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Winchester Wildcat Brings Polymer Rimfires into the Modern Era

Winchester Wildcat 22 Review

The Winchester Wildcat 22 brings the classic .22 autoloader into the 21st century.

You could name any of the several firearms advances as the most significant in the last 50 years: large-­capacity magazines, very low drag bullets, red-­dot sights, but really there’s only one choice. It’s injection-­molding.

It doesn’t sound sexy, but the process of injecting hot plastic into a mold to make parts has changed guns more than anything since smokeless powder. Synthetic materials such as Bakelite and Tenite had been used for stocks since the 1940s, but those parts were mere additions to guns that were almost entirely steel. The plastic furniture of the M16/AR-­15 provided a place to grasp an assembly of aluminum and steel.

The Remington Nylon 66, introduced in 1959, was a preview of the future with steel parts moving inside a stock-­receiver combination made of nylon, a DuPont product at a time when the chemical giant owned Remington. In the late 1970s, guns like the HK VP70 and Steyr AUG showed that the very structure of a gun could be injection-­molded, and the deal was sealed in ’80s with arrival of Glock pistols featuring a ­polymer grip frame.

The question for today’s firearm designers is: What parts have to be made of aluminum or steel? If they don’t need to be, they’re going to be injection-­molded. The result is guns that cost less in constant dollars than they did 50 years ago; guns that are more durable and rust-­resistant, and guns that are often surprisingly accurate.


Posted by George Freund on December 13, 2020 at 9:56 PM 89 Views