One of my mentors in the shooting world that I took a class from was an old school kind of guy. I loved training with him and learning from him. One of the things he said in a class I took about what kind of firearms everyone should be looking to get really stuck with me. He said:
“Everyone should have that pistol that they get. Whether it is a 9mm or whatever they decided. A solid semi-automatic for self-defense. What else should you get? A .38 special or 357 magnum revolver. Shooting with a double action revolver will really help you focus on the fundamentals and get some solid trigger control training. The .38’s are pretty cheap, and revolvers are easy to handle. Another must is a .22. I highly recommend that you get at least one .22 to train with….”
I agree with his statement to this day. For your casual gun owner, the person that is looking to buy their one and done firearm, okay, this may not be their path. Not every gun owner becomes a gun fanatic. But, many that do get that first firearm get hooked, and hooked quickly. Always looking for the next thing to try and buy. The purpose of any given firearm needs to be considered when purchasing it, so take that into your own personal thought process. If you find yourself being in the latter of the two categories, do not be dismissive of getting a .22, they are great firearms to train and practice with.
Why a .22? There are many reasons for this.
First, .22 ammunition is generally inexpensive and easy to obtain. Yes, there have been times in history that even trying to obtain .22’s came with difficulty and a hefty price tag, such as the present date, but generally speaking .22’s are inexpensive and readily available.
The other two more important reasons to use a .22 to train would be low recoil and low noise. No matter how much training we do, our reflexes are our reflexes. We react to gunfire and our purpose when shooting is to mitigate that. So conditioning our bodies to ignore recoil and the sound of gunfire is much easier to do when both are minimal. This will give you an opportunity to really focus on the very important elements of aiming and trigger control. Low recoil will give you a chance so that when your surprise break happens, you’re not being bombarded with the energy of a centerfire firearm. Take time to really concentrate on your marksmanship fundamentals with your .22 caliber firearm.
Don’t know which one to get, that’s okay. Like getting any firearm it is recommended that you get a chance to try as many as possible before purchase. The good news is that there are .22 versions of many popular handguns out there that you can get. Also, there are some trustworthy conversion kits that you can purchase for certain makes and models, just do a web search for .22 conversion for said firearm. I will note though it is important to read the reviews on different kits and some firearm manufacturers will void your warranty if you use certain aftermarket parts. Do your research on anything you get or use.
A note on ammunition…Certain .22 semi-automatic firearms require quality ammunition that could be double the price of the “cheap” stuff. Always reference the manual to make sure you are using what is recommended in your particular gun or with any conversion kits. At the end of the day, the “expensive” .22 rounds that one would practice with are still way cheaper than a box of centerfire cartridges.
.22’s are a fun and inexpensive way to work on your shooting skills and get some plinking time in. They are the perfect introductory firearm for someone that is apprehensive about shooting as well. Consider adding one to your cache of arms if you do not already have one. Your investment in a quality .22 will pay you dividends over time.
Stay safe out there and think before you do!
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii