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My Favorite .22

In all of my years of owning and shooting guns, I have shot many .22 rifles. When I was a kid, my father bought me a Remington Field Master pump .22 that was the gun I carried squirrel and rabbit hunting for many years.

This rifle shot very well and was extremely accurate with Remington .22 shorts. Even with only iron sights, I could shoot the dot in the “i” at long distances. But, one day while shooting this rifle at the range, someone wanted it more than I did, and he made me an offer that I could not refuse.

My good ol’ gun has been gone for years, and I have been in search of another to replace it.

Over the years, I have purchased many .22 rifles. Even though many have shot very accurately, none had that same “warm and fuzzy” feeling that old Remington did.

A few months ago I saw a Sears (Winchester) lever action .22 in pristine condition on sale for a really good price (only $125). It just so happened that I had $140 in my pocket.

I picked up the rifle and carefully looked it over. I have a little flashlight attached to my key chain and used it to look down the barrel to be sure it was as clean as the outside of the rifle.

Most .22 caliber rifles are difficult to “shoot out” (wear out the lands and grooves in the barrel), but if one is stored dirty, the corrosive properties of the gunpowder can eat the metal away and cause a gun to lose its accuracy. The barrel on this gun was bright and shiny with well-defined rifling.

This was a very nice rifle that seemed to be mechanically sound, but did I really need another .22?

What was I thinking?

But then I reminded myself “what does need have to do with anything when it comes to a new gun?”

The word “need” should only be used for things like food, water, a place to live and a good dog! I opened up my wallet, and out came the asking price – minus a few dollars that I was able to talk him down.

My new gun is a Sears Model 5 that will shoot shorts, longs and long rifle cartridges. It has a tubular magazine that will hold a handful of shorts. From my research it looks like these were made from the early 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. Based on the excellent condition of this particular rifle, it must not have seen much use, or the previous owner/owners took very good care of it.

This fine rifle has the original front and rear iron sights, but I am way past the point of accurate shooting without glass, so I knew I needed to mount a scope.

I just happened to have an old Savage Springfield 4x32 scope that was also in pristine condition, so I decided it would be mounted on the rifle. After the scope mounting and bore sighting, I was off to the range with my new gun and a pile of different flavors of .22 ammo.

I was on a mission to find the ammo this old rifle would shoot the best at 50 yards, as this was probably the maximum distance I would be dispatching furry-tailed tree rats.

After trying several brands with no luck, I tried Federal 36-grain, copper-plated hollow points and found they were “dead-on.”

The first two shots left holes that were touching each other, while the third, fourth, fifth and sixth shots were in the holes of the first two shots!

I continued to shoot, and the little rifle produced the same results with each magazine. I was happy, but not as happy as I would be when I got back home.

I fired several other brands – in both long and long rifle – but none shot as accurately as the Federal ammo. This little rifle was a blast to shoot, and with this accuracy, I was sure to have some real fun in the field with squirrels and rabbits.

After a good cleaning inside and out, the rifle went back in a case for the ride back home.

Then came a real surprise. When I opened my rimfire ammo cabinet, I found I had 10 boxes of the very same Federal ammo my new .22 rifle “liked.”

All were the 525-round value packs, and all had the same lot number! This means they were all produced at the same time from the same machine, which means they should all shoot with the same accuracy! This is great news! I have over 5,000 rounds of good-shooting ammo for this fine rifle.

I had better get busy if I am going to harvest 5,000 squirrels! That number is probably way more than I would ever shoot, but it is nice to know I have a lifetime of ammo for this gun.

Unless someone comes along and makes me an offer I cannot refuse, this rifle is a keeper.

If you are the parent of a youngster, get out and let them have the fun I had with a nice little .22 rifle. They are not expensive to purchase or shoot, and your kid will learn how to have FUN SHOOTING.

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!

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Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”