Nearly all shooters follow the same trajectory when they are learning to use firearms as youths: They generally start with a play popgun, progress to a BB gun, and then, depending on their training and their parents' confidence in them, eventually receive their first real gun, a single-shot .22 LR rifle. As a result, anyone who has taken these steps to full-fledged gun ownership holds a lifelong affinity for the rimfire rifle, since it often ushers them into the gunpowder fraternity.
Of course, with age and experience handling firearms, the shooter invariably becomes more picky about the guns he wants to own, regardless of what pull-back-hammer rifle he began shooting with. He likes a con...
The plinking/light-target .22 LR autoloader rifle market has long been one of the gun industry's mainstays; it seems there's an almost bottomless need for entry-level .22s that shoot well enough, function well enough, and don't cost too much. In recent years, Ruger has reportedly had the best of the segment, selling ten versions of its venerable 10/22 design, which was introduced in 1964, in the price span between $160 to $300. Likewise, at a slightly lower price point, Marlin's $100 to $160 Model 60s did almost as well, accounting for a good chunk of that firm's total business, a company source told us. But why wasn't the biggest name in the business—Remington—better represented in what was likely the most popular product segment?
Unquestionably, Remington hasn't had a hit in the autoloading .22 rifle market since the Nylon 66, introduced back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in 1959. Like the 10/22 that followed it, the 66's strengths were durability, reliability, and easy care, if not pinpoint accuracy. With those timeless attributes in mind, Remington went back to the well in 1997 and rolled out the 597-series rifles—which to our eyes were made to correct deficiencies that have gone long overlooked in the unchanged 10/22s.
We say this because of a recent four-way test we undertook to compare two basic 597 guns, the polymer-stocked 597 and wood-stocked 597 Sporter, with two of Ruger's better sellers, the polymer-stocked 10/22RP and the hardwood-stocked 10/22RB. In terms of price, weight, length, componentry, design, and options, these two lines look like twins separated at birth. It was as if Remington sales guys, a la Dilbert, asked the company's engineers to "make us a gun that looks like the 10/22, but different, and better."
Did they succeed? We think so, at least in part.
[IMGCAP(1)] Although there are many nice new bolt-action rimfire rifles available today, some shooters prefer the look and feel, and what they perceive to be higher quality, of older rifles. Whether or not yesterday's rimfires were of higher quality than the newest is a matter of opinion, chance, cost, and experience, and is hence arguable. Surely older rifles more commonly had real walnut stocks, and their bluing was, in some cases, exceptionally well done, even on relatively inexpensive rifles. Today, used rimfires are often bargain-priced. Some, though, are pure collector's items and are priced accordingly.
We were fortunate to have access to three rimfire, bolt-action, magazine-fed r...
[IMGCAP(1)] Looking for a bargain in firearms is usually a bad place to start, because, over the years we've found that in most cases, you get what you pay for. But on rare occasions, Gun Tests has found well-made, accurate, easy-to-shoot inexpensive firearms in all categories.
Perhaps one of the deepest segments in which to find a bargain is in .22 LR bolt actions, depending, of course, on your definition of bargain. What we wanted to find in this test was a step up from plinker-grade guns that usually retail for $100 to $150, something that didn't break the bank, yet shot accurately and had a good list of features—decent trigger, good stock, and wide application. That course led us to a...
Ruger's Magnum takes the cake as a dangerous-game gun, and we also like Sako's 75 Hunter. Pass on the Winchester Model 70 Safari Express.