Rimfire Accuracy: Pure, Unadulterated Joy

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Shooting small targets from long range provides enjoyment and great practice.
Quality time spent behind the trigger of a rimfire handgun hones your skills and keeps you sharp.

Handgun hunters can benefit greatly from shooting a .22 rimfire. Most everyone will agree to this, but I find myself overlooking the obvious sometimes. Practicing with a .22 LR will keep you in tune with fundamentals such as grip tension, breath control, trigger press, target acquisition, among other essential aspects. It’s less expensive, so we can practice more. Quality trigger time with a rimfire yields rewards and will pay dividends when big game seasons roll around.

Hunting small game such as squirrels and rabbits is one of the best ways to prepare for upcoming hunts. I grew up hunting with my dad and headshots were mandatory as we ate what we shot. And mom could make a mean plate of fried squirrels with biscuits and gravy! Gray squirrel heads do not offer a very big target, so accuracy was essential. I had young eyes and steady nerves back in those days — not so today. Scopes are necessary and accuracy is still indispensable.

A variety of ammo tested; all proved worthy of punching bug hole groups from 25 yards.

Rimfire Precision

At this stage of my journey, accuracy is even more critical. Shooting rocks or tin cans on the pond bank is entertaining, but I would rather pursue more precise shot placement. Everyone may have their definition of what constitutes top-shelf accuracy from a .22 LR. For me, placing a five-shot group from 25 yards in one ragged hole defines accuracy. At 50 yards, a five-shot group in 1/2″ or less is my ambition. To achieve this level of accuracy, you need a gun capable and the ammo to match.

Recently I bought a Freedom Arms Model 83 in .22 LR with a 10″ barrel. Never in my wildest dreams did I consider spending this much on a rimfire handgun. I actually thought about submitting myself to psychiatric evaluation. My only regret after shooting this superbly accurate revolver? I should have purchased one sooner!

When you acquire a new .22 LR, the next best thing is to procure as many different brands of ammo as possible. Shoot five-shot groups with all of these brands from 25 yards, and you’ll soon find out which brand your particular gun prefers. If you’re lucky, the gun will shoot cheap ammo well. Occasionally I have found this to work out and consider the result most fortunate for my wallet. It’s not uncommon to find premium ammo such as Lapua, Eley, or similar ammo to be most consistent and accurate. The Freedom Arms Model 83 seems to prefer Lapua Center-X ammo, but Eley or CCI Green Tag is running mighty close.

The Freedom Arms Model 83 topped with a Burris scope yields a mighty
accurate .22 LR revolver. The combination of gun, optic and Lapua
Center-X ammo produces superb accuracy.

Freedom Performance

at the range, the Model 83 can punch a ragged hole with five shots at 25 yards. It will keep five shots in 1/2″ at 50 yards when I do my part. With a Burris 2-7x scope featuring the ballistic plex reticle, which provides hashmarks below the center crosshair, I just had to see what this gun would do at 100 yards. I can’t, with a clear conscience, put in print the result of the five-shot group, but I was surprisingly shocked! Not that I would shoot at small game from this distance, but it was interesting to see what the gun and ammo could produce.

The Freedom Arms Model 83 is an extremely well-built revolver with tight tolerances. Fit and finish are immaculate. Suffice to say; this is a premium .22 LR handgun. I have other Model 83s in larger calibers suited for big game hunting — all with 10″ barrels. They all have the same grip configuration and trigger pull — basically the same gun. In terms of familiarity, it sure is nice to practice with the .22 LR then switch to the .44 Magnum for big game hunting. And the rimfire is much easier on my hands than the 454 Casull!

Karen and I will be shooting a rimfire competition at Handgun Hunters Competition in Newcastle, Wyo. Targets will be placed at various ranges from approximately 25 to 150 yards. It will be fun and challenging. We’re currently practicing at a rimfire gallery we set up on our farm. We’re shooting from a makeshift field position you would expect to encounter on a hunt — not from a bench with sandbags.

Well, I think I’ve finally stumbled upon my “ultimate squirrel gun.” The Freedom Arms Model 83 does a fine job tackling some small targets providing I do my part. With the aid of CCI’s Green Tag ammo, squirrels better hunt a hole. There’s something special about an accurate .22 handgun — it’s a real treat!

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