Months ago, I wrote an article entitled "The most accurate 22 rifle for the money" that utilized quite a bit of data from four different rifles shooting many types of 22 ammunition. The purpose was to identify the best rifle and ammo value for the money spent.
The outcome of the test showed that a custom built Kidd rifle produced tighter groups with many different types and brands of ammo than the other 3. Check out the article here. The average group size from the Kidd custom was the best, or smallest, but it was only a few thousandths of an inch better than the Savage Mark II.
The difference in the rifle costs were around $1500, with the Savage being cheaper of course. That's a lot of money for only a few thousandths tighter group. Therefore the Savage was the most accurate rifle for the money.
But not everyone is looking for the absolute best value in accuracy for the dollar. Hard core rifle shooters today are after that small increment in accuracy improvement that leads them to successfully hitting targets at long range consistently. Even if it costs a few bucks more.
They all know that today there is very little difference between factory made precision rim fire rifle performance. Technology has come so far that once an optimum load is found for a specific rifle, most all of today's rifles manufactured for precision can obtain outstanding results. The only question that is left is which one of these rifles is the best out of the box ?
To answer that question we could do another test similar to the one discussed above where we shoot many different types of ammo through them and measure delivered group size to determine which one will deliver the smallest and most consistent groups.
I am firmly convinced that with this class of rifles, there would be very little difference in the results from rifle to rifle and if there were, you would have to shoot thousands of rounds for the data to become statistically conclusive.
If you are into bench rest shooting the difference here would probably be big to you, but if that is your sport, you will be going with a custom rifle anyway in order to squeeze that last 1 thousandths our of consistency.
Therefore, I believe the best approach is to be more proactive by identifying the factory precision rifle with the best design features that will yield the highest level of accuracy right out of the box.
I will attempt to answer that question below by comparing manufacturers specifications on the top rifles that I have identified from several manufacturers. I own some of these rifles. As for the others, I will probably soon own them as I have a tendency to buy more rim fire precision rifles than any one person will ever need. None of these rifles are poor choices as all of them will deliver outstanding accuracy out of the box. But which one is the best?
I have put the manufacturers advertised specs together in the table below. Although I have seen semi auto rifles shoot better than bolt actions and vice versa, I will keep them separate as I believe overall they are in different classes and the design of a bolt gun is inherently more accurate than a semi auto.
The table above is a specification comparison of the bolt action factory produced rifles that I consider to be the top of the rimfire offerings today. I know there are some really good other rimfire rifles out there, and I will add those as this comparison grows.
In the table, a green highlighted cell means that for this specification, the rifle has the best design in my opinion. My opinion is based on the rifles ability, through it's design, to allow the shooter to perform at the highest level of performance - meaning the ability to deliver consistent accuracy.
#1 Ruger Precision Rimfire
The first thing you notice when looking at the table is that the Ruger Precision Rimfire has more green cells than any of the other rifles. Because of this, I believe that this rifle, as far as it's design,when comparied to the others, should be the most accurate factory made bolt action rifle out of the box. I wrote an article detailing my reasons for this.
I realize that design doesn't mean the rifle will actually deliver the best groups. My purpose here is to state that because of the design, it should give the shooter the ability to deliver the best group of all rifles in this comparison.
Actual 5 shot group sizes obtained while shooting the rifle at 50 yards from bags are listed below. Note that there was a very light wind during the test. All groups were measured from outside edge to outside edge.
CCI Standard Velocity = .524 inches
CCI Green Tag = .479 inches
Federal Premium Ultra Match = .689 inches
Here is footage created by GunsumerReports. He presents actual data from the Ruger Precision Rimfire at around 6:24 using several types of ammo at 50 yards. This is an excellent video that will give you an idea of what to expect from this rifle.
Because I own one of these rifles and have spent many enjoyable hours shooting it long range, I was worried that I might be a little biased when writing this article. After putting together the table above though, it became quite clear why I love this rifle so much and think it is currently the best rifle out of the box.
The stock, or should I say chassis, (there is a reason the pros use chassis systems) is made of fiber glass filled nylon. I see this as a positive as these materials are not affected by changes in temperature or humidity which is a problem with wood stocks on long range rifles, even laminated wood. These stocks are not as beautiful as the rifles made with exotic wood stocks sporting a fine furniture finish, but they do the job which is to keep your zero consistent.
These stocks are also much more rugged and can withstand many hours of hard hunting in the field while your zero stays dead on. This is partly because the bedding designs are much better on these new stocks provided by ruger when compared say a normal 22 wood stock. The fit is secure and doesn't move.
Stock adjustability is listed as complete, meaning it can be adjusted for all dimensions to quickly to accommodate any shooter. This is a big plus as having a stock that is properly adjusted allows your body to relax which reduces tension and improves aiming stability. Both overall length and length of pull (distance from the stock butt to the trigger) can be varied by 3.5 inches.
It comes with a magazine that holds 15 rounds which is 5 more than the closest competitor. I don't think I need to go into much detail on how important 5 extra shots could be in the field. It also gives you more shooting time and less reloading time.
Length of pull is can be adjusted a by 3.5 inches which is more than any of it's competitors. I have seen shooters trying to place accurate shots using a rifle where the length of pull does not match their body proportions try all day and just can't figure out why their shooting is so bad. The ability to perfectly adjust length of pull allows the rifle to be accurate with many different shooters as well as allowing the shooters to eliminate tension. Tension is the enemy of accuracy.
The cheek riser is fully adjustable both back and forth and up and down. All of this adjustability yields a rifle that maxes out at 38.6 inches long (with all settings at the longest). This is not the shortest total length of rifles examined but still in the range of normal. It is also much shorter than the normal big bore rifle mounted in a chassis. The butt stock also is made with a rail to easily accommodate any monopod on the market.
The bolt throw can also be changed to mimic the distance on your big bore center fire rifle. This can be done very easily by anyone. The dimensions on this rimfire rifle match perfectly to the center fire Ruger Precision models in 308 and 6.5 Creedmoor. These two features together allow you to practice with the identical rifle you will be using in the field or in competition.
One last advantage to the Ruger Precision Rimfire is that except for the Savage FVSR, it has the lowest price of the bunch. It's hard to believe that this little rifle, with all of it's options and advantages is sold at this price. Even the center fire big bore cousin to this rifle is only around $1100 which is thousands of dollars below it's competition.
#2 Savage B22 FVSR Overwatch
My pick for the second best factory bolt action out of the box is the Savage B22 FVSR Overwatch. At a shelf price of right around $300 and the accuracy at 50 yards, the best group being less than one half inch, none of the factory rifles it was tested against could stay with it. Especially when you are looking for the best value. See this article for more detail.
The B22 is the newest model FVSR. It's first major design positive is is the synthetic stock making it pretty much impervious to changes in temperature and humidity. I personally like the addition of the camo paint because I think it is much more attractive than just the plain black or olive green offered before by Savage.
The stock is not adjustable but Savage has installed a raised cheek area on the new stock. This is an improvement but is still not quite high enough for a solid cheek weld with most long range scopes. This stock could probably still benefit from an aftermarket cheek riser for most people. Here is my favorite one on Amazon.
The barrel is still an efficient 16.5 inches of carbon steel which I believe is very close to optimum length for velocity, flatness of trajectory, and energy delivered at long range with a standard 40 grain bullet moving at around 1000- 1100 fps which is a standard velocity 22 cartridge.
Because of the shorter barrel, this rifle is also the lightest of those examined making it very versatile to use in the field. This also brings it in at around 5.6 lbs without a scope, putting it near the extra light weight rifles sporting carbon fiber barrels.
The trigger is the Savage Accu-trigger and has a full 3 lb adjustment range making it workable for almost anyone. It can be taken down to 2.25 lbs of pull which is highly desirable when trying to be accurate at long ranges.
I shot 5 shot groups with the B22 FVSR at 50 yards under the same conditions discussed above for the Ruger Precision Rimfire. Here are the groups I got.
CCI Standard Velocity = .632 inches
CCI Green Tag = .516 inches
Federal Premium Ultra Match = .508 inches
All of the rifles in this comparison are fine rifles. I wouldn't hesitate to buy, and do own, some of them. One of them may work better for you than the two I have picked to be the most accurate out of the box. One thing is for sure, you won't go wrong with any of them.