The Marlin XT-22: A Budget Bolt-Action Go-To Plinker
There is little more satisfying than hitting the range with a bolt-action rimfire rifle, and this Marlin XT-22 has clocked in regularly for the past six years.
First introduced in 2011, Marlin’s XT series replaced the company’s legacy North Haven, Connecticut-made “JM” Model 925. Debuted after Remington picked up the company, the XT added the Pro-Fire adjustable trigger– which is user tunable from 6 to 3-pounds — as well as a new stock design that replaced the old checkering seen on Marlin’s legacy rifles with a palm swell and lightly textured grip areas.
A “Mayfield Marlin,” my personal XT-22 (when chambered in .17 HMR it is the XT-17) was produced in Remington’s Kentucky plant in 2013. Currently, the Slickguns are made in Huntsville, Alabama at Big Green’s mega-plant in Rocket City.
As a personal confession, no matter what I have in the Slickgun safe, this humble $200~ rimfire probably gets more use than any other firearm I own. It is just flat-out pleasing to shoot and it gets a workout at least once a month in regular trips to the range. There is just nothing like sitting at the bench and zapping tiny circles at the 50 to 100-yard mark while zoning out and letting the stress melt away. It’s a good thing. Lead therapy, if you will.
This budget MOA rifle has an ordnance grade steel 22-inch Micro-Grooved barrel with a 1:16 twist and is exceptionally accurate, especially for the money. I find it shoots most loads, even bulk rounds like Blazer 40 grain (which is back down to $21 for 500) to well under an inch at 50 yards and within an inch at 100 provided you are trying and shooting from a bench using a solid rest. This could surely be dialed in more with match ammo like Eley or Lapua. Moreover, it shoots consistently, which is saying something as .22 ammo, in general, is consistently inconsistent.
Very lightweight, the synthetic stock has a full pistol grip and molded in swivels. When it comes to weight, you are looking at a rifle in the 5-pound range. When equipped with an entry-level Simmons 3-9x40mm scope, 1-inch Weaver rings, a paracord sling, loaded mag and a suppressor, it still comes in at well under 7 pounds.
The Slickgun is packable all day and gets a lot of use around camp during the fall as everyone at some point seems to take it for a spin, especially when a can is attached.
Speaking of suppressors, the variant I have is the XT-22RZ, which is still in production and readily available, and comes with a factory threaded barrel with a 1x28TPI pitch. When I first bought mine, there were only about 25 states that allowed hunting with suppressors, and now there are 40 with over a million “silencers” in circulation.
Pundits preach the use of suppressors for hearing protection and safety, and I can get on board with that as I have carried tinnitus around with me for years, but even if you set those really good reasons aside, shooting a suppressed rimfire bolt Slickgun is just big-time fun. Even if you ditch the can and substitute subsonic loads like Aquila’s SubSonicSniper, you can still enjoy quiet time without a tax stamp.
While some models come with simple leaf-style iron sights, this one did not but did ship with a Marlin-supplied scope mount while the receiver is factory drilled and tapped. The $40 Simmons 8-Point suits it well but could use higher rings as the bolt only clears the eyepiece by a few millimeters.
The rifle uses the same 7-round single stack detachable magazine that Marlin has had in circulation for decades and they are readily available.
Marlin’s 10-round autoloader mags also fit, or you can utilize a single shot adapter sled for less than the price of a Happy Meal. The latter can really help when using the XT-22 as a training rifle for new shooters. For those who prefer a more Model 60 style tubular mag, there is a different XT-22 model with that feature.
For those who prefer wood furniture, Marlin makes an XT-22 in that version as well.
When it comes to the XT-22 after years of shooting this one, I can tell you that disassembly and cleaning — vital in a Slickgun that eats lots of unjacketed lead ammo– is easy. Also, in the easy column is trigger adjustment and mounting optics or accessories. Extra mags are only like $12 and can usually be found locally for instant enjoyment. On the downside, the bolt was kind of crunchy for the first few boxes but that soon worked itself out.
Unless you want to get into CZ or even Anschutz money, the XT-22 will serve most needs with accuracy to spare.
For more, check out the product listing for the XT-22 and other Marlin firearms inside the Slickguns.com Vault and collection of Certified Used Slickguns.
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