Gun test: Hatsan Escort Rimfire (Synthetic)
- Credit: Archant
Chris Parkin test reviews the great value Hatsan Escort Rimfire, which comes with bipod, scope, mounts and more so you can get started right away!
I imagine a large number of us entered the world of rifle shooting using a .22 rimfire that was quite likely a BRNO or maybe a CZ 452. I certainly did and it’s tricky to see newer versions as inherently any more accurate. However, stocks have moved on significantly from the old hog’s back offerings, with their super long barrels and iron sights, and these are now often found priced to sell on dusty shelves in the back of a gunshop.
Hatsan have chosen to copy one of the most iconic rimfires, the CZ 452 with a nod to modernity, furnish it with a striking synthetic stock and a plethora of accessories, and offer a package deal that needs only ammunition to get you shooting on the range. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start for any shooter who would otherwise waste money buying incorrect accessories before learning what will and will not be of use to them in the longer term.
What comes with the rifle?
Opening the Hatsan’s box revealed a matt black rifle in a matching polymer stock. The barrel isn’t free-floated, but it looks to be a solidly snug barrelled action within a stiff forend. A muzzle brake is supplied, although it’s more like a flash hider to my eyes for the minimal recoil a .22 LR will generate. This surrounds a ½” UNF thread, so a moderator is easily added and I immediately did so.
Working back, the forend shows a slightly radiused profile with minimal tulip tip. Inlaid stippling is presented on the forend’s walls and grip, which is truly ambidextrous with no palm swell. No left hander is available. A short length of Picatinny sits under the forend with a sling stud to compliment the supplied sling, although, oddly, no swivels are included with this otherwise comprehensive package.
Also included is a lightweight slip and a folding, ‘non-canting’ bipod that attaches to the underside rail. This has extendable legs and although not quite as easy to manipulate on uneven ground as a ‘canting’ unit, proved reliable and sturdy and capable of withstanding recoil pad pressure without collapse from the locking latches.
Further back along the stock’s underside, a CZ-compatible 5-shot magazine is retained by a front catch in the steel-surrounded mag well, with a second spare inserted into a latched ‘well’ beneath the stock’s butt for additional storage. The upper comb is slim and parallel in profile, shaped for good cheek weld under the cheekbone but sadly very low, unless you’re using iron sights – which are not something supplied or likely to be fitted.
There is an underside bag rider with a second sling stud and plenty of space to position and manipulate a soft bag or supporting fist for effective elevation control, all finished off with a ventilated recoil pad 25mm thick, providing 14”/360mm length of pull. This is something of a delight, and rarely seen on .22 rimfires from the US as they seem to only be marketed as a gun for kids.
Returning to the mechanicals, a single-stage trigger is shown within a rolled-steel guard, providing enough space for a gloved finger. The curved steel blade is also typical ‘CZ’ with a medium 860gr pull, but some creep, so you will feel it move. Workable at this price. The bolt handle offers slick performance and the gun feels well made, far less gritty than NEW CZ 452s I’ve used when first bought.
This feels fully run in, probably reflecting modernised Turkish manufacturing methods, even if the inherent design is decades old. The bolt’s a controlled face with reliable feed from the underslung 5-round single-column magazine, itself an identical copy to the CZ’s, for which there is a plentiful spares market in both 5- and 10-round versions.
The rear of the bolt shows the wing safety that flicks forward for safe, rear for fire, opposite to the norm for anyone other than a CZ shooter, yet with a fully captured firing pin and locked bolt handle it offers both reliability and a feeling of assured safety, courtesy of its somewhat rugged simplicity.
Removal from the stock shows a complex underside shape based around the old design’s cylindrical action. The trigger hangs below and although not adjustable, many modification kits on the 452 are available to improve pulls using shims and replacement springs.
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My 20-year-old 452, which I bought used for peanuts, has just such a kit fitted. Not one for complete amateurs, but a good rifle smith will be able to tune this trigger and as a basic start it’s better than most 452s out of the box.
Feed, extraction and ejection are reliable, with folded-steel springs wrapping extractor and ejector claws with a solid mechanical ejector exposed from the bolt face’s underside as it’s drawn back. This gives the shooter the option to fling brass far away at speed or close to hand if delicacy is desired.
Scope and rings
Rings are supplied with a plain 3-9x40 scope. This is a 25.4mm/1” polymer tubed unit with capped elevation and windage dials for setup and zeroing. It is pleasant enough for plinking but don’t expect it to be any kind of poor light masterpiece. This is the only item I tried, then replaced on the rifle. In fairness, the cost of the gun is very, very reasonable and I think the scope is almost a freebie because, like many low-end optics, it is set parallax-free at 100m, so anywhere above 3 or 4x magnification looks blurred on shorter 30-70m rimfire targets.
Many shooters will chase more magnification for a precise aiming solution. Without much head support behind the scope, parallax, as well as focusing errors, are easy to make, so although it works, I switched the unit for a Hawke to rule out such mistakes when testing the accuracy of the rifle.
With that out of the way, what a great rifle. Its initial weak accuracy at 50m (which I was almost certain was due to the difficulty of using the supplied scope) was immediately replaced with 5-shot clusters at reliable velocities.
I used SK Standard Target ammunition for target work and 40 or 42gr Winchester subsonic ammo for hunting. All three produced velocities in the 1060 fps region with sub-15 fps extreme spreads, which is consistent and truly subsonic.
Rimfire barrel length can be crucial, and with an 18” tube on the Hatsan, I was pleased to see velocity was only 10 fps below that marketed on the box (the SK is chronographed at the factory in a 26” barrel). SK was below the ½ MOA benchmark requirement for a rimfire at 50m and I found the rifle rewarding to shoot, smooth to operate.
I found the straight bolt handle with its ball tip just that little bit longer than the CZ, giving more space around the scope’s ocular bell when cycling the action. A 14”/360mm length of pull is a delight on a rimfire, making: the gun feel less cramped when shot prone; consistent shoulder pressure more easily applied; and the eye relief didn’t feel too compressed. The supplied rings bolts have flat-blade heads and after a couple of scope swaps, I found they turned to zero without issue, needing just a screwdriver to nip them in position.
The stock is tough and not easily marked. As a walkabout plinking gun, training tool or hunting rifle for rabbits, it’s an excellent choice – and with less magnification applied, the 100m parallax/focus issue is less noticeable. Although you should be aware that this, like any other fixed parallax scope, will suffer this problem at closer range rimfire distances – just like an airgun. Aluminium-body scopes used to get their parallax mechanically adjusted via the objective lens in such circumstances, but I don’t think anyone wants to start tinkering with a polymer scope, so just accept it for what it is and if you get a big flyer, be aware it’s you, not the gun or the ammo producing it.
I consider this to be a very reliable rifle that offers the best of flattery – mimicry! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just copy it!
- Lots of useful accessories supplied
- Well balanced handling
- Tough capable plinking or hunting tool
- RRP is worth it for the rifle alone
- No sling swivels supplied
- Limiting parallax on the scope
- It’s too easy to judge rimfires against the price of an old second-hand rifle but this is brand new and fully functional, with everything except ammunition in one package. Just the right balance of evolution and proven functionality built into a legendary design at a great price.
Model: Hatsan Escort Rimfire Synthetic (Walnut also available)
Barrel length: 18”/460mm, Screwcut ½” UNF
Overall Length: 37.5”/955 mm
Length of Pull: 14”/360mm
Overall Weight: 7.1 lbs/3.2 kg inc. scope and mounts
Magazine capacity: 5 plus extra magazine
Stock Material: Polymer with internal magazine storage,
Accessories supplied: Bipod, Slip, Scope, Mounts, 2 magazines, Flash Hider
Contact: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177
SK Standard Plus ammunition www.vikingarms.com
Winchester Ammunition www.browning.eu