Anschutz 1502 D HB Walnut Classic Beavertail Rifle
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
The Hornady .17 Mach 2 rimfire cartridge has received a considerable amount of ink in the firearms press since its introduction at the 2004 SHOT Show. Here at Guns and Shooting Online we have become so enamored with the .17 HMR that we have, until now, overlooked its little brother, the .17 M2.
This diminutive number is based on a .22 LR Stinger case necked-down to accept the 17 grain V-Max bullet originally designed for the .17 HMR. The catalog muzzle velocity of the 17 grain M2 load is 2100 fps, and the muzzle energy as 166 ft. lbs. That is 450 fps slower than the same bullet launched from a .17 HMR case, but similar to the hotter .22 WMR (.22 Magnum) loads and 460 fps faster than the .22 LR Stinger.
The Mach 2s 100 yard velocity is 1532 fps and the remaining energy is 122 ft. lbs. Using Remington numbers (they offer all of these cartridges), the figures for the M2 are clearly superior to any .22 Long Rifle load, but similar in velocity and very inferior in energy to the .22 WMR. The .17 Mach 2 is, of course, completely outclassed by the larger .17 HMR.
The trajectory of the .17 M2 is almost identical to that of the .22 Magnum, and considerably flatter than any .22 LR load. Remington trajectory figures for a scoped .17 M2 rifle look like this: -1.5" at 0 yards, +0.7" at 50 yards, +/- 0.0" at 100 yards, -4.4" at 150 yards.
The cost of .17 M2 ammunition at my local discount department store is comparable to that of .22 WMR ammo--about $6.00/box of 50 cartridges. That is roughly $2.00 less than a box of .17 HMR cartridges, but six times more expensive than a box of .22 LR High Velocity ammo. Given those prices, the .17 M2 is unlikely to replace the .22 LR as a trainer and short range small game hunting cartridge any time soon. How well it will be able to compete with the equally flat shooting and much more powerful .22 Magnum remains to be seen.
When we decided to make up for lost time and review a rifle in .17 Mach 2 caliber, we decided that we should review the best: Anschutz. Founded in 1856 and still family owned, the Anschutz Company has earned an enviable reputation for producing top quality sporter and target rifles. Anschutz rifles have dominated formal competition at the highest national, international and Olympic levels for 40 years. Our experience with Anschutz products here at Guns and Shooting Online has been very positive.
Accordingly I requested, and in due time we received, a brand new Model 1502 D HB Walnut Classic Beavertail rifle, which is the model on the cover of the 2005 Anschutz catalog. This rifle is from the less expensive Anschutz series built on their Match 64 target rifle action. (Anschutz top of the line sporting rifles are built on the Olympic class M54 target action.) Never the less, the M64 action is a very good one, and the Model 1502 is a very good rifle.
Packaged along with the rifle are a trigger lock, owner's manual, and a test target shot with the individual rifle at 55 yards. The 5-shot group shot with this rifle measured only 3/8" center to center, which pretty much told us how it would shoot before we even took it to the range. Exceptional accuracy, of course, is the foundation of the Anschutz reputation.
Our Model 1502 D HB Walnut Classic Beavertail test rifle features a single stage trigger ("D" in Anschutz code); heavy contour barrel ("HB"); walnut stock ("Walnut") with a classic--that is, straight--comb ("Classic") and a wide ("Beavertail") forearm. Thus, you see how its rather long nomenclature is derived.
The full model name may be a bit long, but the rifle is a sweetheart. This is essentially the varmint rifle version of a Match 64 action based competition rifle.
Here are the basic specifications, taken primarily from the supplied Anschutz Owner's Manual:
The M64 action is CNC machined. The receiver of the Model 1502 is grooved for 3/8" (11mm) tip-off scope mounts, which makes scope mounting both inexpensive and easy. It is also drilled and tapped for conventional scope bases. The top of the receiver is stippled to reduce glare, a nice touch. A cartridge guide, similar to that on the M64 action, aligns each cartridge with the chamber for positive feeding.
The two position safety is at the right rear of the receiver, blocks the trigger, and operates in a conventional manner. Back is "Safe" and forward is "Fire." It reminded us of the safety on a Remington Model 700 centerfire rifle. We found it convenient to use and very positive in operation. Ergonomically, this safety is an improvement over the safety on the Anschutz Match 54 action.
The bolt release is on the left side of the receiver toward the rear. To remove or replace the bolt, press the bolt release forward and pull the trigger all the way back.
The two-piece, cam cocking bolt cocks on opening and the bolt face is recessed. A notch is machined into the bolt face at the "2 o'clock" position to direct escaping powder gasses to the side in the event of a ruptured case, and the rear of the firing pin is fully enclosed by a large steel cap. Dual claws perform the extraction operation, while a fixed ejector knocks out the fired cases.
The bolt handle is brazed to the bolt body, and a large, square lug at the base of the handle locks into a matching cut in the receiver to lock the bolt closed. The bolt head does not rotate when the action is opened or closed. The curved bolt handle protrudes far enough for easy grasping by adult hands, and the bolt knob is smooth and round.
In its basic design and operation, the M64 action is little different from many other modern rimfire bolt actions. What separates it from similar actions is Anschutz's attention to detail, the precision with which it is manufactured, and the smoothness with which it operates. Cycle the bolt of a Model 1502 rifle just once and you know that this is no ordinary action.
The detachable box magazine falls freely from the rifle when the release button, located immediately the magazine well, is pressed forward. This magazine is formed from heavy gauge sheet steel and uses a red plastic magazine follower and a black plastic magazine floor plate that protrudes just far enough below the receiver to provide finger purchase to aid removal. It fits tight, feeds with 100% reliability, and is clearly a top quality magazine.
The single stage (#5094), target quality trigger is fully user adjustable, and the instruction manual provides detailed adjustment instructions. The adjustment range is 2 to 4.4 pounds. This is the same trigger used in the Model 1903 target rifle. Right out of the box the test rifle's trigger released at a clean 2.6 pounds. We agreed that it was perfect as adjusted at the factory and left it alone. Let's see now, what was the last rifle we reviewed that we could say that about? Oh, yes, it was . . . an Anschutz 1717 D!
The trigger itself is of medium width, has a curved face, and is grooved. The trigger guard and bottom iron is formed from heavy gauge sheet steel, nicely polished and blued. But, no matter what, a sheet steel trigger guard looks like a sheet steel trigger guard. This example, although one of the best of its type, is the most obvious indication that this is rifle was built to a lower price point than the deluxe Anschutz rifles based on the M54 action.
The free floating, target grade barrel features a target crown. It measures a hefty .75" in diameter at the muzzle. Inside, it is precision chambered and button rifled with 8-grooves, the same as an Anschutz Olympic competition rifle. The barrel finish is a standard polished blue.
The stock is European thin shell walnut with moderate figure. It has a straight, fluted comb, a rather tight pistol grip that positions the trigger finger in the correct place, and a wide beavertail (or target) forearm. The forearm is nicely shaped, comfortable to hold, and flat on the bottom to assist shooting from a rest. The pistol grip is hand checkered in a generous point pattern, but not the forearm. The stock finish is a silken matte that protects and completely fills the pores of the wood. The grooved butt plate is a hard, black polymer. Altogether, it is a well designed varmint rifle stock, and an attractive example of the type.
The action is very precisely hand bedded into the stock, and the channel for the free floating barrel appears perfectly uniform. A rifle could not perform as this one does if the stock were indifferently fitted to the barreled action. On the other hand, the inletting around the trigger guard and bottom iron--which is only of cosmetic importance--was only average. The wood was left proud all around, and there is a gap at the very back of the trigger guard's attenuated tang.
So much for the physical description. What's it like to shoot an Anschutz Model 1502 rifle? In a word, great! The comfortable stock, ergonomic bolt handle, smooth operating action and slick magazine are all big plusses. The wide, flat forearm and heavy barrel put the weight forward, where it should be on a varmint rifle. This is an easy rifle to shoot accurately from a rest. And, exceptional accuracy is practically a given with an Anschutz rifle. But the most important factor, the one that makes it possible to take advantage of that intrinsic accuracy, is the splendid trigger.
Almost any experienced marksman will tell you that, from the standpoint of accurate shooting, the trigger is the single most important part of any rifle. Yet, due to the influence of tort lawyers and liberal judges, since the 1980s triggers have gotten worse and worse on production rifles. Very few manufacturers pay adequate attention to the trigger pull of the rifles they sell.
Fortunately, Anschutz is one of the rare exceptions. The trigger in this 1502 rifle is absolutely first class. We all praised this rifle's clean, light trigger at the range. It doesn't make the rifle intrinsically more accurate, but it makes it much easier to shoot the rifle accurately. Add a great trigger to all the other pleasing features of this rifle and there is only one way to describe our experience at the range: Fun!
Guns and Shooting Online staffers Rocky Hays, Bob Fleck, and I did the shooting. As usual, we did our test firing at the Izaak Walton Rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. This facility offers covered shooting positions and solid shooting benches. 25, 50, 100, and 200 yard target distances are available. The weather when we took the Anschutz 1502 D HB rifle to the range was chilly and overcast, with a high of about 45 degrees F. The wind was negligible, an important factor when shooting any .17 M2 caliber rifle.
I had fitted a fine Sightron 3-9x36mm AO scope in Simmons tip-off rings to the Anschutz rifle and bore sighted the rig at home using my Bushnell magnetic boresighter. When we got to the rifle range, it took only two shots at a 25 yard target to "walk" the second bullet into the "X" ring. At that point we moved back to 100 yards to shoot some groups for record.
For that we used a Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest weighted with a 25 pound bag of shot. The little M2 cartridge is exceptionally quiet and has practically no recoil, making it a very pleasant round to shoot from the bench.
We each fired three 5-shot groups for record at Outer's Score Keeper targets at 100 yards, for a total of 45 shots by three shooters. All shooting was done with Hornady .17 Mach 2 ammunition using a 17 grain V-Max bullet at an advertised muzzle velocity of 2100 fps. This time out Bob was responsible for both the smallest and largest groups, while Rocky and I were pretty consistent in the middle range. Here are the results, measured center to center:
Needless to say, those are very good results, particularly considering that only one brand of ammunition was available for testing. Note that our best group was a little better (in MOA terms) than the Anschutz test group included with the rifle and our average a little worse. Our conclusion is that the Anschutz targets provided with their rifles are an accurate indication of the performance of the rifles.
Operationally, we found that the magazine was relatively easy to load given the small size of the .17 M2 cartridge. And the loading/ejection port is big enough to allow cartridges to be single loaded directly into the chamber, although the .17 M2 cartridges themselves are small and easy to fumble. The bolt handle sticks out from the right side of the rifle far enough to be very convenient to operate. For whatever reason, most rimfire bolt actions are remiss in this area, but not the Anschutz. Overall, the ergonomics of the 1502 D HB Classic Beavertail are excellent from the shooter's point of view.
One observation is that the bolt must be operated smartly for the fixed extractor to completely eject the fired case. If the bolt is operated slowly, the case will usually not clear the ejection port.
In conclusion, it is our considered opinion that the Anschutz 1502 D HB Walnut Classic Beavertail represents a fine value in today's market. Yes, it is a relatively high priced rimfire (compared to the bargain rifles in the racks at Wally-World), but it is a much higher quality product that will prove to be a lifetime investment. In fact, you are getting a great deal of rifle when you buy an Anschutz 1502, more quality and sophistication than can generally be had for around $800 in the year 2005. And that is the real definition of a "good deal": getting more than you paid for.
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2005, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.