November 20, 2023
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Most of us who are not hoplophobes realize that facing an array of emergencies will be safer if we have one or more firearms available. At that point the question arises what should I choose? A member of my family who is not really very familiar with firearms purchased for his own home and as a gift to his two children for their homes a trio of an AR-15 with red dot, SIG Sauer P320 9mm with red dot, and Shockwave 12-guage shotgun. Those are excellent firearms, though for inexperienced shooters, the 12-guage Shockwave seems problematical. None of them has received any training either. In fact, I’ve already told them next time they pass through STL I’ll give them a “training day.” They live in an area prone to hurricanes so their preparedness scenario is primarily civil unrest following a disaster.
Ammo choices are plentiful with those weapons. 5.56x45mm, 9x19mm, and 12-guage are normally readily available, though much more expensive than a few years ago. Budget and storage space will determine how much ammunition is acquired, but for rifle and pistol the amount should be in the hundreds rather than the dozens. Ammo cost and availability particularly influence another weapon choice that I consider desirable for preparedness—the .22 LR rifle. In fact, I would argue that for some individuals, who can only afford one preparedness firearm, it should be a .22 LR rifle. I, like many of you reading this, do have an AR-15 and 9mm combat handguns as well as a combat shotgun. Still, I appreciate that my Steyr Scout rifle might be a better all-around preparedness choice. But, my wife doesn’t use those. She uses a .22 LR rifle and her carry handgun. That is her preparedness armory, though she does know how to operate my weapons in an emergency.
Back to the .22 LR rifle for preparedness: current quality rim fire rifles are reliable and inexpensive. Most are accurate, especially if an optical sight is mounted. AR-15 type .22 LR rifles are available so that they may be used by younger family members and also for training them to use the center-fire rifle if one is available. In some jurisdictions, magazine capacity laws do not affect .22 LR rifles. One of the greatest advantages of the .22 LR rifle is that ammunition is cheap enough that a user can practice a lot. 500 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammo can be purchased for $45-$50, while 500 rounds of 5.56x45mm will cost a bit over $300. Another advantage of many .22 rifles is that repairs are relatively simple and a spare parts kit can be easily acquired.
Preparedness means being ready all the time. This is particularly true when you’re away from home. In the enlightened parts of the USA, you will be able to have your handgun on your person, but any long gun, especially in urban areas, will probably have to be kept in your vehicle. A backpack preparedness kit can easily include a .22 rifle, spare magazines, and 500 rounds of ammo along with other necessities. That .22 rifle will be less expensive to replace if stolen and less of a “red flag” than an AR-15 in the more oppressive parts of the country. Having a hunting license will help justify the .22 LR rifle even more. I guess what I’m trying to say is a .22 rifle is less “scary” to those who’ve been influenced by the AR-15’s demonization.
For a good portion of my time in college the only long gun I owned was a .22/20-gauge Savage Model 24 combo gun. I shared a house with a bunch of other guys, some of whom I didn’t trust with firearms, so it was in the trunk of my ’59 Pontiac except when I kept it next my bed with a .22 LR round in the top chamber and a 20-gauge buckshot round in the bottom chamber. I’ve retained my affection for that gun until today, as I still own a Savage Camper’s Companion takedown version, which fits very nicely in a backpack. I find the recess in the stock for 10 rounds of .22 LR and one round of 20-gauge not only “quant” but kind of “neat.” Its rifle sights are usable enough that I can shoot the .22-barrel reasonably well to 100-yards. Savage’s current Model 42 (note the reversal of digits on the current model) Takedown is still available.
Another takedown .22 LR of which I am particularly fond is the Marlin Model 39TDS. Today, this fine rifle is more of a collectable than a using rifle, but for anyone who owns one it makes a quality preparedness rifle. The best value today in takedown .22 LR rifles is Ruger’s 10/22. It’s a truism with Rugers that they will be reliable, durable, and reasonably priced. That applies to the 10/22 Takedown rifle. It assembles and disassembles quickly and stows readily. However, I would recommend using a backpack to carry the rifle and additional gear rather than the pack that comes with the rifle. For hard use, I would choose the stainless steel version. A rail for mounting an optical sight comes with the rifle. I have used it to mount a red dot, but most of the time I use the standard sights. To prevent damage while in the backpack, the red dot would need to be either removed or padded.
I would recommend ordering a couple of Ruger’s 25-round 10/22 magazines as well as the standard 10-round magazines. A .22 rimfire rifle is certainly not optimum for self-defense but it is better with 25-rounds! For hunting or self-protection in dangerous times, Ruger has a suppressed barrel available for the 10/22. Of course, this would negate the “less threatening” advantage of the 10/22 for many. On the other hand, a lot of that group wouldn’t recognize the mission of the fatter barrel! As mentioned previously, an excellent .22 LR rifle for preparedness is the AR-15 lookalike. Not only are these rifles less expensive than your AR-15, but at a distance should a member of your family be armed with a .22 “AR-15,” to an intruder it might well appear to be combat ready 5.56x45mm AR. This is especially true if an optical sight is mounted. The rifle can be shot more accurately longer ranges, but it can also appear more “martial.”
I use a S&W M&P15 .22 LR, with a smaller version of the ACOG mounted on my primary AR. Colt offers a .22 LR M4 carbine. The .22 LR AR-15 also allows less expensive tactical training. As I also use a 5.56mm SIG 550, I have found the SIG 522 to be another .22 LR assault rifle lookalike that offers accuracy, reliability, and visual deterrence. If training or small game hunting is the primary reason for owning a .22 AR-15 type rifle, a .22 conversion unit such as those from CMMG is an option. Although I would recommend a center-fire handgun for preparedness, a .22 LR caliber handgun for training and small game hunting can be useful. If used to train members of the family so they are used to handling it safely, the .22 LR handgun may also offer them a self-
defense weapon in emergencies. My favorite .22 LR handgun from my youth through my adult life has been a 2nd Model Colt Woodsman that was my first handgun. It is compact, reliable, and accurate. In fact, I bought a used example that is still reliable specifically to stick in a small pack I have carried in my vehicle. My other favorite .22 rimfire handgun for preparedness is a S&W Model 41 with the 5-inch Sport Barrel. Easily carried, yet extremely accurate at 50 yards or more, this pistol can substitute for a .22 LR rifle in a compact readiness pack.
In conclusion, I’ll offer an incident from my past relating to the .22 LR rifle and preparedness. Many years ago when I was writing for various survival magazines I stopped by a table where myriad magazines of the type, as well as related products, were being sold and was recognized and invited to sit and rest for a while. At the table next to me was a cute girl who could have adorned a poster for Mother Earth News. She may have even written for it. I can’t remember what she was selling, but I chatted her up a bit and in the process she discovered that I wrote for firearms, survival, and military magazines. As an evangelist for Mother Earth she felt the need to tell me how she and her fellow neo-rustics could survive just by growing everything they consumed and maybe everything they wore. They would be just fine when industrialized society collapsed. I, then, told her I appreciated her dedication, as when things got bad, guys like me with guns would show up to enslave her and take the products of her toiling the land. Though for someone as nice as her we might be available as mercenary protectors of the agrarians! Eventually, she asked me what I would recommend she do. My reply was: buy a .22 LR rifle and learn to shoot it. A couple of months later she sent me a post card saying she had traded some produce for a bolt action Remington .22 LR. I sent a post card back, saying, “That’s a start!”
The article was originally published in the 2023 issue of Be Ready! magazine. You can find an original copy on OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.