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Winchester's New Wood-Stock Wildcat Sporter SR Rimfire Rifle

Winchester's popular Wildcat .22LR rimfire rifle line is now available in a fine wooden stock with a satin finish.

Winchester's New Wood-Stock Wildcat Sporter SR Rimfire Rifle

Working with a .22 reminds me of all the carefree times I’ve spent woodchuckin’ with my field-worn single-shot Winchester Model 67A. Time marches on, and now I can look to future possibilities with yet another Winchester rifle, the new Wildcat. The Wildcat seems to be an offshoot of the previous bolt-action Expert, incorporating some of those same features into a fine autoloader equipped with a wood stock for the more traditional hunter. The gun is made in Turkey to American standards and design. The stock has a pleasing classic look—no high comb or cheekpiece, no fancy fore-end tip or pistol grip cap. The pistol grip has palm swells on both sides for right- and left-handed shooters, and it flares at the bottom for comfortable field shooting. The buttplate is plastic, and length of pull is just under 14 inches.

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The rifle’s receiver features a cast-in Picatinny rail, and at the back of the rail is a removable, fully adjustable ghost ring rear sight.

The stock is coated with a satin oil finish, and checkering covers the pistol grip as well as the bottom and partway up the sides of the fore-end. It’s more a stippling pattern rather than the traditional checkered diamonds, but it provides good purchase, and ribbons in the panels give it a custom look. The chrome-moly barrel is a sporter-weight 18-incher, and it’s button-rifled. There’s a ramped front sight, the muzzle is recessed with a target-style crown, and it’s threaded 1/2x28 for a suppressor or other accessory. It comes with a thread protector that’s easily removed. All metal parts are satin finished and blued. The receiver features a Picatinny rail that is cast into the receiver and not removable. However, Winchester adds a ghost ring rear sight on a sliding rail at the rear of the Picatinny, and the small Allen wrench for adjusting this tucks into the right side of the lower receiver. While it’s a small sight, it’s adjustable for windage and elevation. It’s also removable so it doesn’t interfere with a scope like the Bushnell 3-9x40mm scope I mounted.

The magazine is patterned after the Ruger 10/22 10-rounder and fits perfectly into the gun. There are two magazine releases—one on the forward end under the stock and an ambidextrous release just below the bolt—and magazines eject with spring assistance. Winchester has added an extended “floorplate” on the magazine itself that ensures the magazine will be seated firmly. A small-notched wheel on the side that rotates the follower relieves spring pressure to make loading easier. The magazine has a built-in bolt stop that locks back the bolt on the last shot. Additionally, there is a slide-lock button on the front of the trigger guard to manually lock the action open. Pressing the release button on the left side of the receiver or pulling the bolt back releases the bolt.

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The bolt release and the ambidextrous magazine release are colored red, which adds a nice visual cue.

The trigger is engineered around a striker-fired design, as you would expect on a centerfire. According to Winchester, it provides a fast lock time with a lighter trigger pull, and the construction of its specially made hemispheric firing pin ensures more dependable ignition due to a deeper rim indentation regardless of the brand of ammunition used. The trigger is traditional, curved and serrated without any blade within its face for firing the gun. On my sample, trigger pull averaged 6.25 pounds with a bit of take-up before the sear broke. The safety is your typical push-button located at the rear of the trigger guard. Operation is in a left-to-right motion to secure the trigger, and it’s reversible for southpaws. I found it a little hard to move and thought it could be enlarged for easier operation.

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The 18-inch barrel is threaded 1/2x28 for adding a suppressor or other muzzle device. The ramped front sight features a simple post.

Winchester has designed the Wildcat so it can be cleaned from the breech end. Ensure the gun is unloaded, remove the magazine and press the red button on the back of the upper receiver. Pull down on the trigger guard, and the bolt handle will pivot slightly to allow disassembly through the ejection port. The lower receiver will now drop out of the stock. With this setup, there’s no need to worry about zero shifts since the upper receiver and any sight system are unaffected. After cleaning, place the forward tab into the slot in the stock, align the bolt handle within the ejection port and raise the entire assembly up and back into the rifle.

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Taking the gun out for shooting is of course the best part of any test. Federal Spitfire’s 33-grain load produced the top velocity average of 1,346 fps while RWS R50 gave the best average group—as you would expect from a top-tier competition load. I also ran several magazines through the gun to check reliability, and there were no issues. Many if not most guns today wear synthetic stocks, but to me and other shooters, wood is a natural on any firearm. Winchester has hit the target with this Wildcat rifle in both looks and a more than reasonable price. I believe it will find a niche for those seeking a .22 for hunting or plinking.

Winchester Wildcat Sporter SR Specs

  • Type: blowback-operated, semi-auto
  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Capacity: 10 rds., 10/22-style magazine
  • Barrel: 18 in., button rifled; threaded 1/2x28
  • Overall Length: 36.25 in. 
  • Weight: 4 lbs., 8 oz. 
  • Finish: matte blue
  • Stock: satin-finish wood
  • Sights: Adjustable ghost ring rear, post front
  • Trigger: 6.25 lbs. (measured) 
  • Safety: Crossbolt
  • Price: $350
  • Manuacturer: Winchester 



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