Previous Post
Next Post


Image courtesty Joe Grine for The Truth About Guns

Tyler and I were recently kvetching on Google Chat about the new price of magazines (bad) and the sudden unavailability of ammo (even worse.) The coolest AR race gun I’ve ever seen is currently sitting in my gun safe doing absolutely nothing, and Tyler may have to back out from a tactical shooting clinic, all because 5.56mm ammo is simply not available in the quantities we need . . .

Tyler would need 300+ rounds for the shooting course he’ll probably have to cancel, and I’ll need at least 500 rounds to review the drool-inducing Wild West Guns AR with the carbon fiber handguard, fluted stainless ported barrel and match trigger (drooling yet? I am, and I just had lunch) that’s collecting dust in my bedroom closet. I haven’t laid my hungry eyes on even 200 rounds of 5.56, total, in all the sporting goods stores and gun shops I’ve hit up recently put together. And what I have seen is mostly premium-grade (and premium-priced) varmint or target ammo for $1 a pop.

Those of us born without trust funds can’t afford to keep shooting much at prices like that. To keep the sport growing and to keep our shooting skills in tune (at least until the ammo drought clears up) I’m hoping that tactical/defensive shooting instructors and action-shooting competitions will open themselves to the use of more .22 rimfires.

I know that ‘realism’ will suffer when competitors are training and competing with sub-mouse guns with minimal muzzle energy and no recoil, but most (if not quite all) bigger-bore competition skills can be developed using .22s instead of larger calibers. You might not have any recoil to manage, but trigger discipline and sight picture skills don’t care what cartridge you’re firing.

On the defensive end of the training spectrum, situational awareness, use of motion and cover, and shoot/don’t shoot decisions are also equally caliber-neutral. As long as your .22 handgun has a similar trigger action as your CCW pistol and you carry it in a similar holster, your rimfire practice will keep your skills much sharper than shooters whose ‘centerfire-only’ practice dogma means they can hardly practice at all.

The ‘best’ solution to a problem, as George Patton famously said, is the enemy of a ‘good enough’ solution. And anyone who thinks 3-gun is ‘realistic’ in the first place needs to talk to a SWAT team member or Navy SEAL for a reality check anyway.

Image courtesty Joe Grine for The Truth About Guns

This might be our last chance (I hope not) but it clearly isn’t the cheapest time to be buying or shooting 5.56mm ARs and normal-capacity centerfire handguns. It may be a much better time to stock up on .22 rimfires and ammunition, however, while the panic buyers are busy shopping elsewhere. .22 gun and ammo prices haven’t been completely immune from the panic bubble, but they’re still in stock and prices haven’t gone up by anything like they have for ‘Black Rifles.’

But here’s the coolest thing about .22s: we all own them already! So even if you don’t run 3-gun and aren’t signed up for a shooting class, get out there and shoot those .22s. Any shooting is better than no shooting, and lots of shooting is better than a little bit of shooting. That way-overpriced $30 brick of Federal .22s will give you a lot more practice time and skills maintenance than you’ll get from one magazine of 5.56 and two magazines of 9mm.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I’ve stuck by my CCI Stingers. I have 11 loaded up for home defense and some will laugh at that, but better believe it’ll stop what it needs to.

      • Those little CCI Velocitors penetrate about 9.5 – 11 inches in ballistic gelation. And they function well in my Ruger 10/22 Takedown.

      • 11 rounds of .22lr hits beat any number misses.

        If I knew I was going to a gun battle I’d take something else (M1 Abrams perhaps) but for general every day protection, the gun you have beats the gun you don’t.

  2. I spend far more time with my Ruger 22/45 than my centerfire pistols for this reason. The sad part is that even .22 ammunition is getting scarce, at least in my neck of the woods.

    • Just went to a medium sized “college town”, with hopes that they might have some .22 lr left, no such luck, I can’t find any bulk packaged .22lr within 50miles of me due to the panic buying. Im glad I have just enough for the buckmark to bag some bunnies, might have to dust off my 20 year old single shot .410, i can find those for $15 a box (for the high velocity good stuff). The only 5.56/.223 I have found anywhere is pdx1’s and they range 29.97-39.99 for a box of 20, I’ll leave my real AR in the gun safe and keep praticing with my airsoft m4….

      • There isn’t a Walmart within 250 miles of my house, across two states, that has a single box of .22 on the shelves.
        I’ve got a reasonable stash of .223, and I expected that it would be hard to come by for a bit, but the out of .22 thing really took me by surprise. It shouldn’t have, but it did.

    • I just love my 22/45. Being a handgun newbie, it’s been a great way to learn and practice. And when I shoot my wife’s Ruger LCR .38, the skills do transfer nicely. I’m looking for a ccw for myself, and while I hear so much about how .22’s don’t have the stopping power of higher-powered calibers, for some reason I keep gravitating toward several smaller .22 models. They’re compact, lightweight, and easy to pop off multiple shots.

  3. Two of my first three guns were .22 LR, and I have several thousand rounds to plink with. Considering one of the NAA micro revolvers as well.

  4. Considering demand is so high that even distributors are backordered of centerfire ammo, the only volume shooting anyone’s going to be doing are the reloaders among us.

    For the next 6 months its gonna be rimfire only for those of us who shoot store bought rounds.

  5. Yeah I just added a Volquartsen Scorpion cause all my other pistols are 45 cal. If you’re ever in the Nashville/Clarksville area and want to review it let me know. It’s awesome BTW.

    Maybe it’s time you guys called Dillon Precision to test out a XL 650. But then you face my problem and thats primers. Who has any in stock? I can get brass, bullets and powder all day long but primers are out of stock at least for small rifle.

  6. What we need the mfgrs to get after is a new cartridge in between 9mm and .22LR in cost and performance. Don’t get me wrong double tapping the big steel poppers to get them to fall with the 22 IS fun, but then I need a bigger mag than the 10 rounder in my sig1911-22 lest the fun subside. Thankfully I bought a 50rd drum for the SIG522 before the Great Panic. Can’t wait to make use of that.

      • .22wmr cost about the same as 9mm for 50 rounds, It would be nice to see a rise of a small .32acp like round or even an increase in something like a 7.62×25 steel casing, nylon jackets on the cheap,

        • I was aware of the 22WMR, but had heard it was not really a cheap round.

          I am a soon to be reloader (hornady classic kit for xmas) once I get get all the bits I need, and poking at the #’s it looks like bullet and brass are the major costs by percentage for most centerfire cartridges. I don’t know what the breakdown by component is for rimfire (since it’s not reloadable), or how the the production rates compare for centerfire vs rimfire.

        • Bob,
          Brass is expensive. Go to a public range and scoop it up for free. I got almost 500 .223 cases, 200 .40s, and a bunch of 9mm just yesterday. Spend your money on powder, primers, and bullets.

  7. And yet, you guys (and you know who you are) keep poo-poo’ing those of us who are trying (without success) to get you to learn how to reload.

    I don’t care if I get credit for you finally making the leap into doing it. I don’t care if you even remember what I’ve said on the topic of reloading. All I care is that you quit kvetching about the price of ammo, start saving your brass (or you start scrounging from people who wax lyrical about leaving theirs on the range) and you start doing it, so you can keep shooting.

    • I will share that I’ve started marking and collecting my .40 brass since I read your original comments on the topic. That gets tedious at my indoor range of choice, which is messy with discarded brass of every variety, so I’m going to have to come up with a shooting-table mounted brass catcher of some sort — a challenge given how my USP likes to eject empties with Germanic vigor.

        • I have had to specifically train myself to ignore hot brass ricocheting bloody everywhere in the shooting booth while I put rounds downrange. Virtually every aspect of HK USP operations reminds the shooter that this is not a gun to be handled gently.

          Operator tries easing the slide forward to chamber the first round? NEIN, slide not in battery! Try again, girly-man!

          Time to eject an empty? ACHTUNG! Ve vill richochet this one off BOTH walls of ze shooting both before going down ze operator’s collar!

          Holding your USP in a less than 100% firm grip? NEIN, I haff stovepiped the empty to show you ze error of your ways, you limp-wristed American!


        • AG, nothing like being in the next stall when somebodys shooting a deagle or usp. It’s time for a hot brass shower.

          It’s also bad to be sitting to the right of an AR shooter on the firing line. The best reason for having a Mosin m44 is to pop off a couple of rounds and watch your neighbors on both sides move away. Creates your own little privacy zone.

        • JWM – Tell me about it! I have found brass from my Mini 14 over 40 FEET AWAY when shooting on a windy day. 15-20 feet is typical. I have to use a screen at the range or nobody is safe from the rain.

    • Dyspeptic, I’m feeling you. Will you post a “reloading for cheapskates” article and tell us the bare minimum that we’ll have to buy to reload safely but on the cheap.

      • Ralph, once I started learning about reloading centerfire cartridges, I was surprised by how straightforward it was. The economics are shaky in times of reasonably priced ammo, but that is emphatically not the situation we have today.

        Then I got the facts about shotgun shell loading/reloading. Mind. Blown. For any kind of slug or buckshot load, it is both economical and unbelievably easy to roll your own (crimp). The only specialized tools you really need are for primers and hull crimping. (Birdshot/skeet rounds are factory produced so cheaply that it doesn’t make economic sense to load your own.)

        There is one downside: shotgun hulls have to be shortened 0.25″ every time you fire them, so I get at most three firings out of a new 3-inch hull… and I haven’t tried 2.5″ rounds in my Weatherby yet. If the 2.5″ rounds cycle reliably, though, my magazine just got a little bigger!

        • AlphaGeek, I don’t shoot shotgun enough to bother reloading. I have just one shotty, it’s a home defense wall leaner, and I shoot it just often enough to groove my stroke. But shoot rifle and pistol whenever I can, and given the cost of 7.62 NATO and .40 . . . .

      • I have the Lee Challenger Anniversary kit ($150 these days, but I am pretty sure I got it for $120 a year ago. Prolly still deals out there), and a set of .357/.38 and 9mm dies at $25/set and it serves me well.

        Straight-walled handgun cartridges are pretty straightforward.

        The only things I’ve bought that weren’t in the kit are a digital scale and a decent micrometer. Each about $20 I believe.
        Would still like to hear DG’s wisdom, of course, but wanted to tell you that it is possible to get in to the reloading game pretty cheaply.

    • I had been planning on reloading for a bit, I even got a manual for Christmas, but man, its a pain to find powder and primers where I live right now.

        • The carrier’s hazmat fee for primers and gun powder is expensive, especially if one isn’t completely filling that shipping box. I just checked and at this time Midway USA has some Winchester large pistol primers. The hazmat fee is $27.50 for up to 70 lbs.

        • Chaz — yes, the way the transport costs are structured you pretty much have to order a full load to make it worthwhile. The recipe for max economy is:
          4 * 8lb casks of powder (32lb limit per box)
          2 * number of primers required for powder order
          sufficient projectiles to fill load to 70lbs

      • Look around, buy as much in bulk as you can, get the dies you need and read a lot. Get 3 or 4 different reload manuals and study the info from each in regards to the caliber(s) you need. They may all vary just a grain or two but they all will pretty well have a common middle ground. My books are the latest Hornady, RCBS, Lee and Sierra!! I reload for .30carbine, 9mm, .45acp, 7.62x54R, .25auto and hopefully soon for 12gauge.
        Just got 2 sets of RCBS steel dies made in 1968 and never ever been used, they were for .30carbine and .25auto and I gave a whopping $30 for both 3 die sets, still in original box and brown wax paper. For modern day I use carbide dies but couldn’t pass those up, especially for the .25!!
        One thing to expect though, a primer going off while being seated in the case. Everybody I have ever talked to has had it happen and the fist time it happened to me it scared the crap ou of me. Luckily I always wear ear plugs and safety glasses!!

      • A reloading setup using the Lee hand press, dies for one caliber, powder measure scoops, funnel and loading block would cost under $150 from Amazon. All this plus a jar of gunpowder and case of primers fits into a modest sized box for storage. I used to reload this way sitting at my computer desk.

      • I reload .44 special (and about to start with 9mm and .30-06), and by the time I’ve made my first 1000 rounds, I’ve paid for all the components AND all of my reloading equipment. YMMV.

    • Does the Hornady Lock N Load Classic handle both Handgun and Rifle rounds? If it does, I’m in. I’m regretting not getting it for Christmas, but my 10/22 Takedown is awesome.

      I’m going to have to wait until I pay off some of these credit cards some.

      • From what I’ve seen in researching reloading presses, the only thing it won’t handle is 50BMG or similar gigantic rounds.

        Short of that, my understanding is that it’ll load any cartridge for which you can get dies.

    • Dyspeptic Gunsmith,

      Reloading is on my agenda for skills to learn this year. Since the CT shooting and aftermath the priority has risen. I have bought most of my ammo based on the understanding that I can use that particular round’s shell for reloading. I too would like to read a post by you about re-loading.

      I missed reading your post the other day: “This is Not 1994” and joining in the discussion. It’s on my agenda for tonight.

  8. .22s are all gone in my neck of the woods just like centerfire. I typically shoot about 600 .22s a month out of my EDC(P229) via a conversion kit. It’s really picky about what it eats too(minimags, stingers, blazer 40gr and believe it or not Thunderbolts run well). I’ve got 950 on hand but all the shelves in my town(pop 250K) are bare of just about ALL .22 ammo. Thankfully I cast my own bullets and reload so as far as centerfire goes I’m good until my stash of primers runs out(maybe by 2014 lol). But I hope the .22 situation sorts itself out before I run short.

    • Same in the DC area. Although I am lucky I bought 6,000 rounds of .22lr right before Christmas. That will get me though 4 to 5 months hopefully by them I will be able to by more ammo.


      • No 22lr anywhere in my area. I had a cery large stockpile but its dwindling. I have rimfire versions of some of my handguns and a conversion for my AR and already shot these about 100 to 1 vs center fire. Now all I need is an 22LR approximation of a Garand.

  9. I have always belonged to rimfire nation. My standard training session is 1 box of 45 from my Springfield and 250-300 rounds from my 1911-22. Most of my rifle practice is done with my Savage Mk II. Typically, I fire one box of centerfire per quarter with my high powered rifles. Besides I don’t use 5.56. My smallest round is 243.

    • I have dual citizenship. I would love to have an ak and a Uzi but one of my requirements to buying a gun is I have to be able to shoot 22 LR as well so I always end up with another AR. When shopping for my first handgun, I fell in love with a sig but at that time there was no sig or aftermarket 22 conversion kits. I bought a glock and an aftermarket 22 conversion kit and haven’t regretted it. ARs are easy. I have AR 22 uppers and AR 22 drop in conversions, both have their place. I love the fact that many new handguns have a 22 little brother with many of the same features.

      Some of my proudest shots were under rimfire nation. Is there a more challenging game animal than a running squirrel taken with a 22? Want a challenge put a old pot on top of a barrel at 250 yards and knock it off with a 22, and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done repeatedly! I have learned to shoot with my opposite hand, shoot with both eyes open, and got back to basics when my centerfire shots were all over the place- all with a 22. Great way to start friends and family shooting too.

  10. agree. bought 2 M&P 15-22’s for the same reason. i figure they’re not costing me a dime considering what continuing to shoot .223/5.56 costs.

    problem is, even .22lr is dried up (at least here in CO).

    (and did buy the latest one from TTAG sponsor

  11. Excellent article and I agree with your assesments about training and such, but just not availability! As an avid rimfire enthusiast and shooter I can tell you 22LR ammunition has not been immune to the panic buying either. Shelves in my neck of the woods and all over the country are being cleaned out of 22 LR ammo faster than you can empty a 25 rd 10/22 mag! This is not just my personal observation in my local big box stores and LGS but it is also being reported on a rimfire specific website of which I am a member. Seems like 22 is taking as much of a hit as 223/5.56!

    • I think it will be a shorter lived shortage with 22 LR ammo. People are simply panic buying right now. They go in for 223 ammo-nothing, okay they have a 9mm- nothing there either, okay but the store has a couple boxes of 22 LR left- “okay give me that, it’s better than nothing, it’s cheap enough to get 1000, and I will use it at some point”. People will get tired of not getting the rounds they are really looking for and stop buying the 22 because they have 4000 rounds and they realize they go to the range 4 times a year. I know my local Walmart has tried to combat this a little by allowing a customer to only buy one or two bulk packs of 22 which will still give you 550-1100 rounds. More than enough for a couple hours, unless you really like loading 22 mags

  12. Now I’m glad I bought a couple of boxes of .22LR when I bought my Savage 64. The one that I’ve since lost in a tragic boating accident, of course…

    The same reasons given in the article are also why I love the nicer gas-blowback airsoft pistols (incidentally, they have about the same recoil as a .22). Plus you can do force-on-force stuff without the rather, ah, permanent outcomes even rimfires can cause.

  13. I set up a 7-yard target in my garage and I’m doing dry fires. Been waiting for three weeks on ordered and paid centerfire ammo…. Normally I get it in three days!@*#%(%(&#!

  14. Yep, the last panic buy off in 08 taught us some hard lessons. I stocked thousands of rounds of rimfire ammo while it was plentiful. I don’t shoot 5.56. The 7.62x54r is still available in surplus form and new loads, so my mosin is good to go. Also .30-30 is still to be had and cheaper than 5.56.

    I stocked up an emergency supply for all my centerfires and I have a minimum round count for each. Once I hit that number i switch over to rimfires and pellet guns for all my practice until the supply loosens up again.

    And yes the reloading option is on the table. I did it as a young man and am sure I can remaster the skills needed.

    • The 7.62x54r is still available in surplus form

      I know. It’s freakin’ wonderful, but it makes me think that the Russians were preparing to invade the entire world because they certainly made enough ammo to do it.

      • We must remember Ralph. The russians were invaded twice in the space of one lifetime and suffered horrible losses as a result. They kept warehouses loaded with rifles and ammo for the next time. Some of this stuff was obsolete, but for people that remembered trying to stop panzers with human courage any gun was a good gun.

      • Just checked it out on Ammo to Go and it’s .21 cents a round. On stripper clips! Now I’m running off to check out Mosin-Nagant rifles.

        • Ammo to go is where I get my 54r and my 9×18 makarov. Nothing but good things to say about their prices and service.

          There’s a lot of you tube vids on cleaning the cosmo out of a Mn and how to accurize them. They’re cheap and fun to play with.

  15. I’m fully on board with shooting 22LR — sometimes I don’t even shoot all of the centerfire ammo I take to the range because I spend more time than expected putting (cheap) rounds downrange with the 22LR guns.

    One of the reasons I got two AR lowers recently was because I wanted to build one primarily as a 22LR target gun. That way I can invest in high-quality triggers for just two lowers, and have uppers in 5.56, 300BLK, and 22LR to mount as needs dictate.

    Also, 22LR is NOT the only cheap way to get in trigger time. I got a LaserLyte training system for the holidays, and I can honestly say that in only a week of use it has more than paid for itself in avoided ammo costs and improvement to my basic grip and technique. I’ve even started playing a game with my kids — they’ll position the electronic target somewhere in a room, then it’s my challenge to walk into the room, spot the target, draw from concealment, and put 5 rounds on the target in double-action fire. (We don’t play this game when the spousal unit is home…)

  16. I’ve barely been able to find Remington Thunderbolt here in NC, much less the CCI stuff I’d like to try out. Haven’t had much luck looking online, either.

  17. I bought a whole sh!tload of ammo in .40, 7.62 NATO and .38Spl a few days before Newtown. I already had enough 7.62 X 54 and .223. I always keep about 2000 rounds of .22LR on hand and 100 rounds of 12 gauge. So I’m okay for now — just as long as I don’t shoot.

    I’m taking an AR to my FFL on Saturday. It’s not my favorite rifle, so I’m gonna see what she’s worth.

      • That was my initial reaction as well, but I think Ralph is crazy like a fox on this one. This is a GREAT time to sell a 5.56 AR if you already own a 7.62 battle rifle of some sort.

        My forlorn hope is that, sometime in the next year or two, the market will come down to where I can add a SCAR-17 or AR-10 variant to the stable. For now I’m just glad I got two high-quality lowers at decent prices before the madness REALLY kicked in. Should have bought 4, though.

    • Ya Ralph sorry to break up your party but those are the only rounds I was able to find at any Walmart around today other than .223 of course. But I was lucky enough to get a couple value packs of .22 golden sabers or some thing like that. Unfortunately the steel cased shit I found for 9mm at my lgs was the only ammo my m and p couldn’t faithfully digest.

    • Yep. With a nice block of Pic rail on the top so you can easily stick a cheap red dot sight on it when the urge strikes. 🙂

      I’m also of the opinion that everyone should own a Winchester 9422 lever-action, or the Henry equivalent. SO much fun, easily my favorite just-for-enjoyment rifle.

  18. My local club is talking about doing USPSA matches where you use all the same kind of gear you’d normally use for a USPSA style match but you shoot it with 22 rimfire for this very reason.

  19. My favorite gun is a “true” 6.5″ AR-15 SBR in .22LR. There’s just no better gun to do a mag dump with.

    I’ve been trying to acquire a USFA “Zip” pistol, but the going has been horribly slow.

  20. Go out and buy a progressive press and some remington brass and get to pumping out the rounds you need. A true american red blooded reaction to scarcity is to make your own way if others can’t supply you with what you need. Same goes for a lot of other basics. As my Dad always told me growing up… Keep your mind sharp and your hands just as sharp. You never know which skills you will need. Get on Midwayusa and spook around the starter kits and presses to get into the reload game.

  21. As anybody knows that’s been paying attention that even though i own a couple of semi auto pistols I’m primarily a revolver man. And when you reload being a revolver man makes the whole process easier. No chasing brass willy nilly.

    • Yeah I was primarily a revolver guy for years. When I started to get into autos more it was a pain in the ass policing that shit up until I built a net to hang next to me at the range to keep all my spent brass from flying everywhere. It works a treat! I take a dustpan to the range and just scoop ’em all up. 🙂

  22. Sadly, at the rate things are going, we will soon be training with Airsoft guns!
    Fortunately I already have a 1911 Airsoft pistol and it does have the advantage of being able to train with it in your typical home.
    Beat that .22 LR!

  23. For the record, the ammo shelves in and around Boise have been cleared for at least a week. I love plinking with my .22s but there is not a round to be found. Anyone remember November 2008? That shortage took several months to clear. They said it was amplified by supplier shortages in the pipeline so I was hoping that this time it would be relatively short lived. I am not so certain however. This time there seems to be a sense of real panic. I saw it on many faces as I shopped for ammo. As a footnote the mag isle in two stores were also nearly cleaned out and the crowds at the gun counters was better than four deep. Anyone else smell a sh!tstorm?

  24. Is there, or has there ever been, a 3-gun competition with 22’s and maybe a 20 ga or 410? If not, it would be a good idea for an intro to the sport as well as for youngsters. Just a thought.

  25. Chris, great post. The increased use of .22 caliber is a discussion that we were bound to have sooner or later. Several months ago, a friend and I had the conversation that ammo prices were going to continue going up sooner than later for several reasons.

    Even without new gun control laws and the resulting panic buying of guns and ammo, the USG and the FED continues to debase our currency’s buying power with bad monetary policies. Debasement is not the only reason for higher prices yet it is a contributing factor. We are fortunate that global commodity prices are traded in the private banking cartel’s Federal Reserve Note that some incorrectly call the US Dollar. Eventually, America will lose being the world’s reserve currency and when that ends or greatly diminishes even more than it has already then a result is higher prices to buy goods since the currency is worth less. Regardless of a currency’s strengths and weaknesses, the world’s growing population and its modernizing results in more demand for finite raw materials. That demand for the finite raw materials also pressures prices upward.

  26. The only .22 LR available are the once scarce shotshells. Lots of CB caps and .22 Short. The time may come when we’ll want to shoot without the neighbors turning us in to the Waffen-BATF. Grab those CB and low-noise rounds while you can. Production for the next few months will be .22 LR and .223.

    At least in my area 9mm and .380 are still available. Probably the result of manufacturers gearing up after the shortage of those calibers two years ago.

  27. I’m loving my M&P 15-22 and SR22 even more these days. I have about 6k rounds of .22LR on hand. But, I have not found ANY to replace what I’m shooting anywhere… not a Walmart… not online. The only .22LR I see available is oddball stuff like rat shot and premium “match grade” rounds.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here