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Anschutz D HB Thumbhole

Anschutz D HB Thumbhole

Anschutz has a deserved reputation for building accurate rifles, although with some of their products they tend to add or ignore features that often to my British eyes makes me think; why the hell did they do that?

I find out

After some investigation, I discovered that some guns were originally aimed primarily for target shooting, and then have been offered for hunting, hence the odd features. What I’m saying is, there is an apparent disconnect between what Anschutz designs for the European market, when compared to the dictates of ours, which as I have discovered over the years, is significantly different.

So, let’s turn our attention to their latest rimfire, the 1761, which seems eminently suited as a small game rifle for hunting rabbits, hares and similar quarry and maybe foxes too. Looks, feel and handling are all factors to consider when picking any rifle and less a few minor niggles, this Anschutz seems to have what it takes.

The basics

The 1761 D HB is available in two stock options and barrel lengths and three calibre choices: Classic sporting and profile Thumbhole, both in oiled walnut, 515mm/20.27” and 457mm/18” and 22 Long Rifle (LR), 22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire and 17HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire). HB stands for heavy barrel with a 19mm diameter, threaded ½ x 20 UNF, with a rebated muzzle so that the bore actually stops about ½” before the threaded section.

It’s also possible to change calibres, by swapping barrels and magazines where applicable, however, Anschutz says it’s a job for a gunsmith; I would disagree, as with the right tools and a torque wrench, it’s easy enough if you have the skill. What is odd, is that only the 18” tube is threaded. I asked why and they seemed to think that it wasn’t needed on the 20”. I pointed out that in the UK the rifle (whatever barrel length) would be primarily used for hunting, so the ability to fit a moddy would seem to be essential; and if you don’t want to, leave the protective collar on. The impression I got is that they are now considering this; see what I mean about different thinking?

Nice pull

Anschutz fit their single-stage, type 5061 trigger unit, which is adjustable for weight from 800-1200 grams (1.76 – 2.64 lbs) via an external screw inside the guard. It comes factory-set to 1000 grams/2.2 lbs and it’s a peach. They also incorporate a new, rolling lever safety catch on the right of the mech, which is a vast improvement over what has come before. Forward to FIRE, reverse for SAFE, with bolt operation. The bolt shows three, centrally-mounted, radial locking lugs, with the base of the bolt handle being one of them. It’s straight with a generous, plastic ball end and angles down about 30º and offers a short, 60º operating arc. At the rear of the shroud is a red, cocked action indicator pin, always useful. Magazines too seem to have been re-imagined, although only offer a 5-round capacity, which is good enough, but I’d get a spare, as it will come in useful.

18 or 20?

I’ve always been an advocate of 20” barrels for 17HMR and 22 WMR rifles, as I just feel the extra power generated would benefit from that bit more tube, certainly with the trend for 16” guns in these calibres in the last few years. Anschutz’s choice of 18 and 20” would seem to be too near to make much of a difference. As we shall see, I had some interesting results that might not seem to gel with ballistic data gathered.

story continues below...

As standard, the steel, flat-sided receiver shows an integral, 11mm dovetail scope rail, an optional extra is a Picatinny base that slides on and screws down, which does raise the sight line a little. It’s a practical accessory and allows more latitude in mounting daylight and NV optics. The underside of the action shows a recoil lug, with a well machined and tight inlet cut into the action void. The bottom metal (actually polymer) features a part well that supports the rear of the magazine, like a CZ527. The single column, 5-shot mag has a deep plastic base that aids insertion with the slotted release catch inside/front of the trigger guard and they free fall when it’s operated. This is very natural, as you just nudge your trigger finger forward and it’s away.

Good wood

Timber quality is excellent, with some finegrained walnut; on test is the Thumbhole with 457mm barrel. The forend is a beavertail type with a wide/deep build that tapers slightly to an angled back tip, with concave, finger boards and a decent freefloat on the barrel. It slims down around the action then blossoms into the full profile build, as a lot of extraneous material has been removed from the butt where possible. There’s a cheekpiece and raised comb section with a trigger finger shelf on the right of the pistol grip. Chequering is applied in the usual places, it’s a fine and shallow cut, but the natural material provides a good deal of grip regardless. The butt is finished off with a rubber pad and offers a length of pull (LOP) of 14.17”, a tad short but will suit most needs and a pair of QD sling studs front and rear.

The rifle came with a Haukson .17” calibre muzzle-mounted moderator and I fitted A DDOptics Gen 3 2.5-10 x 56 scope (from importers RUAG Ammotec UK Ltd) and a Harris BRS bipod. I chose three brands of ammo; Hornady 17-grain V-MAX, Remington 17-grain Premier Magnum Rimfire (also a ballistic tip) and Winchester SuperX, 20-grain, jacketed hollow point. Zeroing was done off the bench at 100m supported, and I was expecting good things!

First impressions

At 6.38 lbs (bare backed and un-moderated) and 35” long the 1761 comes up as a reasonably short and handy rifle. The addition of a scope, mounts, moddy and bipod probably brings the total to 10 lbs, that still offers an easy carry in the field. The stock is a good design, comfortable and that big forend is just begging for some unsupported use, as it feels so right in the hand. Equally so the pistol grip, which offers good finger placement and control. One thing I did notice that when using the Picatinny rail you need low mounts, otherwise it raises the scope up a bit too much and there’s a tad of disconnect between the head and the comb. If this where my gun I’d fit some form of slim riser plate to counter this, as the Pic rail is well worth the effort.

The bolt handle is divine, easy to get hold of and operate with its low angle and speed, the action cocks on opening. The safety too is excellent, quiet in operation, although being a thumbhole stock, you do have to break your firing position to a degree to operate it. No big deal, as I love the TH build. Magazines are single column and fill and feed reliably, plus that extended, base makes putting them in easy. One niggle though; why didn’t Anschutz increase capacity, as there appears to be unused space in the base? I’m not saying you could make it into a ten, but an extra two or three rounds would not go amiss; especially as rifles like Ruger American Rimfire and CZ 455 offer nine and ten round payloads as standard.

On the range

All three loads shot well; the Remington was printing 0.7MOA so still very respectable. The Winchester was tighter at 0.5MOA, horizontally, but it strung up the target, so the groups measured 0.5 x 1”! However, the clear winner accuracy-wise was the Hornady at the now expected 0.5MOA. Both this and the Remy shooting neat little triangular clusters. But it also showed the highest extreme spread. All loads also exceeded maximum quoted velocity too, which is a trend I’m noticing more with this calibre these days. Let’s look at the fi gures; see 17 PERFORMANCE.

Out at 200 yards; which I consider the maximum ethical range for the 17HMR, groups obviously doubled in size, so leaving the Hornady capable of head shots and the Remington just about, but I don’t think I’d push the Winchester that far. There was still good energy at this distance: Hornady 81 ft/lbs, Remington 77 ft/lbs and Winchester 74 ft/lbs. Here, in some ways, the heavier 20-grain pill could be the better killer, as it has more mass and a marginally heavier construction, maybe better for foxes? Even then, I think the calibre is marginal on Charlie at much over 100 yards, but mustard on smaller game out to 200 easily.

That aside, the 1761 is a great design, with a lot of potential and perhaps the best Anschutz rimfire in terms of what we Brits want out of a hunting rifle like this. One final niggle, the stock is quoted as oil-finished, but a brief rain shower showed that it could do with a bit more rubbed in!

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