Casual Rimfire Handgun Plinking Comparison

I'm of the opinion that most everyone should have one, or several, .22 rimfire handguns. For people that like to shoot and like to practice, it is an immensely fun and affordable path. I'd have a rough time naming all the different .22's I've owned and tested over the years, all the rabbits taken, all the tin cans knocked about. The first .22 pistol that I shot heavily shoots as good today as it did forty-five years ago, a High Standard H-D Military ten-shot autoloader. High Standard .22s were produced starting back in 1932.

As far as truly enjoyable .22s, several are no longer made, like my Colt Diamondback. You save so much in ammo cost it doesn't really make a lot of sense to skimp on the rimfire handgun itself, but not everyone feels that way. In a full-fledged review, normally I'll go through three to five different types of ammo, but for general plinking and just plain fun, it is the Federal milk carton style ammunition that is most used. It used to be the 550 round 36 grain HP “Value Pack,” but now it is the 525 round Value Pack and it no longer sells for nine or ten dollars. Still, it is dirt cheap shooting compared to centerfire and more than adequate for casual plinking, whether handgun or rifle. There is no such thing as a “ammunition insensitive” .22 rimfire, but there is always your own personal definition of casual plinking to consider. Lapua Midas + and Lapua X-Act rounds are generally superb performers, for example, but no one I know plinks with either.

The idea here, albeit at the end of a long shooting day, was to do a quick and dirty comparison consisting of five-shot groups with the cheap bulk ammo. It was quickly switching between three different handguns, shooting at 10.5 yards. Hand-held video isn't a good idea when your cameraman is shivering, and it my own fault for not being better prepared with tripods, and blaze orange isn't a good choice to wear for video. So, with those apologies in advance out of the way, I did render a 3 minute 16 second video for you. So, casual it is in about every way.

The three guns I grabbed at random were the new Ruger SR22 auto, a North American Arms Mini-Master mini-revolver (it is both .22 and .22WMR, the .22 LR cylinder used here), and a Ruger Mark II 5-1/2 inch bull barrel. While the SR22 is the Ruger version of the well-known Walther P22 with a bit better build quality, it has lousy trigger as mentioned in its full review and isn't accurate enough for even casual plinking as far as I'm concerned. While not a perpetual jammomatic, it did suffer a failure to feed on the second round.

The North American Arms Mini-Master put it to shame, and the NAA Mini-Master does markedly better with the new Hornady Critical Defense loads in WMR than it typically does with bulk .22 long rifle ammo, as you might suspect. Yet, the NAA minis with a two inch barrel or longer (Mini-Master has a 4 inch barrel) have always been surprising accurate, are by nature the most reliable, and the Mini-Master is the most economical piece of the trio as well.

If you want to call the SR22 the big failboat here, I won't disagree. As poor as the Ruger SR22 is, the Ruger MkII is equally superior, as a .22 autoloading pistol. For a general plinker, you might want to consider the current incarnation of the Ruger, the Mark III. For backup, concealed carry piece, a Mini-Master with a pair of both .22 and .22 WinMag cylinders is a practical choice, going with the NAA Black Widow if deep concealment is of importance to you.



Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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