One of the most popular topics within the survival and prepping community is firearms, and it seems there are as many opinions as there are people.
Although there is a great deal of disagreement on which guns and what type of ammo you should stockpile, there are a few calibers that frequently enter most conversations. Two that come to mind are the .22 rifle and the 12-gauge shotgun.
Both guns have proven their usefulness in a variety of situations and can be effective hunting and defense tools. Survival aside, these guns consistently rank on lists of the most popular guns in America, year in and year out. If you happen to own either a .22 or a 12 gauge, one company, Aguila, is producing some ammunition you might want to explore.
Aguila Ammunition has been churning out ammunition to suit the needs of hunters, law enforcement, sport shooters, and the military since 1961. Recently I was able to get my hands on a few of the specialty cartridges they produce. Those rounds were the .22 Colibri and the 12-gauge Minishell slug.
What caught my eye with the .22 Colibri was the advertised silence of the cartridge. The folks at Aguila promote the Colibri as a round that eliminates the need of a suppressor. As a guy who operates a trap line, many times near cattle feedlots, an ultra-quiet .22 round was definitely something I wanted to check out. Cattle in feedlots can be spooked, and the sharp report of a .22 in the grey light of morning has always been something I’m concerned with. I’d hate to have a rancher’s expensive heifer get torn up when I’m dispatching a cheap raccoon. Needless to say, the Colibri seemed like an ideal fit for my needs. After testing the round I found out how truly quiet it is.
Incredibly, the .22 Colibri is about as loud as a BB gun. Check that, about as loud as a firing pin. When I touched off my first Colibri round I was actually a bit startled by how quiet it was. It is an absolutely perfect cartridge for someone looking to quietly dispatch certain animals at extremely close ranges. On my trapline I plan to use it to dispatch small animals I catch in my footholds. As I mentioned, this will allow me to trap in closer proximity to feedlots and other similar situations. The Colibri is also perfect for introducing kids to shooting sports. Although a standard .22 has no recoil, if you happen to have a little one who is a bit spooked by the report of a gun, the Colibri may be a good round to use.
Another Aguila cartridge I was able to procure was the Aguila 12-gauge Minishell slug. Minishells are unique in that they offer the ability to load up a standard 12-gauge shotgun with more shells at one time while not totally sacrificing on power. In my backyard test I was able to punch through three 1×6 pine lumber scraps screwed together before blowing off the back of my target. Although you will obviously lose a certain amount of power in a smaller shell like the Minishell, the loss doesn’t appear too substantial in my book. At distances of 30 yards and less I could definitely see the Minishell being an effective hunting and defense round. It would be especially useful in situations where you have to carry your ammunition for long periods of time or distance.
The main advantage of the Minishell lies in the undersized shell dimensions. In my Remington 870 Express Supermag 12-gauge shotgun, I was able to load my tube with six shots in addition to one in the chamber. In contrast, when I am using standard 2 ¾-inch shells I can only load four in the tube at a time, plus one in the chamber. Even though the difference may seem minimal, two extra shots may make all the difference. The small nature of the shell also allows you to carry more ammunition in a given space. That benefit really increases the shot you can carry in a bag or store in an ammo can or safe.
This space-for-power trade-off gave rise to the popular .308 cartridge after World War II. In a situation where space is one of your biggest concerns, the 12-gauge Minishell may be worth a look.
Neither of these two cartridges comes without their own set of drawbacks, though. With the .22 Colibri, you are definitely not going to be doing any big-game hunting. It is best suited for small-game animals at short ranges. With a paltry 20 grains of bullet weight leaving the barrel at only 420 feet per second, it doesn’t take a degree in physics to realize the limitations of this shot. I did test the Colibri on a few materials, including wood and bone. It proved capable of penetrating wood and around one-fourth of an inch of shoulder bone. The shoulder bone appeared to be near its limitations of penetrating power.
Also, after shooting a half box of 12-gauge Minishell, the biggest drawback I could detect was the ability to cycle the shot cleanly. With some practice I was able to compensate my draw cycle to accommodate the shorter shell, but early on I was jamming shells fairly frequently. It seems to be a challenge you can overcome if you appreciate the compact size of the shell enough.
Both the .22 Colibri and the 12-gauge Minishell are cartridges you may want to explore, as both offer unique benefits. They certainly are capable of doing the jobs they were designed to do.