By Jay Grazio, Shooting Illustrated
I have mentioned a time or two about my fondness for .22 LR versions of centerfire firearms. These rimfire doppelgangers help guide your shooting of their larger-caliber siblings at a fraction of the cost, and with .22 LR finally starting to appear on shelves with regularity, we might even be able to practice with it once again. We typically see rimfire versions of defensive pistols or conversion kits for AR-15s, but the world of precision riflecraft has been typically under-represented in this field.
Recognizing this niche, two companies known for wildly different facets have joined forces to offer this new rifle. Keystone Arms, best-known for its Crickett line of single-shot .22 LR rifles countless thousands have used to safely introduce children to shooting, has teamed up with American Built Arms (A*B Arms), manufacturer of high-quality, rifle-chassis systems and related parts. The Keystone 722 Precision Trainer with A*B Arms Custom PT Chassis is one result of this new collaboration.
So, why would you want to pick up a rimfire version of an existing centerfire arm? Well, for starters, there’s less recoil, less noise and less cost associated with .22 LR over, say, .45 ACP. With .22 LR starting to stick around on store shelves, it’s more available and affordable as a practice option. We’ve mentioned the availability of rimfire stand-ins for centerfire handguns (both complete firearms and .22 LR slide/barrel combinations), with the PT Trainer there’s now a version for long-range shooters.
Don’t let the chambering fool you, either. While bulk .22 LR may not set the world on fire for accuracy, it’s nothing to sneeze at; as evidenced in the “Shooting Results” section, even bulk fodder yielded near-MOA groups. Should you get serious about competing with a rimfire rifle, more-accurate ammunition is plentiful (albeit not quite as affordable, of course) that will allow you to really test your trigger control and shot placement. While you might not have the reach of a centerfire rifle, that can be countered with smaller targets. Plus, it’s a lot easier to find a 300-yard range than a 1,000-yard facility.
At first glance, the PT Trainer looks like a miniaturized version of, well, most of the current crop of bolt-action chassis rifles. This is, of course, completely intentional; the design of the PT Trainer is intended to draw parallels. Now, obviously it’s much smaller; .22 LR reaches its peak velocity around 16 inches, so additional barrel length only adds weight (which can be a good thing) and sight radius (if shooting with iron sights, clearly not the case here).
With the smaller size comes a smaller bolt throw; here’s an area in which to take extra care. Should you be used to the (ahem) stoutness of a Remington 700 or Savage Model 10 action (or, say, the robust Mosin-Nagant 91/30…), it might be tempting to run the PT Trainer’s bolt with significant enthusiasm. Don’t give in to this temptation. Run it smoothly and it will reward you without failure; run it fast and hard and you’ll jam a .22 LR round faster than you can say, well, bad words.
The A*B Arms Urban Sniper Stock is an unconventional choice, but it works particularly well in this application. Adjustable for cheek height with .75-inch of rise, it’s also adjustable from 10.5 to 13.75 inches for length-of-pull (LOP). Changing the LOP is accomplished using two separate mechanisms. There’s a gross adjustment that uses an Allen wrench to change the stock’s proximity to the receiver, and a push button that makes fine adjustments in .45-inch increments. Collapse the stock to its smallest configuration for transport (or younger shooters) or extend it fully for perfect eye relief. In total, there are 28 different positions available to get the perfect fit.
With three attachment points at the three-, six- and nine-o’clock position at the muzzle end, adding accessories to the MOD*X chassis is simple. Picatinny rail sections are available from American Built Arms, and a simple direct-attachment system secures these sections to the 6061 T6 aluminum, hard-coat anodized chassis. While you probably won’t need more than a bipod attachment for a .22 LR setup, if you want more options the process is simple. A minimalist A*B Arms P*Grip pistol grip rounds out the system, and is interchangeable with most AR-15-style pistol grips should you want to customize your rifle further.
What really stands out with the PT Trainer is just how much fun it is. I had the chance to attend an event with A*B Arms last summer, and a PT Trainer was made available to shooters on the 300-yard range. At the very back of the range was a 6-inch-tall bell that was repeatedly rung using the PT Trainer—one particularly skilled shooter went 14-for-14 with two full magazines hitting the bell without a single miss (Note: That shooter was not your humble author…). The PT Trainer is equally at home punching holes in paper at 25 yards as ringing steel at 300, and will excel at any rimfire-related task you ask of it. If you’re looking for a precision-rifle stand-in—or just an all-around fun little rifle—the PT Trainer from Keystone Sporting Arms and American Built Arms is an excellent choice.