[SHOT Show 2020] Shooting the Winchester Wildcat 22 Rifle
Russ Chastain 01.30.20
As the 2020 SHOT Show approached — especially Range Day — I remembered a little rifle I told y’all about last spring, called the Winchester Wildcat. I made a point of hunting down this little popper at the range, and giving it a hands-on workout.
I spoke with Mark Yackley of Winchester, who reminded me of all the interesting features of the Wildcat, which is a semi-auto Winchester rifle that accepts Ruger 10/22 magazines, and he summed it up pretty well:
We pretty much fixed everything you don’t like about the 10/22.
I can’t disagree with him on that — except for the safety, which is a crossbolt set behind the trigger; possibly the least-convenient location for a safety. But other than that, it feels like Winchester nailed it, and they did make the crossbolt reversible for southpaws.
The Wildcat is light and handy, and I hit what I was aiming at. The magazine is easy to remove and insert, and can be released in two different ways. When using the Winchester factory magazine, the bolt will lock open after the last round.
When it’s time to clean the rifle, you can easily remove the action from the stock, so you can clean the barrel from the rear. And while it’s out, you can get to the two included allen hex wrenches which store inside the rifle. These wrenches can be used to remove the stock and adjust the rear sight.
Two Wildcats were on hand, so naturally I fired them both. I experienced no hiccups and walked away smiling and wishing I had one of my very own. Which brings me to the next point.
Even though the rifle was announced last spring, Mark said he’d been hearing mixed reports from people on whether it’s actually available to buy, but I’ve been unable to find any for sale anywhere.
I was smart enough to find and fire the rifles and check them out well, but was I smart enough to take photos at the range? Nope. That’s why you’re seeing these stock photos.
Here’s hoping I’ll be able to get my hands on one of the production models so I can give it a real workout and tell y’all all about it. If one becomes available near you, I suggest you jump on it. This is a fun, practical little rifle.