The Anschütz name carries a huge amount of respect in the shooting industry.
I remember first coming across the brand in my days of air rifle obsession, when the big players were barrelling their rifles either with Walther or Anschütz.
Great emphasis was put on the precision engineering undertaken in the Anschütz factory, with the air rifle king of the day keen to reinforce its association.
Of course, I am talking about the English-made Theoben air rifles, with the hugely popular Rapid 7 range.
Anschütz’s list of accolades is extensive, with world championships, world records and Olympic golds adorning its trophy wall. It wasn’t just barrels they knew how to build.
The company was founded by Julius Anschütz, son of master rifle maker Johann Heinrich Gottlieb Anschütz. Although the company’s original production focused on pocket pistols and shotguns, today it is best known for producing high-quality and incredibly accurate rifles for target and hunting applications.
When it comes to rimfires in the UK, the default choice is the humble Brno CZ. It does everything it promises at an affordable level and will last a lifetime.
Indeed, I have two in my personal armoury and many of my hunting buddies are in the same boat. There is hardly a farmer in the land who doesn’t have one tucked away in a gun cabinet.
They do, however, have their flaws, and many hunters will have contemplated upgrading from the middle ground of the rimfire world to something a bit more refined.
There isn’t a huge amount of off-the-shelf choice when it comes to the high end of the rimfire market, but it is certainly here that the Anschütz belongs.
Given the maker’s pedigree for producing world-class target rifles, I took it as a given that the 1517 would shoot well. Certainly the test group provided in the box showed I should have no issues.
Without question, Anschütz can build rifles as accurate as any anyone on the planet, but how this translates through to its hunting rifles is, of course, what we are interested in.
Starting with the barrel, as with all its rifles, Anschütz’s 1517 series uses the same materials and processes perfected for its target rifles. What is quite interesting and unusual to note, however, is the recessed crown.
Although seen on plenty of rifles, Anschütz has taken it to the extreme, burying the crown a full 14mm below the muzzle.
This particular model came with what I would class as a medium profiled 18in barrel, screw cut with a ½ UNF thread. Nice and compact, it is perfect for shooting from a vehicle, while still being long enough to make full use of the HMR.
The action itself is a round receiver, machined with an 11mm dovetail rail as well as being drilled and tapped for mounts. Unlike the barrel, there have been some modifications from the target Match 64 action.
The external diameter has been enlarged by 1mm, increasing the weight of the receiver by almost 12 per cent.
This improves rigidity and stiffens the barrelled action, making the overall rifle stronger.
In addition, it allows the locking surface to be increased by 15 per cent.
Taking a look at the action, there really isn’t a lot to it. It is a simple affair, with two pins and a dose of Loctite fixing the barrel to the receiver, a magazine well bolted to the bottom, and a very unsophisticated looking bolt.
It is not as nice to look at as the famous Match 54 action, and is generally accepted to be the lesser brother. This is also borne out by Anschütz, with almost £500 difference seen between the two rifles.
If one had to choose an action, on almost any level it would be the Match 54. However, let that not detract anything from the Match 64.
I am not suggesting for a moment that it’s not up to scratch, or that Anschütz has produced anything short of its exacting and meticulous standards. It just so happens that the Match 54 is arguably the best rimfire action in the world, so anything else will face a hard time by comparison.
The bolt on this rifle is a little unusual in that the handle comes through the receiver, with the rear cocking piece exposed to the elements. This portion of the bolt consists essentially of an internal plunger, driven forward on release by a strong spring.
With the firing pin already compressed against the opposite end of the plunger, it then drives forward to strike the cartridge. With this design, Anschütz achieves a fast lock time, although again, not quite as good as the 54.
Case extraction is achieved in the same manner as a CZ, with twin sprung claws pulling the brass back before hitting a fixed extractor. This is positive and faultless.
Like a lot of rimfires, the bolt handle also forms the locking lug, while the Match 64 boasts a rather generous and comfortable synthetic bolt knob on the end of a brazed shaft.
The only criticism I would have of the design comes with the exposed nature of the bolt. I couldn’t help but wonder if any misfires had occurred as a result of debris falling into the exposed gap when cocked. This surely must have happened at some point.
As you would expect, the trigger on the Anschütz is nothing short of brilliant, and a standard all manufacturers should strive for.
Using the same internal working parts as it does for target rifles, the lightweight, hardened and polished components aid the precision engineering to obtain a crisp and precise release.
Firing the test rifle for the first time, I was a little miffed at not finding anything that resembled the trigger I have just described. With that, I took the rifle apart and read the instructions for adjustment.
After turning down the pull weight, I backed off the sear engagement half a turn at a time, testing as I went. Eventually, after a bit of perseverance, I got it smack on the money.
Now this was what I had expected. The release really is outstanding, and it’s just a shame that over-travel cannot also be adjusted.
The safety is a two-position affair, situated on the right-hand side of the receiver. Functionally it works, but is the most disappointing aspect of an otherwise excellent rifle.
It really is pretty awful to use. Firstly, the ergonomics of the safety catch are quite poor. Combine this with the fact that it is incredibly stiff, and anything but smooth, and you end up with quite an unpleasant operation.
To make sure it wasn’t a one-off, I tested a friend’s .22, and unfortunately I got the same results.
A metal magazine with a plastic, Anschütz-stamped bottom facilitates ammunition feeding.
Functionally it is similar to most other rimfire magazines, though the release catch is a little different because it has to be depressed for the entire removal process.
I have to say, once loaded, this rifle is possibly the smoothest-feeding .17 HMR I have ever used.
With the metalwork and mechanics out the way, we are left with a walnut thumbhole stock.
Overall, the wood is nice. With subtle dark grains running through the stock, it is complemented by some nice chequering.
Ergonomically, this thumbhole is stunning and incredibly comfortable to shoot, especially when lamping from a vehicle.
Now to the business end, and there are no surprises regarding how the rifle performs.
Running a handful of the common brands through it, the 17-grain Federal V-Max marginally came out on top.
With thumbnail-size groups at 100 yards, there isn’t a debate about how well it shoots –the answer is very well.
Now I just need to get my head around sending it back and returning to my own, humble CZ.
For more information contact RUAG on 01579 362319 or visit www.ruag.co.uk.
Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×44
My first experience of Vortex scopes came on the Isle of Skye through friend and hunter Scott Mackenzie.
Having spent some time out in America, he had come across Vortex well before it reached us here in the UK.
Impressed by the value for money, he brought a couple of scopes back. Then I had the pleasure of testing its top end Razor HD on a Barrett .338 Lap.
Comparing what was on offer to the equivalent competitors, it seemed remarkable value. I was really quite taken with the quality of the scope and was keen to see a more hunting-friendly model.
The UK distributor, Riflecraft, then sent me a middle ground Vortex to use for this rifle test.
Optically excellent, it is some of the best glass I have seen for the money. Overall construction seems robust, and an unconditional lifetime warranty means that, whatever happens to your buy, Vortex will be there to help.
Elevation and windage adjustments on this model were target type, with positive and definitive increments. The same is true of the illumination dial, which alternates between on and off at varying brightness levels.
With 10 levels of illumination, all conditions but the very brightest can be catered for. There was no light spill to speak of, despite the entire, rather complex, reticle being lit up.
The laser etching is also clearly excellent, with superbly defined lines on some fine and intricate increments.
Vortex scopes have a feel of quality about them that considerably exceeds their price tag. I am looking forward to making full use of what they have to offer next month.
Certainly the Americans are buying into it.
Riflecraft ■ 01379 853745 ■ www.riflecraft.co.uk