.22 mag and Long Rifle: The Best of Both Worlds
Montana’s elk season came around once again. As always, Jack was hunting north of Whitefish about five miles from the western boundary of Glacier National Park. This was Jack’s “honey-hole” for big elk. Jack, being a born and raised resident of Montana, enjoyed the deep woods and mountains of his home state. He loved hunting big game as well as game birds. It is a good year when he can fill the two deep freezers with elk, deer and game birds.
Jack’s honey-hole was six miles from the nearest public road. As he always did, he traveled all but four miles with his GMC 4X4 pickup and trailer. In a nice green meadow, Jack then offloaded his Honda Pioneer 500 and four-wheeled the rest of the way. Once in his hunting area, he would set up camp in the same area as previous years. He preferred his back against a very thick stand of peach leaf willows. In this way, he only had to keep an eye on what was in front of him. After all, this was black bear country as well as grizzly. Grizzly males often wondered off of the Park looking for romance or solitude after being run out by a younger and stronger male. Even so, in all of his years of hunting, Jack has only seen one grizzly, and this grizzly was happily well over a mile away in a deep valley.
Jack set up camp as he always did. On Brutus, Jack’s name for the Honda Pioneer, he had plenty of water and supplies and emergency gear. For the first time, Jack rented a satellite phone. Because he hunted alone, his wife Julie insisted he take the phone with him. In the firearms department, he brought his trusty 308 Win. Henry Long Range Lever Action. For the first time, he also brought a North American Arms Ranger II mini revolver which sports a four-inch barrel. This very functional revolver was a birthday gift from Julie. Also, as a gift, was a four-inch brown basketweave belt holster.
Prior to his hunt, Jack took the first opportunity to return to the wild country of babbling streams, pine scented forests, amazing fields of mountain meadows and wild flowers. His idea was to field test his new revolver. Jack took the Ranger II out for testing. Sure, on his birthday he stepped out his back door and shot up a box of .22 mag shells, as well as .22 long rifle, at cans and plastic jugs filled with water. But this time Jack brought some specialized .22 magnum. He brought .22 mag shot shells for camp vermin and the deadly .22 mag 45 gr Hornady Critical Defense ammo.
In the two-day campout, Jack shot the Ranger II several times at various inanimate objects such as stumps and dirt clods. He tested the shot shells for patterns and range. He tested the Hornady ammo for accuracy and penetration. He found the Hornady Critical Defense 45 gr slug at 15 feet would penetrate ¾ inch of plywood. Jack was very satisfied the Ranger II would make a great partner for everyday carry and a backup to his 308 Henry in the wild woods of Northwest Montana. Jack knew many other hunters in this area, carried large bore handguns in conjunction with their hunting rifles. But, after ten hours of walking up and down mountains, Jack wanted a light but deadly in close weapon. Not for bears but to dispatch downed wounded game. He was sure the NAA Ranger II in the four-inch barrel was the perfect carry. He always enjoyed his private time in the woods and mountains. He felt one with nature and his Heavenly Father.
After Jack finished the final touches to his camp, he took his 308 Henry with the NAA Ranger II strapped to his hip and a backpack of emergency food, sleeping bag and satellite phone. He headed out and up a foot hill which was at the base of Antice Peak, a low-level mountain for Montana standards. Six hours later Jack returned to camp. During his hike, he found sign for elk, deer, black bear and one large grizzly male. He believed within a half hour hike, he found an excellent spot to glass a meadow with tall grass and running water. He planned to be set up there tomorrow before sunrise.
For the next three days Jack never saw a single elk bull or cow. He saw a black bear across the valley who seemed to be looking for ground squirrels. A few mule deer wondered around in the meadow and was as close as 200 yards. If he gets skunked on the elk, he will pick up his third deer of the season.
The next morning Jack stayed in camp late to clean and reconsider where to hunt. As he was setting at the campfire, for some reason he looked in the direction he traveled for the last three days. He could not believe what he saw. Standing at about 200 yards away, was a huge bull elk. The elk was looking right at him. Jack reached down and grasped his Henry 308. His heart was pounding. He fought the feeling of “Buck-Fever”. He levered in a round and slowly put it to his shoulder. He still could not believe this elk did not run. As he put the scope on the elk, Jack noticed what appeared to be blood on the elk’s neck and head. He lined up the Leupold scope crosshairs just behind the left front shoulder. Jack fired the elk took two steps and collapsed.
Jack jumped on Brutus and drove over the bumpy ground to the fallen elk. The elk was dead. Jack looked over the elk’s neck and head. To his surprise, the elk had been injured by what looked to him to be a bear. Claw marks and a partial mashed in skull were the wounds he could see. There was a little blood on the left antler of the elk’s G5, G6 and G7. “I guess the guy gave as good as he got.” Jack thought. A charging 800-pound elk can leave a mark.
Jack backed Brutus up to the elk and tied the electric wench cable around its head. He had rigged up a series of pulleys wherein he could winch a full-grown elk up on top of Brutus. After loading up the elk, Jack drove back the two hundred yards to his camp. He winched the elk up on the A-frame he built three years ago. He pulled out his Case Trapper hunting knife and began to clean his kill.
Less than two minutes had passed, when Jack heard a sound behind him. He turned and to his horror he saw a large male grizzly loping toward him. It seemed to have a limp. In a nano second Jack thought, “Shooting this elk must have rang the dinner bell!” He had no time to grab his Henry. Jack jumped and ran to the willows and skinned himself five feet inside the thick willows. He turned just in time to see the 1,000-pound ball of hair, teeth and claws slam into the willows causing them to collapse down upon him. He was pinned under four feet of fallen willows with a 1,000-pound enraged bear on top. The roar of the really pissed bear was deafening.
Jack could barely move but he could get to his NAA Ranger II. He pulled the little power house out of its holster and shoved it up toward the grizzly’s head. Jack cocked the NAA Ranger II and fired one round into the bears face. The bear roared! When the grizzly lifted it head upward Jack cocked the Ranger II and fired. The round struck the behemoth on the underside of its head in an upward path. Lunging backward the bear rolled over on its right side and quivered. It was dead.
This all happened in less than thirty seconds. Jack remained under the willows shaking and gasping for air. Lying there his mind was racing about “what if”. He finely decided to crawl out from under the smashed down willows. It took him about ten minutes to wiggle out. Once out he inspected the huge grizzly. He found wounds on this fur-ball’s left neck and shoulder. “This is why this bear was not running full out. He had been wounded by this elk. He was on the elk’s trail.” Jack thought.
He had things to do. First change his under ware then finish field dressing the elk. Next, he was going to use his satellite phone to call the Fish and Game to report the Grizzly attack. He then was going to call his wife and tell her he loved her. While cleaning the elk, Jack thought, “I need to find myself a hunting buddy as this hunting alone could get dangerous.”
North American Arms Ranger II .22Mag/.22LR
Jack was a lucky man. In no way should any person or persons carry a .22 mag in grizzly country as their only firearm as a form of defense. However, Jack was carrying the Ranger II for a camp varmint gun and personal protection from two legged varmints. It never crossed his mind to use the Ranger II for bear protection. In a pinch, the Ranger II with the four-inch barrel can be deadly even to bears. One of the largest grizzlies ever killed was with a single shot rifle loaded with a .22 long. The bear was killed in 1953 by a native North American lady by the name of Bella Twin in Alberta Canada.
Test and Evaluation
Gridley and I took the NAA Ranger II with the four-inch barrel to the Oklahoma City Gun Club. Prior to shooting this single action break-open revolver, I inspected it for any defects or possible mechanical problems. I have tested some of the finest firearms made, only to find the factory quality control failed to catch a defect. I found the sample Ranger II to be perfectly safe and extremely well made. Both the .22 mag and the .22 LR cylinders, when cocked, matched up and operated perfectly.
In shooting the Ranger II with the four-inch barrel, I could tell quickly the added one and one-half inch barrel gave the spunky .22 mag round some added velocity. The recoil and muzzle report were a little greater than its Ranger II 2.5-inch barrel brother (see images below). The Ranger II fired without a single problem. Between Gridley and I we fired 100 rounds of .22 mag and .22 LR. The .22 LR shorter cases ejected much better than the longer magnums. Still, it is much easier to reload the Ranger II over most other models of NAA mini revolvers.
Grouping on the Chinet paper plates was a little wider than the normal groupings I experience with NAA revolvers. However, the 25 to 40 mph winds could have played a hand in the results. As I stated in the video, the wind whipped the target stand around as it did the 225-pound shooter. In a calmer environment I know I could tighten the grouping by two inches. In one test I took three shots at 35 yards and still hit the dirt-bag Chinet plate three times.
When shooting the ¾ inch thick plywood, I found the Hornady Critical Defense 45 gr .22 mag passed through easily. Even though this round is designed to expand, it will go through walls, so be mindful and safe when handling any firearm. Do not be lulled by this revolver being a .22. It is deadly, ounce for ounce, one of the deadliest on this planet.
In shooting the head size melon, the Hornady .22 mag passed through leaving an impressive wound channel. Due to the wind, we strapped the melon to the shooting frame with an “ace” bandage. Lucky for me as if we had not, I would have been picking up watermelon all over the range.
NAA Range II 4″ Barrel Conclusion
If you watch the attached YouTube video, you will see this Ranger II in four-inch barrel worked flawlessly. Shooting the Ranger II is just a joy. Gridley and I enjoyed getting out of our houses to shoot the Ranger II. The Ranger II would make a perfect companion for deer hunters. This little power house can be used to dispatch a down wounded deer. I know of a Deputy Sheriff who uses a NAA five shot revolver to put down livestock struck on the highway.
For CCW the Ranger II in the four-inch can be carried in the front pocket of loose-fitting jeans or coveralls. The leather four-inch holster shown in the pics and in the YouTube video for the Ranger II works great. I packed this Ranger II in the very same holster. I didn’t even know I had it on my belt. Carrying the NAA Ranger II in the 1.625, 2.5 or the 4.0-inch barrel just gives me comfort, just like my carrying my Case two bladed trapper pocket knife.
Check out the YouTube video and drop by your local gun store to handle and feel how great this little bad-boy feels. If you are serious about having and carrying a small powerful CCW or backup hunting firearm, you will be wise to purchase the North American Arms Ranger II with the four-inch barrel and extra .22 LR cylinder.
NAA Ranger II .22Mag/.22LR Specs
- Barrel Length: 4 inches
- Uniqueness: Full ribbed barrel
- Sights: Front – Small Post, Rear – groove
- Caliber: .22 Magnum / .22 Long Rifle
- Capacity: 5 rounds
- Cylinder: Star Ejector
- Frame: All stainless steel
- Operation: Singe action, break Open Cylinder
- Finish: Bead Blast
- Upgrade: .22 LR Conversion Cylinder
North American Arms
Ranger II 4 Inch, .22 mag, .22 Long Rifle
Hornady Critical Defense 45 gr .22 mag