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Best Plinking Guns, Targets & Games [Ultimate Guide]

Plinking is a favorite past time for many shooters, but how do you spice up range days? Come see what plinking guns, targets, and even games we recommend!

I’m willing to bet the vast majority of shooting done in this world is plinking. Well, most civilian shooting anyway. Plinking is where most of us got our start in shooting.

Ruger Mark IV
A lot of us started here with good ole mom and dad at the range.

I love training, but plinking brings me the most joy — especially now that I’m a dad and have mini shooting buddies to join me at the range.

Plinking is a catch-all term applied to the world of informal shooting. You ever taken a brick of .22 LR and a good rifle and shot some tin cans for the fun of it? That’s plinking.

Popular .22LR Ammo
Popular .22LR Ammo

If you aren’t training, competing, or doing any particular task, you are likely plinking. Plinking often gets lost in all the noise we make with training, competing, hunting, and the like.

However, let’s take plinking back! Remember that shooting is fun and brings fun back into the equation. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about some of our favorite guns and gear to take to the range and plink with.

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Best Plinking Guns

Heritage Arms Rough Rider

Plinking doesn’t need to be expensive, and the Heritage Rough Rider proves that with a simple gun at a low price point.

Heritage Arms Rough Rider revolvers are rimfire guns in .22 LR, but you can also use .22 Magnum cylinders. These guns are super cheap and tons of fun.

Rough Rider 16-Inch on some wood
Rough Rider 16-Inch

The Rough Rider series come in various barrel lengths from 4.5 to 6 inches and out to 16 inches. Beyond that, they also offer the Barkeep variant with its super short barrel and the Rancher carbine, which extends the Rough Rider into a rifle.

Classicly Awesome
199
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Regardless of which model you choose, you can be confident that it will be fun to shoot, reliable, and cheap!

The basic models can be found for $150 a lot of the time, with some sales dipping beneath $100.

Rough Rider 16-Inch ejecting case
Rough Rider ejecting case

For more details on the Rough Rider, check out our review!

Ruger 10/22

The Ruger 10/22 has to be mentioned — the most successful .22 LR rifle ever made. I can’t fathom how many shooters cut their teeth on the Ruger 10/22.

Fully Upgraded 10/22
Fully Upgraded 10/22

Even with all its popularity, the Ruger 10/22 remains affordable, easy to find, and, best of all, easy to accessorize.

You can turn it into a tactical beast, a super accurate marksman’s rifle, or heck, dress it up as a P90, a G36, and more.

298
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Ruger’s little shooter is a great plinking choice solely for its proven reliability, affordability, and the ability to accessorize it.

What do you think of the 10/22? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

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Ruger PC Carbine

The easiest and most affordable option to plink with is a pistol-caliber carbine when we move to centerfire rifles.

Ruger PCC reload
Ruger PC Carbine

Ruger’s PC Carbine essentially brings the 10/22 layout to a 9mm carbine. These carbines are super handy, reliable, fun to shoot, accurate, and affordable.

599
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

This 9mm blaster can utilize common Glock magazines that make it affordable and easy to wield. This lightweight little shooter uses a dead blow recoil system that helps take the sting out of a blowback gun.

Ruger PCC studio

It’s tough to pick just one PCC, but I think the affordability of the Ruger PC Carbine combined with the easy ergonomics, accuracy, and common magazine pattern takes the cake.

We reviewed the Ruger PC Carbine, so read the article here or watch the full video review below.

Mossberg Shockwave

Yep, the Mossberg Shockwave makes the list. It’s not a plinker for everyone, but for me, I love it.

The challenge of the gun’s recoil and muzzle rise makes it fun. Slap on a Crimson Trace Laser Saddle, and you’ll be having a blast before you know it.

PGO Firearms Mossberg Shockwave 590
Mossberg Shockwave 590

Every other gun on this list is perfect for kids and new shooters, but I’d suggest the Shockwave for more experienced adults. Maybe the .410 variant is kid-friendly, but still, leave these mostly to the adults.

Editor's Pick Not-A-Shotgun
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Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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The Raptor grip-equipped Shockwave can be a ton of fun when you start blasting away. It’s exceptionally fun to put a load of buckshot or birdshot into a target and deal with the bucking bronco that is the Mossberg Shockwave.

There are also plenty of ways to upgrade it. (You can read about it here.)

Ultimate Shockwave Build
Ultimate Shockwave Build

We have a few articles on the Shockwave if you want to dive deeper. Head over to Mossberg Shockwave: How Is It Legal or Mossberg 590M Shockwave: Magazine-Fed Freedom.

Aero Precision M16A4 Clone

Remember, these are the rifles I have the most fun with, so when it comes to ARs, I find myself choosing the Aero M16A4 clone the most.

What I Carried M16A4 Clone (1)
M16A4 Clone

If you’ve never fired an AR with a 20-inch barrel, then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. The .223 Remington is made for a 20-inch barrel and performs best out of that length.

450
at Aero Precision

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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For the shooter, it’s the smoothest cycling, most recoil, and muzzle rise-free experience you can get from a bare-bones AR-15.

M16A4
M16A4

The Aero Precision M16A4 brings affordability and reliability to the platform. You get a very well-made and useful AR platform that maximizes 5.56 potential while increasing comfort.

Plus, if you really want to, you can drop a CMMG conversion kit in and call it a day.

Best Plinking Targets

Having guns is one part of the equation but having something to shoot them with is the other.

Adams Arms AA19 Groups Targets

I’ve gathered a few of my favorite targets that exemplify fun and affordability.

Any target can be used for plinking, and I mean anything, from soda cans to steel torsos; however, these targets are designed to be fun more than anything else.

Birchwood Casey Battle Target (Battleship)

These little paper targets lay out a variety of ships with red and green dots decorating the ships.

I’m sure Hasbro, or whoever owns the Battleship name and Birchwood can’t say it’s Battleship, but it’s Battleship.

9
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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However, instead of putting little plastic pegs into your battleships, you’re dropping lead into them!

It’s not about guesswork but more about accuracy. Each target has two sides, and it becomes a fun and quick competition.

Do-All Outdoors Bullet Pong Target

Steel reactive targets are fun, but there can be safety concerns, and when dealing with kids, let’s make it as safe as possible.

The Bullet Pong target provides shooters a polymer spinning target that spins when shot.

14
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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It’s simple, super cheap, and a ton of fun. You can shoot it with anything from a .22 to a .50 cal. This target is self-healing and will absorb tons of rounds. Shooters will quickly get their money’s worth.

I love using these to teach new shooters. Instead of focusing on hitting the bull’s eye and getting disappointed when they don’t, all shooters need is to hit a target the size of a ping pong paddle.

Plus, it spins after every shot.

Caldwell Duramax 5-inch ball

Another fun reactive target comes from Caldwell and is the Duramax Self-Healing Ball. It can take many hits, and with every hit, it moves, jumps, and rolls.

This thing can take hits from any caliber, up to .50 cal.

17
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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I used it mostly with my Shockwave, and I always got a thrill by rocking the Duramax ball all around the range with some birdshot. The design is rugged, made for the outdoors, and can be tied up.

All in all, it’s simple and fun, and that’s the best part of plinking.

Shooting Targets7 Know Your Limits .22LR

The only steel target I have on this list comes from Shooting Targets7.

The Know Your Limits .22 LR steel target is perfect for plinking. It’s a series of eight ¼-inch thick AR500 steel gongs that swing.

159
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

These things are ultra-small — the largest is 2 inches wide, and they get down to .25 inches.

Targets like this are used at the NRL22 matches due to the challenge they create. They are also super reactive and swing rapidly when hit.

I love this setup and use it all the time.

Calwell Target Turner

Last but not least, the Caldwell Target Turner can really spice things up.

This isn’t a target but a simple device planted into the ground. Nope, it spins the target towards you. The Target Turner is reactive, fun, and moves a target 90 degrees at a time.

114
at Caldwell

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

You can adjust the speed and utilize various cardboard and paper targets. It won’t spin steel or anything crazy.

Keep it light, and it’ll spin and bring an entirely new challenge to the world of plinking.

The Caldwell Target Turner isn’t super cheap, but in my opinion, it’s fairly priced for its features and design.

Plinking Games & Fun

Battleship

Duh, you got the target. Now you have to shoot it and compete.

It’s fun playing the game, but it can be a bit more intense if you mix the Caldwell Target Turner with the Battle Target. Set the timer for something slow, and you can only have that much time to take your shot.

It makes misses occur more often and ratchets up the intensity and, therefore, the fun.

Shotgun Soccer/Shotgun Golf

Get a Shockwave (or any shotgun) and the Caldwell Duramax ball and start what I call shotgun soccer.

Now, this is a one-at-a-time game and might be better called shotgun golf. The object of the game is simply to get the ball to the goal in as few shots as possible.

Mossberg Shockwave

You start a certain range from the berm and set up a designated goal. I use two basic fence poles. Land the ball between the pole and yell GOAL!

The game is played in rounds and is best done with friends. It will likely require a private range, but if you can play, it’s a ton of fun.

It’s also funny how unpredictable the ball is and how quickly you learn that a real hole in one is rare.

Horse (With Guns)

Horse, the classic basketball-based game that challenges you to make shots and mimic other players, can be done with guns.

For plinking purposes, the Know Your Limits .22 LR targets work perfectly. Shooters match each other’s shots.

Ruger Mark IV
Grab your plinkers and ammo!

In this variant of Horse, players will be tasked with hitting small targets and mimicking the position and style of the first shooter.

Nothing crazy, but if they hit the .75-inch target in the standing, you must do the same. If they shoot with their offhand or a single hand, you got to mimic that style to avoid a letter.

Maybe leave the actual horses out of it, though.

You can also use any series of targets for this game, including playing cards, soda cans, or whatever. The more varied the targets are in size and shape, the better, and that’s why I like the KYL targets for this game.

Final Thoughts

I rely on a few things to relieve stress in my life…plinking is one of those things. Tuning out and having fun with guns is a great way to have fun, rest, and recharge.

Gotta mean mug those targets while you shoot…it’s like a rule or something.

The above is how I plink, but what about you? Let me know your favorite plinking guns and ammo in the comments below. Need more targets? We got you. Check out our round-up of the Best Targets & Stands.

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9 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Terry Loew

    I love the pictures and video with people dressed in suit and tie or a tux or business casual. It is a welcome relief from the tactical “uniform “ of all other shooting blogs. I love it! Please keep dressing people up and shooting guns!

    June 29, 2022 12:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    DocFixem

    I grew up with a rifle in my hand. From Daisy BB gun to Crosman 2100 pellet gun before Dad let me have his Remington 510X Targetmaster .22 when I was 16. Sparrows were kept in check on our farm. Before digital cameras became the norm, 35mm film canisters were great pistol targets. When you bought RC Cola in glass bottles, the bottle caps made challenging targets. When I got cocky, I would mount a 5/8 steel washer on a board and put an acorn behind it. Had to shoot through the hole and blow the acorn away. Now THAT's a challenge. My favorite targets today, whether plinking with my .22s at 25 yards or sighting in my .223 Wylde at 100 yds are 1 inch or 1/2 inch neon orange stickers. You can get a roll of a THOUSAND stickers on Amazon for $6. Plant a couple of T-Posts, slide on an old wooden pallet, staple a chunk of cardboard, scatter some dots, and I'm ready for some shootin. $6 for a thousand targets? Yes, please. For handgun training with my .45 Kimber, my vital body mass target? Standard size paper plate with a cute little 1 inch orange dot sticker in the middle. Full mag on the plate at 10 yards, and I call that good. Got to tell ya, though. I'm going to have to try the battleship targets and go head to head with my "little" 51 year old brudder. . .

    June 29, 2022 6:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Edwin Daugherty

    The best free targets are empty medicine bottles made of durable white plastic. Very pliable, long lasting and tons of fun.

    June 28, 2022 10:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Thomas

    Love to plink. My wife's first shot with my Ruger Security 6 split the cap of a 2lt bottle at 20'. The 2nd shot blew it up. Will share the games with the kids.

    June 28, 2022 7:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    RGP

    If you're on a farm instead of on a range, grasshoppers tend to park themselves on the ground or on a blade of grass and those grasshoppers make fantastic handgun targets at any distance you can see them.

    June 28, 2022 7:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jay

    Recently bought a Taurus TX-22 pistol and LOVE plinking with it! The local VFW hosted a .22 competition using four targets (first target at 5 yds, second at 7, third at 10 and fourth at max distance). Fire six shots at 5 yd target using only right hand, pause (in case someone needs to reload), then six more. Fire six shots using only left hand, pause, fire six more. All the other targets are fired at with two-handed grip.
    I was surprised to find I have better accuracy one-handed right now!! Just reminded me that I have more plinking to do

    June 28, 2022 6:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    'dirtbag'

    ok good joke!
    72 yrs old male, life long hunter, borne on a farm. By age 7 i was a menace to every chicken, pig, cow or wildlife that moved, dogs too! Never discount the mischief that a kid with a Daisy BB gun can get into. Fun was tagging ole Mr bull where it ''really hurts"!
    I, like you all, love shooting, period. And plinking is the best stress relief I know of. I have maybe 5-22's rifles and a couple pistols. They are the best training weapon for young and old learner's, alike. Cheap fun? Who doesn't like having 8 out of 9 grandkids at the range for a afternoon long session of ''plinking''. That takes deep pockets---- food and ammo............ but the personal pleasure of them having fun with pawpaw is worth a million $'s. And better citizen's too. Respect for others, safety, discipline, loyalty, that combines too make- Great Americans.

    "GOD, GUTS, AND GUNS" is what made and keeps 'AMERICA FREE & GREAT'

    Have fun with your troops............... And plink onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!

    June 28, 2022 6:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Keith

    Just got the Ruger PC9 and went to the range. It was fun and addicting to shoot. Put 190 rounds of various weights and types through it before I realized it. Since I have the Ruger Security 9 I already have extra mags. I could only shoot to 25 yards because the range was indoors. In .22Lr, I really enjoy my Walther P22Q for plinking.

    June 28, 2022 4:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Michael J Mansfield

    Gotta give some love to the Extar EP9. Almost half the cost of the Ruger and fun as heck to shoot. Tons of modifications available and a great community of supporters. Extar continues to improve there product while keeping it affordable to the every day shooter. Just my two bits.

    June 28, 2022 3:55 pm
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