May 19, 2010

Browning BL-22 Grade II Lever Action .22 LR

The Grade II is one of five BL-22s offered by Browning for 2008. The Grade II is scroll engraved on the receiver and has a gold-colored trigger. The Grade I tested in December 2006 lacks the II’s scroll engraving and checkering on the walnut, but the Grade I MSRPs for a lot less, $494.

Browning’s most expensive lever rimfire is the BL-22 FLD Grade II Octagon, $786, which a silver-nitride finish, octagonal barrel, and a front gold bead.

Our Grade II test gun came with a Western-style straight-grip walnut stock with grip and fore-end checkering and a high-gloss polyurethane finish. Wood-to-metal fit was excellent on the gun’s two-piece stock. Elsewhere on the gun, we noted that all the blued metal was highly polished and looked great.

The magazine tube had a catch (a pushbutton), which when released, allowed the shooter to pull the tube out of the gun and open a slot in the magazine so rounds could be fed in.

Browning BL-22

Courtesy, Gun Tests

This was a lightweight, nice-handling product that has eye appeal. For juniors and small adults, we'd pick it over the Henry, niche-grading it an A- for that group. Lots to like here, including a grooved receiver top, great cosmetics, and slick funtion. But middling accuracy and a high price keep it out of the A range overall.

The 20-inch barrel’s muzzle OD was 0.530 inch at the crown, which was recessed. Open iron sights, with a sight radius of 15.4 inches, were included. The rear sight was screw-adjustable for elevation, and the rear-sight base was dovetailed in and would have to be drifted for windage changes. It can be folded down to ease scope installation in the integral rimfire grooves (3/8 inch Weaver rings) on top of the receiver—an invitation to a lightweight optic like a dot sight, for those of us who can’t make out the sliver of a front sight.

The slim forend, with its front barrel band, was comfortable to use. The Browning BL-22 had a 13.5-inch length of pull and a 0.25-inch-thick black-plastic buttplate. We preferred the Marlin’s rubber buttpad because it stuck in the shoulder better.

The trigger pull was creepy and heavy at 6.7 pounds, which undoubtedly affected the gun’s accuracy, along with the very thin front sight, which was all one medium-gray color (where’s the Grade II Octagon’s gold bead!). It was very hard for some shooters to make out, but testers with good eyes had no trouble. In rough terms, we think of the Browning as being a 2-inch iron-sight gun at 25 yards, shooting two 2.0-inch group averages and one 2.3-inch average.

Browning BL-22

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Scroll engraving is another visual cue that your BL-22 has moved uptown. The slim, trim receiver had a high-polish blue metal treatment that we really liked, but we wondered if the cosmetics package would be worth it on a rimfire knockaround gun. Our testers said probably not.

The lever’s short-throw 33-degree movement allows the shooter to eject and reload cartridges without dropping the gun off the shoulder then having to realign the gun sights, but the slippery buttplate hindered this feature. Also, when shooting lots of rounds, we noticed the lack of pitch and drop at heel made us want to put the toe of the stock into the shoulder to get the gun up to the eye. If we didn’t do that, then having to sit down on the stock caused some discomfort in the lever hand, because of the odd angle the head/stock/hand alignment caused.

Comments (5)

I have owned a Grade 1 BL 22 since about 1974. It is an excellent plinker and a great small game rifle.I actually like the sights and chose it over both the Marlin and Winchester lever actions partially because the sights were easier for me to see. I don't like the plastic finished wood either and had a friend who was both into guns and wood working strip the plastic off and give it a good oil finish over 20 years ago. It is a really sweet looking gun now.

Posted by: booth516 | May 22, 2010 12:04 AM    Report this comment

Hello

Posted by: Burckhardt | May 20, 2010 5:45 PM    Report this comment

A very nice rifle but over priced. A satin finish would look better also. I like the scrollwork on the receiver, it looks very well done. A different butt plate-either curved or rubber would be nice also.
It will last a lifetime, so will the Henry for a lot less.

Posted by: wcrandall | May 20, 2010 2:39 PM    Report this comment

I never liked Browning's plastic-coated wood. I wish they'd offer oil-finished wood. A crescent butt plate would be nice on a low-recoil rifle like this one.

Posted by: Mister E | May 20, 2010 12:49 PM    Report this comment

I've owned a grade II BL22 for over 20 years and I find it to be as accurate as I am, and a light, comfortable plinker with great quality.

John Turner

Posted by: Muleman | May 20, 2010 12:28 PM    Report this comment

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