are like a good pellet gun. Just to name a few…

6. If your 8 or 80 you can probably fire it. Recoil is not an issue and it is easily learned by new shooters because of that.

7. It will put down small game for food all day long without drawing a huge amount of attention to yourself from the report.

8. It is an excellent practice round and many center-fire weapons have 22LR conversion kits available. Going that route gives you two guns in one.

9. Last and certainly not least you can defend yourself with it. Should you?? Sure, if that’s what you have, but that’s where the bad list starts for me.

The Bad:

1. The range is limited. I see YouTube video’s of dudes hitting pretty well at 300 plus yards. That’s all fine and dandy but you don’t have any energy left out that far. Even the fast ones are not going to have much punch past about 150 yards which is my personal cutoff. With a lot of loads even 100 yards is pushing it and accuracy starts dropping off fast after 50 yards a lot of times. Depends on your ammo choice and weapon but it is a very limited range shell. So limited range/energy.

2. Reliability can be a bigger issue than it can be with center-fire ammo. Whether it be lousy priming or unsealed rounds the things just have a higher rate of mis-firing. For example I have had the most (a lot) with Remington brand 22 and the least  (0) with CCI brand.

3. Some 22 ammo just is finicky with some guns too. So more reliability issues. I have had way more ammo picky 22’s than everything else combined. For new shooters I am not saying you can’t get a reliable 22! Please don’t misunderstand that. I am simply saying once you buy a 22, pick a good shell that works in it and then stick with it. It’s easy to find a good one and for me that tends to be CCI anything. An example would be I find Dyna-Points to group just fine and fire reliably but for whatever reason my Savage won’t feed the last round. Happens everytime and only with this cartridge. These are the things you want to find out through experimentation before buying 80 million rounds for a rainy day.

That is my basic pro’s/con’s for the 22LR. I absolutely think it is invaluable, for what it is good for it is irreplacable. Now lets discuss some specific weapons. These are ones I personally own and recommend. I will state only briefly why as I have reviews of most of them up on this site already. I’ll get in-depth in seperate articles on the Savage when I get a chance and the ZK-22 when it’s done. So my favorites, here we go.

Ruger 10/22: This is my first choice if I had to have just one, it is an American classic and for good reason. It is an awesome, proven rifle and in my opinion the best all around 22 available. There are almost as many after market goodies for the 10/22 as there is for the AR-15. Things like spare parts and accessories will be available forever I’d wager. They are accurate enough to hunt anything small and with the addition of the BX-25 magazine it is a dependable defensive weapon if employed within its effective range. All in all I think the most sensible 22 purchase that can be made.

Smith&Wesson MP-15/22: I thought this was going to turn out to be a cheap piece of plastic and I was wrong about that. These have turned out to be EXCEPTIONAL rifles, totally 100% reliable with CCI ammo and 10,000 rounds later I have yet to have a problem. That’s 10,000 out of one gun, many fired at a cyclic rate 🙂 The other one sits NIB waiting for the day (if ever) this one quits on me. It serves equally well for a cheap training rifle because it feels and operates just like a real AR-15. I can’t say enough good about this weapon. It’s accurate and sports a 25 round magazine if you need to use it for defensive purposes. Good job S&W!!!

Savage MK2 TR: She’s a bit longer and bolt action, so that puts this gem into 3rd place for me but don’t sell this rifle short! Not only is it an excellent training rifle in lei of spending a ton of money training with your Remington 700 and match ammo but it is so very accurate!! The accuracy is awesome. I can hit dimes with a regularity that gets boring at 50 yards and at a 100 it’s quarters. Just find your load and have fun. This rifle rocks!! Just yesterday I put up a life size ground hog target at 50. I then proceeded to fire 15 rounds (3 mags) into the targets eye. Not one of them missed the eyeball. I was using CCI Standard. Not even match grade ammo. This rifle has been the perfect precision rifle. If you do your part there’s no small animal you will ever miss.

Ruger MK Pistols: Again an American icon gun. I don’t necessarily think the 22 pistol is a “must have” in the survival role like a 22 rifle is but if I was going to have one (and I have 4) it’s going to be the Ruger. Once again, parts, accessories and so on will be available as this thing has been in production in one model or another for what about 64 years now? That speaks volumes right there. I recently bought this model pictured and put a Vortex SPARC on it for sights. GREAT pistol!

I want to touch very briefly on ammo brands: I have lost track of how many kinds I have tried, pretty much everything on every shelf I have ever shopped. Two things come immediately too mind when I think of 22 ammo. The first thing is CCI ammo has been hands down across the board with all my guns the best all around choice. It never fails to fire, it is accurate enough and often times has tested out as the most accurate in one of their loads or another. It is relatively inexpensive and readily available. It is hands down my favorite brand.

The second thing that comes to mind is Remington 22 ammo blows. It sucks…period. I don’t know what happened to them, once apon a time I bought nothing but Thunderbolts and had good results. (many years ago) Now I have had nothing but trouble with most everything they make. It is dirty shooting, the powder charges vary widely and their primers are terrible with a HUGE amount of misfires for me. I won’t buy anymore of it again. In my opinion it is garbage, if it’s rockin’ for you great, for me the stuff is a disaster.

Summary: Well once again I have gotten windy and I still don’t feel it has been covered well enough. I think the 22 rifle is a absolute must have. The pistol is good but the rifle in indispensable. You can work miracles almost with a 22 but know its limitations.  I’ll end with this statement. Buy a good 22 rifle. At LEAST one and then find a good load that works for you. Stockpile as much ammo for it as you can. I feel that if you don’t you are only screwing yourself. The 22’s value CANNOT be overstated in a bad situation. If you haven’t already, buy one ASAP.

As always thanks for reading and train often.


Savage Mark II TR group fired 1/30/13. The dime covered the whole group using Mini-Mags. The CCI Standard will fire groups HALF that size when I do what I’m supposed too!! It was about 40 degrees, overcast and with a 5-7 mph right crosswind.

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Cary Kieffer

USMC Infantry/Combat Veteran/MUESOC/Sniper School - Med Retired LEO w/ 8yrs on job before Iraq wounds caught up with me.

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