I have a terrible confession to make.
While I do have a couple of bolt-action rimfire rifles (Marlin 880SQ in .22LR and Marlin 882 in .22 WinMag, see below):
… I do not currently possess a semi-auto .22 plinker.
Now, I am fully aware that I am probably breaking some Texas law by such a glaring omission. But my defense to prosecution, Yeronner, is that I gave/sold all my rimfire plinkers away to people who at the time had greater need of them than I, and I don’t think I should be arrested for altruism/poverty.
That said, when I return from my sabbatical in Britishland, I intend to remedy the situation. My conundrum is that while I’ve fired just about every brand and type of rimfire plinker ever made — old ones, new ones, you name it, I’ve fired it — I’ve been thinking about it long and hard and I’ve ended up with Choice Paralysis. So I’m going to need the assistance of you, O My Readers.
The essence of a rimfire semi-auto plinker is that it be cheap (under $250), reliable and reasonably accurate (“reasonably” because no semi-auto can compete with my 880SQ; I’ve got the accuracy part covered).
The cost criterion, sadly, excludes such beauties as the Winchester Model 63 and its Taurus counterparts:
This pains me because I learned to shoot rifles with my Dad’s Mod 63, but sadly, it’s way too spendy, and so are the Taurus (discontinued) copies, when you can even find one. Another spendy but beautiful one is the CZ 512, but it’s way spendy (albeit drop-dead gorgeous, and maybe the most accurate of any semi-auto .22):
Just to make matters more complicated, I also don’t want to get a .22 semi-auto rifle I’ve owned before, which rules out the Marlin Mod 60 and Ruger 10/22. (See? I may be conservative, but I can embrace change…)
A cursory look at the various local retail outlets’ websites shows that my choices are limited to these (in no particular order):
Remington 597 (scoped):
My only quibble with this one is that it doesn’t have iron sights, in my opinion a sine qua non for plinkers.
This one I haven’t fired before, but Doc Russia has one of these and the next time we hit the range, I’ll try it out.
Over the years, I must have fired a dozen 795s, and they are just fine.
I haven’t fired many of these — as I recall, one belonging to a Reader, at a range somewhere — but also as I recall, it’s a lovely thing. And it’s a Savage, so it’s not going to be a bad choice. None of them are, I think.
(If I buy the “scoped” Savage 64 package, it’s still under the $250 limit, as is the Rem 597 above. With my failing eyesight, it’s a consideration.)
Of course, I’d prefer to buy a wooden-stocked plinker (because wood feels better than plastic in my hands), but it seems that the only ones available are the disqualified Mod 60 and 10/22 or the expensive Winchester/Taurus and CZ [sigh]. Remember, I’m looking for a knockaround rifle, not a safe queen or pinpoint shooter.
All suggestions, recommendations, war stories/tales of woe, warnings and such in Comments, please, and will be much appreciated. Don’t chide me for being in this situation; I’m greatly mortified as it is.