Browning SA-22

  • The barrel of the Browning SA-22 is drilled and tapped for special mounts, such as the cantilever scope mount.
8.2
8.2 score
(TheGearHunt) score (8.2)/10

Our TheGearHunt score is based on 3 different factors: Editor's rating after in-depth testing. User ratings submitted on this page Overall score from the "reviewmeter" based on reviews across the web the weight of each factor is: 40% editor rating 15% user ratings 45% reviewmeter.
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Editor rating: 7.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 23 user ratings
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Browning SA-22 Review Facts

The true mark of a good quality product is one that has longevity. This semi-automatic rimfire take-down rifle has been in production since 1914. Different sub-designs have been discontinued throughout the years, but this model has withstood the test of time. The words “24 karat gold plated” or “collector’s edition” might jump out at you as a bit excessive, there is always a less intimidating version of the weapon to consider, so there is something for everyone. As compared to simpler designs and makes and models, even from other manufacturers and companies, it might seem like too much. If your goal is just to have a functional weapon that you can take out, hunt something for sport or food, and come home, this rifle is pointedly too over the top for you – even the plainer versions. If you are a person who cares about the appearance of their gun? About the aesthetics and lines and collector’s value? Then this is very likely a gun that is going to catch your attention.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Takedown style for easy storage and transport
  • Versatility: fires both .22LR and .22 short cartridges
  • 5.2 pounds (2.4 kilograms) overall weight
  • Locking safety measure with separate locking device
Cons
  • Pricey compared to other manufacturers’ .22 semi-auto rifles
  • Limited variations in appearance available
See How
Reviews were analyzed here:
We read, analyze and sort reviews into positive & negative categories to give you the complete picture.
What are buyers saying?

We have spent 3 hours analyzing a total of 60 reviews.

These reviews are then categoried into "Positive" and "Negative" feedback.

Below you will read a summary of them:

Positive
  • I one made in Japan and the other Belgium and they are both timepieces. They are a personal rifle that is best for nostalgia than anything. I love them, they are beautiful guns.
  • I bought this 40 years ago and it still is a great looking gun. It will be an heirloom for sure. It is fun to shoot around but nothing major. Just a good little .22.
  • It is light accurate and hits hard. I have had mine for over 40 years and it is still a killer. I love my Browning and use it every year.
  • These are fun to shoot and very accurate. They are dependable that is for sure. This gun is a true piece of art and will be passed down to the grand-kids.
  • Most accurate and easy to carry .22 I can remember using. I used to take it around and hit squirrels when I was a kid. So, I bought one recently to take out with the kid. I really enjoy this sweet little rifle.
  • The fit and finish on this sweet little .22 are perfect. The accuracy is great. Probably the best firing .22 I’ve had.
  • This is my favorite.22. I bought it 30 years ago and it still fires accurate and smooth. It breaks down easy and my wife fires it like a pro.
  • Has great balance and the material is grade A. I prefer to shoot lower velocity shells as it seems to like them better. I use it with a Nikon Pro-staff and it works great.
  • I bought this recently and love it. It is just like I remember as a kid. Has a nice walnut stock and they receiver is so tiny. It is my favorite .22 and I have many.
  • This gun looks just as good today as it did when it was first made. The Browning never disappoints and is fun to fire. It is a smooth little .22 and works well with great accuracy. I highly recommend, especially if you’re in the market for a Heirloom. It has a smooth elegant design that is timeless.
  • I bought this due to its ability to be ambidextrous. It has a bottom ejection feature that helps with this. It shoots really straight and fits good when firing. I like it.
  • It is such a natural feeling gun. It shoots great and consistent. It is very dependable. I like taking it to the range and I added a scope and a carry when I go out in the woods to warm up. I am really liking it and it is a beautiful gun.
  • The craftsmanship of this rifle is great and it looks beautiful in the hand. It shoots straight and accurate. It is super easy to breakdown and is super dependable. I highly recommend it to rim-fire fans.
  • Best pointability, hands down. The rifle is a timepiece and is made with pristine detail. The sights are perfect and it shoots on point from the get go. Best shooting rifle I have taken to the range.
  • This is accurate and light. The rifle is super reliable and clean. Easy to break down and I can shoot it left handed. It ejects to the bottom making it great for us lefties.
  • This gun has a smooth action to the trigger and loos beautiful. It has nice engravings on it. It is a well thought out design and will be good for years to come.
  • Everything about this gun is awesome. It is made with great detail and has been over the years. Nothing has changed. Deep engravings, they look awesome. It really cleans up easy and shoots accurate. I am a huge fan.
  • I oud easily say it is one of the most desirable rifles to date. Everything about this gun is genius. Super easy to clean and breakdown. Fires nicely and accurate everytime. I will be passing it down to the kid’s kids for sure, perfect heirloom.
Negative
  • This is not a quick fire, reload kind of gun. They’re too pricey and honestly you're paying for the name not the quality. I haven't found a use for it yet.
  • When I took it home I realized it had dings in the stock and the SA was missing spot finishing. I am super disappointed and since I left the store with it, they won't take it back.
  • Every 10 rounds I put through it it would malfunction. Not the best rimfire rifle at all. I mean it looks nice on the wall, but frustrating to fire or have any fun with.
Reviewmeter
The Reviewmeter shows you an overall score that you can easily refer to. The highest rating is 10 (100% positive feedback)
Of the 60 reviews we found in total, 8% were negative, and 92% were positive.
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Primary Use

Primary Use

Being a rifle that easily breaks down into two pieces is not usually meant to be kept on a mantle, but some discontinued versions of this gun might be on a mantle regardless. Being a John M. Browning design that occurred not long before his death, it has been modified for appearance into some very pretty collector’s pieces. Naturally, the primary intention of a gun is to be fired, however, not simply looked at. If your intent is to use your firearm as opposed to simply admiring it on a shelf, naturally the intended and expected use is hunting. Spending between six and seven hundred dollars for the purposes of keeping a gun on a shelf seems a bit overindulgent, but if you have the means and motive to do so, by all means, though you may want to look into the retired or discontinued versions of this gun first, before making a finalized decision.
Barrel

Barrel

The barrel of the Browning SA-22 is drilled and tapped for special mounts, such as the cantilever scope mount. These mounts lock the scope to the barrel to give you the most accurate shot you can get, especially when combined with the precision rifling of the 19.25 inch (or 489 millimeter) barrel. Depending upon your retailer, you can also sometimes receive scope mounting and bore sighting included in the price of your purchase. The receiver is slim and made of forged steel. In the Grade II version of the firearm, new for the year 2019, the barrel is actually octagonal on the outside. The finish will depend upon which version of this Browning rifle you purchase.
Stock Options

Stock Options

For either of the currently offered editions of this rifle, the stock is American walnut, typically checkered with a polished gloss finish. Even the new for 2019 Grade II version offers this finish, leaving you with no real option. The old adage “if it is not broken, do not fix it” is suitable in this situation. Other versions existed in older, discontinued models, but if you really wanted to get into collecting those would likely be a good place to start. A good brand name being discontinued or “retired” is often enough of a reason for people to start paying more to obtain one. If you are going to make this your firearm collection debut, you could certainly do worse than the Browning’s price tag.
Weight

Weight

Hefting a weapon into the woods is easier than hefting it back out again at the end of the day. Even though most of a hunter’s day is spent lying in wait, it is still an exhausting endeavor that takes all day to get through, and whether or not you come out empty handed at the end of your stint in a tree stand or at the base of a tree, your weapon is going to feel pounds and pounds heavier from weariness. Coming in at less than five and a half pounds, this rifle will be lightweight and easy to manage as you seek your quarry or bring them home for dinner.
Accessories

Accessories

The most impressive accessory available for this particular rifle is the cantilever scope mount, grooved along the steel receiver. The actual aiming and firing is done through a set of sights affixed to the rifle, a gold bead front sight and an adjustable folding leaf rear sight. If you find these inadequate to the task of helping you aim properly at your intended target, then by all means seek out an aftermarket scope or sight to help you. Either option – or both – can take a lot of the hassle out of shooting. Just be sure that you are obtaining an attachment or multiple attachments that you will actually be able to use. No one enjoys unwrapping their latest purchase only to find the item was the wrong dimensions. Knowing what might seem like too much information is certainly better than not having enough. What could be worse is not realizing that you did not have enough information until you have already made a purchase. If that purchase is nonrefundable and cannot be exchanged, now you are stuck with something that does not fit on your gun. Always check your intended purchases for compatibility.
Ammunition

Ammunition

This particular rifle can fire both .22LR and .22 short cartridges, so you will have to decide what you are willing to purchase to best suit your needs in the field. Sometimes our quarry will force our hand into purchasing and using a particular kind of ammunition; sometimes our surrounding areas force our hand because not all species that are capable of being hunted legally will exist in the immediate area. It might seem silly to carry both with you, but you might feel just as silly if you find yourself in need of an ammunition swap and have none on you in your hunting blind. Carrying the spares that you might not intend to use might seem silly, but luck favors the prepared. How heartbreaking would it be to run out of ammunition before you managed to catch something? With a gun designed to make reloading so easy, it is hard to imagine not taking advantage by stocking up and bringing spare ammunition with you.
Loading

Loading

With an integral tube magazine and two different versions of compatible cartridge, it should come as no surprise that the magazine can hold different numbers of cartridge depending upon the size. If you are utilizing .22LR cartridges, you can fit eleven. If you use .22 short cartridges, then you will be able to fit sixteen. It should be noted that these numbers are without confirmation of one being in the barrel, or if the gun was empty at the time the count was taken. Try not to empty the entire magazine aiming for one creature. The action is a bottom ejection after the round has been fired. This particular rifle has a magazine that is loaded through a port in the side of the stock. The follower is pulled back from the butt-stock – or it can be removed entirely to do so, if you prefer – in order to load or remove the magazine. While not entirely unheard of, this is not altogether typical for a .22 semi-auto rifle, either. If it seems a bit too out of the ordinary, see about arranging to inspect one at your local retailer if at all possible; once you see it done, it should be the easiest thing in the world to replicate the action yourself out in the field. Contrarily if you purchased your firearm without knowing this, or without thinking it would be a problem and now you are struggling, there are always videos on the internet instructing how to go about trying new things. Check the reputation of your site source, but the information is out there for the taking.
Finish

Finish

The Grade I receiver is engraved with scrollwork and a polished blue finish. The Grade VI is engraved with game scenes, and the species depicted are 24 karat gold plated. The trigger on the Grade I is blued, whereas the trigger on the Grade VI is gold. These are likely the reason so many gun enthusiasts collect a gun as opposed to carrying it to the woods to hunt game both large and small. The validity of the idea of a gun with 24 karat gold plating on a rifle that is clearly meant to hunt animals in the wild could be a bit of a hard pill to swallow for some people. With the knowledge that going out into nature will get things dirty, it might be questionable to some hunters why something as over the top as gold plating could be added to a weapon. The answer could be something as simple as a shrug and a nod to the aesthetic lovers in the world. Such perceived extravagance, however minute, might come off as a bit odd in nature for those who see a gun as a tool, not as a treasure. Regardless, they are always well-made, finely crafted, and they do look beautiful. In addition to those, there is a newly released for the 2019 year model, called a Grade II. This particular version has come out bearing a satin-nickel finish receiver. It also bears scrolled engraving, but the barrel is octagonal. This version bears a stock that has the same walnut as the rest of the line, so that is mostly where the dissimilarities end.
Safety

Safety

This particular Browning rifle bears a manual trigger block, mounted on the trigger guard. It also comes with a locking device that is free with your purchase, to assist in the safe storage of firearms; you simply lock it, and the gun cannot function. Unlock the specialty mechanism and voila, you are good to go. Of course, safety when referring to firearms is not solely about the physical item itself. Safety, when having to do with a firearm, is about respecting the fact that you hold a deadly weapon in your hand. Acknowledge the danger you hold, and respect it, and you will not be foolish with it. That behavior alone will keep you and anyone around you safer, but there is also the pointed mention of cleaning your gun regularly. Regardless of whether or not you opt for the gold plated version of this weapon, you still need to keep it clean. Having nothing to do with aesthetics, this is a required bit of work that every gun needs in order to maintain good working functionality. A gun that has not been cleaned properly can misfire or jam. A gun that can misfire or jam can also be a gun that causes severe, dangerous damage to you as the person holding it if you are not maintaining it. Always keep your gun clean and oiled as per the corresponding owner’s manual. Due to the potentially expensive engraving on the receiver, be sure that your cleaning instructions and materials do not negatively interfere with the finish. No one wants to start polishing their rifle only to find the gold plating or engraving as a whole wiping away in too harsh a chemical smear on a rag.
Price

Price

The price of this rifle is a point of a small bit of contention. To some, approximately six hundred dollars is not a lot of money to pay for a firearm that is so beautiful that it might not ever get used. To others, spending six hundred dollars on a firearm that you plan on walking through the woods with seems excessive, especially when a non-takedown, practical yet functional alternative is a fraction of the cost from the same retailer. For some people that pragmatism wins out and they will not purchase this rifle, and there is nothing wrong with that. For those that are willing to invest in this beautiful bit of craftsmanship, it is advised to also consider a warranty if any is available, just in case something happens. A takedown rifle is its own subspecies of rifle in some ways, and they are not for everyone. Add the idea of 24 karat gold plating on the engraved surface areas and the pool of purchasers willing to take this gun out into the woods to hunt grows a bit smaller still. In any case, if you intend to buy this rifle, own it. If you want to display it over your mantle or above the doorway to your office or den, do so safely. If you want to carry a 24 karat gold plated rifle and hunt for trophies or meals with it, do so safely. Weigh your options carefully and decide what course of action is right for you. Or, alternatively, you can purchase one of the versions that does not include 24 karat gold anywhere on it, and then all you have on your hands is a normal debate of the takedown versus a standard non-collapsing .22 rifle, of which there are plenty.
Key Features

Key Features

•Rear tube-magazine loads off butt-stock
•Locking device to keep firearm stored safely
•Precision rifling in the barrel
•Potential collector’s value
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

To some people, a collector’s value in something is just another name for sentimentality. Being coveted does not guarantee quality or longevity of investment. If you are the only one who cares about an item you spent a relative fortune on, no one is going to agree that it is a prize for your collection, or worth the money. Everyone values different things. Playing at investment collecting can be as dangerous as the stock market, and just as disappointing. With all of that said, there are certainly worse things one could spend frivolously on than a functional piece of home defense or hunting equipment. There are plenty of reasons to be made that this rifle would be a good purchase, and none of them necessarily have anything to do with collecting. You could like this gun for functional reasons, such as the precision rifling or the versatility from .22LR to .22 short cartridges when other 22 semi-automatic rifles can only handle one or the other. You might be partial to the fact that this particular brand and model have been around since 1914, proving they are not only built to last, but also steadfast. Your attraction to this rifle might be the rear tube magazine or the fact that you do not need tools to break this gun down after a day of hunting, popping it into a carrying bag until you can get it home safely to clean. A multitude of other reasons exist that might explain your decision to buy this rifle. The plain fact is, some people will think six hundred dollars is not too much to spend on a .22 semi-automatic rifle; others will believe it is too high a price tag. Ultimately, the decision is yours.