The 10/22 Ruger Should Be Making: The Winchester Wildcat 22 LR

Winchester’s Wildcat 22LR Introduces some Phenomenal Upgrades Over the Ruger 10/22 at an Appealing Price Point

What’s this? Some guy on the Internet knocking down one of America’s favorite 22LR rifles? Ok, hear me out because I know extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

The Ruger 10/22 is near-and-dear to many of our hearts. Many of us learned to shoot on the legendary 10/22. The fact that there’s an entire aftermarket industry cranking out 10/22 accessories is a testament to how much America loves the 10/22. At current prices, 10/22’s can be had for around $300 but many people drop some serious money in upgrades, commonly switching out the barrels, trigger, and stock to introduce modern features into a platform that’s stayed pretty much the same since the 1960s.

Lightweight and ergonomic the Wildcat 22 delivers tremendous value in a sub-$300 price point.

Out of the Box

The competition is fierce at the $300 price point for semiautomatic 22LR rifles. Ruger has dominated for decades but the Wildcat comes in with a $269 MSRP for the unthreaded barrel model. I’ve seen these online for $220. The threaded barrel models cost a little bit more, I paid $280 for mine which is a fantastic value. I now own two.

Designed from the ground up with 10/22 magazine compatibility in mind. The Wildcat worked flawlessly with Ruger 10/22 magazines. I confirmed this with 10 round 10/22 mags, the BX-15, and BX-25 Ruger magazines….all of which ran flawlessly using CCI Blazer, Federal Bulk 22, and CCI copper plated 22LR.

The only trade-off is you lose last-round bolt hold open when using 10/22 specific magazines.

The Wildcat 22LR is Compatible with Aftermarket Ruger 10/22 Magazines but You Lose Last Round Bolt Hold Open

The Wildcat 22LR comes equipped with ghost sights and features an integral Picatinny rail for optics, as well as a rail slot located on the bottom of the chassis to easily mount a bipod. The Wildcat is a blowback design featuring an 18″ button-rifled Chromoly steel barrel with threaded options available. Its skeletonized stock helps keep it lightweight, with the total package coming in at only 4 pounds compared to the 4.6-pound weight of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown.

Where the Wildcat Really Shines

So the features for the price are pretty good but so far I haven’t talked about what I really like about the Winchester Wildcat. First, the Controls are way more intuitive than the 10/22. I always fumbled with the 10/22 mag release and the Wildcat gives you 2 different options for ejecting an empty mag.

First, you’ve got your standard 10/22 style magazine release where you depress the button underneath the rifle. Nothing special. But Winchester also included a second way to eject magazines by pulling back on the serrated red panels on the side of the chassis pictured below.

Now disassembling the Wildcat is where things get really interesting. To disassemble, you only depress the red button at the rear of the action’s lower receiver and pull the trigger guard down. This pulls the entire action out as the bolt, trigger housing is self-contained. The bolt handle is hinged so it easily rotates and drops out with the rest of the action.

The Action is a self-contained unit housing the trigger, trigger-guard, and bolt in one unit.

With the action free from the chassis you now have easy access to the bore for barrel cleaning and you can simply spray down the action and fire control group with your favorite solvent for easy cleaning. This was an incredibly innovative design from Winchester. I wanted to test the limits so I actually went over 1,100 rounds without cleaning the rifle and didn’t experience a single malfunction aside from using subsonic ammo which is notoriously bad at cycling in semiautos.

Final Shots

The Wildcat 22 packs an incredible amount of features into a sub-$300 price point. I’ve actually bought 2 now and have sold most of my semiautomatic 22LRs. I’ve been converted by Winchester’s thoughtful design choices and recommend this rifle for new shooters and anyone looking for a feature-packed plinker without breaking the bank.

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About the author: CitizenHush is the Bob Ross of 2A Twitter. A Virginian by birth but Texan by the Grace of God, Mr. Hush enjoys firearms and firearm technology.Dislikes include: Strong opinions on Cast Iron skillets, politicians, and Brass Goblins. When he’s not blasting feral hogs in Central Texas, you can find him either on the range or living his best life as a suburban ranch hand.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • scott November 8, 2021, 5:02 pm

    Plastic upper does not bother me. If it is accurate, the whole thing could be plastic and styrofoam and I’d buy it. No discussion of comparative accuracy. I know the accuracy of stock and customized ruger and stock Marlin. Where does this fall?

  • Elmer November 8, 2021, 2:17 pm

    I have the early model with the unthreaded barrel, and love it! My only beef is that factory mags are nowhere to be found. Well, there’s one guy on Ebay selling them at 2X MSRP.

  • Todd November 8, 2021, 1:40 pm

    I’d sure have appreciated more detailed photos of the firearm. The photographs provided are just this side of worthless to a potential buyer other than to show him how he’ll look in action-shots.

    Todd.

  • lefty November 8, 2021, 10:47 am

    I’d like to see a new stainless Remington 66.The 66 has better: trigger,sights,safety,accuracy than the 10/22.
    For a time a Brazilian copy of the 66 was made.The 66 was more difficult to strip and clean-but it never needed that!
    Allegedly Remington deliberately destroyed the remaining parts for the 66.

  • jobber November 8, 2021, 10:41 am

    Informative writeup, but why did you leave out the upper assembly is polymer not metal.
    That fact is the 1st bullet point on the Winchester website.

    “Rugged polymer construction of the upper assembly, lower receiver assembly and ambidextrous skeletonized buttstock”

    • Josh November 8, 2021, 12:21 pm

      If you just look at the picture, it’s pretty obvious it’s polymer.

  • Blue Dog (he/him) November 7, 2021, 4:12 pm

    I liked the last iteration of the Winchester Wildcat from 15 years ago or so, the Zastava-made bolt action with the schnabel forend. You’d never find extra mags for those, though, so using 10/22 mags this time was smart, as was adding the last round hold open feature. Where are these made?

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