Browning SA-22 Takedown Review

Browning SA-22

The Browning Semi Auto 22, sometimes called the SA-22, was first produced in 1914 and is still in production today. It looks a bit odd in person and in photos because of some strange dimensions. The bottom eject receiver is oddly small, but it turns out to be a great balance point to hold the rifle at while walking through the woods. The forend is also oddly proportioned, and horizontally kind of chubby. This review is going to be short, because I consider this rifle to be either a personal, I-had-one-as-a-kid, kind of a purchase, or one where someone is buying it because it’s a classic. The Browning SA22 goes for about $600 in the US.


The trigger on this unit was passable for a 22, the crossbolt safety was conveniently in the front of the trigger guard, and the bottom charging handle is very conveniently racked. Reloading is slightly more safe than a front tube style one because it reduces the possibility of having the muzzle pointed at your hand. The reloading chute is somewhat well suited for “pocket full of 22” reloading. 11 rounds slide their way down through the feed port to fully reload the rifle.

Actually shooting the thing, I disliked the sights. The rear folding sight is a bit too big for my tastes and you need to buy a $90 cantilever mount to get a scope or other optic mounted. Some people have fabricated peep style sights for the rear to get a bit more precision out of them. In any case, adding scope mounts and the like is getting away from the intended use of this rifle.

Reliability was 100% using a variety of bulk 22 LR.

The takedown mechanism isn’t awful, but still stands for some improvement as the knurled barrel nut thing can loosen with shooting. It’s still pretty cool that a tube-mag style semi-automatic rimfire can break down like the Browning SA-22 can.

Who Shouldn’t Buy a Browning Semi Automatic 22?

If you’re looking to mount a scope, reload quickly, require more precision, or if you want something more up-to-date, I wouldn’t look into the SA-22. They’re expensive, as far as 22’s go, and you’re mostly paying for the brand, fit and finish, and nostalgia. I struggled to find a use for this rimfire, because I have options that are faster shooting (Marlin 795 with a red dot), and more accurate (bolt action 22 with scope).

But for those who enjoy a simple approach of filling a pocket with 22 shells, grabbing a rifle and heading out into the field, the SA22 might be the one to take.

  • Phil Yeager

    Although I respect this writers opinions, I disagree on a number of points. I have a Belgium grade I and love it. I think the dimensions and balance of this rifle are great. It feels better in the hands than any other .22 that I have shot.nI like the iron sights on this rifle. Mine has the elevation adjusting wheel rear site, and I find it very accurate. Very comparable to my beloved M-14 that I carried in Vietnam. As far as scopes; I’ve always thought it was ridiculous to mount a scope on a .22, as the rifle is best used for small game at under 100 yds. No need for a scope. nI do agree that the cost is high compared to other .22, but in my opinion, well worth it. I think this rifle is great for the field, and the timeless design still performs well. If you want to rapid fire plink, then you should probably go with a magazine fed 10/22. If you want a classic, accurate .22 rabbit gun, you can’t go wrong with this browning.

  • some guy

    Hey! My dad’s got one of these built in…I’m guessing the mid ’40’s! Looks a little different as it doesn’t have any of the fancy checkering and the fore end is about 1/4 of the size. The wood is super-old but still looks good (no varnish, just some linseed oil rubbed in) and the metal has a “brown” look to it, but not rust. If I can get my brother to send me a photo, it is okay if I post it on the website?

  • Zbigniew

    In my opinion, this is the ultimate .22 small game rifle. It’s a classic firearm, extremely well designed and built using steel and wood.

    It’s at its best in the hunting field, being shot at game while standing offhand. If all a person ever does is shoot off a bench at a range, there are any number of guns that are better for that purpose. But none are better in the field and not many even come close.

  • Doctor Fine

    The Browning SA 22 is so special. First it comes apart in two pieces. Second it is the fastest pointing quick snap shot gun I have personally ever held.
    Do yourself a favor when shooting it. Use a totally “open sighted” technique when shooting this thing. It points so naturally just like a shotgun. All you have to do is look down the barrel to the front sight and BINGO it is ON TARGET.
    First adjust the fold down rear sight to perfection on sandbags. Then take a good look down the barrel using the rear and front sights and aim at the bullseye. Then FOLD DOWN the rear sight and you will reveal a lot of daylight UNDER the gold bead at the front. Notice the amount and the shape of the exposed entire front sight with it perfectly airmed.
    From now on you can SHOOT IT WITH THE REAR SIGHT FOLDED DOWN OUT OF THE WAY. Just make sure you are getting the “correct” amount of front sight to show as before AND YOU ARE ON THE BULLSEYE AND CAN ALSO SEE THE ENTIRE SIGHT PICTURE WITHOUT THE REAR SIGHT IN THE WAY.
    Using this technique really puts the natural poi9nting ability of this gun into the forefront. If you can SEE something. You can HIT something. Point. Shoot. Hit.
    Wow. No other gun has this much of a pointer quality. NONE.
    This is what the SA 22 Browning does for ME. YMMV.

  • Scott Campbell

    Well! Old stories of shooting near John’s Pass and army depot round Don Ce’sar. Say’s no short .22 so used long .22, WW II. Anywho spring on .22 number 35333 jams 2 into loading, so single shot not 15 tube. The lock ring spring and latch also gone away!

    Still a class act with a nob at the forearm. Fine looking.

  • Dick Rickley

    People who don’t like scopes on .22 can generally see quite well. Try to respect the fact that others may not see as well and a scope is the difference between hitting and missing.

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