I guess the folks at Winchester Repeating Arms got tired of seeing the semi-auto rimfire market utterly dominated by Ruger’s 10/22, so they’ve come up with what they hope will compete with it. Called the Wildcat, it’s a modular design offering a bunch of unique features. For one, the lower receiver assembly — the guts of the gun — can be removed from the upper by simply pushing a button at the rear of the receiver. No tools required. Within this lower receiver is stored two Allen wrenches, one for adjusting the ghost ring rear aperture sight, the other for removing the skeletonized ambidextrous buttstock. Also at the rear of the receiver is an access port that allows the straight-line passage of a cleaning rod for breech-end cleaning of the bore and chamber. How many semi-auto .22s can claim that?
An integral 10-slot Picatinny rail atop the upper receiver provides wide latitude for mounting a scope or electronic sights. There’s also a short rail section at the forend tip for attaching a bipod, light or other accessories; otherwise, a protective cap is provided to protect the hand against the sharp rail edges.
The Wildcat employs a striker-fired ignition that provides a faster lock time and a lighter trigger pull than conventional hammer-fired designs. The firing pin has a rounded tip that focuses energy more efficiently resulting in a deeper rim indent for more reliable ignition with all types of Long Rifle ammunition.
Another welcomed feature is a 10-shot rotary magazine that fits flush with the belly of the stock and has a ratchet that allows depressing the follower; this makes loading so much easier than having to fight spring pressure as each round is pushed down and slid under the feed lips. The magazine is released by depressing opposed side rails or pulling on a tab at the front; either way, it drops into your awaiting hand. And if 10 rounds aren’t enough, you can replace the furnished magazine with any of the plethora of after-market magazines available for the Ruger 10/22. Yep, they’re compatible.
There are other unique features to this Wildcat, but I’m sure you’ve gotten the message: this is one truly new and interesting semi-auto .22. I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Other vital stats are: barrel length, 18”; overall length, 36-1/4”; weight, 4 lbs.; MSRP, $249.--Jon R. Sundra