12 November 2022

Gun Idea - Let's Combine All the Things I Like; AKA My Dream Plinker

 A lever action 22 LR rifle with a short barrel and threads for a silencer. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not exactly. There's a reason the only commercially sold lever action 22 with a threaded barrel has a 24 inch barrel. 

Henry has been making their lever action 22, the H001, since 1996 according to their website. They have had several versions of the basic design but none had threaded barrels until the Frontier Threaded came out. There's actually a good reason for that. The magazine tube on the Henry classic lever action design, is removed from the muzzle end of the gun. Most silencers are wider than the barrel of most guns preventing clearance of removable magazine tubes that sit immediately below the barrel. Guns with larger rimfire and centerfire cartridges can use a side gate for loading negating the need for a removable tube but the smaller .22 rimfire seem to make that difficult. I think I've only ever seen one side gate 22 rifle design ever meaning most designs make use of the removable tube design where cartridges are loaded from the front of the gun. The system works great but if you want to use a silencer, you need to make some changes. The Henry Frontier Threaded uses a long, 24 inch barrel and a short 10 round magazine tube to guarantee the mag tube will clear the silencer. I've seen where folks will use a narrower silencer and push the magazine tube down further to clear but this looks bad. 

Here's a YT video of a 12 inch Henry 22 lever action. Perfect size!

Why Though?

Because .22 LR is about as cheap as ammo gets, because putting silencers on guns makes them more enjoyable to shoot and because lever action is pure Americana fun, this idea gives you a cheap-to-shoot, lightweight rifle for small game hunting and recreational pleasure that's quiet and does that in an aesthetic that's American and with a manual of arms that I believe is just fun. Suppressed, lever action rifle in .22 LR. But how can I have my cake and eat it too?

The Booty Tube

That's a terrible name. What I mean is, use a magazine tube that's housed inside the stock instead of under the barrel. This is not a new idea as the system has been found in numerous guns with a few notable examples such as the Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles, the Spencer repeating rifle and Browning's SA-22. The booty tube, in my idea, would allow you to have any silencer you'd like whether it be integral to the barrel or muzzle-mounted since the magazine tube is no longer under the barrel. This system allows you to make use of a lever action system which for me is chosen purely for fun and enjoyment reasons. There are no realistic reasons to chose lever action over bolt or pump or semi but I love me some Americana and the lever action system is just pure fun. 

While it would be possible to use a detachable box magazine such as in the Ruger 10/22, the width of the rifle's footprint would likely be wider than the svelte lever action 22's we currently have. A longer box magazine of similar capacity runs into the issue of length where, like on the Henry Long Ranger, the lever will run into the magazine. That's why you can't have a 10 round magazine on the Long Ranger by the way. You could probably have a shorter lever stroke but in the end, the longer magazine protruding from the body kills the classic rifle aesthetic. Simply put, I would like to have a lever action version of the Browning SA-22 or a Spencer carbine in .22 LR with a shorter, threaded barrel. I'm thinking 12 inches. 

There is another

Well, sort of. A long time ago, in a galaxy probably up in Connecticut, Ruger made a rifle that can do most of what I want. They called it the Model 96. The Model 96 is suspiciously similar to a 10/22 but instead of being semi-auto, it was lever action. Everything else is pretty much 10/22. Even the magazines and barrel were from the 10/22. While in my idea, I was hoping for something more classic like the traditional Henry or maybe even more traditional like a Spencer carbine, a lever action 10/22 might could fit the bill. Sadly, Ruger stopped making them long ago. 

If I really want to scratch this itch, I'm limited to either a long barrel Henry H001TSPR or find a used Ruger 96 and modify the barrel. Given the barrel options, a used 96 that's been customized meets the mechanical idea what I want but just doesn't have that same visual look as a classic lever action and the Henry is just so long. If Henry, Browning or Chiappa were to combine any number of existing systems into existing lever action foot prints, I wager you'd have a very clever, lever action .22 perfect for hosting a silencer. Henry would likely have to completely redesign the action to use any rear feed system based on what I've seen of my H001. Browning already has a rear feed system in the SA-22 but also has a lever action 22. The patents and ideas are there in-house already, they just needed combined. Chiappa, interestingly, makes Spencer rifles in centerfire calibers and does make a lever action 22 but not the Spencer rifle. If Chiappa opted to make a 22 LR version of the Spencer, we might have a close winner even if it doesn't exactly look like a traditional lever action. But then I found something. Winchester made a rifle called the 63. It's a semi-auto .22 with a receiver that looks the part of the traditional lever action. I want a SBR Winchester 63 with a lever action system instead of a semi-auto.

Update 31 JAN: While hunting around on the internet, I learned about a sub-variant of what I think is one of the worst abominations ever, the Mossberg 464 SPX. The SPX is a "tacti-cool" version of the lever action 464. The SPX does have a threaded barrel. I found out that Mossberg made a .22 LR version with at 16 inch barrel. It has 1/2x28 threads but they don't making them any more. I'm thinking about hunting down a used .22 LR version and replacing the plastic parts with wood for this build. 

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