So: you’ve got your Firearms Certificate, you’ve got permission to shoot rabbits on a local farm, and you’re itching to go shooting. There’s just one hurdle left: you need a rifle and scope that are up to the job. So what’s the best rimfire rifle package for a reasonable price, if you’ve a budget of, say, £500-£700?
Paul Hodson at Shooting Sports UK in Staffordshire has just the thing. “We get asked this question all the time, so we’ve put together a beautiful package that we know works,” he says. His package is based on the legendary CZ rimfire rifle in either .17HMR or .22LR. “I’ve got one of each and they are both brilliant rifles,” says Paul. “They are absolutely reliable workhorses.”
Cornwall is the home of the rabbit. That, says Ian Hodge of Ian Hodge Fieldsports, is why they sell so many rimfire set-ups. He prefers a slightly higher bar than Paul, so offers the whole set-up for prices under £700. Top pick for Ian is the straight-pull Browning T-Bolt with a 3-9×40 Hawke scope and Hausken sound moderators (“One of the best moderators in my opinion around at present for rimfires,” says Ian). It has a ten-shot magazine and another spare 10-shot magazine hidden in the stock. All of that for £675.
Like Ian, Paul recommends a Hawke scope for his CZ package. Again his recommendation is based on hands-on experience. “I’ve got Hawke scopes on every rifle I own bar one, air rifles, rimfires and centrefires. They’ve got a lifetime no-quibble warranty. If you take this scope out in the field and you drop the rifle and dent the bell housing, send it off to Hawke and they’ll replace it with a new one. You can’t say fairer than that.”
So you’ve got a good, solid rifle and a great scope. Now add a moderator – Paul recommends a SAC or a Hardy, both of which he has field tested thoroughly.
“I wouldn’t sell you something I wouldn’t use myself,” he says. “We want you to be happy with what we sold you. That’s why we recommend this package – and for under £600 you’re out shooting rabbits with a brand new rifle and scope that will do the job.”
Ian also sells a CZ package for £649. He says sales of CZs have dropped off a little in recent years, but from a high point where nine out of ten rimfires sold were made by the Czech firm. His package includes a synthetic-stocked rifle, stainless steel barrel with Anschuetz moderator and, of course, a 3-9×50 Hawke scope.
The CZ is a bolt-action and Ian agrees that not everyone likes the straight-pull action of the Browning T-Bolt. His alternative is not a CZ, however. He chooses a Savage in .17HMR, which has “a nice big bolt,” he says, “so, forward and backwards, there’s no fumbling.”
The barrel on the Savage .17HMR is heavy, which helps with cooling if you are firing a lot of cartridges. He says some people find the standard synthetic stock small but shooters adapt to it. His Savage package includes a 3-9×40 scope on the Weaver rail and an Aimsport moderator. The famous Savage AccuTrigger is a good selling point, too. Once set, you only have to touch the two-stage trigger and the rifle fires. The whole Savage package is £550.