Friday, May 8, 2009

Flirting with .22 Magnum pistols, for fun or seriously?

I'm such a twit. When it comes to pistols I'm still a kid at heart, or more accurately a raging-hormone teenager with a head that's easily turned.

Such is the case of my latest would-be sweetheart, a Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum 7-shot Revolver with a beautiful set of wood grips.

I listed one on gunbroker today for the gun shop where I'm working and it stole my heart. Again.

It's a bit pricey, $600, but it just so happens that's there one at the shop in like-new condition that someone traded in just the other day that's priced a bit lower than that and maybe it will fit into my light-carry handgun plans.

I've been fond of .22 Magnum since Hector was a pup and I was, too. I bought a Winchester 94 .22 Magnum lever-action rifle some 30 years ago or more and like a fool I traded it away for something foolish. At least I still have the Ithaca Model 37 12 Gauge pump shotgun I got for it.

I needed a hunting shotgun at the time more than I needed a plinking rifle, or so I thought, and it must not have been a totally bad idea as I've quit hunting now but my Ithaca is enjoying a second career with a shortened 18.5" barrel as my home-defense riot gun.

I had a second fling with .22 Magnum more recently when I ran across an AMT AutoMag II semi-auto pistol in a local gunshop. I'd been wanting one for years and hadn't took seriously some tales I'd heard about the AMT's being jam-a-matics.

I bought it and then I found out how they earned that reputation. There's a good reason that .22 Magnum semi-automatic pistols aren't widely manufactured and the AMTs are exhibit no. 1. The engineering problems are hard to overcome and the one I briefly owned was not an overcomer.

The one I had was a very-hard-to-find 4" barrel model, center in the bottom photo, shown with my currently owned Steyr M357-A1 .357 Sig pistol and my formerly owned S&W 1076 10mm pistol.

I tried every type of .22 Magnum ammo I could find in that AMT AutoMag II and it didn't like any of them. Best it ever did was cycle two out of 10 shots without jamming. Not good.

I traded it back to the local dealer where I got it and moved on. But that S&W 351PD may be more than just a passing fancy. It only weighs 10.5 oz. and though it is hardly serious enough for a main carry, I think it is serious enough for a back-up carry. Since I took the job at the gun store, I've gotten very serious about carry, always toting a main and a backup piece to work.

Gun stores and cop bars are probably the two worst places in the universe to try to rob because almost everybody in both places will be armed and ready to respond vigorously. But crooks aren't rocket scientists in the first place or they wouldn't be trying to rob places. So as the military experts say, plan for what can happen, not just what you think may happen.

Or as gun writer Clint Smth puts it, one gun equals no gun if it fails, so two guns equals at least one. As another gun writer I like, Massad Ayoob puts it, I think I'll carry one semi-auto and one revolver on the theory that St. Peter will surely smile on Jeff Cooper and Bill Jordan.

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