If you’re looking for a new rimfire this season, you’re blessed with a lot of choices. Quality and price range from low to stratospheric, with only a few rifles hitting that magic middle ground that suggests you’re getting more than you’re paying for. In that category, I propose one rifle worthy of consideration: the Browning T-Bolt rimfire.
I’ve had the opportunity to try variations of this rifle in three calibers and various stock options, but my hands-down favorite is the .22 LR with a walnut stock. Not necessarily because it performed any better than the other T-Bolts I’ve tried, but just because it’s so darned good looking. Someone once said life is too short to hunt with an ugly gun, and I can’t find much fault with that sentiment. Take a look at the photo below of the T-Bolt, which I attacked a field of ground squirrels with. Is that a fine-looking rifle or what?
The Browning T-Bolt is a beautiful, accurate rifle for varminters.
Fortunately, it shoots well enough that those looks aren’t wasted. Like always, I tried an assortment of different rodent ammo and found it liked Winchester’s Power Point round the best. A 10-shot group at 100 yards measured 1.6 inches—a very respectable number for hollow point hunting ammo. And since I was only using a 4X scope, I could have likely shrunk that group size with some more magnification.
However, the scope, a Leupold 4X rimfire is as good looking as the rifle, and the two go together like chocolate and peanut butter. The combination of a fine-looking rifle, accurate ammo and a trim scope spelled trouble for the ground squirrels. While they weren’t happy, my farmer friend was.
A trio of grass gobblers before and after being interrupted by the
I like the 10-round magazine, which fits flush with the classic lines of the walnut stock and functioned perfectly. The trigger is externally adjustable for pull weight and the chamber is reported to be a semi-match type. A tang safety proved easy and intuitive to operate, and, of course, the T-Bolt’s straight-pull action was slick and smooth. There’s a synthetic stock available, too, but it’s black with modern lines and leaves me cold, even though it has a spare magazine stored in the butt. This rimfire is a rebirth of a classic and, in my opinion, deserves walnut.
Careful shopping should scare one up in the mid-$600 range. And while there are lots of options at a lower price point and a few more priced much higher, the Browning T-Bolt is one that occupies the middle ground in price, but looks like it belongs at the top of the heap. It shoots great and looks good doing it.