If .22 rifles are anything, they're fun. For the same $14 you'd spend to get 50 rounds of 9mm ammo you can buy nearly 500 rounds of .22, and you can shoot cans and paper and metal targets all day with zero recoil.
But .22 rifles are also effective hunting firearms (for game that can be hunted legally with a small caliber).
Although it always sounds strange to citizens who spend their lives in the city-scape, Americans in rural states like Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, among many others, use a .22 to hunt squirrel and rabbits, and to control the population of other small game -- like groundhogs -- on their farms and ranches.
In a pinch, a .22 can be used for self-defense as well. Although one of the problems with using such a small caliber for self-defense is that it lacks raw stopping power. So an attacker may continue to attack even after being wounded by .22 round that was not well-placed.
Two of the best .22 rifles on the market can currently be found at gun dealers and stores like Wal-Mart and Gander Mountain for approximately $200 to $320. These are the Marlin Model 60 and the Ruger 10/22.
First, the Marlin Model 60.
The Model 60 is a no-frills rifle. I think of it as the Jeep CJ of .22 rifles. It has a non-detachable tubular magazine that runs along the bottom of the barrel and holds 14 rounds.
This particular rifle is known for two things: durability and accuracy. It is common to find a used one that's a couple of decades old yet shoots like one you just took out of the box. Growing up in Kentucky, I had a Marlin Model 60 with a sling on it, and I'll never forgot spending my summers in the woods shooting cans, other targets, and small game with the weapon.
The Model 60 is so accurate that we used to sit cans or empty milk containers filled with water as far as 40 or 50 yards away and shoot them with open sights. This is not to say I hit them every time I pulled the trigger, but it is to say this is the kind of accuracy you can get from a weapon through which thousands of rounds can be shot for less than a hundred dollars.
Next, the Ruger 10/22.
The 10/22 shares three traits in common with the Model 60: durability, accuracy, and affordability in shooting. But if we leave these traits for a moment and look at the gun's particulars, it's a very different weapon.
Whereas the Model 60 has a non-detachable tubular magazine, the Ruger 10/22 comes with a detachable 10 round magazine from the factory. And the popularity of the 10/22 is so great that innumerable aftermarket companies make larger magazines -- 25 round, 30 round, 50 round, and beyond -- for the rifle as well.
And whereas the Model 60 has a set look, the Ruger 10/22 is a gun many people buy with intentions to accessorize. From the factory the Ruger 10/22 is available in numerous stock and barrel combinations and in the aftermarket world, there are untold accessories available for the gun.
Here's the bottom line: In my opinion you simply can't go wrong with either gun. And although the choice of one of these guns over the other is based largely on aesthetics, either gun is certain to deliver a degree of fun, accuracy, and durability that you may not have known before.