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The Dirt-Cheap Survival Ammo You’ll Want In A Crisis

The Dirt-Cheap Survival Ammo You’ll Want In A Crisis

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If you are preparing for any contingency, whether simply surviving a disaster or getting ready for the collapse of civilization, there is one ammo you need above all others.

It is the .22 long rifle (.22 LR).

I discovered the .22 rather late in my shooting career. Growing up in New York City did not afford me the simple pleasure of going into the woods with a .22 like millions of other youngsters. Our first firearms as teenagers were the M16A2, M249 SAW and M1911, courtesy of the US Marine Corps.

We dismissed the .22 LR as something a child would shoot. We were content with center-fire cartridges in both rifle and pistol until it was pointed out how cheap and available .22s were. That may not always be the case these days, but in the mid-1990s it was true enough.

Admittedly, the .22 LR is not the best choice for a self-defense scenario. This is due in part to the finicky nature of certain brands of ammunition as well as certain firearms chambered in .22 LR and its marginal ballistics.

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However, in a true survival situation you often need a firearm for more than self-defense or big-game hunting.

One of the things we saw after Hurricane Sandy was that the flooding drove rats, mice, possums and other vermin from their lairs and into the habitats of people. For this reason alone, a .22 LR pistol or rifle is a necessity.

Hunting big game animals with a rim fire round is illegal throughout most of the US because the round typically lacks the power to kill a large animal humanely when shot at a distance. Rounds that miss the intended target or penetrate can pose a hazard to others for up to a mile.

In all actuality, a .22 LR is effective on big game with proper shot placement. More than one poacher has been caught using a .22 LR since its invention, and ranchers routinely slaughter their cattle for butchering with a single shot.

The Dirt-Cheap Survival Ammo You’ll Want In A Crisis

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Likewise, .22 can be suitable for self-defense, particularly when fired from a rifle yielding greater accuracy and improved velocity.

In a genuine survival scenario, many people will take refuge outside the cities and rely on nature for food. This has the potential to severely decimate local deer herds. Stockpiles of full-sized rifle calibers will be useless to hunt smaller sources of food, such as squirrels.

Speaking of stockpiles, the small size and weight of the round allows them to be stored more easily than center-fire ammunition. For example, 1,000 rounds weigh less than three loaded AR-15 magazines.

Above all else, the .22 LR is quiet and can be easily suppressed with a silencer if you have one available to you (and if it’s legal where you live).

Keep in mind that when choosing a firearm you should consider the user’s abilities. For example, we find the various Ruger target pistols to be accurate and reliable, but we are terrible at getting them back together (tearing them down is the easy part). So I would not not include one in my preps.

On the other hand, I prefer the Ruger 10/22 rifle and have found a Beretta Model 71, Smith & Wesson Model 41 and Smith & Wesson Model 17 to be my personal favorites from an accuracy, reliability and maintenance standpoint.

If you have a few .22s in your possession, you are way ahead of the curve. If you have not considered the full scope of their utility, you may want to revisit them.

Are you a .22 long rifle fan? Or is there a different gun you’d prefer? Share your thoughts on the .22 LR in the section below:

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  1. Recently my 72 year old wife took her 9mm pistol out back for some refresher shooting. She could no longer handle the recoil effectively, and it became more of a danger in her hands than an asset. After handling many different models and calibers, she settled on the S&W M&P .22LR Compact. After giving it a try out back, her comment was “I LOVE this gun!”. For those who might sneer at using a .22LR for home defense, just ask yourself if YOU would be willing to be shot a few times with one! I’ll take a .22LR in my wife’s hands over her empty hands any day of the week against a bad guy.

  2. I’ve owned several semi-auto firearms over the decades and now see the value of bolt action, lever action, and ‘wheel’ guns from the reliability point of view should the SHTF for an extended time period. They are far less likely to suffer a breakdown when a gunsmith most likely would not be available. As for ‘combat’, hits count, not the number of rounds fired and a report I saw several years ago stated that in combat, the hit ratio continued to fall during the last century as more semi and selective fire weapons came into use.

  3. My Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle is my favorite!

    I just wish the magazines were a little bigger, but considering its design purpose, two eight round magazines is enough.

    • I have had an AR7 for 20 years. A wonderful little rifle, originally developed by Armalite for the Air Force. Very accurate and handy to pack along with you.There is a fifteen round magazine available. Cheaper Than Dirt used to sell them. Function perfectly.

  4. When I traveled, I carried my .45 judge for protection. However, I also carried my Henry AR-7 and two .22 lr pistols in case of an extended, who knows. The .22 rounds are easy to carry long distances. The .45 judge also shoots .410 shotgun rounds for close quarters.

    • I have long felt the “Judge” a good home defense weapon loaded with 410 “PDX” & unlikely to pass thru to a street.
      The downside is a capacity of 5 but I still prefer it as its small and easy to handle.

      • I like the Judge concept. It may not be the most accurate .45 out there, but for longer distances use a rifle or better, you shouldn’t be shooting ppl… unless in life danger scenarios.

        The birdshot from it is crappy, but good enough to ruin a rodent or reptile day at close quarters.

        The 000 buckshot loads are king in this gun for HD and 45 Colt for in the hip outside the house would be my choice.

        I don’t live in America, and our judges are smoothbore .410 only. They pattern quite well and when at home it carries 5 000 buckshot loads and when out, .410 slugs. These aren’t as hard hitting as the .45 but compares favorably to a .380 (maximum pistol caliber allowed here).

        I’m very satisfied with it.

        IMNSHO, the PDX load is a stupid gimmick. I dislike the bbs at the bottom. It should go the Federal way and load 4 copper plated 000 BK. The Hornady Triple Defense is also an interesting load. 1 slug over 2 00/000 BK.

        As for the article calls, you should include an airgun. I have a .22 750fps that can put meat in the pot the whole day, is not considered a firearm (meaning I can own and shoot in the city with permits etc), ammo is cheap and plentiful (and I even shoot buckshot nicely -#F size – for cheaper practice and lots of penetration), is quite noiseless.

        A handgun, a 12 gauge, a 22 rifle and a good airgun is essentially the minimum you should/must have for covering all the bases. All the other firearms can be or not added later.

  5. Not including the Ruger Mark series or 22/45 is a major mistake. The Rugers, while more difficult to reassemble than some others are probably the most reliable of all .22 semis. With a little practice they can be reassembled with no trouble. The 22/45 Lite versions make the ideal SHTF pack gun because you can get the ultralite versions with threaded barrels. One of these with a suppressor is probably the best hunting gun to have in your pack for hunting or up close zombie dispatch. I have a Mark 1 bull barrel model that I bought in 1970 that I have probably fired 150,000 rounds through. So far I have replaced zero parts except magazines. I clean it every year whether it needs it or not. It shoots everything I feed it except Remington Thunderbolt and Winchester Wildcat and the problem with those rounds is a feed problem with the big cavity in the Wildcat and leading of the barrel from the Thunderbolt. All other ammo including the hyper velocity versions feed and cycle flawlessly.

    • In my car, I carry a Ruger 22/45 pistol, right next to my Ruger P89, with several boxes of ammo for each. In the rear of my car (or behind the seat of my truck, if I’m in it), I carry a .22 cal Ruger 10/22, or a Henry .22 cal lever action rifle (Providing I’m not in some state where it is illegal to be armed–those states, by the way, are states I try not to be in.) My 22/45 is an excellent pistol and very accurate. My next purchase is going to be a Keltec .22mag semi-auto. While a .22 cal will make a bad-guy notice that he’s not where he should be, 30 rounds of .22mag will really mess up his day.

  6. Remington rimfire ammo sucks. Too many misfires,jams,and failure to feed problems. I keep what I have for trade.

  7. Marlin 60s are a nice .22lr I’ve gotten one for each of my six grandkids.

  8. Recently added a Beretta Neos w/ 6″ barrel to the collection. A blast to shoot. Modular design.You can change to different length barrel easily. Beretta also offers a 16″ carbine rifle conversion. Ruger 10/22 carbine rifle is a must. Would also include a .22 pocket auto. pistol as well.

  9. For the wife personal defense- Ruger LCR 38 with Crimson Trace laser grips. Lightweight and simple, “will always work if you have to pull the trigger.”

  10. Don’t overlook pump action 22’s. They can use any type of 22 ammo you can find; shorts, longs, or long rifle. You can cycle the action faster than a bolt action and they are left hand friendly. They also have a high capacity tubular magazine that you can’t misplace. Can be found at gun shows fairly cheap.

  11. Recently I traded for a Rugar MkII, Military Target Pistol…same weight as a 45…way thick barrel…the accuracy is phenomenal…at 40-50 feet can hit a bottletop…& has a builtin silencer. Easy to teardown, and re-assemble. My favorite handgun. As one freind said: “Damn!, this thing is so accurate, it’s no fun!”

  12. Two of my favorite firearms are my Colt 1911 and a Bushmaster AR – for both I have 22LR Conversion kits making inexpensive plinking with either one a joy. True, some 22LR are not always the most reliable round when it comes to misfires, but for me they are pretty rare. I have also found the 22’s shoot very close to the centerfire rounds, i.e, the 1911 shoots low/left with 45ACP & 22. The AR also has the same accuracy whether shooting 22 or 223. This feature makes using the 22 great for practice!

  13. I have had a ruler 10/22 since I’m 9 it is an excellent weapon and in a survival situation I’ll take deer with it.

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