Savage Arms has been busily bringing its “A” game to the rimfire rifle market over the last couple of years. The A17 arrived in 2015. Chambered for the spitfire .17 HMR cartridge, it was the first semi-automatic to safely cycle the cartridge thanks to a new delayed-blowback/recoil-operated hybrid action. The design earned Savage a coveted NRA Golden Bullseye award. January of 2016 marked the arrival of the next model, the A22 chambered in .22 Mag. This version also uses the hybrid action to ensure safe, reliable feeding. Now, Savage has launched an A22 chambered in the ever popular .22 Long Rifle.
Because the .22 LR cartridge generates less pressure than the .17 HMR and .22 Mag., the new A22 doesn't require the hybrid action. Instead, this new rifle uses a blowback bolt assembly. This simplification of the action translates into a lower price tag at the gun counter. While the A17 and A22 .22 Mag. versions of the rifle currently sport a suggested retail price of $473, the A22 .22 Long Rifle is listed at $281. Other than this change to the action, the new A22 has the same features as its compatriots.
Although many modern .22 semi-automatic rifles are assembled using cast aluminum receivers, the A22 receiver is milled from blued carbon steel. It's definitely over built for the small cartridge it fires, which means it should provide years of enjoyment in the field or on the range.
The steel 21" round profile barrel is fitted with a removable polymer blade sight in the front and a fully adjustable rounded notch sight at the rear. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped to accept a set of Weaver #46 Top Mount (48046) scope bases. The cylindrical reciprocating charging handle is mounted directly to the bolt assembly on the right side.
Behind the receiver is a polymer cover that is removed for cleaning and maintenance by pressing a 1/8" punch into a small hole located on the lower right of the back side. Lifting the cover off of the receiver reveals the right side recoil assembly consisting of hinged recoil rod and a single round wire recoil spring. Pulling out the recoil assembly frees the charging handle and allows the bolt assembly to be removed. Now the rifle barrel can be cleaned properly, from breech to muzzle, without further disassembly.
If the trigger group needs cleaning, the stock screw located in front of the magazine well is removed to free the receiver from the stock. Then the trigger group can be lifted out for maintenance. Note that the rounded trigger guard is attached to the trigger group, not the stock. The black polymer Accustock is light and handy with a lightly textured and segmented fore-end, a curved pistol grip and polymer buttplate. The comb has a low profile that aligns nicely with the iron sights. The stock arrives with a pair of sling swivel studs already installed.
The signature Savage adjustable AccuTrigger, which is one of my favorites to work with, is paired with a cross-bolt safety button mounted at the front of the trigger guard. Using the provided tool, the trigger pull can be set between 2.5 lbs. to 6 lbs. to suit the owner's preferences. Thanks to the trigger's central safety lever, the gun will not go off if dropped or bumped even with the trigger tuned to its lightest setting. The AccuTrigger is one of those features that immediately pays for itself because trigger upgrades for other brands of rimfire rifle that lighten and smooth out the trigger pull can cost anywhere from $89 to $250. The A22 arrived with the trigger set to 3 lbs. 6 oz. and that was the setting I used for testing.
The 10-round rotary magazine consists of metallic and polymer components. At the back of the magazine is a blackened alloy plate that provides a connection point to the stock and a set of feeding lips. The polymer body has a rounded base that fits flush with the stock. The magazine release is a polymer tab that is integral to the front of the body. The magazine is inserted with a slight rock-n-lock motion (back to front). Depressing the front-mounted release tab causes the magazine to drop free into your hand. It's a sturdy design that will hold up to plenty of use thanks to the metallic feed lips. With an empty magazine installed, the A22 tips the scales at 5 lbs. 10.5 oz.
If you want to stretch the accuracy potential of a .22 rimfire like this one, then it's important to have a solid scope to work with. Savage Arms and Bushnell teamed up to offer A22 rifle owners a mid-power optic designed specifically for this gun. The Rimfire Optics 3.5-10x36 mm (613510B) scope features a 1" tube, the Bushnell's Drop Zone 22 Reticle (Multi-X is available) and a set of bullet-drop compensator turrets calibrated for high velocity ammunition.
The turret made specifically for the A22 rifle is installed after the gun and optic have been sighted in at 50 yards. Once in place, the turret can be adjusted to specified distances without any guess work required. There are two more turrets in the box. One is a black, general purpose, numbered click-adjustment turret and the other is a blank white turret that can be written on for custom settings. Overall, I found this optic to be a very good fit and easy to use.
I had two opportunities to spend quality time with the A22. The first was at a company event in October and again when I received the rifle tested for this review. Both experiences were positive. The rifle ran reliably with all the ammunition it was fed. I had no ammunition related malfunctions and all of the controls worked properly and were easy to use. The Bushnell optic provided a clear, bright sight picture that could be fine tuned using the adjustable objective.
Formal benchrested 5-shot group accuracy testing was conducted at 50 yards using the handy, compact Champion Varminter Shooting Rest which swings easily side to side and has a rapid adjustment elevation knob. Federal Premium AutoMatch 40-gr. lead round-nose loads turned in the best single group of 0.82" with a five-group average of 0.98". Browning BPR 40-gr. lead round-nose bulk-box loads produced a best group of 0.94" with an average of 1.02". Aguila's 40-gr. copper plated flat nose yielded a best group of 1.16" with an average of 1.23".
The new Savage Arms A22 chambered in .22 Long Rifle successfully blends the best features of the Magnum A series semi-automatic rifles with a simplified action that costs less to feed. The adjustable AccuTrigger is a valuable feature that eliminates the need for an aftermarket trigger upgrade. The A22's accuracy, reliability and light weight make it an ideal option for a variety of rimfire roles, including small-game hunting, target shooting and casual pinking. The rifle is shipping right now, just in time for the holidays.
Scope: Bushnell Rimfire Optics 3.5-10x36 with Drop Zone .22 Reticle (613510B) $172.45 Scope Bases: Weaver #46 Top Mount (48046) $4.45 Scope Rings: Weaver Grand Slam 1" High Matte Black (49304 ) $31.95 Rifle Rest: Champion Varminter Shooting Rest (40204) $71.45