Testing Winchester Wildcat II
The attached photo is of my Winchester Wildcat II which is in fact a TOZ-78 manufactured by the Tula firearms factory in Russia. Winchester has their logo on it but the Tula stampings can be found on the right side of the rifle as well. My first impressions are positive. The big differences between the varmint and sporter model are a heavier target style bull barrel, more substantial beaver-tail styled fore-end, an adjustable trigger and does not come with iron sights. It is heavy, weighing in at 13.5 lbs with bi-pod included.
The front end comes with dual front steel swivel studs that allow attaching a sling for carrying while using the front stud just for your bi-pod alone. I mounted a Harris bi-pod on mine. The barrel crown is very recessed, like the Biathlon Basic and has a semi-match chamber (whatever that means). A distinguishing feature is the Walther KKJ-H inspired magazine/trigger guard assembly.
The bluing is acceptable, not the highly polished deep finish seen on many American rifles/pistols and the stock is also acceptable (the finish is nice and checkering looks good) with perhaps being a bit short (a good recoil pad or spacers would fix that).
The trigger is crisp and set to 4.0 lbs at the factory and can be adjusted with a special tool (counter clockwise to lower and clockwise to increase). I set the trigger to about 3.0 lbs. The adjustment screw is located just in front of the trigger underneath the trigger guard (see photo).
The receiver is grooved and also drilled and taped for scope mounting. Weaver #12 bases matched the drilled and taped holes perfectly. The enclosed mounting hardware with the Weaver bases went in without a problem. I mounted a Mueller 4 x 14 ACP scope with B-Square medium 1 inch height ring mounts. This was sufficient to clear the barrel, however, if iron sights are included higher mounts would be necessary.
The magazines (10-round [3 included] and 5-round [one included]) are made of polymer and perhaps are a little fragile. Only time will tell about their durability and perhaps a metal aftermarket version will show up. The only part of the rifle that appears with hints of rough work would be the bolt (see photo). Very rough looking, however, locks up nicely.
I tested 6 different types of ammunition including (Aguila Match Rifle Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain; RWS Match Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain; Remington Target Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain; Federal Premium Gold Medal Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain Lead UltraMatch; Federal Premium Gold Medal Target Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain Lead and Fiocchi Exacta Rifle Super Match Ammunition 22 Long Rifle 40 Grain) using 5-shot strings at 50 yards.
I should mention that I did not use a sand bag rest for the stock but rather just used my left arm to steady the rifle. The best ammunition for this rifle was Aquila (0.625 inch center to center) [See attached scan of target] followed by RWS (0.825 inch center to center). Both Federal target ammunition provided 1 inch groups. The rifle definitely did not like Remington or Fiocchi ammunition producing 2 inch groups. The magazines worked flawlessly and the bolt functioned nicely. There have been reports of needing to jerk it back to eject. I did not find that problem. For the price it makes for a very fine shooter.