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: B+ (BEST BUY)
Gun Tests magazine has covered Tikka centerfire rifles in the past (see the March 2020 and October 2021 issues) with very favorable results. While certainly not cheap, neither are they expensive and, we feel, offer a great value for the cash required. Tikka is owned by Sako which, in turn, is owned by Beretta, three companies that know something about producing quality firearms.
|Overall Length||37.6 in.|
|Barrel Length/Twist||20.0 in., 1:16.5|
|Overall Height w Scope Mount||6.75 in. w/ 0-moa Pic rail|
|Weight Unloaded||6.0 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded (40 grain, 10 rounds)||6.1 lbs.|
|Action Finish||Matte Black|
|Barrel Finish||Matte Black|
|Magazine Type||Tikka proprietary detachable box|
|Stock Material||Foam-filled polymer|
|Stock Drop at Comb||0.5 in.|
|Stock Drop at Heel||0.6 in.|
|Stock Buttplate||Hard plastic|
|Stock Length of Pull||13.25 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Tikka pattern, Picatinny rail included|
|Trigger Pull Weight||2.5 lbs.|
|Safety||2-position thumb rocker|
The Tikka centerfire rifles share quite a bit of common technology with the more expensive Sakos. They tend to reduce their price point by limiting options. For example, a single action length is used for both short- and long-action cartridges. We wondered if the Tikka T1x would do the same thing. The two lines share a few of the same traits, but the compact T1x is 22 LR sized all the way. Bolt throw was only about 1.5 inch, feeling smooth and fast all the way. The bolt handle is the same size Tikka ships on its hunting rifles, though not the oversize piece to be found on a Tikka T3x Tac A1. Bolt throw was very short and fast to operate.
The 20-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged and is threaded 1⁄2×28. Of course, a thread protector is provided. The medium-profile tube measured 0.73 inch just behind the threads. We thought it was heavy enough to stabilize while shooting and light enough to be carried in the field. The barrel is free-floated from the stock, which offered several cool features of its own.
The synthetic stock is very rigid and allows the pistol grip to be swapped out for a more vertical piece. Check the Beretta website for more information. A beavertail fore end can also be added, and an aftermarket adjustable cheek piece is available. These may be synthetic stocks, but they are also foam-filled, keeping them from making that “thunk” sound when we allow them to touch a tree. Length of pull was a bit short for us, but spacers can be added to fix that.
Our action arrived with a 5.7-inch Picatinny rail on top. It is a 0-moa piece, so no additional elevation is added to the scope, perhaps leaving this rifle somewhat limited in the long-range game. That is easy to fix with an extensive selection of Tikka aftermarket parts at TikkaPerformance.com. We spent a whopping $10 to replace the trigger spring, lowering the trigger pull from 2.5 pounds to 0.9 pound — safely and easily. The thumb safety is a two-position piece mounted to the rear of the bolt handle. The 10-round magazine is proprietary. Operating smoothly and consistently, we had no issues with it.
Our Team Said: Accuracy was very good, averaging 0.474 inch for five-shot groups fired at 50 yards. This effort placed the Tikka in third place, but it was only 0.035 inch on average out of first place. The Tikka preferred the Eley Match ammo. The light weight became a bit of an issue when we tried go-fast drills, but this rifle wasn’t designed for go-fast shooting. We found the balance to be outstanding for a rifle we might carry in the woods all day. We had access to a KRG chassis that accepted the Tikka T1x barreled action. Suddenly, we had a long-range rifle, and whoever might choose the Tikka would also have the option to specify which purpose their rifle would perform.
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.|