I have to declare a personal interest here: I am an unashamed fan of pretty much every one of the bolt-action rifles Anschütz has produced in the last 60 years.

I have had rifles by this maker for nearly 50 years, and without exception I have found them to be extremely well made and very accurate. Of course, Anschütz has always been known for the extremely high quality of its target rifles. In the last 40 years, over 85 per cent of Olympic small-bore rifle medals and 95 per cent of world-class biathlon medals have been won by athletes using Anschütz rifles.
When I heard a whisper that there was going to be a new model in .223, I immediately approached the distributor, who arranged for one of the earliest models to be shipped from Germany. Time passed and finally there was a call to say that the rifle was on its way and it was the one displayed at the IWA and Outdoors Classic Show in Nuremberg. I must admit I was more than a little excited as the box was opened, and my expectations were exceeded as the contents were removed. This was a very good-looking rifle indeed.The first thing that struck me was the highly figured walnut ‘Meister grade’ German-style stock, with Schnabel forend, semi-oval cheekpiece, ventilated rubber butt pad and fine chequering. The wood has a smooth oiled finish, which looks and feels really high quality. Also, the ‘famous’ flag safety has been replaced by a conventional forward-and-back that falls easily to the right thumb.

Underneath, the three-round in-line metal magazine only protrudes about half an inch, and the rifle’s overall appearance is sleek and functional. Incidentally, the rifle is supplied with high-visibility inserts to stick on the magazine, but to my mind this is unnecessary and looks a bit garish. Anschütz has told me it can also supply five-shot magazines if required.
The action and barrel are extremely well machined and finished, and the blueing is – as usual for this make – top quality. The 22in barrel is cold hammer-forged, of medium target weight, evenly tapered with no provision for iron sights, and fully floated. The crown is perfectly finished and the twist rate is one in nine – ideal for 55-grain ammo. For the first time in over 30 years, Anschütz has decided on a new action, designed specifically for centrefire cartridges. The receiver is machined from a solid block of Chromoly steel, the 11-millimetre rail runs the full length of the receiver and has additional mounting holes drilled and tapped, and the ejection port is quite small. The scope rail is finished with what Anschütz describes as its ‘wave’ action, which looks a little different.

The extractor design is quite unusual: the hook lies in a slot inside one of the front lugs and is tensioned by a rod that runs through the two lugs and round the bolt. This seemed a strange approach, but in use it turned out to be highly efficient, flinging the spent case up to six feet away. There are no less than six locking lugs: three at the front and three at the back. These are designed so that there is a short bolt throw of about 60 degrees. The bolt action is extremely smooth and positive from the start, and a pleasure to use.

The trigger is very much the same as on my two 1700 series rifles – it is adjustable and comes set at about two and a half pounds. This can be brought down to two pounds or up to as much as four and a half. I normally set all my trigger pulls to about two and a half pounds. If, like me, you often change from one rifle to another, having all pull weights the same prevents premature release, or just a jerk and no bang! In use, the action is smooth and positive from the word go. It truly is as good as any factory rifle I have ever used.

With the rifle set up, I set out to see what it would do. The manufacturers have engraved “for factory ammunition only” on the barrel, and so we took a supply of Federal Power Shok 55-grain soft points, and a supply of Prvi Partizan 55-grain soft points. I was particularly interested to see what the Anschütz would make of the latter as results from Prvi can sometimes be rather mixed!

I normally zero at 200 yards for the .223, which means being about 1¼in high at 100 yards. We put a few rounds through the rifle after bore sighting, cleaning after every two or three; initial results were promising. The rifle really took to the Prvi, which pleased me no end as this make costs considerably less than many others. After about 20 rounds, the groups of three were printing between half and three quarters of an inch – good enough for me!

To sum up, the Anschütz 1770 is one of the nicest rifles I have ever tested. The company set out to produce something different to the models of the last decade or so – a big departure for a firm that has been at the top of target rifle production for so many years. I would say Anschütz has succeeded – the whole unit is balanced and not only looks good but feels good too.

Any complaints? Just one: removing the bolt for cleaning is a bit of a fiddle, made more difficult by the proximity of the bolt to the comb when it is withdrawn. It would be a disaster to dent the wood, but with care it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

A final confession: I liked the rifle so much I went ahead and bought it