New shooters are often daunted by the cost of centerfire ammunition, and “old” shooters have often forgotten how they most likely started with .22 LR. Both can benefit from using rimfire weapons – here’s the how and why.
Rimfire handguns and rifles are extremely plentiful, which, combined with their relative ease of manufacture, makes them extremely affordable. A decent .22LR bolt action rifle can be had for around $150, and a decent .22LR handgun can be had for $300 or so. .22LR conversion kits for rifles and handguns cost between $150 and $300, as well. Rimfire ammunition, although it has increased in price recently, is still a fraction of the cost of centerfire ammunition. A shooter can expect eight to ten shots with a rimfire for the same amount of money as a single shot from a centerfire handgun or rifle.
Because of the low barrier to entry, rimfire shooting makes a lot of sense for a variety of shooters, even if they just want to have fun. Regardless of the type of shooting they’re doing, though, their skills will also benefit from using a rimfire weapon.
Pistol shooters, especially those who carry concealed, can really benefit from a rimfire conversion of their carry or defensive handgun. Although it’s going to be lighter and have less recoil, it will point and handle in much the same manner. It can thus be used to practice drawing from concealment, shooting from weak or strong hand, and so on – and practice for much longer periods of time than they could with centerfire ammo. The lower recoil can be somewhat beneficial, as it is less likely to cause the shooter to develop a flinch.
Rimfires can be used to practice precision shooting as well, which is a handy skill for shooters of any discipline. Purchasing targets with small bullseyes will contribute to the proficiency of the shooter, and misses that would have seemed minor with a large bullseye are much more obvious with a small one.
Centerfire rifle shooters can use rimfire rifles or conversion kits to enhance their weapon-handling, accuracy, and general proficiency with their chosen long gun. In addition to the cost benefits outlined above, rimfire rifles offer exceptionally low recoil, which contributes to longer days at the range. Firing 60 shots through a lightweight .300 Win Mag rifle in a few hours will cause most shooters to want to pack up and go home; firing 600 shots from a .22 rimfire is not even going to cause a tiny bit of discomfort. Shooting sessions can thus be longer and more productive.
As with pistols, buying targets with small bullseyes is beneficial. With good ammunition and practice, putting all of one’s shots through the bullseye at the standard distance of 50 feet is not an uncommon occurrence. However, shooting at longer distances – even past 100 yards – helps develop other skills. Because the .22LR bullets are small and relatively slow, they’re going to be blown about more by wind. The challenge of rimfire shooting with a crosswind is an excellent skills development exercise – if sometimes frustrating. It’s not an exact replica of shooting a powerful rifle at 1000 yards in wind, but it’s a good primer for the task.
Those shooters who just want to have a good time at the range hardly need to look further than .22LR. Near-pocket change levels of money can offer an afternoon’s worth of shooting or plinking. Along the way, they have a good chance of developing skills, too. Shooting at pop cans is not exactly bullseye practice, but a miss is a miss, and the embarrassment of a miss in front of friends is often as much of a driver to improve one’s skills as a miss witnessed only by the shooter.
Whatever the type of shooting you’re in to, it’s likely that you could benefit from practice with .22LR. If you haven’t done so already, you owe it to yourself to check out how fun and productive it can be.