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Kleinguenther's premium rimfire sporter.

* When a new .22 rimfire rifle hits the market these days, chances are pretty good that it'll be a semi-automatic that'll burn up ammo faster than you can buy it and possibly deliver only mediocre accuracy. A most disturbing sing of the times is the disappearance from the market of high-quality, extremely accurate bolt-action rimfire rifles chambered for the .22 long Rifle cartridge. As of this writing I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of quality bolt guns available today.

Happily, a new bolt-action rifle has just been added to the list--the Kleinguenther K-22. Intended to compete with the best of the world's .22 rimfire sporters, the K-22 standard model retails for $366, a deluxe model for $498. In addition thre are a number of special stock features, some sight packages and a double set trigger available as extra-cost options.

The rifle Kleinguenther sent me to test is the deluxe version which sports a walnut stock and a high-lustre blue job on all of the external metal. The rifle is furnished without sights, but if you want open sights you can order them as an extra. My rifle arrived complete with a Leupold M8-8X scope set in Kleinguenther mounts made especially for this rifle. Without any sights the K-22 weighs six pounds, three ounces; with the scope and mounts it tips the scale at seven pounds, two ounces.

Externally the K-22 is a scaled-down replica of the Kleingunther K-15 Insta-Fire centerfire sporter. Like its big brother, the K-22 is made by Voere in Vohrenback, West Germany, and imported into the U.S. by Kleinguenther. The appearance of my test rifle is good, but I hardly think the stock lives up to what is expected of a premium-priced rifle. It may be walnut, but it's not the grade it should be for a premium rifle and any attractive grain has been effectively camouflaged by a dark oil finish. The wood hasn't been sealed properly, so it's not as smooth as it should be and the oen grain detracts from the appearance. There is a contrasting wood fore-end cap, sling swivels and 16-lines-per-inch checkering on the forearm and pistol grip. The butt design is the European hump-back Monte Carlo complete with cheekpiece. The saving feature where appearnce is concerned is the metal finish. All external steel-and it's all steel, no plastic or aluminum--has been nicely polished and given a beautiful high-lustre blue.

Unlike most rimfire .22s, the K-22 has two front-located locking lugs on the bolt that engage Stellite inserts in the front of the receiver. This feature adds considerable rigidity to the action. The bolt is large and sports dual extractors, a recessed bolt face and a stationary ejector set in the bottom of the receiver back of the magazine well. Bolt movement is guided by the sear which protrudes upward through the bottom of the receiver. The sear does double duty as both the bolt guide and stop.

The Kleinguenther K-22 trigger is a copy of that used on the centerfire rifle. When cocked, the sear is held up by a fine engagement with the trigger. The sear in turn holds the firing pin back in the cocked position. When the trigger is pulled out of engagement with the sear, the sear is forced downward by the cocking piece and the firing pin is released. The weight of pull on this trigger is adjustable down to about two pounds. Working carefully, I managed to get a safe trigger pull of 1-3/4 pounds.

The manual safety on the Kleinguenther K-22 is attached to the side of the trigger housing and appears as a thumb lever located on the right rear side of the receiver. Forward it's in the FIRE position, rearward it's on SAFE. When on SAFE the safety blocks the trigger so it can't be pulled and at the same time locks the bolt.

Kleinguenther's barrel on the K-22 is 21 inches long and relatively heavy. At the receiver ring it's .910 inch in diameter. At a point 1-1/2 inches forward of the receiver its diameter is .80 inch and from there it tapers gradually to a muzzle diameter of .675 inch. The barrel free-floats, but is solidly supported for .785 inch of its length immediately ahead of the receiver by a steel insert set in the stock.

The magazine for the Kleinguenther is made of sheet metal and holds five rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammo. It's inserted from the bottom of the stock and is held in place by a magazine lock located at the front of the magazine. To release the magazine so that it can be withdrawn you simply push rearward on the lock and pull downward on the magazine.

Kleinguenther's accuracy claims for the K-22 are that while accuracy is not guaranteed, every file, mounted with an 8X scope, must hold three shots within one inch at 100 yards more than once before it leaves the factory. Accompanying my test rifle was a photocopy of a target with four 50-yard groups of 3/8 inch or less fired with Eley Tenex ammunition.

Obviously the K-22 is extremely accurate with one brand of target ammunition, but since it's a sporter--a hunting rifle--I feel it has to perform with high velocity hollow point and solid ammo as well as with the expensive target ammunition available. Determined to give the Kleinguenther a fair shake, I went to the ammo vault and pulled out everything in .22 Long Rifle I had on hand--nine different high velocity hunting loads and nine different loads intended specifically for competition. At the range I fired a five-shot group at 50 yards with each load, first with target ammo, then with hunting ammo. Then I selected the three best hunting loads and three best target loads and fired five five-shot groups with each at 50 yards. All of the ammunition was fired across my Oehler Model 33 chronograph to determine velocities from the 21-inch barrel.

The results of my accuracy test show that none of the averages with match ammunition fell below 1/2 inch at 50 yards and most of the hunting ammo produced groups up around one inch. This, I believe, could be improved on given perfect conditions. My section of Wyoming was locked in one of the worst winters in recent history at the time of my tests, so I was forced to shoot at temperatures a bit below those at which .22 Long Rifle ammunition gives optimum performance.

I encountered not a single malfunction when testing the Kleinguenther K-22--no misfires, no feeding, chambering, extraction or ejection problems. I think this speaks very well for both the rifle and the ammunition. As I see it the Kleinguenther K-22 is a very welcome addition to the short list of extremely accurate high-quality bolt-action rimfire rifles available to shooters today. For more information, see your dealer or write Kleinguenther, Inc., P.O. Box 1261, Seguin, TX 78155.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Milek, Bob
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:May 1, 1984
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