New to rifles--Milsurp center fire or 10-22?

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May 10, 2006
I'm interested in buying a rifle, but my total rifle experience consists of:

"50 shots towards the woods" in USAF basic training--M16 converted to .22 rimfire.
One shot, .50 cal muzzle loader
One shot, Ruger Mini 14
One mag, Henry survival rifle (.22)
One mag, full-auto M16
One mag, semi-auto AK-47

I'm interested in getting a relatively inexpensive rifle, and the top contenders are a Mosin Nagant, an SKS, or a Ruger 10-22. I fully understand that the Ruger would be the more sensible choice, but there's part of me that feels like a .22 is barely more than an air rifle.

A local store has Mosin Nagants for around $70, but the staff I talked to said the recoil might be too much for a beginner. Unless it's a lot more than a 12 gage, I don't think so, but even if it does, I'm very likely to buy reloading gear fro the cartridge regardless of recoil (I reload pistol now)--I assume that being bolt action I can shoot significantly reduced power rounds if I want.

Haven't fired an SKS, but my brother in law has one. The cartridge is enough to make me feel like I'm actually shooting a rifle. It interests me about the same as the Mosin-Nagant, looks like it will cost a bit more, but still within budget. I'm certainly willing to pay more initially if SKS ammo is easier to get or significantly cheaper than 7.62x54r.

My club has a range with targets up to 125 yards, and almost all my shooting will be there. No idea how well I'll shoot a rifle, but in USAF basic training in the 80's, marksman required a 360/400 score, and I scored 351 my first time ever shooting a real gun. No plans to hunt.

Which one should I start with, and why?
Its kinda apples & oranges.

On the one hand, there's a kinda unwritten rule that says you HAVE to have a .22 rifle if you shoot much. So you'll have to get it sooner or later. Might as well get it now. You're right, the .22 is the practical choice. And no matter how many other rifles you get over the course of your life, you will STILL enjoy shooting your .22. And you'll also have it available to teach others to shoot, as well.

On the other hand, the fact that you are a reloader makes the Noisy Magnet a little more attractive. Yes, you can make reduced loads for it. And if you already have a press, you only need a die set for $35 or so. Hmmmm, you'll need a caliper and a way to trim cases, too. Rifle brass lengthens with use and if it gets too long, its bad news. Anyhow, reloading for milsurps is a joy. Shooting them is a joy, too. The MN will thump you pretty good, but not much (any?) worse than a 12ga.
if you just want to shoot open sight at 100 to 125 yrd. i think id go with a 22 mag(cheap ammo) or if you want a little noise and recoil and maybe a scope, you might try a mini 14 if you can find it to fit your pocket book, the mini 14 is a fantastic shooter, but u can burn up the barrel, im told, by firing too much too fast. 223 is fairly cheap ammo tho. maybe a bolt 223 would be best, and can be found cheap
Get one of each!v:D

Seriously, they are all good choices. Mosins are cheap and can shoot pretty darn good. Ammo is still cheap. I'd say recoil is no worse then a 12ga. . . I think my Finnish M39 kicks less then the 870's we have at work. Some Mosins are minute of bad guy accurate and some shoot like a house on fire. Finn Mosins shoot well overall. I got a Polish M44 that shoots pretty darn well too. Handloads of can really make them shine and I'm thinking of starting to reload for 7.62x54. . .

A Yugo SKS is a great choice, especially as the are pretty darn cheap and can be had "new". Ammo is getting available again and is pretty cheap. I have one that I got from Interordinance at a gun show here and have not shot it, just cleaned out the cosmolene and set it in the safe. Bought one of the Century Yugo folders and have too much fun with it.

10-22 is fun, likely to be more accurate then most milsurps and avaiable in all kinds of variations. I keep eyeing the "youth" model with the sixteen inch bbl at the local Gander Mountain. Uber-high-cap mags are a blast to play with steel spinners and the like on the range. I like to set up clay pigeons on the berm and nibble em down. 22lr is of course available super cheap everywhere and in a billion varieties.

They are all good choices I think, and you ought to go with your gut feeling on it. I'd lean twoards 10-22. . . you can put the savings from ammo to getting the Mosin and SKS next!

As side note, my first Milsurp was a Russin SKS. . wish I had never sold that gun now. Next was a Turk '38, then a Turk '03. . . darn things started breeding in the safe and "I have no idea where the Carcano came from, honest Honey". . .
ive got a 10-22 and its the best 22 auto ive ever had. u can put a lot of rounds thru it before itll jam. esp. if you shoot quality ammo. youll never need another type of 22 auto. although i am partial to an old long barrelled single shot win., but its a little slow:scrutiny:
but it'll spit in a squirrels eye every time:neener:
Of everything I own, my rimfires get shot the most. You can shoot 500 rounds for $13, and spend the whole afternoon doing it. I love CZ rifles...have 3 currently in .22lr. They are extremely accurate, have super triggers, and best of all, they have that Mauser-esque look to them. You can get a brand new CZ 452 Special (sometimes called the Military or Trainer) for around $230. Although that is more than the other surplus rifles you listed, you would recoup that extra cost quickly in ammo savings.
The Mosin's do have some recoil to them, but you can get a slip on pad for $12 to tame that. The SKS is a fun rifle, with many available gadgets, recoil is mild and they are usually "hunting" accurate. (~ 4" or so at 100yds.) The 10/22 is a good rifle, and with a set of Tech Sights and some Butler Creek 25 round mags, they have that M1 Carbine look to them, but a whole lot cheaper to shoot. My advice is to get a .22, but you only have to make you happy, so get whichever tickles you the most.

(formerly GHILLIE)
Slap a Mosin into a $50.00 ATI stock, and it becomes a relative pussycat. I'm buying milsurp ammo for $4.00/20, and since it's basically a ballistic twin to the 30-06, a box of softpoint hunting ammo makes it a great bucks down deer/elk rifle.
For a little more than the price of a new 10/22 you could get the mosin and a marlin 22 rifle. My marlin 22 out of the box is more accurate then my stock 10/22. Mark
For plinking and learning to shoot, go for the 10-22. For hunting, and cheap practice, go for the mosin. The SKS is a great buy too, ammo is going up in price but still pretty cheap.
I would suggest the 22, to learn the correct way to shoot, first. A mosin is fine, just put on a SMALL slip on recoil pad. also you can shoot all day with a 22, and not spend 10 bucks in ammo. mosin ammo is pretty cheap as well, but much cheaper to learn with a 22. get them both for 150, bucks, if you buy a 22 used at a gunshop, or at a pawnshop.
Screw the .22! (Flame on!) :neener:

Buy something with balls (SKS or Nagant). The larger calibers aren't THAT much more expensive to shoot. Seriously, get the bigger gun. Half the fun of shooting is the *BOOM*.
Hey, Weeb, Do you really feel the .22 Magnum is a good value for practice? I see it as a round that is pertty specialized, ie great for chucks, fox, etc. I can't see the cost over the .22 lr for casual shootihg.....Essex
If you want to be a real rifleman, buy a .22 and Jeff Cooper's "Art of the Rifle". Then take it from there...
A .22 is VERY hard to beat..............I still have a Remington Nylon 66 that my dad bought back in the early '60. My grandkids get a kick out of shooting it.
everyone should have a 10/22 at some point in their life. if for no other reason than to be able to say they love or hate it and actually base that on somthing besides internet opinions.

mosins are fun and recoil isnt that big of a deal. add a pachmyer slip on pad and its a pussycat.

sks are fun if your not going to get somthing better like a ar or ak platform.

the .22lr is cheap to shoot, and range time is important. id rather have a gun i shoot all the time than one i barely shoot. if you can afford the ammo then roll with the big boys.
.22mag is too expensive these days. For that kind of money, get a .17HMR.

Back to the thread. For a starter, I'd get the 10/22. It will let you shoot more for a lot less. Milsurps are cheap, and their ammo is cheap (however corrosive), but I don't see a newbie shooting one more than 30-40rds in a range session. They do recoil quite a bit. And they will require a little more attention to cleaning afterward.
I have a Mosin and a .22 rifle (Marlin, in my case), I'd suggest the .22 first, for this reason:

Not all surplus rifles are accurate. Some are wildly NOT accurate. Attempting to learn to shoot on a rifle of dubious accuracy is a frustrating experience.

Most MN's are pretty accurate: especially the 91/30's. For an early 20th century gun mass produced in moving factories during a war, they are amazing. Most will give about 2" groups @ 100 yards if quality ammo is fed to them and TLC given in their maintenance and restoration. But some will be off by FEET.

The 10/22 will definitely not be off by feet, and even though the .22lr does not have the same power level and consistency of centerfire ammunition, it can be made to print sub 2" groups at 100 yards.
10/22 First

Definitely get the .22LR first. As stated earlier, it is going to be easier to shoot, more accurate and cheaper to shoot. Once you learn the fundamentals, move on to a bigger boomer.

Most of the best shooters I know put way, way more rounds through rimfires than they do through centerfires. Actually, some of the best rifle shooters I know either practice with their Smallbore rifles routinely or shoot Smallbore exclusively. These are folks who can and will put 10+ rounds through one ragged hole at 50 yards, prone, with iron sights.

I finally bought a .22 pistol, after quite a stretch of shooting nothing but centerfires. I wish I had gotten there sooner! My next stop is a 10/22.

BTW, I learned rifle and handgun on .22s. Just because it took so long to own one doesn't mean I started on the centerfires! ;)
Get the rimfire and then one of the centerfires.

I purchased a SKS first and then followed it up with a 10/22 about 2 weeks later. The SKS cost me $119 and the 10/22 $169, so for around $300 (or around $250 if you get the Mosin) you can get all your rifle needs met for quite awhile (until you get hit with milsurpitis and they start multiplying). The 10/22 is great for working on marksmenship and the SKS isn't too shabby either and damn fun when you want a little more power.
Buy an accurate .22 first .(That would be a Marlin Model 60, NOT a 10/22, if you want something that's accurate---$125 new, well under $100 for a good used one)....Then shoot the daylights out of it (for about $10 a day ~ 250-500 rounds), to learn good rifle shooting habits (the book mentioned is good as well).

I ALWAYS take my Marlin to the range and run at least 100 rounds through it, usually more. Since I started doing this regularly, my shooting with my "big guns" has improved immensely. Plus, if I'm having a "bad day", I know it'll shoot decent groups so I don't feel bad!

You need an accurate gun in order to gauge your progress. Lots of milsurps out there, but many are innacurate, especially w/ milsurp ammo. Great for "bangin' awaY" but not so good for developing good shooting skills.
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