Norinco JW-20 Review (Copy of Browning SA-22)

Just recently, I reviewed the Savage 64 Takedown and some viewers rightfully called me out that it wasn’t the cheapest takedown 22 in Canada. That honor is currently held by the Norinco JW-20, a $180 copy of the Browning SA-22. So, I took the logical next step and bought one for review.

I believe that the current Norinco JW-20’s we’re seeing in Canada were originally made in the 90’s for export to the US and ended up with us since the US has not lifted their mid-90’s ban on Chinese firearms. The JW-20 user’s manual is ancient with rusty staples holding it together and the rifles were bagged and preserved in thick oil. That all said, they’re pretty cheap, with Cabela’s selling them for $189, which is where I bought this one.

Using the Norinco JW-20

Pull back on the magazine inner from the buttstock until you reach the stop (or it comes completely out), then start feeding rounds into the side port on the stock. It’ll take 11 rounds and you’ll know when you’re at 12 because the round will poke out the hole instead of sliding inside. Rack the bolt charging handle on the bottom of the receiver and you’re loaded and ready to go. The bolt will not lock open after the last round, so you’ll know when you’re empty by hearing a “click” instead of a bang.

The crossbolt safety is just in front of the trigger. The trigger itself is fairly long, VERY spongy, but light enough at 4lbs.

New rounds are fed into the top of the bolt mechanism while empty shells are ejected downwards. Some shooters wearing long sleeve shirts might have hot brass run down their sleeve if their hand is in the wrong place. I had 2 failures to fire when I was out shooting in -15C weather, but it runs well otherwise.

The rear sights use a sliding shutter to adjust for elevation, similar to the rear sight on the Ruger 10/22. Can’t say I’m a fan, but I did like the tight cheek weld when using the iron sights.

The rifle is 5.1lbs and it comes with a threaded muzzle, which is pretty useless for Canada.

Takedown Mechanism

To takedown the JW-20, you push the takedown lock up, pull the bolt back, and rotate the two sections apart. Make sure you do not hang on to the stock as you turn the two sections together as the wood nearest the receiver is a weak point and will crack if you subject it to too much stress.

The takedown mechanism works really well once you’ve adjusted the takedown nut appropriately. The takedown/barrel nut has to be adjusted when the barrel is off the rifle, little bits at a time, until the turn in is nice and tight. This is demonstrated in the video review on YouTube. If you adjust the nut when the barrel is on the rifle, you’ll never get it tight enough and it’ll be wobbly and inaccurate.

JW-20 Modifications

If you bought yours from new, completely disassemble and clean ALL the packing oil out of the gun. I completely disassemble my Norinco JW-20 in the video, so just follow along with me. After cleaning, re-oil or grease or whatever you usually do. If in doubt, Hoppe’s No 9 oil.

If you’re mildly handy, there are 2 small modifications I’d recommend for this rifle:

  1. Filing the edge off the receiver bottom where your hand runs across it when charging the rifle. The edges here are sharp enough to be uncomfortable, and a quick touchup with a file will knock off the edge.
  2. Smooth the transition on the takedown lock. The takedown lock on mine was extremely gritty because the pocket and detent were really rough. You can either run the takedown lock back and forth a bunch of times, or lightly polish the transition in the pocket where the detent goes. I opted for polishing it. This makes the detent a LOT nicer to use. Don’t go nuts here.
you just need to break the sharp edge here for it to be nicer
The transition between the dip and shelf can be smoothed for easier operation, don’t go too far

There is a cantilever Browning scope mount available for this rifle, but at $69, I don’t think it’s a great fit for this rifle. There’s also a $24 Leupold mount and $12 Weaver mount that are better choices for a $189 rifle. Or just use the irons like Browning intended!

Conclusion

To end things off, I thought it’d be interesting to compare the Savage 64 takedown vs the Norinco JW-20. They’re both 22LR takedowns in the same price range, one holds 10 while the other holds 11 shells, and they’re both kinda roughly finished. They both have similar trigger pull weights (4 lbs), the risk of unreliability is present for both, the Savage is a half pound lighter. I’d say if you’re not mechanically inclined and need to rely on a warranty, the Savage is the better bet. If you can touch up a few small things, and you like the aesthetic of the wood on the JW-20, it’s a nicer looking gun.

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