In the current world of sporting arms, a great deal of emphasis is given to the latest technological advancements—things that push our capabilities as hunters and shooters to the next level:
Newer, higher ballistic coefficient, low-drag bullets. Precision rifles that stretch the limits of ethical shooting distances. Rangefinders that pair (literally) with riflescopes to calculate holdover using ballistics and environmental factors in pursuit of the same goal. Tactically inspired semi-auto rifles and shotguns engineered to run and run and run without fail or interruption.
These are all important and worth knowing about, of course. But, in this unending pursuit of perfection, let’s not forget the past. Let’s not forget that hunters have been cleanly harvesting game, one shot at a time, with single-shot rifles for hundreds of years.
Let’s also not forget that most folks don’t break into the sporting lifestyle looking to paint sub-MOA groups on steel targets at a thousand yards (not that there’s anything wrong with that endeavor), but rather start off small (again, literally) by chasing small game through the woods with a rimfire rifle or shotgun.
SMALL GAME, SIMPLY
For that purpose of harvesting small game, Traditions Firearms’ Crackshot rifle is quite well-suited. The rifle itself is a single-shot break-action design. And Traditions offers the Crackshot in several configurations: .22 LR or .17 HMR, with or without a fixed power 4x32 factory bore-sighted scope and a youth model with a reduced 13-inch length of pull for younger or smaller statured shooters. Each gun has a 16.5-inch blued barrel and either comes equipped with a one-piece base for mounting optics or with a pre-mounted scope. All versions weigh in at a little over 4 pounds sans optic.
The break action itself is a very simple, safe action for most shooters—and especially newer shooters—to grasp, and the Crackshot is no exception. The action release lies just forward of the trigger guard, a convenient location friendly to both lefties and righties. It is easily engaged, but not so easily that you’d ever accidentally press it and open the action. Then a single cartridge is inserted, and the shooter is ready to go. Well, in a sense.
To increase safety in what is already a relatively safe firearm action, Traditions Firearms has incorporated a Dual Safety System similar to those found on some of its muzzleloaders, for which the manufacturer is probably best-known, along with its black powder and single-action cartridge revolvers. In the case of the Crackshot, this means a cross-bolt trigger safety located at the rear of the trigger guard, behind the trigger, and an internal hammer block safety.
The shooter must manually cock the hammer back in order to fire a shot, and this can’t be done until the trigger block safety is disengaged. This can seem redundant to some experienced shooters, but it does help ensure that the shooter does not fire until they fully intend to do so. Again, this is particularly beneficial with new shooters or hunters who may lack experience afield or behind a rifle more generally.
Both, much like the action release, are relatively easily manipulated. The trigger block safety will likely be a bit easier for right-handed shooters, but southpaws can certainly still engage it. Meanwhile, the hammer itself should be ambidextrous. And while the hammer spur extension, which helps shooters cock the hammer when an optic is equipped on the rifle, comes set up for righties, it can be adjusted for left-side placement.
The rifle features a synthetic black stock with checkering on the grip and fore-end. Sling swivel studs found below the fore-end and near the butt of the gun serve as sling attachment points; the forward sling swivel stud is also involved in the disassembly process, which is quite straightforward and relatively quick.
The Traditions Crackshot rifle performed well during some brief testing over the course of a day at the range and in the hills of north Georgia chasing squirrels in October. It rained, often hard, throughout the course of testing, which included over 100 rounds and no cleaning. No malfunctions occurred. The Crackshot’s break action opened each and every time, and it closed similarly. The gun’s extractor made spent cartridge cases easy to grab and remove, and overall function was flawless.
The lightweight, 4-plus-pound rifle toted well afield, especially paired with a sling, but it certainly wasn’t a necessary addition to be comfortable. The rifle was well balanced and shouldered easily. The included fixed-power scope, while not exceptional, served just fine, especially considering it only adds about $50 to the price of the standard Crackshot without a scope.
Crackshot Testing Results
The Best Group and Average Group (both in inches) results of these .22 LR loads:
- CCI Mini Mag HV 40 gr. 0.64 1.79
- Winchester M22 40 gr. 0.44 1.64
- Aguila Ammunition Rifle Match Competition 40 gr. 0.78 1.29
- Aguila Ammunition .22 Interceptor 40-gr. 0.71 1.00
Note: Accuracy is the average of three, three-shot groups at 50 yards from a rest.
The Crackshot’s trigger was serviceable for a rifle in this category, but certainly not perfect. It takes quite a bit of gritty travel for the trigger to break—not the smooth travel and crisp break of a fine unit. The break was, however, fairly consistent, and once I got used to the pull a bit during the early stages of testing, accuracy improved in late testing. Again, not an excellent trigger, but plenty suitable for plinking and general small-game usage.
At the range, I shot three, 3-shot groups with the rifle at 50 yards from a rested position with four different loads: CCI’s Mini Mag HV 40-grain, Winchester’s M22 40-grain and Aguila’s Rifle Match Competition 40-grain and .22 Interceptor 40-grain. The two Aguila Ammunition loads produced the best average three-shot groups, but all loads yielded averages between 1 and 2 inches, accurate enough for most small-game and target-shooting needs. And most of this occurred during the middle of a downpour. Unfortunately, because of the weather, I did not deploy my chronograph to obtain velocity figures as I normally would during testing.
Overall, I was satisfied with the testing results. Groups likely would’ve opened up a bit with five-shot groups as opposed to three, but I still believe they would’ve fallen within, or very near, that 1- to 2-inch range, which is, again, pretty acceptable for rimfires intended for small game and plinking purposes. No malfunctions were encountered, and the rifle’s operation was straightforward, comfortable and effective. Although a slightly better trigger would be a nice improvement, it’s by no means a deal breaker. In short, I’d have no qualms about taking this rifle afield on future small game hunts or in having others, particularly youth or new shooters, use it as an entry gun to get them started in hunting and shooting.
- Type: Single-shot break-action rimfire rifle
- Caliber: .22 LR (as tested) or .17 HMR
- Barrel: 16.5 in.
- Finish: Blued (black)
- Sights: None (factory-mounted base for optics; pre-mounted scope)
- Safety: Dual Safety System; cross-bolt trigger and internal hammer block
- Stock: Black synthetic
- Weight: About 4 pounds, without optics
- MSRP: $219 (without scope); $264 (with scope, as tested)