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Biathlon rifles

 A Biathlon rifle is essentially a target rifle but with some important modifications to make it suitable for competing in the snow.

 

These are the crucial elements;

  1. 22 calibre

  2. The rifle needs to carry 4 x 5 round magazines

  3. Fixed sight – the sights can’t be magnified

  4. Snow sights – this prevents snow from going into sights if you fall or if it is snowing.

  5. A block for the standing position

  6. Hand-stop

  7. Strap for arm band

  8. Straight pull/push action (not compulsory)

  9. Straps to carry the rifle on your back

  10. Module to hold extra single rounds

  11. Blinder (optional)

  12. Minimum weight is 3.49kg

  13. Minimum trigger pull is 500 g.

 

There are really only three options; Anschutz, Savage and Izhmash.

Savage MKII FVT

The Savage MKII are not commonly used in Australia but they are used in North America as a cheaper option. The main disadvantage is that they have the classic bolt action i.e. you push the bolt forward and then have to push it down before firing. This bolt action is a touch slower but the real difference is that it disturbs the rifle more than the straight pull/push motion. The rifle themselves cost about A$500 and by spending around $1300 for a biathlon stock, US$255 for Airforce sights and accessories you have the most cost effective option available. You will need to assemble everything yourself or find someone to do it for you.

Stocks and sights can be ordered from Eastern Sierra Armoury in the USA http://www.easternsierraarmory.com/blog/

 

Anschutz

The Anschutz 1827 biathlon rifle is the most popular option, and is used by 95% of professional biathletes. Not surprisingly it is the most expensive option, but it also has the best resale value. The Anschutz has a straight-pull bolt action whereby you can close the bolt with your thumb and pull it open straight back. They are reliable and accurate.

When you buy an Anschutz Biathlon rifle it comes out of the box with the stock, rails, magazine holders and other accessories you need. The harness, sling, armband and sights are often not included. The rifle sells for approximately A$4,250 plus accessories.

Anschutz can be purchased from Potter Firearms in Victoria http://potfire.com.au/new-anschutz-rifles/anschutz-biathlon-rifles-and-accessories.html           

Izhmash

Izhmash is a Russian Biathlon rifle and is a good value option. Similar to the Anschutz it has a direct bolt action. It can be ordered as a Biathlon model which includes a biathlon stock and some accessories. The price is approximately $2000. Unfortunately, since the Russian invasion of the Ukraine there is an embargo and they can no longer be imported.

Rifle Stock

Depending on which rifle you buy it may not have a stock suitable for Biathlon. The essential elements of a biathlon stock are the check piece, blocks to allow you to shoot from a standing position and space to allow the mounting of accessories.

 

Accessories

The rifle will rarely come with everything you need so you will need to buy a number of accessories to get your rifle ready for competition. Check what accessories come with your rifle.

  1. 4 x 5 round magazines

  2. Magazine holders to carry 4 magazines

  3. Sights (front and rear)– these need to be non-magnified.

  4. Snow sights covers – this prevents snow from going into sights if you fall or if it is snowing.

  5. Blocks to be able to shoot from the standing position

  6. Hand-stop

  7. Strap for arm band

  8. Arm band

  9. Straps to carry it on your back

  10. Module to hold extra single rounds

  11. Blinder (optional)

  12. Rail for the back straps.

 

Many of the accessories can be purchased directly from Larsen’s website.  http://www.larsenbiathlon.com/store/ or Potter Firearms.

What else to consider when ordering a Rifle

  • Biathlon rifles are sold in low volume so they are rarely in stock. You may need to order 6 months in advance.

  • Buying a rifle yourself from overseas is a massive hassle. It requires lots of paperwork and can result in unexpected costs which can reduce any saving you might have made. It is much easier to buy through a local dealer.

  • You must have a current firearms license and a Right to Acquire before you can purchase a firearm. This is obtained from the Police.

 

Juniors

Most rifles stocks come in junior sizes. They have a reduced grip size and shorter stock length for shorter arms.

  • You must be over 18 to be able to own a rifle. This means parents children will need to get a firearms license and own the rifle.

 

Women

Some of the rifles come in sizes to suit women.

If you are left handed.

Most rifles have the option of a left handed model. With these rifles the round is ejected on the left side instead of into your face!

What can I do in the interim?

If you are starting out there is nothing wrong with using a club target shooting rifle. It will teach the basics of marksmanship. However you won’t be able to use it in biathlon competition as they do not have a harness. They can be heavy to use when shooing from the standing position and you can’t practise getting in and out of position.

The Ammunition

The ammunition is .22 calibre and is sub sonic (so it doesn’t make the huge bang of other rifles). You need to buy target shooting quality ammunition.

  • CCI is a cheap option. It’s not the most accurate, but it is good for training and a good choice when starting as a shooter.

  • For competition you might want to consider RWS Rifle Match, or Eley Match (more expensive)

  • For really cold conditions (typically overseas), you can buy biathlon specific ammunition eg  Lapua Polar. (more expensive again)

  • As the price goes up the consistency of the ammunition improves.

  • Good ammunition will not make a poor shot a good one. It can make millimetre or two difference which could be the difference between a hit or miss but you still need to be within a few millimetres of the target.