Recently, I’ve done two ammo tests using my faithful Marlin 880 SQ .22 rifle, and while the gun is still more accurate than I can shoot it, I’m not happy with the trigger. The fact is that lately I’ve been spoiled by shooting some rifles with incredible triggers, and by comparison, the 880’s trigger is crap: lots of creep, inconsistent take-up, and sometimes a little grit when it releases. I’ve taken the trigger group apart and cleaned it thoroughly, so it’s not that: it’s just not a good trigger, and the gun isn’t worth spending money with a gunsmith who may or may not be able to improve it.
So I think I’m going to put the 880SQ into honorable retirement, and look out for a decent .22 rifle over the next year or so. I have a couple rifles on the short list — unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on a match-grade one, nor do I actually want to get into that arena again — but my standards are nevertheless quite high and I do have some idea what I’m looking for.
My #1 choice is probably the Savage Mark II BV, and it has good reviews (like this one). It is kinda ugly, though it does have Savage’s sublime AccuTrigger:
My #1a choice might just be the slightly more expensive CZ 455 Lux model, because even though it doesn’t have a set trigger or heavy barrel, it is so beautiful I want it to bear my children:
I also like that it has iron sights for those “Oh shit, I just broke my scope!” situations.
As for a scope, I’m not too bothered; I have several I could use, but if I have enough room in the budget to buy a new one, I’ll probably get a Weaver RV9 3-9x32mm (+/- $250) or my old favorite, the Leupold VX-I 4x28mm (+/- $200). I’ve owned both in my time, and they’re excellent.
All suggestions and personal experiences on the above topic in Comments. Please don’t suggest any of the super-premium rifles like Anschutz because as I said, I don’t want to bench-rest it and I’m not going to drop over a grand on a plinker.