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Springfield 2020 Rimfires

While it’s a truism that you’ll never outgrow a 22, you can always trade up into a better model.

Which is what Springfield hopes the legions of 10/22 and Marlin 60 owners do when they get handsy with their new 2020 22’s (or should that be 202022?) The two models the company is launching should cover 90% of tasks a good bolt action 22LR can handle, while offering a level of style and performance that’s a decent step up from the norm.

As with their polymer framed handguns, these are produced by a third party to Springfield’s specifications – in this case by the well-regarded Turkish firm of Retay, known more for their Benelli-pattern shotguns.

Both the sporter and target versions are built on the same action which is a rear-locking design, with a lot of similarities to other 22 LR bolt guns which use the root of the bolt handle as a locking lug. Here, there’s a secondary lug opposite the bolt handle which engages the receiver wall, providing an extra measure of safety and giving the 2020 a 60 degree bolt throw.

Despite being chambered in the diminutive rimfire cartridge, the 2020 feels more like a centerfire, with its swept bolt handle and adult-sized knob, located right above the trigger where you’d find it on a ‘real’ rifle.

This centerfire ethos extends to the safety, which is located in the same place as a Remington 700, and operates the same way – back for ‘safe’, forward for ‘fire’, so if you’re looking for a facsimile for cheap, off-season practice then the 2020 isn’t a bad choice.

By and large, manufacturers tend to endow 22LRs with crappy, low-capacity, sheetmetal magazines. It’s nice to see that Springfield didn’t go down this path, and instead acknowledged that Ruger makes the best 22LR mag out there, and so designed their bottom metal around it.

The flush-fit 10 round rotary magazine remains the gold standard for reliability, some sixty years after it was introduced, and is completely immune to rim lock, unlike stacked column designs. If you want to bump up capacity, then every flavor of aftermarket mag we tried fit and ran just fine, too.

The sporter’s stock is made from one of four grades of Turkish walnut, depending on your budget, with a low-gloss finish and nicely executed checkering on the wrist and forend.

Metal inletting is likewise well done, with the bottom metal sitting flush. On our test unit, it seemed as if the 118 degree Arizona summer had caused the forend to wander a bit – while it remained free floating, the barrel channel gap was uneven at the tip; something to check for if you look at one at a dealer.

There’s a lot of mass in the target model, much of which can be attributed to the injection molded stock. We’ve all gotten so used to shitty Tupperware stocks on rifles that when one comes along that doesn’t feel like it’s made from a couple of recycled grocery bags, it’s something of a revelation.

This one’s solid and hefty, feels like the company’s Waypoint hunting rifle, and weighs almost exactly the same, too.
Both models have the same trigger unit, which is user adjustable. We dialed it down to a crisp 2.5 pounds with a touch of overtravel, but if you like a different feel then your favorite aftermarket Remington 700 trigger will fit.

As far as scope mounting goes, both models come with a one-piece Pic rail which looks the part on the target model, but is aesthetically jarring on the sporter. Fortunately, it ships with a set of direct-mount rings which drops the scope closer to the bore, with the downside that they only fit scopes with 1 inch diameter main tubes. Not wishing to handicap the target model for lack of glass, we bolted up a Zeiss 3-15×50 and headed to the range.

22LR are notoriously fussy when it comes to ammo, and Springfield have put their cojones on the line by assuring everyone that the the 2020 rimfires will group under an inch at 50 yards, with the usual disclaimers – try to achieve this with Remington Golden Bullets loaded with gravel and floor sweepings, and all bets are off.

Of the four flavors we ran through the 2022's 20 inch pipe, the target model slammed Norma Match 22 into a solid 7/8ths inch. Cool huh? Well the lightweight sporter shaved an RCH off this despite its lighter barrel profile, but choked when it came to extracting the fired case.

Everything else fed and functioned fine, but more than 50% of Norma empties had to be pried out of the chamber with a blade.

Agulia Super Extra (and boy, their marketing department must have been given an extra week off for that name), Blazer standard velocity and CCI Mini Mags fed, fired and extracted from both rifles without a hitch, turning in groups that ranged from 1.25 inches to 1.5 inches – normally we'd find at least one decent-quality load that patterns like a 12 gauge but the 2022 rimfires were remarkably agnostic about ammo, so long as it would cycle.

Bottom line; if you slap down the credit card, you're going to have to do some testing of your own to see what ammo works best. But you knew that.

So who's going to buy these? The target model will be snapped up by anyone wanting a 22 trainer for their hunting rifle, yet doesn't want to drop 1100 bucks on a Bergara B14R.

OK, so the mag and bolt throw are different, but for a little more than half the cost, you're getting 90% of the performance. CZ 547 fans are going to look at the walnut stocked version and note the increased mag capacity and flush bottom metal, and add it to the list of guns they should check out.

Bottom line; decent step from other 22 bolt guns at a reasonable price.

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