The single-shot .22 is a classic American gun that often gets overlooked in favor of various magazine-fed rifles.
But part of living off the grid or preparing to be off the grid is simplicity. Simple things work. Complex systems fail. There is little simpler than a well-built, single-shot .22. In my own collection are several old single shots from the height of the Great Depression. Plain, simple and inexpensive, they were built as game-getters and affordable knockabout rifles, and work just as well today as they did back then. I’ve lost track of how often I find a basic single shot for $50-75 in pawnshops, backwoods gun stores, or even cheap at yard sales. These are highly durable goods, and with a little love and care, are good for another 80 years of use.
There are a lot of good reasons to have a single-shot .22 in your homestead’s arsenal:
1. They are affordable.
Sure, a new single-shot and a basic semi-auto .22 are often within $30-$50 dollars of each other, but when you start shopping the used racks, you can get some insane bargains on older rifles. A great many old single shots from the 1930s-60s are readily available in many gun stores, often for well under a hundred bucks. Even a new single shot can be rather affordable, but for me, the real joy of a single-shot .22 is finding an old rifle from the 50s, cleaning it up, and putting it back into service.
2. They are economical.
That is, the cost to use the rifle is economical. Let’s face it: It’s fun to do a mag dump sometimes, and shooting a semi-auto .22 doesn’t always encourage frugal use of ammo. But with a single-shot .22, you are forced to slow down, and that is a good thing.
Not only does it instill good shooting habits, but it makes your ammo last longer as you spend more time taking each shot. This is excellent not only for teaching first-time shooters, but also for stretching your range time. In a survival situation, odds are you don’t need a fast follow-up shot with a .22, so there is no reason not to stick with a single shot.
3. They don’t attract undue attention.
Don’t get me wrong; I think we should be able to buy all types of guns. But there is an enemy out there who wants to restrict our gun rights. A single-shot .22 looks innocent and harmless. Make that your public facing rifle and you won’t attract attention from anti-gunners and might even get ignored by crooks. After all, the single-shot .22 is probably rather low on the list of guns a criminal would want to use in a crime — or for an anti-gunner to ban.
4. They just work.
Let’s be realistic. There are a lot of unreasonable expectations out of guns. I’ve met people who have spent hundreds of dollars bolting tactical junk to a .22 with the idea it was a “supremely viable” universal combat/hunting rifle, while others chase the latest and greatest .22s that don’t do anything new, save for looking different. But think about what we use a .22 for most of the time — recreation, small game hunting, and shooting smaller predators. Is there really a need for more than one shot most of the time? When the grid goes down, a single-shot rifle with a hundred rounds feels like a lot more than a semi-auto and a hundred rounds.
Single shots are often dismissed as being something less because they don’t have a magazine and may be slow to operate. This, of course, is absurd, as a rabbit or squirrel doesn’t know if you hit it with a fancy semi-auto or grandfather’s old single shot.
So when you are equipping your cabin, or putting a rifle in the barn, stop and remember the venerable old single-shot .22. They’ve been a constant companion of American youth, hunters and sport shooters for as long as the .22 round has been in existence, and they are still going strong today into the 21st century.
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