Our test group included two 22 LR semi-autos from Carl Walther, the HK MP5 A5 and Colt M4, the Chiappa Arms M1 Carbine, and GSG's StG44. One rifle was truest to the original, practical, and fun.
Can a good varmint rifle also serve as a low-recoil starter bigger-game rifle? We test a Howa Model 1500 Youth, a Bergara B-14 Hunter short rifle, and a Browning X-Bolt Micro Midas to find out.
Reader PM resubscribed after many years to get our 2nd Amendment reporting and commentary. Reader Richard got his latest issue in the mail, and it was "trimmed" on the side. Here's how to resolve that.
VALUE GUIDE: Bolt-Action Rifles (Short Actions)
Here's a compilation of head-to-head ammunition testing conducted by Gun Tests magazine.
While these three rifles did check off some of the boxes for the Scout specs, they all fell short of being a true Scout Rifle, at least going by Cooper's definition. But would we want to carry these rifles for long periods of time, and could we easily hit a target out to 100 yards? Yes, most definitely.
VALUE GUIDE: SHORT-Action Rifles (MULTIPLE CHAMBERINGS)
Savage 110 Apex Storm XP 57344 6.5 Creedmoor, $605
Best Buy. Accurate, reliable, and fast handling. The Vortex scope is a credible optic.
Mauser M18 M18065P
6.5 PRC, $628
Accurate and reliable. The rifle is expensive compared to the others.
Savage Axis II XP Rifle 57289
6.5 Creedmoor, $400
A credible choice. We would save a few more weeks to buy the Apex. …
Recently, at one of his favorite shops, a Gun Tests rater saw that one of his friends, a 70-year-old shooter still going strong, was looking for a "long-range" rifle. Long-range rifle shooting seems to be quite popular. We don't necessarily mean Camp Perry-type shooting, but ordinary shooters wishing to fire their rifles at distant targets and hit the target more often than not. With a wide range of 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition and the introduction of nine new rifles from a single maker in this caliber, we feel that the 6.5 Creedmoor is likely to remain popular for many years. The cartridge is touted as highly accurate, with low recoil, and enough velocity to consistently kill deer-sized game cleanly with a well-placed shot. The 6.5 Creedmoor also offers long-range efficiency with less component expense for handloads, not to mention lower recoil than the 308 Winchester or 7mm Remington Magnum.
Because of the friend's interest, we elected to test two new rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor and a third in another midrange offering, the 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, introduced by Hornady. The two "Creeds" were both Savages. The first was the Axis II XP Stainless Bolt-Action Rifle with Scope 57289 in 6.5 Creedmoor. The Savage Axis II is the newest development of the Savage Axis line, a package gun. Package guns are simply affordable rifles supplied with scope rings and bases and a rifle scope. The buyer saves considerable amounts of money by purchasing the package versus purchasing each component separately. The rifle will have been mechanically bore-sighted by the manufacturer. In general, these rifles offer good value and save both time and money compared to obtaining and putting together your own package.
The second was a Savage 110 Apex Storm XP 57344 in 6.5 Creedmoor, substantially more expensive than the Axis. The Savage 110 differs considerably from the Savage Axis rifle. The receiver of the Axis is closed and easier to machine, while the Savage 110 is more traditional. A locking lug in the stock attaches to the Axis receiver, while the Savage 110 locking lug is sandwiched between the barrel and the action. The 110 action has more leverage and primary extraction seems better, although the practical difference may be difficult to prove.
Though the 6.5 Creedmoor is increasingly popular, the 6.5 PRC may become a viable cartridge for many users. The 6.5 PRC seems unlikely to be chambered in anything but bolt-action rifles, and we felt this a good opportunity to test a rifle we have not yet put through the grueling Gun Tests procedure, the Mauser M18. This rifle came chambered in 6.5 PRC, allowing us to gauge the difference in accuracy, power, and recoil between this cartridge and the 6.5 Creedmoor. The rifle was fired with the Hornady 6.5 PRC Match load, one of only two available, both manufactured by Hornady. Each box of 20 6.5 PRC rounds cost $31 from SportmansWarehouse.com.
There are also those who flatly state the 6.5 Creedmoor will do nothing the ancient 6.5x55mm round will not do, so we added a rifle chambered in the latter cartridge to give us some historical perspective. There are a few current rifles chambered for this cartridge, but we found an original Mauser rifle, manufactured in 1895, chambered for the 6.5x55mm Swedish, also known as the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser, and sometimes called the 6.5x55mm Mauser. The round first appeared in 1891, according to Cartridges of The World's 16th Edition. We are not collectors per se, but we like testing viable hunting rifles to see if the new stuff gives any better performance than the oldies. A collector may turn up his nose at the humble sporterized Mauser, but we found it to be a great light rifle for woods hunting.
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