From Out Of The Box
October 2008 Issue
by Dave Anderson
1964 to 1989, Weatherby offered a semiauto .22 rifle called the Mark XXII.
I first read of this rifle in Jack O’Connor’s column in the April 1964 issue of Outdoor Life (I had to dig through my files to confirm the date). It had the distinctive Weatherby stock style with prominent Monte Carlo, cheekpiece, skip-line checkering and high-gloss finish.
I was already a confirmed Weatherby fan at the time, even though I had never seen one except in pictures. I was 14, penniless, and though I was enthralled by Weatherby ads and articles I couldn’t imagine ever owning one.
Nonetheless, I fancied myself a pretty knowledgeable rifleman even then. I remember being disappointed it was a semiauto rather than a bolt action. It should have been a bolt action. The wonderful Mark V for the fabulous Weatherby magnum cartridges was a bolt action. Its rimfire understudy should be a bolt as well.
All this was purely theoretical, you understand, much like a modern day teenager criticizing the styling or power train of a Ferrari or Lamborghini, knowing full well he’s unlikely ever to see one, much less own one.
Good things come to he who waits. After more than 40 years I have my hands on a bolt action Weatherby .22 rifle and in every way appearance, function, handling, accuracy, quality it is a beauty. It isn’t cheap by any means, but it is as fine a rimfire sporting rifle as has ever been made.
Wisely, the Weatherby Company didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Matter of fact they didn’t even reinvent the name. Like the old semiauto, the new rifle is called the Mark XXII. The action and barrel are by Anschutz, the manufacturer of the most accurate .22s ever made in my opinion (and in the opinion of others, including Olympic gold medal winners).
The superb Anschutz 64 action with match-quality barrel is stocked in high-grade walnut, with the distinctive look styled long ago by Roy Weatherby himself. Anyone who knows rifles at all will pick it out as a Weatherby from across the room.
Over the years, my taste in firearms has evolved, and as many people, I’ve become more conservative with age. My current best quality rifle is a custom built pre-’64 Winchester 70 in .30-06 in the classic style straight stock without Monte Carlo, subdued oil finish, steel grip cap and skeleton buttplate, low luster blue on action and barrel.
Of the several Weatherby Mark V and Vanguard centerfire rifles I own all have sensible, practical synthetic stocks in various camo patterns (albeit with the distinctive Weatherby profile, which in fact fits me very well and is fast and comfortable to use).
And yet within this conservative, low key, understated veteran there is still the 14-year old boy enthralled by glitter and glamour. Sometimes I get sick of being sensible. These days I drive a sensible four door Honda and a reliable Chevy pickup truck, but stored away in a garage I still have a 1979 Firebird Trans Am, the black & gold special edition, T-top, screaming chicken on the hood, the whole package.
I don’t license it any more (don’t need jokes about a mid-life crisis), but I take it out occasionally, just to sit and listen to something you don’t hear much anymore ¥ä the deep throated rumble of a big-block V8. And to remember how it sounded on long straight stretches of empty highway. I wasn’t always a cautious old fud.
The stock on the new Mark XXII is true to the Weatherby look. Roy Weatherby would have loved it, obviously, as it is very similar to the stock he designed for the original semiauto .22 back in the early 1960s. However the quality of wood used on the current rifles is superior if anything, at least based on the prototypes and production models I’ve seen.
The originals were always nicely fitted and finished, but wood grain varied from spectacular to average. All the current models I’ve seen have outstanding wood. I find the current checkering better in appearance than the”skip line” patterns of old. Fit of the contrasting rosewood grip (with diamond inlay) cap and forearm tip is likewise flawless. This is a strikingly beautiful rifle.
Beautiful or not, rifles are made to shoot. With an Anschutz action and barrel I had no doubts about accuracy. For more than 40 years I’ve owned a fine .22 sporter on the Anschutz 64 barreled action.
The current action has one improvement over my ¥ú60s model, a separate bolt stop with a release lever on the left side of the receiver. The old model used the sear as the bolt stop. Other than that, the machining, fit, polish, bluing, and function of the barreled actions on the Weatherby is as good as any Anschutz I’ve ever seen.
The wonderful, fully-adjustable Anschutz trigger is as good as ever, breaking cleanly at 2.5 pounds, similar to my old model. Forty years ago I found I couldn’t let others shoot my rifle unless I first advised them they would find the trigger very light. At 2.5 pounds, of course, it’s not all that light, but is so crisp and clean (and so few shooters back then had ever experienced a good trigger) they invariably called it a “hair trigger” which it certainly is not.
The test rifle came with an excellent Leupold 2-7X VX-1 scope in the likewise excellent Talley rings which clamp into the receiver grooves (the receiver is also drilled and tapped to accept scope bases). After sighting in with Federal standard velocity target ammunition I fired six 5-shot groups at 50 yards. (Why six groups? The target I was using had six aiming diamonds.)
It took a while as there was a light breeze, and even a light breeze can have a noticeable effect on .22s. By shooting during lulls I was able to get an average group size of about .33″. The smallest groups measured right around .22″. Splendid accuracy indeed. Functioning, it need hardly be said, proved completely reliable.
The Mark XXII is available in either .22 LR or .17 HMR. The only thing I’d change is the bolt knob, made of black plastic (OK, synthetic). Nothing wrong with its function, it fits the hand nicely, I just would rather it was of steel integral with the bolt handle as on my old rifle.
The Anschutz and Weatherby companies have a lot in common. Both are family owned companies, headed by descendants of the original founders, both are renowned for producing high quality, distinctive products. It seems fitting they have worked together to produce this splendid rifle.
Mark XXII rifle
Maker: J.G. Anschutz GmbH & Co. KG
Jagd und Sportwaffenfabrik
89079 Ulm, Germany
Importer: Weatherby, Inc.
|Caliber:||.22 LR (tested), .17 HMR|
|Magazine capacity:||5 or 10 (.22 LR),
4 (.17 HMR)
|Length of pull:||13-5/8″|
|Drop at comb:||3/4″|
|Drop at Monte Carlo:||1/2″|
|Drop at heel:||1-1/8″|
|Price:||$899 (.22 LR),
$949 (.17 HMR)
The Anschutz Connection
The new rimfire was introduced to a group of writers in fall of 2006, at the fabulous Flying B hunting lodge in Idaho. There, I had the great pleasure of meeting Dieter Anschutz. In his address to the group Dieter mentioned he had been with the company for 56 years, and company head since 1968.
The first gunsmith in the family was Georg Anschutz, born 1640. The Anschutz company was formed in 1856, making hunting and sporting arms in the German province of Thuringia.
When WWII ended Thuringia was in the Soviet zone. The Anschutz family and many employees were transferred to the American sector. When production of smallbore sporting arms was allowed to resume in 1950, the family quickly reorganized and established a factory in Ulm, West Germany. The company¥ús reputation was secured at the Rome Olympics of 1960 when Anschtuz target rifles won four of a possible six gold medals.
Dieter Anschutz is a fine marksman and an enthusiastic hunter. Although he has taken considerable game in Europe, he had never hunted whitetail deer in America. There were a few whitetail doe tags available and Dieter was delighted to take one with a Weatherby Vanguard in .257 Weatherby. It was a pleasure to share his enthusiasm. A true gentleman, Dieter was great company whether in the field or relaxed by the fireplace.
Incidentally, when I stopped at the Anschutz display at the SHOT Show a couple of months later, Dieter proudly showed me a photo presented to him by the United States Army Marksmanship Unit. It showed Dieter surrounded by eleven USAMU Olympic medalists, autographed by each with expressions of gratitude to Anschutz for making such great rifles.
Dieter Anschutz, (left to right) head of the company since 1968, Dave holding initial production model of the Weatherby Mark XXII built on Anschutz 64 barreled action and Ed Weatherby, president of Weatherby.
Dieter AnschÌ¹tz (left) and Ed Weatherby both head up family-owned companies bearing their names. Both companies have a reputation for high quality products. The rifle on which they collaborated is as good a rimfire sporting rifle as has ever been made.
Left side of the Weatherby Mark XXII rifle shows the exceptional quality of the wood used in the stocks. Note styling features designed by Roy Weatherby, the distinctive Monte Carlo stock with cheekpiece, angled rosewood forearm tip with spacer, rosewood grip cap with spacer and diamond inlay. Talley rings hold a Leupold VX-1 2-7X scope. Also shown are Zeiss FL 8×32 binocular, Spyderco Native folding knife.
A generous cheekpiece is provided on both Weatherby XXIIs, both old and new. Quality of the wood on the current model (right) is much higher than was used on the long-discontinued old model.
The semi-automatic .22 (right) was offered by Weatherby from 1964-1989. The current Mark XXII (left) utilizes the AnschÌ¹tz 64 bolt action. Stock shape and fitting of accessories (rosewood forearm tip and grip cap) of current model is very similar to Roy Weatherby’s original design. Quality of wood, fit, and finish of current model is as good as or better than the old. Dave prefers the current checkering style to the old skip-line pattern.
There’s more Out Of The Box in the October issue…
• Lone Wolf Knives
• Hot Performance
• Ruger’s NRA-ILA Mini-14