I train with a 22LR firearm, because that is the firearm I intend to go to when I need to survive. When size and weight constraints will most likely apply, the 22LR is slightly lighter in weight and less than half the size of the .223. A federal bulk-pack .22LR HP round is 1/8oz, and 20mm long. A .223 round is 3/8oz and 53mm long. Not a huge difference in weight. But a significant difference in length. I am a 22LR enthusiast. I believe the cartridge is a great one. And in certain firearms, it can be almost flawless. The 22LR is a short range round. It is not going to reach out and touch a target at 200yds, typically. However under the right conditions it can still be amazing.
The truth is that whatever you are training with, is the way that you will go when the going gets rough. For some that will be a shotgun, an AR or an AK. Never think for a second that you are going to spend all you time on your 9 or 45 and then grab the shotgun and do just fine. You’ve got to be realistic about your trigger time. Bottom line, know what you are going to survive with and know it well and when possible, keep it simple. A simple firearm is easy to maintain when times are tough and parts are scarce. Never be shamed into using a firearm just because it is all the rage. I train with a Smith and Wesson 15-22. This is S&W’s 22LR offering of the AR-15 configuration. This rifle is tons of fun!
Finding Your Platform
Before I purchased the 15-22, I often shot a Ruger 10/22 with a Tapco stock. After I bought the 15-22, I may have shot the 10/22 once… just once. When I pick up this rifle I get all giddy like a kid. This is honestly how I felt when I shot it. I digress. The reason I use this firearm is because it is setup like my AR-15 and is a fraction of the cost to shoot. The platform is the one I know, I am comfortable with and I surely will go to time and time again. I repeat, it is the one I am comfortable with. I do not propose that this is the best platform or the suggested platform. This is simply what works for me… for now. In the beginning I said that I would go to the 22LR for reasons of portability. I can defend with it if needed and hunt small game with it as well. The fact of the matter is that this rifle is an AR platform and that is a plentiful rife. I could pick up and AR in a TEOTWAWKI situation and carry on. So for now the AR is my platform of choice. That could change in a month… honestly.
Range time should be 30% of your practice time, the other 70% should be dry fire practice. Now there is a potential of damage to the firing pin on a 22LR when dry fired. I suggest the use of snap caps when you are dry firing. If your are practicing with a center fired firearm, have at it. I can tell you that when I first heard the 70/30 rule I was skeptical. That is until I made a visit to the range after some significant time with my Glock17. Holy crap! My shooting improved tremendously. Now I almost prefer to dry fire. I became so comfortable in my dry fire practice that the firearm felt as comfortable as the steering wheel in my car. On the range I did not think as much, I just responded to the target in front of me. I placed my shots where I wanted to and was very satisfied with the results.
Practice, practice, practice. Train 70/30, pick your platform or firearms of choice and practice off the range until you are as comfortable with the firearm as you are in the shower (when was the last time you had to think about how to wash yourself?). Remember to practice safely. Never allow any ammunition near you when you are practicing. Ammunition is only for the range and defensive situations.