Choosing a 22 Rifle: Part 4 – Lever, Bolt, and Pump Actions

The CZ and Marlin bolt actions are especially nice because they have sights and can mount a scope. When you take the scope off, you can use the sights again. Savage forces you to choose between sights and scope just like the Ruger 10/22. Ruger 77/22s are currently only available without sights (scope only) although it is possible to occaisonally find old models with sights. The Henry rifles can mount a scope directly to the receiver, but it just seems a little odd to put a scope on such a nostalgic rifle design. I personally think the Henrys should be shot with open sights.

*CZ USA 452/455: CZs come in various models. All models have an 11mm dovetail scope rail (same as Marlin). Some models have sights and are still capable of mounting a scope. Other models lack sights and hence require a scope. I don’t know much CZ rimfires but they are often considered excellent quality and one of the best value rimfire rifles on the market. My stepbrother found one with a really long barrel (28.5″). It’s apparently quite accurate and fairly quiet.

Marlin has 2 series of bolt-action rimfire rifles. First, the 980/981 series is older and can trace its heritage back to the old 80/81 series. I have a 81 from the 19-teens that pre-dates the requirement for rimfires to be engraved with serial numbers. It’s quite accurate but jams due to a broken spring. Marlin also makes the XT-22 series. Marlin recently went through a merger and then relocated their factory. As part of this merger/move, the 980/981 series was discontinued and the XT-22 took its place. However, the 980/981 rifles are still widely available.

*Marlin XT-22TSR: tubular fed bolt action, blued steel metal, polymer stock, 17 rounds of 22LR, 25 rounds of 22Short

*Marlin XT-22TSR: tubular fed bolt action, stainless steel metal, polymer stock, 17 rounds of 22LR, 25 rounds of 22Short

*Marlin XT-22: removable magazine fed bolt action, blued steel, wood stock

*Marlin XT-22R: removable magazine fed bolt action, blued steel, polymer stock

*Marlin XT-22SR: removable magazine fed bolt action, stainless steel, polymer stock

Personally, I don’t like Savage rifles as well as Marlin. They’re very similar to each other but Marlin is just a little bit nicer. However, there are some Savage models with no competing Marlin model. The FVT and FVSR are very specialized rifles.

*Savage FVT: The FVT features peep sights, the most accurate sights without a scope. It’s ideal for making careful, precise shots.

*Savage FVSR: The FVSR does not have traditional sights, so it requires a scope. Hoever, it features a highly accurate heavy barrel and is pre-threaded for a sound suppressor (where legal). The threaded barrel is a great advantage for someone interested in a sound suppressor. For example, it is expensive to have a barrel threaded by a gunsmith. ADCO charges $65 plus S&H to and from Ohio. There are other rifles with pre-threaded barrels, but they are not all threaded with enough precision to safely mount a sound suppressor.

*Mossberg 802 Plinkster: not much to say, except that it’s usually about $100. It would probably be my last pick.

*Also, there are various old military training 22s, such as the Polish WZ-48 – There are too many models and I’m not familiar with them, but it’s something to consider.

Lever actions are faster than bolts, but safer & more accurate than semi-autos. However, there aren’t many on the market anymore.

*Henry Classic: cheaper but not as nice as the Octagon Frontier. 18″ barrel, 5.25 pounds, 15 rounds of 22LR, 21 rounds of 22Short.

*Henry Carbine: basically a shorter-barrel version of the Classic. The cocking handle is also slightly different. 16″ barrel, 4.5 pounds, 12 rounds of 22LR, 17 rounds of 22Short.

*Henry Octagon Frontier: The Octagon Frontier is built on the same action as the Classic, but it has a nicer barrel and finish. The octagonal barrel is thicker & heavier for better accuracy. The finish is a beautiful high gloss. 20″ barrel, 6.25 pounds, 16 rrounds of 22LR, 21 rounds of 22Short.

*Henry Goldenboy: The Goldenboy is nearly identical to the Octagon Frontier, but the receiver is a bright, shiny brass-like material. They’re flashy but also beautiful. The one difference is the shoulder-stock on the Goldenboy drops downward at a much sharper angle than the Octagon Frontier. Some shooters find the steeper stock-angle awkward to aim. 20″ barrel, 6.75 pounds, 16 rounds of 22LR, 21 rounds of 22Short.

*Marlin 39A: The Marlin 39A is an old classic. They’re arguably even nicer than the Henry rifles. I had the pleasure of shooting one once, and they are indeed fast & smooth. Also, the 39A is a ‘take-down’ rifle. It can be split into 2 halves by unscrewing a knob at the back of the barrel. 24″ barrel, 6.5 pounds, 19 rounds of 22LR, 26 rounds of 22Short.

*Henry Pump-Action Octagon; This is a pump-action, not a lever action. Pumps are arguably a little bit faster than a lever-action. 20″ barrel, 6 pounds, 15 rounds of 22LR, 21 rounds of 22Short.

As an additional note, tubular magazines are especially desireable on bolt-action and lever-action 22rifles. Long story short, a lever/bolt action rifle with a tubular magazine can reliably load and fire 22 Long Rifle (22LR), 22 Long, and 22 Short. (22 Long ammo is no longer produced.) This is an advantage because a tube magazine that can hold 17 rounds of 22LR can hold 25 rounds of 22Short. The lower noise and increased capacity of 22 Short can be a lot of fun, especially in a fast-cycling lever action. The only downside to a tubular magazine is that they don’t play nice with sound suppressors. It would be necessary to remove the suppressor to reload the magazine. Constantly screwing the suppressor on and off would cause more wear and risk crossthreading.


About jurmond

'Jurmond' was the name of my first character in a homebrew D&D campaign. He was a gunslinger and tinker, creating and carrying strange weapons that belched fire and smoke. That was well over a decade ago but I still think of him whenever fiction and firearms collide, so it seems the perfect pen name for this project.
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