≡ Menu

The Gift of a Lifetime


[ From What Would You Do with the Last Box of .22 Ammunition? ]

What would I do with my last box of .22 Long Rifle? First, I’d ask that it be a 100-round, hard-plastic box of good high-velocity hollow-points, like 37-grain Super-X’s or CCI Mini-Mags. I won’t cheat and call a 550-round value pack “a box.” Then I’d put it away and write my 6-year-old son, Anse, a letter for him to read after he gets a little older:

Son, this is a curse. I had thousands of .22s to shoot up when I was your age, but you only get these. That’s a raw deal for someone with your interests and inclinations, but life’s full of raw deals. You’ll manage.

You can learn a lot with a .22 rifle and 100 rounds, so long as you don’t do something stupid with them, like shoot road signs or the old appliances laying in the creeks.

Get a rifle to call your own. If there’s an old one of mine you like, I’ll give it to you. But don’t be afraid to shop for yourself. Nostalgia doesn’t make a rifle shoot, and in fact, I’ve seen plenty of old guns that weren’t worth a shit. When you get a really good rifle, you’ll know it. Until then, know that searching for it is one of life’s great pleasures.

When you have it, save your money until you can buy a good scope, otherwise you’ll spend just as much on two or three cheap ones that you won’t like. Get good mounts, too. With just 100 rounds, you can’t be fretting about your gun being off.

Don’t leave anything to chance when you check your zero. Get a good rest on a solid bench, on a range with no distractions. Just about every problem I’ve ever had sighting in a gun happened because of a shaky table or contorted shooting position. You don’t have many shots, son, so be sure not to waste them here.

Then, you know what to do: Wait until the last week in August or the first one in September. Head to the hardwoods. Any of the ridges we’ve always hunted will be fine. Go alone. Pick a sunny morning that’s calm and still and cool—maybe 12 hours after a rain so the leaves on the ground are soft and quiet. Don’t go if it’s been raining all night, though, because the droplets will still be falling from the canopy, and it’s hard to tell the difference in that sound and the sounds of squirrels cutting.

Look for the mature pignut and shagbark hickories. There’ll be one or two growing for every 10 oaks on a ridge, and you know what they look like. If you hear a hickory nut fall to the ground, it’s probably because a squirrel dropped it, since the mast around here doesn’t fall on its own until late September. Stand there a minute or two, and listen for teeth scraping on the nut. Then you’ll know for sure.

Sneak up on the sound. Watch for limbs shaking. Use the shadows to get close. If you spook a squirrel it’s OK, because there’ll be another one—but eventually you’ll learn how to get right under them, and almost never spook them. Find a sapling for a rest, one that’s several inches around so the trunk doesn’t flex and so that you’re solid, and shoot the squirrels in the head. Take no other shots but that. Clean every squirrel, and cook them for yourself or share them. Don’t ever waste one.

One hundred rounds of .22 won’t last long, but it’s enough, if you use a few each fall, to learn how to do this. And if you learn how to do this, you can go hunting for anything else, anywhere on the planet, and hold your own just fine. —Will Brantley

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • James ONeil April 14, 2021, 8:09 AM

    Very very last box of .22 longs? Trade it for an air rifle.

  • ghostsniper April 14, 2021, 8:58 AM

    The very first “real” gun I ever shot was a .22, a Remington model 572 semi-pump ( https://www.gunbroker.com/item/891200228 ) with a 4x scope on it. It was my dad’s and I was 6 years old. I had already been shooting my Daisy for a couple years and my dad showed me how to cock it by pulling my toes back in the shoe and putting the end of the barrel on the shoe and pushing the lever down using my body weight. Worked good. I gave that Daisy to my son when he was 10 and he gave it back to me about 20 years ago. Right now it is standing in the corner of one of the larders and my wife breaks it out and shoots off the side deck now and then.

    When my dad died in 1980 my sister and I divided up his guns. She got the Remington 572 and I got everything else. I wish I had that 572, she never shoots it. Currently I have a customized Marlin model 60 tube feed that is fun to shoot but loading is a pain, even with the SpeedyLoaders I have. I’m building a brand new Ruger 10/22 from scratch, except for the “off the record” never used receiver. Everything else on it is top of the line custom. Kidd, Volquartsen, Whistle Pig, eabco, Magpul, Tandem Kross, etc. When it’s done it’ll be a tacker. Oh yeah, 50×40 scope. A shooting friend came across a private seller getting rid of 7000 rds of .22 and we went in halfs on it. Yay!

    A .22 rifle should be in every red blooded americans inventory. period

  • azlibertarian April 14, 2021, 9:14 AM

    Three or four Christmases ago, Daughter#1ofazlib–then a new mother–gave me a very interesting book…From Your Grandfather. Basically, it is a book that walks you through writing a mini-autobiography for your grandkids as a means for them to get to know you not just as a grandfather, but in other aspects of your life. I took it seriously, and gave it 6 months or so to write in as much as I could. At the time, I had just an infant grand-daughter and I was writing to her in her mid-teens, but she’s now 7 and there are 3 other grandson’s after her.

    Wifeofazlib has plenty of meaningful jewelry that will one day go to our granddaughter, and I have some tools that I’m planning on sending to the 3 grandson’s. I’ve got an old Estwing hatchet that needs some leather-handle restoration that is headed to one grandson named after my late father-in-law, and a number of tools that I inherited from my father headed towards another grandson named after him. The grandson that I see most frequently, now 4, loves all the tools in my little workshop and he’ll get a good selection. On my upcoming retirement, I’d like to stretch my wood-working skills and try to produce 3 finger-jointed toolboxes for each of them.

    But the idea of gifting your last box of .22 to one’s grandchildren appeals to me. I’m a shooter, and I’ve got a couple of old crappy .22s in the back of the gunsafe, but I may try to sneak 4 Ruger 1022s into the house with the grandkid’s names on them. My daughters aren’t wild about shooting–in fact, they’re far more liberal than I would have ever predicted–and the kids are too young yet for me to begin (believe me, that 4 year-old grandson–the oldest–is a wildman with a squirtgun, and putting a serious firearm in his hands would be a dangerous prospect), but at some point I do think that they’d relent, if only for my sake, and allow them a day at the range with their grandfather.

  • azlibertarian April 14, 2021, 9:23 AM

    Additionally, my late father shared his birthday with Abraham Lincoln. After he was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, and well into my adulthood, he bought both my brother and I a Henry Golden Boy Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Tribute Edition in .22lr. Most of my guns are “shooters”–guns that I don’t mind shooting, and if necessary, taking a ding or two. However, this one is too beautiful to load, much less shoot.

  • Jack April 14, 2021, 9:31 AM

    I own an old Remington 541-T bolt action with a standard barrel and a pretty little Browning .22 autoloader. Both wear Leupold 4x12s with AOs and each is a tack driver. I usually sight them in at 1″ above the bull at 50 yards and they’re fine on out to around 100 yards.

    Every rifle, regardless of caliber, will shoot one brand of commercial ammo better than another. That’s just a fact and there is nothing more uninteresting and disappointing than a rifle that will not shoot straight. So, if you own a rifle of any caliber buy several different brands of ammo, shoot them carefully and let your rifle tell you what it likes. You only need 3-4 shots per brand to learn this but understand that a barrel that is hot to your touch will give you lousy accuracy. With .22s it’s not much of a problem unless you’re shooting a lot in hot temps…i.e., something akin to rapid fire, so, for determining what your gun likes, shoot your 3-4 rounds with 30 seconds or so between shots.

    When you know what your gun likes, buy a ton of that brand and don’t look back. Also….stay away from the so-called hypervelocity stuff unless you find your gun shoots it well. And buy the heaviest grain ammo your gun will shoot. 40 grain hollow points are excellent fodder for any .22.


  • enn ess April 14, 2021, 9:42 AM

    I have always been extremely fond of the .22 and remember when a box of 50 could be had for $.50 cents. Now they are upwards of $.50-.90 cents per round, if you can find them. TPTB would like us to be down to a single box of 100 rds of .22. and ultimately, they would limit private gun ownership to muskets & flintlocks.
    Guess what. We the people sent a feral wayward gummint packing with em once, we can do it again if need be. If we have the desire to live as a free people.. Long Live Our Republic

  • Kevin in PA April 14, 2021, 11:15 AM

    Fond memories of Saturday mornings in summer, shooting .22 rifle practice. I could spend hours with that bolt gun, iron sights, a brick of ammo and laying prone, plink, plink, plink. I sure do miss the price of ammo from back in the day too.

  • Gordon Scott April 14, 2021, 11:35 AM

    Nothing cures a shortage like a shortage. By that, I mean that either the manufacturers will add capacity, or folks will have filled up their ammo bunker and stop buying, leaving more for other people. I suppose Biden could sieze the manufacturing plants, but I don’t see that happening. They want to boil the frog gradually, not all at once.

    I spend time at a swap meet in the Phoenix metro area. There’s a guy who sells pistols, and ammo. He gets it various places. His prices are about five cents per round, with a few types higher. He sold out of 9mm on Saturday, but he was planning on being back with more this weekend.

    He did tell me about an ammo store in Utah that told him he could come in and get as much as he wanted. He brought a lot of cash and a pickup. He gets there and they told him one box per person. I’d be pissed off.

    Another guy was talking about a store in Montana that had everything, including a clever name. So it’s out there. It’s just expensive, for now.

  • gwbnyc April 14, 2021, 2:56 PM

    my Savage-Anschutz Model 10B single shot (boys?) target rifle. collaborative effort of the two manufacturers. (not too) heavy barrel, anschutz stock, and the key- an anschutz trigger.

    I had a Leupold 3x on it. accurate beyond reason and my abilities. using this rifle I would never starve. standard velocity is just fine. took all small game and birds, I’m sure I could headshot deer out to 110 yards or so.

    bought used for 80 bucks at Atwell’s Gun Shop in Painesville, Ohio c.1975.

    stolen along w/the contents of my safe several years ago. +/- forty pieces. my losses were heavy, in my blood line, and deep.

    now I have a Remington 521T as my rimfire, two Ruger M 77 centerfires, and my gem, a Hammerli 120 .22 free pistol.

    if you see a 10B, grab it.

  • Casey Klahn April 14, 2021, 5:11 PM

    My son, newly minted as an adult, has hypothetically acquired an historic bangstick. One used in times of old to clear trenches. It’s a POS. He’s learning and the wisdom in this letter article is true.

    One time, I had a desire for the fabulous take-down model that John Browning made, in the topic calibre. Occasionally, at guhnshowz, I’d see one and I finally bit the bullet and acquired one made in china. No Ring Ko, to be exact. That SOB works like a charm. It’s cut-rate heaven and in the current environment, the box of ammo is like gold to find.

    I like it very much whenever the lib rhetoric is spouted about magazine capacity. It is spouted frequently and it goes like this: “how many rounds of 22 does it take to kill a deer?” My answer is 10, futhermucker. I know cuz I’ve done that deed twice, and the count was 10. One-zero; ten. Bite me, you libtard aszwhole. How many rounds did it take to kill an upside down, swinging fascist at Lake Como in Italy? Many, many more. Ask your commie friends that question, wankjob.

    OK. whew. My mania has passed. Please note that was brought on by what libs pass out as rhetoric. I often say that they haven’t got “reasons.” but in retrospect I also really hate their “reasons”. I won’t tell them to shut up, but I will wish them to go away. Shit. Half the lib population is now armed with brand new firesticks, anyway.

  • ghostsniper April 14, 2021, 7:08 PM

    Casey sed: “Half the lib population is now armed with brand new firesticks, anyway.”
    Look at em cross eyed and they’ll piss all over themselves.

    Gotta pencil handy? Look at the diameter of it. It’s a little bit bigger than a .22 bullet. Now imagine a hole all the way through your eyeball that big. It’ll ruin your day. I’d say a .22 in the eyeball of a grizz, hell even an orca, will ruin it’s day. Yeah, bigger is always better, unless you constantly miss. I have more ammo in .22 than all the other calibers combined. So after everything else is all gone I’ll still be shooting my .22’s.

  • Snakepit Kansas April 14, 2021, 7:23 PM

    I work at a local gun range. Yeah some libs bought guns, but if you don’t practice then you cannot hit anything. If you do not train and train and train you are not going to hit anything, especially under duress.
    I received an old Colt Colteer 4-22 rifle when I was about 12, from a great uncle. I wouldn’t sell that old rifle for 10 grand.

  • Casey Klahn April 14, 2021, 8:12 PM

    Snake, I’ll give you eleven. OK, just kidding. That sounds like a beauty. Ghost is right; story oft told of the LEO who empties his 9mm or .45 into a perp, and the perp manages one shot from a .22 pistol that goes between the cop’s plate and kills him RT. The criminal walked away.
    So true. You can arm an idiot and you have an armed idiot. In a gun battle of men vs. libs, the libs would notably be shooting over heads, and some of the men would make aimed shots count. It’s science.

  • H (science denier) April 14, 2021, 8:32 PM

    A good 22 is a precision instrument that will last a lifetime, maybe two. So, if you’re gonna put glass on a good rifle, don’t skimp. It does absolutely no good to get a good rifle and put China-mart glass on it. I don’t care if it is “just a 22” spend the money to get good glass. Cheap glass is prone to have crappy clarity and sloppy adjustments that do not hold zero. So when a shot spins off to Mars, you won’t know if it was the rifle, the ammunition or you. A good rifle, good ammunition and good glass simplifies the question of what was at fault. Hint: it was you. Putting crappy glass on a good rifle is like buying a good hammer and only using it to pound your own gonads; it will be painful and you’ll remember the pain for a long time. But it will feel much better when you stop. You stop by replacing cheap glass with good glass or better yet, start with good glass from the beginning. Get good glass or save ammunition by finding a different hobby.

  • Dirk Williams April 15, 2021, 9:42 AM

    Sadly I’ve picked up or investigated more dead guys killed with 22 impacts than all other guns combined. Lack of training, gun discipline, or simple shit luck, end of the day these folks won’t be home for dinner.

    This round is really really underestimated by all!. I collect WWII 22 training rifles, shoot em yearly at sqweeks “ tiny rodents” which trash farmers fields. A great skills builder to 125 y. I’ve been gifting my select collection to my grandchildren.

    All received chipmunk 22’s at birth. All have outgrown em. I’ve intentionally not gifted semi-auto rifles or scoped rifles. Around here the fundamentals shall be incorporated into their shooting curriculum.

    As silly as it sounds, one shot one kill, shoot, don’t shoot, logic exercises. The boys are not allowed to slaughter animals, ever. A year ago, the little one shot a bird. Parker had to clean the bird — clean it, cook it and eat it. A meaningful lesson.

    I’ve got Marlin 17 HMRs new in boxes in the safes for the boys in a few years. We’ve seen these times coming since the mid-80s. We anticipated weapon and ammo shortages a long time ago.

    Village idiot.


  • gwbnyc April 15, 2021, 9:47 AM

    **Oh yeah, 50×40 scope**

    -shavin’ skeeters, are ya?

  • Boat Guy April 15, 2021, 10:11 AM

    Glass is nice, I ‘spose; you still need to learn and train irons. My first/best .22 is one My Dad bought from the guvmint in WWII; tack driver with”peep” sights. Shot a lot of penny apiece 22 shells in my boyhood.
    The single best .22 right now is the S&W AR-15/22; adjustable stock, great sights and lightweight. In these times everyone needs to learn “America’s Rifle” and this does the job. It’s a great little rifle in it’s own right.

  • EX-Californian Pete April 15, 2021, 10:12 AM

    I honestly don’t recall how many .22 rifles I currently have, but can safely say about a dozen.

    A Glenfield 60 that’s been in my family for decades, an original Ruger 10-22, a few WW2 “trainers’ that are now worth ridiculously more than I paid, a Remmy “Mohawk Brown” Nylon 66 in unfired condition, and a Remmy 550-1 in one of the most luxuriously skip-line checkered, Turk Circassian walnut stocks ever wasted on a mere .22, and with a classic Leupold on it are my favorites.

    Thankfully, I’m pretty set on .22 ammo (after losing a gazillion rounds of it in the Camp Fire) but as we all now know, “even too much ammo is still not enough.”
    Oh, and I’ve never paid more than $0.08 per round.

  • Missy April 15, 2021, 10:20 AM

    “If you do not train and train and train you are not going to hit anything, especially under duress.” I shoot every week at the range on my beau’s farm and under his expert supervision. If I don’t shoot every week my paper targets tell the tale. Aside from my kind of basic Marlin rifle with a Bushnell scope, I shoot an H&R 22 LR Special (9 round, top break) made sometime in the 1930s. It took a long time to find the right fit for my hand, and this baby is it.

  • Dirk April 15, 2021, 5:35 PM

    Missy, spot on Shooting skills are critical, require constant practice. Constant dry firing, balance and breathing work. Very Perishable skills.

    Consider trying this drill,,,,,,,,,standing on one leg, with the other in the air, acquire your target and engage your target,,,,,,,,,swap down leg out to build, intense balance recovery drills. This drill was taught in advanced schools taught by High end Brits,,,,,, the key being to keep your sight picture squared, as you sway and sometimes fall. Pistol or rifle. Intense

    Village Idiot

  • ghostsniper April 15, 2021, 6:17 PM

    I think I seen it at Remus’s place, so I’m sorta paraphrasing.
    Set a target up, and make a spot some distance away.
    Put one bullet in your gun, walk to the spot, shoot at the target, put the gun away.
    Do that every day.
    1 shot 1 kill

  • EX-Californian Pete April 16, 2021, 6:46 AM

    Speaking of firearms…

    Looks like the Liberals now want to outlaw and confiscate all legally owned suppressors.

    No mention of the fact that people who own them have gone through VERY extensive background checks, pay an exorbitant price for those items and a $200 “tax stamp” to get them. Or any mention of the extremely long wait times to get approved. Or the fact that they have never been used (when legally owned) in a crime in the USA.
    Or the fact that a common couch cushion works pretty much just as well as a $700 suppressor!

    Obviously, they are terrified of weapons that don’t make really loud noises when used.

    Next up- outlaw and confiscate baseball bats, blunt instruments, Martial Arts weaponry, crossbows, knives, swords, hammers, hockey sticks and ice picks?

  • ghostsniper April 16, 2021, 5:28 PM

    They may as well just go ahead and make everything illegal. Dirt, air, water…everything. And keep letting the criminals do what they want. Doesn’t really matter to me.

  • Anonymous April 18, 2021, 4:42 AM

    Fellow EX-Californian Pete;
    Where there’s a will..

  • ghostsniper April 18, 2021, 7:07 PM

    Anon: It’s illegal unless you have the proper license.
    I know someone that has a legal suppressor and I wasn’t too impressed with it’s performance.
    While it did quiet a Ruger 10/22 by an estimated 50% it was still instantly recognizable, so I wondered what the point was. The suppressor was expensive too, I think more than $300. Don’t know what the license cost.

  • EX-Californian Pete April 20, 2021, 9:02 AM

    No thanks. I’ve seen (and shot) one of those, and they are just too legally “borderline/risky/fringe element” for me.
    Besides, they become less effective with each shot.

    Even though it’s expensive as hell, an excruciatingly long wait, and a pain in the wazoo, I’ll stick with following the laws on all NFA items. The main reason being that if you are busted for even the slightest violation or infraction, the usual result is immediate confiscation (pending legal outcome) of the person’s ENTIRE firearm collection.
    That would be an incredibly huge loss for me.

  • jrg April 20, 2021, 10:23 AM

    My Brother and I were very lucky as we are both infected with wanting to be Out There in the woods. We are only 15 months apart in age so grew up together wandering the rurals and the family ranch.

    I have two children, both very young adults, but neither of them want to do that, even for fun. Too hot – too cold – too dirty. It is too bad that we can not count on our children / grandchildren to WANT to do what we do. I had a meager but very adaquete battery of guns but I doubt very much either would actually ask for even one of them. I have decided to hold at least one rimfire rifle and handgun, a pump action 20 gauge and ‘deer rifle’. No ‘black rifles’, at least for now.

    Everyone should have firearm training in case the knowledge is needed. Like Home Ec, Car Mechanic, House Repair and Sewing, everybody should be at least a working knowledge of this.

  • Jeffery in Alabama April 20, 2021, 11:31 AM

    Growing up I had several guns, but my favorite was a Remington Nylon 66.My daddy would occasionally take me to Penn’s gun store in Hartselle. For years they sold 5 pound commemorative cans of Remington .22 LR. My daddy would buy these cans for me every time we went (sometimes two at time). I would go down to a nearby creek and shoot till I was tired of loading. There wasn’t a need for a scope. I could shoot most anything I could see that was within range. For my 13th birthday my daddy gave me a High Standard “double nine”. It was a very accurate pistol. In the coming years I bought a half a dozen Ruger Mk II pistols and owned several Ruger 10/22 rifles. All were excellent shooters. I had a lot of freedom growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s in north Alabama. Fortunately, my son got to enjoy much of the same (particularly the shooting aspect). Now I have a grandson who is six. For his fourth birthday I bought him a Henry Mare’s Leg (.22 LR, L, and shorts). The tiny shoulder brace has worked very well as a stock fitting his short arms. He is already a good shot for his age. Teach the youth around you well. Buy ammo where you find it and never ever, ever surrender your firearms.
    Deo Vindice