I was sighting in a rifle at a public outdoor range a few weeks ago, and in the lane next to me were two friends working on becoming better marksmen with a recently purchased (and very expensive) precision rifle chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor.
“Every time you pull the trigger and miss,” lamented one friend to the other, “that’s $1.75 headed downrange.”
That statement neatly explains why precision rimfire rifles are becoming increasingly popular. Training with a .22LR lets you practice elements of accurate long-range shooting such as trigger control, breath control and proper shooting position, but without the expense of shooting expensive centerfire precision rifle ammunition. Once you learn those skills while shooting inexpensive yet accurate rimfire rounds, they are easily transferred to larger, more powerful guns that can reach out to longer distances and deliver more of a punch than .22LR can.
Finding a left-handed rifle that I can use to train for shooting precision rifle competitions has been a challenge for me: There are several options out there, but finding one that did what I needed at an entry-level price point was challenge. Fortunately for me and the other left-handed shooters out there, Savage has recently introduced the B22FLH, a left-handed version of their popular B22 rimfire bolt-action rifle.
Of course, you don't have to be a competition shooter to love the B22. A bolt-action .22LR rifle is an excellent way to introduce new shooters to marksmanship. Because .22LR has minimal noise and recoil, it’s not an intimidating round to use with first-time shooters, and in my personal opinion the deliberative action of having to cycle the gun by hand after every shot induces the shooter concentrate on each individual shot. In this way, beginners can avoid the pitfalls of relying on the quick follow-up shots that semi-automatics offer.
A bolt-action .22LR rifle like the Savage B22FLH also makes a terrific gun for hunting small game, varmints or just spending hours casually plinking. Accurate and lightweight, this gun is perfect for spending a lazy Sunday afternoon at a backyard range with your friends. (Ask me how I know this.)
The B22FLH is essentially identical to the other models in the Savage B22 line, but with a left-handed action. The B22FLH uses the proven and proprietary Accutrigger that has made Savage rifles a standout in long-distance shooting. It features a polymer stock with a sling mount, a 10-round detachable rotary magazine, Weaver scope mounts and a 21-inch carbon-steel barrel with a 1 in 10 twist rate. Weighing 5.79 pounds unloaded and 39 inches long, the B22FLH also has a safety that’s mounted on the back of the receiver, which is another nice feature for left-handed shooters like myself.
As I wanted to use this gun to train for shooting my larger precision rifle, I teamed it up with a Primary Arms 4-16X44mm Illuminated Mil-Dot scope. Aside from being a second-focal-plane reticle, the Primary Arms scope mimics the scope on top of my larger rifle, but at a much lower price...a useful feature in a setup that’s designed to be an inexpensive way to train for precision rifle competitions. I mounted the scope using Vortex medium-height rings and headed to the range to sight everything in and perform some basic ammunition tests with this rifle.
My initial sight-in was at 25 yards, and I wound up putting all the rounds from my test groups into the same hole. Moving the target back to 50 yards opened up the groups somewhat, and I was able to shoot ¾-inch groups from a rest using 40-grain CCI Green Tag Competition 22LR ammo, 7/8ths-inch groups using Federal 40-grain Hunter Match 22LR ammo, and 1¾-inch groups with 40-grain Remington Thunderbolt 22LR ammunition.
There are a good number of .22 Long Rifle bolt action rifles on the market, but with an MSRP of $279 and with a host of features including the superb Accutrigger system, the Savage B22FLH represents a real value. It’s also a great option for left-handed shooters like myself who are looking for a rimfire rifle that they can use to prepare to compete in precision rifle, hunt for small game or just enjoy the shooting sports without spending a pile of money.