Among the most popular sporting arms is the .22 caliber rifle.
A certain price point is appealing, with some rifles on the cheap side and others too expensive for young shooters.
The new Winchester Wildcat is not only affordable, but it is also reliable and accuracy is sufficient for small game and informal target practice.
The rifle has proven handy and well designed. Plus, it features modern modular construction.
Quite a few older rifles are fine for informal use, but a seriously upgraded rifle was needed.
The Wildcat is among the modern and ergonomic rifles I have tested. Let’s take a hard look at this modular wonder.
The rifle relies on proven principles. The Winchester Wildcat is a straight-blowback rifle. The rifle is striker-fired.
Winchester has taken advantage of modern plastic and modular construction.
The rifle features a long rail on the receiver for mounting optics. (Be certain to order the proper mounting hardware for these rails.)
The rear sight is an aperture, or peep, sight. The front is a standard post.
The post features a classic design with a tear-drop post, rather than a straight solid block. This is a good design for fast and accurate shooting.
There is plenty of room for any type of optic accessory. The rifle features a well-designed stock with a cutout rear section to save weight.
The rifle tips the scales at four pounds even, a nice packable package for long walks, hikes or all-day hunting.
The rifle features a 10-round rotary magazine. The magazine is similar to the Ruger 10/22 design.
In fact, the Ruger design, including high-capacity magazines, will interchange with the Winchester magazine.
The Winchester Wildcat magazine features an integral wheel that alleviates pressure on the magazine spring for easy loading.
For the elderly or youths, this makes for easier loading compared to pressing the cartridges in over the magazine spring.
The magazine release is a conventional type used in other rifles. An auxiliary release is quite handy to those with limited hand strength.
Two tabs on the lower stock are pressed to the rear to release the magazine.
The bolt holds open on the last shot and there is a well-designed bolt release just in front of the trigger guard.
The barrel isn’t permanently attached to the receiver and is easily removed. The barrel is 18-inches long.
The safety is a crossbolt type in the rear of the triggerguard.
Winchester Wildcat .22 Specifications
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
- Overall Length: 36.25 Inches
- Length of Pull: 13.5 Inches
- Drop at Comb: 7/8 Inches
- Barrel Length: 18 Inches
Care and Maintenance
The fieldstrip process is pretty amazing. Remove the magazine and clear the chamber by racking the bolt several times.
Then, press your finger into the rear of the receiver against the red knob in the back of the receiver.
As you press in the bolt, grasp the triggerguard and pull downward. The receiver pulls out easily. This allows for easy cleaning.
After all, .22 Long Rifle ammunition with its lead heel based bullet and dirty powder is famously dirty.
You may spray the action with aerosol cleaner and clean the barrel and chamber from the breech end. The assembly easily snaps back into place.
A very neat feature is the bolt handle. The handle is easily operated and folds out of the way during disassembly.
Accuracy and Reliability
During the evaluation, I began by firing the rifle with iron sights.
The easy-to-use peep sight comes on target easily and the front post is easily centered.
A brick of Remington Thunderbolt was fired in a single weekend. Function was excellent. The Wildcat comes on target quickly.
This is a neat plinker and a good small-game rifle. In absolute accuracy, the rifle will easily group five shots into two inches at 25 yards.
However, the rifle performed better once I mounted a TRUGLO mini red dot.
The forward mounting rail wears a TRUGLO mini laser that has been a lot of fun to fire and use.
The red laser is supplied with handy claw mounts and easily mounts on the receiver rail.
After getting used to the trigger — it is useful, if not match grade — I was able to achieve groups of 2.5 to three inches on demand at 50 yards.
That is very decent performance from a four-pound rifle. The Winchester Wildcat is a well-made and interesting rifle well worth its modest price.
I think we have a winner in the Wildcat.
What do you think of the Winchester Wildcat? Let us know in the comments below!