Sig 522 Target Rifle
- By Pete Moore
- 8 Comments
- Last updated: 20/12/2016
SIG522 nice little rifle, but probably a bit expensive for what it is, plus and unlike the crop of 22 AR15 military look-a-likes, both models in the UK market – the Classic (military forend) and SWAT (4-way forend) clamp directly to the barrel. So no free-float option, which might be affecting its popularity.
I have been shooting a SIG for a few years and in that time my main niggle has been the butt. Side-folding and to a degree length-adjustable it always came up a bit short even at full extension. SIG obviously recognised this as they included a slide-on, 1” extension pad that just about made it useable for us long armed buggers. However, it was always a little wobbly, so much so that I changed mine for a Double Diamond CAR15 buffer tube adaptor to tighten things up.
GOT IT ALL?
With prices for the original Classic and the newer SWAT at £745 and £849 accordingly it seemed the 522 would price itself out of the market. However, a call from Garlands Ltd (UK importers) informed me that a new model the 522 Target was soon going to be in my hands and it was not only significantly different but also cheaper too.
Opening the box as promised showed a significantly different package and one I feel will be more in tune with the British shooter looking for a hi-capacity 22 semi-auto rifle. The basic action remains the same with its polymer lower and aluminium alloy upper complete with integral, Picatinny base. Both magazine catch and safety/selector are ambidextrous and positioned very much like an AR15. The latter flips up for SAFE and down to FIRE though is a tad short for right hand, firing hand thumb operation.
Last round hold open is provided by the rising magazine platform, which simply blocks the bolt, though SIG have also incorporated a manually-operated catch on the left of the upper, which is useful. Feed is from a Black Dog magazine and the Target comes with a 10-shot as standard, whereas the Classic and SWAT came with a 25… The plastic pistol grip is slim butt deep and ribbed for grip and offers a decent handle. It’s hollow and has a hinged base so it can be used as a storage trap for smaller items.
So that’s as it was now what’s new? Let’s start at the heart of the rifle - the barrel. Gone is the 16” standard weight tube complete with AR15-type muzzle brake on a ½ x 28 UNEF thread. This is replaced by what SIG calls the Varmint barrel, which is a 20” heavyweight unit. From what I can make out this was originally offered as a promotional package deal with the original Classic. This now sits in a Hogue, rubber, over-moulded, free-float forend tube so now offering this ability so long found on factory and custom 22 ARs – Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 and Spikes etc.
Magazines free-fall from the well when the release catch is pressed, which is good for speed reloads. On that point when the action holds open on the mag platform when you remove the mag the bolt will automatically close. Another good feature is the large, plastic-covered cocking handle that reciprocates with the action! There’s plenty to get hold of and it can also be used as a manual, forward assist if required.
I had high hopes of this tube, though saying that my original Classic shot well enough with its lighter 16” military-type. However, there’s more! I am not sure why they did it but I’m not complaining as they have ditched the telescopic butt of the 522 and fitted the fixed-length SIG556 (223 centrefire unit). It’s the same basic shape with a large cut-out, but it’s a lot more rigid to get on to. It’s still a little short but inspection shows the butt pad is identical to the 522s so doubtless the extension unit will fit. Unusually it was not included but speaking to Jamie Garland (Garlands) indicated they were available. As before it folds to the right of the action with a large release catch on the left/rear of the receiver. However, it does not lock as the new forend does not have the engagement lug, no big deal! The trigger remains the same with its long pull and reasonable break.
Equally surprising is the fact that the package includes optics. Now don’t get too excited, but what you get is a 1” bodied, 1.75-5 x 20 scope with Dual-X reticule and a set of medium-height rings. Turrets are capped and offer ½ MOA @ 100 yard corrections. The glass is doubtless made in China but it offers a clear and useable image easily out to and beyond the maximum effective range of any 22 LR cartridge. Not my cup of tea, but and given a lot of this sort of shooting is done at 25/50 yards the attraction of buying something ready to go from the box is an excellent option. Add in the fact the 522 Target costs just £659, and even if you bin the scope it’s an undeniable bargain, whichever way you look at it!
From my view point there are two things missing - a QD sling stud for the forend so you could fit a bipod and the barrel should be threaded ½ x 20 UNF. Both of which can be done, but it would have been nice if they had been included and the price rounded up to £700; still a bargain in my view!
Even on a 22 LR the logic behind a longer/heavier, free-ﬂoat barrel would seem undeniable; however, I have used guns of this type before with mixed results. Most impressive was the JP NC 22, which could easily hold an inch at 100 yards with its 20” barrel, which for a 22 rimﬁre is impressive, then again at £2500 it should be! Disappointing was the S&W M&P 15-22 Performance Centre, this too had a heavy, ﬂuted 18” tube, which made little difference when compared to the standard 16” unit.The heavy, 20” tube of the Target has a recessed, target-type crown and I shot my usual cross section of ammo through it, sub-sonics, standard, target and hi-velocity from Winchester, Remington and RWS. Reliability was not an issue and the 522 handled the lot without complaint. To be fair I took off the compact scope and ﬁtted my Leupold 4.5-14x50 LRT in a Warne R.A.M.P. as the higher mag would hopefully allow the Target to show its true potential. With average groups of 1” at 50 yards I thought it might do a bit better, out at 100, but these opened up to around 2 – 2.5”. Good performance for a .22 no doubt, but nothing that my SIG522 Classic could not achieve!
It could be that unless you are ﬁtting a top notch 22 LR barrel as JP does (and paying through the nose for it) then the extra weight and length do not actually make a massive difference to performance in this calibre. From a technical stand point any 22 semi-auto has consumed all its powder in 12-14” of barrel length, probably the reason why 16” guns are the norm.
To be honest, and even with 2-2.5”groups @ 100 I can see few people complaining about that sort of performance. But what really sells the SIG522 Target to me is the absolute bargain price of the package; the butt is better and more stable, the Hogue forend offers a decent grip and easy shape and there’s a scope and mounts included too.
A more UK-oriented rifle and a comprehensive package
Needs QD sling stud on forendButt extension pad should be included
Price and performance hard to knock at the money and don’t forget the scope and mounts are included