Develop A Rimfire Routine

Training for Concealed Carry with a .22 Service Pistol

This Ruger SR22 is a great practice substitute for a centerfire service pistol.
It’s got plenty of benefits on its own, but can also be used for higher volume
practice and training without breaking the bank.

Federal’s PUNCH ammo gives people who want to carry their .22
or use it for self-defense a round optimized for reliable penetration.

You study for tests, train for marathons, practice for soccer games — why not train for concealed carry? Choosing to carry a firearm is a decision not to be taken likely, and many people are uncomfortable with it.

I’ve been around firearms nearly my entire life and I’m still getting used to the feeling of carrying a loaded firearm. I’ve been so trained to open the action and insert an empty chamber indicator before taking a gun off the shooting line, it almost feels wrong. Wearing a holster for the first time is also a peculiar feeling. Practice is the only way to overcome this insecurity — along with the knowledge concealed carry is not always the most comfortable thing in the world.

Just like anything, there are different levels of training and education. Some people are just starting their personal-defense journey, while others may have carried a sidearm for decades. No matter your story, it’s important to remember taking a class or getting a license is not an automatic pass for the rest of your life. To protect yourself and those around you, you need to continue your education.

Practice. Many hate this word, relegating it to grade school tasks like learning cursive or preparation for sports events. Some consider it a sign of weakness or inadequacy, when really it reveals quite the opposite. Shooting is a perishable skill. Though you never forget how to ride a bike, it takes a few seconds to remember how to work the gears again. In a self-defense situation, these seconds are the difference between life and death.

Training doesn’t have to be boring. You might consider jazzing up your practice routine with technology. The MantisX device and companion app work together to “coach” you while presenting various challenges and drills to keep you entertained and engaged. Drills are available for live-fire and dry-fire, which is an underappreciated but quickly growing method of practice due to the scarcity of ammunition.

While IDPA won’t teach you how to fight, it’s a great way to practice
gun-handling skills, decision-making and more — with a little added pressure.

Shooting IDPA for the first time was challenging but provided great practice.
Using a .22 made it affordable and less intimidating. Image: Steve Trommer

The targets with hands represent hostages or innocent bystanders. You must
be careful not to hit this target while trying to hit the ones behind it. In the real
world, a futile attempt to neutralize a threat could cost someone else’s life.

Train Small?

For those new to or considering concealed carry, I have a different suggestion. What about practicing with a .22 LR? No matter where you stand on the .22 LR concealed carry debate, you cannot deny rimfires are fun, a great way to introduce new people to shooting and generally more affordable. Even in the current ammunition shortage, .22 LR ammo is still more readily available than cartridges like 9mm.

Yes, you can practice with nearly any gun and should be most familiar with the arm you intend to carry. Technology has made it easier than ever to improve your marksmanship skills without live ammunition, though nothing can replace the real thing. There exist rimfire versions or reproductions of popular carry pistols allowing for more affordable hands-on training. This concept is not new. Precision rifle shooters have created an entire sport around rimfire, which started as a more affordable way to train and introduce more people to the sport.

Concealed carry can work the same way. I am very fortunate to have had a host of mentors in my life who educated me on firearm safety and marksmanship. Until I began helping with concealed carry classes, I never realized I was in the minority. Of the people who showed up to attend class, the majority had little experience with firearms, and a few were uncomfortable. Several people even said they were just taking the class for education but never knew if they could carry a firearm.

Practicing with rimfire allows you to focus on the fundamentals like trigger
control, grip and recoil control without all the flash and bang distraction of larger calibers.

The Ruger SR22 is a nifty pistol for plinking, competition,
practice or if appropriate, defensive use.

Start Small, Increase Joy

The protocol was to get these folks started with a .22 LR during the live-fire portion of the class. The result was always the same: Faces of apprehension broke into smiles. The women especially were worried about recoil. Some attended with their husbands or fathers just for the education. (As a side note, teaching family members how to shoot is not always the most productive.) The near non-existent recoil of the .22 LR lessened the scare factor and made it fun.

While some of these people were hesitant to carry, they all expressed an interest in shooting again, especially the .22 LR. As discussed in an episode of the GUNS Magazine podcast, everyone should have a .22 LR pistol. This opens the door to all sorts of opportunities.

If you can get someone interested in a .22 LR, they can graduate to larger calibers later on, but can practice all the same. Without investing in a larger-caliber carry gun, they can practice wearing holsters with the .22 LR, just to see how it feels. The holsters aren’t a waste as they do fit a gun they own; a gun they like and are comfortable with.

The key is comfort. If someone is uncomfortable with a firearm for any reason, they won’t shoot it well. Depending upon personalities, it may even lead to someone giving up shooting altogether. Sometimes baby steps are best. You can practice carrying and drawing with a .22, utilize technology like MantisX and shoot more affordably.

Technology helps with quality practice. The MantisX unit mounts either
on a rail or magazine base (allowing you to practice draws) and gives
real-time feedback to a companion smartphone app.

The MantisX app provides detailed feedback on every nuance of
your shooting technique in both dry- and live-fire modes.

Competition Skills

Shooting International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is a great way to train to protect yourself. IDPA doesn’t train you how to fight, nor does it reflect real world firearm encounters, but it’s a great way to increase proficiency with a defensive firearm. You’ll get lots of practice with core skills like shooting rapidly, making quick decisions and manipulating your handgun for reloads, jams and the like. The matches present scenarios that could occur in real life and task you with shooting particular targets (or not shooting some) a certain number of times as quickly and accurately as possible. Rather than stand and aim at one bull’s-eye, you are moving. Some cardboard cutouts become threats. Others become innocent bystanders.

Given the recent ammunition crisis, many gun clubs are allowing competitors to use rimfires in IDPA competitions.

I was overwhelmed at my first match but decided to give it a try with what I had: A Ruger SR22. The only downfall of using a .22 was holes were difficult to see. I soon discovered some of the safety mechanisms tripped me up. I needed to become more familiar with them or find something different. In a real-life situation, seconds make the difference between life and death. I would never have learned these things had I not participated. Shooting IDPA, just one time, taught me about my firearm and gave me a wake-up call on core gun-handling skills.

Not everyone is going to want to shoot IDPA or practice this way, but I assure you, there are many people out there who need the route to personal protection a .22 provides. It’s not a large investment and can have multiple uses. Some people only ever want to buy one gun. Others are uncomfortable with rounds larger than a .22. Federal’s PUNCH .22 LR self-defense ammunition aims to reach this market. A .22 certainly won’t do as much damage as larger cartridges, but it does open the door to teaching more people to defend themselves. 

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