A nec­es­sary addi­tion to any sub­ur­ban sur­vival arse­nal is a plink­ing rifle.  You may be ask­ing your­self, what is a plink­ing rifle?  Think of the rifle you would use to shoot tin cans off of a fence post in your back­yard.… that is a plink­ing rifle.  The ben­e­fits of a plink­er are 1) lit­tle or no noise (so neigh­bors wont com­plain and you in a crunch you wont give away your posi­tion), 2) you can teach a young­ster or new shoot­er firearm safe­ty with exces­sive recoil, and 3) the ammu­ni­tion is cheap (in some cas­es, reusable).  In a dif­fer­ent par­a­digm, hav­ing a rifle that can be used to hunt small game in a sub­ur­ban envi­ron­ments is invaluable…but a plink­er isnt lim­it­ed to small game, with the right ammu­ni­tion in the right rifle, a plink­er can also be used to take larg­er game

There are end­less firearms that can be catago­rized as plink­ers so instead of giv­ing a laun­dry list of guns, I will dis­cuss sev­er­al com­mon firearms cham­bered in com­mon cal­iber (.177 Pellet/BB, .22 cal­iber, and .22 Win Mag).  Keep in mind, these are not the only mod­els and man­u­fac­tur­ers on the mar­ket… they rep­re­sent a sam­pling of what is avail­able and firearms I have per­son­al expe­ri­ence with and can rec­om­mend or not rec­om­mend.

GAMO Pel­let Gun

plinker 1These rifles are far from being the Cadil­lacs of the pel­let rifle world (think Olympics for real­ly high end) but they have attrib­ut­es that are very desir­able in a plink­er. Most GAMO mod­els have an inte­grat­ed sup­pres­sor (legal with­out the fed­er­al tax stamp on sup­pres­sors because it is inte­grat­ed into the bar­rel).  Some have the abil­i­ty to shoot faster than the speed of sound (1100 feet per sec­ond for you non sci­ence types).  The speed and accu­ra­cy of a pel­let fired from a GAMO rifle make it dev­as­tat­ing on small game… com­bine that with the abil­i­ty to prac­tice or hunt in a sub­ur­ban envi­ron­ment with­out draw­ing atten­tion to your actions, the GAMO is invalu­able.  The rifles are cham­bered in .177 cal­iber and .22 cal­iber, depend­ing on the mod­el. For most appli­ca­tions, the .177 cal­iber is suf­fi­cient but peo­ple who want to hunt larg­er game may opt for the .22 cal­iber. Most mod­els come with an inte­grat­ed scope and a pack­et of starter ammu­ni­tion and all that’s nec­es­sary is to sight in the rifle… and they gen­er­al­ly run under $200. It’s wise to obtain some high-qual­i­ty hunt­ing grade spear point pel­lets to max­i­mize the effec­tive­ness of the gun.

Daisy BB and Pel­let Gun

plinker 2These rifles have come a long way from the red rid­er lever action car­bine we remem­ber from A Christ­mas Sto­ry but they arent as tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced as the GAMO rifles.  They can be picked up in just about any sport­ing goods store or Wal­mart across the coun­try and are rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive.  Depend­ing upon mod­el and con­fig­u­ra­tion these guns can shoot both BBs and pel­lets mak­ing them a ver­sa­tile choice for prac­tic­ing, for teach­ing new shoot­ers, and hunt­ing small game in a sub­ur­ban envi­ron­ment… and they can be had for under $50. The includ­ed scope is far from high-qual­i­ty by the rifle has accu­ra­cy lim­i­ta­tions so the scope is appro­pri­ate. The best you can expect is about 20 yards accu­ra­cy, but for prac­tic­ing on tin cans or shoot­ing squir­rels in your back yard (which I am not advo­cat­ing, you run the risk of break­ing ani­mal cru­el­ty and/or hunt­ing laws) the effec­tive range is more than ade­quate. As with any­thing else, you get what you pay for… If you want more accu­ra­cy buy a Gamo or high­er end a BB/pellet gun,


plinker 4The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most com­mon .22 cal­iber rifles on the mar­ket. As a result, there are many after­mar­ket parts includ­ing stocks, bar­rels, trig­gers, mag­a­zines, and replace­ment parts. Unlike some semi auto­mat­ic .22 cal­iber firearms, the Ruger 10/22 is not finicky when it comes to ammo, how­ev­er just like any oth­er rifle, some ammu­ni­tion is more accu­rate than oth­ers. I won’t go into which ammu­ni­tion to buy for the 10/22 because I own three of them and each prefers a dif­fer­ent type and grain of ammu­ni­tion for opti­mal accu­ra­cy.  Each of my 10/22 rifles is set up with an optic… Some have see-through rings and some rely sole­ly on the scope. In each case I use a four pow­er fixed mag­ni­fi­ca­tion because too much mag­ni­fi­ca­tion can be a bad thing. A .22 cal­iber pro­jec­tile has a max­i­mum range for both accu­ra­cy and lethal­i­ty of about 75 yards, for fur­ther accu­ra­cy out of a .22 cal­iber you need to shoot a .22 Win mag (more on that below). The most recent addi­tion to 10/22 prod­uct line from Ruger is a break­down mod­el, for back­pack­ing (or bring­ing a rifle unseen in a small case) this is a great choice. The big draw­back for the break­down mod­el is the case as a giant Ruger logo… not the best for covert car­ry.  A basic Ruger 10/22 can be pur­chased for under $200 .His­tor­i­cal­ly .22 ammu­ni­tion is cheap but the recent ammu­ni­tion crunch has sent the price of select  ammu­ni­tion through the roof. plinker 3Once, or should I say if, ammu­ni­tion prices come back to nor­mal, buy as much .22 ammu­ni­tion as you can and have you can have some real fun shoot­ing a 10/22 at a very rea­son­able price. I rec­om­mend a 10/22 because it is so com­mon, has proven itself reli­able, and is rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive… but dont over­look oth­er firearms and actions cham­bered in 22 cal­iber (such as a Hen­ry lever action or a Mar­lin bolt action)… but keep in mind, many .22 cal­iber rifles are not designed for an adult (a short stock is the biggest prob­lem).

Mar­lin .22 Win­ches­ter Mag­num

plinker 5If you’re look­ing for extend­ed range accu­ra­cy and bet­ter ter­mi­nal bal­lis­tics you should def­i­nite­ly get a 22 Win Mag… and in my expe­ri­ence, stick with a bolt action rifle (because of the long case design, semi-autos can have a tough time cycling the round). These rifles off-the-shelf have a 100 yard plus accu­ra­cy and the ter­mi­nal bal­lis­tics allow for a wider range of ani­mals to be hunt­ed. While they are loud­er than a stan­dard .22 cal­iber, they remain some­what qui­et.  Because of the lim­it­ed noise, these guns are a num­ber one choice for poach­ers… don’t ask me how I know that. With the right ammu­ni­tion and decent optics a head­shot on a dear can eas­i­ly be made at 100 yards and because of the ter­mi­nal bal­lis­tics of the pro­jec­tile it will be a lethal shot. I’ve used my 22 Win mag with good results on ground­hogs out to 200 yards. Because of the extend­ed range I have a vari­able pow­er scope on my rifle from three pow­er to nine pow­er with a 40 mm objec­tive, a sim­i­lar scope can be found on my deer rifles and muz­zle load­ers and they are obvi­ous­ly a much high­er cal­iber.


plinker 8  The AR7 is titled as a sur­vival rifle.…but don’t be fooled by that title. The AR7 sev­en has some good attrib­ut­es, it packs up small (the entire gun fits inside the bus stop), it shoots a 22 cal­iber pro­jec­tile (so it has a qui­et report), and it has a mat­te fin­ish cou­pled with an alu­minum non-rust­ing receiv­er (so the gun is durable). How­ev­er the gun does have some draw­backs… because of the design you can­not mount optics and still pack­aged the gun inside the butt stock (but if you pre­fer iron sights that’s not such a big deal), because of the short­ened bar­rel the gun has lim­it­ed accu­ra­cy and weak ter­mi­nal bal­lis­tics (so it’s a 25 yard gun at best), and the AR7 has been redesigned sev­er­al times but in all the mod­els I’ve shot I found them to be very finicky for ammu­ni­tion.  I’ve includ­ed the AR7 in this write up not as a plinker 7rec­om­men­da­tion, but as a firearm to avoid.  While it does fill a niche and I can see it does serve a pur­pose, I view it more as a nov­el­ty sim­i­lar to the Tau­rus Judge. Unless you’re sur­vival plan is throw­ing on a back­pack and liv­ing in the woods your mon­ey is bet­ter spent on a dif­fer­ent firearm.

.17 and .17 HMR

plinker 9I will admit I have lim­it­ed expe­ri­ence with this round. I feel com­pelled to include it in a write up about plink­ers but quite frankly it’s not what I would con­sid­er a plink­er. The design of the car­tridge and the design of the bul­let make this a high­ly effec­tive round well past 100 yards. The 17 HMR was designed to be an improve­ment upon the 22 rim­fire and it most cer­tain­ly is. How­ev­er because of the cost and avail­abil­i­ty of the ammu­ni­tion I don’t rec­om­mend a 17 HMR as a sta­ple of your sur­vival arse­nal. His­tor­i­cal­ly 22 ammu­ni­tion and BBs are cheap and wide­ly avail­able, the same can’t be said for 17 HMR. In times of plen­ty, exot­ic cal­ibers are fun to have an fun to shoot but when ammu­ni­tion is scarce hav­ing cal­ibers that are wide­ly dis­trib­uted and eas­i­ly obtained could be ben­e­fi­cial.

So there you have a few guns to con­sid­er pur­chas­ing for your sur­vival arse­nal. Again, this is not a com­pre­hen­sive list but designed as a start­ing point for peo­ple to do the research on firearms they may want to obtain. One note I will add, the firearm indus­try (and espe­cial­ly ammu­ni­tion) has been going crazy for sev­er­al months. Don’t run out and buy a firearm on this list or a firearm rec­om­mend­ed from a friend with­out first search­ing for avail­able ammu­ni­tion. Vis­it sev­er­al local gun shops and look at the ammu­ni­tion still on their shelves, ask what cal­ibers they’ve had trou­ble find­ing, and you may find a dif­fer­ent firearm in a dif­fer­ent cal­iber is bet­ter suit­ed to your sit­u­a­tion.

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