What is a smallbore rifle?

What is a smallbore rifle?

In general, a smallbore rifle is anything that is lower power than a high power rifle. It also has a smaller bore size than a big bore gun. Capeesh

Seriously though, when I use the term "smallbore" to describe the rifle I'm shooting, what I am referring to is a rifle that meets the following criteria:

  1. Shoots .22 long rifle (a.k.a. .22LR) rimfire ammunition
  2. Has a manually operated bolt action
  3. Typically single shot
  4. Typically with "iron" sights (a.k.a. globe sights)

A smallbore rifle as described above with the addition of an adjustable stock, typically made of aluminum, is what most competitive shooters who are in the "three position rifle" or "smallbore rifle" category are shooting.

A firing line full of smallbore rifles, showing varying levels of stock adjustability and technology. Can you spot me in the middle? The red hair is a giveaway. 

There are always exceptions. To my first criterion, some refer to "varmint" caliber rifles like a .22WMR as a "smallbore" rifle, and that is accurate - it truly is a small bore in that barrel. The magnum part of the "WMR" designation disqualifies that round from being competition-legal in the smallbore rifle category. Biathlon rifles don't fit criteria two and three with five round magazines and Fortner style actions, but those are also not competition-legal. Finally, the exception to my fourth criterion is that some smallbore matches in the USA are shot with scopes. Those matches are referred to as "any sight" competitions. 

The Anschutz 1827 is the typical biathlon rifle and while it is a smallbore rifle, it isn't used in smallbore matches

Here are some examples of what I mean by smallbore rifles:

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more details about smallbore matches, gun anatomy, and lots more topics related to firearms.

Destination Gun: Visiting Annie Oakley's Grave

Destination Gun: Visiting Annie Oakley's Grave

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