Rimfire Silhouette Basics
As shooters seek less expensive ways to shoot, rimfire competition of all types is becoming more popular. Silhouette shooting is fun because you get to knock down small steel targets, just like in a shooting gallery at a County Fair. But don’t let anyone suggest Silhouette is easy. All shots are taken from the standing position. If you haven’t tried that recently, you’ll find that your crosshairs will be dancing all around the target.
At an official match, you’ll shoot at least 40 shots, ten each at four sets of 1/5th size standard High Power Rifle Silhouette targets. The smallest targets, the chickens, are set at 40 yards, Pigs are at 60 yards, Turkeys are at 77 yards, and Rams are at 100 yards. (Alternatively, metric distances are used.) Though the rams are the largest targets, hitting them is far from easy, given the ballistics of 22 rimfire ammo. At 100 yards, a little bit of wind will blow you off the target.
Two classes of rifles are used in Rimfire Silhouette: Standard and Hunter Class. Standard rifles can weigh up to 10 pounds, 2 oz. (with sights) and have no restriction on trigger pull weight. The fore-end shall not exceed 2 1/4″ wide, and 2 1/4″ deep measured from the centerline of the bore. Bull barrels are common, and the gun of choice is the Anschutz 54.18 MS (Metallic Silhouette) or 1808 (thumbhole version of the 54.18). A 54.18, if you can find one, will set you back $1200.00 – $1700 depending on condition. The 54:18 is in limited production and even good used models are hard to find.
Hunter Class rifles must have a more conventional “sporter-style” stock, typically with a narrow fore-end. A high comb is used to provide a good cheek weld. Hunter Class Rifles are limited to 8.5 pounds (with scope), and the trigger pull weight shall not be less than 2 pounds. No bull barrels are allowed — you must use a conventional tapered hunting barrel. Among production rifles, the Anschutz 1712 is the rifle to beat. These guns are very accurate out of the box, and come with an outstanding two-stage trigger that breaks cleanly right at two pounds. Kimber and CZ also make factory silhouette rifles for the Hunter Class. Though not on a par with the Anschutz 1712, the Kimber and CZ are viable options for novices or shooters on a tight budget.
Many top silhouette shooters like Mark Pharr will shoot the lighter Hunter rifle in both classes. Pharr and others have found that accurized Hunter Class guns can be competitive even against the heavier guns. While a stock Anschutz 1712 Hunter is impressive, many competitors will hot-rod their gun, putting a 1710 or 1712 action in a Mark Pharr-designed stock. They will then add a match barrel from Lilja, Shilen or other top barrel maker. Shown below is an Anschutz 1712 action in Pharr stock.