If you spend any time on “prepper” sites, you will soon stumble across forum threads and blog posts pondering the best “survival” firearm/caliber. There is a strong lobby for the humble .22 LR as the ultimate survival round. The arguments are sound, especially when it comes to transporting quantities of ammo. A brick of 300 .22 rounds weighs about the same as a box of 20.30-06.
Some of the advocacy for the .22 oversells its lethality. Yes, the .22 is favored by poachers and gator hunters on TV, and any emergency room doc or cop can tell you stories about a .22 round hitting somebody in the knee and popping out their left ear or something. Fact is, the .22 is a killer — but it’s not a stopper. It’s not going to trump your pistol or centerfire rifle for defense.
That said, I am, myself, most fond of the .22 LR. I love my CZ 452FS (Mannlicher stock) more than anything else I own, save my Breedlove guitar.
Anyway, the .22 lobby gets a boost from the tale of British traveler Peter Fleming (brother of Ian!) who traveled the old Silk Road across Central Asia back in 1935. I found this story on the outstanding Karavansara blog, and you owe it to yourself to head over there and read the whole thing. And everything else.
Seems that Fleming was able to obtain only a .44 Winchester lever-action with ammo so stale it wouldn’t function and a single-shot “rook rifle” in .22 LR. (A rook is a crow; I guess they used ’em to blast the pesky birds). So, Fleming traveled the wilds of Central Asia armed with a .22. Love it.
And, as it happens, the .22 did the job it needed to do — just like modern preppers say it will:
“It was precisely my experience in Brazil that convinced me of the value of a rook-rifle in country where the game has little reason to dread the rare human beings that it sees, and is more puzzled than alarmed by the discreet report of a .22. The first shot from a big rifle or a shotgun is liable both to clear the ground of fauna for some distance and to attract the unwelcome curiosity of the local inhabitants; and shotgun ammunition is, of course, extremely heavy.”
Fleming did not find it necessary to shoot his way out of any tight corners, where the .22 might have proved less than adequate. That, too, is a lesson for the common-sense prepper: Firefights with the natives are to be avoided at virtually all costs.
Rook & Rabbit rifles were quite popular among the English gentleman-adventurer class of the Golden Age, and they could be quite elegant. I mean, look it that will ya? Holland & Holland, no less.
I’m going to lose many an hour — to my profit — at Karavansara: East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai. Clearly, Davide Mana, who operates in Northern Italy, is a kindred spirit:
I’m particularly fond of what I call pulp history – that shady, slightly disreputable portion of our past in which moved adventurers, swashbucklers, globetrotters and other assorted characters.
Yep, that’ll get it. He might as well be describing the slightly disreputable characters who abide here at Frontier Partisans.
He describes himself thus:
By day, I’m a mild-mannered paleontologist and eco-statistics and renewable energy guru, and sometimes lecturer, teacher and translator (anything, to make ends meet).
By night (and on weekends) I turn into an author, writing fantasy and pulp stories, and sometimes essays on wild historical subjects such as explorers, dinosaurs, strange planets and old writers.
I listen to jazz music, read a lot of books, watch old movies and cook – among other things.
He also rocks a fedora.
I discovered Karavansara though a post this morning in honor of the 80th anniversary of the death-by-suicide of Robert E. Howard. Like me, Davide was inspired to write by that badass Texan, who dipped his pen in the fires of Hell.
Howard has been one of the authors that has stayed with me the longest. His work has been an influence, certainly, on my writing and on my desire to write.
I’m adding Karavansara to The Muster. Check it out.