The Browning 22 Auto
Today, the Browning 22 Auto is manufactured in Japan. It is available in several grades, with different levels of finish and wood quality. Even so, the Grade 1 version, with a relatively non-descript polished walnut stock bearing cut checkering and an engraved blue receiver stands out above other 22 rifles. Even in the least expensive version the craftsmanship is pure quality. The prices range from $500 for a new Grade 1 rifle, to the stratosphere for custom Belgium antiques.
Because of the price, the Browning rifle is not a common gun in the woods during squirrel season. That is a shame. The rifle is accurate and quick to sights, a perfect small game hunting companion. Modern versions have the barrel drilled and tapped for a scope mount. There have been copies of the take-down 22 available, most notably by Norinco, but they never had the fit and finish necessary for the design to function with long term reliability.
The Browning 22 Auto ejects straight down. It chambers the next round as if by magic. For the unwary, hot brass down a long sleeve can cause the once famous Browning 22 dance. In a lot of ways, the Browning 22 Auto is an aficionado's gun. There are less expensive 22 rifles available that are just as accurate, namely the Marlin Model 60, and others that are more versatile, namely the Ruger 10/22. For the small game hunter who wants a 22 that will last forever and hold it's value well, one that will break down for easy packing while maintaining accuracy after assembly, the Browning masterpiece can not be beat. I was fortunate to find one in good condition bearing a price of $129 on an unknowledgeable pawnbroker's rack. I have found it to be worth much more than I handed across the counter.
Browning 22 Auto Owner's Manual (pdf)
Labels: .22 Rifles