Following up on last weeks post on the key features and characteristics of a biathlon rifle, This post lays out several of the available options for Biathlon rifles that are available in the US today. We’ll start at the bottom, with the least expensive, entry level options, and work our way up.
- Savage MKII: this is a cheap but accurate .22lr bolt action rifle that uses 5 round magazines and can be outfitted with various biathlon accessories to make a race ready rifle. At a minimum, you would want one fitted with a “peep” style rear sight and globe style front sight. Savage rifles are well known for amazingly good out of the box accuracy for their price point. That said, they are still inexpensive, and the fit, finish and quality of magazines and other components can leave some to be desired. In addition, competitive athletes may find themselves limited by the relatively stiff traditional bolt action fairly quickly. In the end, these rifles offer a budget starting point to get into the sport. There are a few tiers at which you could get one of these rifles:
- Savage MKII FVT. ~$450: basic rifle with peep sights. This is the bare minimum to get in practical biathlon shooting practice. The sights that come with these rifles are functional, but are prone to coming loose, difficult to adjust precisely, and do not have snow covers. The basic stock doesn’t accommodate a carrying harness or a holder for your extra magazines. These rifles are great for introducing young kids or novice shooters to the basic fundamentals, but not much else beyond that. They can however be upgraded to one of the next two options to get more biathlon utility out of them as a biathlete grow in the sport.
- Savage MKII FV + Lost Nation Sight set. ~$600: This is the same rifle as above but with a really nice biathlon sight set.
- Savage MKII FV + Lost Nation Sights & VBS Stock. ~$1300: this is again the same rifle but with good sights, our adjustable stock with magazine holder, and carrying harness. Probably the cheapest “race ready” biathlon rifle available. Great for getting started or recreational-level biathlon. Build your own rifle like this here.
CZ 457: This is a slightly more expensive bolt action .22lr made in the Czech Republic that we now offer with all the same biathlon accessories as the Savage. They have a much smoother and easier to actuate bolt from the factory, can accept aftermarket triggers and barrels, and generally have much better fit, finish, and build quality than the Savage. They are still a traditional turn bolt rifle, making them a little slower and less user friendly for biathlon shooting than an Anschutz or Izhmash, but a great option for a novice or recreational athlete. Like the savage there are a couple tiers on which one can get into these rifles:
- CZ 457 MTR Varmint rifle + Lost Nation Sight Set. ~$960. This setup has a sporter style wood stock and heavy barreled action. When fitted with our biathlon sight set this can be a good rifle for learning the fundamentals of biathlon marksmanship. The basic stock doesn’t accommodate a carrying harness or a holder for your extra magazines. These rifles are great for introducing young kids or novice shooters to the basic fundamentals. can be upgraded with our VBS stock later.
- CZ 457 MTR Lost Nation Rifle Build. ~$1600. We build biathlon packages using the 457 MTR barreled action, our VBS stock, and biathlon sight set. Our adjustable stock includes a magazine holder, and can accommodate a carrying harness and all accessories needed for racing. Great for getting started or recreational-level biathlon. Build your own rifle like this here.
Izhmash 7-2, 7-3, or 7-4.
- 7-3 and 7-4. These are purpose built for biathlon, and have a toggle style, straight pull bolt action, somewhat similar to an Anschutz. They’re made in Russia, and haven’t been available for new purchase in the US for years due to various embargos (don’t see that changing anytime soon). They can be found used occasionally for $2000-$3500. These rifles came fully outfitted for biathlon, but often can benefit from some updating and re-accessorizing. Spare parts and magazines can be hard to find. Our VBS stock and biathlon sights make great upgrades to modernize these rifles.
- 7-2. This was the hunting/sporting version of the Izhmash biathlon rifle. It features the same biathlon action and barrel as the 7-3 and 7-4, but came on a more traditional hunting style stock, and without any biathlon specific accessories. These can be found used at online auction sites for around $1k and upgraded with our biathlon stock and sights to make a decent biathlon rifle for around $2000. Spare parts and magazines can be hard to find.
- Anschutz 1827 Fortner: This is the high end, true purpose built biathlon rifle. These rifles have the slick straight-pull bolt action designed and built by Peter Fortner in Germany, and are designed to perform well in the cold. You can read more about the merits of the Fortner action, in our previous post. They can be had with factory stocks and accessories or with aftermarket accessories (such as the rifle packages we sell) for around $5000-$6000+. These rifles hold their value well, with 10-20 year old used models often going for $2500-$3500 if you can find them. These rifles are expensive, but they can be thought of as an investment. Buy one for a young athlete now and they could go on to race in the Olympics in 15 years with this same rifle! or you could resell it in 5 years and it will hold much of its value.