Anyone who has spent much time shooting-and certainly every gunwriter-has been asked "If you could only have one gun, what would it be?"
Twenty years ago when I did my first book Big Bore Sixguns, I turned in my completed manuscript and thought I was finished. However, the editor would not let me get away without answering this question. My answer was to narrow it down to a type--namely a 7-1/2-inch big-bore single-action sixgun with adjustable sights. Some prime examples? The Colt New Frontier in .45 Colt or .44 Special, the Ruger Flat-Top Blackhawk .44 Magnum and the Ruger Old Model .45 Colt. But that was then and it seems like a long time ago, a time when I would be likely to wandering sagebrush, foothills, forests and mountains on a regular basis. But this is now and my top choice is a bit different.
It's hard to argue with a .22 rifle. You can certainly defend hearth and home with a good .22 and also, when off the beaten path, be able to feed yourself. Add to this the fact ammunition (once readily available at very reasonable prices) takes up very little space. A.30 caliber ammo can will hold 3,300+rounds of .22 Long Rifle. The Taffin Tradition since my oldest married in 1981 is to give a .22 rifle as a wedding present. Two grandkids collected last year and another one is scheduled for this year. What could possibly be more relaxing than spending a warm summer afternoon shooting a .22 with family or friends?
The first firearm I ever purchased for myself was a .22 levergun. Now 60 years later the latest is also a .22 levergun, a Henry Repeating Arms .22 Small Game rifle. There are many .22 rifles available, however, if you want a levergun, choices narrow significantly. Browning still offers their slick little BL22 and Marlin at least catalogs a 24-inch barreled Model 39A (which at this writing seems to be unavailable). The first offering is a foreign product imported by Browning while the Marlin, at least when it is produced, is an American product. At one time Winchester offered the high-quality, American-made Model 9422, however, this one is now long gone and only available on the used market. The choice of an American-made levergun comes down to one of the Henry Repeating Arms .22s. Currently, Henry catalogs seven different rimfire versions in .22 Long Rifle, .22 WMR and .17 HMR.
Their Small Game Rifle is, as we have come to expect from Henry, a lever action with a very smooth operation when it comes...