March 22, 2022
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
Franchi’s bolt-action Momentum rifle has a lot going for it. It offers a bunch of fine features at a pretty reasonable retail price. The newest variation is the Momentum Elite Varmint (MSRP: $999), and it’s chambered for .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, and .224 Valkyrie.
Like all Momentum rifles, the Momentum Elite Varmint is built in Italy, and its one-piece RELIA BOLT is chrome-plated. The bolt’s body is 0.86 inch in diameter, and the diameter of the three locking lugs is just a hair smaller. The boltface is recessed, the extractor is a sliding-plate type, and the ejector is a plunger style. Bolt lift is 60 degrees, and the bolt knob has a sleek cone shape. The bolt-release lever is located at the left rear of the receiver.
As far as I can tell, the main differences between the Momentum and the Momentum Elite rifles are the finishes and a couple of other nice features. Standard Momentums have matte black barreled receivers and gray or Flat Dark Earth stocks, whereas the Momentum Elite rifles have camo stocks in various patterns and Midnight Bronze, Burnt Bronze, and Cobalt Cerakote barreled actions.
The Momentum Elite Varmint’s spiral-fluted barrel is cold-hammer-forged steel, and the length is 24 inches. (Other Momentum versions have 22-inch or 24-inch barrels depending on the caliber.) The Varmint’s barrel diameter measures 0.88 inch at the muzzle, and the muzzle wears a screw-on muzzle brake. The rifle comes with a thread protector if the shooter decides to remove the brake, and the barrel and action are finished in weather-resistant, glare-reducing Midnight Bronze Cerakote.
The Varmint features a detachable box magazine, and it comes with two of them, both of which are made of high-impact polymer. Because our rifle is chambered for .223 Remington, one magazine holds four cartridges, and the other holds eight. The four-rounder isn’t exactly flush-fitting, but it extends out of the bottom of the rifle by only about half an inch.
Franchi’s website says the Momentum’s single-stage RELIA TRIGGER is “adjustable from 2 to 4 pounds,” but the owner’s manual that came with the test gun says it “can only be modified by the gun maker or by an authorized gun dealer.” Our sample’s trigger pull averaged 2 pounds, 8 ounces, according to my RCBS trigger pull scale. It was crisp and clean, and it had little take-up.
The rifle’s two-position safety is a toggle type located at the rear of the action on the right-hand side. “Safe” and “Fire” positions are demarcated by white and red dots, and it does not lock the bolt, so the chamber can be unloaded with the safety “On.”
Designed specifically for varmint hunting, the rifle’s EVOLVED EGONOM-X synthetic stock features a removable cheek rest and is finished in Sitka OPTIFADE Subalpine camo. The stock’s rigid midsection has solid bedding points under the action, and the fore-end has molded-in reinforcing cross-members and a longitudinal stabilizing bar along the bottom. The stock also has integrated grip panels that have a square texturing pattern. (The extended magazine has a similar texturing pattern on its sides.)
The stock has two sling swivel attachment points in the usual places, and both are recessed. The proprietary “Twin Shock Absorption” recoil pad reduces felt recoil by up to 50 percent.
The Momentum Elite Varmint features a Picatinny-style optics rail on the receiver, we selected a new SIG Sauer SIERRA6 BDX 3-18X 44mm scope with the company’s BDX-R2 reticle for this report. I installed it with SIG SAUER 30mm rings. Please see the accompanying sidebar for more about the SIERRA6 BDX scope.
A sample target came with our Momentum Elite Varmint that was fired with Federal American Eagle 55-grain FMJ ammunition, and it shows a 100-yard three-shot group that measures 0.95 inch. Using that as the benchmark, I put the new Momentum Elite Varmint to a test on my home shooting range, where I can shoot up to 500 yards. The rifle/scope combo did not disappoint.
Like I said earlier, and as you can see from the specifications box and the shooting-results chart, our sample rifle is chambered for .223 Remington. While the other varmint chamberings offered are speedier, I really enjoy the .223 Rem. for a varmint rifle mainly because it has very little recoil and muzzle jump.
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking the .22-250 and .224 Valkyrie don’t have much recoil, either. For the record, a standard 55-grain .223 Rem. load with a muzzle velocity of 2,956 fps has a recoil value of about 2.5 ft-lbs in the 9.4-pound Momentum Varmint rifle, whereas the standard 55-grain .22-250 varmint load at a velocity of 3,650 fps has slightly more than 4.5 ft-lbs in a same-weight rifle, and the standard 60-grain .224 Valkyrie varmint load with a velocity of 3,300 fps produces just under 4.0 ft-lbs of recoil. I’ve shot a lot of varmint rifles in .22-250, enough to know that there’s usually enough muzzle jump to make seeing bullet impact on a dirt clod or a prairie dog difficult when your scope is set on a high power. Due to its lesser recoil and muzzle jump, the .223 Rem., especially in a rifle with a muzzle brake, allows the shooter to see the bullet impact on reactive targets and make a correction on the fly.
Reviewing the shooting results reveals that the Momentum Elite Varmint averaged 0.99 inch at 100 yards for the dozen factory loads I fired. That’s for three, five-shot groups with each load. The top load for accuracy was the HSM 55-grain Blitz-King, and it averaged 0.51 inch for its three groups. At 0.55 inch, second place in the accuracy department went to the Black Hills 52-grain Match HP load. And third place went to the Australian Outback 55-grain BlitzKing load, which averaged 0.58 inch.
Averaging 3,639 fps, the SIG SAUER 40-grain Varmint & Predator Tip load was tops in the velocity department. It had an extreme spread of 60 fps and a standard deviation of 31 fps. The load with the lowest extreme spread was the Australian Outback 55-grain BltzKing load, and it also had the lowest standard deviation. All velocity figures are the average of five rounds measured with a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph placed 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle.
Just for fun, I moved back to 200 yards and then to 500 yards and fired a three-shot group from a portable benchrest at each distance with the HSM 55-grain BlitzKing load. Wind conditions were not ideal on the hot day when
I did the shooting, with gusts up to 17 mph as measured with an inexpensive windmeter. But I did the best I could. The 200-yard group measured 2.25 inches, and the 500-yard group was a tad under 6.00 inches. No doubt, the Momentum Elite Varmint is deadly on prairie dogs and predators at those distances, and its eight-round magazine has me saying, “Varmints beware.”
Momentum Elite Varmint Specifications
- Manufacturer: Franchi, franchiusa.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: .223 Remington; 1:9 RH twist
- Magazine Capacity: 4 and 8 rounds
- Barrel Length: 24 in.
- Overall Length: 46.75 in.
- Weight, Empty: 9.4 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic, with removable cheek rest
- Length of Pull: 14 in.
- Finish: Midnight Bronze Cerakote barrel and receiver, Sitka OPTIFADE Subalpine stock
- Sights: None; Picatinny optics rail is included
- Trigger: 2.5-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Two-position
- MSRP: $999