Tuesday, November 9, 2010


A ways back I wrote here about the old time term for your field bag YOUR KIT BAG and YOUR KIT GUN , your bag of "kit" that you carry into the woods or outdoors with you. You don't have to be a hunter or a fisherman like me to carry a kit bag, lots of other outdoors folks carry them and just call them a backpack or knapsack or a shoulder bag nowadays.

Back in the western days, cowboys and other horse travelers carried their kit in their saddlebags, which might be cooking gear, eating utensils, personal items, clothing, ammo, a spare pistola and whatever else a cowboy might want on the trail back then.

Today, you're likely to find high tech flashlights, knives and communications devices inside someones kit bag. A sat phone or a sat emergency beacon suddenly can bring communication or help anywhere in the world, although I don't do any kind of traveling that merits those devices.

But one thing that you'll be likely to find in a Texas outdoors mans' kit bag is some kind of .22 caliber pistol, particularly when that Texan is engaged in fishing or hunting or camping or just outdoors. Bears are few and far between in Texas, but medium and large cats, hogs and rabid animals like skunks do tend to be found in many parts of the state where an outdoors man might be. A .22 is not my weapon of choice against either of these except the skunk, and even then, I'd want to shoot a bunch of times.

So the .22 is kind of an extra gun to bring along for shooting fun. No recoil. Lower noise. Very cheap to shoot. These are the virtues of the .22 and the reason many make it a tackle box gun for fishing trips, although I must confess that I am likely to also have along a .38 or .357 with a 4" barrel when outdoors to go along with the .22.

There are tons of .22's out there. I particularly like the 9 shot Taurus .22's with the 4 " barrel, and some of the .22 auto loader pistols are pretty cool as well. The Walther and the Sig .22's are very cool guns, but my gunsmith and my gun dealer both recommend (and they don't know each other) the Browning Buckmark Camper over either with Walther or a Sig or even a venerated Ruger as a great deal .22 pistol to buy right now.

Likewise, there are some very cool and well made .22 semi-auto rifles out there. The Smith and Wesson .22 version of the M-4. The very cool Sig .22 assault rifle. Both go for about $500, and there's other brands out there that resemble other weapons like the MP5 in .22 going for the same money.

I'd like to add a Sig .22 assault rifle, a nice used Marlin bolt action tube magazine .22 with a scope, a 9 shot .22 revolver with a 4" barrel and a semi-auto .22, either the recommended Browning Buckmark Camper or a Ruger Mark III with a fluted stainless steel target barrel.

It would be nice to find a reasonably priced "classic" .22 revolver like those made by Colt, Smith and Wesson and High Standard in all metal even though they generally hold 6 shots instead of the more prevalent 9 shots nowadays. Main thing is, adjustable sights on the revolver for some accurate fun shooting.

But for those of you looking to buy a new or used .22 kit {hand}gun to go in your fishing or hunting kit, let me make some recommedations from the economical to the extremely nice.

ECONOMICAL: There are lots of used revolvers and semi-autos that fall in this catagory, under $300. You can even get a new Ruger Mark III for right at $300. There are a plethora of good used guns from single action .22's (try to get one with an extra .22 magnum cylinder for extra fun and power) to double action .22 revolvers to semi-autos of all types in this price range.

There are a lot of good Rugers out there in the $200-$300 range.

There are very good .22 handguns that can be had for under $100 in the used catagory, and I commonly see excellent condition used Remington, Winchester and Marlin .22 rifles in excellent condition for under $200, often with scopes.

Same with older .22 handguns. Older Harrington and Richardson, Excam, FIE and other brands commonly sell even in like new condition for under $100. My Harrington and Richardson 9 shot 4" barrel .22 revolver has fired thousands if not tens of thousands of shots in the forty plus years we've had it. Still pinging right on with only a cylinder hinge screw replaced about 20 years ago. It probably cost about $25 or $30 back when new, and we've certainly gotten our money's worth out of that gun. It and the Excam .22 Single Action have logged as much time in my tackle box as my favorite fishing pliers and knife, which is to say, a lot.

MEDIUM RANGE: This is where you find the non-collectors Colt Woodsman and Huntsman guns. Also, the great Smith and Wesson all steel .22 revolvers made from the 1950's through the 1980's. If the guns were in pristine condition, I'd pay a little extra for most of the Colt or Smith .22 revolvers made in days of yore, as practice guns for law enforcement were often made in .38/.357 and .22 to facilitate not only training but cheap practice.

HIGH END GUNS: Guns like the Colt Single Action .22 revolvers, the Colt Diamondback revolver in .22 caliber, the Walther PPK and PPK/S in .22 caliber and one very cool gun, a 3/4 scale .22 version of the HK P7 that could be had with interchangeable barrels for .32 and .380 as well. All of these guns are out of production and command various collectors prices, but they are great guns if you've got a hankering for a fancy or unique .22 pistol or revolver.

It's hard to imagine a better kit gun than the Smith and Wesson Model 18, the .22 Combat Masterpiece. S&W is still making it, but it commands a very high price, MSRP'ing at over a grand. You could buy a budget beginning arsenal of used guns, or even a complete arsenal of new and/or used .22's, for that kind of cash.

I'll talk more in the next post about the kit bag I keep at the ready.

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