In my opinion, the .22 LR is the most underrated cartridge ever to grace the firing line. Often dismissed for its lack of power in hunting or defensive scenarios, the .22 can be a prime target round, even at unheard-of distances. Many shooters are under the impression that this little rimfire is reserved for 50-yard use. However, in the right gun, like the Savage B22 Precision Lite, it can be stretched out much farther.
Plinker Reimagined: The Savage B22 Precision Lite
Savage Arms has been making “the right gun” for several years, and it is dubbed the B22. When I first picked up the then-new bolt action, I printed some amazing groups up close. I even lobbed some out farther than I would have ever thought that day.
While the rifle was a tack driver, it had a few flaws that made it more conducive to bench shooting than use in the field. Specifically, the chintzy stock and its muzzle-heavy nature.
The Massachusetts-based manufacturer is always looking to improve products and reach more shooters. So, it keeps an ear to the streets and never stops addressing feedback.
Heavy solid-steel barrels are starting to go the way of the dodo, and stock manufacturers are taking on more OEM work than ever before. So, for 2022, Savage updated this old standby with a modern aluminum chassis and a carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel to give us the B22 Precision Lite.
A Sturdy, Lightweight Platform
As previously implied, the most prominent feature of the Precision Lite is its carbon-fiber-wrapped launch tube. Using one of the company’s signature button-rifled steel barrels, several millimeters of exterior metal is replaced with rigid carbon fiber.
This material swap shaves weight off the most influential spot of the rifle while retaining the stiffness that is required for accuracy. Savage finished the job by threading it for a flash or sound suppressor. As a result, it is an excellent choice for small-game hunting as well.
Barreled actions need a sturdy home. Otherwise, they suffer an immense loss of precision. The original solution was to insert aluminum blocks or pillars to allow the rifle to lock up against metal instead of wood or polymer.
Then one day, somebody said, “Hey, instead of messing with all of this inletting, why not just make the whole stock out of aluminum?”
Thus, the chassis rifle was born.
Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) quickly became masters of this craft. For this reason, it was chosen by Savage to create a chassis for the B22. What MDT brought forth was truly a work of art.
The final product is feature-rich by using billet aluminum, yet still retains a minimalist footprint. M-Lok slots are cut into the forend at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions to reduce weight further and allow for accessories. A simple sling stud can also be found on the underside. We used this to mount a Caldwell Bipod for our testing.
On the backend, the length of pull and comb are adjustable to help it fit a variety of shooters and scope options. Speaking of scope, this B22 comes with a pre-mounted 20-MOA rail. So, we attached a 6-24x Truglo Eminus using an EAW Black-Line adjustable mount.
The B22 Precision Lite Has a Familiar Action
The action of the B22 Precision Lite remains essentially unchanged from its original design. Using a push-feed bolt system and dual extractors, I’ve always found this setup to feed, fire, and eject as reliably as any centerfire.
Ammunition is supplied through a rotary-style magazine. This has always been the best answer to working around the .22 LR’s protruding rim and ending jams in feeding devices.
A push-to-fire, tang-mounted safety is perfectly positioned for right or left-hand use. And a secondary safety is located in the trigger bow, which is part of Savage’s signature AccuTrigger. This user-adjustable trigger system put the company on the map, and we found the one in our test sample could be cranked down to about 1.5 pounds or up to just shy of 4.5 pounds.
As I made my final trigger adjustment and torqued the stock back down, I contemplated which ammo I wanted to use for my evaluation. I planned to conduct some industry-standard, 50-yard group testing. However, I also wanted to see how far I could reach and still group reasonably tight.
I selected SK Rifle Match and Lapua Center-X for the task. Additionally, I decided to add Winchester’s LF Varmint to the mix, as I would have no opposition to squirrel hunting with this gun one day. From here, all that was left to do was pack the car and hit the range.
Upon arrival, I was met with gusty conditions, but the baseline wind was more or less zero. This weather only meant I would have to bide my time between shots as things settled out.
After unpacking and setting up, I started by zeroing the optic with the SK ammunition. Not knowing what to expect, I mounted the scope with the 60-MOA spacer in place. This left me ridiculously high at 50 yards. So much so that I was only able to crank down to the top hashmark on my Eminus. Nonetheless, I could print some terrific groups, with the smallest going to the SK at 0.76 inches.
The Lapua load was a close second and traveled a bit faster. Although it got beat on the short game, it would come in handy later when I stretch things out. The Winchester load performed admirably for hunting ammunition, and one made from tin at that.
It grouped minute-of-squirrel, which is all I ask for from a round like this. Furthermore, these zipped along at close to 1,700 feet per second, which spells disaster for an unassuming tree rat.
Advanced Rifle Work with the B22 Precision Lite
Satisfied with my groups, I turned to more advanced rifle work by incorporating improvised positions and distant targets. Using a rifle rack as support, I engaged a set of Atlas Target Works NRL22 targets out to 100 yards using holdovers with both the SK and Winchester ammunition.
Here is where I appreciated the carbon-wrapped barrel the most, as I could balance the rifle without using sandbags.
Cycling the bolt was effortless regardless of which hand I used, and as long as my dope was right, it was a hit every time. I ended my range session by seeing how far out I’d be able to dial and maintain at least 2-MOA accuracy. To my amazement, I hit reliably at 300 yards with the SK Rifle Match ammo and even grouped decently at 400 yards, albeit in the dirt because I was out of adjustment.
Swapping in the Lapua Center-X with its increased velocity solved that problem. Using the very bottom of the reticle, I turned in a 7-inch, five-shot group on that 8-inch piece of steel.
The hardest part of my job is not keeping every rifle I evaluate. The accuracy and the shootability of this Precision Lite were, in a word, breathtaking. I loved the ergonomics and overall lightweight feel of the gun and appreciated the duality of the design.
That makes it a great rifle to begin a collection with because you can use it for many different activities as you find your particular niche. In short, if this were around 20 years ago, I’d be looking at far fewer guns in my safe.
For more information, please visit SavageArms.com.
Savage B22 Precision Lite Specs
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel: 18 inches
Overall Length: 36.5 inches
Weight: 6.77 pounds (empty)
Stock: MDT aluminum chassis
Capacity: 10+1 rotary
Finish: Matte black
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.