.22 LR hunting small game: rifle v. pistol?

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If you want a rifle that will do it all without changing anything, a Savage 24 is what you’re looking for. .22lr on top and .20ga on the bottom with a box of .22 and some birdshot, buck shot and a slug or two there is not much you can’t accomplish. Assuming your going to consume Mr. squirrel, your going to want a head shot, and rifles are going to be #1 in that area. Take a look at the difference in sights, most pistol sights are not made for precision shot placement. Take both to the range and see what you can do with them. If you can make a 25yd head shot every time with your pistol and not your rifle, a pistol would be the best choice.
I have 2 Savage Mod 24's.... (one was a gift) in 22MAG on top 20Ga on bottom..... both very accurate... my only complaint is the balance and general "clunkiness" of the gun.. But it'd certainly fill the bill too.
i know your 30-30 is not open for debate but if it were me in my area (piney woods) i would want a 12 ga. (#4 or #6 + 00buck & slugs) and a scoped contender type pistol in 35 herrett or simular. you'll see a lot more small game than large and the 12 ga will take it all and the contender for quick shots when there is no time to change the shells in the shotty.

I very much appreciate your ideas and opinions, folks.

Very glad this thread is revived. (Thanks, Kilgor.) It's timely.

I'm reading with interest. Will post a few thoughts this weekend.

Please continue to discuss this. Very interesting ... ;)

In the scenario originally posted where I had to kill to eat....I would carry the 22LR handgun for fun and set snares for the squirrels and rabbits......I like to eat.
I've done quite a bit of small game hunting with .22 pistols and rifles both. I prefer to use the rifle for hunting though, as I can take far more accurate shots at a much longer distance. I've taken wary squirrels at distances that I could never have done with a pistol. I consider the pistol mostly as a target gun and trainer for cheap practice rather than a serious gun for hunting.

I have a Pac-Lite barreled Ruger 22/45 and being polymer framed with an aluminum receiver and barrel, it's a featherweight. It would make a nice, light, and extremely accurate sidearm for taking pot meat when out hunting larger game.

Personally, I'd love to have a double barreled rifle in centerfire/rimfire. That'd be the perfect compromise.
... set snares for the squirrels and rabbits
Buck, this may be a little OT (but it's "my" thread, so it's OK :p ), but I want to learn how to do that, too. Can you (and/or others) post a source of information or three (web pages, books, etc) about snares and other traps? (Looks like in all my years of backpacking/mountaineering I'd have learned how, but never did. Never too late though.)

I've often thought a guy could get by quite well with just a Marlin or Winchester 30-30 and a Ruger Single Six. The 30-30 would do for deer and such and the .22lr/wmr revolver for small game hunting and possibly self defense. A one-gun alternative might be a lever action in .22 wmr like a Winchester or Henry if we are talking about a survival situation and legalities are not a consideration.
A little clarification of my goal in this (and related) theads

First, I'll say I am glad and thankful for every post in this thread. All great, thought provoking. I hope we continue.

Even though I may not take most of the advice being offered, it's fine because it may be useful and appropriate for others reading here, and - for me, more importantly - it makes me clarify for myself exactly what my goals are.

For example, even though I hear the advice on an OU .22LR/20 ga, and think they're a great idea, I probably won't go there. I've got my long gun toolkit well underway, like them a LOT, and don't want to take a different path at this point in my toolkit bag. (I'm going to need the tool kit to be fully functional within 3 years, and that means purchased, broken in, equipped (sights, etc), trigger jobs, and LOTS and LOTS of practice.

Over the weekend, I'm going to make some notes for myself about this project, and clarify it for myself. Here's a rough draft. Just thinking out loud here. Nothing set in stone ... yet...

A one-gun alternative might be a lever action in .22 wmr like a Winchester or Henry if we are talking about a survival situation and legalities are not a consideration.
Since we're on the high road here, let's stay within the legal boundaries (at least in spirit, and most importantly, ethics).

The scenario I'm envisioning that is motivating my optimal toolkit of around 7 -8 guns (3 - 4 long, 4 hand) is NOT a shtf event. This is NOT a fantasy thread.

No, I'm preparing for a wilderness adventure in Alaska. I want to go live there, probably somewhere between Fairbanks and Anchorage. I want to be able to live for a period of months (in summer) on public lands in a camp. (I've got many years of serious backpacking and mountaineering equipment and experience. I ain't no newby to the woods. Alaskan woods? Yes, newbie. But I cut my teeth in the high rockies, mostly above treeline. So newbie, no.

I want to set up a base camp (with some friends), and be able to take long walks (one to 7 days or more) into wilderness with staples, fishing gear, and a few guns with which I can put meat in the pot and prevent myself from becoming dinner. (870P 12 ga already in the kit; considering 1895G in .45-70).

I want to be able to carry one long gun and one or two handguns that will meet most of my needs for several days. (The rest of them will be locked in the safe back at base camp. Yes, I said safe. With my mobile camp set up, I have the capacity to carry a good safe big enough for my tool kit. That's another story entirely...).

If the long gun is either my 12 ga, 336 or .45-70, I want a handgun in .22LR and maybe a second one (for short trips).

If the long gun is the .22 LR (my 39A), I want the hand gun to be a bigger boom. (686 .357M with hot Buffbores, or a Ruger Alaskan in .454C? Not sure yet, but you get the idea.)

The basic idea is that, in such a situation, with a base camp, there will be different needs at different times, so I'm putting together a small set of quality firearms with which I'm capable and understand their care and feeding from which I can pick and choose when going out to dinner or for dinner and avoiding being dinner. :eek:

Sometimes, I'll be after deer. Other times I'll be after rabbit, but want the capacity to take deer. Sometimes I'll be going out to set snares and see a rabbit. And always, I'll want some level of SD for both bipeds and larger quadrapeds with sharp teeth.

So, with this thread (and others related: see list below), those visions of a camp in AK in a few years are driving my search, and motivating threads like this one, paring down the choices for that optimal toolkit.

Others will have other goals for hunting small game, and they're sure to find some great suggestions in here for how to meet their needs.

Hope this helps us all meet our goals. ;)

with new info

i'd say for me my s&w mod 62 in 22lr would go but thats because it is stainless & i allready have it.
but if buying "new" it would be hard to pass up a ruger auto stainless bull bbl.
Buck, this may be a little OT (but it's "my" thread, so it's OK ), but I want to learn how to do that, too.

I learned from my grandpa and in the boy scouts years ago. I don't use it much now(except for the dam rabbits that get into my blueberries) but here's a coupla web pages that give the basics for using snares for survival

Rabbit Snares

Squirrel Snares

......this place has everthing you will ever need to make and use snares. Their catalog is very interesting and informative, and they have tons of books and info...
The Snare Shop
The Encore offeres high powered rifle calibers, but then no rimfire.

The Encore now offers rim fire selections.

Having said this, it seems to me that a Contender / Encore might be a bit bulky to carry holstered (or slung?) as a sidearm with a long gun at the ready. However, if one is happy to do this, one can now carry a 223, 308 or even 45-70 sidearm (Encore only for 308) when using a 22 rifle. Although, speaking from personal experience, the 45-70 Contender pistol is rather stout with respect to recoil. :what:

Something to keep in mind when considering a 22 LR auto - many are picky about ammunition. My Ruger Mk III 22/45 will not feed hollowpoints (I've tried at least 5 different brands / kinds of hollowpoints and have now given up). And she doesn't even like PMC Scoremaster solid standard velocity either (I almost feel bad running almost a whole brick of the stuff through my 10/22). Blazers work fine though.
I have to say this is an interesting thread and somewhat thought provoking. First, you don't have to worry about hunting seasons in this future world. So, if a 22WMR works that would be a consideration (head shots). [Added: But in this world you have to pay attention to game laws. :)]The primary objective seems to be sustainance and not protection from human predators. I'll give you my take on this whole scenario.

My first thought reading through the thread was that I agreed with your thinking and the choices were reasonable. Dropping the rifle with the detachable magazine removes the "loose the magazine" thing. So, here goes.

You want common calibers. I would propose that you consider a Marlin 1894 in 357 mag as your rifle and which ever 22 you prefer. I lean toward either a 4 or 6" Model 18 or 17 Smith revolver (no scope). I would be quite comfortable with a 6" Colt Officers Model Match 22 or Diamondback 22 with a flap holster. I lean toward a revolver because the rapid fire option of a semi-auto is not necessary in this future world. The revolver gives you more flexibility and will function with any 22 ammo. The rifle will handle deer at moderate ranges. You can even use 38spls in the rifle for small game if you prefer. To top it off, the rifle would not be a bad choice for 2-legged predators if it ever came to that.

So, what knife are you carrying in this survival scenario? I would take two; one small folder knife (probably SAK), and a 5-6" fixed blade belt knife. Your choice. Add a small packable hatchet or machete.

Shoot small. Miss small.
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Ah, thread expansion

So, what knife are you carrying in this survival scenario? I would take two; one small folder knife (probably SAK), and a 5-6" fixed blade belt knife. Your choice. Add a small packable hatchet or machete.
OK, I'll play. The knives are part of the toolkit.

Folders: Benchmade Osborn + SAK + SOG tool

Fixed blade: SOG Seal Pup Elite

"Hatchet": SOG Fusion tomahawk (I've got tomahawk fever; thread coming soon...)

I would have no hesitation taking small game at 50 yards with my MKII and a decent hollowpiont. My weapon of choice if buying a new pistol would be a Ruger MKII or III 22/45, as it would be lighter and faster-handling than my 10" bull stainless...My shooting buddy has a MKIII 22/45 and I think it's great, but I don't care too much for the mag safety and it's accompanying hassle when stripping and cleaning. I'm also considering a Walther P-22. I hunted with strictly handguns for 20 years and only recently began buying long arms, and though I love my .22s, at the end of the day I have found a .357 revolver to be much more versatile. I can use .38 wadcutters for small game, and do less meat damage than most .22 HPs, and still take deer-sized game with full-boogie stuff.
... set snares for the squirrels and rabbits

Soft, braided picture-hanging wire makes superb snare material . . . I ALWAYS some of this with me in my day pack.
if you're asking which of those 2 pistols, I like both(maybe slight edge towards ruger only because there is so much aftermarket stuff for them).. If you're asking how far you can hunt with a pistol, I'll say you were right when stated 40yds was a long shot. if I was shooting a squirrel with a scoped pistol I wouldn't shoot unless there was a tree to lean the pistol against.
Nematocyst: I like your knife choices. You probably know I favor the SOG Seal Pup Elite in the nylon sheath with a SAK tucked in the pouch. I have not heard such great reports on the little SOG tomahawk. Seems like more of a wall hanger piece. A little thread expansion, I know. But it is all part of the same "kit". I guess you could say that lots of things would be also included in the kit. I'll be looking forward to that thread when it comes and I may learn some things about hatchets and so forth.

I envision this base camp to be an RV type thing or at least something you can drive to. I still like the 22 revolver idea. The 30-30 or something larger in a Marlin rifle offers significant flexibility.

There is an article in the May 2007 Gun World magazine titled "Knock-Around Handguns" by Paul Hantke that mentions the common topic of "meat for the pot" with a trail gun. With game laws such as they are these days, the choices are really limited as to what you can legally do for the pot. But the author discusses his knock around guns. I always enjoy these kinds of articles as they are a blend of the old and the new.
I have not heard such great reports on the little SOG tomahawk.
22, after reading that this morning, I spent the next 5 hours :what: reading tomahawk threads over on Blade Forum.

I won't go into what I learned here - we'll save tomahawk discussions for another thread - other than to affirm what you asserted above: the SOG fusion is getting pretty crappy reviews. The main problem with them is their handles. Apparently they're pretty thin, not hard wood, and break quite easily.

I've pretty much taken it off my list now. I'll discuss elsewhere what's on the list instead so as not to take this thread in a totally different direction. :rolleyes:

On the topic of this thread, however, I did find an interesting (even if overly long, so I didn't read it thoroughly) article that relates in some ways. It's called The Backpack Survivalist by Mike Rostov, and offers opinions and arguments about what guns to carry on an extended venture into a wilderness for SD and food acquisition. I don't agree with all of his recommendations (I'm not going to carry a 1911, for example), but it's interesting food for thought.

If you don't have a leatherman, all I can say is why? It's not what you have in the woods, it's what you have.
Under normal circumstances I would go with a rifle/carbine, hands down, for the accuracy and better "killing power". However, since you are going to be hiking and on the move, and you will already be packing another long gun I don't see much options for you. I feel that a .22 hand gun is the only way to go in your situation (or an over under combo, as the mentioned Savage 24). There is nothing worse than being overloaded when you have to tread through the wilderness.

Unless you are considering a .22 rifle with a scope I see no advantage a rifle might have over a quality pistol or revolver, in your particular situation of course. Remember that you will be doing a lot more walking than shooting, its not like you can pull out your gun of choice from your SUV when you need it. What ever is on you is all that you have. If my limited experience has taught me anything, it is that if I were carring two long guns for a week long hike, it wouldn't be long before I left one behind to make my life easier.

In conclusion, if I were in your shoes I would get a six shot(not 10) S&W 617 in 4 or 6'' and practice a great deal with it before hand. I think that with a little skill you will be able to consistently take small game with out problem. The fun thing about small game is that it is usually abundant, you don't have to stalk it for hours before you get a good shot, and if you miss one shot you will always get another chance with in minutes. So don't sweat it, go with the more "comfortable" choice :)
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