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Blackhorn Powder
Rifle Magazine
January - February 2003
Volume 35, Number 1
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 205
On the cover...
The BAR lightweight with Burris 1.7-5x scope in Browning rings and bases is shown with the Browning Grade V BAR. Clair Rees discusses spotting scopes on page 28. Rifle photos by Stan Trzoniec.
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Winchester Model 9422 Traditional

No two ways about it, Winchester has always produced good-looking firearms. Its lever-actioned, rimfire carbines are perfect examples of what I mean: almost-black, blued steel; dusky, straight-grained walnut; tastefully checkered panels decorating the forend and small of the stock. Most impressive of all, those machine-inletted stocks look as though they had been hand-mated to the metal by skilled craftsmen of long experience. The question is: Do carbines, like the Model 9422, live up to the promise of their appearance?

You bet! That scaled-down lever action proved to be just as reliable and accurate as its looks suggested. Feeding and ejection were flawless. Its bolt throw - the distance the bolt head moves from its locked position to wide open - is only 1 3/8 inches. As a result, flipping a spent case clear and levering a fresh round in the chamber demands a minimal amount of time and effort from the shooter.

When loaded, the carbine’s balance point is 1/4 inch in front of the receiver. It carries easily, dangling from one hand or propped over a shoulder. Adding 11 rounds and mounting a scope brought its total weight to a bit over 6 1/2 pounds.

It isn’t a kid’s gun. If nothing else, its 13 1/2 inch length of pull would put it in the adult class. Then too, a .22 Rimfire Magnum is a far cry from a .22 Long Rifle. Those 40-grain jacketed hollowpoints weren’t designed with popping tin cans or holing paper targets in mind. They’re real killers and extremely destructive when slammed into bone and tissue. Over the years I’ve dumped a fair number of jackrabbits and prairie dogs with rimfire magnums, many at fairly respectable ranges too. When smacked by one of those speedy little slugs, death comes swiftly, often immediately. I wouldn’t want to get in the way of one of those missiles, even way out there.

As usual, each different type of firearm boasts characteristics of its own; traits, if you prefer, that should be considered to help it perform its best. In the case of the Model 9422, like other members of the Model 94 tribe, they tend to tilt slightly to the right or left, especially when equipped with a scope sight.

The Model 9422’s receiver is tall and narrow. It spans a sparse 1.1 inches, as a matter of fact. In addition, its forearm is not only slender (1.3 inches wide at the rear; only 1.1 inches up front) but graced with a rounded bottom as well. That makes it very comfortable to grip, but unless the supporting hand is placed properly, every time, the carbine may fall victim to its natural tendency to tilt. It won’t lean much, probably. In fact, if you don’t look for it, you probably won’t notice the sights are very slightly inclined away from the vertical. You may wonder why you missed though.

You can run your own test for this easily enough: Just pick up a 94, unloaded, of course; adopt the offhand position, select a target at any distance, focus all your attention on it, then bring the carbine up to the shoulder and align sights and target - or try to. My bet is the sights will line up quickly enough, but they’ll be pointing slightly to one side or the other of the target. Why? Because the carbine’s receiver wasn’t truly perpendicular. If a carbine is scoped, like the test rifle, it’s easier to spot the crosshair’s displacement, even when it’s relatively small.

My solution to this quirk was ginned up years ago when the problem first came to my attention. Instead of grasping the forend with my supporting (left) hand, it is placed under the flat-bottomed receiver where it bears against the forward curve of the trigger guard, pushing it rearward while, at the same time, my left elbow is braced against the left side of my rib cage. Basically, it’s the offhand target stance favored by most nineteenth-century target shots.

It works with a Model 94 because the palm of the supporting hand automatically tries to keep the receiver’s flat bottom horizontal - and that means the receiver is truly vertical.

If you’ve never tried that position, it may take a bit of practice to become comfortable with it. You’ll find it will be well worth the effort though.

When what Winchester publicists call the “Easy Takedown” feature was first brought to my attention, I had to bite my tongue to keep a wisecrack stillborn. That adjective easy usually presages just the opposite. Not this time though. Just one screw locks receiver and action together. Remove the screw and the two assemblies part with no extra force needed. Next, slide the bolt assembly rearward - and that’s all there is to it. Chamber and breech are exposed so cleaning rods can be inserted through that area. No more threat of damaging rifling around the muzzle. The rest of the action is exposed so it can be cleaned or lubricated quickly, with a minimum amount of time and effort. Getting to the trigger mechanism is a snap too.

Winchester ads also suggest the carbine should be broken down to make it compact and more portable when heading afield. They’re correct, of course - but I advise against it. Small, critical parts, like the lock-screw, are easy to misplace, even lose. Should it turn up missing, the carbine is useless. There’s no way it can be jury-rigged to shoot. Leave that lock-screw where it belongs: joining action and receiver.

That grooved receiver of the Model 9422 makes a natural base for a telescopic sight. A .22 Rimfire Magnum is no popgun. Depending on the target’s size, shots past 100 yards are perfectly feasible. Young eyes may find open sights adequate; but at my stage in the game, my vision can use all the help it can get, so one of Leupold’s 4x Rimfire Specials was selected for the task. Weighing only 7 1/2 ounces, it seemed tailored for the carbine.

Thanks to that grooved receiver and Leupold’s rings, mounting the scope was a snap. After adjusting eye relief to suit me and bore sighting the little scope, my next move was to check parallax. Parallax, of course, is the term used to describe the error that exists when the focal planes of image and reticle aren’t quite the same.

Checking for parallax is simple enough. All a shooter has to do is brace the scoped rifle in place so it can’t move, then peer through the scope. If the reticle seems to shift its position against a target when the rifleman moves his aiming eye up, down or from one side to the other while sighting through the ocular lens, that indicates the presence of parallax. To compensate for it, all we can do is make sure our aiming eye is centered in the ocular lens when sighting.

Most big game scopes are adjusted so they are parallax-free at 150 yards. So set, optical sighting errors are negligible from, say, 125 to 175, maybe 200 yards. Leupold’s Rimfire Special is parallax-free at 60 yards. Setting targets at 35, 100 and 125 yards, I tried the eyeball test described above. As far as I could tell, that duplex reticle never moved a millimeter, no matter which side of the lens I stared through.

Since the accuracy of every rimfire arm depends to a great extent on the compatibility of its ammunition, four different brands were selected for the range tests: CCI’s 50-grain, Gold Dot hollowpoints, Remington 40-grain jacketed hollowpoints, Winchester 34-grain Supreme jacketed hollowpoints and some old Winchester 40-grain Super-X jacketed hollowpoints.

Range conditions weren’t the best. Temperatures were in the low 90s, and the wind was gusting from 10 to 15 mph, as it had been for days. Since the range was open for the first time in several months and forestry officials were said to be considering closing it and the national forests again because of the extreme fire danger, I thought it best to shoot while I could, wind or no wind.

Although the target stand was anchored as firmly as possible, whenever the wind picked up, it vibrated occasionally and sometimes actually bounced slightly. Consequently, it was set up at 50 yards instead of the usual 100. That offered a better chance of seeing when the target was steadiest. Although I did my best to crank off each shot when the target was motionless, the wind surprised me on several occasions. As a result, no record-breaking groups were fired, but considering the situation, the Winchester’s accuracy wasn’t bad at all.

Because of the warmish temperature, it seemed like a good idea to shoot three-shot strings instead of the traditional five to keep the barrel from overheating.

CCI’s Gold Dot rounds clocked 1,575 fps 15 feet from the carbine’s muzzle. Three-shot strings ranged from 3/4 to 7/8 inch.

Remington’s 40-grain JHPs zipped over the Oehler’s traps at 1,849 fps. Strings varied from 5/8 to 7/8 inch.

Winchester’s Super-X rounds averaged 1,910 fps. Clusters ran from .25 to .8 inch. The same firm’s 34-grain Supreme JHPs registered 2,105 fps and punched a whole series of 3/4-inch groups.

All things considered, the carbine did pretty well at the range, better, in fact, than expected. It isn’t a minute-of-angle sporter but few rimfire mags are. With ammunition it likes it will probably keep them all in 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches at the 100-yard mark - if the wind doesn’t blow.

Of course, the trigger could be smoothed out a bit. Not much though. It’s the best factory trigger I’ve ever tried. When tested with a Lyman electric trigger pull gauge, it registered an impressively consistent 3 1/2 pounds. A bit of play could be felt when finger pressure was first applied, but were that rifle mine, I’d leave the trigger alone. Firing a few hundred rounds will probably wear those moving surfaces into a slick, comfortable relationship.

From my experience with them over the years, I’d say today’s Winchester rifles are better than ever. If you’re in the market for a .22 Rimfire Magnum, take a long, hard look at one of the Model 9422 Traditionals and see if you don’t agree. - Al Miller

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