Never Mind Hunting

Mr. Free Market sends me to an article headlined thus:

America’s Greatest Cartridge

…and to the surprise of precisely nobody in my zip code, he’s not talking about the .30-06 Springfield or the .30-30 WCF, but my favorite cartridge, the venerable (and venerated) .22 Long Rifle.

So much do I love the .22 LR that I think that it should be regarded not as a cartridge, but as a household commodity like salt.  Ditto the guns that shoot it should be regarded as household appliances like steam irons or vacuum cleaners — every home should have one:  at least one, and if in no other case, more is better.  I have several, whether in the role of target rifles, plinkers or whatever, and even though the kids bought me a perfectly-adequate semi-auto Savage 94F for my birthday:

…I still hunger after a CZ 512 because… well, because.

In fact, just for the hell of it, I think I’ll list the .22 rifles I lust after, in no particular order:

Sako Mod 85 Quad Pro Varmint

It is horrendously expensive (don’t ask) but I truly believe that once you have one of these, you would never need another .22 bolt-action rifle, ever.  (You can buy more expensive .22 bolties, but you are walking so far up the quality curve that it becomes somewhat pointless.)  It is especially true because the Quad series have swappable actions/barrels between .22 LR and .22 Mag.

CZ 452 ZKM

or its more modern replacement, the CZ 457 Lux:

Nobody I know who owns a CZ 452 or 457 has anything bad to say about it, and to a man they say that the rifle is far more accurate than they can shoot it.  It’s certainly true in my case, although I’ve never actually owned one.

Now as Longtime Readers will know, I already have two perfectly good .22 bolties, the Marlin 880 SQ / 882 SSV in .22 LR and .22 Mag respectively:

…and they are quite adequate for my needs and skill.  But:  they have plastic stocks, the triggers are just “good” as opposed to excellent, and the barrels can’t be threaded for a suppressor.

I seek beauty as well as function at this stage of my life, so I’m considering selling them both and replacing them with “better” (i.e. better-looking) guns.  If any of you have young sons or grandsons and want to spoil them, drop me a note and we can talk turkey.  Anyone who has ever shot these with me will attest to their function.  I can sell them as a “matched” pair or individually, and they’d come with spare mags (of course).

I already own the world’s most fun gun to shoot, the pump-action Taurus Mod 62C:

As I’ve said before, when I take people plinking with this gun, I always have to ensure that there’s one more brick of ammo than I think I’ll need, or else they start pouting when the ammo can runs dry.

That said, I wouldn’t mind the longer-barreled Henry version of this gun… just because, and in .22 Mag rather than the LR.

…and the octagonal barrel gives me the Warm & Fuzzies, too.

There are a couple more out there that I like, but they’re a little less desirable than the above.  Feel free to recommend others to me, in Comments.


  1. My fun gun to shoot Steel Challenge in .22LR is a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 which and I have a Geissele trigger upgrade on it along with a Sig Romeo red dot sight, the trigger and sight cost more each than the gun which I bought on a super black Friday sale a few years ago. The rifle is not a tack driver due to the polymer receiver but it is fast to get on target and will hit within an inch or two at 50 yards every time. With my five 25 round magazines it is easy to reload and shoot with thousands of rounds through it the only malfunctions have been my fault in loading the mags wrong.

    Being an old blue steel and wood stock man for a number of years I never had any interest in such a gadget gun until I owned one and now I wonder what took me so long to buy it. About eight years ago I had a friend who was moving, needed some cash and he offered to sell me a 15-22 for a hundred bucks and while I was thinking about it he sold it to another friend which I thought was a good idea since I did not want to own a plastic .22. Turns out I was wrong about that.

  2. Kim,
    My 30-year old Marlin 60 is a hoot and a half. Holds 15 in the tube mag plus one in the pipe. I use the Spee-d-15 reloader to expedite reloading – twist, dump, shoot .. the Spee-D-15 holds 120 rounds of fun !!! Because of my 5x year old very near-sighted astigmatic eyes, I top the thing with a cheapie 3x-7x variable scope. Even with junk, ammo, it rings steel all day long at 50 yards, and could probably do a 4″ plate at 100 without too much grief.
    In the 22-AR space, I can’t wait to get my CMMG 22 conversion kit out to the range. I won’t be shooting that beyond 50 yards, might start indoors at 25 just to get the setup straight. It will go into my Stoner 16″ carbine upper with Nikon 3x P-223 BDC scope … range report to follow when time permits.

  3. Even though I am right handed, I was taught to shoot by my older brother who is a lefty, as a result I shoot pistols right handed, (not possible any more in the UK), and Rifles and Shotguns, left handed. So give me ANY left handed bolt action .22 and I am a happy bunny!

    1. In case you don’t already know, Savage makes a considerable number of their bolt guns in left-hand variants. And don’t discount the Browning BPS pump shotgun – bottom eject – perfect for Southpaws …

  4. Got the bug to add a pump 22 to the band of merry makers last year. Now Henry has one but I was turned off by the “alloy” receiver. Just can’t buy into that, so off I went to gunbroker looking for oldies made of real steel. Found a beautiful condition Rem 121 Fieldmaster made in 1952. Had to be 95% condition. Post war beauty !!!! Got it dirt cheap for 275 bucks.

    Btw great book to read is Walnut and Steel by Bill Ward. He added a second volume to it. Covers just vintage 22s.

  5. Great minds think alike.

    Bought a CZ 457 Scout as a first rifle for our youngest son.

    I also have a Winchester Model 1890 .22 take-down model that I am told my maternal grandfather bought new. Three generations of my family have learned to shoot with it. It was originally chambered in 22 long. Sometime during my late 20’s, I decided to shoot it from the bench @ 50 yards. Groups ran six inches or so. It was anybody’s guess then when it had last been cleaned, so I went home and went at it. Yikes. Even after cleaning, the bore looked like an old sewer pipe. So it sat in the safe.

    Some years later I happened to meet a guy at a rifle match whose hobby was restoring these rifles. He bored out the barrel and installed a liner. I also had him modify the carrier for 22 Long Rifle. I realize this may cause some collectors head’s to explode, but so be it. Obviously my intention was to get a family heirloom up an running for future generations. And can you imagine trying to find 22 Long these days?

    This little rifle just sings. Runs 22 Long Rifle like a champ, and is an absolute tack driver. And it brings a smile to the face of every shooter who picks it up.

  6. Saw that article, and while I too was expecting 30-30 or some such, I could not think of one disagreement with the article, and thought “I should forward that to Kim, but am loathe to fill up someone’s mailbox. Glad it made it here.

  7. Mine is a Remington Speedmaster. It belonged to my Grandpa and while loading it through the stock aperture, in the field is awkward, it’s a beautiful shooter.

  8. Love the .22lr. I shoot a couple hundred rounds a week. No cheaper way, save dry-fire to practice the fundamentals. Heard great things about the Tikka T1X. Bought one with a 20” barrel and it is a fantastic rifle. Light and handy it is a tack driver. It will shoot one hole groups at 50 yards and I have held a half inch at 100 yards. I have been a dedicated pistol shooter for the better part of the last decade, but when I fired that lil Tikka the grin it placed on my face hasn’t left. My handguns, wheel guns and bottom feeders alike sit idle.

    I put it in a Bravo chassis by KRG, a SWFA SS 12X scope on it, replaced the trigger spring with one from YoDave( taking trigger to about 1#) and a bolt knob by Sterk Shooting. It has become the trainer for my Tikka 6.5 Creedmoor, though truth be told I prefer the .22lr.

    After all that I missed the simplicity of the rifle in its plain form so I bought another with a16” tube and added a Nikon 3-9 AO scope. Now I have the option of simple fun or serious training. On top of all that, both of my guns seem to love CCI SV. Lapua , SK, Wolf, Federal and Eley all shoot quite good too but the SV is their favorite. All I need now is a suppressor and a few hundred yards out my back door.

  9. Thanks to a much earlier post, I bought a CZ 512 in 22 mag. Friends who have shot it all committed how it just feels right when one shoots it. Can’t complain about the accuracy either. I am fortunate, having 71 year old eyes, I can still shoot with iron sights. I also have the Henry that is on your list. Additionally, I have two CZ 452’s with Mannlicher stocks, one in 22lr, the other in 17HMR. You are right, I don’t think you can have too many rimfire rifles. I think our tastes are pretty close. I wish I had more experience with the European calibers. And forget 223’s!

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