Skip to main content

Horizon Firearms Vandal Carbon .22 Creedmoor Rifle

Horizon Firearms offers the perfect bolt-­action rifle platform for the new .22 Creedmoor: the Vandal Carbon (aka Vandal C).

Horizon Firearms Vandal Carbon .22 Creedmoor Rifle

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

Based on the success of the 6.5 Creedmoor, it should come as no surprise that America’s hottest-­selling “six-­five” would become the parent cartridge for a host of other rounds. Almost immediately after Hornady announced the 6.5 Creedmoor — and certainly after the loading caught the attention of shooters nationwide — people began “wildcatting” with the cartridge, producing rounds including the 6mm Creedmoor and the .25 Creedmoor. Perhaps, the 6.5 Creedmoor wildcat with the most potential for sales and worldwide popularity is the .22 Creedmoor, a necked-­down version of its parent.

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

Like the 6mm Creedmoor, the .22 Creedmoor has been SAAMI-­approved, so it’s no longer a true wildcat. The company most closely linked to this round is Texas-­based Horizon Firearms

I can’t remember when a single cartridge was so closely associated with a specific riflemaker. Horizon has become the place for all things .22 Creedmoor, including rifles chambered for the new cartridge. Its Vandal series of bolt-­actions are chambered in .22 Creedmoor, and I had the opportunity to test the new Vandal Carbon and evaluate the cartridge.

The .22 Creedmoor (above, right) and 6mm Creedmoor (above, center) share the same parent case as the 6.5 Creedmoor (above, left). (Photo by Mark Fingar)

A Primer on the .22 Creedmoor

Before diving into a detailed review of the Horizon Vandal Carbon, or Vandal C, it’s worth taking a closer look at the cartridge for which it is chambered. 

In 2014, while the rest of the world woke up to the benefits of their 6.5 Creedmoor, Horizon built its first .22 Creedmoor rifle. The following year, Whiddon Gunworks began offering dies, and by 2016 Horizon was offering branded .22 Creedmoor ammunition for sale. In 2023, Hornady submitted the cartridge for SAAMI approval and began loading .22 Creedmoor ammunition, which is available exclusively through Horizon.

The Horizon Vandal C’s Model 700-style push-feed bolt features a two-lug design, pivoting extractor and plunger-type ejector. It is lightly spiral fluted. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Horizon currently lists three loads for the .22 Creedmoor: Texas Ammunition and Hornady ammo loaded with 80-­grain ELD Match bullets and an 80-­grain Hornady ELD-­X load. Accordingly, all Horizon Firearms .22 Creedmoor rifles feature a fast 1-in-8-inch twist rate to stabilize these heavy-­for-­caliber projectiles. Hornady lists the muzzle velocity of its 80-­grain ELD Match load (.485 G1 BC) at 3,285 feet per second (fps). When zeroed at 200 yards, the bullet drops 5.3 ­inches at 300 yards, and just 15.4 ­inches at 400 yards. That load retains more than 1,000 foot-­pounds (ft.-lbs.) of energy to almost 500 yards, and at 1,600 yards velocity is 1,026 fps. That’s considerably more oomph than you’ll get from a .223 Remington, and the .22 Creedmoor soundly beats the old .22-­250 Remington, especially at extended ranges where the 80-­grain ELD Match bullet offers better ballistics than the .22-­250’s 55-­grain projectiles from a 1-in-12- or 1-in-14-inch twist barrel. This makes the .22 Creedmoor appealing to anyone who hunts big game where .22-­caliber rounds are legal. It also makes the .22 Creedmoor an ideal low-­recoil, long-­range target round.

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

The Rifle

Horizon Firearms was founded in 2012 by Derrick Ratliff, and he currently serves as the company’s president. Horizon builds premium rifles, but Horizon is not the family’s only company. Ratliff’s family are fifth-­generation Texas business owners. In addition to Horizon, they own Iota Outdoors stocks, Stiller Actions, Texas Ammunition, and others.

“I started building rifles in 2012 with my brother, and my ambition was to build guns that were worthy of being passed down to family,” Ratliff said. Ratliff is also an ardent varmint and predator hunter, but he wanted an accurate rifle that his children could use to hunt, and which produced minimal recoil. Ratliff built the rifle himself, and he looked to the .22 Creedmoor for his cartridge.

The carbon-fiber stock was designed and manufactured by Iota Outdoors, a Ratliff-owned company. It features a raked pistol grip and recoil-reducing buttpad. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Horizon’s Vandal C is part of their Core rifle line and was designed to optimize .22 Creedmoor performance. At the heart of this rifle is a cylindrical Horizon Stiller 416 stainless-steel action that shares a footprint with the popular Remington Model 700. It features dual front locking lugs, a tapered recoil lug, a modified M16-­style extractor and a plunger-­style ejector. The hardened one-­piece chrome­-moly bolt body is spiral fluted on top — the bottom is left rounded so as not to interfere with magazine lips — and the bolt handle is tapered, featuring a removable bolt knob. A Melonite finish protects the metalwork and adds lubricity.

Combine the smooth-­running bolt with a precision-­machined Stiller action with wire-EDM raceways, and it should come as no shock that the action in the Vandal C operates as smoothly as the gearbox in an Italian supercar. The action is mated with a carbon fiber-­wrapped barrel with a 416R stainless steel core, and 5⁄8-by-24 threaded muzzle with thread protector. It comes with diamond checkering and measures just 18 ­inches in length, which Ratliff said still “produces velocities around 3,050 to 3,075 feet per second.” The barrel is also short enough that you can easily add a suppressor and maintain a manageable overall length for a hunting rifle, perfect for the tight confines of a hunting blind or treestand.

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

Weight is also very manageable at 6 pounds, 6 ounces, for an unloaded rifle without scope, and that’s due in part to the Iota EKO X carbon-fiber stock. These stocks are light (around 24 ­ounces) and are hand-­laid and hand-­finished, featuring a diamond-­wave carbon-fiber pattern. Custom-­machined pillars ensure years of consistent accuracy, and the AirTech recoil pad utilizes Limbsaver’s NAVCOM material to reduce recoil vibrations. The forearm features a beavertail design that is narrow enough so that it is comfortable to hold and carry, and the front sling stud is accompanied by a rail section on the forend that allows you to easily mount a bipod. The near-­vertical pistol grip has an ambidextrous palmswell and features dual thumb shelves.

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

The Vandal Carbon comes with Horizon bottom metal and a detachable five-­round polymer box magazine. The release for the magazine is positioned just ahead of the triggerguard, and the broad paddle-­style design is easy to locate without looking down at the controls. A 20 MOA optic rail came with the gun that’s relieved just above the action opening to reduce the odds of spent brass striking it and re-­entering the action to create havoc. Unlike the standard Model 700 action, the ejection port was minimized to ensure rigidity, a key to its accuracy. However, it’s not as small as some factory rifles which make reaching into the action to single load the rifle a chore.


(Photo by Mark Fingar)

In keeping with its all-­premium-­components design philosophy, the Vandal Carbon came with a TriggerTech single-­stage trigger that was extremely clean and crisp. The TriggerTech safety is a two-­position design that allows the gun to be operated with the safety engaged. A bolt stop release is located on the left side of the gun above the stock, which is accessible without being obtrusive.

The Vandal Carbon is currently available only in .22 Creedmoor, but I suspect that will change soon. The suggested retail price is set at $2,899, which is not cheap. However, when you consider the cost of piecing the components together — a premium Iota carbon-­fiber stock, carbon fiber-­wrapped 416R stainless barrel, Stiller action, a premium trigger — you begin to understand that building this gun yourself wouldn’t save you much money.

The ejection port of the Horizon Vandal action is unique, and the optic rail is perfectly machined to make single-round loading of the chamber possible. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

At the Range

Horizon promises half-MOA accuracy from the Vandal C rifles, and Guns & Ammo’s test rifle was up to the challenge. Firing Hornady 80-­grain ELD Match bullets, the rifle produced three-­shot groups measuring between .42 and .54 inches at 100 yards. It’s worth noting that these figures allowed time for the barrel to cool between shots. Not surprisingly, the average velocity for the Vandal C with its 18-­inch barrel was slightly below the 3,285-­fps muzzle velocity listed by Hornady. Ratliff said he “averages between 3,050 and 3,075 with most bullets,” and my Garmin Xero C1 Pro chronograph gave me an average of 2,953 fps. Elevation and cool temperatures — 1,020 feet above sea level and temp of 40° Fahrenheit — likely caused the variance. That’s still not far off .243 Winchester loads with 80-­grain bullets, and the .22 Creedmoor will shoot flatter, carry more energy and resist wind drift more efficiently thanks to a higher ballistic coefficient.

Horizon Firearms installed a TriggerTech trigger that measured 2 pounds, 8 ounces, according to a Wheeler trigger gauge. The trigger, bolt, and magazine release are within easy reach. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Normally, accuracy tests end at 100 yards, but I moved back to the 200-­yard line and fired three, three-­shot groups that measured between 1.15 and 1.24 inches. I added a Silencer Central Banish 30 suppressor to the rifle and tested it on 300- and 400-yard steel. With the can in place, recoil and report were quite mild. The total weight of the rifle was 8 pounds, 14 ounces, including the scope, bipod and suppressor. That’s lighter than most heavy-­barreled varmint rifles, unscoped and unloaded.

The TriggerTech trigger was excellent, measuring 21/2 pounds on a Wheeler gauge. The safety snicks from the safe to fire positions cleanly, but you can operate it silently in hunting situations. I like that the left-­side-mounted bolt-stop release was located where it can be easily accessed on the receiver; it stays out of the way when shooting, and the fit and machining on the bolt stop button — and everything else on this gun — is superb. I also made note of how much I liked the Iota stock design with its near-­vertical grip and thumbrests. It kept my hand in a comfortable position and promoted proper form. The injection-molded magazine was a bit stubborn to insert and remove at times, but no more than other rifles with the same magazine. The front-mounted Picatinny rail on the stock and sling stud make an excellent combination for hunting, and it’s my favorite layout. I can add or remove a bipod quickly and still carry the rifle with a sling. Neither the bipod nor sling interfered with the other.

The two-position safety is part of the TriggerTech trigger unit, and is positioned at the rear of the action, just behind and to the right of the bolt handle. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

As stated, the action opening is wide enough to easily top load the rifle or remove cartridges, and access was made easier thanks to the angled top rail design. I wish this was the blueprint other riflemakers used when designing action openings. The action still maintains the same structural rigidity required for maximum accuracy. I’m generally not a fan of two-­position safeties that don’t allow the bolt to be locked while walking through dense brush, but the action is machined to such tight tolerances that it would require substantial upward pressure to allow the bolt to open, so I can’t imagine that accidental opening would ever be an issue.

Similar to an M700, but different, the bolt release button is a pinned lever. On the Vandal C, it is pronounced, and familiar to operate. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Field Performance

Before I ever pulled the trigger on the Horizon Vandal C in .22 Creedmoor, I discussed the cartridge, rifle and in-­field performance with Ratliff who likely has more experience with the round than any other person. He said that, as a professional precision riflebuilder, he was “seeking a cartridge that offered .500 BC and 3,000 fps with minimal recoil.” He found what he was looking for with the .22 Creedmoor. 

His son shot his first deer with a Horizon rifle in .22 Creedmoor at age five, and Ratliff has used the rifle to harvest whitetails beyond 600 yards. He’s also taken aoudad, mule deer, hogs and several coyotes with the cartridge, saying that he believes it’s the “ultimate antelope cartridge.” 

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

“It is not,” he added, “a particularly fur-­friendly cartridge, but it is devastating on deer-­sized game.” Also, the bullet tends to expand immediately and violently, creating a large entry wound. The result is often a substantial blood trail and complete energy transfer as the projectile rarely exits. In areas where hunting deer-­sized game is legal with .22-­caliber centerfires, a .22 Creedmoor cartridge weighing around 80 grains is sufficient. When delivered from an accurate rifle such as Horizon’s Vandal C, it’s also suitable for hunting at extended ranges. This setup also makes a low-­recoil target cartridge for those who want to ring steel to 1,000 yards or more.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is a juggernaut. Can the .22 Creedmoor share in some of its success? It appears so, and Derrick Ratliff and Horizon Firearms are leading the way by offering precision rifles, like the Vandal C, ammunition, and a library of information and data about the gun and the cartridge. It’s likely the most versatile .22 centerfire to ever hit the market.

(Photo by Mark Fingar)

Horizon Firearms Vandal Carbon

  • Type: Bolt action
  • Cartridge: .22 Creedmoor
  • Capacity: 5 rds.
  • Barrel Length: 18 in., diamond pattern carbon-fiber ­wrap with 416R core; threaded 5⁄8x24; 1:8-in. twist
  • Overall Length: 37 in.
  • Length of pull: 13.5 in.
  • Weight: 5 lbs., 6 oz. (tested)
  • Stock: Iota EkoX carbon fiber, dark grey with black and grey accents
  • Finish: Melonite (bolt), KG Gunkote Black (steel)
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $2,899
  • Manufacturer: Horizon Firearms, 979-229-­4664,
Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

HIVIZ FastDot H3 Handgun Sights

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Meprolight's M22 Dual-Illumination No Batteries Reflex Sight: Video Review

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Ballistic Advantage Continues Excellence in Barrel Design

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Winchester Ranger Returns! Now In .22

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Latest Name In Lever Guns: Aero Precision

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

SAKO 90 Quest Lightweight Hunting Rifle

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Warne Scope Mounts New Red Dot Risers

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

New Warne Scope Mounts Skyline Lite Bipods

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Smith & Wesson Response PCC: Now Taking SIG Mags

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Mark 4HD Riflescopes: The Latest Tactical Line From Leupold

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

Show Stopper: Smith & Wesson 1854 Lever-Action Rifle

Its seems like every year is a busy year FN, and 2024 is no different. Joe Kurtenbach is joined by Chris Johnson and Ric...

FN 509 Pistol Updates and New Suppressors!

Guns and Ammo Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now