Kirsten Weiss (courtesy howard studios)

CarlosT asked TTAG’s Olympic marksperson for her choice for a .22 rifle for skill-building newbies. Over in the Free Fire Zone, Ms. Kirsten Weiss writes “For marksmanship training, I’d recommend a .22 bolt action rifle hands down. Generally speaking, a bolt action offers greater accuracy and ease of maintenance than a semi. The bolt action .22’s have a [relatively] heavier recoil pattern, making it easier for beginning shooters to transition to higher calibers if/when they move up. Another thing to consider when looking at a .22 trainer for general marksmanship is . . .

Click here to read the rest of Kirsten’s reply in TTAG’s Free Fire Zone

29 Responses to Ask Kirsten Weiss: Best .22 Rifle for a Newbie

  1. I concur. I see the savage line was recommended. I would add the CZ line as well for new rifles like the 452 and 455. Remington just go back in the game with good 22 rimfires and their old ones were good I think they were 541t(s) and of course the 40x(s).

    • Remington started making good .22s? Which models are you talking about? I have a 597 and it’s awful.

      • They still have quality issues but compared to their recent previous offerings things are much much improved. Their old stuff like the 541t is still more sought after. I have a CZ452 and it’s the cats meow. I would consider a Mark series Savage otherwise.

        • To find a really quality US-made target .22 rifle, one has to look backwards in time to 1975 or earlier. Personally, the “golden age” for real .22 target rifles made in the US was probably about, oh, 1955 to 1964.

          The characteristics of a serious target rifle:

          – peep or aperture sights, with the most serious target rifles having a globe front sight that takes inserts

          – a rail on the bottom of the forearm that allows you to mount the front sling where you need it, or mount a hand rest for standing offhand shooting.

          – an adjustable buttplate, or a butthook for standing offhand on the most serious rifles.

          – adjustable trigger. The best triggers, tho, ended up being aftermarket triggers, like Canjar and Kenyon. Both of those gunsmiths have passed on, and the product liability circus means that no one will likely pick up those triggers.

          – heavy barrels. My Win52B barrel is substantially heavier than my Anschuetz barrel.

          Models to seek out, in no particular order of preference:

          1. Remington: 541T, 40X. The 40X is preferable, and higher priced.

          2. Winchester: Model 52B,C,D,E, or Model 75. Both models are good, but the 52D and E are better.

          3. Mossberg Models 44, 144. The 44 was made for the US military training in WWII. Mossberg .22’s are some of the highest bang:buck .22’s out there. They often shoot far better than you’d think, given their price. This is because Mossberg put real love and money into their barrels.

          4. Kimber Model 82. This was made for the US military in the early 80’s, I think. You sometimes see them surplused through CMP.

          Sadly, today there are no big-name .22 match-level rifles being made. All serious target .22’s made in the US are now the domain of custom ‘smiths, who will probably start with a Lilja barrel.

          Today, for someone at Ms. Weiss’ level of skill, there’s really only one company: Anschuetz. This is because you can take a competitor down to Anschuetz and in one day, have her outfitted from head to toe with a jacket, gloves, rifle, sight package, trigger to her specification, sling to her specification, glasses, you name it, even shoes.

          Anschuetz has everything a competitor needs, with the possible exception of a “match-grade hair scrunchy.”

        • What about Sauers ? I shoot with a Sauer STR and it is fantastic. Shooting through the same hole at 100 yards with 5 shots is realistic with experience.

        • The Sauer STR-2xx appears to me to be a wonderful rifle, and I’d love to get my hands on one, especially in 6.5×55.

          In the US, they’re rarer than hen’s teeth.

    • I shoot both the CZ452 & 455.
      They’re both more accurate than I am, are well built & relatively inexpensive. Fitted with a decent scope & suppressor & using subsonic ammunition, they make great rabbit & small game rifles out to 150yds if you have the ballistics worked out.

  2. Spent a lot of my childhood target shooting with a bolt action .22. When I turned 18 I bought a Marlin 60 semiauto.

    • The Marlin 60 was my first rifle… Great rifle… I have some awesome memories pinking, hunting jack rabbits and the occasional rattle snake with it as a teenager in Arizona…

    • Tools in the toolbox. I have a good semi and a good bolt gun. Throw in my Single Six revolver and I’ve got the rimfire bases covered.

        • I had a Walther p22. Good shooting small gun that was finicky about it’s ammo. That didn’t bother me. The takedown and reassembly was what bothered me. Finally got tired of it and gave it to my son.

          Is the Ruger SR22 easy to clean?

        • JWM, the SR22 is a breeze to clean. All you do is lock the slide back, drop a ‘takedown lever’, push the slide to the rear and it comes right off. Barrel is attached to the lower, so no more takedown is necessary. The hammer will still lock back so you can run a rod through the barrel with nothing in the way. And my SR22 ate over 1,000 rounds of the crappiest stuff I could find with never a hiccup. Even after I put several mags of .22 Thunderbolt through it, it still fired every time. The lead fouling took me hours of cleaning to get out, and it ruined 2 bore brushes, you’d never have known it to fire it.

  3. That’s what I first learned on, a bolt action Marlin .22, all wood. Makes more sense then giving your 3 year old an AK to learn from.

  4. Bolt action all the way. My first firearm was a Savage Mark II. A semi can teach bad habits, like just firing away until you hit something (which admittedly is a lot of fun, but it really doesn’t teach you how to shoot).

  5. I am not familiar with the expression “heavier recoil pattern “. Could we get an explanation of it from the pretty lady?

    • It is exactly what it sounds like. Bolt actions kick a little harder and a little crisper than semi autos. Recoil curve is pretty important to really good shooting.

    • I believe that since none of the gas is used to cycle the action as in a semi-auto, all of the (mild) recoil is translated to the shooter’s shoulder, thus giving a better overall impression of the recoil sensation.

      Then again, the above could just be well-worded BS. I defer to the senior members of the AI for a more scientific explanation.

    • In a semi-auto, some of the recoil energy is dissipated by the mass of the bolt moving to the rear.

      In closed-breech actions, it’s all on you, unless you have a moving-mass recoil damper on the long arm.

      Think of recoil as a conservation of momentum problem and work from there.

    • Thanks guys, yep! Good explanation of “heavier recoil pattern”. I’d explain, but they already did it justice. One thing I will add is one more importance of this. Practicing consistent recoil, how it feels, and its affects will help you transition more easily to the larger calibers. You will already know what to look for in its pattern and feel (if in an exaggerated way) when shooting other rifles. This is also why even a good air rifle shooter is more likely to have trouble transitioning to a .22 rifle or higher. No recoil in air rifles. Semi-auto .22s have generally less recoil than bolts. So bolts it is for a trainer rifle. And yes, semi-autos are a good time too! But not so much a trainer…too easy to speed through it 🙂

  6. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: she’s pretty. Not overcooked on the makeup and hair, and still good-looking. Seems to be the opposite of most female shooters who exude “I’m SEXY! Also, I shoot sometimes.” She’s got more of the “I shoot, a lot. Oh and my looks don’t hurt.” Vibe to her. Classy.

    • Well thats just sweet, look at you makin’ me blush. Oops! Should I have pretended I didn’t see this one?

  7. My son will be starting on the Feinwerkbau 300S match air rifle and then the Lee-Enfield No8 trainer (single-shot .22) before going to the Lee-Enfield No4 .223 conversions.

  8. When my daughter graduates from her 760 Pumpmaster, the first real rifle she gets behind will be my Mk II FVSR. With any luck, I may even have a Sparrow for it by then.

  9. She recommends a bolt action? Gee, I never would’ve thought of that.
    We wouldn’t want her to overexert herself by recommending a .22 rifle.
    Is there some legality prohibiting her from being a tad more specific?
    Like a name of a particular rifle manufacturer? That would be a big help.

    My recommendation: Buy a used Anschutz 1413. The hooked butt plate,
    cheek rest, and palm rest are not allowed in Jr. match, but are good parts
    to have for when the yutes grow up. An excellent .22 rifle for a beginner.
    I think you will find that most Anschutz’s have been well maintained.

    • Lol, I shied away from recommending a certain manufacturer yes. I use an anschutz for competition, and I hear they are top notch in their entire line. I know my rifle rocks. But then again, my rifle right now costs around $3500+ without the extras…hardly a gun to “try out”. I have a few .22s I’ve hunted with in the past, that were fine for that task, but not great enough for one hole shooters at 100. Ive heard great things about Volquestrans (but I dont think they offer bolt action) Savage Mark IIs, some of the Sakos line, etc. But I’d really like to test them out in my own hands, before I recommend them to others. Marksman have a tendency to fall in love with one gun, and be staunchly loyal. Once I test some others, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts. This is a topic I’d very much like to share recommendations I’ve tested personally. That is why to start, just the very basic pre-reqs for a good trainer for the new shooter to try, is what I gave 🙂 Most guns can outshoot a beginner.

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