Ammo, Mags, & More: Accessorizing for Rimfire Success
While most shooters are not concerned with wearing the right color boots to match their rimfire pistol, what we can all consider is having the proper gear to make an average day of shooting an extraordinary one.
Forward preparation leads to long-term success, and that motto carries over to the simplest tasks – including rimfire plinking, small-bore hunting, and target punching. As we at Guns.com look at everything from high-end rimfire firearms to underrated gems, it's important to focus as well on the accessories that help us find success and happiness while shooting.
Every shooting session should begin with safety at the forefront. Rimfire blasting, albeit generally quieter than its centerfire cohorts, is no exception. No matter the brand or style, pack some quality hearing and eye protection.
Eye Protection: We only get two peepers and taking care of them is an absolute must when shooting. We all need to look for impact resistance, but some of the major players even offer prescription lens options. One of our recent faves is the line of eyewear from Magpul. Also in that range, Leupold and Oakley offer solid, everyday-wear choices. In the more budget-friendly realm, it’s hard to beat the Radians T-85 kit with its interchangeable colored lenses.
Hearing Protection: Too many shooters have sacrificed their ears, but there’s no reason in this day and age with the multitude of modern devices to risk hearing loss. Ear coverage can be as simple as inexpensive plugs all the way to the priciest, noise-canceling, Bluetooth-compatible electronic devices. A few of our recent favorites, for different types of shooting, are Howard Leight Impact Sport or Walker’s Razor electronic noise-canceling muffs in the line of over-the-ear protection. Some of our recent choices for in-ear include Caldwell, Walker’s Game Ear, and Pro Ears.
Get on Target – Lots of Targets
Whether punching paper, spinning metal, or poking holes in reactives, targets represent the receiving end of range time pleasure. The choices are many – plain paper, shoot-and-see style, metal spinner, self-healing, other reactives, or even homemade choices.
We’ve been using the same old – and very well used – small rimfire-rated metal spinner for at least five years. Other than regular coats of paint and the occasional addition of sticky paper targets, these things can take a beating. Just be sure to shoot them from the recommended distance, or beyond, while wearing the aforementioned ear and eye protection.
The nice thing about targets is they needn’t break the bank. Make your own targets out of paper plates or tin cans – just be sure to clean up the carnage. Spending a few bucks on shoot-and-see style targets adds another enjoyable and instantly visible dimension to range day. Younger shooters, and the young at heart, will appreciate game-style targets like Birchwood Casey’s Battleship, Darts, or Chip Shot golf options. Further, those with adhesive backing mean forgetting the stapler won’t matter.
Visual targets are the most common, but ringing steel adds a satisfying charm. SME, Champion, and Caldwell offer affordable and lasting options in the rimfire market. Bear in mind, though, that metal targets intended for the hard-hitting centerfire likely won’t react appropriately when hit by rimfire rounds. Although they lack the “clang,” self-healing reactive targets are a solid buy. We have been enjoying Birchwood Casey’s Ground Strike Prairie Chuck for a few years, with its spring-loaded base and resealing body, while SME offers a healthy number of related choices.
Ammo, Ammo, and More Ammo
While we’re all more than a little frustrated at both the shortage and increasing cost of ammunition in these post-pandemic times, rimfire ammunition is still available at most online retailers and local gun shops.
We’d like to assume every rimfire runs with 100-percent reliability, but the fact of the matter is – especially with semi-automatics – they may perform better with one type of ammunition over another. For that reason, we always like to keep a variety of brands, bullet types, and velocities on hand. Plus, more ammo is never a bad thing, right?
Whether you’ve opted for the old standby .22 Long Rifle, .22 Winchester Magnum, the zippy .17 HMR, or more obscure options like the 5mm Remington Magnum, our motto is “always pack enough ammunition.” Nobody wants to end a pleasurable range day early because somebody didn’t bring enough rounds. Every shooter has his or her own top brands, but we seldom go out rimfire shooting without a few boxes of Federal, CCI, Winchester/Browning, Remington, and their offshoots, though Eley, Aguila, and Lapua may be some of the most underrated among American plinkers.
Going along with the trend of stocking up on ammunition, shooters need some magazines to hold all that loaded gold. If the rimfire firearm requires magazines or speed loaders, one is not enough. Not only can those devices fail, but more often, it’s a sound idea to load additional ones ahead of time. That’s especially true when heading to the range.
For instance, we recently spent a few joyful days with a Guns.com Browning Buck Mark pistol that came with three magazines. We had them all loaded to the max before engaging targets. If finances had afforded, we would have grab even more. The same can also hold true for a revolver. Though less common, rimfire speed loaders can be had for most common models and aid in rapid reloads.
Holsters & Cases
Keeping your firearm – even a rimfire – close at hand is never a bad thing. Depending upon the application, that use may call for a holster or some sort of range case. Whether working around the range, plinking on the range, or hunting small game in the woods, having a quality holster for a rimfire handgun means the piece will be protected and ready when needed. In the case of a rifle, perhaps a scabbard, sock, or zipper case is its range day home.
Those shooters carrying multiple handguns, including rimfires, may appreciate an option like the array of pistol pouches and backpacks from G*Outdoors, Allen, and others. Holsters and cases can be as fancy and expensive or affordable and basic as the shooter desires. We’ve done equally as well with a cheap Uncle Mike’s fabric version as with a custom-made leather rig. Likewise, gun socks represent a solid investment to protect firearms – both long arms and handguns – from the dings, dirt, and damage of a range bag or gun safe.
Rimfire Cleaning Gear
While almost every shooter will – hopefully! – have a respectable supply of firearms cleaning gear, we’ve been surprised by the number who aren’t prepared with a narrow enough diameter tool to clean .17, .20, and .22 caliber rimfires or air rifles.
The majority of universal cleaning kits from most manufacturers will accommodate all chamberings from rimfire to hulky centerfires and shotguns but check the label before purchasing to ensure it will work for those baby rimfires. We generally gravitate to brands like Hoppe’s, Otis, Outers, and Allen, but there are many more quality kits as well. The financial investment is a small one that will pay huge dividends in the long term of keeping that rimfire pistol, revolver, or rifle running well for decades to come.