Reviews Best Precision Rimfire Trainers Compared  Recoil Staff November 8, 2022 1 Comments, Join the Conversation Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2018, we've added more testing and new rifles in 2022, but some of the methodology and ammo changed between the two data sets. Written By Rob Curtis and David Lane SHOOT MORE, SAVE MORE! There are few pursuits in life more costly than boat ownership and equestrian competition of any sort. Somehow, precision rifle competition feels like it’s a not-so-distant third place in that ranking of activities. It’s not uncommon to see Precision Rifle Series competitors pulling $5,000 worth of gun and glass from hard cases and shooting $250 worth of ammo during a match weekend. Add travel costs, a weather meter, ballistic computer, shooting bags, ear pro, and on and on. All that and we haven’t even covered the cost of practicing with your 6.5 Costmoor. In an effort to avoid selling plasma, many PRS shooters practice with 22LR ammo. To get the most practical training value out of the .22 round, some competitors build custom guns with rimfire actions mated to centerfire stocks that mimic the handling characteristics of their competition guns. More so-called tactical trainer options have come to market lately with manufacturers offering versions of their bolt-action rimfires in tactical stocks. These factory options might not be clones of a game day gun, but they’re cheaper than cloning one while getting the job done. TESTING We picked up four rimfire tactical trainers, all at different price points, and ran each through an identical evaluation process that included shooting about 600 rounds of Eley Club and 200 rounds of Eley Match ammo in each. We ran the guns as they were meant to run, from barricades, 50-gallon drums, and from every position we could improvise on and around a John Deere tractor. For accuracy testing, we wanted to do something different. 22LR is inexpensive, so why stick to our normal five-shot group test protocol? We called up Hornady ballistician Jayden Quinlen and asked what constituted a statistically meaningful round count for an accuracy test. His initial answer was, predictably, “all of them.” Eventually, we arrived at 30 rounds as an effective sample size. So, we gave the middle finger to all the three-round groupers and shot 30-round groups at 50-yards. So don’t be alarmed when you see larger-than-expected group sizes. 2022 Update When updating this article and adding two new rifles, the Zermatt Arms RimX and the Bergara B-14r, we've kept the 50-yard groups, but the group sizes are a more normal 10-round grouping. We couldn't find any more of the same ammo, so we used 40gr Lapua Center-X for the update. WE LOVE CANS Aside from the reduced cost of training, 22LR match ammo is pretty quiet. Most, if not all, 22LR match ammo is subsonic to avoid accuracy-robbing instability as the bullet transitions from supersonic to subsonic velocity. So, it makes sense to pacify the neighbors and train suppressed. Ergo, all of the guns we’re looking at have ½-28 threaded muzzles, and we put our Thunder Beast Arms 22 Takedown on all of them for most of the evaluation. As noted below, we shot groups with and without the can. BEST .22 LR LONG RANGE PRECISION RIFLES Kelbly’s Incorporated Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer Iain Kelbly wanted a trainer, so he made one. He worked with ze meisters off rrrimfire, Anschütz, to build the ultimate 22LR trainer. Kelbly's Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer He started with the company’s intro-level barreled action, the 1416. It combines the Anschütz 64 Action, an Anschütz 18-inch, button-rifled, hand-lapped, ½-28 threaded barrel, Anschütz 5098 two-stage adjustable trigger and adds Kelbly’s carbon-fiber, centerfire KTS stock. Kelbly’s buys the barreled actions and sends them to Anschütz North America’s custom shop where extraction, ejection, and trigger are tuned to perfection. Kelbly’s sets the barreled action in its KTS stock and beds the action under the chamber and tang. Accuracy: The Arcas grouped well enough at 50 yards, but we took it out to 100 yards and shot 20-round groups and logged a 1.8-inch overall group size, of which 2/3rds of the rounds grouped inside 0.93 inches. At 100 yards, a bird fart can ruin a tight 22LR group, so we’re impressed with how well this rifle holds groups at practical training distances. Kelbly's Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer Reliability: Ian Kelbly sent us his own rifle and told us it’s been at least 3,000 rounds since its last cleaning. We logged another 800 rounds, around 700 of them suppressed, still without cleaning it and we experienced no malfunctions of any kind. We don’t know where the carbon and wax went, but it didn’t gunk up the bolt face at all. It’s bonkers. The dual extractors and mechanical ejector have something to do with it, as does the notch in the bolt face that gives fouling a place to collect where it can’t cause problems. Stock: It’s funky looking, but we assure you Kelbly’s KTS Stock is a comfortable, stiff, and highly adjustable beast. It’s carbon fiber with a full length Picatinny rail under the fore end, QD sling studs, a three-way adjustable butt plate, 1-inch recoil pad, adjustable cheek-piece offset, adjustable comb height, and finish that looks to be somewhere between a planetarium and an aquarium. Kelbly's Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer Action: The Anschütz 64 action on the Arcas is the smoothest, fastest, snappiest action we’ve ever operated … and, eff us, but it’s considered the low end of the Anschütz line. This thing wants to run. We already talked about its ability to run dirty, but it’s absolutely shocking for an action this neglected to run so smooth, easy, and well. Mag changes are easy with the giant mag catch, but at $79 a pop, you’ll likely be babying those 10-rounders. Kelbly's Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer Trigger: The Anschütz 5098 adjustable trigger is 6.5 ounces of two-stage joy. It’s user adjustable, for pull weight, overtravel, sear engagement, length of pull, and shoe angle. We didn’t need to mess with any of that, though. The first stage feels like moving a thick blade of grass, the second is like pressing a key on an early ’80s, clicky IBM keyboard. Kelbly's Arcas .22 LR Rimfire Trainer PRO: So much fun to shoot; adaptable; accurate; barely needs cleaning CON: Magazines are pricey; stock finish is a conversation starter SPECS: Barrel length: 18 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16Weight: 7.1 pounds (w/ empty 10-rnd mag)Length: 36 inchesMSRP: $2,600URL: www.kelbly.com Ruger Precision Rimfire For RPR owners looking for a 22LR training surrogate, the RPRimfire is a no-brainer. While smaller and lighter than its big brother, the RPRimfire’s control deck is nearly identical to the RPR. Ruger's Ruger Precision Rimfire The trigger guts are the same; only the housing is different, the grip is the same, the bolt handle is the same shape, and the bolt throw can better mimic the RPR by removing a clip on the bolt body, lengthening the bolt throw from 1.5 inches to 3 inches. It’s also got a modern fore-end and very adjustable back end. And it takes Ruger’s ubiquitous 10-22 mags. AccuracyThe rifle popped our 6-inch steel from 200 yards using Club ammo in practice sessions, so we were surprised when we recorded a > 1 inch, 30-round group with the higher-end Eley Match. We shot a second round of groups with the Eley Club, and it produced a more competitive group with the less expensive ammo. Shoots well with cheaper ammo? Odd, but we’ll put that in the “win” column. Ruger's Ruger Precision Rimfire ReliabilityThe rifle never failed to go bang, but we did have lots of ejection fails. Instead of taking flight, spent cases spun in the action to the tune of 2-3 per mag. There’s a fixed ejector in the action, but our cases were all ejected by a notch in the magazine top. When we switched from the included 15-round mag to one of our own 10-rounders, the issue went away. StockWe’ve heard the complaints about the RPRimfire’s “cheap plastic stock,” and frankly we don’t get it. OK, it’s plastic, but it’s solid and the LOP and comb height adjust enough to fit angry old men and elementary school kids alike … without tools. The fore-end takes all the M-LOK-ness you can mount on it, and it holds our bipod just fine. Ruger's Ruger Precision Rimfire Action: The action is a little clicky, but it never hung up. After about 300 suppressed rounds, it did stiffen up until we wiped down the bolt and brushed the action path, breech- and bolt-face. Up top, it comes with a 30 MOA rail, perfect for reaching deep with the fast-dropping 22LR round. Trigger: Trigger Pull Weight is adjustable and came set at 2 pounds, 0.8 ounces. Pull weight is set using an Allen wrench without taking the rifle apart. The trigger is heavy and a bit creepy, but breaks crisply and predictably. Ruger’s commitment to safety is on display with the tabbed trigger safety that we could do without. Ruger's Ruger Precision Rimfire PRO: Plenty of magazine options; great ergos and highly adjustable stock; good surrogate for the RPR; includes 30 MOA optic rail CON: Ejection issues; highly sensitive to ammo in terms of accuracy SPECS: Barrel length: 18 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16Weight: 7.31 pounds (w/ empty 15-rnd mag)Length: 35.13 inches (shortest config)MSRP: $529URL: www.ruger.com Vudoo Gun Works V-22 Barreled Action For folks who want a turnkey 22LR trainer as similar to their centerfire setup as possible, there’s only one choice. Vudoo Gun Works’ V-22 barreled action drops into any Remington 700 footprint stock or chassis that uses AICS pattern magazines. Vudoo Gunworks V-22 barreled action in Magpul Pro 700 Chassis The V-22 also accepts R700 pattern triggers and even 5⁄16-24 threaded bolt knobs, allowing you to build a true 22LR surrogate for your competition rifle. Mike Bush, the guy who engineered the V-22, came to this design after performing and selling his own Remington 40X repeater conversions. He identified all the pitfalls of the endeavor and designed the V-22 system as a purpose-built rimfire repeater. We say it’s a system because the magazine Bush made for the action is really the heart of the V-22. It presents the rounds to the controlled round feed bolt face nearly in line with the chamber. The feed path is also as short as possible. This means the delicate bullet is fed directly into the chamber without the chance for accuracy reducing dents and scratches along the way. Vudoo Gunworks V-22 barreled action Accuracy: Vudoo makes its own barrels. They start by cutting an undersized bore in the blank, hand lap it, then single point cut the rifling, and hand lap it again to its final dimensions. Vudoo uses a match chamber and proprietary six-groove rifling, and the result, they say, is a barrel capable of 1 MOA groups at hundreds of yards. In addition to the 30-round groups we shot at 50 yards, we logged a 1.4-inch group at 100 and 2.1-inch group at 200 on a breezy day. The V-22’s 0.57-inch group was the tightest of the guns we shot. Vudoo Gunworks V-22 barreled action Reliability: The V-22’s Achilles’ heel is fouling. Like clockwork, the bolt throw begins to stiffen around 100 rounds of suppressed shots. At 150-180, the bolt gets so hard to rotate that it might as well be Loctited in place. With this comes failure-to-fire issues we think are caused by the combo of a tight chamber and fouling buildup that increases headspace to the point of inducing light primer strikes. We’re not blaming the ammo, because we had no issues with the other guns, and misfired rounds worked in the other rifles. The gun runs 100 percent when it’s clean, but if it isn’t kept that way we get one or two light strikes per mag after about 100 rounds. We mentioned the sluggish bolt and FTF malfunctions to Vudoo’s Paul Parrott, and he said he wasn’t surprised. We have one of the early barreled actions, he said. They began coning the breech face slightly on later barrels to displace fouling and increase the action’s reliability. These days, V-22 rifles are almost the standard for most NRL22 and Rimfire PRS shooters and run hundreds, even thousands, of rounds between cleaning. While ours has issues, current production rifles do not. Stock: Run what ya brung. We pulled the action from our competition rifle and dropped the V-22 into our Magpul Pro 700 chassis with no issues. Action: We’ve covered the salient points of the V-22 action, but we’ll point out that it’s offered right- or left-handed with your choice of a 0, 20, 25, or 30 MOA optic rail (ours had the 30 MOA), and a Melonite finish with the option of Cerakoting. It includes one mag and extras cost $40 each, or $99 for a three-pack. Vudoo Gunworks V-22 barreled action in Magpul Pro 700 Chassis Trigger: Since the V-22 takes any R700 trigger, we dropped the Triggertech Special from our comp gun in there. It’s set at 1 pound 11 ounces. PRO: As close as you can get to making a 22LR version of an R700 match gun; accurate CON: Action must be kept clean for reliable operation SPECS: Barrel length: 16 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16Weight: 5.25 pounds (Barreled action only, no thread protector)Length: N/AMSRP: $1,770 ($2,954 as shown)URL: www.vudoogunworks.com Zermatt Arms RimX Action & Proof Research Barrel Zermatt Arms has been around for a while as a centerfire rifle brand, their actions are hugely popular in PRS and the long range world. RimX JAE Cronus (1) If the name isn’t ringing a bell, they changed their name from Bighorn Arms to Zermatt back in 2020. The RimX is their rimfire action and so far, it’s been pretty incredible. Sold as a bare action that needs a barrel, trigger, and chassis to form a complete rifle – the RimX isn’t cheap, but it’s built using a Remington 700 footprint so parts are easy to get. Barrels are available from a wide range of manufacturers, but the one I chose came from Proof Research. A 20” stainless steel, competition taper barrel, this beast is thicker than oatmeal and heavier than some complete rifles. But it shoots. Accuracy: Shooting Lapua Center-X ammo at about 1,080 FPS, this rifle is lights out at 50 yards and damn good at any range. 50 yard, 10-shot group is sub-MOA at 0.67 MOA (0.35 inches) RimX 10 shot group I’ve shot it in competition to 380 yards and from the bench for fun out to 450 yards. Wind will mess with you a lot, but if you can call the wind – you can make the hit. Reliability: I almost never clean my rifles. In fact, I generally only clean them when they start to act funny. I don’t have an exact round count for what my RimX has been through since its last cleaning, but by my best recollection, it’s been at least four bricks of ammo (500 rounds to the brick, ~2,000+ rounds), a half dozen local competitions, two dozen range days, and thousands of miles traveled. In all that time, I’ve had a few failures to feed, but those were caused by my failure to run the bolt all the way. For failures that I can say was the rifle or ammo, zero. Stock: The RimX comes as a bare action, so the stock or chassis is whatever you choose. Normally, my RimX sits in an MDT ACC chassis – but of late it has lived in a JAE Gen 4. The JAE is amazing for a long list of reasons. You should take a look at the complete review we have on it (Coming soon)! Zermatt Arms RimX, Proof Research barrel, JAE Gen 4 chassis, Athlon Cronus scope Action: The heart and soul of the rifle, the RimX is awesome. The controlled round feed gives you easy feeding every time and makes sure your soft .22 LR rounds aren’t deformed as they feed into the chamber. Downside is that you need to remember this fact when running the bolt. Always run it all the way, don’t get lazy. Trigger: Again, bare action, so it is BYOT (Bring Your Own Trigger). I have a TrigerTech Diamond in mine set to 1.5lb pull weight. And hell yes, I highly recommend it. Crisp, glass rod, no overtravel, and 100% dependable. PRO: Smooth feeding, reliable to a fault, totally customizable. CON: Big price, and requires a little gun smithing (DIY or paid) to put it all together SPECS: Barrel length: 20 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16MSRP: $1,150 ($4,250 as shown w/o optic)URL: www.zermattarms.com Bergara B-14R Barreled Action Bergara has quickly become one of the go-to defaults for rifles in the USA. Built using the Remington 700 footprint and with most parts being interchangeable with same, Bergara rifles have filled a void left by Remington and, in many ways, filled it better than Remington ever did. Bergara B-14R Barreled Action, MDT XRS Chassis, Bushnell Match Pro Scope The B-14 HMR is Bergara’s line of precision rifles, and the B-14R is the rimfire version. Built using the same chassis as the centerfire rifles, the same trigger, and really just about the same in every respect except weight and cartridge, the B-14R in .22 LR, when paired with a B-14 HMR in the centerfire cartridge of your choice is the perfect shooter/trainer combo for factory rifles. The B-14R also comes as a barreled action if you prefer to drop it in a different stock or chassis. Mine started as a B-14R in the factory chassis, but I quickly moved it to some of my other chassis since I used this as a competition rifle for about a year. Accuracy: I’ve shot this B-14R in a wide range of chassis and stocks over the several years I’ve owned it, and in every case, it shoots wonderfully. This isn’t as lights out as some rifles, but for a factory rifle this is damn good. Bergara B14R 10 shot group At 50 yards using Lapua Center-X ammo, my B-14R shoots a clean and constant 1 MOA (0.55 inches) 10-shot group. Even at 100 yards, 1 MOA is pretty standard for my rifle – if wind complies with me. For a factory rifle, that’s pretty awesome. Reliability: Just like my RimX, I never clean my B-14R. My best guess is that it’s been about 2 years and maybe 2,500 rounds of ammo since its last cleaning. I had a few failure-to-feed issues when I first got it, but that was the magazine I had. After buying two more magazines, the problem never repeated itself. Stock: The factory HMR chassis is pretty solid. It has a very “stock” feeling to it, but there is an aluminum mini-chassis built into it, giving you the rigidity of a quality chassis. Plus, the cheek rest is adjustable and feels good. I keep my B-14R in an MDT XRS chassis these days, and I love it. Really well made, lightweight, and budget-friendly, the XRS is a solid upgrade over the factory stock without destroying your budget. Action: The B-14R action is impressive for a factory option. It used to be that finding a bolt this smooth wasn’t possible outside of custom rifles, but Bergara delivers hard on the action and has made a rimfire version of their standard action that actually feels exactly like it. My only gripe is that the bolt is a little sloppy in the action, but hugely but if you run it hard and from a weird angle, you can make it bind a little. Trigger: A factory trigger is never the most amazing thing you’ve ever shot, but the Bergara trigger isn’t bad. Adjustable in pull weight, I keep mine at about 2.5 pounds, and it works well. I’ve never had an issue with it, and since it’s literally the same trigger used in the centerfire Bergara rifles, it’s perfect for training. PRO: Good price, lots of features, impressive for a factory rifle CON: Bolt isn’t perfect, extra magazines are often out of stock SPECS: Barrel length: 18 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16Weight: 5.4 pounds (Barreled action only)MSRP: $680 ($1,230 as shown w/o optic)URL: www.bergara.online CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer [discontinued] EDITOR'S NOTE: The CZ 455 is now discontinued, the current model is the CZ 457 ProVarmint Suppressor-Ready (MSRP $680) or Varmint Precision Trainer (MSRP $1,315). The 457 is a much-improved version of the 455 featuring a better bolt throw, fully adjustable trigger, machined bottom metal, and more smaller improvements. The 455 VPT was CZ’s astute offering to the practical precision community when it came out less than a decade ago. Up to that point, guys who wanted a 22LR tactical trainer had few choices. So when CZ USA mated its venerable 455 barreled action to a Manners Composite T4 stock, it was an instant hit. CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer The precision world has since moved on to chassis setups, so even with the cutting edge (at the time) carbon fiber and fiberglass composite stock, the 455 VPT almost seems dated. Almost, because the rifle still shoots extremely well. Accuracy: The 455’s 30-shot group using Club ammo was within a fly’s breath of the most accurate rifle in our guide, the V-22. Ammo sensitivity is a real thing, and the 455 gave the higher-end Eley Match ammo the Heisman. CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer Reliability: The 455’s bolt and chamber gave us no problems. Ejection was Metamucil strong and consistent. Bolt guns are much more tolerant of rimfire fouling than semi-autos, but some are more tolerant than others. We didn’t clean need to clean the rifle, even running it with the silencer for 90 percent of our 800 rounds. CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer Stock: Out of the box, it lacks provision for a full-length bottom rail for barricade stops, tripod plates, and bipods. You can stick some Pic rail on the end using the existing sling stud holes with B&T Industries’ BT017 4-inch rail, as we did. But, if you want to add anything else, you’re heading to drill press city. Action: This is where the 455 and I don’t get along. The bolt knob on this thing is for tiny people with tiny hands. The bolt is also the stiffest of the crew. The bolt knob needs some extra oomph to drive it past the halfway mark of its rotation. We found ourselves thumbing the bolt knob, reaching below the trigger guard with our fingers and levering the bolt closed … not ideal. Fortunately, the aftermarket provides. $60 for extended bolt handle improves leverage and allow the gun to be run without breaking your cheekweld to curse. CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer The 455 VPT version includes a bridged Picatinny scope base that slides on to the 455’s 11mm dovetail rail and is fixed by four set screws. It’s not a confidence-inspiring setup, and we have to wonder if the thing will ever be level back-to-front. On the plus side, polymer 10-round mags for the 455 are economically priced at $30 apiece. Trigger: The adjustable, single-stage trigger comes in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces after dialing in its lightest setting. It feels a little heavy for super fine work, and there’s a few hairs worth of creep. PRO: As accurate as guns thrice the price; good aftermarket support CON: Small bolt knob and short handle combine with stiff bolt rotation to rob the fun from running this gun; sketchy Picatinny scope rail attachment SPECS: Barrel length: 16.5 inches (1/2-28 threaded)Twist rate: 1:16Weight: 7.17 pounds (w/ 10-rnd mag)Length: 38.5 inchesMSRP: $940URL: cz-usa.com Explore RECOILweb:Goodbye NRA? New York and D.C. 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