Mike Powell gets himself acquainted with the latest tactical rifle launch from Savage and MDT, in his B22 Precision rifle review
Ahead of this B22 Precision rifle review, were I to be totally honest, I would have to say that I have never really been a fan of what could be termed “tactical” rifles. I suspect the reason for that is because I was brought up on a diet of conventional shotguns and rifles that always had wood stocks and blued metalwork.
Even when serving as an armourer in the RAF, the rifles (the good old SMLE) all had woodwork, and the weapons that I worked on that were nearest to what we call today “tactical” were the Bren and the Sten gun, so the basically all-metal weapons in use today seem to me to be military rather than sporting. However, things change and this type of rifle is appearing ever more on the sporting stage. There is also a new generation of shooters who have really embraced this type of rifle, hence their increasing popularity. Which leads to my B22 Precision rifle review.
One such rifle in .22LR calibre arrived for review from Edgar Brothers, importers of, among others, Savage Arms. I like this brand of rifle as they always perform very well and the build quality is also excellent. This latest Savage was the B22 MDT Precision Rifle.
The word “precision” when applied to rifles implies that it will almost certainly be more accurate than its competitors. In most cases this is true, but there have been exceptions. So I was keen to see how this particular ‘precision’ model lived up to its name.
The B22 Precision model on review today is the result of two companies coming together, Savage and MDT. Clearly we know what Savage produce and MDT, although perhaps not so well known generally, manufacture high grade chassis for a number of different rifles. Any MDT work that I have ever seen is of extremely high quality, so I was very interested to see how their liaison with Savage worked.
Removing the action from the chassis showed the usual high standard finish from MDT. The chassis is machined from a solid billet of aluminium and certainly couldn’t be faulted in any way. Replacing the chassis to the rifle was simple enough as they are held together by two screws which lock everything up tight.
One thing that struck me was the fact that the barrel is truly free floating with acres of space around it allowing the action to really be very solidly fitted to the chassis with no possibility of anything coming in contact with the barrel, all good for accuracy.
The length of pull is adjustable from 13.5 to 14.5 inches which should cover most users. There is also an adjustable cheek piece which is easily adjusted by loosening two large hand operated screws so you can set up the rifle to your own requirements very easily.
There is a well designed pistol grip which fitted my hand really well, and was very comfortable in use, which is yet another aid to accuracy. The more I handled this rifle out of the box the more I liked it; however it was still early days.
The medium weight 18-inch carbon steel barrel has a 1-16 twist rate and like other parts of the rifle is finished in matte black. Moving back to the receiver, this is standard Savage.
The well designed tubular shaped bolt gave a good grip when operated and the bolt’s action was extremely smooth with very little free play even when fully withdrawn. In fact it was as good a bolt action as I’ve seen in a long time.
When removing the bolt, the cheek piece has to be lowered, the safety has to be in the “fire” position you then press the trigger and withdraw the bolt. To replace the bolt you reverse that.
The safety catch is recessed behind the bolt shroud and is a slide forward/back similar to a shotgun safety. I thought the safety, although it worked well, was a little on the “fiddly” side to operate, but it did the job it was designed to do.
Turning the rifle over revealed the rotary ten shot magazine similar to the one used in the Ruger 10/22. Having had a few problems years ago with one of the latter I was particularly interested to see how well this one worked. Loading – once you got the knack – was absolutely fine and, although the magazine was virtually all made of polymer, there was a metal insert that protected the lips of the mag. In use, the feed from the magazine was spot on with no problems at all.
B22 Precision rifle review – fresh from the box
The rifle came equipped with three extras fitted by Edgar Brothers, a Magpul bipod, a Sirocco sound moderator and a Bushnell Forge scope.
Taking the bipod first, this fitted on to a stud in the forend as usual; adjustment is possible as the studs are fitted into slots. The bipod was very well thought out and one of the best designed that I’ve seen.
It’s well made and simple to operate; at the top of each leg is a button that you press to extend it. The bipod tilts and tension can be varied by tightening or loosening a large knurled knob. I really liked the Magpul.
The Sirocco moderator seems to have been around forever and is a straightforward rimfire moderator that works well. I’ve been using one for 15 years or more, and it’s still going strong!
The Bushnell Forge scope on the rifle is good too. As I’ve said many times before, I find it a bit of a mystery why Bushnell scopes never really seem to have gained the popularity in this country that they have elsewhere. I’ve always found them exceptionally reliable with very good optics.
I have had one fitted to one of my own rifles that has been on there for at least five years, probably more, and as yet has never needed adjusting in any way. The Forge model used on this rifle I thought, would suit any rifle well, a very good scope indeed.
After getting to know the rifle, it was time to try it out on my ‘range’ on the local farm. I was still remembering the word ‘precision’ and now the time had come to see if the rifle lived up to its billing.
Edgars had sent some Hornady Varmint Express standard velocity ammo for the test and I had my usual Winchester Subs. Both these makes were running at virtually the same fps (1070 and 1065 respectively) I also had some other odds and ends of .22LR that I would try as well, among them some high velocity rounds.
I may have been unlucky thus far, but I’ve yet to own a .22LR rifle that would shoot high velocity ammunition accurately, in fact since the arrival on the scene of the .17HMR I find it difficult to see any good reason for using HV ammunition in this calibre.
True to form, although not horrendous, the B22 didn’t take to these very well at all and they were soon put to one side!
B22 Precision rifle review – well, precisely
I then turned to my usual rabbiting/vermin fodder – the Winchester sub sonics. Now these are standard ammo for a lot of rimfires so I was expecting good results.
The results were ‘not bad’ with a half decent group with a single flier that is always a possibility with .22LR factory ammo but really nothing out of the ordinary, of course it could have been me.
Finally I loaded up with the Hornady Varmint Express. After a couple of sighters, and pushing my luck, I sent down five rounds at 70 yards to see how they performed, by now thinking the name ‘precision’ was a little over the top.
However, when I went to have a look, I found remarkably good groups; so good in fact I sent down another five, these too were spot on producing one of the best ten shot groups I can recall.
So without a doubt the name ‘precision’ is well merited but, as is the case with any rifle – and particularly so with rimfires – your choice of ammunition is critical. Had I not had the Hornady Varmint Express my thoughts on the Savage could have been very different indeed.
I like the B22 a lot, though whether I would ever get one myself is debatable, not because of the way the rifle performed, just because the design doesn’t appeal to my particular taste. But as a rifle for dealing with vermin or to take on the range it’s a good’un!
Finally a word on the AccuTrigger. I have always liked these on centrefires but Savage has raised their game on this particular one. The obvious difference is the colour of the famous blade which has here turned orange.
However, clearly the colour of the blade isn’t going to make one iota of difference to its performance, however the fact that the trigger pull can now be taken down to around the one pound mark undoubtedly has!
The Accutrigger on this rifle was excellent and clearly, together with the MDT chassis Savage has produced a very accurate rimfire that by the look of its sturdy build will give many years of ‘precision’ shooting.
B22 Precision rifle review – hunt it down
Savage B22 MDT Precision .22LR
Bushnell Forge riflescope
Sirocco Sound Moderator
01625 613 177
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