Category Archives: Rimfires

Package Deal

Savage’s New Mark II FXP Offers User-Friendly Convenience.

It’s been an exciting month in the world of rimfires. Savage fielded a completely new “package rifle” consisting of a Mark II bolt-action, factory-mounted with a 3-9X Bushnell scope, while Bill Ward just released Walnut and Steel, a fascinating book on vintage .22 rifles.

Better still, we’re beginning to see a variety of rimfire ammo brands back on dealers’ shelves and fairly priced, I might add. Hopefully, the drought and price gouging are history.


The Savage Mark II FXP features a smooth-feeding, 10-round detachable box magazine (above).
Gas ports in the front receiver ring (below) protect the shooter from possible case head ruptures.


Savage Mark II FXP

Years ago it was common to see companies like Mossberg and Sears offering complete factory rimfire rifle/scope packages. Then the practice seemed to go out of style. But no longer. The concept is more popular than ever and makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of convenience and economy.

A new owner doesn’t have to struggle with the selection of a properly designed rimfire scope and mounts. This is especially true for a new shooter who probably has had little or no exposure to optics or the steps necessary to properly mount them. With the package, the scope comes mounted properly to the rifle with the crosshair leveled. Plus it’s been bore-sighted at the factory, assuring the new owner that his first shot will be somewhere near the center of the target at 25 yards. In fact, Savage even includes a 25-yard bull’s-eye target in the manual to help the owner get started properly.

Because they buy scopes in such large quantities and can specify the design characteristics of the optics they order, gun companies are able to offer the consumer advantageous pricing on package deals instead of forcing the buyer to purchase a scope and mounts separately. For example, the new Savage Mark II FXP package in .22 Long Rifle has a retail price of only $291.

There’s a lot to like about the Mark II FXP. First and foremost, it’s fitted with Savage’s AccuTrigger. Having made the transition from the company’s centerfire line to their rimfire models, the AccuTrigger is simply remarkable. The weight-of-pull can be owner-adjusted from 2-1/2 to 4-1/4 pounds with complete safety (Savage includes a trigger adjustment tool along with the rifle). Once the barreled action is separated from the stock, adjusting the trigger is simply a matter of turning the trigger return spring in or out to set the poundage. I set the test gun trigger at 3 pounds exactly.


Holt preferred the green synthetic stock of the Mark II over the
usual “tactical black” color scheme.


The 3-9X Bushnell scope included in the package is overly large in Holt’s opinion,
but performed perfectly.

Given the inherent accuracy of .22 LR ammunition, the crisp, light AccuTrigger is a distinct
advantage when wringing out the very best the 6 pound, 5 ounce Mark II FXP has to offer.

I once asked Savage’s Ron Coburn what their secret was to producing what many consider to be the most accurate barrels in the industry. Ron credited their button-rifling system. Well, the stoutly contoured Mark II FXP barrel is button-rifled, plus it’s mounted in a thick-walled tubular receiver providing 7-3/4 inches of stock-bedding surface. Adding to its accuracy potential, the barrel is free-floated in the stock from the front of the receiver to the end of the muzzle.

The bolt locks up in the receiver by way of a lug at the base of the bolt handle. It’s a very common locking system in the world of rimfires, and to prevent unnecessary wear, I strongly recommend keeping the bearing surfaces of the lug and the cam angle cut in the receiver wall greased. White Tetra Gun Grease is one of my favorites for the purpose since you can see it against the dark steel surfaces, ensuring all wear points are fully lubricated.

An interesting feature located in the front ring of the Mark II receiver is a pair of opposed gas-release ports. It’s been decades since I’ve heard of a ruptured rimfire case head, but Savage has taken care of that remote possibility with sound safety engineering.

It’s refreshing to see a green-colored polymer stock on a rimfire rifle rather than boring, ubiquitous black. Green not only looks classy, it makes the Savage stand out from the competition and gives the impression this rifle is designed for the field.


The Mark II FXP upheld Savage’s reputation for accurate barrels with several brands of .22 LR ammo, but their AccuTrigger (above ) helped some. The 3-9X Bushnell scope (below) included in the package is overly large in Holt’s opinion, but performed perfectly.


The 3-9X Bushnell scope is, in my opinion, overly large and out of proportion to the lines of the rifle, but that’s a personal hang-up I have with 99 percent of the rimfire scopes out there. Otherwise the scope functioned perfectly well for .22 LR-appropriate distances and targets.

How did the Mark II shoot? The pictured 50-yard target is pretty indicative of its accuracy potential. The best 5-shot group measured 0.65-inch and was fired with Wolf Match Target. Not far behind was Remington’s Golden Bullet brand, with a 0.71 group. CCI’s flat-nosed Small Game Bullet delivered a tight 0.76 grouping, while two of my favorite loads, Winchester Power Point (0.96) and CCI Mini-Mag (0.95) delivered adequate small-game hunting accuracy at 50 yards.

In short, the Mark II FXP package proved very accurate, fed, extracted and ejected without a hiccup, and handled well. The AccuTrigger is a real plus on the range and especially in the field where you may be shooting offhand. Savage has successfully assembled a best-buy rimfire package in the Mark II FXP.
The package is also available in .22 WMR as the Model 93 FXP.


Bill Ward’s new book on vintage .22 rifles is a modern classic in itself.

Studying The Classics

Reading Bill Ward’s Walnut and Steel is like sitting down with an old friend and reminiscing about classic .22 rifles you’ve both owned and appreciated over a lifetime. The author’s style is warm and familiar, the research thorough, the photography excellent and the shooting data invaluable.

In 222 pages, Ward covers in detail 20 classic .22 rifles from Stevens, Savage, Remington, Winchester and Marlin. For each model he covers the history, mechanical features and range performance at 25 and 50 yards with a variety of ammunition types.

Priced at $19.95 for the softcover edition and $29.95 in hardback, it’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the publisher, AuthorHouse, (800) 839-8640 or

If you enjoy classic rimfire rifles, you’re going to love this book.
By Holt Bodinson

MAKER: Savage Arms
100 Springdale Road
Westfield, MA 01085
(413) 568-7001
Action type: Turnbolt repeater
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Capacity: 10 (detachable magazine)
Barrel length: 21 inches
Overall length: 39.5 inches
Weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces
Finish: Matte black
Sights: 3-9X Bushnell scope
Stock: Green polymer
Price: $291

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Ruger’s “Super Charger”

The pistol Version Of The
ICONIC 10/22 Is Now Stylish
As Well As Practical.

A Charger is: (A) A knight’s trusty steed, (B) 707 horsepower under a Dodge hood, (C) The coolest pistol in Ruger’s rimfire line.

Yes, the coolest pistol in Ruger’s rimfire lineup is back with some new bells and whistles to swing right into the 21st century rimfire scene. If there ever were a “sleeper” in the Ruger line, it’s been the Charger. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have seen a Charger on the range, and it’s been around since 2007. Built on the 10/22 chassis, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, it was the perfect time to polish up the Charger design and reintroduce it the shooting public. Frankly, it’s one of the greatest fun guns ever to arrive on the rimfire scene, and it’s one of the most accurate rimfire pistols ever made.

For 2015, there are actually two, new Chargers. There’s the traditional solid frame model and for 2015, a takedown model utilizing the same quick disconnect system developed originally for the 10/22 Takedown rifle.

Both models are really snazzy-looking, decked out in their redesigned laminate stocks. The solid frame model is in brown laminate while the takedown version is in an attractive green. One of the surprising upgraded features was both models are fitted with AR/A-2 style pistol grips, giving their owners the option to substitute an A-2 style grip of their own choosing.


The Charger comes with a 15-round magazine combining high round
count with a length perfect for use at the bench or afield.


Takedown Chargers come in their own compact, rugged,
range-ready, hard cases.

Another attractive styling touch is the fore-ends are accented with six, slashing, milling cuts, providing some dramatic eye appeal and a very tactile grip for offhand shooting.

Neither model is sighted, but both are factory mounted with a 4-5/8-inch Picatinny rail featuring 11 slots for positioning scopes, red dots and other optical options. The Picatinny rail couldn’t be a more flexible platform, but I strongly recommend you give the factory mounting screws a dash of Loctite No. 242 blue thread locker to assure that Picatinny rail never loosens up under use.

The Charger is fitted with a stout, 10-inch barrel and being a very contemporary model, the Charger features a threaded muzzle protected by a knurled muzzle nut. The thread form is 1/2-inch-28, just right for a nice rimfire suppressor or other muzzle accessory. Again, my recommendation is to apply some Loctite to the muzzle nut and tighten it down if you don’t plan on adding an accessory in the immediate future.

These being factory test guns, I didn’t and I lived to regret it during the testing phase when a muzzle nut loosened up and opened up the test groups dramatically. So dramatically, I stopped shooting immediately to analyze the problem. That darn little nut had loosened up just one thread and that’s all it took to send accuracy south.

Speaking of barrels, there’s a very interesting National Firearms Act (NFA) warning on page 13 of the owner’s manual, and it’s worth repeating: “Unauthorized installation of the .22 Charger pistol’s barrel assembly onto a 10/22 Takedown rifle receiver is a felony under the NFA and can lead to substantial criminal penalties.” I don’t know why anyone would want to, but there you have it. Don’t.

The Chargers come with factory-supplied bipods. Two different brands and designs came with the test guns. The takedown model was furnished with a Harris-type knockoff that extended from 5.75 to 8.375 inches and the solid frame model came with a UTG bipod with extension from 5.5 to 5.875 inches. I liked the extended reach of the Harris-type bipod, which was also easier and quicker to mount on the front swivel post.


Ruger’s new Chargers are the coolest looking pistols in their rimfire
line and are available as a takedown (above, left) or solid frame. Solid
frame Chargers (below) are boxed with deluxe padded carrying case.


The bipods make the Chargers. With a solid, 3-point platform of support off the bench or from a prone position, the Chargers shoot like rifles, not handguns. They’re in a league all by themselves as production guns, and won’t flip your credit card, yet deliver sensational accuracy out as far as you want to shoot a rimfire.

The magazine supplied with the Charger is the new 15-round, BX-15 model. A nice compromise height, it clears the top of a bench. It’s the utterly dependable Ruger rotary design that just feeds and feeds flawlessly.

For wringing out the Chargers, I selected two different optics packages: Majestic Arms’ Bushnell Trophy 1x28mm Red/Green Dot platform featuring lapped-in Leupold quick-detachable rings and a proven B&L 2-6X pistol scope also mounted in QD Leupold rings. For cross-slot Picatinny-style bases, nothing is as handy as Leupold quick-detachable rings. They’re made for each other and allow you to swap out optics in mere seconds.

Going into the test, I was curious whether the takedown model would prove less accurate than the solid frame Charger. ’Twas not to be. With either model, the shooting results at 25 yards off the little bipods were outstanding with a variety of ammunition. One pattern emerged almost consistently though. There was one flyer out of an otherwise very tight 4-shot group, so in reporting the results I eliminated the flyer while measuring the 4-shot groups, hopefully giving a better picture of the inherent accuracy potential of the guns.

The Chargers are really neat pistols—distinctly different, racy looking and superbly accurate. It’s good to see Ruger giving them a 21st century facelift and bringing them prominently back in the line.

.22 LR Factory Ammo Performance

Load Group Size* Group Size**
(brand, bullet weight, type) (INCHES) (INCHES)
CCI Mini-Mag 40 0.92 0.67
CCI Pistol Match 40 0.55 0.87
Remington Golden 40 0.77 0.65
Winchester Power Point 40 0.48 0.70
Winchester FHP 37 0.74 0.59
Winchester 555 36 2.21 0.72

Notes: *Solid frame, **Takedown. Groups the best 4 of 5 shots at 25 yards.


Offered as an accessory, the BX-Trigger offers a light, crisp, 2.5- to 3-pound
pull weight. It is one of the best accessories arriving for 10/22 users in decades!

The New Ruger BX Trigger Module

At the same time the new Chargers were released, Ruger surprised us all with the announcement of their revolutionary BX-Trigger assembly. At this time, the BX-Trigger is being offered only as a factory accessory, but what an accessory it is. The BX-Trigger reduces the pull weight of the typical 10/22 trigger from 6 pounds to 2.5 to 3 pounds, and it’s crisp with minimum overtravel and a positive reset. Best yet, it’s a consumer friendly, drop-in module for any existing 10/22 rifle or Charger pistol. The price is $89.95, and there’s an instructional video of the simple installation process at

During the testing, I also switched out the trigger module of the solid frame Charger with the new BX-Trigger assembly. The switch is simple and fast (Note: you must remove the pistol grip first.) The inletting is tight, and the judicious use of a rubber hammer to unseat and reseat the barreled action will prove helpful. Driving out two cross pins drops out the existing trigger module, and then it’s just a matter of inserting the new trigger module, reinserting the two pins, function testing, and you’re in business. It’s taken 50 years to get a good factory trigger on the 10/22, but the BX has been worth the wait. It will improve your shooting.
By Holt Bodinson

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Too Much Scope!

Rimfire Optics May Be Better Then They Used
To Be, But They’re Bigger Than They Need To
Be. But The Problem Is Being Neatly Addressed.

I’ve seen a tremendous change in optics for rimfires over the last few decades, some good, some not so good. Rimfire optics got a slow start beginning mostly in the 1930’s with names like O.F. Mossberg, Marlin, Malcom, Lyman, J. Stevens Arms, W.R. Weaver and Winchester, but the Depression kept the optics trade fairly restrained. About 99.9 percent of the rimfires owned by average Americans back then carried plain, factory-mounted, open iron sights, and your marksmanship credentials were judged on just how well you could use them effectively.

Beginning in the early 1950’s, rimfire riflemen began seeing the development of really affordable scopes suitable for rimfires. The game changers were Mossberg’s 4X models 2M4 and 4M4 and Weaver’s 4X models B and G. Both brands sold for $9.75 to $9.95. They had straight, 3/4-inch tubes with internal adjustments, but you had your choice of reticles—just as long as it was a simple crosshair.

Rimfire rifles of that era didn’t sport the grooved receivers we enjoy today, so mounting a scope usually meant making a visit to the nearest gunsmith (unless you bought one of the factory mounted packages from companies like Mossberg or Sears). The dominant rimfire mount of the day was Weaver’s N-model side mount, a $2 steel stamping that required drilling and tapping four screw holes into the left receiver wall of your .22. It wasn’t pretty, especially if the mount was removed at a later date, but it worked.

Typical of that class of early rimfire scopes is the 4X Bushnell Banner on my Feinwerkbau Model 300 air rifle. The Bushnell cost me exactly $9.95, and it has stood up to the double-shuffle of the Feinwerkbau’s recoil system for thousands of rounds without complaint. I originally mounted it on a Winchester Model 69 where it served for years as a perfectly acceptable small-game scope. While they were cheap and simple and may not have featured the most refined lenses, those little scopes were matched perfectly in size to the rimfire rifles they rode.


Which scope is better proportioned to a rimfire? In Holt’s view, the oldies
(left) are the goodies, although things seem to be changing.

Slim Down!

If I have one criticism about many contemporary rimfire scopes, it’s scale. Current manufacturers seem to have no sense of proportion. The scopes aren’t being matched to the slim, trim lines of the average rimfire used for plinking or small-game hunting. Unless rimfire metallic silhouette or some other rimfire target game is being pursued—where variable power, large tubes and target knobs are a competitive advantage—the contemporary rimfire scope should go on a diet. Tube diameters should be reduced from 1 inch to 7/8 or 3/4 of an inch. Objective and ocular bells dimensions need to be slimmed, overall lengths shortened and weights shaved.

The last elegantly proportioned rimfire scope I can recall was Redfield’s 2-3/4X and 4X Sportster model. Leupold would be smart to revisit the Sportster line under their Redfield label, as well as reintroducing the Alaskan 4X, their limited-edition copy of the old Lyman Alaskan big-game scope, except built to rimfire proportions.

Recently, I’ve been working with two new rimfire optics packages from Sun Optics USA and Majestic Arms, Ltd.

If you go to Sun’s website, you’ll find the firm offers an extensive line of optics, lasers, mounts and firearm accessories. One model in particular fascinated me. It’s the Tri-Rail Tactical scope.

The Tri-Rail Tactical design features a solid, 1-piece tube with three Picatinny rails and a mounting system integral with the tube. The scope mount will fit a standard Picatinny rail or Weaver-type slotted base. By flipping the two clamping side rails of the mount, the Tri-Rail will fit a standard 3/8-inch grooved rimfire receiver. That’s ingenious engineering at its best!

There are 10 models in the Tri-Rail Tactical scope family sporting objective diameters from 28mm to 50mm. Power options range from 4X fixed to 6-24X variable. All models feature a mil-dot reticle, and selected models offer an adjustable, illuminated reticle (IR) in both red and green hues.
The scopes are parallax-adjusted for 100 yards, and the windage and elevation adjustments are 1/4-MOA. All Tri-Rail Tacticals also feature fast-focus oculars and nitrogen-filled, fog-proof tubes.



Sun Optics’ Tri-Rail Tactical scope is a great match for Colt’s M4 rimfire carbine.
Those bare Tri-Rails (inset) just begged for the addition of a flashlight and laser.

I had been looking for a tactical scope for the Walther-made, Colt M4 rimfire carbine. The 2-6x28mm Tri-Rail scope with a length of 8.5 inches, a weight of 14.5 ounces and an eye relief of 3.7 to 2.95 inches worked perfectly. With all those bare rails staring at me, I couldn’t resist adding a Streamlight, Model TLR-3 tactical LED flashlight and a LaserMax rechargeable “Genesis” green laser to the top and side rails of the Tri-Rail. The combination looked cool and functioned well. Suggested retail on the 2-6X model is $141.99 and pricing for the complete, 10 model Tri-Rail line ranges from $105.99 to $165.99.

After having had the opportunity to examine three different models of the Sun Optics Tri-Rail Tactical line, including the 3-9X IR model, I am impressed with their ingeniously robust design, overall quality and versatility.

The second optical package I have been working with is Majestic Arms’ new red-dot combination platform, customized for Ruger MkIII pistols and 10/22 rifles.

To build the platform, Majestic has taken one of their proprietary Picatinny rails, added two quick-detachable rings and then lapped those rings in for a perfect—and repeatable—fit. The red-dot model Majestic selected to complete the platform is Bushnell’s Trophy 1x28mm, red or green dot which offers 11 brightness settings and four reticles—a 3-MOA dot, 10-MOA dot, a 3-MOA dot within a circle (my favorite) and a conventional crosshair. It’s a tough optic with a lifetime factory warranty.



Majestic Arms’ new red-dot optics platform simply screws on to a MkIII Ruger pistol.
Quick-detachable rings (inset) facilitate the use of iron sights while retaining
the zero of the red dot.

The final step in building the Majestic platform is to bore-sight the Bushnell Trophy model so it will be on the paper at 25 yards when mounted.
What you get from this setup is a complete optics platform you simply screw down on an existing Ruger pistol or rifle using the factory-drilled screw holes. The neat part? The Bushnell unit can be quickly removed to allow full use of the factory open sights, and—because the rings have been lapped in—the red/green dot unit will return to zero when remounted on the rail.

I have the new package installed on a Majestic-customized Ruger MkIII, and it performs perfectly. For most purposes, red-dot optics make more sense to me than a scope on a handgun. The Majestic Arms platform makes it easier than ever for the shooter to switch back and forth between optics and iron sights while retaining a repeatable zero.

With a price tag of $199, the new Majestic platform is one of the soundest values in the rimfire world.
By Holt Bodinson

Majestic Arms, Ltd.
101A Ellis St.
Staten Island, NY 10307
(718) 356-6765

Sun Optics USA
3606 S. 135W
Alvarado, TX 76009
(817) 783-6001

9200 Cody St.
Overland Park, KS 66214
(800) 423-3537

LaserMax, Inc.
3495 Winton Place, Bldg. B
Rochester, NY 14623
(800) 527-3703

30 Eagleville Rd.
Eagleville, PA 19403
(800) 523-7488

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S&W’s M&P22 Compact

A .22 LR Heir To The Legendary “Military
& Police” Designation, This Slick Little
Auto Is State-Of-The-Art.

Some companies know how to keep secrets. After signing a 4-page, non-disclosure agreement, having my mug shot taken, my background checked, passing through a “photo badge mandatory” outdoor turnstile and two interior metal detection stations, I was in the promised land—Smith & Wesson’s impressive manufacturing facility in Springfield, Mass. With 3,000 employees and 480,000 square feet of manufacturing space, it is, in a word, big. Lined from one end to the other are numerically controlled machines going 24/7. The company’s firearm design process is now so sophisticated, engineers send their specifications from CAD computers directly to a 3D printer, which builds a replica model of the gun to be examined, analyzed and tweaked until the design is finalized and ready for production.

The plant tour was a lead-in to my reason for being there. There was something S&W’s director of marketing communications, Paul Pluff, wanted to share. But for day one, the focus was on S&W’s 2014 introduction of their Crimson Trace laser-equipped M&P Bodyguard .380 auto and .38 Special revolver. Both are great handguns for daily concealed carry, but the real surprise came in the traditional blue box on day two.

Smith & Wesson’s recent Military & Police line of handguns and AR rifles have set a new standard and are engineered, manufactured and tested to professional standards. “Reliable, durable and accurate” is a good description of S&W’s M&P products. Years ago I was a confirmed Glock guy until I began shooting S&W’s full-sized M&P9. I’ve been shooting M&P’s ever since.

The M&P line has included a previous .22 rimfire, the M&P22, produced for S&W by Walther of Germany (the relationship is dissolving on an amicable basis). The replacement product was the secret Pluff had been teasing us with for 24 hours—the M&P22 Compact.


For training purposes, Holt set up the scaled down M&P22
Compact (bottom) like his full-sized M&P9 (top).

This rimfire “tactical” featured pistol took the engineering design team 18 months to perfect. In size, it’s an 87-1/2 percent scale version of my full-sized M&P9. The proportions are ideal—the M&P22 is compact without being skimpy. I have large hands, and when I grip the Compact, my pinky finger doesn’t drift off the bottom of the magazine well.

The Compact is also well balanced, weighing 18 ounces (including its fully-loaded 10-round magazine) with an overall length of 6.7 inches. When I asked the engineering team how difficult that reduction in scale had been, I got an earful. It turned out to be much more of a challenge than I had expected.
The cartridge was the determining factor by defining the size of the magazine well. When the height of the full-size M&P was reduced, the feeding angle for the .22 LR round became an issue (as did the striking energy of the internal hammer because the arc-of-rotation was changed). The engineers did tell me how invaluable the in-house 3D printer had been for the fabrication of prototypes along the development path.

Like its centerfire big brother, the Compact is a mix of polymers and steels. Pluff told us S&W recently went out and purchased an entire injection molding company because “we knew how to cut metal, but not how to work polymers.”

Anyway, the frame is made from a high-strength polymer, the slide from tough, 7076 T651 aluminum, and the barrel from 4140 carbon steel. Every part in this new model is American-made.

The Compact is a single-action, hammer-fired, blowback design featuring an articulated trigger with a drop safety/activated firing pin block, an ambidextrous thumb safety, a loaded-chamber observation port, and an internal lock activated by turning a supplied key. I can’t think of a safer model on the market. The Compact would be an ideal plinker for the entire family to enjoy.


The 3-dot sight system (above) is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.
The grasping grooves on the slide (below) are elegant and effective.



The slide is removed from the frame by first lowering this takedown lever (above).
The M&P22 Compact is fully “tactical” and has a suppressor-ready, threaded muzzle
featuring a protective nut (below).


Tactical Touches

When I used the term “tactical” to describe the M&P22, I wasn’t exaggerating. The first feature that catches your eye is the Picatinny-style rail up front, just begging for some lights and lasers. My M&P9 is stocked with Crimson Trace LaserGrips, and I ended up mounting a complementary Insight white light unit on the Picatinny rail. To duplicate that package and controls on the Compact, I mounted a Streamlight Model TLR-4 green laser/white light unit on the front rail. It’s a pretty cool tool, offering light only, laser only or light/laser combined at the flick of your finger.

I spoke with Mike Faw from Crimson Trace, who was at the factory as well. He told me the trend is definitely to green lasers, pointing out the fact green is more visible in daylight. It also projects a larger beam, but at the cost of more energy and bigger batteries. Faw also said since most confrontations occur at night, the advantage of green lasers isn’t always significant. Whether a green dot in the middle of an assailant’s chest will have the same calming effect as a red one remains to be seen.

Speaking of being a tactical design, the muzzle of the Compact is factory threaded for a suppressor. It’s not obvious because the threads are concealed by a protective nut. The barrel thread form is 3/8-inch-24 threads, so a 1/2-inch-28 thread adapter will be required to mount most current rimfire suppressors. No big deal. They’re readily available; however, because of its threaded barrel and trigger pull weight, the Compact cannot be sold in Massachusetts, Connecticut or California.

One of the nice features of the M&P22 Compact is the sighting system. It’s a three white-dot setup with the rear sight being adjustable for windage and elevation. Being able to adjust your zero is an outstanding asset with a .22 handgun because no two .22 LR brands ever seem to have the same point of impact.

With a pull weight of only 5.8 pounds and a reset of only 0.150 inch, the Compact’s factory trigger is sensational. Both at the factory and home on the range, I shot hundreds of rounds through it. The only type of ammunition that failed to cycle was Federal’s Gold Medal target load. All other brands, whether standard or high velocity, solid or hollowpoint, fed and functioned fine.

I love the stainless steel magazines supplied with this gun. They drop right out when the reversible magazine catch is punched. They’re tough enough to take the fall on a rapid reload without lip deformation. There’s a big, soft, slide button for your thumb to lower the follower when charging the magazine (two of them come with the gun).


It’s OK to be brand conscious! Rimfires are ammunition sensitive, both in terms
of function and accuracy. Here are some of the better groups produced by the M&P22.


Holt found the M&P22 Compact’s trigger to be little short of terrific.

At 15 yards from a Caldwell pistol rest, my best overall group was 1-1/2-inches with Federal Champion. What surprised and intrigued me were the 4-shot groups turned in by Federal 550 and Winchester 555—those big-box store, 500+ round bulk packs we used to be able to buy. I hope we can again soon! There’s some magic lurking there.

Field-stripping the Compact is simply a matter of switching the takedown lever down and removing the slide. The process can be seen at

The M&P22 Compact story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning S&W’s accessory program. The company has arranged with holster makers (De Santis and Triple K), laser and flashlight firms (Crimson Trace, Streamlight, LaserMax and Laserlyte) and optics mounting system maker, UM Tactical, to have M&P22 Compact accessories available.

In short, Smith & Wesson’s M&P22 Compact is a well-designed, quality pistol, worthy of the M&P designation, with a wealth of tactical features.
By Holt Bodinson

M&P22 Compact
Maker: Smith & Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield, MA 01104
(800) 331-0852
Action Type: Blowback, semi-auto
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Capacity: 10
Barrel length: 3.6 inches
Overall length: 6.7 inches
Weight: 18.1 ounces, fully loaded
Sights: 3-dot, fully adjustable, plus rail
Stocks: Polymer
Finish: Black
Price: $389

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Opening Shots

Rifleman Mike Shoots And Finds
Room In His Battery For More.

Last month I described my nephew Mike buying his first rifle, a Winchester 70 Featherweight in .300 Win Mag. Mike was sure this rifle, along with his Benelli 12-gauge shotgun, would cover all his hunting and shooting needs. We went through the steps of checking over the rifle, cleaning the bore, fitting a scope and bore sighting.

Mike got out two boxes of Remington ammunition loaded with 180-grain Core-Lokt bullets. “This was on sale, is it good ammo?” I assured him it was fine. A benefit of choosing a popular cartridge such as the .300 WM is more ammunition choices for sale in more places, and occasionally finding attractive sale prices.

Mike settled at the bench with the rifle resting on front and rear bags. I’d set up a target at 25 yards.

“Why not shoot at the 100-yard target?”

“If I skip this step I generally regret it. It is discouraging to fire three shots at 100 yards and not have a hole on paper.”

I pointed out a few benchrest basics, such as placing the forearm on the front bag in the same position for each shot, aiming by squeezing the rear sandbag rather than by steering with hands or face, focusing intently on the reticle while pressing the trigger smoothly straight back. Because a light .300 does have some recoil I made sure he pulled the butt pad firmly into his shoulder and suggested he grip the forearm with the left hand to reduce muzzle rise.

I watched Mike carefully as he fired. He didn’t blink! This was a good sign. I’d have bet he would. No one had told him to be afraid of recoil, so he wasn’t. The shot was just a few inches from the aiming point. After adjusting for windage and elevation I took a turn at 100 yards. A couple of shots and it was hitting an inch or so high.

I told Mike to go ahead and shoot three rounds, first loading all three in the magazine so we could start checking on how well it fed. He clicked three rounds into the magazine, closed the bolt to chamber a cartridge, and began to sit down again.


Two Winchester 70 Featherweights include Mike’s .300 Win Mag (left) with Burris
3-9×40 and Dave’s .264 Win Mag with Leupold 4.5-14×40. Dave was surprised how
much wood density and weight varies on the two rifles. The stock of the .300
weighs 28 ounces, while the outwardly identical stock of Dave’s .264 weighs 37 ounces

“Hold it a second,” I said. “Open the bolt, extract the cartridge, replace it in the magazine, and let’s try that again. It’s just as easy to develop good habits. A very good habit is to never have a round in the chamber unless the rifle is in your hands and under full control. Get settled at the bench, get the rifle indexed on target ready to shoot, then chamber a cartridge.”

Well, those first three shots went into just over an inch, and he didn’t blink, flinch or complain of recoil. “Not bad, my boy, not bad at all.”
The second 3-shot group was about the same size. The third had a shot a couple of inches out of the group. Mike still wasn’t blinking, but he didn’t seem to be having quite as much fun.

“Let’s take a break,” I suggested. “It’s a good idea to keep the barrel cool whenever possible.” What I didn’t say was it doesn’t hurt to let the shooter cool as well. It is true some barrels throw wild shots as the barrel heats, though I suspect it is often the shooter rather than the barrel. Recoil fatigue is a definite factor.

“Mike, I know you said your .300 is the only rifle you’ll ever need. Just for fun, while the barrel is cooling try a few shots with this.” I handed him my Kimber 84M Montana .223. “Dry fire a few times first to get the feel of the trigger. That’s another good habit anytime you intend to fire a different rifle.”
“Wow!” Mike exclaimed at the first dry fire. Well, I’d expected as much. Two pounds and crisp was a new experience. He shot a decent group on paper and then tried a few shots at random targets downrange. I knew there was no need to say anything. Light, well-balanced, accurate rifles with flawless triggers and little recoil speak for themselves. It’s just a matter of persuading people to try them.

“Uncle, I remember you told me not to get a .300 Magnum for my first rifle. Don’t you like the cartridge?”

“On the contrary. The .300 Win Mag is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve shot more game with it than any other except maybe the .270. But the fact is I love shooting rifles. I shoot a lot more at paper and steel targets than at game.”

“The .223 shoots about as flat as the .300, makes a hole in paper or rings steel as well, and does so with much less expensive ammo, smaller powder charges, and longer barrel life.” I didn’t mention the recoil factor. I try to avoid feeding recoil phobia or making new shooters recoil-conscious.
“You keep mentioning things a rifleman does. Are there other unwritten rules?”

“Hmmm. Let’s see. There are some don’ts. Don’t touch someone else’s rifle without asking permission. Don’t ask how much it cost. Don’t ask someone how many guns he owns. Don’t ask what’s the best cartridge for deer unless you enjoy two hours of boredom. Handle a rifle by the stock as much as possible, avoid touching the metal. It can lead to rust marks on a blued gun. Wipe the metal down with a soft cloth with some kind of metal preservative on it before putting the rifle away…”

“OK, thanks!”


Each shooting bench is a little different. We couldn’t lower the chair at this range,
so we raised the rear bag, and moved the front rest back a bit so Mike could sit up
straighter. This gets the buttstock evenly against the shoulder to spread recoil, and
lets the body flex a bit to absorb recoil. With a low-recoil rifle the left hand is
on the rear bag to make fine adjustments to aim. With a rifle such as this Featherweight
.300, Dave recommends gripping the forearm ahead of the front rest. 


Mike’s first 100-yard group with his new Winchester 70 .300 Win Mag rifle, using
Remington 180-grain Core-Lokt cartridges. Not too bad for someone who had never
fired anything larger than a .243 before.

“Make sure screwdriver blades fit screw slots so they don’t get marred. Store the rifle in a cool, dry, secure location and check on it at least once a month. Transport it in a case. Never boast about your rifle, or disparage someone else’s. Never tolerate unsafe gunhandling by anyone, even your old uncle.

Don’t offer advice unless asked…”

“Speaking of which…”

“Well, you asked. But you’re right, that’s enough for now.”

Mike was wearing a thoughtful expression. He began picking up the fired cases and putting them back in the box.

“Uncle, my buddy says fired cases can be reloaded. Can you show me how to reload? Then I could afford to shoot more. I was thinking, a rifleman needs a .22. It would be nice to have a .243 for coyotes and deer.

“My 12-gauge is kind of heavy, a light 20-gauge semi-auto would be better for upland birds. So let’s see, that comes to… five guns is all I’d ever need. Unless I go to Africa some day, then I’ll need a big rifle. My buddy has an SKS, it sure is fun to shoot. Seven guns is all I’d ever need… Uncle, why are you blinking? Are those tears in your eyes?”

“Happy tears, my boy. Happy tears.”

It isn’t every day a rifleman is born.
By Dave Anderson

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Majestic Makeover

The Ruger Mk III Target Pistol
In .22 LR Is Easily Upgraded.

Several years ago at the SHOT Show, I was speaking with Tom Peterson, inventor of the Stoney Point gauging tools for handloaders (now part of Hornady), and the subject of the comparative and inherent accuracy of custom vs. factory firearms came up in conversation.

Peterson made an interesting comment. In his pursuit for accuracy and having invented the tools to achieve it, Peterson declared what really was intriguing, interesting and challenging to him was making plain-Jane over-the-counter factory firearms perform to custom standards. He observed by making a tweak here and tweak there, maybe upgrading a part or two or maybe just by adjusting or applying a better finish to an existing part, most factory firearms were inherently accurate and just needed to be encouraged a bit.

If there ever were a factory brand of rimfire firearms tweaked here and tweaked there resulting in a level of performance far above their price points, it would have to be the Rugers, particularly the model 10/22 semi-auto rifle and the Mark I, II and III autoloading pistols.

Following up along the lines of Tom Peterson’s thinking, we recently approached Dino and Joanne Longueira of Majestic Arms with the challenge of taking a stock Ruger Mark III Target model and upgrading it with the complete line of their unique Majestic Arms accessories and aftermarket parts. Receiving the end product, we would then evaluate it, test it, report to you our findings and finally offer it to our readers as one of our monthly “GUNS Magazine’s Gun Giveaway.”

Here’s our report. First, the factory package. The Mark III Target model with its 5-inch bull barrel is, in my opinion, the best balanced of the all the Ruger autoloaders. The weight distribution is simply ideal. The Ruger 5-inch Target just likes to settle down there in your hand and go to sleep. You don’t have to horse it. You don’t have to fight it. All you need to do is point it at your target, focus on sight alignment and press the trigger. It’s inherently accurate, inherently stable and it will get the job done if you take care of the basics. It even has a nicer aesthetic since Ruger has now moved all of its warning text to the bottom of the barrel and out-of-sight. In short, the Mark III Target is an ideal factory platform to tweak a bit to bring out the very best it has to offer.

The picture in the text illustrating a stock, factory Mark III Target model surrounded by the complete array of Majestic Arms after-market upgrades is a good jumping off point.

All those after-market parts may look a little daunting, but they are designed to be retrofitted by the owner and come with instructions supported by a video or two at Majestic Arms’ website plus Dino Longueira is usually available by telephone to talk you through the process if you hit a snag. The alternative is to mail your lower grip frame with its mainspring housing, hammer and one magazine to Majestic Arms. For a flat fee of $49 plus the cost of the parts, they will install any and all parts wanted, test fire the pistol using one of their uppers and return it to you for $13.95 via USPS Priority mail.


The Ultra Dot sight is tough, accurate, light,
compact and very affordable.


The Hi-Viz express sight upgrade is really ideal for hunting and plinking.
The V-Notch rear (above) is quick to pick up and the red fiber optic front
is very bright. A competition-grade, 11 percent barrel crown is one of the
gunsmithing services offered by Majestic (below), and added to this pistol.



From the simple to the slightly more complex, here’s how the majestic Majestic Mk III Target was put together. Cocking or cycling the Ruger action is made a whole lot easier with Majestic’s “Bolt Racker.” This lightweight, anodized aluminum, cocking assist is available for all three versions of the Ruger bolt and can be positioned for right or left-handed shooters. It merely slips over the back of the bolt and is secured with two setscrews. If you carry your Ruger in a holster, you’ll have to mount the racker facing out. This is a great upgrade — one-minute installation for $29.95.

The top optics rail of the Ruger is a bit puny and skimps on the number of slots for properly positioning optical sights fore-and-aft. Majestic’s full-sized Picatinny rail offers 10 slots for maximum versatility, uses the existing factory screw holes and is designed not to interfere with the factory iron sight picture. It requires a four-minute installation at $34.95.

The stock Ruger is supplied with a excellent set of adjustable target sights; however, if you wanted a iron sighting system geared more toward hunting and plinking and the acquisition of a faster sight picture, Majestic offers a Hi-Viz Express Sight system replacing the front sight ramp with a light tube and the existing rear sight leaf with a shallow “V” express leaf. Ten-minute installation for $49.95.


Majestic’s 2-piece bolt-stop pin is an ingenious solution to an old and vexing problem.


Majestic’s robust Picatinny rib adds versatility for optics
mounting and doesn’t obstruct factory iron sights.


Majestic engraved base pads point to the correct orientation of
the magazine as it’s inserted.

Even the Ruger magazines get an upgrade at Majestic. The improved Majestic magazines are designed to fit both the Mk II and the Mk III models and feature stronger follower springs and engraved aluminum base pads that properly orient the magazines for insertion for $28.95.

Now for the slightly more complex, performance upgrades. The most interesting part of the Ruger pistol is the mainspring housing with its attached bolt-stop pin. Visible along the backstrap of the Ruger grip are three metal strips with a latch in the middle. That’s the mainspring housing. Protruding at the top of the receiver, just aft of the rear sight, is a dome-shaped steel pin. That’s the bolt-stop pin. If you want to clean you pistol from the breech or remove the bolt to thoroughly clean and lubricate it, you have to remove the complete mainspring housing along with the attached bolt-stop pin. Believe me, it’s a real hassle, particularly the reassembly process.

Majestic Arms came up with a brilliant solution. Why not design a 2-piece bolt stop pin that unscrews from the top of the receiver so the bolt can be readily withdrawn out the rear without having to remove the complete mainspring assembly? This “3.2 Speed Strip Conversion Kit” will fit all Ruger .22 auto pistols. It consists of two assemblies: a 2-part, stainless steel, bolt-stop pin with Allen wrench and a new stainless steel hammer and hammer pivot bushing. Unscrewing the top half of the upgraded bolt-stop pin allows you to remove the bolt without touching the mainspring housing. The new hammer and bushing reduce the take-up of the 2-stage trigger by 65 percent and permit the owner to eliminate the magazine disconnect feature of the Mk III for just $61.95.

With the easy removal of the bolt, you might as well replace the factory firing pin with Majestic’s “Quick Strike” pin to reduce lock time ($16.95).


The Ruger Mk III Target is nigh onto perfect as it is,
and you can make iteven better and more ergonomic with
any or all of these aftermarket parts from Majestic Arms.


Majestic Arms’ upgraded Ruger Mk III Target
model really performs on the range.

With the Mk III Ruger pretty much stripped down at this stage, it’s easy to replace Ruger’s skimpy bolt and magazine releases with Majestic’s precision machined, extended upgrades. Bolt release: $23.95, magazine release: $29.95.

Finally, there’s Majestic’s competition trigger upgrade. Their replacement trigger features a longer, more ergonomic shaped face finished smooth plus an overtravel stop adjustment screw. Tested with a Lyman electronic measure, the measured weight-of-pull of the upgraded Ruger averaged a crisp 3 pounds, 2 ounces, for $38.95.

The only custom touches added to this particular Majestic Mk III makeover generally beyond the capabilities of an average owner are an 11-degree barrel crown ($49), a dehorned bolt knob and rear receiver ($49) and a 400-grit Satin buff finish on the receiver and barrel and a matte bead blast finish on the grip frame ($99).

How did the Majestic Ruger shoot? We had had nothing but a full month of red flag days so I tightened up my target distance to 15 yards. Mounted with a little, light, compact Ultra Dot sight, the upgraded Mk III produced some very impressive 5-shot groups. The group leader was Wolf Match Extra at 1/4 inch, which wasn’t a surprise, but look at that 3/8-inch grouping with big-box store brand Winchester 555 that matched Eley Target for accuracy. Whoever wins this Majestic Arms upgraded Mk III Ruger Target is going to be the owner of one hot pistol!

The nice thing about Majestic Arms parts is you can pick and choose what upgrades you want to add and add over time. Majestic also offers a number of upgrades for the Ruger 10/22 and Charger pistol models as well as a full range of gunsmithing services.
Don’t forget to get in on the free drawing for the Majestic Arms Ruger. You may very well end up the winner. Stay tuned! It will occur in an upcoming issue.
By Holt Bodinson

Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
200 Ruger Road
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 778-6555

Customizer: Majestic Arms, Ltd.
101A Ellis St.
Staten Island, NY 10307
(718) 356-6765

Action type: Blowback, semi-auto
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 10
Barrel length: 5.5 inches
Overall length: 9.75 inches
Weight: 42 ounces
Finish: Stainless steel
Sights: Hi-Viz, optic rail
Grips: Black plastic
Price: $569 (base gun), $1,107.45 (as shown)

Read More Rimfires Articles


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The Many Faces of “FLEX”

Mossberg’s Plinkster Gets The Modular Treatment.

If you’re into AR’s and are accustomed to swapping out uppers, buttstocks, handguards, sighting systems and flash suppressors, you can appreciate just how modular the world of firearms is rapidly becoming. The key phrase today is “form follows function.” Mossberg is just now fielding a thoroughly modular, autoloading, .22 rimfire rifle in their “Plinkster” series with a fascinating array of low-cost optional assemblies to convert it from a sporter into a racy AR-looking tactical model, or from an adult-size rifle to a youth-size one in a matter of seconds. The secret is Mossberg’s FLEX system.

Mossberg’s quick-change, modular system, called “FLEX,” was developed originally by Mossberg engineers for a military application. The military had made it be known they were interested in a modular shogun. Mossberg’s rugged and utterly reliable Model 590A1 pump gun had been the US military’s primary fighting shotgun for three decades so Mossberg moved vigorously ahead to design a modular shotgun system to keep them in first place for the next three decades. Then, unfortunately, military budgets and procurement programs tightened up. Not wanting to waste the investment made in developing the FLEX system, Mossberg brought it over into their sporting and tactical lines.


What unlocks Mossberg’s “Tool-Less Locking System” is this integral
key in the stock wrist (above). The splined stub at the end of the
receiver is mated with a female socket in the stock (below).



The FLEX autoloaders will accept both a 10-shot and a 25-shot magazine.

First FLEX

Initially, the FLEX system and accessories appeared in the Model 500 and 590 shotgun series. The system proved so successful it was then extended into the tactical bolt-action and lever-action rifle lines. The rimfire lines simply had to follow. With much thanks to Linda Powell of Mossberg, the FLEX Plinkster pictured here is the original prototype for a new Plinkster rimfire FLEX line that should be appearing at your dealers as you read this.

The key to the FLEX system is its “Tool-less Locking System” that goes by the acronym, “TLS.” What the TLS provides the rimfire shooter is a quick and convenient way to change out a variety of low-priced, fixed and adjustable stocks, combs and recoil pads, virtually in seconds.

It’s a mix-and-match game, and once you’ve begun to play, it becomes addictive.


In its tactical dress, the FLEX Plinkster makes quite an impression.
The tactical model is dressed up with an A2-type flash hider and
fiber optic sights.


Converted into a classy sporter, the FLEX Plinkster
transforms into a perfect small game rifle.


The TLS is the coupling system connecting the receiver to the buttstock. There is no longer a long through-bolt hidden under the recoil pad. In its place is a multi-splined stub at the rear of the receiver, which mates with a female socket in the wrist of the stock. Locking them together is a vertical, swiveling key recessed into the wrist of the buttstock.

In practice, all you have to do to change out stocks is to lift up the recessed TLS key, turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise, rap once with your hand on top of the comb (yes, the zinc-to-zinc joint is grabby) and then pull the receiver and existing stock apart.

To complete the changeover, you insert the new stock onto the receiver spline, turn the key clockwise and push it down. The result is a strong, rigid, metal-to-metal joint and a different model rifle or shotgun.

Mossberg’s Plinkster is the workhorse of their rimfire autoloading line. It’s been around a long time. It’s been thoroughly de-bugged. It just shoots and shoots without any fuss whatsoever. At last count, there were nine models in the Plinkster autoloading line with enough variations among them to please even the most fickle consumer. The line offers camouflaged stocks, pink marbled stocks, black synthetic stocks, wood stocks, thumbhole tipdown stocks, 18-inch barrels, 21-inch barrels, blue finishes, brush chrome finishes, 10- and 25-round magazines. There’s even a package with a factory-mounted 4X scope.

Now there’s a FLEX model—actually two. One is a factory tactical model furnished with a 6-position adjustable AR-type stock, a 16.25-inch barrel mounted with an A2-style flash hider, receiver mounted Picatinny rail, adjustable fiber optic sights and a 25-round magazine. The catalogue designation is FLEX-22 Rifle-25 Round. The second model carries the moniker FLEX-22 Youth Rifle. It’s supplied with fixed stock fitted with a 3/4-inch recoil pad giving an LOP of 13-1/4 inches (an alternative stock would be a compact model with an LOP of 12-1/2 inches), an 18-inch barrel, adjustable fiber optic sights and a 10-round magazine.

The prototype FLEX-22 arrived in a tactical format. With its 6-position stock, A2 flash hider, 25-round magazine and Picatinny rail, it’s a cool looking rifle. Not wanting to mount it with optics, I unscrewed the Picatinny rail from the receiver dovetail and plinked around using the open fiber optic sights. The 3-dot sight picture features a bright red dot cradled in between two green dots. It’s very visible and fast on target. I do like the 6-position stock with an LOP spanning from 11 inches to 14-1/4 inches. Yet, I wanted to see how the FLEX-22 would look and perform as a sporter. The transformation was easy and fast.

For a new buttstock, I selected what I consider the most flexible of all FLEX stocks. It’s Mossberg’s FLEX 4-Position, Adjustable Sporting stock supplied with both high and low interchangeable combs. The stock offers an adjustable LOP from 12-3/4 inches to 14-5/8 inches and low and high combs which are held in place by a single Allen screw.

Wanting to test Bushnell’s new 2-7x32MM, AR/22 rimfire scope with its Drop Zone graduated reticle, target turrets and side parallax focus, I reinstalled the Picatinny rail and mounted the scope in Leupold quick detachable rings, installed the high comb on the FLEX 4-position stock and hit the range to see how the overall system would perform.


The interchangeable combs for the 4-position stock (above) are
secured by a single Allen bolt. Both FLEX-22 models sport fully
adjustable fiber optic sights (below).


What I especially like about the Bushnell AR/22 scope is its side focus parallax adjustment, which is critical for rimfire accuracy at extended distances and its reticle, calibrated for the drop of a high-speed .22 bullet from 50 to 125 yards in 25-yard increments. Essentially you sight-in at 50 yards at any power and then turn the power ring up to 7X to use the drop compensating reticle.

In their instructions, Bushnell doesn’t specify what high-speed bullet weight or velocity should be used so I arbitrarily selected my current favorite, CCI’s Mini-Mag with a 36-grain bullet at 1,260 fps. Since you have to set the scope anyway to 7X for the drop compensating reticle to work, I set it at 7X and sighted the FLEX-22 in at 50 yards. The FLEX-22 rewarded my choice in ammunition with nicely rounded 1-1/2-inch 5-shot groups. It was time to see how the AR/22 scope would perform at 100 yards.

A slight 3-to-9 o’clock breeze had picked up which can be tricky for rimfire riflemen shooting out at 100 yards. I held dead-on the Birchwood-Casey, 8-inch Shoot-N-C bull’s-eye. The bullets impacted perfectly in terms of elevation, which is a credit to Bushnell’s excellent AR/22 reticle system, but they also grouped 3 inches left of center due to the breeze. Typically, elevation doesn’t ruin your day, it’s windage!

Mossberg’s FLEX system applied to its rimfire line is a real plus for shooters. For a family, it could fill a very economical niche for all ages and purposes from children to adults, from plinking to small game hunting and more. Since all the FLEX accessories are universal and interchangeable, they can be transferred from rimfire to centerfire to shotgun in a matter of seconds. Being able to tailor a variety of firearms to you or your family’s specific requirements while saving considerable cash is a pretty hard combination to beat. That’s FLEX!
By Holt Bodinson

Autoloading Rifles
Maker: O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
7 Grasso Ave.
P.O. Box 497
New Haven, CT 06473
(800) 363-3555

Action Type: Semi-automatic, blowback
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Capacity: 10-shot and 25-shot magazines
Barrel Lengths: Tactical: 16-1/4 inches
Youth: 18 inches
Overall Lengths: Tactical: 33-1/4 inches, collapsed, Youth: 36-1/4 inches
Weights: Tactical 5-1/2 pounds, Youth: 5 pounds
Finish: Blue, Sights: Tactical: Picatinny rail + Fiber optic. Youth: Fiber optic
Flex Stocks: Tactical: 6-position synthetic, Youth: Fixed synthetic
Price: Tactical: $275, Youth: $261
Read More Rimfire Articles


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Volquartsen Scorpion

This .22 LR Pistol
Shoots Like A Rifle.

Starting out in 1974 as “Tom’s Gun Bluing,” Tom Volquartsen has built “Volquartsen Custom” into a world leader when it comes to engineering advanced, high-tech, highly stylized rimfire pistols and rifles as well as custom parts for upgrading and accurizing standard Ruger models like the MkI, MkII and MkIII.

Annually, the Volquartsen exhibit at the SHOT Show is a show-stopper because of the range of firearm artistry on display. If you don’t catch them at the show, the current Volquartsen catalog and website are as equally visually stimulating. Volquartsen’s products are simply unique, and the family-owned company is a delight to work with.

For the past month, I have been shooting their “Scorpion” model pistol. The experience has been a revelation. I can’t recall ever shooting a rimfire pistol exhibiting such consistent accuracy with such a smorgasbord of loads and ammunition brands. It really spoils you when you can grab practically any box of .22 LR, haul off to the range and consistently shoot dime-sized groups at 25 yards.

The Scorpion is rated as Volquartsen’s ultimate lightweight target pistol. Frankly, I didn’t choose the Scorpion based on its weight but on the basis of its unique design and combination of custom features I liked. With a 4.5-inch barrel and lightweight grips, it will tip the scale ever so lightly at 1 pound, 12 ounces. On the other hand, I selected a 6-inch barrel with a compensator installed and the company’s large, hand-filling, Volthane target grips. That combination brought the weight of the test pistol up to 2 pounds, 7 ounces which is still 1 ounce lighter than my stock MkII Ruger target pistol with a 6.875-inch barrel.

The Scorpion, like many other Volquartsen pistol and rifle models, is built entirely in-house, using state-of-the-art CNC and wire EDM machinery. It is built around two sub-assemblies Volquartsen also offers separately to the public—a VC Target Frame and an LLV Competition Pistol Upper.

The VC Target Frame is offered in two grip-angle configurations—either as a MkIII or as an M1911. I selected the MkIII grip angle. The frame is CNC-machined from an aluminum alloy and then fitted with Volquartsen-made components consisting of a target trigger, hammer, mainspring and sear set to a 2.25-pound weight-of-pull, an extended bolt release and safety, a frictionless disconnector and spring-loaded magazine ejector. In short, it’s a completely customized lower frame, and how cool the color choices are…


Promoted as a target arm, the Scorpion is also a versatile hunting handgun.
It is certainly accurate enough to please the most discriminating shooter.


Delivering 5-shot groups at 25 yards as small as 0.45-inch,
the Scorpion is superbly accurate.

With a hard-anodized finish, the frame is available in red, blue, OD green and black, or in silver which is a nickel-boron (NiB) coating. The red anodized frame of my Scorpion, mated with its black upper, is simply gorgeous and a consistent head-turner at the range.

The choice of grips offered to complete the lower frame should satisfy anyone. There’s the Volthane target grip pictured here, a laminated wood target grip (which in a red/black laminate would really look cool on my Scorpion), an aluminum grip and a Hogue Monogrip. The target grips are only available for the MkIII-type frame.

The second sub-assembly is Volquartsen’s LLV Competition Pistol Upper or barreled receiver. The receiver and barrel shroud are machined in-house from a billet of aluminum alloy. The shape of the receiver is slab-sided with a rounded underbelly. A very useful Picatinny rail is machined integral with the receiver providing a mounting surface for optical sights. I also opted to have a set of Volquartsen’s conventional target sights mounted on the receiver to conform to any match requirements.

The Scorpion’s 4.5- or 6-inch stainless steel barrel is machine-honed and lapped and threaded at the muzzle with a 1/2×28 thread form for conveniently mounting a Volquartsen-designed compensator or simply a thread-protecting barrel nut. Rounding out the receiver assembly is Volquartsen’s competition bolt fitted with an improved firing pin, spring and extractor, plus it’s machined with a handy integral, extended bolt-racker knob. Why Ruger hasn’t gotten around to a similar bolt racking design befuddles me. The upper receiver is offered in two colors: anodized black or silver NiB coated.

How does the Scorpion perform? The overall balance of the Scorpion in your hand with a 6-inch barrel, compensator and Volthane target grip is sensational. The weight distribution made possible through the extensive use of aluminum and a light, contoured barrel is just about perfect.


Holt selected a 6-inch barrel with a compensator installed and the
company’s large, hand-filling, Volthane target grips bringing the
weight of the test pistol to a well-balanced 2 pounds, 7 ounces.

When on target, the Scorpion just hangs there in your hand, giving you the opportunity to focus intently on your sight picture and trigger release.

To help me better wring out the accuracy potential of the Scorpion, Leupold supplied their fine FXII 4x28mm pistol scope and a set of quick detachable, high (0.98-inch) rings. I thought the combination would be the perfect match. It proved not to be. The high rings were too low to clear the ocular bell from the top of the target sight, even when the target sight was wound down to its lowest setting. I ended up shimming the rear of the scope tube in a set of very high Weaver rings to enable me to use the Leupold for the test.

Having gone through that little exercise, a red dot or reflex-type sight would be the recommended solution for mounting an optical sight on the Picatinny rail of the Scorpion.

From the standpoint of accuracy, the Scorpion left nothing to be desired. It’s a pistol that shoots like a rifle. The dime-sized, 25-yard groups pictured are confirmation. Not only were the test groups pleasingly minute, but the points of impact of six different rimfire loads varied very little.

Eley Target ammunition was the class winner with a 5-shot group measuring only 0.45-inch, but moderately priced Federal Champion target and CCI Quiet HP hunting rounds turned in remarkable performances delivering 0.66- and 0.68-inch size groups respectively. The groups speak volumes about the overall quality and tight tolerances built into Volquartsen products.


Volquartsen’s removable compensator is a real plus in eliminating muzzle flip.


The Volquartsen adjustable target sights are clean and precise (above).
Volquartsen’s integral bolt racker, shown here extended with the bolt
locked open, is worth its weight in gold. The Scorpion comes set up with
a crisp, light 2.25-pound trigger. Volthane (or wood laminate) target
grips (below) really complement the overall design of the Scorpion
and aid in natural pointing.

I liked the Volquartsen compensator. Sound levels went up a bit, but the muzzle stayed down as it should. The compensator is held in place by a removable barrel nut. A muzzle nut removal tool is included with the cased Scorpion, giving the owner the option of using the compensator or not.

The 2.25-pound trigger with its adjustable stop screw was light, crisp, easy to master and a joy to use. While it’s promoted as a lightweight, target pistol, given its outstanding accuracy, the Scorpion would be equally useful as a hunting handgun.

The Scorpion is just one of three totally Volquartsen-made rimfire pistols. Modifying and rebuilding brand new MkIII Rugers into 10 different, high performance configurations under the “Volquartsen Custom” label is the other side of the pistol business as well as offering shooters gunsmithing services and a complete line of owner-installed accuracy kits and parts to upgrade existing Ruger models to Volquartsen standards.

Volquartsen’s rimfire rifle business tracks the pistol side of the shop with extensive lines of custom semi-auto, 10/22-type designs in .22 LR, .17 HMR and .22 WMR. For 2014, there is even a Volquartsen-made, semi-automatic chambered for the hot .17 Winchester Super Magnum. Now that’s something.

Volquartsen products are not inexpensive, but true quality never is. This is a driven company—driven to make the best possible product throughout their extensive firearm lines. The Volquartsen family is succeeding in doing just that.
By Holt Bodinson

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Fast-Stepping Smallbore

The Hot, New .17 WSM Rimfire Needed A
Completely New Savage Rifle To Handle It.

Ammunition developments drive the firearms market. A year ago, who would have thought Winchester Ammunition would take a .27 caliber, powder-activated, rimfire tool cartridge used in the construction industry, neck it down to .17 caliber and deliver us the new magnum champ of the rimfire world? With a flatter trajectory coupled with higher retained energy and velocity than either the .17 HMR or the .22 Win Mag, all the new .17 Winchester Super Magnum needed was a compatible rimfire rifle.

With a SAAMI maximum average pressure of 33,000 psi, the .17 WSM required a beefed-up rimfire action. Savage jumped on the project, and we now can enjoy the .17 WSM in their innovative B.MAG model. But first, some background on the .17 calibers in general.

Other than their appearance in BB guns and .177 pellet guns, I hadn’t really known much about the .17 calibers until I picked up P.O. Ackley’s 1959 edition of Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders. Ackley was one of the earliest .17-caliber barrel makers and his 1959 book included loading data for the .17 Ackley Bee, .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Javelina and .17/222. In his notes on the .17/222, he commented, “…it has produced spectacular 1-shot kills on deer, bear and javelina thus proving the effectiveness of small high-velocity bullets on large game in the hands of skilled riflemen.”

In 1966, Ackley released Volume 2. It contained the loading date for five more wildcat .17 calibers: the .17/30 carbine, .17 Mach IV, .17/223, .17/222 Ackley Magnum and the .17 Flintstone Super Eyebunger (.17/22-250: 4,444 fps with a 25-grain bullet!) plus a most provocative .17-caliber article, entitled “The .17 Ackley Bee” by A. Lee Robertson of the Utah State Department of Fish and Game. Robertson chronicled his use of the .17 Ackley Bee on everything from small game to mule deer, which expired without “a quiver,” as he put it.

Playing with the .17 wildcats was an expensive and exotic sport until Remington unveiled their .17 Remington in 1971, essentially a .17/223, churning up .220 Swift velocities of 4,040 fps with a 25-grain bullet in the Model 700. I bought one. After I was housebroken to using .17-caliber cleaning rods and inching tiny .17-caliber bullets into a Bonanza seating die, I enjoyed the rifle and the caliber for game up to coyotes in size.


Savage’s new 8-round, flush-fitting rotary magazine helped maintain
a pleasing stock line (top) and functioned flawlessly during testing (below).


As revolutionary as the .17 Remington was, it wasn’t until 2002 when Hornady, working with CCI, delivered a .17 every rimfire hunter could relate to—the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (.17 HMR) to be quickly followed by its diminutive brother, the .17 Mach 2, based on CCI’s Stinger case. While the operating pressures of the .17 HMR are slightly higher than the .22 WMR, existing .22 WMR platforms, be they rifle or handgun, were quite capable of digesting the .17 HMR without a hiccup. In a matter of months, most gunmakers were turning out a variety of models chambered in .17 HMR.

Not so, with the .17 Winchester Super Magnum. Only Savage jumped in with both feet, cranked up the CAD program and delivered to us a completely new action incorporating a rear locking, cock-on-closing bolt, stylized bolt handle and bolt shroud, Savage’s crisp, adjustable AccuTrigger, tang safety, 8-round rotary magazine, side bolt release and factory-fitted scope bases. Mated with a lightweight barrel, the overall matte-finished, barreled action is free-floated in a black, synthetic stock with a rubber buttplate, sling swivels and ersatz, molded-in checkering on the forearm and pistol grip.

Surprises? The cock-on-closing bolt was one. It’s stiff and requires a bit of force to cock the mainspring and seat the two rear-locking lugs. The barrel profile was another, as was the overall weight of the rifle. The majority of Savage’s tack-driving, magnum rimfire models in .17 HMR and .22 WMR sport heavy barrels and, more often than not, laminated stocks. Typically, their weights run from 6.8 to 7.8 pounds. I was expecting Savage would chamber it in an accuracy boosting, heavy-barrel format for the initial introduction. They didn’t. With its sporter profile barrel and minimal synthetic stock the B.MAG is a wand of a rifle, weighing only 4 pounds, 7 ounces on my Sunbeam scale.

A svelte rimfire deserves a svelte scope. I rummaged around until I located one of my favorites—Leupold’s recreation of the vintage Lyman 4X Alaskan. With a 7/8-inch tube and an overall length of 10 inches, the Alaskan fit the overall scale and proportions of the B.MAG to a tee. The Sunbeam scale now read 5 pounds, 5 ounces.

Thanks to the folks at Winchester, I had on hand their two current loadings—a 20-grain polymer tip rated at 3,000 fps and a 25-grain polymer tip at 2,600 fps. The 50-round boxes proudly proclaim in print that “The new .17 Win Super Mag caliber ballistically exceeds the velocity, energy, trajectory and wind drift characteristics of all rimfire products currently available. The highest velocity rimfire caliber in the world!” It was off to the range.

The 8-round rotary magazine is interesting. Like the magazine of a Model 99 Savage, every round is compartmentalized in its own cradle. The magazine worked like a charm without any feeding issues.


This test target (above) is fairly representative of the accuracy Holt
experienced at 100 yards. At 100-150 yards (below), the current B.MAG
will still prove sensational for varmint hunting.


Over a Pact Professional Chronograph, Winchester’s 20-grain loading averaged a fast 3,053 fps and their 25-grain loading, 2,593 fps. The velocities promised on Winchester’s cartridge boxes were indeed delivered. Someone did their homework on this Winchester/Savage combo.

I shot a lot of targets with both loadings at 100 yards. The Savage AccuTrigger, adjusted for 3 pounds, was a joy to use. The six targets illustrated are an accurate rendering of the average groups delivered by the B.MAG. On the average, the 25-grain loading was more accurate than the 20-grain loading, but both loadings proved inconsistent in their grouping ability. In all fairness, based on my own experience with the .17 Rem and the .17 HMR, either loading would be devastating on varmints at 100 or 150 yards from the B.MAG, but neither delivered the accuracy we’ve come to expect from .17 caliber cartridges and Savage rifles.

Three issues bothered me. Many ejected cases were coated with carbon, indicating that the cases were not obturating properly. With the 20-grain loading, spent cases would occasionally stick in the chamber. The single extractor of the B.MAG bolt would simply ride over the rim and not pull the spent case out. I had to resort to a .17-caliber cleaning rod poked in from the muzzle end to knock the cases free of the chamber. Finally, there were occasions when the bolt lift was noticeably stiffer, indicating the case was seizing in the chamber because of carbon build-up or differing case metallurgy or higher pressures or who knows what.

There are a couple of extenuating circumstances about this test I should mention. Because of its light weight and the high pressure and high performance cartridge it’s chambered for, the whippy, little B.MAG. is highly sensitive to minor changes in the way it is held by the shooter and positioned on the benchrest bags. It could well be the inconsistency I see in the groups is a product of the shooter and not the rifle or the ammunition (the 3-shot, factory test target, fired with the 20-grain load, showed a group of 0.9 inch).

On the other hand, I noticed the forearm on the polymer stock could easily be shifted from side-to-side to either clear or rub against the free-floated barrel, indicating a structural or bedding issue which would definitely affect accuracy as the forearm is rested and moved around in the bunny-ear sandbags of the benchrest pedestal.


The new Savage B.MAG is a trim, handy sporter. A svelte rimfire deserves
a svelte scope. Leupold’s now discontinued Alaskan model proved ideal.

One of the challenges of all .17-caliber rifles is their proper cleaning. Typically, you don’t find .17-caliber cleaning rods, brushes and patches down at your local gun store. I suffered through a few learning curves until I discovered the 4-4.5mm Zimmerstutzen cleaning rods and felt cleaning wads stocked by International Shooters Service in Fort Worth, Texas. One of the 4mm cleaning wads incorporates little bristles for scrubbing out fouling while the plain wad is used for applying solvents, preservatives and for general cleaning. Although other brands of .17-caliber rods, bushes and patches are now available, I find the 4mm gear the easiest and fastest to use by far.

The development of the .17 Winchester Super Magnum is a new highwater mark in rimfire ballistics. In my opinion, the real potential of the .17 Winchester Super Magnum will only be realized when Savage takes their B.MAG action, screws a heavyweight barrel into it and beds it in a hand-filling laminated stock. I am reminded Remington killed off their fine 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum by chambering it in two whippy little inadequate rimfire rifles, the Models 591 and 592, which never delivered the best the cartridge had to offer. Let’s not let that happen to the sensational .17 WSM.
By Holt Bodinson

4-4.5mm Cleaning Equipment
International Shooters Service
2319 E. Loop 820 North
Fort Worth, TX 76118
(817) 595-2090

MAKER: Savage Arms
100 Springdale Rd.
Westfield, MA 01085
(413) 568-7001
Action Type: Bolt-action repeater
Caliber: .17 Winchester Super Magnum
Capacity: 8-round, detachable, rotary magazine
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall Length: 40.5 inches
Weight: 4 pounds, 7 ounces
Finish: Blue
Sights: None, factory supplied scope mount bases
Stock: Polymer
Price: $349

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Affordably Stylish

Ruger’s “American” Goes Rimfire.

When you open up a shipping box imprinted with “Made in America” in bold letters and then read “Ruger American” engraved on the side of a very stylish receiver, Ruger’s new rimfire already has a magical ring to it. Renowned for producing a quality product at a very affordable price, Ruger has an astonishing capacity for rolling out surprise products. Plus, when they announce a new model these days, it’s already down at your dealer’s. Fielding their American centerfire line of inexpensive bolt actions didn’t catch me off-guard as much as these new rimfire bolt actions, which come packed with features I never would have expected in an inexpensive rifle.

Roughly the same time the Ruger American arrived, a new rimfire scope came through the door. It’s Redfield’s 2-7x34mm Battlezone TAC .22 made by Leupold. Three features caught my eye immediately: Its optics are clear and sharp (which is what we would expect in a Leupold product), it’s a TAC-MOA reticle with both the vertical and horizontal axes marked off in 2 MOA, 20 MOA and 40 MOA increments and it has a bullet drop-compensating elevation dial. Ideally proportioned to the Ruger rimfire, the Redfield is an ideal mate for the American.

The new Ruger comes in two versions and currently in two chamberings. There’s the standard model pictured here with a 22-inch barrel and a weight of 6 pounds and there’s a compact model with 18-inch barrel and a weight of 5.38 pounds. The current chamberings are .22 LR and .22 WMR. The owner’s manual leads me to believe a .17 HMR is not far behind.

The first impression I had upon opening the shipping carton was of a very stylish rifle with some great and interesting lines. The black polymer stock is remarkable. It comes with two interchangeable combs—a low comb for iron sight use and a higher comb for optics, although the lower comb fit my face perfectly when shooting with Redfield’s Battlezone TAC. The secret to swapping out the combs is in the rear sling swivel. It’s actually a bolt threaded into a captive nut in the comb modules. You merely unscrew it, tap the comb module out the rear of the stock and bring in the new one. Pretty neat.


A permanent bedding block provides a rigid, repeatable bedding system.


The black rotary magazine of the American is slimmer than a conventional 10/22 mag.


The Redfield Battlezone rimfire scope features a bullet drop-compensating dial.

Molded polymer stocks allow stylish lines that can’t be duplicated in wood: Ruger has taken full advantage of this feature. The checkering patterns on the pistol grip and forearm of the American stock are a case in point. Raised above the surface of the stock and pebble textured, the patterns gracing the pistol grip and forearm are tactile, comfortable, a bit wild and certainly eye-catching.
Another quality that struck me about the polymer stock is the weight and stability it lends to the new rimfire. With the Redfield scope mounted, the weight of the combination measured 7.25 pounds on my Sunbeam scale. That’s centerfire weight in my book—just right as a rimfire understudy to your varmint or big-game rig.
Ruger also uses the qualities of molded polymer to enhance the accuracy of the rifle. There’s a permanent bedding block imbedded in the stock that mates with precision grooves cut in the front receiver ring. It’s a rigid, repeatable bedding system. The barrel is also completely free-floated. When the stock is removed, say for adjusting the trigger, the manual instructs that the front and rear guards screws should be torqued to 35 in-lbs. A Wheeler Engineering in-lb torque wrench can come in mighty handy when working on the Ruger American line.
The only caveat I would add is to watch out if you lean the Ruger with the butt placed on a smooth surface. The end of the butt is smooth plastic, and it literally skates away when rested on anything equally smooth.
The new Ruger trigger is a jewel. It’s fully adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds by merely turning a single Allen screw located at the front of the trigger housing. As it came from the factory, the trigger on the test gun measured a crisp 3.5 pounds. My hat’s off to Ruger, since they recently have been improving all of their triggers across all model lines.
Linked to the trigger is a sliding, 2-position tang safety, which was another design surprise. Located right there under your thumb, the American safety could not be more obvious nor more convenient to the shooter.
Another aid to the accuracy delivered by the American rimfire is its hammer-forged barrel, which is finished off at the muzzle with a nicely machined, recessed target crown. I also sensed that the lock-time of the American was exceedingly short, which is always a real plus when you’re trying to squeeze out the utmost accuracy.


The American’s great trigger is owner-adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.


The American comes with two easily interchangeable combs, one for iron-sight
shooting and the other to raise the comb for use of a scope.


Slim Magazine

Feeding the new Ruger American is a 10-shot, rotary, 10/22-type magazine. While it looks exactly the same, it’s not interchangeable with the standard magazine of the Ruger 10/22. The American magazine is narrower for a reason. It permits Ruger to achieve a slimmer and more traditional bolt-action stock line. No bloated belly in this new American. The action area of the stock is tight and trim.

How did it shoot? Well, the bullet drop-compensating dial of the Redfield Battlezone TAC .22 scope is calibrated for a rimfire round featuring a 36-grain hollowpoint bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,260 fps. Perusing a handful of ammunition catalogs, I finally uncovered that precise round. It is CCI’s Mini-Mag HP, and I just happened to have a box. In my experience, CCI’s Mini-Mag has time and time again, in a variety of rimfire firearms, proved to be the most accurate hunting round around so it was an ideal match for wringing out the new Ruger.

Sighting in at 50 yards to calibrate the drop-compensating dial, I was getting 5-shot groups running from 0.625 to 0.875 inch. The Ruger was proving all those accuracy-enhancing features built into the American added up to precision performance. The only problem I encountered was that the last round from the rotary magazine would misfeed, and I tried several different brands of rimfire ammunition with the same result.

The bullet drop compensating dial of the Redfield is graduated as follows: 50, 75, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 yards, so from a 50-yard zero I cranked it up to the 100-yard mark and put five centered shots into 2.25 inches with a 90-degree crosswind nagging at me. That’s good enough for me. I’m not going to be engaging live targets beyond 100 yards with a .22 LR, but the rock-and-sod plinkers will have a ball out to 150 yards I’m sure. One of the nice features about the Battlezone reticle is you do have MOA ticks horizontally and vertically to refine your aiming points and to compensate for wind conditions.

Overall, the Ruger American Rimfire is an impressive firearm. Matched with a quality scope like the Redfield Battlezone and fed quality ammunition, it’s a barnburner and a best buy in the rimfire world.
By Holt Bodinson

American Rimfire
MAKER: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee St.
Newport, NH 03773
(603) 865-2442

Action: Bolt action
Caliber: .22 LR (tested), .22 WMR
Capacity: 10
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall Length: 41 inches
Weight: 6 pounds
Finish: Blue
Sights: Rear folding leaf, green light tube front
Stock: Polymer
Price: $329

Battlezone TAC .22
Maker: Redfield
14400 NW Greenbrier Parkway
Beaverton, OR 97006
(877) 798-9686
Magnification: 2X to 7X
Objective Diameter: 34mm
Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
Internal Adjustments: 80 MOA elevation and windage
Click Value: 1/4 MOA
Length: 11.3 inches
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Price: $189.99

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