Skeeter on the .22

Skeeter on the .22

This is a discussion on Skeeter on the .22 within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I was cleaning up the 'bookmarks folder' in my laptop when I fell into reading some of Skeeter Skelton's thoughts on the 22 caliber handgun. ...

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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    Skeeter on the .22

    I was cleaning up the 'bookmarks folder' in my laptop when I fell into reading some of Skeeter Skelton's thoughts on the 22 caliber handgun.

    For those who have never heard of Skeeter, he was a US Marine and LEO who became a well-respected gun writer in the 60's, 70', and 80's. He was a fan of revolvers and an advocate of the .44 Special.

    Skeeter on the .22-skeeter-skelton.jpg

    I usually associate him with big bore handguns, so I found some of his thoughts on the .22LR to be thought provoking:



    Q. I am a pilot in the Air Force, and will be going to Viet Nam soon. What sort of handgun do you recommend for survival use in the event I am shot down? H.E.J.


    A. Since I have never been in Viet Nam, my advice must be qualified. If I can infer from the word survival that your handgun will be used primarily for killing food and defensively only if you are ferreted from some jungle hiding place, then I would lean toward a first quality 22 semi-automatic pistol with a 4" barrel. I would carry this gun along with 3 or 4 extra magazines and several boxes of high velocity long rifle ammunition with both solid and hollowpointed bullets. The hollowpoints are better killers on medium-sized animals and man, and the solids leave more meat when birds and very small game are shot.



    Q. My new job will have me doing surveying work in Texas and New Mexico. I was considering buying either a 22 Long Rifle or 22 Magnum revolver for snake protection and an occasional rabbit for the pot, but my partner says I should get a big bore gun and have someone load shot cartridges for it. Would you care to comment? R.F.


    A. Yes, I would. Although interest seems high on handloaded shot cartridges, I consider them next to worthless. To do a job on a snake, the shooter must be within about 10 feet. At that range the rankest tyro should be able to kill a rattler with a head shot from a 22 handgun. The 22 will also handle rabbit-sized game at ranges up to 75 yards with little trouble - something no shotloaded sidearm will do. Long Rifle 22 ammunition is inexpensive and available everywhere. Its low cost makes it my choice over the 22 WMR, also, because of the much greater price and comparatively slight gain in killing power of the latter.



    My idea of a trail gun is a handgun that, with 50 pounds of ammunition, will make a package small and light enough that you are unaware of its presence until you need it. It adds practically nothing to the contents of a backpack or to the saddlebags of horseman or cyclist. Worn in a neat holster on the trouser belt, it lies flat and doesn’t sag your pants. It also looks at home in a fishing box.

    Being small and feathery, my trail gun is of necessity chambered for a small-caliber cartridge. For the purposes outlined, I suggest the .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 S&W Long, .32-20 or .38 Special. Although I seldom carry a 9mm automatic on the trail, it would qualify in certain guns for those who like the auto pistol.

    The odds-on caliber for the man who doesn’t handload, and maybe even for the one who does, is the .22 Long Rifle. This famous cartridge has been in continuous production since the 1880’s and millions are manufactured in the U.S. each day. It is probably our most highly developed cartridge and certainly one of our most accurate. It cannot be reloaded, yet compensates for this by being extremely inexpensive.

    The .22 LR normally comes with an outside-lubricated 40-grain solid or 37-grain hollowpoint lead bullet. The latter is a very effective small-game load out to 50 and perhaps 75 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter. The HP cavities on commonly used .22 Long Rifles are quite deep and open rather rapidly, especially at close range.


    My first handgun was a Ruger Single Six in .22LR. I'm very fond of it, but I've never used it has a trail gun or woods gun, just a plinker. Around here, I'd feel a bit naked with just a .22LR, but I do like his perspective. Does make me think. I knew a trapper who always carried a 22 with him while he check his trap lines, for obvious reasons. Paired with a rifle, I think one would make for a nice all-around combination, although, I generally only carry one firearm at a time.

    Anyone here use a 22 LR as a primary defense firearm or 'trail gun'?

  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array Shootnlead's Avatar
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    I have always been a great fan of Skeeter...I credit him with my favorite load for my beloved .44 Special.

    Anyone here use a 22 LR as a primary defense firearm or 'trail gun'?
    I don't...but in reality it would probably suffice. But, I carry primarily for the things it would not serve as well for, even on the trail...2 legged vermin.
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    “The everyday man who holsters a handgun for come-what-may eventualities cannot improve on a .44 Special revolver.” Skeeter Skelton

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    Love my 22LR weapons but for trails I am most concerned about 2-legged predators (the most vicious) so I carry a higher caliber for self-defense.
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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm more concerned about bears, so something with more 'oooomph' gets my vote, too. But there sure is a lot to like about the .22 LR.

    Reading Skeeter's remarks, I remembered that Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of the 22 Colt Woodsman. Hemingway carried that everywhere, from camping and fishing in Michigan to African Safaris.

    Hemingway followed with this admonition, “The rifle and the pistol are still the equalizer when one man is more of a man than another, and if … he is really smart … he will get a permit to carry one and then drop around to Abercrombie & Fitch (New York gun shop) and buy himself a .22 caliber Colt automatic pistol, Woodsman model, with a five-inch barrel and a box of shells. This is the smallest caliber pistol cartridge made; but it is also one of the most accurate and easy to hit with, since the pistol has no recoil.”


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    My constant companion while hunting, fishing, or camping over the past 40-plus years has been a Smith & Wesson Model 34 "Kit Gun" .22LR with 2" barrel and adjustable sights. Rides easily in a vest pocket with a box of cartridges in another pocket. I have eaten dozens of meals from cottontails, snowshoe hares, grouse, ptarmigan and other small game and I know that I would never starve to death with it along on the trip.

    I may also have a .45, a .44, a .357 or other primary defensive handgun as well, but the .22 sees regular use for filling the pot.
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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by retired badge 1 View Post
    My constant companion while hunting, fishing, or camping over the past 40-plus years has been a Smith & Wesson Model 34 "Kit Gun" .22LR with 2" barrel and adjustable sights. Rides easily in a vest pocket with a box of cartridges in another pocket. I have eaten dozens of meals from cottontails, snowshoe hares, grouse, ptarmigan and other small game and I know that I would never starve to death with it along on the trip.

    I may also have a .45, a .44, a .357 or other primary defensive handgun as well, but the .22 sees regular use for filling the pot.

    You had me at "grouse".......
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nix View Post
    You had me at "grouse".......
    We have dusky grouse (aka: blue grouse) and sage grouse in good populations here in Colorado. The only game animals I know of that really do taste like chicken!
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    Been a fan of Skeeter for many years and later his son Bart who was good writer in his own right. I have used a 1982 Ruger Super Single Six w/ the .22 mag cylinder and a 5 1/2" bbl for a "trail" gun for many years. It has taken coyotes, snakes, raccoons, groundhogs, turkey, grouse, fox, feral cats, possum, armadillo, skunks, and a few coup de grace shots on deer. (I may have forgotten a few critters it has taken over the years.) On at least one occasion I was glad I had it when I had to confront an armed trespasser who was poaching ginseng on our property. Although I didn't have to use it, I'm sure it would have done the job if I had needed it. BTW, my Single Six is very reliable!
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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    My Single Six did not come with the 22 Mag cylinder. Bummer.

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    Shot placement with that first shot is the key to survival in self defense or a meal in the wild. I would not want to be shot with a .22LR. A well aimed .22 is deadly. I don't carry a .22 just because I feel more protected with my .45acp or my 9mm.

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    VIP Member Array SouthernBoyVA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nix View Post
    My Single Six did not come with the 22 Mag cylinder. Bummer.
    That's because you didn't purchase the convertible version. The convertible version came with the .22WRM cylinder in a small cloth bag with a draw string.

    My first firearm was a Ruger Super Single Six Convertible 5 1/2" barrel that I purchased in April 1968. I had ordered the Single Six version but it was late getting in and they had two Super Single Sixes in stock when I went in to check so one went home with me. The Single Six had fixed sights whereas the Super Single Six had an adjustable rear sight. Very accurate gun and a ball to shoot. I paid $78 for it new and wish to this day I still had it.
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    VIP Member Array SouthernBoyVA's Avatar
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    I used to read every one of Skeeter's articles in Shooting Times back in the day (late 60's to early 80's). Very interesting and informative.
    msgt/ret likes this.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    America First!

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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoyVA View Post
    I used to read every one of Skeeter's articles in Shooting Times back in the day (late 60's to early 80's). Very interesting and informative.
    Indeed. Hence my falling down this rabbit hole this morning.....

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    Distinguished Member Array Nix's Avatar
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    And now I'm looking at Ruger Mark IV's.... I had no idea there were so many different models.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoyVA View Post
    I used to read every one of Skeeter's articles in Shooting Times back in the day (late 60's to early 80's). Very interesting and informative.
    He was the main reason I subscribed to Shooting Times.
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