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Browning Buckmark .22 semi-auto rifle review
By Bruce Potts
Friday, 13 August 2010
Browning Buckmark .22 semi-auto rifle: This Browning is an unusual and capable rifle for vermin control.
Browning Buckmark .22 semi-auto rifle
The vast majority of vermin shooters in this country will probably opt for some form of bolt-action rifle for shooting rabbits and the like, but the appeal of a quick second shot draws many to a repeating rifle.
Ordinarily, repeaters or semi-automatic rifles are not as accurate as bolt-action designs, but, as with most things, it largely depends on the rifle and manufacturer.
Browning has a good reputation for its series of target and hunting pistols from the US and it was an inspired piece of lateral thinking to lengthen the barrel to 18in and add a rifle-style stock, thus incarnating a super-light, accurate carbine.
At first glance, it is true it looks odd — some may say ugly — but those prejudices disappear as soon as you shoot it.
In fact, I was quite taken with this little rifle over the period of the testing
and found it handy to shoot vermin.
As with most .22LR rimfire pistol designs, the Buckmark relies on the cycling of the action by a simple yet effective blow-back method where the recoil from firing operates the action and cycles a new round.
Because, essentially, this is a lengthened pistol, you grip the Buckmark by a true pistol grip through which the magazine is inserted.
This gives a comfortable and natural hold. It’s slim, but the oiled walnut grip to either side feels right and all the operating controls are located on the left side.
These include the safety lever that, when pushed up, is safe, and when down, you can fire and it also locks open the slide in its rearmost position.
In front of this safety lever is a slide release catch and the magazine release button is positioned where your thumb rests on the grip — all easy to access and reliable.
There is no standard bolt as such but a sliding top receiver that blows back on firing just enough to eject an empty case and cycle a new round.
In pistol form, this reciprocating slide is well away from the face, but in this carbine style, it’s quite near to one’s nose.
In reality, it’s 100% safe. It is heavily scalloped to both sides and grooved to allow a good grip.
Because this area is very open, i.e. no enclosed receiver, like most rifles, it’s easy to keep clean as semiautomatics tend to get a bit dirty with lead and unburned powder.
BARREL AND SIGHTS
The barrel is 18in long, which is perfect for the carbine stature of this Buckmark, though there is room to reduce this further to, for example, 14in and then have it threaded for a sound moderator.
However, you get a good set of iron sights, which on most rimfires will not be used, but the Buckmark has an adjustable rearsight — a bit crude but its dayglo twin dot arrangement lines up quickly with the green day-glo strip on the foresight.
Most will use a scope but these sights are good for offhand shooting.
A scope is secured to the one-piece Weavertype scopesight rail that runs the full length of the slide and hangs over the receiver’s front and barrel.
This makes it convenient for mounting a scope or indeed a night-vision device.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
I used subsonic ammunition and all the brands shot without a single malfunction or ‘soft’ cycle, when the receiver is not sufficiently moved rearward properly to cycle a round.
Lapua Subsonics were best for accuracy at 30 yards (left) and 50 yards (right).
Only the RWS rounds were a bit sticky.
This Buckmark was a bit bullet-fussy, though I have shot other Buckmarks that weren’t.
However, the Lapua Subsonics provided the best accuracy, with fiveshot groups of 0.65in and 1.25in at 30 and 50 yards respectively, and gave the fastest velocity for the subsonic ammunition of 1,072fps.
A close second were the CCI Segmenting ammunition, then the Winchester Subsonic, at 1,068fps and 1,058fps respectively.
When I zeroed the Buckmark at 30 yards with the Lapuas, the trajectory was as follows: -0.3in low at 50 yards and -3.1in low at 75 yards with 92ft/lb and 81ft/lb energy remaining respectively from an initial 102ft/lb at the muzzle.
There are two versions of stock available for the Buckmark: the sporter version, which I tested, and the target version, which has a heavier barrel profile and laminated stock parts.
This sporter has a walnut fore-end, pistol-grip panels and a rear butt stock.
All have an oiled finish and are quite ‘dry’, but burnish nicely with oil from your hands with use.
The fore-end is slender and its semi beaver-tail design fills the hand well, but it is the butt stock that is most unusual.
Stemming from the bottom of the action below the slide and from the bottom of the pistol grip sprouts a hemispherical skeletonised loop of steel to which is fitted a more conventional walnut stock with raised comb but no cheekpiece.
It’s unconventional, but as soon as you bring it to your shoulder it feels and handles really quite well.
TRIGGER AND MAGAZINE
The trigger is a simple single-stage unit with a broad, curved trigger-blade fashioned in a gold colour, which is fine for the job.
It has a reasonably heavy pressure of 4.5lb, but breaks cleanly and is easy to predict so you can precisely take your shot.
The magazine is the same as the pistol version. It is a 10-shot, single-stack design and inherently reliable, and 10-shot capacity is handy if you intend to use the Buckmark for lamping forays.
When the magazine release button is pushed, the magazine pops out of the handle briskly, so watch it!
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