22 LR has a soft spot in the heart of most all gun enthusiasts because of the pure versatility of the round as well as the memories that may be attached to the cartridge from the very conception of their firearm training as a child. Gun owners now have a new option in this rimfire market: the Christenson Arms Ranger 22.
Christensen Arms released a new rifle offering at SHOT Show 2020, and I am lucky enough to have one of the first samples that were sent out. I received this rifle well before it began shipping to stores, and consequently, it may be a bit different than the version that you will find on the shelf for sale… but more on that later.
About the Ranger 22
The Ranger 22 is an ultralight, full-sized rifle with an 18″ carbon fiber tension barrel, carbon fiber stock, aluminum receiver, and overall streamlined design that bring it in at a shockingly low weight of 5.1 pounds! We also have the engineers behind this rifle’s design to thank for building it up around Ruger 10/22 magazines and Remington 700 drop-in triggers. If you happen to not like the (phenomenal) Trigger Tech trigger or the 10 round Ruger 10/22 magazine that this rifle comes with, there are a myriad of aftermarket replacement parts available for your customization.
In Depth Look
Starting at the muzzle of the rifle, we have a 1/2×28 TPI threaded muzzle for attaching your favorite muzzle accessory. In my case, I installed an OSS RAD 22 rimfire suppressor. Moving back, you find where the steel barrel core butts into a hollow carbon fiber tube that is under tension, keeping the barrel’s vibration down and keeping it cool to the touch on the outside, ultimately you get a lighter and more accurate barrel with this design.
The barrel screws into an aluminum action which features a side bolt release, 0 MOA Picatinny rail, and a Trigger Tech Remington 700 trigger. The bolt on the Ranger 22 is extremely small in diameter and milled where possible, further reducing weight. The bolt knob is interchangeable and comes with a fluted knob for both improved grip and weight reduction.
The Trigger Tech Primary trigger that the Ranger 22 comes with is set from the factory at a very crisp 3-pound pull weight and it is protected by an oversized polymer trigger guard. Located in front of the trigger guard, you find an oversized paddle magazine release and magazine well that holds Ruger 10/22 magazines.
And finally, all this sits in a carbon fiber composite stock which comes in two different color schemes (black with grey webbing or tan with black webbing) and features swivel sling studs, a palm swell, ambidextrous grip, a soft Limbsaver recoil pad, and a palm hook.
This rifle is designed in such a way that it would be perfect for competition events as well as for any day-to-day tasks as a shotgun rider.
My Experience While Shooting (and with customer service)
Thanks to my OSS RAD 22 rimfire suppressor, I had a blast shooting the Ranger 22 because it was not only extremely quiet but very accurate. I also found the rifle to be very comfortable, thanks to the ergonomic stock.
I had no problems with the Ranger 22… except one: it would not eject any shells. I continued to shoot the Ranger 22 to complete my accuracy testing, but as soon as I was done, I called up Christensen Arms and told them about my issue. They informed me that this was not the first time that they had heard of this problem and that they had a fix already in place.
They sent me a return label and I sent the gun back. About a week passed and they got a repaired and updated rifle back to me that functioned flawlessly.
Changes To the Current Design
Christensen Arms has updated their design of the Ranger 22 to address the issue that I saw with an improved extractor/ejector and by changing the geometry of the bolt face as well as shortening the bolt throw. I did not measure the older design’s bolt throw, but I can tell you that the updated version has a throw of 1.5 inches. This shorter throw helped reduce bolt binding when applying force that is not parallel to the bore. The updated rifles will also feature a pillared stock.
Below, you can see the old bolt design in its rear-most position, followed by the new bolt design in its rear-most position. As you can see, the old design allows the bolt to travel back further.
I am told that these new changes are made to the rifles coming off of the production line currently, but there are a few out there with the older design. If you happen to have issues, Christensen will take care of you and solve your problems in a timely manner.
In my conversation with Christensen, I was delighted to be told that they will be offering the same rifle in 17 HMR and 22 magnum in the near future. We will also be seeing a “youth model” with a 1″ shorter length of pull (LOP).
For my accuracy test, I set the ranger 22 up on a bipod and rear bag in order to be the most stable. I then set a target downrange 50 yards away. In between ammunition transitions, I sent about 5 rounds into the dirt next to the target because sometimes the residue left in the barrel by coated, or non-coated 22 LR bullets, wreaks havoc on the accuracy of the next group. The following pictures show my results:
Unfortunately, with all of the things going on in the world right now I was only able to get my hands on 9 different types of 22 LR ammunition for the review. These were CCI Mini Mag, Federal Game Shok, Winchester Hollow Point, CCI Quiet, Norma Tac22, Remington 22 Thunderbolt, Remington Golden Bullet, Federal Auto Match, and CCI Green Tag. Christensen Arms backs up their Ranger 22 with a 1 MOA guarantee at 50 yards, and many of these hovered around that but only one truly performed better, and that is CCI Mini Mag which put down a 5 round 50 yard group that measured 0.41″ or 0.79 MOA. I’m sure that with more testing of the myriad of different match centered ammunition out there, I would find a few that performed even better than the Mini Mags.
- 18″ Christensen Arms Carbon Fiber Tension Rimfire Barrel
- Hand Lapped
- 22 LR Bentz Math Chamber
- Threaded muzzle 1/2×28 TPI
- Christensen Arms Precision Aluminum Receiver
- 70 degree bolt throw
- Black Anodized
- Dual Ejectors
- Dual Opposing Locking Lugs
- 0 MOA Optic Handle
- Trigger Tech Rem 700 Trigger
- Ruger 10/22 Compatible Magazine
- 13.75″ LOP
- Carbon Fiber Composite Rimfire Stock
- Palm Swell
- Ambidextrous Grip
- Libsaver Recoil Pad
- Flat Forend
- Sling Studs
- Palm Hook
- tan/black and black/grey color options
After spending quite a bit of time with the Christensen Arms Ranger 22, I have really come to love the rifle. Yes, I had some issues, but Christensen Arms dealt with them promptly and assured me that all current models have had the issue resolved. I had a pleasant experience with their customer service, and because of the pride that they take in their craftsmanship, I am sure that anybody else would find the same.
This Ranger 22 would be great for competitions, squirrel hunting, and everything in between. I had great accuracy results from my own personal testing and I am sure that groups could be shrunken further by simply using a different ammunition type. And of course, because it is not semi-auto, it is a superb suppressor host that yields extremely quiet results. Overall, I am very impressed with the Ranger 22 and I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone who is interested.