am often asked what my choice would be if limited to but one
handgun. Usually these type questions are only an exercise of
the mind, as no sane person would purposely impose a limit upon
himself of only one handgun. Normally, I try to avoid the
question by qualifying the role which that handgun must fill.
For any given purpose, there are some choices that would serve
much better than others. However, if cornered into actually
answering the question, and if I truly could have but one
handgun, I would choose a twenty-two rimfire of some type.
most purposes, a number of other handguns would be better than a
twenty-two. For defense against large animals, a big bore
revolver loaded with heavy cast bullets would be much better.
For social work, a center-fire semi-auto could better fill the
bill. For hunting deer and other medium to large game, a good
forty-four magnum would be as good as anything. However,
these handguns can be, if necessary, replaced by a good rifle.
Most people can shoot a rifle more accurately than they can a
handgun, and I find that I usually carry a handgun while hunting
in addition to, rather than in place of, a rifle. For general
use as a second firearm, a good twenty-two is very useful. The
little cartridges seem to kill very efficiently; all out of
proportion to their small size. Many hunters carry a twenty-two
for a close up finishing shot, or to collect small game while on
a big game hunt.
social work, the twenty-two rimfire would be almost no one’s
first choice, but it has in the past and certainly will continue
to be used for defense when necessary.
of the best, and probably the most popular, use for the
twenty-two is just plain old fun. While thousands of rounds of
twenty-two cartridges are expended annually for serious target
work, millions are fired at targets of opportunity just for the
pleasure of plinking. The cartridges and the guns are relatively
inexpensive, and the recoil and noise are almost nonexistent. I
believe the twenty-two long rifle cartridge to be one of the
most useful ever invented, and if forced to choose but one
handgun, it would be chambered for that little round.
have several favorites when it comes to twenty-two handguns, and
choosing between them would be more difficult than choosing the
hypothetical "one handgun" cartridge. The market is
saturated with good twenty-two pistols and revolvers, and I own
my share of them. One of my favorites, and the most popular
twenty-two pistol on the market, is the Ruger semi-auto
in its many various forms. For over fifty years, Ruger has
built one of the most reliable, accurate, and durable little
pistols ever made.
Tactical Solutions in Boise, Idaho has brought to market
one of the finest improvements to the Ruger auto that I have
ever seen. While I love my Mark II Target pistol, it doesn’t
get carried by me very often due to the weight of the pistol.
Tactical Solutions has started cranking out high quality,
lightweight, and very accurate replacement barrels for the Ruger
auto. This is one of those ideas that is simple, but way
overdue. The addition of their Pac-Lite barrel to a Ruger auto
does wonders for the handling and packing qualities of the
usually sacrifice some accuracy when carrying a twenty-two
pistol afield by leaving my Mark II at home and carrying my old
Colt Huntsman instead. While the Colt will not shoot as well
as the Ruger, it weighs a good half pound less, and that makes a
difference when packing the gun all day.
Pac-Lite replacement barrels are made of aluminum alloy, and
have a steel barrel liner. This allows a weight savings of about
three-quarters of a pound using equal barrel lengths. The
Pac-Lite six inch bull unit weighs almost thirteen ounces less
than the Ruger five and one-half inch target barrel, and six
ounces less than the Ruger tapered four inch fixed-sight unit.
Solutions recently sent to me three units for testing, all with
bull barrels, in lengths of three, six, and eight-and-one-half
Pac-Lite barrels are not screwed to a receiver as are the Ruger
factory units. The Pac-Lite barrel and receiver are machined as
a unit from a single length of alloy. The Pac-Lite comes with
sights and ejector already installed, and swapping it for the
factory barrel is a simple procedure. The Pac-Lite comes with
detailed instructions, and if you can field strip a Ruger auto
for cleaning, you can easily install the new barrel in about two
the Pac-Lite barrels are beautifully machined and finished, the
proof, as always, is in the shooting. I assembled the three
units sent onto three different Ruger lower frames. First, I
used a Ruger Mark II Target model that has a Clark trigger
installed. This is one of the best-shooting twenty-twos that I
have ever fired, including several high-dollar full blown target
autos. The second gun that I used was an unfired fiftieth
anniversary Mark II auto. The other gun that I used for a
test bed is a vintage 1949 Standard Auto, commonly referred to
as the Red Eagle. This gave me a good variation of Ruger
autos spanning fifty years of manufacture.
the Pac-Lite barrels revealed that while the fit was snug, they
slid right on to the lowers with just a little effort. I applied
a bit of grease to the connecting surfaces, and lightly tapped
the barrels in place with a wooden handle.
I proceeded with function testing, firing many different brands
of ammunition through the three guns. I used standard velocity
target ammo, high velocity hollow points, subsonic loads,
hyper-velocity truncated cone ammunition, and everything else
that I could scramble together. All three of the guns performed
flawlessly, so I switched the barrels onto different lowers and
started over again. As before, the guns functioned perfectly.
This is a stunning testimony to the basic Ruger design and to
the production of the upper barrel assemblies by Tactical
Solutions. I was really a bit surprised that all three brand new
units worked perfectly on the three guns.
accuracy of the Pac-Lite barrels was also a pleasant surprise.
As can be seen in the photos, the performance was very
satisfactory. Using a rest and the six inch barrel with open
sights, most ammo grouped into less than one inch at twenty-five
yards. Using the eight and one-half inch barreled gun with a
two-power scope, I was able to cut the size of those groups in
half. Moving out to fifty yards and using a more powerful scope,
I got several groups in the half-inch range, despite a strong
crosswind. While the three inch gun could theoretically be just
as accurate, I used it only for some plinking at small rocks and
a steel plate. To me, it is shorter than I like on a full sized
twenty-two, and I greatly prefer the two longer barreled units.
the course of running in excess of several hundred rounds of
ammunition through the guns, I developed a preference for the
six inch barreled unit for a general duty packing gun. While it
closely resembles the size of my Mark II Target pistol, it
weighs twelve ounces less with a barrel that is one-half inch
longer. The balance of the gun is dramatically changed, and it
handles much better than before. The fluted bull barrel seems to
float in front of the gun. It points naturally, and balances
perfectly, with the balance point just behind the trigger.
a dedicated hunting twenty-two, I have dubbed the eight and
one-half inch scope sighted gun the "Squirrel Getter
Supreme". It is a good balance of barrel length, bulk, and
shootability. It is a very accurate pistol, and would serve
equally well as a rimfire silhouette pistol. Federal hollow
point ammunition chronographed in excess of 1250 feet-per-second
out of the long barrel, and grouped into three-quarters of an
inch at fifty yards. I can think of no better handgun for
hunting tree squirrels.
Solutions has come up with a great product in these Pac-Lite
barrels. As can be seen in the photos, they also offer them in
several unique colors. While I prefer the black barrel, there
are several choices available for those who like a little wilder
look to their auto pistols. The fluting on the bull barrels is
superbly executed, and offers a nice cosmetic touch while
further reducing the weight without sacrificing rigidity. The
scope mount does not interfere with the use of the open sights
with the scope removed, and offers a solid base for which to
secure a scope or dot sight. I mounted a Trijicon dot to
the long barreled unit, and it made for a very shootable
a barrel and receiver unit, the Pac-Lite is defined for legal
purposes a handgun, and must be purchased as such. For a
look at the many variations and a list of dealers who sell the
Pac-Lite, check them out online at: www.tacticalsol.com.
your favorite dealer is not listed, he should be. Tell him to
contact Tactical Solutions.
back to the question posed in the opening paragraph of this
article, I would hate to have to choose but one handgun for all
my needs. However, if forced to do so, I now have a new answer.
It would be a Ruger .22 Target automatic with a six-inch
like it that much, and I highly recommend it.
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