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.22 as a good practice gun?


Bowtie747

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Hey guys, looking to get into the sport more and more. Trying to not spend an arm and a leg on ammo all the time. Does anyone here ever use .22’s to practice? Pair of revolvers or even a lever action .22. Ik obviously it’s not perfect but just curious what you pros do. Thanks!

 

If so what pistols or lever actions do you chose? 

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Well I'm dang sure not a pro:lol: but I have slept at Holiday Inn Express!

I sometimes practice/play with a pair of Ruger Wranglers with Altamont grips so they fit my hand the same as my Vaqueros and a Henry rifle. Honestly though, I rarely practice as my times show :D and if I do it's generally with my match guns. However the .22s are hoot especially if you send the Henry to Slater for the Widder soft stroke and trigger job. It's hard to stop shooting it. :P

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46 minutes ago, Bowtie747 said:

If so what pistols or lever actions do you chose? 

 

Well, for pistols, I'd use a pair of Colts...

 

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For a rifle, my first choice would be a Small Frame Colt Lightning, since I shoot a Medium Frame one as my primary Main Match rifle.  But, I do occasionally shoot a Winchester, I'd practice with either an Uberti 66, which is basically a brass frame version of a reproduction of the Winchester 73 .22, or a 9422.   That last one is one of the best lever .22s ever made.

 

Sorry, no pics of those rifles at the moment.

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I have a pair of Cimmaron Plinkerton .22s I sometimes use to teach new shooters how to operate single action revolvers.  However, they are sufficiently different from my main match revolvers that I don't practice with them.  My wife on the other hand shoots .32 Ruger Single Sixes and practices with a pair of .22 Ruger Single Sixes (with action jobs by Long Hunter).  At Cal State in 2023 she won the ladies .22 revolver side match with her "practice guns."  She also practices with a Browning BL-22 rifle and won a side match with it at the 4-Corners Regional a few years ago.  Practice with .22s is great preparation for some side matches.  There's no time at the progressive loader cranking out ammo and we don't pick up our spent brass.

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22's will teach the basics, you know, cock, pull trigger, rinse repeat.  And they can be a lot of fun.  

And while I do not shoot 32's or 38's and can not speak to the cost of reloads, 22's are not necessarily super cheap anymore. 

The cost of 2 revolvers and a lever rifle, if not already owned will more than pay for the press and accessories to load a 38 for what must be somewhat close to the cost of the 22 ammo(38/32 caliber shooters help me here :D)

And if you are going to (gasp) practice, doing so with match guns will bring the best results.  But transitions will bring your time down more than just shooting fast. 

 

 

 

 

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NR, the per round cost of plinking .22 ammo is on par with the cost of small pistol primers.  When loading 38s one has to add the cost of powder and bullets.  .22s are cheaper but as you stated, shooting your main match guns is the best practice.  However, dry firing is valuable practice too and can be done at home.

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Welp! back in the day, anyone / everyone who truly learned to shoot well started with .22 when they graduated from BB and Pellet guns.  A lot of my generation could shoot, and still can - Silent Generation.

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I enjoy shooting a couple of Heritage 22s, one with a birdshead grip even. And a Henry 22 is too much fun to leave at home. All else fails, a couple of S&Ws keep my eyes sharp.

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I have to agree that the cost of .22 rimfire these days doesn't save that much over rolling my own .38's and .44's, especially when I cast the bullets myself from scrap lead.  Back when I was really active in the sport, I'd take 1000 rounds or more of .22 rimfire and 3 to 400 of my main match ammo to the range for practice and pretty much shoot then all.  I have two Ruger Single Sixes with the cowboy type sights and a Marlin lever rifle and they have had a whole lot of ammo shot through them practicing cowboy.  Yeah, not really the same as my main match guns, but still good practice in my eyes.  However, much of this game is in what one gets used to and I always also practiced with my main match guns.  Someone earlier mentioned dry fire practice and it can be helpful as well, but not a good idea with rimfire guns as it can and will damage the firing pins.  For dry fire practice, I'd highly recommend using your main match guns and using dummy rounds in them.  Good luck and good shooting to all.  

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You may be aware that SASS rules allow only kids 13 and under to shoot rimfire.  Some clubs (including mine) allow shooters of any age to shoot .22s.  It’s not an option at a state or higher match.

 

As others have said, if you want to be able to shoot at any club (some don’t allow rimfire) you may end up buying two sets of guns.  You may need different holsters.  That’s not saving you money.

 

If you have basic marksmanship skills you don’t need a lot of live fire practice.  Some of the most valuable practice is to practice your transitions (going from one gun to another) which can be done without firing a shot.

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To answer the original question, ruger wrangler pistols and Henry rifle, not the yellow boy.   The “brass” frame 22 have different stock geometry and are not close to my 1894.  The steel frame guns are similar geometry.  Widder’s, soft stroke is easy to do and slicks them right up. 
Rugers are the same, even the same grips and at around 200 per copy, a cheap option.  Spring kits are the same as well.  The single 6’s are nice, but a lot more $$ than a wrangler.  If you want adjustable sights, super wranglers are an option for another $70.  Adds adjustable sights and 22 mag cylinder.  

Edited by Still hand Bill
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Practicing with .22s helped me.  I used a pair of Ruger Single Sixes and a Henry Golden Boy rifle.  I cut my transition times significantly with one-shot drills:  you don't have to shoot 5 from each revolver and 10 from the rifle each time.  (Load one round in rifle magazine for each cycle;  that way you don't have to worry about a round on the carrier when you eject the empty brass and put the rifle down to go to your next gun.)The .22LR trips a timer reliably.  The timer and your match rankings will tell you when you have hit a plateau and need to change your practice scheme.  Until you hit your plateau, the .22 is a fun and inexpensive way to improve.  The timer and your match rankings will tell you when you are good enough to stop using .22s for practice, and need to burn more expensive ammo.  Finally, go out to the range and experiment!  Only your range experience can tell you what works for you.  None of us can do that.

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Practice of less than a 1,000 rounds a week is probably not sufficient to be in the upper echelons of competitiveness... And such practice needs to be well organized with specific goals in mind.  Plinking with .22s is NOT practice.  To be a serious competitor, you need to be serious about your practice.  

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1 hour ago, Griff said:

Practice of less than a 1,000 rounds a week is probably not sufficient to be in the upper echelons of competitiveness... And such practice needs to be well organized with specific goals in mind.  Plinking with .22s is NOT practice.  To be a serious competitor, you need to be serious about your practice.  


I agree.

 

Newcomers should realize that many skills are transferable.
 

Griff and I competed in Frontiersman category mostly.  Shooting percussion revolvers these days, during cap shortages, is difficult enough during matches.  Trying to practice with cap guns exclusively and expecting to break into the top ranks is beyond my talent level.  Using  .22s for practice allowed me to speed up transitions enough to be competitive while preserving the precious components for actual matches.

 

 

 

 

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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Thanks for the replies! I’m not really sure I’m looking to ever “legitimately compete” so more like go to a local match and have fun. I do want to get better though. More being competitive with myself. 
 

I ask mainly because I shoot a ton of 22 pistols and it’s helped my shooting greatly. So I’m sure as some said it can’t hurt. I definitely understand what some guys are saying as if you want to be legit, shoot legit. 
 

Hoping to go to my first local match here in Ohio sometime after turkey season!

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Well shoot, thought of another question but didn’t want to have to start another thread if anyone sees this any opinions are welcome.

 

For those of you shooting .38’s or .357’s do you just shoot .357? Have any issues running .38’s in your lever guns? Ik some of the 1873’s say mainly .357

 

hope that question makes sense. Looking to order some reloading supplies 

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Hi Bowtie747,

 

     I use 38 Special in my pistols and .357 in my 1873 rifle.

It is the exact same load in both, just a different case size.  

 

     I practice with 2 Ruger .22 Single Sixes and a Henry .22 all winter.  It is more economical.  

 

All the best,

Mo

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The 1873 Winchester tends to be sensitive to overall cartridge length.  Some individual rifles shoot .38 Specials and .357 Magnums interchangeably with no problems, others need some tweaking:  ammo, rifle, or both.  Most prefer to use .38s because the brass is a  bit less expensive and you will lose some rifle brass on the range.  Bullet shape is also important.  Truncated cone bullets slide into the chamber easily.  Wadcutters and Keith-style sharp shouldered bullets jam frequently.  Try some 38s and if they jam, you can get lots of advice here for the fixes.

 

Remember:  pointed bullets in a tube magazine are a no-no.  Use flat point bullets to avoid setting off a primer in the tube.

 

 

 

 

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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1 hour ago, Bowtie747 said:

Well shoot, thought of another question but didn’t want to have to start another thread if anyone sees this any opinions are welcome.

 

For those of you shooting .38’s or .357’s do you just shoot .357? Have any issues running .38’s in your lever guns? Ik some of the 1873’s say mainly .357

 

hope that question makes sense. Looking to order some reloading supplies 

I shoot what my rifles cycle the best.  I shoot 357s in one '92 Rossi, my wife's '73 Uberti, my '73 Miroku and a '94 Marlin all because they hold ten 357s and these cycle best in these rifles.  My wife has a '73 Uberti carbine that won't hold ten 357s but will hold ten long-loaded 38 Specials that cycle well so that it what we feed it.  Finally, I have a '94 Marlin chambered only for 38 Special only so that is what it gets.  Buy some factory ammo and find out what feeds well in your rifles.  Borrow some ammo from fellow shooters and see how they feed.  (You don't have to fire the ammo.)  38 Specials loaded long with TC or RNFP bullets often cycle well.  Avoid semi-wadcutters as they often feed poorly and avoid round nose bullets (I'll avoid the long reason why).  125 grain bullets are quite popular.  Hi-Tek coated bullets are becoming standard.  My primary caster quit selling uncoated bullets due to low demand.  Once-fired 38 Special brass is available on auction sites.  Avoid nickel-plated brass.  We can also tell you what headstamps to avoid (there are several).

 

Come back to the Wire with your loading questions.  There is lots of sound advice available.

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i dont practice as such exclusively with the 22 cal revolvers but yes i have a fair number - some full size that i do use at the range as a practice item , but not regularly , - im not that good a shooter , i do reload and have a fair backlog that i take to the range to shoot as 'practice' as well , that actually does me more good , 

 

if you dont reload start - buying your ammo loaded is going to be costly over the years 

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Just my opinion, but.... most any trigger time can be beneficial.

 

If your focus is on wild, uncontrollable (uncoordinated) speed practice, then you'll probably experience

some sloppiness in your stage transitions, etc....

 

BUT... if your trigger time (practice) has some structure of a particular goal, and your efforts in practice are controlled and focused on

your goals, your trigger time will probably be very beneficial within the shooting abilities you have.

 

YES, a good .22 rifle/pistols can help you gain.   And yes, the Widder Soft Stroke Henry lever .22 is a darn good set up, especially

with Slater's trigger job, which he can give a good sub 1 pound trigger.    These modified rifles are capable of sub 2 second 10 shot

runs if the shooter is capable of running that fast.

 

..........Widder

 

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A bit off track:

 

our club allows .22s for both rifle and pistols.  When the ammo/powder/primer shortage hit a while back we opened them up as main match guns.  Don't have to knock down any plates or such, just hit them

 

we call the cateogry (drum roll) Double Duece 

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13 hours ago, Bowtie747 said:

Would a Ruger vaguero mess up a holster built around a Uberti in the same caliber? Didn’t know if the frame dimensions were the same. Thanks!

no - not at all , i made the switch a decade ago from the uberti to rugers and im planning to run these holsters till im dead , they work just fine 

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10 hours ago, watab kid said:

no - not at all , i made the switch a decade ago from the uberti to rugers and im planning to run these holsters till im dead , they work just fine 

The original "old style" VQ's have a considerably larger frame than a Colt Model P SSA's or replicas.  However, I have a pair of original VQ's, in .44 Mag, and a pair SSA's as my main match guns in .38 Special and have used them frequently out of the same set of holsters with no real issues.  The new style VQ's are smaller and should present no real problems.  However, I guess it might matter if you want the smaller guns to fit really snug and it might depend a bit on the holsters used, but I've never really worried about it or had problems with it.  Good luck and good shooting to all.   

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My husband tried last winter to use .22s to save ammo. I wouldn’t do it. When he switched back to his .38s and cowboy rifle, he had trouble making the transition. It took awhile for him to get the feel for the .38s back. I guess it would be okay to try, but I didn’t, so my screwups are still the same, while his multiplied. 

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anybody mention the Taylor 6-shot 1873 Cattleman .22LR revolvers?  they're the same as any other Uberti 1873 clone except that they are a touch heavier with the smaller bore barrel and cylinder holes.  You can tune them up or buy them tuned.   It solves many of the issues with switching between different revolvers if you normally shoot an Uberti / Taylor / Cimmaron.  They're fun to just plink with as well because its an 1873 clone.  My Ruger / Heritage and other .22 SA's don't see sunlight anymore.  Accuracy on the .22 Uberti's are much much better than my Wranglers or Heritage guns if you're looking for accuracy when you shoot an 1873.  They are expensive compared to the Wrangler / Heritage and exactly the same price as any other Uberti 1873  clone in .357 or .45 if you're adding to the collection.

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When my kids decided they were going to shoot I bought a 5 gal pail full of .22s. they switched to 38 pistols after one match so I have a crap ton of 22 ammo , so I practice with it. when I actually have time to practice . The guns aren't the same but the mindset is.

  I'm getting older and my joints like it better when I do large volume in a short time. It's a lot easier on the body. now that my kids have decided they want more buckles from above state or regionals, I've had to break out the back yard range and dust off the cobwebs,  it's not unusual for me to shoot 1 to 2000 rounds in an afternoon practice session with them.

  There are a lot of kernels of knowledge posted above.  There is also some not great advice. 

  Proper dry fire is very good, BUT, improper dry fire will cause major issues if not corrected. its really easy to get sloppy if you don't get live feedback.   Transitions, shotgun reloading, and your mental game is what wins a match.

  There is nothing better than live fire with the guns and rounds that you will be using,but any gun can be used.  I've used my three gun gear before practicing transitions and stage layouts, pacing.  If you have the guns, then by all means use them. Even if you don't and you plan long term usage. 22s are still cheaper.  If you only want to practice 50 rnds here and there, just use the money on ammo.

  

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i get the recoil but a 22lr is not far from my cowboy loads in report and recoil , i will add that any practice i do with a 22 is done with a full size SAA revolver - thats why they fit my holsters and why the transition back is not as hard , i own the 3/4 size etc but they would not be my choice for practice if i was inclined - they would be plinkers just for the exercise , i have two matching cimmerons and a colt that was a 38 thats been converted to 22lr , those ar my go to's for this exercise when i do it , yes my NV rugers are slightly heavier i think but not by much , even with the different weight in cartridges i think they are very close , or at least close enough , 

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