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Review: Winchester Wildcat

Winchester Wildcat rifle disassembly

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.

Winchester Wildcat Rifle
The Winchester Wildcat is a fun rifle with much to recommend.

Standout Features

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.

The rifle also features a mounting rail on the underside of the forward section of the stock for mounting a light or laser.

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.

Winchester Wildcat Rifle and magazine
The rifle features not one, but two separate magazine release levers!

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.

TRUGLO Red Laser
This is the TRUGLO laser, a small unit for mounting on the forend.

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.

Picatinny Rail
Forward of the aperture rear sight, is plenty of real estate for mounting optics.

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.

The rifle digested several types of .22 LR ammunition, including CCI Mini-Mag, Winchester Super-X and Fiocchi High Velocity.

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.

TRUGLO Red Dot
The TRUGLO mini red dot gave good results.

What do you think of the Winchester Wildcat? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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