At was Colonel Townsend Whelen who famously said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” We recently tested four examples of today’s crop of 22 LR bolt-action rifles to see if any could achieve “interesting” status, and we were gratified at what we found.
Choosing samples from the less-than-stratospheric part of the market, we wanted to know if these somewhat more moderately-priced rifles were sufficient for certain accuracy applications. Our first test piece was the Ruger Precision Rimfire 8401, $480. The next entry was the B14R from Bergara, $950. Third was the Tikka T1X, $519, and last was the Christensen Arms Ranger 22, $830.
Still mired in the great ammo panic/hoard/drought, we used our standard source to locate match 22 LR ammo. AmmoSeek.com is an aggregator that does a very good job of finding and listing ammo that is currently available for sale. Sticking with 40-grain standard-velocity rounds throughout these tests, we selected SK Match, Eley Tenex, and Eley Match. All testing was done at American Shooting Centers in Houston. We fired multiple five-shot groups at 50 yards. All rifles were well-sandbagged in a Caldwell TackDriver Pro (Brownells.com 100-027-023, $49), further supported by a large rear bag, heavy from Tab Gear (TabGear.com, $34). Velocities were measured by LabRadar (MyLabRadar.com, $559).
For optics, we used one of the outstanding Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS3 scopes with the G4P Precision Reticle (Model: ETXRS3G4, $1700). These are very popular on the PRS circuit right now, and we can see why. The Elite Tactical XRS3 is a 6-36×56 variable. The 6-36 power range may be a bit much for PRS, but it works well for F-Class, and the shooter always has the option to dial down the magnification. The G4P reticle provides a variety of subtensions, especially on the horizontal crosshair, which, in turn, makes holding off for wind calls simple and precise. We found the glass to be clear and the adjustments to be consistent. Competitive shooters might easily spend $4000+ on good scopes, but not everyone can. Not everyone has to. There is even a Production division in PRS where they try to limit the initial investment a shooter has to make to get started in the sport. The $1700 price tag for the Bushnell fits well within the price parameters (maximum $4500 for rifle and optic) for Production division without handicapping the shooter. Do yourself a favor and check this scope out. Now to the rifles.
Gun Tests Grade: A (Our Pick)
Coming in at a bit more than 9 pounds, the Bergara B14R was the heavyweight in our selection. The 18-inch barrel measured around 0.85 inch just behind the threaded muzzle, tapering down from 1.3 inch in front of the receiver ring. The tubular receiver was 5.75 inch in length, with an ejection port that only measured 1.4 inch. That’s a lot of steel, and it makes for a very rigid action. Stiff actions mated to quality barrels tend to produce outstanding accuracy, and our Bergara did not disappoint. The largish bolt adds more weight to the rifle, as does the oversize bolt handle. We had no trouble finding the bolt and running it in a hurry. The bolt face employs twin opposed extractors, which never let us down. Feeding was just as smooth.
|Overall Length||37.75 in.|
|Barrel Length/Twist||18.0 in., 1:16|
|Overall Height w Scope Mount||6.4 in., 30-moa Pic rail included|
|Weight Unloaded||9.3 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||9.6 lbs.|
|Action Finish||Matte Black|
|Barrel Finish||Matte Black|
|Magazine Type||Bergara proprietary detachable box|
|Stock Material||HMR Molded, soft touch|
|Stock Drop at Comb||0.5 in.|
|Stock Drop at Heel||0.5 in.|
|Stock Buttplate||Bergara soft rubber|
|Stock Length of Pull||14.5 in., w/three 0.25-in. removable spacers|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Remington 700 pattern, 6-48 screws|
|Trigger Pull Weight||1.8 lbs.|
|Safety||2-position thumb rocker|
The metal bolt shroud sports a cocking indicator. The bolt is removed by depressing a well-shaped and properly-sized release at the left rear of the receiver. The top of the receiver uses a Remington 700 pattern and 6-48 screws for the scope mounts. The safety is a two-position thumb rocker located to the rear of the bolt, as we would expect on a Remington-style action. Bergara provides a full-length 30-minute-of-angle (moa) Picatinny rail that provides plenty of room for the longer scopes commonly used in PRS/NRL shooting.
The ejection port may be scaled to a 22 LR, but the magazine is sized for the full-length action. The length is what we would expect for a member of the 308 cartridge family. The actual carrying capacity is in the forward 1.5 inch of the magazine, and everything fed perfectly. The bottom “metal” holding the magazine is polymer, but it protected the magazine well and provided a large easily-operated paddle release for the mag. The trigger is adjustable for weight of pull and, on average, only required 1.8 pounds of compression.
The Bergara B14R ships with a very usable stock. Of polymer construction, as are many of their units, the stock is very rigid and coated with a “soft touch” material. The overall effect is a good feel to the hands while allowing for a solid grip. It is adjustable, via spacers, for length of pull. The cheek piece may be raised to fit, then tightened in place, with a simple thumb screw. The pistol grip is the more vertical style common in long-range rifles. The bottom of the stock has a hook molded in for those who like to use a rear bag for support. There are four QD slots, two on the rear of the buttstock and two near the front of the fore end, which is very flat. Two sling-swivel studs are installed, allowing for the use of a sling and a Harris-type bipod. Everything ends in one of the nice, soft recoil pads so necessary for the monster recoil of the 22 LR.
All kidding aside, we recognize that a 22 LR is not going to recoil much, and that a heavyweight version might be overkill. We would disagree. The shooter who chooses to compete with a rifle chambered in 22 LR will be fighting the wind on every single shot. Misses are inevitable, but a heavier rifle tends to stay in place upon firing, providing the shooter with a much better chance of spotting hits and misses. The shooter who can see his bullet’s impact can make a much more informed correction for the next shot. We like weight in match rifles and liked the weight in the Bergara as a result.
Our Team Said: Function was perfect for all rounds fired. The light trigger aided shooting results, and the Bergara won our tests with an aggregate group across three ammo types of just under 0.44 inch. As a final test, we strung golf balls on paracord, hanging them from target boards and started shooting them at 50 yards — while they were moving. The Bergara made it almost too easy.
22 Long Rifle Range Data (50 Yards)
We tested at American Shooting Centers in Houston. We used a LabRadar chronograph (MyLabradar.com, $559) to determine muzzle velocities. We fired all shots for group from a Caldwell TackDriver bag ($49 from Brownells.com) and a Tab Gear large rear bag, heavy ($34 at TabGear.com).
|SK Match 40-grain LRN||Ruger Rimfire||Bergara B14R||Christensen Ranger||Tikka T1x|
|Average Velocity||1146 fps||1164 fps||1131 fps||1173 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||117 ft.-lbs.||120 ft.-lbs.||114 ft.-lbs.||122 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||0.54 in.||0.52 in.||0.50 in.||0.53 in.|
|Best Group||0.47 in.||0.44 in.||0.42 in.||0.45 in.|
|Eley Match 40-grain LRN||Ruger Rimfire||Bergara B14R||Christensen Ranger||Tikka T1x|
|Average Velocity||1088 fps||1093 fps||1098 fps||1091 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||105 ft.-lbs.||106 ft.-lbs.||107 ft.-lbs.||106 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||0.51 in.||0.41 in.||0.46 in.||0.41 in.|
|Best Group||0.44 in.||0.25 in.||0.33 in.||0.28 in.|
|Eley Tenex 40-grain LRN||Ruger Rimfire||Bergara B14R||Christensen Ranger||Tikka T1x|
|Average Velocity||1081 fps||1094 fps||1088 fps||1080 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||104 ft.-lbs.||106 ft.-lbs.||105 ft.-lbs.||104 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||0.96 in.||0.39 in.||0.43 in.||0.48 in.|
|Best Group||0.89 in.||0.31 in.||0.36 in.||0.35 in.|
Value Guide: 22 Rifle Rankings
|Henry Golden Boy Model H004 22 S/L/LR, $500||Feb. 2022||A||Our Pick. The Golden Boy Henry shines. It is heavy and has a very smooth operating lever.|
|Rossi Rio Bravo RL22181WD 22 LR, $300||Feb. 2022||A||Best Buy. Bravo to the Rio Bravo. The test rifle was accurate, lightweight, and had a smooth-cycling lever.|
|Chiappa LA322 Standard Carbine 920.383 22 LR, $290||Feb. 2022||D||The LA322 had several failures to feed and showed some soft firing-pin hits.|
|Browning BL-22 Grade I 024100103 22 S/L/LR, $700||Sep. 2021||A-||Our Pick. The fit and finish were superb, and that is reflected in the cost. Accuracy was the best of the three.|
|Henry Classic Lever Action 22 H001 22 S/L/LR, $386||Sep. 2021||A-||Best Buy. The Classic 22 Lever Henry is well made, fun to shoot and inexpensive. Accuracy was good.|
|Taylor’s & Co. Scout RIF/2045 22 LR, $594||Sep. 2021||A-||Styled after a resized Winchester Model 1873. We liked the option of adding an optic. Silver finish is striking.|
|Savage Model 64 Takedown 40207 22 LR, $212||Sep. 2020||A||Best Buy. Basically a Model 64 barrel and action attached to an abbreviated polymer stock.|
|Ruger 10/22 Takedown 11100 22 LR, $372||Sep. 2020||A||Our Pick. This has all the performance the iconic 10/22 is known for in a compact package.|
|KelTec Model SU22CA 22 LR, $373||Sep. 2020||A-||While not a true takedown rifle, the folding stock on the SU-22CA makes it easy to stow and go.|
|Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 22 LR, $500||Mar. 2020||A||Best Buy. The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 operated as we wanted and shot well. It won’t break the bank.|
|Walther Arms HK416 D145RS 578.03.01 22 LR, $583||Mar. 2020||B||If you’re looking for an M27 clone, this one is worth thinking about.|
|Anschütz MSR RX22 22 LR, $900||Mar. 2020||C||The Anschütz RX22’s trigger wasn’t the best, its buttpad fell off repeatedly, and no one liked its open sights.|
|ISSC MK22 ISSC211000 22 LR, $270||Mar. 2020||F||Showed ongoing failures to feed and extract. The blems on the sides of the receiver put us off.|
|German Sport Guns GSG-StG44 GERGSTG44 22 LR, $330||Feb. 2020||A||Our Pick. The action had very similar stampings to what you would find on the historical firearm.|
|Walther Arms Colt M4 Carbine 5760300 22 LR, $350||Feb. 2020||B||The Walther Arms Colt 22 LR M4 looks almost identical to the standard-issue Colt centerfire rifle.|
|Walther Arms HK MP5 A5 5780310 22 LR, $390||Feb. 2020||C||As tested, the stock limited the enjoyment of the firearm and was completely unacceptable for the price.|
|Chiappa Citadel CIR22M1W 22 LR, $300 (Two guns)||Feb. 2020||F, C||While the Chiappa looks very similar to a classic M1 Carbine, too many of the parts were made of plastic.|
|TPS M6 M6-100 22 LR/410 Bore, $487||Jan. 2020||A||Our Pick. The M6 follows in the footsteps of the previous M6 design and does it better.|
|Rossi Matched Pair 22 LR/410 bore, $182||Jan. 2020||A||We liked the sights, the ease of disassembly, and handling of this gun. You get a lot of gun for the price.|
|Savage Model 42 Takedown 22440 22 LR/410 Bore, $425||Jan. 2020||B+||The gun has some fine attributes: accuracy and simple disassembly/reassembly.|
|Hunting Tactical Super Sixty HTSSA1 22 LR, $500||Nov. 2019||A||From the extended bolt release to the super-sharp 3.8-pound trigger, the Super Sixty is an exceptional rifle.|
|Adaptive Tactical Ruger 10-22 Build 22 LR, $635||Nov. 2019||A||We would have liked a better trigger, but we didn’t feel limited by it, as the accuracy results show.|