Saturday, October 01, 2005

Target .22 - what to do?

Guns are great fun! As Steve says...

I quite agree. There is nothing as satisfying as spending a day putting holes in paper that is very far away.

That being said, I need a new gun...

I have 6 .22 caliber weapons in addition to many others of heavier, more significant calibers. A Ruger Super Single Six .22lr/.22WMR, a Marlin Model 60, a Remington 572, a Ruger Mk.II, a Savage Mod 101 single shot rifle and a Savage 37 single shot pistol. All are fine weapons, and I can shoot them all reasonably well. In fact, I'd dare say I was an above average shot with all of them. However, in my quest to create a single hole, 5 shot group in the target 100yds away, or even 50yds away, I am lacking.

Enter the new gun. I am still debating the merits of building a 10/22 target rifle, or buying a biathalon rifle for this purpose. I'm leaning toward the 10/22 for several reasons:
  • Many more accessories.
  • Heavy target barrel can be switched with light barrel for hunting.
  • Availability of stocks.
  • High capacity magazines. (Why not?)
  • Semi-auto.
The biathalon rifle has a few advantages I wouldn't mind either, such as:
  • Ability to shoot subsonic ammo or lighter loads.
  • Typically a bit more accurate due to chamber/bolt design.
  • Comfortable. (Well, they both are...)
  • Ready to go out of the box - just add a scope!
For what I want to do with it - basically make it into a range queen - the durability/weatherability/field capability isn't as important to me as the inherent accuracy of the gun. I tend to believe the biathalon rifle will be a bit better in this regard from my experience with my guns now. My Remington 572 pump gun is more accurate than my Marlin 60, both with iron sights, but in the field I prefer the Marlin. My follow up shots are faster, and it points better since I don't have to be as conscious of my forward hand placement (I don't need to pump it, so I can just rest the forearm on the left hand rather than gripping).

It may be a moot point, once the 10/22 is customized, or if I start with the heavy barreled target model anyway. A good piece of glass - I have this one in mind - and it should be a tack driver.

Buying good ammunition is also key. I currently use CCI Minis, Green Tag, Velocitor and Stingers. What can I say, I'm a fan of CCI! For high volume plinking (bags of soda cans and my Mk.II!!) I use Federal or American Eagle bulk ammo. Not bad for the price.

For this rifle, I have something else in mind. Enter Lapua. I have had a chance to sample some of their rimfire ammunition in the past, and it far exceeds any others I have used. The price is prohibitive as far as plinking is concerned, but for semi-serious target shooting it is probably the gold standard. I've shot the Midas and the Master, but I am particularly interested in the Signum for serious target shooting. A coated, 40gr bullet that offers little friction, reduced recoil and a low operating pressure ensures that this round will do little to affect the rifle from shot to shot, and will prolong the life of the gun. This is important because, lets face it, you hate to rebarrel a favorite gun just to have it come back slightly different. I like the intricacies just as they are, thank you. Recoil with a rimfire is negligible anyway, but I would much prefer not disturbing my cheek weld in the slightest if I can help it. Add another + to the biathalon rifle column for being able to use subsonic/low recoil ammo.

I'm still torn. I will be making a trip to the gun store sometime soon (or I'll wait to get one in Kentucky next weekend) to finally settle this debate with myself.

Then maybe I'll start shooting Mr Completely and the Analog Kid's e-postal matches...