It’s the last one that I would hope saw the most use, so it’s that one I’m going to concentrate on to start with in this entry. It should come as no surprise that I chose the Ruger 10/22 as my utility rifle. Since it was introduced in 1964, over five million have been made. It’s light, handles like a dream out of the box and has negligible recoil, plus, when you can find it, .22 ammo is dirt cheap. The 10/22 is also infinitely customizable, and it’s a good gun to pick up without breaking your budget, which is the primary reason Dave has one, since I wanted his preparations to be accessible to almost anyone. To that end, Dave’s Ruger only has a couple of after-market modifications, specifically, a Tactical Solutions Magazine Release and a Simmons .22 Mag Series scope. Both of these items cost under $50, and the rifle itself can run between $200-300 depending on which one you get and who you buy it from. Extra magazines from Ruger can be ordered for about $20 each. All told, you could put together a pretty decent kit over time for under $500, with the biggest single expense being the rifle itself. Dave bought the rifle first with his tax returns, then got the extra magazines before moving on to the scope and finally the quick release for the magazines.
The 10/22 is a great utility rifle. At close range, a 40 grain .22 round will drop most small game. It will also hurt most people pretty effectively if you have no other weapon for self-defense, through it’s not a man stopper. However, even from a pistol, .22 LR will penetrate through at least two standard walls (four layers of sheetrock), so you still want to be sure of your target and what is behind it if you’re shooting inside. So in a pinch, if you can only get out with one gun, the Ruger 10/22 is not a bad choice. Within 100 yards, it can penetrate pretty effectively though shot placement would be critical in a self-defense situation, and it can drop most small to medium game within about 200 yards if you need it to. It’s also light and durable, so if you have a long way to go, it won’t weigh you down so badly, especially since .22 ammo is so damn light and cheap.
Also, since it's a semiauto rifle, you can put rounds downrange faster than a bolt action, and with its almost non-existent recoil, you can acquire targets pretty easily. Good for handling a group of zombies at a distance.
But What about Zombies?
That question came up from more than one beta reader. Again, shot placement is critical. In talking to Lee Close, I was quickly disabused of the notion that “headshot” equals the forehead. In fact, aiming above the eyebrows quickly became something I wanted to actively avoid. The forehead is pretty much the thickest part of the human skull, so if you’re looking for a place to bounce small caliber rounds off of, that’s the spot to aim for. But, the brain is a pretty big organ and if you really want to give a zombie a fatal dose of small caliber lead poisoning, aim for the face.
Here’s why. If you put your sights on a zombie’s nose, even if you miss by even a couple of inches, you’re going to hit them either in the eye, the cheek or the mouth. While there are some pretty thick pieces of bone there, a big chunk of that area is empty space, especially the nasal cavities and eye sockets. And if you do happen to hit the nose…nothing but cartilage there. This is how Dave drops a big group of zombies with a Ruger 10/22.
If a zombie does give you a profile shot, aim for the ear. It’s center mass and it’s hard to go wrong with if you’re off by an inch or three. If by some strange happenstance, the walking dead folks are facing away from you and all you have is a small caliber target and varmint rifle…don’t fix that happy circumstance by letting them know you’re there and not dead.
That being said, ammo choice is also pretty important. 40 grain rounds seem to be the best combo of weight and velocity. lighter rounds are too likely to either not hit hard enough or get blown off target by wind. Too heavy, and you lose range and speed. Personally, I'd go for Velocitor rounds.
So, if you have to pick one gun for your survival prep, you can't go too far wrong with the Ruger 10/22.