Preppers: Bolt Action 22 Rifle Best Bang For The Buck
Kevin Felts 11.21.17
Over the past few decades, it seems preppers have abandoned the classic bolt action for semi-automatics such as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin model 60. There is nothing wrong with these rifles; I have both, and both are great.
But regardless of how well a semi-automatic rifle performs, a bolt action is usually better. That is speaking in generalizations. We cannot say, “All bolt actions are better than the 10/22 and the model 60.”
One thing that usually holds true: A used bolt action 22 rifle offers more bang for the buck than a used rifle.
Chances are, few people are going to run ten thousand rounds through a bolt action 22 rifle. The same cannot be said about a semi-automatic. How many of us have burned a 550-round brick — or even two or three bricks — of Remington Thunderbolts in a single day?
When someone buys a used 22 semi-automatic, they usually have no idea how many rounds were sent through the rifle. Odds are in favor of the semi-auto having a lot more wear and tear on it than a bolt action.
My bolt action 22 rifle is an H&R 865 Plainsman. I received the rifle as a gift from my dad in the early 1980s when I was around 14 years old. It was a used rifle and the firing pin was broken. After asking around, I found a gunsmith who worked out of his garage a few blocks away from my house. I got on my bicycle and brought the rifle to the gunsmith.
A few weeks later he called, told me the rifle was ready, and I rode my bike over there to get the rifle. Those were great times. A young man could ride his bicycle through the neighborhood with a 22 rifle, and nobody paid any attention to it.
Even though I have used that H&R 865 Plainsman for 35 years, chances are I have fired no more than 2,000 rounds through it. My Ruger 10/22 on the other hand probably had 2,000 rounds through it the first year I owned it, which was in 1986.
The steps involved in firing a bolt action rifle (fire a round, work the bolt, aim, fire another round, work the bolt, aim…) teach the shooter to make every round count. There are no split-second follow up shots with a bolt action rifle.
Of course someone is going to argue how their buddy has a uncle who can shoot a bolt action as fast as a semi-automatic.
I am going to go ahead and say this: Semi-automatics teach poor marksmanship skills. Notice the word “teach,” implying someone who is learning to shoot. Once someone has learned to make every shot count, that’s when they should move on to a semi-auto.
Overall, the bolt action 22 rifle is an excellent way to teach someone how to shoot safely and accurately.
Bolt Action Price
If someone had $150 to spend on a firearm for small game, it would be a toss-up between a Mossberg 500 and a bolt action 22 rifle. Since we are talking about bolt action 22 rifles, that is the one we would buy.
Walk into just about any pawn shop or gun show, and there should be a slew of used bolt action 22 rifles on display. After all, they have been made for more than 100 years. Who knows how many of them are tucked away in closets, basements and attics?
For preppers looking to stockpile rifles for friends and family, the classic bolt action 22 is an excellent choice. Preppers can buy them cheap, then hand them out to friends and family when the collapse happens.
Here is where the bolt action shines over the semi-automatic. The bolt action can shoot a wider range of ammunition more reliably than a semi-automatic.
Semi-auto requires blowback to cycle the bolt, while a bolt action is cycled by hand.
Low-powered loads, such as subsonics and 22 shorts, may not have enough energy to cycle the bolt of a semi-auto. Those loads are not an issue for some bolt actions (although getting shorter cartridges to reliably feed from the magazine is sometimes an issue).
Of course someone is going to say how their Remington Speedmaster, Ruger 10/22 or Marlin model 60 never had an issue with low powered loads.
I am sure people are going to find all kinds of faults with this article, and that is fine. That does not change the fact that the 22 bolt action rifle is an excellent choice for beginners and expert shooters. They have been around for generations, and will continue to be around for future generations.
However, it is sad to see an excellent rifle pushed to the side for cool semi-automatics.
As a survivalist, a lot of what I do with firearms is related to prepping. Why should I buy a used Marlin model 60 for $175, when I can get a used bolt action 22 and several thousand rounds of ammo for that same price?