My first experience with Savage’s B22 Series rifles occurred in one of the most desolate places I’ve ever seen. I was part of a group of writers who’d been invited to southern Idaho for a pigeon and collared dove hunt with Federal ammunition. Since both Federal and Savage were owned by Vista Outdoors at that time, the Federal rep brought along a couple samples of the then-new Savage B22 G rifle in .22LR.
I was familiar with the synthetic-stocked version of the B22, but the new G-series guns wore good-looking dark-walnut-colored stocks. Those guns had the look and feel of the wood-stocked target .22s I’d grown up shooting, something that simply can’t be replicated with composite materials.
The nearest rifle range was a half mile away on a burned-over hillside that was still parched and black. We placed spinners at 40, 50 and 100 yards and began plinking away on the desert moonscape with those beautiful little .22 rifles. Every time a bullet struck, a small, dark cloud of ash would erupt from the hillside. It was a gloomy post-apocalyptic scene, but the rifle performed well.
When I was offered the opportunity to field test a B22 Magnum G rifle, the .22 WMR version of the B22 I’d shot in Idaho, I was more than happy to oblige.
I live in southern Ohio at the edge of the Appalachian foothills where forests, brush and property boundaries limit the opportunities for long shots on varmints and predators. Most of the foxes, coyotes and other small game killed here are shot under 150 yards, and under those circumstances, a .22 WMR makes perfect sense. If the Savage test rifle that arrived at my house looked as good and shot as well as the .22LR model I’d used in Idaho, it might just become my new predator rifle for close-quarters calling.
Something Old & New
The B22 Magnum G rifle will appeal to a wide range of rimfire shooters because they offer the look and feel of a classic .22 bolt gun with modern features and styling. There are three families of B-series rifles that include the B22 (.22LR), B17 (.17 HMR) and B22 Magnum (.22 WMR), all of which come with a tubular receiver and a bolt with dual-opposed extractors.
The carbon steel action is mated with a 21-inch, 1:16-inch-twist carbon steel barrel via Savage’s barrel nut system which, as most shooters know, allows for precise headspacing and superb accuracy. The barrel is trim, measuring just .59-inch at the crowned muzzle. The thin barrel profile keeps the overall weight of the gun to a manageable 6.4 pounds without an optic. That’s light enough for carrying all day in the crook of your arm while patrolling for woodchucks and ground squirrels.
I’m a fan of classic walnut stocks, and while the B22 Magnum G’s stock isn’t without its modern touches, it maintains the spirit of premium rimfire rifles from years ago. The hardwood stock features a dark-walnut stain, a black, plastic grip cap with the Savage logo and comes with a well-fitted, dense rubber recoil pad.
Does a .22 WMR rifle that weighs over 7 pounds while scoped need a high-end recoil pad? No, but the Savage’s recoil pad adds a touch of class and gives the gun the feel of a centerfire rifle.
Outside-the-box styling elements on the stock are few — a stylized Savage “S” on the rear right portion of the stock, three stacked lines on each side of the top of the pistol grip and seven angled cuts on the lateral portion of either side of the forearm below the finger groove are about as radical as this gun gets. The B22 Magnum G’s looks will appeal to black-gun fans without frightening away traditionalists with a bunch of angled lines and fashion accessories. Most importantly, the quality and finish of the stock is the best in this price class.
Savage includes a 10-round rotary magazine with all their B-series rifles. The rotary magazine in the B22 Magnum G measures just 1.5-inches wide, and it tucks neatly into place. To release the magazine, simply pull rearward on the tab at the front of the magazine to drop it into your hand. Having 10 rounds on tap makes small-game hunting and target-shooting fun, but the ability to swap out spare loaded mags quickly makes the B22 guns even more appealing. Plus, the magazine and mag release are all but invisible when the gun is viewed in profile, which gives the Savage a more streamlined, classic look.
One great feature that has found its way from Savage’s centerfire guns to their rimfires is the AccuTrigger. The bladed design prevents the sear from accidentally releasing when the gun is jarred or dropped, and that allows the trigger to be light and crisp. My test rifle came with a trigger set at 2.2 pounds.
B22 and B17 G guns feature adjustable iron sights, and although they are basic in design (a U-notch black rear sight and a blade front), they’re functional under most conditions for shooters with good vision. If you want to stick with iron sights on this rifle but have a hard time seeing the black ones that come from the factory, I’d suggest you either replace the front sight with a fiber-optic version or, at the very least, add a dab of bright paint to the front sight.
Adjusting the sights is fast and easy. By loosening two screws on the rear sight, you can adjust for windage and elevation, and there are reference marks on the sight to help you keep track of adjustments. Odds are most shooters will remove the rear sight to create space to mount a scope. I mounted a compact Leupold scope on the rifle with medium rings and still didn’t have enough room with the sight in place. Removing the sight is not a hard task and requires nothing more than the removal of two screws.
The controls on the B22 Magnum G are simple to find and operate. There’s a tang-mounted two-position safety that’s easy to access from a shooting position, and removing the bolt requires pulling it rearward while depressing the trigger. The bolt knob is bell-shaped and features checkering that makes it easy to grasp and control while cycling the gun. Overall, the B22 Magnum G’s layout is sensible and shooter-friendly.
The finish on the stock is good, and the elevated comb allows me to maintain a cheekweld on the gun while still remaining centered in the optic. The best part of the design is the angled pistol grip. Stippling on the grip and along the finger channel on the forearm of the rifle offers a comfortable hold on the gun, and the slight palm swell fills the hand. The grip angle is ideally suited for sitting with the rifle propped on a knee or on shooting sticks.
The grip is 1.5 inches wide, offering plenty of space for your hand and superb control. While the 13.5 inches of pull may cause issues for young or small shooters, adults can shoot the rifle comfortably and accurately.
I attached a Leupold 2-7x33mm scope. Weighing under 10 ounces and measuring just over 11 inches long, the Leupold scope offered plenty of magnification range for most .22 WMR hunting and shooting applications without much mass. With the scope attached, the rifle’s overall weight was just under 7 pounds. That’s still compact and light enough to make it an ideal walking varmint rifle, perfect for covering a lot of country or making multiple sets, especially in dense cover.
I tested five different loads in the Savage and found the 50-yard accuracy to be superb. The best five-shot group at that distance measured .35 inch, while the average was around .8 inch for all loads tested. With its mild report and virtually unnoticeable recoil, the B22 Magnum G is an easy gun to shoot well, and it won’t frighten new shooters. It’s also accurate enough for popping small varmints and even bobcats and coyotes out to 100 yards or more.
The B22 performed flawlessly throughout the test. The rotary magazine works well, although I did find it difficult to load at first. The trick is to position the cartridge on the right side of the last loaded cartridge so the rim of the cartridge you’re about to load corresponds with the cutouts in the magazine. Pressing the new cartridge down and into the previously loaded one will allow the magazine to rotate, and the new cartridge will fall in place without any problems. Once you’ve done it a few times, the process becomes second nature.
My complaints are few. One, I wish the iron sights were better and positioned so that they didn’t have to be removed to mount a scope. Two, I’m not crazy about the added lines and logos on an otherwise unblemished walnut stock. But for those of us that still like a rimfire rifle with a real wooden stock, the options are limited, and its good to know that Savage is offering a gun that looks good, shoots good and is priced affordably.
The B22 Magnum G is both functional and fun. It’s great for punching paper or popping spinners, and it’s a versatile small-game and predator-control gun. My advice is to clear out a little safe space, find one of these rifles in a gun store near you and start burning through some rimfire ammo. You won’t regret it.
Savage B22 Magnum G
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Cartridge: .22 WMR
- Capacity: 10+1 rds.
- Barrel: 21 in., 1:16-in. twist
- Overall Length: 39.75 in.
- Weight: 6.4 lbs.
- Stock: Walnut
- Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
- Finish: Matte blue
- Sights: Adjustable notch (rear), post (front)
- Safety: Two-position, tang-mounted
- MSRP: $470
- Manufacturer: Savage, savagearms.com
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