It all started about a year ago, I guess. Smith and Wesson came out with their .22 versions of the AR-15 rifle, followed by an AR-15 .22 caliber pistol. Lots of other makers started coming out with some very cool and *approaching being reasonably priced* .22's in both handguns and rifles.
It doesn't take an economics degree to figure out why the .22 is exploding in popularity.
High ammo prices.
Years ago, I decided to consolidate calibers and got rid of some of the more expensive and rarely used calibers, particularly hunting rifles I had come into over the years. Once I used to hunt quite frequently, and if that day where I want or need to hunt for food comes again, I've got plenty enough guns for that.
You can't go wrong right now with having either a 9mm handgun or rifle or a .7.62 or .223 rifle/pistol with surplus and foreign ammo prices. I prefer to buy American, and my next bulk ammo purchase will be American made ammo, but for the 7.62 and 9mm calibers, it's sometimes hard to resist the incredible foreign and/or surplus ammo pricing compared to American made ammo.
Which brings us back to the .22. I like shooting larger calibers than the .22 for the most part. The .223, the 7.62 and even the .30-30 have tolerable recoil and having a bit of power in your shot is not a bad thing. Same thing with handguns. I enjoy shooting 9mm, .38 Special and .45 ACP a lot, and have guns I enjoy shooting those calibers in. With the right gun, I'll throw .357 Magnum ammo into that heap as well.
But as we all know, you can shoot a .22 many times for what it costs to shoot any larger caliber once.
The late handgunning sage Chic Gaylord, as well as many other knowledgeable handgunners over the years, have long advocated using a .22 pistol similar to your defensive pistol/revolver for practice. And nowadays, it's economically necessary if you're a family man like me. I also think that any shooting with any gun is good practice, but it does help to practice with a .22 caliber handgun similar or identical to your defense weapon.
In looking through the Shot Show 2011 reports, there are a whole slew of .22 1911's coming down the pike. Colt, in partnership with Umarex?, is coming out with all kinds of .22's. Browning has an interesting apparently downscaled version of the 1911 in .22, and I'm very interested to see and examine Browning's attempt at this classic. Likewise, whereas last year Chiappa came out with a .22 1911 that had a street price of under $300, now there will be many, many more options for 1911's in .22 to chose from for not a while lot more money.
Of course, I'm waiting on the Henry Repeating Arms version of the Mare's Leg in .22 caliber, which is also expected to sell for right around the $300 mark. Ruger has come out with a nice .22/45 with replaceable grip panels AND a rail under the barrel AND factory threaded for a suppressor.
ATI has various .22 guns that resemble their larger caliber brothers, and S&W has introduced an M&P pistol in .22 caliber as well. El Fisho Jr. has been asking me about AK-47 .22 clones, and I have not seen one yet but I suspect they're being made and sold with the great number of larger model ".22 versions" that are appearing all over the market.
What's your favorite .22 that has been introduced at Shot Show 2011?