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Testfire: Rossi .22WMR Semi-Auto

By Kelvin Dixon

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Rossi .22WMR Semi-Auto Combo

  • 4/5

The new Rossi .22 Magnum semi-auto adds extended range and faster follow up shots to this popular line of rifles.

Where to buy

55SIX $699 NZD

After last year's law changes 55Six.co.nz rose from the ashes that was NZAR15.com. Run by Ken Rountree he has played a big part in shaking up NZ’s firearm retail market by offering unique kit at competitive prices.

 

From their website “Our product range is for the firearm enthusiast, the tinkerer and anyone who wants something a little bit different.” They have a wide range of interesting firearms and accessories and are well worth checking out.

 

One such rifle is the Rossi semi auto in .22WMR. This price-point rifle has a lot of great features and gives the shooter plenty of bang for their buck. The rifle is offered as a package which includes a suppressor, scope and a spare magazine.

 

Rossi has built their reputation on being affordable and reliable and this rifle is no different. The rifle carries and shoots well and feels good in the shoulder.

 

OVERVIEW

The Rossi has two safety devices; the first is a standard cross bolt safety at the rear of the trigger guard. To disengage simply push it from right to left this is easy enough and quiet. The second safety feature is a lever on the trigger itself, like that found on a Glock pistol.

 

The lever is depressed at the same time as the trigger is squeezed allowing the rifle to fire. Trigger pull ran 6.5 pounds with a bit of creep before the sear let go.

 

FROM LEFT: The cross bolt safety, safety blade and trigger, bolt hold open lock and the magazine release.

 

The free floated barrel is 21 inches long with a 1:16” RH twist and comes with a threaded muzzle (with a ½ by 20 thread). The barrel was plenty sturdy enough to take a mount for a spotlight and had no trouble supporting the weight of a .30 Cal suppressor, it doesn’t look out of place.

 

The included suppressor is short and lightweight. The individual baffles screw apart which makes it easy to clean. It attaches via direct thread and stayed secure throughout our time with it.

 

It worked well enough at sound reduction, but the sample unit tended to split groups so was quickly shelved which was a shame as its very lightweight, compact and slim.

 

When I asked Ken about other customers' experiences, he reported there had been no problems he knew of, so perhaps it is just bad luck on my part.

 

The magazine features front and rear lugs for the mag latch. The mag can be directly inserted AR style or rock 'n' load style like the SLR but when removed needs to be rocked forward and down. A thumb grip mag follower greatly assists with loading.

 

The rifle has no iron sights, instead it comes with a section of Picatinny rail on the receiver on which to mount a scope. It has a safety at the back of the polymer trigger guard and a bolt hold open button on the front.

 

The magazine holds the bolt open after the last round but to keep it open after you remove the mag, you need to pull the cocking handle to the rear and depress the bolt hold open button on the front or the trigger guard.

 

To release the bolt pull it rearward and let go, this might sound awkward but is easy after a couple of times and much easier to do than on a 10/22. The cocking handle is well proportioned and is easy to manipulate while staying out of the way.

 

The bolt will release when the empty magazine is removed unless the bolt handle/charging lever is fully withdrawn and the bolt hold open lever depressed first. With a fresh magazine inserted a rearward tap on the bolt handle charging lever will release it forward. You can see the magazine follower holding open the bolt after the last round has been fired.

 

The synthetic stock has some flex at the fore end which may be an issue if you plan to use a bipod but should not be a problem otherwise. Length of pull is 13.5 inches and the cheekpiece has been designed for use by both right and left-handed shooters. The stock makes the rifle comfortable to carry and shoot and works well in both the wet and dry.

 

ON THE RANGE

The sample rifle was most accurate with 30gr ammunition. The rifle shot Hornady V-Max 30gr ammo very well. Combined with the mil dot scope it was an easy task to get hits on steel at 200m.

 

Winchester Super X 40gr performed poorly and the Winchester subsonic would not cycle the action (which is typical for a .22 WMR) but it did well with some CCI 30gr I had left over. I also got a decent group with some Fiocchi 40gr ammo.

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The 10 round magazine is reliable and easy to load it feels good in the hand and there were no problems loading and unloading the rifle, it is not fiddly like a 10/22 mag. There is a cut out in the body for the lugs on the follower. This may be a problem, but we never had any trouble using it, even in the mud and rain.

 

The bolt locks to the rear on the last round but will be released when the magazine is removed if you do not manually lock it open.

 

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Winchester 40gr SuperX, Hornady 30gr V-MAX, Winchester 40gr Subsonic and CCI 30gr. The Rossi clearly preferring the 30gr ammunition.

 

With the rifle zeroed at 100m I worked my way back shooting at a 12” gong. I was easily getting good hits back to 200m but at 250m I ended up in a depression and could not see the target.

 

I tried a few shots from the quad and some other odd positions without much success. I do not know if I had reached the limits of that rifle, scope, ammo combo or just lost my mojo but it seemed like the rifle could do better.

 

“With the rifle zeroed at 100m I worked my way back shooting at a 12” gong. I was easily getting good hits back to 200m but at 250m I ended up in a depression and could not see the target.”

 

Another time we had an informal game of “Golf” at the gun club, first to get a golf ball to 50m by shooting it wins. The .22WMR did great, really giving the ball a wallop (it was almost cheating compared to .22LR!).

 

With the scope cranked up to full magnification, the rifle performed very well. There were a couple of misses due to the ball being partially hidden in a hollow in the ground but that is down to the shooter not the equipment. I averaged four shots including one miss each time.

 

Kelvin on stage with the Rossi.

 

For a laugh I also ran the rifle in a few IPSC pistol stages to see what would happen. While you cannot use .22WMR in Mini Rifle competitions, it is still fun to use on a practice day and a great way to find your limits as a shooter.

 

The rifle performed well enough, and although it could have done with being a few inches shorter, it was quick to the shoulder and transitioned from target to target easily.

 

IN THE FIELD

I lent it to a friend to take out spotlighting possums as they had been out shooting deer and had seen them everywhere. There was light drizzle with occasional heavy showers and the possums were less active in the wet, nevertheless they spent a good few hours sliding around on greasy tracks and in paddocks shooting 25 or 30 by the end of the night.

 

The rifle fed and fired flawlessly despite getting soaked and it always ejected unfired rounds. Afterwards the rifle spent the night in the hot water cupboard drying out, this worked a treat and the following morning all the moisture was gone and there were no signs of rust.

 

The rifle rapidly accumulates a lot of unburnt powder in the action which shows up as yellow specks and after a while gives a gritty feel and sound when manually cycling the action. When the rifle cycles it kicks unburnt powder out the ejection port which could be a problem for left-handed shooters, this is a common problem with semi auto rimfires.

 

Unburnt powder in the chamber.

 

Stripping the rifle for cleaning is simple enough. It appears quite like the Ruger 10/22 or the Mossberg 702 (which is made in the same factory) to strip; undo the 2 action screws from the stock and remove the barreled action.

 

You then push out the two-trigger group retaining pins and detach the trigger group. Remove the recoil spring and its plastic seat then remove the bolt lever by wiggling it backwards. Finally, remove the bolt assembly. Be careful not to lose the small plunger that holds the bolt lever in which is loose inside the recoil spring housing.

 

Reassembly is the reverse of the above. Reinserting the return spring was a bit fiddly at first, but it soon loosened up and with a little practice you will get quite proficient in no time.

 

The bolt body has two other parts which can be removed if desired, a wedge-shaped piece which holds the bolt lever and rides in a slot and a lobed cam in front of it that pivots up and down. These set it apart from a standard blow back action.

 

As the .22 magnum is considerably more powerful than the 22 LR, simple blowback cannot safely be expected to work so a lever delay system is employed. When the action is closed the wedge moves forward under recoil spring pressure and forces the cam up into a cutout in the roof of the receiver holding it there.

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When the gun is fired the bolt is “locked” to the receiver by the cam which must first rotate down under mechanical disadvantage against the wedge and force it backward before the bolt can start to recoil to the rear. This mechanical delay is sufficient to allow the pressure to drop so cases do not rupture on extraction or the bolt slam backward violently damaging the action.

 

The sample rifle needed a shooting in period of 100-150 rds. The only major problem was that it would not eject a live round once it had been chambered. At first, I thought I had done something wrong, but it also happened to my friend as I watched, it happened three or four times as we were sighting it in. Luckily, the issue sorted itself out, but it is something a new owner should be aware of.

 

“Stripping the rifle for cleaning is simple enough. It appears quite like the Ruger 10/22 or the Mossberg 702 (which is made in the same factory) to strip; undo the 2 action screws from the stock and remove the barreled action.”

 

The sample rifle came with a Nikko Stirling Mountmaster 3x9x40 AO IR scope. This was my first experience with this brand, and I was quietly impressed with it. The scope weighs 380gm and is 322mm long, eye relief is listed as 8.5cm at all magnification settings.

 

Field of view is 4m at 100m at 9x and 11.9m at 3x. The scope is adjustable ¼ MOA at 100 yards and the clicks are both positive and audible. It is also adjustable for parallax on the forward bell from 10 yards to infinity.

 

The Nikko Stirling scope supplied in the package deal is a low budget optic suitable for small game and medium range target shooting.

 

According to the manufacturer these scopes feature fully multi-coated lenses and are shock tested and dry-nitrogen purged at the factory to make them fully water and fog proof. After using it in the rain, I didn't see anything to make me doubt that.

 

At first I thought the mil dot reticle was wasted on a rimfire but I soon changed my mind as it allows the shooter to get the most from the .22 Magnum cartridge. It was fairly easy to aim up with the reticle and hits out to 200m proved effortless.

 

The scope has five illumination settings in green and red although you will have to pay attention to notice the difference, that aside the scope has good clarity and the mil dot reticle makes range compensation easy. The reticle worked well, and it was easy to get hits at distance.

 

“During my time with the Rossi, I fired about 400 rounds through it. It is a fun gun to shoot and surprisingly accurate with the right ammo.”

 

My only gripe about the scope was the rings it came with, they were too high to get a proper cheek weld and loosened off after a few shots, you may be able to stop them coming loose with Loctite. I replaced them with a set of low rings.

 

During my time with the Rossi, I fired about 400 rounds through it. It is a fun gun to shoot and surprisingly accurate with the right ammo. The only serious issue was occasional failures to extract an unfired round early on but after a bit of wear this resolved itself. The gun seems to require a settling in period to smooth off the rough edges and settle the barrel down.

  

Overall a decent package although you may want to replace a few things as you go but you have everything you need to start with. This rifle is a great performer and the mil dot scope helps get the most out of it.

 

The Rossi .22WMR Semi-Auto is a capable rimfire rifle that offers great value for money.

 

There are a few issues as have been mentioned but once the rifle has been shot in it does well. Package deals can be a bit of a mixed bag but aside from the rings this one is pretty good. I really like that it ships with a spare magazine I wish more retailers did that.

 

The .22WMR is lethal on rabbits, hares, and North Island wallaby at much longer ranges than the .22LR.

 

This rifle package is a solid deal that does exactly what it says on the tin.

 

Kelvin

 

For more information on the Rossi .22WMR or to see what else 55SIX have to offer visit:

www.55six.co.nz


media-publication/347/Rossi-22WMR-Semi-Auto-Combo.png

Rossi .22WMR Semi-Auto Combo

  • 4/5

The new Rossi .22 Magnum semi-auto adds extended range and faster follow up shots to this popular line of rifles.

Where to buy

55SIX $699 NZD

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