B.Mag rifle handles .17 caliber ammo

Centerfire performance in a rimfire package." Is that even possible?

Bill Dermody, marketing manager for Savage Arms, thinks so and used those very words to describe his company's newest rimfire rifle during its unveiling at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in January. Labeled the B.Mag, this rifle is chambered for Winchester's new go-fast rifle ammunition, the .17 Win Super Magnum. This round uses a .27 caliber case necked down to hold a .17 caliber cartridge and, as I mentioned in my previous column, will send a 20-grain bullet downrange at 3,000 feet per second.

"To shoot a cartridge that hot we need something a little bit different than your standard rimfire. So we've incorporated some centerfire features into this rimfire gun," Dermody said.

Those features include a compact action with a cock-on-close bolt rather than the traditional cock-on-open approach, rear locking lugs, a thread-in barrel headspacing system and the company's adjustable AccuTrigger system. To store and feed its ammunition, the rifle uses a removable eight-round rotary magazine that somewhat resembles that used in a Ruger 10-22. The B.Mag comes with a synthetic stock fitted with a rubber butt pad and weighs less than 4.5 pounds.

Though I did not have the opportunity to test fire this rifle, I did give it a good look on the SHOT Show floor.

Overall I was pleased, but the one thing I didn't like - and this is simply a matter of personal preference - was the extra play that seemed inherent in the bolt. Though it operated just fine, and locked down tight when closed, the bolt felt a little loose when open and didn't feel remarkably smooth. That said, none of the dealers who picked up the rifle, while I hung around and eavesdropped, seemed to notice.

The B.Mag should reach the market in the second quarter of this year and carry a price tag around $350.

For you shotgun fans, Winchester introduced a new product based on the popular AA shotshell. Called the AA TrAAcker, this shotshell uses a new wad designed to track in the center the shot pattern and thus reveal the flight path of the shot group. By so doing, this helps a shooter struggling to hit a flying target to actually see where they missed - in front, behind, under or over the target.

The shotshell comes in two flavors, one with a bright orange wad for low-light conditions and the other with a black wad for those days when lighting conditions are a little brighter. To stabilize the wad in flight, Winchester developed a shot-trap design. In other words, the wad is designed to trap and retain some of the shot so it has the mass necessary to carry over distance. In addition, the wad uses dove-tail petals to spin-stabilize the wad.

So I could get a better feel for the TrAAcker, the product demonstrator asked me to miss my first two shots at clay targets thrown for demonstration purposes. The first I missed by shooting behind the target, and the second shot was in front. I had no problem seeing exactly where I missed.

For the new shooter, for someone who is teaching a new shooter, or for an experienced shooter who just seems to be off his game, the TrAAcker could be a valuable teaching or training aid because you won't have to struggle to find the wad in flight. It stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

By seeing the wad, a new shooter more easily will understand the adjustments he needs to make to hit the target. This also will make the teaching process less frustrating for parents or coaches.

The only time the wad is difficult to see is when the shot string hits the center of the target because the wad does too.

Even if you are shooting well, the TrAAcker can help to improve your performance by showing the small adjustments needed to get a more solid hit on the target.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His "In the Outdoors" column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.