It would be nice if centerfire ammo was cheap and plentiful. It would also be nice if they didn’t kick so hard. Wish in one hand…
Since we rifle shooters need to be adaptable, our forefathers created the .22 LR round. Not only is the .22 fun to plink with, it also has several advantages for honing your skills with a rifle.
First of all, .22 ammo is cheap. Even if you’re a snob and want match ammo, it’s way less expensive than centerfire ammo. That means you get to shoot more.
Secondly, recoil is negligible. You don’t have to worry about flinch. You’ll be able to see everything that happens during the firing of the shot. Also, shooting with the lower recoil will help to ingrain good habits instead of flinching.
Another benefit of the .22 as a training round is its effective range. This is a little counterintuitive, because the .22’s isn’t known for being much of a long range round. That’s why it’s such a good training round. “Long range” depends on the effective range of the cartridge. Long range for a .308 might be 800 yards. Long range for a .338 Lapua Mag might be 1800 yards. Not everyone has access to an 1800 yard range.
Long range for a .22 is probably about 300 yards. Most shooters can find a place to shoot a .22 with a little effort. Your wind doping skills are going to have to get pretty darn good if you want to shoot the .22 at 300, which will be of great benefit.
There are several good .22 rifles out there. Since I shoot a Sako 75, you’d expect me to use a Sako Quad as a trainer, right? I would love to, but if you’ve been reading enough to know I use a Sako 75, you are also probably aware that I’m cheap. If anyone out there cares enough about the consistency of my rifle training to send me a Sako Quad, let me know and I’ll let you know where to send it.
Three .22 rifles come to mind as good trainers. The first is the most expensive of the three that I’m going to cover, the Sako Quad. Sako makes great rifles. It has a reputation as a superbly accurate rifle. Sakos also have great triggers and the workmanship is top notch. I’m sure they’re worth it if you can afford it.
Next on the list would be the CZ 452. These look like real rifles with great workmanship and, like the Sako, have a reputation for great accuracy. The action is nice and smooth. The triggers don’t have such a great reputation, but I think there is an aftermarket solution.
Last is the rifle that I have, the Savage Mk II. I have a heavy barrel version with match aperture sights. Like the others, the Savage’s reputation for accuracy is very good. Mine has the Savage Accutrigger, which is fine with just a hint of “roll through”. The difference with my rifle is that the stock feels like a flimsy piece of garbage. I don’t know of an aftermarket stock that would be enough of an improvement to change it out. This is not the case with the Sako or the CZ, both of which can be upgraded with a Manners stock.
My other grip with the Savage is the sights. They’re nice to look through. My problem is that they don’t seem to be very sturdy. The windage knob is also prone to be accidentally turned while cycling the bolt. Even with those negatives, it’s pretty hard to beat the Savage for the price.
Here’s my Savage MkII. It’s cheap, so I just store it in a super tomato cage.
Ideally I would like to train with the .22 with a ratio of 10 .22 rounds fired per every centerfire round, and a ratio of 10-1 dryfire to .22 round. That makes for a lot of practice, a lot of time, and a lot of skills and good habits being reinforced.