I don’t have a whole lot to write about today, since I don’t particularly enjoy political blogging, and my weekend trip to the range was canceled (range was down for repairs). So instead, I’m going to write about what is most likely my all time favorite cartridge – from any format. The .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire by far and away eclipses any round in my book.
It started with my very first rifle, a Marlin 25M that my father gave me. Being a young fellow, I was less than pleased at the concept of a bolt action rifle with a wood stock; I wanted a cool semi-auto. That faded the very first time I went and shot the Marlin, however. My best friend and I were shooting steel plates, he with a .54 muzzleloader shooting a patched round ball, and me with the Marlin in .22 Magnum. His all lead rounds would gong the targets nicely, and just sort of leave a splash of lead residue. The FMJ rounds from the .22 Magnum would blow quarter sized divots out of the steel plate; to a 16 year old that was all sorts of impressive.
From there, I discovered the accuracy factor as well. Again, from the Marlin I could and still can put five shots into a group that you could cover with a quarter at 50 yards. That rifle’s worn a few different scopes over the years, and is currently plenty accurate with the stock iron sights. Of course, not even the impressive accuracy prepared me for what would happen when I introduced the .22 Magnum to various coyotes, jackrabbits, ravens, and other sundry animals. Over the years that I’ve had the rifle, I’ve had the opportunity to bang just about every .22 Magnum load in existence into certain critters, especially coyotes and crows.
My favorite pistol also happens to be chambered in .22 Magnum, and interestingly enough was also a gift from my father. It’s an EAA Bounty Hunter single action and it is “my very favorite gun”. From the 4 5/8ths inch barrel, I’ve put almost as many rounds of .22 Magnum downrange with it as I have with the Marlin. The revolver hasn’t taken nearly as much game as the rifle, but it’s wreaked havoc on dirt clods, tin cans, and whatever else wanders through the sights while I’m out on the farm.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of the .22 Magnum as a defensive round. Since I carry a .22LR a lot of the time, it would definitely be an upgrade in the relative stopping power of my Every Day Carry. North American Arms has their wonderful collection of tiny revolvers chambered in .22 Magnum, if I was picking one of those, it would have to be the Black Widow; I’d choose that one solely for the slightly larger handgrip. The 30 grain CCI load produces tremendous speeds, even from a 2 inch barrel. From a rifle, that round practically explodes in small game, however from a small pistol the bullet mushrooms much like a premium handgun bullet. Of course, that’s based on the one round I recovered from dead coyote that was hit with 30 grain TNT load from the pistol.
I have only two laments about the .22 Magnum, the first of which is relative dearth of semi-automatic pistols chambered for it, and the 2nd of which is the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (I’ll explain that in a minute). For whatever reason, not a lot of people make a .22 Magnum autopistol, the only two I can think of being the recently revived AutoMag II, and the Grendel P-30. I’d like to get my hands on a specimen of both of those eventually. My gripe about the .17 HMR is based more on the fact that I go to Gander Mtn and look in the “rimfire” section. I see a rifle with a long magazine and get all excited, than I turn the tag over and see .17 HMR. Disappointment at every turn.
All in all, I’ve fired more .22 Magnum than any other round (although .22LR is a close second), and through the years it’s really grown into my favorite round. If you want a little bit more “bang” for your rimfire, try a .22 Magnum. Oh yeah, my favorite load? Winchester’s 40 grain semi-jacketed hollow point. Devastating performance from a rifle on game up to coyote sized.