Charles Smith-Jones considers the Anschutz 1415/16, a favourite of target shooters the world over
To many, the name of Anschutz is synonymous with a range of top-quality rifles, air rifles and air pistols used by competition shooters. The manufacturer’s products continue to be the most commonly seen in the Olympics 50m .22LR events, while its Fortner rifles are widely used by winter biathlon competitors.
The company is based in Ulm in southern Germany and has been making firearms since 1856. It is rated among the aristocracy of gunmakers and enjoys a deserved reputation for quality and reliability. Apart from competition firearms it also produces sporting guns, predominantly in .22LR but also several small to medium centrefire calibres.
The 1415/16 is the sporting variant of Anschutz’s 1400 series of rifles and has more rounded contours when compared with the more flattened profile of the many target models. The designation can be slightly confusing but is explained by the fact that Anschutz initially produced a Model 1415 and a Model 1416, both of which are effectively mechanically identical and differ only in woodwork and cosmetic finishing. In general terms the more short-lived 1415 has a plain, stained hardwood stock while that of the 1416, which remained in production for longer, is in a chequered walnut. There was also a 1418 variant with a full-length stutzen-style stock. Further confusion may be caused by some guns bearing ‘Savage/Anschutz’ markings on the metalwork, reflecting the fact that Savage, an American company, started to import Anschutz guns into the US in 1965 and it seems that some rifles were built in the US using Savage actions with Anschutz barrels. ‘Anschutz-Savage’ markings on the receiver indicate that the rifle was built in the US on a Savage 34/65 action, and ‘Savage-Anschutz’ that it was made in Germany for export. If there is no mention of Savage on the markings, then the rifle will indeed be from the German factory. Whatever, the quality of the guns is in no way compromised.
There is certainly no compromise when it comes to the manufacturing of barrels, and those fitted to Anschutz sporting rifles are made to the same high standards as competition models. All machining is completed to exceptional tolerances and the crown (essential to accuracy) is slightly overbored to protect it. With the exception of butt plates, magazine base plates and perhaps the bolt knobs of more recent models, which may be manufactured in modern polymers, everything is finished in wood or metal as appropriate and the standard of workmanship is manifest. This attention to detail is a reflection of the stringent demands of the more technical target shooting world that holds Anschutz in such high regard.
Though stock styles can vary slightly, a sporting design is standard, with a pistol grip and Schnabel-type fore-end that is a regular feature of many European rifles. Even on the older or more basic models, the woodwork itself is attractive, well chequered, and oiled rather than lacquered. New rifles left the factory fitted with basic open sights with a simple slide adjustment, though dovetails were provided for the mounting of a telescopic sight. Left-handed versions are only very rarely encountered.
New rifles came supplied with a single-stacking five-round detachable magazine that fits flush to the body and locks into position snugly and securely. Extended 10-round capacities are available with a distinctive forward curve. A teardrop-shaped guard protects the single trigger and the trigger units themselves come with a special reputation for excellence. They are slightly more complex than some others but offer a crisp, clean let-off and are fully adjustable (though you may come across warnings on some suggesting that this is a job for a gunsmith, and the trigger of the later 1416D model is non-adjustable). Their quality is yet another reflection of the immaculate Anschutz target pedigree. Parts are relatively easily sourced, and the Anschutz website features comprehensive downloadable user manuals and spare parts lists for all its products past and present.
The 1415/16 is a pleasure to handle and even an older model should still be capable of supreme field accuracy with the right ammunition. If in good condition, it could represent a very real bargain for anyone seeking the highest possible quality while shopping on a budget, so it’s always worth taking a closer look if you come across one on the used racks.
- Country of origin: Germany
- Action: Bolt
- Stock options: Beech or walnut
- Barrel length: 16in to 24in
- Magazine: Detachable, five shot standard (10 shot available as an optional extra)
- Left-hand version: Yes
- Weight (bare): 5lb 8oz to 6lb depending on configuration
- Available in calibres .22LR, .22WMR
- Cost new: N/A
- Cost used: From around £200 depending on condition