Rifles22

Rim-Tac Rifles, Round II: The SIG 522 Edges Umarexs M4

In February 2010, we began evaluating tactical or military-style carbines chambered for the 22 LR round, and we continue to find new guns in what we call the "rim-tac" category. Previously, we looked at one AR-15 derivative, one tac-styled 10/22, and another carbine that more closely resembled a 1941 Russian machine gun. Our test guns were the Ruger SR-22R No. 1226 22 LR, $625; Smith & Wesson's M&P 15-22 No. 811030 22 LR, $569; and the Legacy Sports Puma Wildcat PPS2250S 22 LR, $550. In that test, we narrowly liked the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 the best, giving it an A grade compared to the Ruger's A- tally and the Wildcat's Bgrade.

Along the way, we had a heckuva lot of fun with the rifles without breaking the ammo bank. So, we gathered up two more rimfire samples from Umarex and Sig Sauer and wheelbarrowed bricks of 22 fodder to the range and had at it. Our test guns this round were the very different Colt M4 Carbine No. 2245050 22 LR, $576; and the Sig Sauer Sig522 Classic No. SIG522001 22 LR, $572.

The Colt has a complicated background. Carl Walther Germany entered into a licensing agreement with New Colt Holding Corporation, in which Carl Walther will produce these 22 rifles in Germany under the Colt brand. Umarex USA is responsible for importation, sales, marketing and service for the Colt tactical replicas.

Two tactical styles are being offered, each modeled after a Colt original—the M4 and M16 rifles—and both are available in two variations with 30-round 22 LR magazines along with a variety of accessories. The M4 version that we tested is a blowback semiauto with a barrel length of 16.2 inches (412 mm), overall length of 31.1 to 34.4 inches depending on the adjustable stock length, and iron sights, with the rear set into a detachable carry handle on a metal flat-top receiver.

Likewise, the Sig522 has lineage worth noting. According to Sig Sauer, the 522 has the "…look and feel of the Classic SIG556. Featuring SIG556 parts, including a Swiss-type folding stock and polymer forend on a durable metal receiver with integral Picatinny rail." We evaluated a 556 in the March 2010 issue, grading the 5.56mm rifle highly with an A-, but dinging it for its weight and cost.

Those aren't such factors with the 522, whose price tag is a few dollars below the M4 rimfire and whose weight is 6.4 pounds empty. Its overall length is 35.1 inches with the stock fully extended, 33.6 inches with the stock collapsed, and 26.1 inches with the stock folded.

Tactical-Style 22 LR Carbines: Ruger, S&W, Legacy Duke It Out

The evaluation of tactical or military-style carbines chambered for 22 LR doesnt come as a surprise to our readers, whove been asking for a story on the topic for months. But we admit were surprised that the production of rimfire rifles in full-size carbine trim is such a big trend. So many different models are currently available or on someones drawing board, its going to take two or three more articles to cover the entire category. So lets get started.In this rimfire test we will look at two AR-15 derivatives and another carbine that more closely resembled a 1941 Russian machine gun. Our test guns were the Ruger SR-22R No. 1226 22 LR, $625; Smith & Wessons M&P 15-22 No. 811030 22 LR, $569; and the Legacy Sports Puma Wildcat PPS2250S 22 LR, $550. Certainly, training was the most obvious reason for our test guns to be built-but we wanted to know if they were fun, too.How we tested was determined by the facility of each carbine to support open sights and/or a scope. The Legacy Puma was fit with open sights and a grooved rail machined into the receiver. The Ruger SR-22 and the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 each supplied rail support for mounting a scope or a set of clamp-on sights. A complete set of sights were supplied with the Smith & Wesson. But the Ruger was shipped with only a Picatinny rail atop the receiver. Before we could finish dialing up www.yankeehillmachine.com to order a set of AR-15 sights to be mounted on to the Ruger SR-22, we decided instead to use the Smith & Wesson-supplied sights and put them on the Ruger for recording shots of record from the 25-yard line. The accuracy totals would be more head to head, we reasoned, and wed save $100. Just factor the lack of sights into your buying decision if you go with the Ruger.We also mounted a scope on each carbine and collected accuracy data from the 50-yard bench. For this test we fired only the ammunition that proved most accurate. Our test rounds were Federal Champion 40-grain solids and Federals 36-grain hollowpoint Value Pack ammunition. But it was our third choice that turned out to be the sole ammunition utilized for our 50-yard session. The 40-grain lead roundnose CCI Green Tag ammunition was judged superior in all three guns. However, performance was very close regardless of gun or ammunition. That we were forced to split hairs to determine which gun was more accurate says a lot about the guns, and we might add, the category itself.For our 50-yard session we mounted a scope on each rifle. In the process we determined that one advantage to these guns was they afforded an inexpensive way to try out different accessories and master new techniques. We had with us some unusual devices, such as Insights MRDS mil-spec dot scope and Leupolds Mark 4 3.5-10X40mm LR/T scope. The MRDS was an upgraded version of a recreational design that offered improved windage and elevation adjustments plus an on/off switch. We wanted to know how well it functioned. The Leupold scope was used in an earlier test (November 2008). The letters LR/T signify illuminated crosshairs plotted as a Tactical Milling Reticle. This means the hash marks seen on the crosshairs can be used as holdover points as they apply to different-caliber ammunition and bullet weights. In addition, the reticle can be used as a grid to mathematically compute changes in elevation settings. This is called ranging. For the limited purposes of our tests the two most important features were the overall layout of its unique reticle. Approximately the outer half length of each crosshair was wide and bold. The inner lines both up and down were fine crosshairs, but the point at which the they met was left empty. Near targets are to be taken with the eyes somewhat relaxed to allow for a manner of wide-angle focus placing the target inside the bracket of the dark crosshairs. To record our 50-yard accuracy data we narrowed our vision to the void at the center of the reticle. The opportunity to perfect techniques necessary for using either the MRDS or the Leupold LR/T scopes effectively, while shooting inexpensive rounds of 22 LR ammunition, was one of the reasons we would own a rimfire carbine like these.Our targets for the long-range session were Caldwells 12-inch Sight-in Target with Orange Peel capability. This was a 1-foot square with four circles surrounding a diamond. We liked the Orange Peel feature because hits were highlighted with an orange ring, but the hits didnt obliterate the original point of aim. Roger Eckstine handmade the 25-yard target, the Reckstine Sight-In Target, to help the shooters visually bracket the sight picture, placing the tip of the front sight upon the center ring. High-volume work was spent shooting at Caldwellss Shooting Gallery-a great toy for high-capacity rimfire weapons. The $280 Shooting Gallery is a self-resetting, self-contained moving [IMGCAP(2)]target system. It allowed us to "hull" without tiresome target changes.Lets find out how each gun performed.

22 Magnums: Marlins 983S Bolt Gun Is a Magnum Bargain

The high demand and short supply of ammunition in recent months has left many rifle shooters scrambling for alternatives to their centerfire firearms. While rimfire rounds may not be the complete answer to the problem—some types of rimfire ammunition in also in short supply—the popularity of the less expensive bullets is growing.

Those shooters interested in a little more punch for the dollar are turning to 22 Magnum offerings. With more knock-down capability than a Long Rifle round and selling for at about half the cost of common centerfire ammunition, the magnums seem to be a good choice.

We selected the 22 Magnums because they can satisfy the plinking desires of firearm enthusiasts without breaking the bank; and they offer varmint-stopping punch for shooters interested in bagging small game. We selected three different actions of 22 Magnum rifles for our test, including one model that was recently discontinued and has become something of a sought-after collector's item. Each of the rifles has a dedicated fan base, with some favoring the old-style lever action; some siding with the normally more accurate bolt action; and some interested in the rapid-fire power of a semiautomatic.

The three rifles in our test were the lever-action Henry Model H001M, $420; the bolt-action Marlin Model 983S, $320; and the discontinued (2006) semiauto Ruger Model 10-22, which is selling for about $600 on several gun-trading websites. Despite the continuing drain on ammunition supplies because of volume purchases, there are still many different varieties of affordable 22 Magnum ammo available at most sporting-goods outlets.

We selected three types of ammunition for our test of the three rifles to check out the effectiveness and grouping of different loads. Our test ammunition included CCI Maxi Mag TNT 30-grain hollowpoints with an average muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps; Remington Premier Magnum Rimfire 33-grain Accutip-V rounds with an average muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps, and Winchester Supreme High Velocity 30-grain jacketed hollowpoints with an average muzzle velocity of 2,250 fps.

Our testing consisted of firing groups of five shots with each rifle at targets set up 50 yards down range, utilizing a Nikon ProStaff 4X scope. All shots were fired from a solid rest on an Uncle Bud's Bull Bag at Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 12-inch targets. We also fired a few test rounds with the open sights of each rifle, with the details listed below. Here's our test report:

Toss-Up: 22 WMR Bolt Rifles from CZ, Ruger, and Browning

Shortly before the Christmas holiday, members of our staff were contemplating a return to North Dakota for a prairie dog hunt. One of our concerns, however, was the cost of ammunition. The last time we traveled to the Bismarck-Mandan area, (discoverbismarckmandan.com), game was so plentiful we expended a huge amount of ammunition. Our .204 Ruger bolt-action rifles proved to be an excellent choice, but if we were going to make the trip again, we had to find a way to cut costs. We considered a change to rimfire rifles. Our first impulse was to load up on 17 HMR ammunition. But after checking prices and availability, we decided on a more traditional round that was cheaper and easier to find, 22 Winchester Magnum Rifle, or 22 WMR. Its been a long time since we tested varmint rifles chambered for 22 WMR, so we rounded up a representative trio. The three rifles we chose were the $729 Browning T-Bolt Target/Varmint No. 025176204, the $527 CZ 452 Varmint No. 02041, and the $812 Ruger K77/22-VMBZ Target Grey Magnum Varmint Rifle. Each rifle offered at least one substantive feature that distinguished it from the others. Our tests would determine if one gun was superior to the others or simply more suitable for one individual or another. Our ammunition costs ran from $8.99 per 50-round box of Winchester 40-grain JHP from Walmart to $11.95 per 50 rounds of 50-grain Federal Game-Shok hollowpoints purchased at our test site, American Shooting Centers in Houston. The Winchester rounds were tipped with exposed lead, and we think they probably should be listed as semi-jacketed hollow points. We also shot some $9.99 CCI 40-grain Maxi-Mag JHP rounds that we found at Academy Sports and Outdoors. We could have purchased more exotic rounds, but we decided to stay within a price range that was more typical of readily available 22 WMR ammunition.

Toss-Up: 22 WMR Bolt Rifles from CZ, Ruger, and Browning

Shortly before the Christmas holiday, members of our staff were contemplating a return to North Dakota for a prairie dog hunt. One of our concerns, however, was the cost of ammunition. The last time we traveled to the Bismarck-Mandan area, (discoverbismarckmandan.com), game was so plentiful we expended a huge amount of ammunition. Our .204 Ruger bolt-action rifles proved to be an excellent choice, but if we were going to make the trip again, we had to find a way to cut costs. We considered a change to rimfire rifles. Our first impulse was to load up on 17 HMR ammunition. But after checking prices and availability, we decided on a more traditional round that was cheaper and easier to find, 22 Winchester Magnum Rifle, or 22 WMR. Its been a long time since we tested varmint rifles chambered for 22 WMR, so we rounded up a representative trio. The three rifles we chose were the $729 Browning T-Bolt Target/Varmint No. 025176204, the $527 CZ 452 Varmint No. 02041, and the $812 Ruger K77/22-VMBZ Target Grey Magnum Varmint Rifle. Each rifle offered at least one substantive feature that distinguished it from the others. Our tests would determine if one gun was superior to the others or simply more suitable for one individual or another. Our ammunition costs ran from $8.99 per 50-round box of Winchester 40-grain JHP from Walmart to $11.95 per 50 rounds of 50-grain Federal Game-Shok hollowpoints purchased at our test site, American Shooting Centers in Houston. The Winchester rounds were tipped with exposed lead, and we think they probably should be listed as semi-jacketed hollow points. We also shot some $9.99 CCI 40-grain Maxi-Mag JHP rounds that we found at Academy Sports and Outdoors. We could have purchased more exotic rounds, but we decided to stay within a price range that was more typical of readily available 22 WMR ammunition.

Bolt-Action 22 Trio: Two Old, One New, All Good for Our Team

Bolt-action 22 rifles are among the most basic and useful of all firearms. They are fine trainers and excellent tools for a variety of uses limited only by the imagination of the owner. Weve seen em used for just about anything, and about the only constant is that decent 22 bolt rifles generally have long and useful lives. In this comparison we look at two older 22s by Winchester and Marlin, and a new Marlin as well.The rifles are an early Marlin Model 80-DL, $200, a Winchester Model 69A, $400, and a new Marlin Model 980S, $298. The two early rifles take Shorts and Longs as well as Long Rifles. The new one takes only 22LR. They all had iron sights and detachable magazines. They were grooved for "tip-off" mounts. The two early rifles had walnut stocks and blued barrels.The new Marlin had a black synthetic stock and stainless barrel and action. All the rifles were adult size, with good weight and reasonable dimensions. We tested them with CCI Velocitor HP, Federal Classic round-nose, Eley Match EPS, and Remington Yellow Jacket HPs.Bear in mind the Winchester Model 69A and Marlin 80-DL are not modern rifles. If you choose to buy one, be sure you get it all, and that it functions when you buy it. Spare parts are going to be hard to find. Gunsmiths might refuse to work on them. If you need a simple rifle youll find many modern ones cheaper, easier to find, and far less risky over the long haul. We dont condemn the older rifles, but the buyer must be aware there are plenty of choices in 22 bolt rifles today. But if you happen to come across one of the old blued-steel and walnut 22 bolt rifles, they might please you as no modern rifle can. Heres what we found.

22 LR Bolt Actions: We Would Buy the Remington Model 514

Getting a greenhorn shooter to take that first step along the path of a seasoned shooter, whether the targets are at the shooting range or running around in a field, often starts with a 22-caliber rifle. Most of us old-timers have fond memories of our first 22-caliber rifle. Bringing home a mess or rabbits or squirrels; punching holes in tin cans; or just trying to shoot the smallest group on paper were all part of our marksmanship learning experience.

Some of us remember that the first scene of the Audie Murphy biographical movie To Hell and Back depicts a young Murphy using a single shot to bag a rabbit for his family dinner. Developing his shooting skills with a 22-caliber rifle proved to be very beneficial marksmanship training for the man who would become the most decorated U.S. solider of World War II.

With a goal of getting our hands on a couple of used rimfires that could fit the requirements for a beginner's rifle, we checked out the used gun rack at Dury's Gun Shop (www.durysguns.com) and came up with a Remington Model 514 and a Marlin Model 25N, both with price tags of $200.

Although the Remington is a single shot and the Marlin has a seven-round detachable magazine, both rifles feature a basic bolt action loading access to the chamber; both have open sights; and both have been around long enough to have a few fans in the rimfire club.

The Model 514 was introduced in 1948 and was discontinued in 1970, while the Model 25N is a much newer 22-caliber rifle that was introduced in 1989, and was later renamed the Model 925. Remington acquired the Marlin operation in 2007 and continues to manufacture various models of 22-caliber rifles. However, our interest was in "experienced" versions of a beginner's shooting tool and the two veteran models that would most likely be older than the beginning shooter seemed to be an appropriate match.

To maintain a level playing field, we utilized the open sights featured on both rifles, rather than install better optics preferred by veteran marksmen whose eyesight may not be as good as younger shooters.

To examine the shooting performance of the two 22-caliber rifles, we selected a variety of 22-caliber Long Rifle ammunition. Although the Remington is designed to handle Shorts, Longs, and Long Rifles, we limited our ammunition choices to Long Rifle loads in fairness to the Marlin. Our test ammunition included CCI Standard Velocity; Eley Super Silhouex; and Aguila Super SE Extra, all 40-grain solid bullets; and Punta Hueca 39-grain hollowpoints made in Argentina. The average muzzle velocity of each of the rounds is 1200 fps. Targets used in our test were the Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C bull's eyes at 25 yards, with all shots taken from a solid bench rest.

Here's our test report:

Tricky Trio of 22 Autoloaders: Marlin Tops Remington, Ruger

The 22 autoloading rifle is an American icon. Many a youngster had one for his first rifle, and while they may not be ideal for that service, they are unquestionably handy rifles for any serious outdoorsman. They can also be excellent training pieces for just about anyone interested in serious shooting.We found three semiautomatic 22 LR rifles at the local gun shop. They were the Marlin Model 60 with tubular magazine and hardwood stock ($179), the Remington 597 SS with stainless barrel and synthetic stock ($283), and a Ruger-made 10/22 Model 1163 LZ distributors special, available through your dealer, with camo stock and laser sight ($526). The tricky laser got our attention. We couldnt resist a good hard look at what it had to offer, other than a scary price tag.Although two of the guns would accept tip-off scope rings and two were drilled for traditional scope bases (the Remington had both), we chose to shoot em with the iron sights provided. One of our reasons was to help us assess the laser sight on the Ruger. Would it prove to be useful in dim light, or against a questionable background where iron sights or even a scope would be hard to use? We intended to find out if that was a useful addition to the rifle, or just another sales gimmick.We tested with three types of ammunition: Winchester Super-X Power Point HP, Aguila Supermaximum Hyper Velocity (yes, thats really the name) solid point (flat nose), and CCI Mini Mag round-nose ammunition. Here is what we found.

Medium-Price .22 Bolt Rifles: We Pick CZ Over Remington

The world of premium-grade bolt-action .22 LR rifles has many entries that, frankly, cost a fortune. There are also a great many .22s available new or on the used market that can be bought for, say, less than a C-note, and they may or may not shoot as well as youd like. Somewhere in between, for a bit less than youd pay for a good centerfire bolt-action rifle, lie some of the more interesting rimfire bolt-action rifles. They are fine enough to serve as trainers for centerfire rifles, or to do good work in rimfire competitions of many sorts, and wont make you ashamed to be seen with em on the firing line. Will they shoot up to par? To find out, we acquired two rifles in this general category, the CZ Model 453 Varmint ($530), and the new Remington Model Five ($348), and set them against each other. We thought they were both mighty interesting rifles, and maybe you will too. Heres what we found.

High-End Rimfires: We Narrowly Pick Anschutz Over Kimber

A well-made rimfire rifle will make other shooters at the range stop, stare, and sometimes drool. Some people might buy them simply to admire their beauty or impress onlookers, but we believe that no matter how good a gun looks, if it doesn't perform, it isn't worth our consideration.

We recently tested two models that fit, or perhaps define, the high-end rimfire sporter market: The Anschutz 1710 D KL Monte Carlo No. 220.2030, $1413; and the $1877 Kimber SuperAmerica. When other shooters saw these rifles at the range, they usually stopped and asked, "What kind of rifles are thooose!"

To find out if these guns shot as well as they looked, we enlisted a panel of testers that included seven teenagers (four male and three female) and three adult males. The teenagers' experience varied from first-time shooter to four years of hunting and target shooting. The adult males all had over 25 years of shooting experience of all kinds. One of the adults commented that these rifles were "too good for teenagers to shoot."

Rimfire Carbines: Rugers Handy 10/22CRR Is Our First Choice

In September 2005, Sturm Ruger announced production of a compact version of its prolific 10/22 semi-automatic rifle, $275. Christened the 10/22CRR, we ordered one immediately. When it arrived, our first impression was that this carbine was not merely shorter; it, in fact, seemed scaled down from the original design.

We couldn't help but smile at the compact 10/22's size, but the real fun began when we went shopping for additional rimfire semi-automatic carbines to fill out a test roster. We acquired a Marlin 70PSS with composite stock, $318. The Marlin carbine differed from the Ruger in several ways, not the least of which was that it can be broken down by removing the barrel for transport. Marlin refers to this model as the Papoose. Our third gun was the Armscor AK 22, $220. The AK22 closely resembles an AK47, down to the replica magazine.

All three guns arrived with a single magazine. Further, each carbine could be viewed as a youth model, a training device, or both. But would the reduction of size compromise the time-proven 10/22 design? Would the Armscor AK22's big-gun appearance interfere with function or reliability? Would the integrity of lockup between barrel and receiver of the Marlin show signs of failure after repeated applications? Could three conceptually different models produce the same level of accuracy?

To find out, we shot the guns at 50 yards using a Caldwell Tack Driver ($33 unfilled from ). The Tack Driver is a sand-filled support with a left- and right-side chamber that forms an 11-inch-long channel to grip the forend. Our selection of test ammunition included the Federal Classic 40-grain solid copper-plated rounds and two Remington products. They were the Remington High Velocity 36-grain HP and the Remington Eley Target Rifle 40-grain LRN ammunition.

Here's what we found when we tested the guns head to head:

Youth .22LR Single Shots: CZ, Henry, Rogue, and Savage

We tested four rifles suitable for use by young shooters, and in two cases, our evaluators came away very disappointed.

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