Thursday, February 23, 2012

Matched Pairs

To get good at anything you have to put in the practice time.  Practicing with guns by shooting them at the range can be expensive!  This has driven many companies to offer training analogs of popular models chambered in 22.  This gives the user a gun that is much cheaper to shoot that has the same feel and controls as their centerfire gun.

This is a great idea.  If you want a 22 handgun or rifle to practice with being able to get one that operates like your more powerful gun is an excellent choice.  In this post I'm going to run through some of the handgun options that I'm aware of. If you want to see what the options are for rifles, you can read this post.

This model comes in 357 and 22
From Ruger we have a three options, all revolvers.  Ruger offers the SP101 small-frame revolver in .22 LR as well as .38 special, 357 magnum and 327 magnum.  The SP101 is a nice and stout revolver, and having a 22 to practice with would be less costly and you'd have a nice gun to use if you have kids.

Ruger also offers the LCR in 22, as well as 38 special and 357 magnum.  The LCR is a lightweight carry gun and shooting full power 357 or 38 +p loads though it at the range can get quite unpleasant.  Being able to practice with a 22 that is the same size and operational characteristics can allow you get in more practice without a lot of fatigue.

A single six with two cylinders, one for 22 LR, one for 22 magnum
The last option from Ruger is their Single Six revolvers.  These operate just like their Blackhawk and Vaquero single action revolvers.  If you like the looks of the old cowboy style guns, a pair of these would be a great choice.  You can shoot anything from the affordable 22 LR to the 44 magnum in a Ruger single action revolver.  Some of the Single Six models even come with two cylinders, one that works for 22 LR and one that works for 22 magnum.  This gives you even more options in cartridge selection. 

This one holds 10 rounds of 22
This one holds 6 rounds of 357
This gun comes in 38 special or 22 LR
Smith and Wesson offers some very nice 22 revolvers including a size that Ruger doesn't.  All the Ruger 22 revolvers are built on small frames.  S&W offers a medium frame revolver chambered in 22 as well.  These guns aren't cheap, but they are widely held as some of the nicest 22 revolvers one can buy.  The medium size frame is nicely suited to 357 magnum as well, so having one of each would offer a nice pair.  I'd be jealous even, I've long lusted after a shiny medium frame S&W.

Smith and Wesson also makes small frame (often called "J frames") 22's as well.  If your carry gun is a small revolver then one of these could make a nice addition.  I must warn you, the S&W 22 revolvers often cost more than their centerfire counterparts.  It takes some craftsmanship to make a nice smooth trigger pull on a rimfire.  If you compare a S&W 22 revolver against a Taurus, there is no comparison.  You get quality for the money spent.

M&P 22
The last gun S&W offers that fits this category is the M&P 22.  The S&W M&P series of pistols have been gaining in popularity since they were introduced a few years ago.  They are a striker fired polymer frame pistol (like a Glock) that offer something that can be quite handy for families- interchangable backstraps on the grip.  This allows for the gun to better fit small, average and large hands.  It's a neat idea and seems to be popular with police departments and families alike.  Now that they have a 22 version of the M&P semi-auto pistol, the line becomes more compelling.  The more powerful M&P pistols are available in 9mm, 40 s&w and 45 acp and in both compact and full size models.  Having a 22 with the same feel and controls would be pretty handy for practice and training.

Colt / Umarex 1911 in 22
If you are a fan of 1911 style pistols then you are likely aware there are a wide variety of choices.  You can spend $300 on a used imported gun or more than $2,000 on a high end custom.  You are blessed with nearly as many 22 handguns styled after the 1911 design.  GSG / American Tactical Imports, Chiappa and Umarex (sold as Colt) all offer basic 1911-style 22 pistols.  Browning offers one as well, built to a higher and more expensive standard.  If your primary gun is a 1911, then you have a lot of choices for a 22 analog. 

A few decades ago Walther offered their iconic PPK in 22 caliber as well as 32 and 380.  Those rimfire guns have become quite rare today, but luckily Bersa, based in Argentina, offers a good clone.  The Bersa Thunder is available in both 22 LR and 380 acp.  The 22's are sometimes sold as Firestorms as well.  They aren't built to the same level of craftsmanship as the the Walthers, but the prices are about half.  But if you carry a PPK or a 380 Bersa as your concealed carry gun, one of the Bersa or Firestorm 22's would compliment it nicely.

Sig 22 conversion kit
CZ, EAA and Sig all offer kits that can convert a centerfire handgun to work with 22 caliber.  In these cases you would have one gun with multiple slides and barrels  EAA sells the Witness handgun as a kit that comes with either 45 and 22 or 9mm and 22 assemblies.  CZ offers the CZ-75 as a Kadet model that is identical to the standard CZ-75 but chambered in 22 LR.  They also sell the Kadet slide and barrel as a kit to add to your CZ-75.  Sig offers a 22 slide and barrel assembly for the P226 and P229 pistols. 

A company called Advantage Arms offers a 22 conversion kit similar to what CZ and Sig offer.  The Advantage Arms kits are designed for Glock handguns and 1911 style guns.  Ciener also offers 22 conversion kits for 1911's and Glocks.  Do some reading on either of these before you buy, certain products have mixed reviews on quality.

That covers most of the pistol pairs that I am aware of.  Look forward to part 2 that covers 22 and centerfire rifle pairs!

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