Choosing a .22 For Steel Shooting
I recently got an email asking for my opinion on several .22's for steel shooting at the higher levels of competition. After I finished answering the question, I decided that there are others who might like to read the answers too, so here it is. Please note that I am only discussing specific models, and there are other good .22 out there too.
You question regarding .22's is a good one, and there is no simple answer. Not one the top shooters are shooting 22's that are not carefully tuned. ALL 22's are sensitive and the most important feature is that they go BANG every time you pull the trigger!
At the very highest levels of competition you see a lot of S&W Model 41's. Personally, I think the High Standard, although often overlooked, is the best available. High Standard is still in production, and parts are available. The entire gun is steel, like the Mod.41. All of the High Standards with the 1911 grip angle are essentially the same inside. Even the 51/2" barrel is very accurate. The trigger is excellent, right out of the box. My High Standards, except for the barrel and sight, are just about stock. I use the Volquartsen extractor, though. After VERY large numbers of rounds fired, the older High Standards can develop frame cracks, but it takes a huge amount of rounds fired to crack one.
I like the Buckmarks, and with very little hand work the trigger can be quite good. the 7075-T6 Al. frame keeps the weight down too. I haven't put a lot of rounds through my Buckmarks, so I don't know how long they will go without wear, but since they are relatively inexpensive, that isn't such an issue.
The Rugers are very popular at the club level, and if you throw enough money and effort at them they can be very good. Using the Volquatrsen trigger group and a Volquartsen or Tactical Solutions barrel and it's a completely different gun.
The Mitchell Arms is basically a High Standard built under license in the 90's and built out of stainless steel. I have never owned one, but I have heard that they had some feed problems, and that quality control varied quite a bit. One would be good, the next one not so good. I would like to get one and try it out. Perhaps some careful tuning and fitting may make it into a very good choice.
The S&W 22A is one I have worked with, and it's not a bad gun at all, but some of the design is a bit flimsy to me. They also are prone to feeding problems, although some redesigned magazines have mostly resolved that. I like the mag release on the 22a. Most rimfire magazine releases are not so convenient.
As to the 22/45 Lite, it's too new to know how well it will stand up. It is similar to the Tactical Solutions barrel and receiver on a Ruger. The TacSol does tend to get beat up a bit where the bolt hits the barrel, but it does seem to stand up fairly well and it sure is light!