One of my favorite things to do this time of year is shoot chislers. Whether you call them ground squirrels, gophers, picket pins or chislers, it’s a great way to sharpen your shooting and range-finding skills. I’ve shot them with everything from .17 HMR to .30-06, but I now have a new favorite.
While there are those who favor the AR platform as a deer or big game gun, my preference for it is as a varmint rifle. In its original civilian chambering—.223 Remington—the AR is my idea of a perfect varminter. Recoil is mild; the semi-auto feature takes the work out of getting the rifle ready for the next shot; magazine capacity is a boon to those of us who would rather shoot than load; and the rifles can be just about as accurate as a bolt gun.
But a couple of years ago I found an AR I like even better than the centerfire—Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15-22. I shot one that came from the S&W Performance Center extensively on a Smith & Wesson shoot near Encampment, Wyo. By the time we were done I told Matt Rice of Blue Heron Communications—S&W’s PR firm—that I simply had to have one. A couple of months later it arrived, along with four extra 25-round magazines. I mounted a Trijicon 3-9x40 scope on it and started going to town on the local chisler population—which, unfortunately, isn’t too large.
Last year I made a trip to Emmett, Idaho, where an old hunting buddy, Alan Roberts, lives. The chisler situation is better there. We spent three days wearing them down, and my Performance Center M&P 15-22 never missed a beat. It’s accurate, dependable and has a great trigger. Now that we seem to finally be getting some spring weather, I am chomping at the bit to check its zero and head back out to wear them down some more. At an MSRP of $789, it isn’t cheap, but the good stuff never is. This is one of those if you don’t buy it, you’ll regret it guns.