Rimfire Season - Inside MDT

Posted by Al Voth on 2024 May 30th

Rimfire Season - Inside MDT

Most people think there are four seasons in a year. I'm afraid I have to disagree. As far as I'm concerned, we can simplify it into two: centrefire season and rimfire season. For me, the long weekend of May marks the beginning of the rimfire season. That means it's time to dust off rimfire rifles and get them into shooting shape.

One of the keys to a summer of trouble-free rimfire shooting is to ensure the season starts with a clean and lubricated rifle. There's an old myth about never cleaning a .22 rimfire barrel, but I don't buy it. Rimfire barrels are subject to accumulating powder and bullet fouling like any other rifle and must be cleaned regularly. And since many popular rifles are blowback semi-autos, they collect fouling in the action area faster than a locked action will. Add a suppressor, and things will get even dirtier. If you want a smooth-running semi-auto, the action also needs yearly stripping and cleaning.

Whatever the operating system, all rifles need some lubrication. Important areas include the bolt raceways, the locking lug(s), and the surfaces that mesh to cycle the action. And while you're inspecting that rifle, check all the firearm's screws, including the scope mounts, to ensure they are tight. That should get a rifle ready for testing and sighting in.

Even rimfires need lubrication in key areas where there's metal-to-metal contact.

The next step to a season of rimfire fun is to choose the ammo that will meet your performance requirements. If the rifle will be used in competition, accuracy will likely be the most important factor. If it's a pest control rifle, terminal performance should be part of the criteria a shooter looks for. And if it's a rifle used primarily for plinking or informal shooting, then the cost will be a determining factor.

These days, we're fortunate to have access to a wide variety of rimfire ammo, including some highly specialized rounds. Want accuracy? Consider ELEY's line of products. Their .22 LR Tenex brand has won more Olympic medals than all other brands combined. Is terminal performance important? I've had great success with Hornady's .17 HMR ammo on burrowing rodents, and a friend has even taken some coyotes with it. Need plinking ammo? The bulk boxes containing 300 – 550 rounds of .22 LR from CCI and Federal are usually the best buys in my area.

Rimfire ammunition is getting more specialized, so if you have yet to look through the catalogs of the major ammo makers recently, it's a good idea to do that. Excellent examples are the various sub-sonic offerings now available, which reduce noise significantly. Also, with shooters stretching rimfires out to 300 yards in competition, there are new long-range offerings in the marketplace. Examples are ELEY's Ultra and SK's Long Range, both 22 LR products optimized for long-range target shooting.

Rimfire rifles need to be tested extensively to determine an ammo preference.

With performance requirements narrowed down, it's time to discover which brand of ammunition a rifle prefers. There can be large differences in function and accuracy between brands and even between similar products within a brand. The only way to find out what works best in any rifle is to test it. Every gun is an individual and needs to be tested for reliable function and accuracy. Then, once an ammunition product is nailed down, consider buying in bulk, looking for the same lot number throughout. This is especially important if accuracy is the key requirement.

All this work on a rifle may reveal some shortcomings. These shortfalls might dictate the need for a new optic, trigger, barrel, or even a chassis system. I've seen the addition of an MDT chassis improve the reliability, ergonomics, accuracy, and appearance of a rimfire, so it's hard to go wrong with the addition of one. And remember that chassis systems aren't just for competition shooters. Several of my rimfire hunting rifles are equipped with MDT chassis because of the benefits they provide.

Currently, MDT offers rimfire chassis' for the Anschutz Match 54, CZ 455, CZ 457, Ruger American 22LR, Savage A22 - 22LR, Savage B22, Savage Mark II, Tikka T1x, and Rem 700 footprint actions from companies like Vudoo, Zermatt Arms/Proof Research and Bergara.

More: MDT Mention: A Look at our Rimfire Chassis Options

Rimfire season can be a lot more fun with a reliable and accurate rifle. Ensuring there's one or more in the safe that meets a shooter's needs will pay big dividends when centrefire season rolls around and it's time to move up to the big guns. And with the rising ammo cost, rimfires make a lot of economic sense. Welcome to rimfire season.



Al Voth calls himself a "student of the gun." Retired from a 35-year career in law enforcement, including nine years on an Emergency Response Team, he now works as an editor, freelance writer, and photographer, in addition to keeping active as a consultant in the field he most recently left behind—forensic firearm examination. He is a court-qualified expert in that forensic discipline, having worked in that capacity in three countries. These days, when he's not working, you'll likely find him hunting varmints and predators (the 4-legged variety).


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