December 31, 2019
The .22 LR T-Bolt rifle from Browning has been around for a longtime, probably because it’s so much fun to shoot and accurate to boot. The rifle was first brought to market in 1965, but it was dropped from production in 1974. In 2006 it returned to production, and the company is still bringing out new versions. I’ve been shooting the latest variation, which is called the T-Bolt Speed.
All T-Bolt rifles are straight-pull bolt actions, and they operate differently than your standard turnbolt. To operate the bolt, simply pull straight back and then push it straight forward. On the way back, the dual extractors pull the fired case out of the chamber and going forward pick up a loaded round from the magazine and insert it into the chamber. The bolt has a loaded chamber indicator in the form of a red line that shows through the ejection port when the gun is loaded.
The new T-Bolt Speed has a fluted 22-inch barrel with a medium-sporter-weight profile, a semi-match chamber, and a precision crown. Twist rate is the standard 1:16 for .22 LR, and the barrel and receiver are finished in Burnt Bronze Cerakote.
The rifle has a composite trigger guard and a composite stock finished in A-TACS AU camo pattern. The stock has textured grip panels, sling-swivel studs, and a compartment in the buttplate for storing an extra magazine.
Speaking of the magazine, the T-Bolt uses a Double-Helix magazine that holds 10 rounds. The magazine features a torsion drive spring, an interlocking gear, and a translucent plastic body. Unfired rounds can be removed from the magazine by first rotating the gear slightly with your thumb to relieve spring pressure. Then just pop them out one at a time.
The drilled-and-tapped receiver and the gold-plated alloy trigger are more nice touches on the rifle. And speaking of the trigger, the sample rifle I’ve been shooting has a crisp, clean trigger pull. According to my RCBS trigger pull gauge, the trigger pull consistently broke at 4.25 pounds. Variation was less than 2 ounces over the course of five measurements. In my experience, that’s pretty darn consistent. The trigger can be adjusted from between 3.25 and 5.5 pounds by turning the adjustment screw located just ahead of the trigger guard.
The rifle’s accuracy was fairly consistent, too. I fired 10 different .22 LR loadings, and all were under 2.50 inches for five, five-shot groups with each load. The overall average accuracy was 1.97 inches. At 1.14 inches, the load with the smallest average accuracy was the Aguila Target Competition 40-grain LRN. The rifle’s tightest five-shot group with that load measured 0.83 inch.
In addition to working with the T-Bolt Speed on my home shooting range, I also had the pleasure of using a T-Bolt with a threaded muzzle during a prairie dog shoot near Elk Mountain, Wyoming, a few weeks ago. The event was hosted by Cory Cannon of Triple Curl Public Relations Agency in association with Browning, Winchester, SIG SAUER, and SilencerCo. We shot centerfire Browning X-Bolt rifles mounted with SIG SAUER BDX riflescopes and SilencerCo suppressors, but I have to admit I enjoyed plinking away with the T-Bolt just as much as the centerfire rifles.
The T-Bolt’s threaded muzzle and the SilencerCo Switchback 22 suppressor seemed to be made for each other and functioned perfectly. The Browning 40-grain ammo and Winchester Subsonic .22 LR ammo were deadly on prairie dogs out to 250 yards. In fact, Gianni Donati from SilencerCo smacked a prairie dog at 263 yards. The shot was witnessed by several observers and confirmed with a SIG SAUER rangefinder.
Browning’s T-Bolt is a classic, and the new Speed version has a lot of cool features, shoots very well, and is loads of fun.
Browning T-Bolt Speed Specs
- Manufacturer: Browning Arms; browning.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds
- Barrel: 22 in.
- Overall Length: 40.24 in.
- Weight, Empty: 4.56 lbs.
- Stock: Composite
- Length of Pull: 13.5 in.
- Finish: Burnt Bronze Cerakote barrel and receiver, A-TACS AU camo stock
- Sights: None; receiver drilled and tapped for scope bases
- Trigger: 4.25-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Two position
- MSRP: $979.99