Finally, we’re at my favorite rifle. But as usual, it’s not an easy matter to choose a favorite, even when it’s rifles. So, I’ve decided to include the .22 LR, because everyone needs one, my “best” bolt gun and chosen semi-auto.
The .22 long rifle is an essential caliber for all. When people think about “survival” or TEOTWAWKI – the end of the world as we know it – many neglect to include the .22LR in their considerations. It’s a minor caliber for sure, yet it will do almost anything needed, and normally in a small lightweight package. It’s good for gathering small game, and actually works in defensive situations. No, it wouldn’t be my first choice of defensive calibers, but the little bullets normally do a lot of damage – they tend to bounce around a lot in the body.
My favorite .22 semi-auto is the Ruger 10-22. They work great, are available in take-down models and there’s an almost endless supply of aftermarket accessories for customizing the 10-22. I’ve got a couple, but the one I shoot most is in an aftermarket M-1 Carbine-type stock and has peep sights. No telling how many rounds have been through it – I’ve owned it for about forty years – and it’s never been cleaned. Talk about reliability ... Regardless of how much abuse it sees, this 10-22 just keeps on running.
Everyone should own a bolt action rifle as well. You can’t be a rifleman or woman and not know how to shoot and operate the bolt action rifle. For me this category is filled with the Steyr Scout rifle, in .308 caliber. Steyr’s Scout rifle is built with input from Jeff Cooper and based on his “scout” rifle concept – a short lightweight platform with forward mounted scope. It’s just shy of thirty-nine inches long, weighs a tad over six and a half pounds and packs plenty of features. It’s not the most accurate rifle I’ve owned; it’s about a minute and a half grouper. The cool thing is that it holds this accuracy with about any type ammo you load into the mags. It’s a pleasure to shoot, something you could easily carry all day long if necessary and it will definitely work for defensive purposes.
Like many others, when it comes to a rifle to fill the semi-auto category my choice is the AR, in .223/5.56 caliber please. There’s never been a more versatile platform. The AR’s modular design was perfect for customizing; you can set one up for any purpose in a variety of calibers. The concepts behind the AR’s design – lightweight, reliability and ease of carrying lots of ammo – still apply today as well as after WW II. For defensive purposes it’s at the top of my list. Should I truly have to pick only one rifle, it’d be the AR. My “best-est” AR is an original Colt AR built along the lines of the old SP-1. It’s a simple rifle with the twenty-inch lightweight barrel, “delta” handguards and fixed stock. It’s reliable, a joy to shoot and got that nostalgic, retro look.
The joy of owning a variety of favorites is that things never get boring. They’re always fun to take to the range. With the ammo situation as it is today, instead of firing a lot of ammo through one or two guns, take several of your favorites out of the safe and fire a few rounds out of all of ‘em. Plus, we all know that when shooting one of your “favorites” things just always seem to go better.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, has a regular column in American Handgunner and makes some cool knives and custom revolvers. Visit Shootrite’s Facebook page for other details.