Finding Outside-the-Box Alternatives to .22 LR During an Ammo Shortage

Category: Strategy

ammo shortage .17 HMR
The .17 Mach 2 uses the same bullets as the .17 HMR – a good solution to that ammo shortage. IMG David Lapell

U.S.A. -( With all the speculation and the ruling party of Democrats seeing bloodlust towards stripping gun owners of their rights these days, the ammo shortage we’ve been seeing not only shows any signs of letting up, but there’s the likelihood that it’s going to get worse. The local gun shops I visit, usually a couple of times a week have next to nothing, and when some ammunition does trickle in, a few boxes at a time, within a couple of days it’s all gone again. I’ve been in one shop after another when someone comes in and asks for this caliber or that, only to leave disappointed because what they seek is as hard to come by as it is to change lead to gold.

As someone who collects and shoots what many would consider an obsolete caliber (as long as they can do the job, they’re far from obsolete I find), it’s been my experience that sometimes it’s best to find an alternative to what is trendy or popular and not just during an ammo shortage. Can’t find that 6.5 Creedmoor? Well, what about 6.5 x 55mm Swedish Mauser? I tend to see boxes of that on the shelves these days, and ballistically speaking, the two calibers are so close to each other, that if you were to hunt whitetail deer, the deer sure wouldn’t know the difference.

What about milsurp rounds during an ammo shortage? Can’t find 7mm-08, how about 7 x 57mm Mauser? It’s one of the best hunting and military bolt action rounds you can ask for and again, I seem to see a lot of it lying around, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest. I can tell you that right now since it doesn’t look like our ammunition crisis will be solved anytime in the near or even the foreseeable future everyone needs to start thinking outside of the box.

Right now, as many shooters know, .22 Long Rifle has got to be one of the hardest if not the hardest caliber to get your hands on, at least in any great numbers. So instead of trying to track down non-existent ammunition, or spending your kid’s college fund online paying outrageously high prices, I can tell you there are some alternatives out there.

A couple of months ago, I ran across a gun that before last year and the ammo shortage that came along with it, I wouldn’t have even given a second thought. It is an H & R Sportster single shot in .17 Mach 2. The .17 Mach 2 caliber has had a bit of a rough life since it was introduced in 2004, mainly since it seems that most can’t figure out what the round should be used for. The .17 Mach 2 was a .22 LR Stinger case necked down to take a .17 round that weighs 17 grains and gets an advertised velocity of 2,100 fps from a 24-inch barrel. Some have criticized it as being a round without a home, too small for most varmints, and too much on game like squirrels unless, by way of a head shot, it’s been deemed more of a specialist’s gun, but whatever you call it, it’s a lot easier to come by in most places right now than .22 Long Rifle ammunition.

.22 Long Rifle next to .17 Mach 2.
.22 Long Rifle next to .17 Mach 2.
The H & R Sportster .17 Mach 2 is an alternative to hard to find .22 Long Rifle during a shortage. IMG David Lapell

After taking my .17 Mach 2 to the range, I found that it quickly at 50 yards proved to be very accurate, and that was shooting it off the Caldwell bipod, not even off a bench. The trigger on the H & R Sportster isn’t exactly as smooth as I would like it to be, but it’s pretty good for what you’re getting. I can say that as long as the shooter does their part, putting in a headshot on a squirrel and a woodchuck within reason is certainly going to do the job.

But what if you do have your heart set on a .22 Long Rifle during a 22 ammo shortage, but can’t find a Ruger 10/22 or one of those other semi-auto rifles right now because they’re in demand. Might I recommend one of the best semi-auto .22’s ever conceived of, designed by the legendary John Browning, the Browning SA-22, or Remington Model 24.

Designed in 1914 the Browning SA-22 was first made in Belgium and was also the first-ever semi-automatic in .22 Long Rifle. The gun loads from a tube magazine in the buttstock and holds eleven rounds and sixteen when chambered in .22 Short, and ejects from the bottom, making it great for both left- or right-hand shooters. The Browning version is still in production to this day, although after 1973 the guns started to be made in Japan by Miroku. The Remington Model 24, essentially an identical copy except that the earliest Browning versions had the loading port on the top of the buttstock which was later moved to the right side.

The Remington 24 was first introduced in 1922 and like the Browning, it came in both .22 LR and .22 Short although you cannot shoot both out of the same gun. It didn’t enjoy the long life the Browning SA-22 has and was only produced until 1935 and Remington brought out the Model 241 which was a larger version of the Model 24. Again, you can get the gun in either .22 Long Rifle or .22 Short. The Model 241 was discontinued in 1951.

ammo shortage Remington carbine
The Remington Model 24 is one of the most successful .22 rifles ever made. IMG David Lapell

I picked up a Remington Model 24 not that long ago, it was sitting on the shelf at the local gun shop for several months, and the shop owners had even recommended it to a couple of people when they couldn’t get another semi-auto .22 that they wanted. The big turn-off was the tubular magazine in the buttstock. Even the Remington rifle’s ability to be taken down easily wasn’t enough to sell it. So, away it went. I see Remington 24’s and 241’s online quite often without anyone paying much attention to them.

ammo shortage Remington carbine
Taken down the Remington 24 makes it very compact and easy to transport. IMG David Lapell

I went to the range with a box of Eley .22 LR ammo and found that the Remington 24’s reputation for reliability and accuracy is well deserved. Every round cycled and ejected perfectly and at 30 yards with just a simple cardboard silhouette an entire magazine full grouped in a couple of inches with the open sights. The trigger is excellent and the Model 24 weighs a whopping five pounds. When taken down the Model 24 can fit into a small bag or gun case and makes a great little rifle for camping or hunting.

ammo shortage Remington carbine
The Remington functioned flawlessly and grouped well at 30 yards. IMG David Lapell

With the shortage of ammunition and guns right now showing no signs of slowing down and with any pending legislation from Washington likely to spur on more panic buying and with-it price gouging and all the headaches that come with it, you need to think outside of the box for the time being. Don’t be constrained by what guns are the most popular right now, others can do the same job, you might never have heard of them before. If when you are at the gun shop trying to find ammo for the gun you have, but instead see a stack of ammunition that never disappears, look into that caliber and see if it fits your needs. Just like guns, some calibers can do the same job as those that are popular, they just might not be the most common or even “trendy” right now. Don’t pass them up simply because you’re not familiar with them. In tough times, you have to change your thinking to adapt so that you don’t get left with an empty safe or without a gun entirely.

About David LaPell

David LaPell has been a Corrections Officer with the local Sheriff’s Department for thirteen years. A collector of antique and vintage firearms for over twenty years and an avid hunter. David has been writing articles about firearms, hunting, and western history for ten years. In addition to having a passion for vintage guns, he is also a fan of old trucks and has written articles on those as well.

David LaPell




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