A blog by Bob Rich. Squirrel Hunting, Henry Rifles, Reloading, Range Shooting and More!


Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Browning SA-22

The Browning SA-22 is an amazingly beautiful, light and accurate .22. Right out of the box this rifle shot dead nuts at 25 yards. Its sights are fine, with a thin blade front sight that allows for great accuracy. The rear sight folds down and elevation adjusts by loosening a screw, similar to the sight on a 10/22. Since I often hunt in the early morning with low light, I need a scope to look into the trees and amplify the little light that is available. That's why I mounted a cantilever scope mount and an inexpensive ($50) scope with parallax correction to dial in close shots.

The major down-side to this 150+ year old Browning design is the ejection port which is at the bottom of the receiver. I can't tell you how many times I was burned by hot brass flying down my sleeve. The positive side of the design is that when I lean up against a tree to brace myself for a shot, I'm free to position myself on either side since there is no side brass ejection. A drawback of the scope mount is that it interferes with the rotation of the barrel which separates the barrel from the receiver. Since the mount was installed I haven't been able to remove the barrel. This is a terrible design flaw. 

This rifle was manufactured in Japan, and I personally can't tell it from the early Belgium models. The manufacturing is flawless. I love the fact that the receiver is milled from a single block of steel, and I'm guessing that's why these rifles are so expensive. The wood is like glass and the checkering flawless.

Another thing I'm not crazy about is the loading system. First, I find it awkward to rotate the loading tube that is recessed in the recoil pad, then pull it all the way out to slide the cartridges into a loading gate located at the right side of the stock. Cartridges will jam if a bullet has any imperfection. If you're like me, when you return from a hunt, you unload the rifle and reuse the ammo. The last few rounds need to be manually ejected through the bottom of the receiver, and more often than not the bullet will slightly bend, causing the loading problem. This system makes for an elegant rifle, but I find the handling clumsy. 

Ammo: The Browning can only shoot LR, while a lever rifle can shoot any .22 ammo (other than magnums). I recently tested CCI Quiet 22 in the Browning and I was amazed that this light load was able to cycle the rifle! The action is not nearly as stiff as it appears. The Browning with Quiet 22 will make an awesome combination.

Should you buy one? If you're looking for a beautiful, light, accurate hunting and plinking rifle, and money is no object, this rifle might be for you. But if you're a real small game hunter and don't plan to baby your rifle, I don't recommend it. I much prefer hunting with the Henry Small Game Carbine which is short, light, accurate and gives me numerous ammo options.

This is the beautiful Belgium-made Browning which my brother willed me when he died last year, purchased in the 60's. This rifle hangs on the wall in his memory, and I'll be hunting with my Henry's.

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