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Looking for a .22 Kit Gun

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Peakbagger46, Nov 30, 2022.

  1. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    I live out west and hike in bear and cat country quite a lot. I carry an appropriate revolver for defense and would like a good lightweight .22 as a companion for fun plinking while out and about. Been looking at discontinued S&W I frame revolvers as well as the older and lighter Ruger Bearcat. What would you recommend?
     
  2. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    NAA Minimaster
     
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  3. cc-hangfire

    cc-hangfire Member

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    You have mentioned the good “top end” choices - S&W and Ruger. I have friends who have the Ruger Single Six, and the more handy Bearcat & you can’t go wrong there. Another all steel choice is the Charter Arms Pathfinder.

    At the lower end are the current Heritage revolvers (6 & 9 round cylinders in both .22lr & .22mag), and the Ruger Wrangler. The Diamondback Sidewinder is another but DA with 9 shots, lr & mag. If vintage is ok, the Hi-Standard Sentinel is tried & true. I have a Heritage and am disappointed with its accuracy with .22lr; I need to shoot it more with the .22mag cylinder too see if it prefers that ammo. And I have an old J C Higgins model 88 (made by Hi-Standard) that is an accurate plinker. All these have non-steel frames that might not be rugged enough for your back country conditions.
     
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  4. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    Look for a S&W Model 43, the Airweight Kit Gun. Delightfully lightweight, compact, great choice for backpacking. Called “.22/.32 Kit Gun Airweight”from 1955 to 1957 when the name changed to Model 43. Discontinued in 1974. The Model 43C is a hammerless snubbie grandchild of the Model 43 and may also do the job with its aluminum frame and alloy cylinder, and may be easier to find as it was introduced in 2010. Examples of both can be seen on Gunbroker. The 43 will likely be more expensive than the 43C. Conversations with backpacking friends leads me to believe that dedicated hikers don’t flinch at cost if they can save weight.

    My preference? The older Model 43 with adjustable sights and slightly larger grip. I happen to own one and the lack of weight makes me smile every time I pick it up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2022
  5. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Ruger Wrangler.
     
  6. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I don't bum around in the woods anymore, but if I did, I think a Heritage Rough Rider would fill that niche. I've shot this one enough to know it shoots where I'm looking. It's a pretty neat little gun really. I got it because my wife thought it was "cute" but it's grown on me too. The fact that it was inexpensive didn't hurt either. I never thought I'd care for the birdshead grip, but it fooled me.

    image_50407937.jpg

    I'd probably just find the right Uncle Mikes nylon holster for it.
     
  7. cnj

    cnj Member

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    Personally, I think the best choice for a 22lr kit gun right now is the Ruger LCRx 3" model.
     
  8. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Look at the S&W 317 AirLite. 3" barrel 22 LR J-frame.

    They are still in production and of the same idea as the early S&W Kit guns (Model 34, Model 43, Model 63, etc.)
     
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  9. LeftyRed

    LeftyRed Member

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    Not too impressed with the offerings, in the wheel gun category. In my wilder days, I hung out with a group of current and retired military survival instructors. Not a one pushed a revolver. It was semiautos all around. From 2K tuned up MKIIs to cheaply SW 22As and NEOSs. Your cheap 22lr semi will shoot better, be more accurate, and reload quicker then any of the revolvers offered.

    I love my wheel guns, but if was picking out a 22lr kit gun for use in the wilds I would get a MK4 Lite, slap a RDS of my choice on it and call it good.
     
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  10. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Finding a 22 DA revolver with a nice trigger that doesn't cost a fortune can be difficult. I lucked onto a little CA Pathfinder that wasn't too bad. It's a 2" snub and not heavy. The Ruger LCRx seems like a great idea, but the DA trigger on mine was pretty bad.

    22lr SA revolvers tend to be better shooters, IMHO. The Single Six is very nice. I own a couple. (It doesn't matter as much to me that the sights are adjustable, as much as they're big and easy to see.) The Bearcat is a smaller version with fixed sights, I think? If you don't want to pay much, the Heritage will go bang.

     
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  11. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    Bearcats are too small for adult men.

    I’d probably go with a Single Ten.
     
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  12. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    So, you already have a revolver for defense. Is "survival" needed as brought up by others?

    If not, and you're wanting the .22 for plinking (recreational shooting), that sure makes things fun and less serious.

    Looks like the old alloy frame Bearcat (or I-frame) is your size and weight goal. What's those old model Bearcats weigh? Less than 20 ounces?

    Back in the day, my pocket plinker was my Beretta Bobcat. It sure is light and small, but it has tiny sights on a short barrel and sure takes a lot of Kentucky windage to make it hit a target of opportunity.

    Nowadays, my "pocket" plinkers are my Bearcat Shopkeeper and 1st gen CA "Pathfinder". The adjustable sights on the CA are a huge plus, my Bearcat requires remembering what Kentucky windage to hold.

    If money was no problem, I'd want a new 8-shot S&W 63 or an adjustable sight Bearcat. But that 3" barrel Ruger LCRx makes a lot of sense too, although just a bit bigger than those other two guns.

    If I wanted to spend a lot less money, I'd probably bump up the size to a Ruger Wrangler. But Wranglers are chunky compared to little Bearcats. J-frame sized DA revolvers get closer to Bearcat size than Wranglers.

    Both of these pocket plinkers of mine have 3" barrels. 23 oz. on the left, 19 oz. on the right.
    3-inch-barrels.jpg

    Single Six/Wrangler size versus J-frame size. 33 oz. for this particular 4.6" barrel Single Six.
    4.6vs3.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2022
  13. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Holding and shooting a Bearcat is almost the same as shooting a snub nose DA/SA revolver with the old school wood grip panels as shown in the photos above. In fact, the Bearcat above has a slightly larger grip circumference than that j-frame sized gun, which is why I added a grip adapter to the CA.

    So, if one can shoot an old school j-frame, the remaining question is "can you fit your finger into a Bearcat trigger guard"? I can.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2022
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  14. Pat Riot

    Pat Riot Member

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    After reviewing all the options for a .22 kit gun a couple of years ago I settled on a S&W model 63. It’s not as light as a model 317 or an LCR but it’s stainless and it’s still comfortable to carry in a pancake holster.
     
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  15. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    Thanks all, lots of good suggestions. This will be a plinking piece as opposed to survival. Want to keep under 25oz and closer to 16 is even better. As for price, I’m good with spending $800. I currently have a single six that I absolutely love but it’s too heavy for this role.
     
  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    About the only thing I have that fits the bill, 22 Long Rifle Kit Gun, is this Model 63. It was made sometime around 1980. I don't know how much it weighs, but it is small, has a 4" barrel, and is made of Stainless Steel, so you could take it with you even during a downpour. I don't know how much it weighs, it is not an airweight, but I don't see the point of a super light 22 anyway.

    poih6fD2j.jpg




    I just checked the S&W website, and the Model 63 is still being made. It comes with a 3" barrel now, round capacity has been increased to 8 shots, and it weighs 24.8 ounces.

    I think if I was in the market for a new kit gun, the current Model 63 would be just the ticket.


    https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/model-63
     
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  17. BreechFace

    BreechFace Member

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  18. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    My Kit Gun is a 4" M63 no-dash from the 80's. It weighs 26.3oz, and I think it'd be better as a 3 incher. I don't think any SS kit gun will get you close to 16oz, Peakbagger46; aluminum or some other alloy may. I've always wanted a Bearcat Shopkeeper, but seeing as how I can't shoot my M63 worth a darn because of my beefy clubs, I don't think that I could do any better with the Bearcat. You can see that I tried putting larger grips on it to no avail. I shoot my M617 much, much better.


    S&W M63 200208 511.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2022
  19. Pat Riot

    Pat Riot Member

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    My 63 is a 3”. I wish it was a 4” sometimes. :D
     
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  20. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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  21. BreechFace

    BreechFace Member

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    I took that more as a suggestion...:D

    I actually didn't see that post. Well with that being the case I would still be in for a MKIV.

    However, being that @Peakbagger46 seems to desire a wheel gun, I personally think a stainless Ruger Single 10 would be a very nice kit gun, simple, easy to carry and nice single action trigger for accuracy.
     
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  22. JERRY

    JERRY Member

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    LCR would be my choice for a current production gun
     
  23. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Check out the LGS's and consider some of the old school offerings -- you might score something cool.

    The H&R and Iver Johnson 8-shot break top revolvers can be pretty good deals, as was the High Standard Sentinel.

    HSSentinel.jpg IJSealed8.jpg

    My own choice would be my Interarms/Uberti Dakota single action. It is the most accurate wheelgun I've ever owned, and I bought it lightly used for a song back in the 1990s.

    Uberti22.jpg
     
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  24. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    My two ".22 Kit Guns":
    Fe03C1a.jpg
    Iy1KUPJ.jpg
     
  25. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    I won't comment on brands or models since there is a good variety already mentioned.

    Now on to double action trigger pull of rimfire revolvers. No matter what brand you go with, a rimfire revolver will always have a heavier double action trigger pull versus the same model in centerfire. The reason for this is that it takes more force to set off rimfire primers then it does to set of centerfire primers. If you lighten up the DA trigger pull too much you will get light primer strikes/failures to fire. It is just the nature of the beast here.

    Now for what I own and use. I only have two rimfire revolvers and like both of them. I have a H&R 949 9 shot and a Taurus 2" 942 8 shot. I find that I carry the 942 more often now days. I also have a few semi auto 22 pistols too. I sendup carrying either my Glock G44 or my Kel-Tec CP33 more often than my other semi autos. The G44 is the same size as a G19 but it is pretty light weight and easy to carry.
     
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