I’ve heard of the Appleseed Project before, and thought of it primarily as a volunteer-based shooter training course, but had no idea how much deeper the project actually was.
Jonathan Serrie of the Fox News LiveShots Blog did and excellent job going beneath the surface to get to the heart of the group and it’s mission in his story, Appleseed Teaching History with Guns.
I strongly suggest reading the entire article, especially if you are interested in U.S. history or if you want to introduce someone to shooting (or in my case, want to get some solid training to improve your shooting skills and earn the title of rifleman).
An interesting sidenote to the story is the development of the firearms that have evolved as a result of the Appleseed Project, which have been dubbed “liberty training rifles.” They are designed from the ground up to be affordable rimfire training arms that excel at the specific course of fire used at Appleseed events, but which also seem to be great all around rifles for both serious rimfire training or plinking.
The “official” home of the liberty training rifle has to be the this post on the Appleseed Project blog, and the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22 is the subject of the author’s focus “because of it’s low price, accuracy and many available after market parts.”
The author’s preference aside, there may be other rifles that are an equally good base, but first we have to note what sets this specific breed of rifles apart from others.
What are the characteristics of a “liberty training rifle?”
- .22 LR semi-auto rifle
- feeds from a box magazine (typically ten rounds)
- uses “military style” iron sights
- uses a “military style” two-point sling
Not terribly complicated, is it?
That said, a lot of good rifles miss the cut. Any bolt-action, pump, single shot or tube-fed .22LR is off the table immediately, because the typical Appleseed course of fire emphasizes accurate shooting with a time limit. This isn’t to say you can’t shoot the Appleseed course with these kinds of rifles, just that the advantages of semi-autos are on display here.
Rifles without iron sights are also excluded, leaving many heavy barrel target rifles on the sideline.Of those rifles with iron sights, an aperture sight is preferred simply because they are more similar to the sights on the most common American military rifles of the past 60+ years. The addition of a sling shouldn’t disqualify any rifle, unless it simply cannot be made to accept sling swivels.
While the 10/22 is favored by some, other inexpensive .22 rifles readily come to mind as candidates for the “liberty treatment.”
- Mossberg 702
- Marlin 795
- Remington 597
Of these three, the Mossberg and Marlin are the easiest to work from. Like the 10/22, both of these rifles can be readily installed with adjustable aperture Tech Sights, an improvement over factory sights that closely mimics the sight picture of M4/AR15 rifles that so many of us seem to carry these days, as well as that of the m1A/m14. The company also markets Tech Sights for SKS carbines and AK-47 rifles.
The Remington only falls of being a ideal fit for a LTR because Tech-Sights does not yet support it. That said, Larry Nesseth of Tech-Sights says via email that:
…we have customers that have fitted our TSM200 sight designed for the Marlin 60/795 rifle. I believe a small amount of filing on the sight base gets the job done. We will be looking at the 597 in the future.
The Mossberg has a very attractive price point. The 10/22 is easily one of the most modifiable rifles on the planet. Those of us who grew up shooting the tube-fed Model 60 might favor the familiar handling of its first cousin, the 795. The Remington just feels right for some.
And I’m sure that there are other rifles out there that fit the bill that I’ve simply overlooked and need to add to the list.
Which of these magazine-fed rimfire semi-auto rifles above would you pick to build a liberty training rifle?