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
In direct contrast to the Bergara, Christensen Arms decided to forego recoil mitigation and opted, instead, for portability. Everything in this rifle is designed for maximum weight savings. With a muzzle diameter about 0.86 inch, the barrel is about the same size as the others in this test. The similarities end there. The muzzle and the breech end are sizable, but everything in between is under tension from a carbon-fiber wrap. The tube is hand-lapped and comes with a 22 LR Bentz match chamber. The muzzle, of course, is threaded 1⁄2×28, and a good thread protector is provided.
|Overall Length||36.25 in.|
|Barrel Length/Twist||18.0 in., 1:16|
|Overall Height w Scope Mount||6.75 in. w/0-moa Pic rail included|
|Weight Unloaded||4.4 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||4.6 lbs.|
|Action Finish||Matte Black|
|Barrel Finish||Matte Black|
|Magazine Type||Ruger 10/22 pattern detachable box|
|Stock Material||Carbon-fiber composite|
|Stock Drop at Comb||0.5 in.|
|Stock Drop at Heel||0.5 in.|
|Stock Buttplate||Soft rubber|
|Stock Length of Pull||13.75 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||0 MOA, Picatinny rail included|
|Trigger Pull Weight||2.4 lbs.|
|Safety||2-position thumb rocker|
|Warranty||Limited lifetime for original owner|
|Made In||USA, Utah|
Christensen attaches the barrel to a precision black-anodized aluminum receiver. A 6-inch-long 0-moa Picatinny rail spans the length of the action, providing lots of room for optics. The oval-shaped bolt may be more than 0.6 inch in width, but its height only measures a slim 0.45 inch. The bolt handle and the bolt shroud are both very slim, in keeping with the lightweight design. The smallish bolt knob is grooved for traction and is threaded in case the shooter prefers a different design. The bolt features dual extractors and dual opposing locking lugs. Bolt removal comes via the lever on the left rear of the receiver.
The Ranger uses a Remington 700 Trigger Tech trigger, the operation of which provided a clean break, as we expected. This trigger was the field version and was only adjustable down to about 2.4 pounds. The trigger actually felt a bit heavier than that, and we had to really focus on our control as we shot the accuracy tests. We think this rifle is worthy of a bit lighter trigger, but we are confessed trigger snobs. As expected with a Rem 700-style trigger, the Ranger had a Remington 700-style two-position safety located immediately behind the bolt handle. Once again, the bottom “metal” was polymer, but that did not create any problems. We were pleased to find a Ruger 10-22 compatible magazine nestled in the magwell. Any 10-22 compatible mag should fit. Magazine release is started with a large paddle right in front of the trigger. The sides of the magwell were dished out, allowing a bit more purchase area in the event of a stuck mag.
We loved the carbon-fiber composite stock. Very light in weight, our sample was tan with black webbing. The fore end was flat, as was the more-narrow shelf on the buttstock. The design did a good job of riding bags for us. The grip is ambidextrous, with an almost vertical angle. The lines then flow into a good palm hook, perfect for supporting hands or bags. The comb, though not adjustable, was actually high enough to allow a pretty good cheek weld. It is capped with a hard-rubber grooved recoil pad. The two sling-swivel studs are ready for a good, thin sling.
Our Team Said: Feeding and extraction were flawless through the three different types of ammunition. The Ranger came in second place in the shooting, averaging 0.464 inch for five-shot groups at 50 yards. It showed a preference for the Eley Tenex fodder. The very light weight may have been a factor in how hard we had to focus to get the smallish groups. But then we would cherish that lack of weight (the Christensen weighed less than 4.5 pounds, empty, sans scope) if we were going to spend a day in the woods carrying it.
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.|