Fabulous firearms Friday………
Everyone pretty much agrees that of all the various firearms you can sock away (for whatever reason you sock away firearms) a couple good .22LR guns are a ‘must have’. I agree. The ammo is cheap, the guns are inexpensive, and when push comes to shove I’ll take a Ruger 10/22 over a baseball bat when I’m trying to Omega Man my way out of Katrinaville. (But thats only when my choice is between those two…between a 10/22 and, say, an AR or AK…..different story.)
Everyone has their own preferences, and thats fine, so here’s mine. Keep in mind that these are just opinions…you might disagree, and thats cool too. This is all based on my own experiences, yours may be different…maybe your AR-7 was a flawless tackdriver, mine wasn’t. Luck of the draw. Let’s move on.
AR-7 – This design has been tackled (and tortured) by at least a half dozen different manufacturers in the last several decades…Armalite, Charter Arms, Survivasl Arms, Henry, etc, etc. I’ve owned two or three of them and theyre nifty, gimmicky, and crude as hell. Their only real redeeming feature was that they took down into small enough parts to fit into the buttstock of the gun. The sights were crude, the finishing rough, reliability was often just a passing thought, and spare parts/mags weren’t always forthcoming. If you have one that works, great…keep it. But I always recommend folks take a pass on these. There was also an AR-7 pistol for a few years…no better than the rifle and with the limitations of a short sight radius and no stock to steady your aim. Gun show novelties.
Marlin Papoose – I love Marlin .22 rifles. I’ve owned exactly one Marlin Papoose and it was a far better gun, although not as compact, as the AR-7. Only drawbacks were finding spare mags and finding ‘hi-cap’ mags. If I come across one of these at a reasonable price I wouldnt turn my nose up at it. These two guns, the Marlin and AR-7, were pretty much your only real choice for a ‘takedown’ factory .22 gun until recently. A few very oddball takedown guns are still out there (the Garcia Bronco spring to mind) but they are rare birds.
Marlin 781/881/981/81 – All basically the same rifle, just with a few improvements/changes over the previous generation. This is a tube-fed bolt action repeater. I like tube magazine guns because I have a fear of losing magazines. On guns where the magazines are ubiquitous (10/22) I don’t fret about it, but on less popular guns its a tremendous logistics concern for me. I used to go out and make amazing shots on ground squirrels with my 881. I don’t have one at the moment, but if one crosses my path (and they are usually reasonably priced) I’d get one to scope and take out for varmints.
CZ – I don’t actually own one of these but my buddy does. We shot it, with iron sights, using bulk ammo, and got dime sized groups at 30 yards. These things are incredible guns. They take detachable mags, which is a turn off for me, but the incredible value and performance of these guns (with single set triggers!) is making me think I might be able to get over my logistics issue.
Ruger 10/22 – This is pretty much the standard .22 rifle of the preparedness demographic. Magazines, parts, and accessories abound. This gun can be modified, tweaked, altered, modded and tricked out for just about any purpose. Ruger recently introduced a takedown version, which I think theyre going to sell a buttload of, but in reality all 10/22 rifles are takedown if you just remove the two allen screws that hold the barrel v-block in place….it just takes a couple minutes. When it comes time to start sticking guns away for the uncertain future, this is the .22 rifle that we stock up on. There are more accurate guns out there, there are cheaper guns out there, but none have the unbelievable logistics train that the Ruger 10/22 has. For that reason it should be the first choice when selecting a .22 rifle for preparedness needs.
Other than those, I’ve not much first hand experience with the Winchester, Remington and other brands of .22 rifles. Winchester and Remington both made some awesome guns but with Ruger’s established market share and aftermarket support there is really no other choice. If you have a Marlin 39A or a Nylon 66 you’re not at any real disadvantage….you can kill squirrels and headshoot turkeys as well as the next guy. But as the years roll by and you wind up needing parts, accessories and magazines, the Ruger will probably be the one that is easiest to keep up and running.
A few words about magazine availability: I make a big deal about magazine availability. Most manufacturers are very good about producing magazines for their guns even long after the guns are no longer made. In many cases, once a gun is discontinued, the newer models will use the old mag or the discontinued model will be able to use the new mag. Problem is, not every gun shop is going to want to keep on hand one of every single magazine ever made by Marlin (or Winchester, or whoever). Let me give you an example: if, when you want a magazine for your gun, the guy behind the counter has to look up in a book what magazine your gun takes, you need a different gun. Meanwhile, if you walk into a shop and say to the guy behind the counter “I need a Ruger .22 rifle magazine” he won’t even look up from his monitor. He’ll just say “Aisle 4″ and wave towards the display rack of Butler Creek and Ruger products. That is the kind of availability you want.