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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 38
BETTERSHOOTING Dave Anderson . 22 NirvaNa W hen I started shooting handguns, which was not the day before yesterday, it was taken for granted a new shooter started with a .22. These days it seems many new shooters start out with something like a 9mm/.38 Spl./.40 S&W or even a .45 ACP. I know people who have done so and became very competent shooters, so I know it’s technically possible to get along without a .22 handgun. The question is, why the heck would you? Improvement at any skill comes fastest when it’s fun, and if you enjoy shooting at all, nothing is more fun than a good .22. In the Speak Out column in Handgunner a couple of issues back there was one about a young fellow whose first gun was a .44 Magnum. Apparently after owning the gun five years he I know of no better training tool for a new handgunner than a quality .22 revolver. Clockwise from top right: pre-war Colt Officers Model Target, S&W 51 .22 Magnum, S&W 34, 1948-era S&W K-22. still could not get on paper at 25 yards. I must say the letter about broke my heart. If I had a young enthusiast who wanted to try handgun shooting, and my goal was to discourage improvement and destroy enthusiasm, I can think of no better way than by starting with too much gun. Which brings up a pet peeve: people who think it’s hilarious to hand a new shooter (often a woman) some kind of monster .454-.500 Magnum. Then they video them firing a shot, and post the video on the Internet. I wonder how many potential new handgunners we’re losing because of these cackling idiots? the Whys or a new shooter I know of nothing better than a high quality, medium frame .22 revolver. They don’t kick; they are extremely accurate; the cocked trigger pull is usually outstanding and they balance and handle beautifully. A quality autopistol is excellent as well, and my reasons for preferring a revolver are rather minor. To get a really good trigger on an autopistol you generally have to go to a top-line target model. Such guns are both expensive and heavy. New shooters often find loading autopistol magazines difficult compared to loading a revolver. Finally there is a psychological angle. Autopistols are ready to go again after every shot. I often see a tendency to shoot a string of F shots, rather than treat each shot as a separate event. My personal favorite is the S&W K-22, though I also like Colt medium frame revolvers very much. I bought my first K-22 around 35 years ago, and it taught me more about shooting a handgun accurately than any other. My current K-22 was made in 1948, long before the designation “Model 17” was introduced. I bought it secondhand of course, but in excellent condition. Another advantage of .22s is the fact given sensible care they are about impossible to wear out. My current Colt is a pre-war Officer’s Target model with the front sight adjustable for elevation. For shooters with small hands the little S&W “Kit guns” on the J-frame are an excellent choice. I also like Colt .22s on the Police Positive frame, especially the Colt Diamondback,. Colt also made some alloyframed Cobras in .22 with 3" barrels. This S&W 34 Kit Gun feels small in my hands, but for my wife Simone’s small hands it fits just right. Happily S&W still makes a full line of .22 revolvers. Recently they brought back the K-22 in their “Classic” line, and it is a beauty, virtually identical to my 1948 model. They also offer the Model 17 with full-length ejector rod housing and ten-shot cylinder, a bit heavy for my tastes but a superb revolver. Smith & Wesson also offers several .22 and .22 Magnum models on the smaller J-frame. For a shooter with small hands the best choice is the steelframe model 63 with 5" barrel. There are some models with 2" barrels which make great trainers for the multitude of shooters who own J-fame .38 snubbies. The Browning Buckmark is another great .22 auto, made in variations to suit almost any .22 need, from hunting to plinking to formal target shooting. The Buckmark is also offered in a version with a smaller grip frame, well suited to smaller hands. It’s almost inconceivable for me to think of a handgunner not owing a .22. There’s no better tool for developing skill, developing a love of shooting, and bringing new handgunners on board. I Clockwise from top right: S&W 41, High Standard Victor with Tru-Glo sight, Ruger Mk. II with Volquartsen receiver/barrel assembly and Insight Technolgy MRDS sight and maple grips, Ruger Mk. II target model with bull barrel and cocobolo grips. Grips are by Majestic Arms, very well made and attractive, a bargain at $39.95. haven’t mentioned single-action revolvers simply because the double-actions suit my needs. If you like single actions there’s no reason not to have one, and you can start and end your search with Ruger. Among autopistols I like the classic bullseye models such as the High Standard Victor and S&W 41. The Ruger .22 autos are a “best buy,” as the have been since 1949 — accurate, well made, stone reliable and virtually impossible to wear out. A Best BuY * For more info: www.americanhandgunner. com/productindex WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010 38