Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Browning Buckmark .22LR Pistol

As an avid shooter who has been sending lead downrange since I was strong enough to lift a weapon, .22's have always held a special place for me. I began with .22s, specifically a Winchester single shot rifle. It taught me to focus my skills and technique, and as I grew older I was able to apply this to my centerfire rifles.
.22s have always had a special place in my heart because I have many great memories of childhood associated with them. And with the economy being as it is, and my cash being scarce like so many of us, .22s have returned to the forefront of my shooting hobbies, due to price of ammo, and just for the happiness and nostalgia they bring me.
As of late, I had been considering a larger framed .22 pistol to add to my collection. I have had a Walther P22 for several years, and while it has been an enjoyable piece to shoot, it's frame is rather small for my larger hands. I have had quite a bit of experience with the Ruger MKIII Hunter, which my brother in law owns, and it has been an excellent weapon, and it was in contention for purchase.
The drawback for me, was the complicated process of breaking down the MKIII for cleaning.
My brother in law, has simply stopped taking his apart, and only does a basic cleanup.
With enough practice and the proper information, I'm sure that it becomes easier to disassemble, but in a situation where I may have to hand it off to someone who has less experience in it's operation, it could be a problem.
So, in looking for an alternative, I turned to The Browning Buckmark.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this excellent design, here is a brief run down.
The Buckmark's production began in 1985 when it replaced Browning's older .22LR pistol designs, the Challenger and the International.

It is a simple blowback action, with a ten round magazine capacity just like the Ruger MKIII. It is available in various configurations, from bull barrels, to models with scope rails which allow for the mounting of red dot optics (which can be added very easily),wooden grips, rubber grips, standard iron sights, or in my case front fiber optic sights.
After weighing in my options, I decided that the Buckmark was right for me.
So, after selling a Draco AK pistol that was completely useless to me, I went to see a local dealer that I had struck a good re pore with. And for $325 and some change, I walked out the door with a new Browning BuckMark Camper model with front fiber optic sight (green version).

I stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up a box of the Winchester 333 bulk .22, just to break it in. This is cheap ammo, and I had no expectations of its quality, and having shot it through my Walther P22 and having a shooting session full of jams, FTFs, and all manner of issues, I had very little hope of it feeding well in the new Browning.
Much to my surprise, the Browning ate every single round of the 333 box without one hiccup.
I was pleasantly surprised by this. The rubber grips felt like they were made for my hand. I found the controls to be very intuitive, easy to access, the magazine is a breeze to load, and as a guy who is learning to shoot left handed due to some recently developed eyesight issues, I found shooting left handed and switching was good as well. The green fiber optic on the front was great for quick acquisition, and the weight of the weapon felt meaty, but not overly bulky.
That afternoon, a buddy of mine came over for some .22 shooting and I decided to try some of the Federal Value Pack .22, which is the cheap, 36 grain bulk ammo...similar to the Winchester I had shot earlier in the week. At 35 yards my groups were perfectly acceptable to me, considering the cheapness of the ammo I was using. This was a quick acquisition group, drawing the weapon, acquiring the target; the one flier out to the side was due to me pulling it.

We started ringing my steel plate at about 50 yards and it was a true joy to shoot.
After about round 600 or 650 she gave me the first hiccup, but a quick field cleaning, with some Hoppes got her through the rest of the session without a hitch. The Walther was getting very jealous of the Browning, I can assure you.
Along with a Ruger 10/22, this Browning Buckmark is quickly becoming my go-to gun for practice and fun plinking. As far as a precision test of the Browning, I hope to pick up some CCI ammo this week, to just see what this little firecracker can do with some high end ammunition through it.
I give the Browning Buckmark high marks for it's ergonomics, it's accuracy, it's size and weight, and decent price. It is an excellent target pistol, great for plinking, small game hunting if paired with a good optic, and fantastic for introducing new shooters to pistols.
Downsides? Well, it would have been nice if it had came with 2 magazines instead of 1. But that is becoming par for the course with most manufacturers these days.
Happy shooting.

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