The word plinking implies rimfire shooting. While rimfire means affordable ammunition, accessible guns, and one of the most purely enjoyable times on the range. With just a little preparation, it’s easy to elevate just another day on the range to one nobody will soon forget. In this article, we’re going to look at how to create your own plinker’s paradise.
Every range day should begin with safety precautions. Rimfire shooting, though quieter and more innocuous seeming, is no exception.
- Hearing Protection: Too many shooters have sacrificed their hearing in the name of shooting machismo, but there’s nothing cool about going sans protection and facing hearing loss. Ear coverage can be as simple as a pair of el cheapo foam plugs all the way up to the most expensive noise-canceling electronic devices. Two of my favorites, for different types of shooting, are Decibullz custom molded in-ear plugs and Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic muffs. Decibullz are more than adequate for rimfire shooting, but if it’s range day with centerfire magnum rounds, I’ll use both, with ear plugs in place beneath the muffs.
- Eye Protection: Hearing protection seems like a no-brainer in the shooting world, but eye pro should be as well. Clear safety glasses with impact resistant lenses are affordable and will offer defense against any number of range dangers. Many hardcore shooters have individual favorites, with plenty of solid options for both prescription lenses and sunglasses with ANSI impact resistance. One of my personal go-to choices comes from Gatorz glasses, made in the USA with a myriad options and styles for shooters, made to hug more tightly to the face with a wraparound dynamic.
Rifles and Handguns, Oh My
The best part of any range day is pulling those beloved guns from their cases, and here are the trio upon which I rested my day of pleasure on the range.
- Savage A17: Semiautomatic rimfire rifles are always a treat, but few as much so as Savage’s A17. This is one of the only successful such actions to cleanly cycle the hotter .17 HMR round with its delayed blowback action. The .17 not only extends the rimfire’s range, but adds knockdown power as well and does so without sacrificing a bit of accuracy. Our Laminate Thumbhole Target version is a fantastic gun, but there are a number of not only other A17 models, but A22’s as well for those who prefer either the LR or WMR.
- Ruger Wrangler: The new-for-2019 Wrangler borrows solid features from Ruger’s beloved Single Six and makes a few changes that allow the new six-shooter to hit the market with an MSRP of only $249. Available in a trio of Cerakote colors, these single action revolvers are an ideal, American-made entry point into the rimfire handgun realm and make a welcome addition to any rimfire plinking day. A transfer bar safety adds an extra measure of security, while the American-made nature of the Wrangler is instantly appealing.
- Henry Frontier: The Made-in-America-or-Not-Made-at-All Henry Repeating Arms rifles are pleasers in most any form, but we especially adore the Frontier model. This particular version is the suppressor-ready, threaded, octagon-barreled, abbreviated tube version. One thing they all share in common is Henry’s smooth lever action and easy accuracy with the semi-buckhorn rear sight. Any Henry rimfire will contribute to plinking paradise.
If you’d like to have a go with any of the guns I enjoyed here, each of these firearms is available in multiple variations via the Guns.com Vault, along with hundreds of other rimfire platforms sure to find a welcome home on your own rimfire range.
A Variety of Targets
Plain old paper targets are fine, but using a variety of targets will spice up that hard-earned day at the shooting range. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. The best paper targets allow an easy visual color-change of the hit, so there’s no need to run up and down the range. Others mimic animal vitals or even games like Battleship or HORSE for some friendly competition. Keep an eye on GDC as we delve more deeply into creating your own home range in the near future.
Visual targets are fine, but shooting steel adds the audible component, that satisfaction of lead ringing metal. Champion offers a full line of AR500 Steel targets, from the self-standing system we used assembled with the shooter’s own 2×4 board. Likewise, a dueling tree always seems to draw friendly competition on the range, which in turns builds skill. If you’re looking for another addition to the range repertoire, consider self-healing targets. We enjoy Birchwood Casey’s Ground Strike Prairie Chuck, with its spring loaded base and re-sealing body, that baby is good for hundreds of rounds. It appeals at once to kids and kids-at-heart.
Ammo, and Lots of It
Rimfire rounds are more accessible now than in the recent past, with store shelves stacked with options. Whether you’ve opted for the old standby Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, the more obscure 5mm Rem Mag, or the zippy .17 HMR, the most important factor is always bringing enough ammo. Nobody wants to be the faux pas guy who runs out of gun food in the middle of a sweet range session.
When I’m preparing for hunting, it’s hard to beat Federal Premium Hunter Match. Shooting for groups often favors Aguila’s full lineup of .22 LR rounds, which cover everything from ultra-quiet Calibri’s to the hotter, heavier Match-grade, in addition to the new run of 5mm Magnum. In the .17 HMR milieu, my Savage eats anything but especially seems to love CCI, Federal, and Norma.
For a nice “go big or go home” attitude, consider buying bulk rimfire ammunition with something like Federal’s BYOB (that’s Bring Your Own Bucket/Bottle) of .22 LR, WMR, or .17 HMR in sharing-sized canisters. Your range buddies are sure to shoot with you again.
See You on the Range
Regardless of your choice of rimfire caliber, rifle or handgun, bolt action, semi auto, revolver or pistol, the bottom line remains the same. Firing rimfires and plinking can be at once relaxing and challenging, enjoyable and engaging for solo shooters or the whole family. Perhaps the greatest thing about rimfire plinking is the door it opens to not only the pure pleasure of shooting, but also its larger implications for training, trigger control, accuracy practice, and honing hunting skills.