Browning still offers a nice selection of quality walnut/steel .22's (T-Bolt, BL-22, SA-22).
Looking through various websites Gun Stores, the new type rifles: .22 or High Powered all look weird, with their strange shaped stocks, and all the plastic parts. I like the old classics like they were building back some 40 years ago, as these had Walnut Stocks, and very little plastic parts except on a few low priced rifles. Today's .22 rifles have mostly plastic trigger guards, strange triggers, magazines, and even front sight, if the have open sights at all. The Stocks are also synthetic plastic and even their wood stocks are poorly fitted. CZ and a few other imports, and high end rifles, are much better built.The Wildcat does have some novel features. You gotta understand the gun companies are chasing bucks in the Market Place. That's what people want. There are wood stocked decent 22's by Marlin and Savage. We are talking more money than entry level 22's. It's all in what you want in this world. Wonder what the aftermarket world will look like for this Wildcat 22 three or four years down the road. What ever it is, somebody will sell something to change it. For me it was pre-owned CZ 452 and Savage bolt actions with wood stocks.
You can tell if you bought a decent gun by how much it's worth 50 years later, 541-S's typically sell for over 1200. on gunbroker, sometimes much more.I missed out on the Winchester 52's when I finally got money enough for a good new .22. But back in the late 70's I bought a brand new beautifully polished and blued Remington 541T, nice A grade walnut, steel trigger guard, thumb safety where a safety should be on a rifle, and some tasteful REAL engraving on the action and trigger guard. Trigger is user adjustable down to a tad less than 2 lbs. Zero creep, zero overtravel. $260.00 out the door. It shoots T22's into 3/4" on a calm day at 100 yards. I gave away the 10-22 I acquired later in a trade due to the worst trigger in the world syndrome, plus it wouldn't hit a tennis ball half the time at 50 yards. I swear the manufacturers have forgotten how to make a nice .22 a fellow can be proud to hand down to his children. I've got hammers with better finishes than any of these new breed of rifles. As to the Nylon 66...at least Remington made an effort to make it LOOK nice from a distance. Most are now making rifles to spray ammunition as fast as possible, accuracy and aesthetics are purely an afterthought or happy accident, the money is in the ammunition.
I would agree that if you want a new traditional blued steel walnut gun your looking at imported guns, I don't like tool marks on guns even 22's,machine cut or stamped checkering is also cheap looking so it's either Anschutz 54's or Sako's, I have several of each. When you get into that price range your almost in Cooper territory, I included one just for comparison in 3rd place, nicely made American gun but pricey.Personal use and experience: If I want a quality traditional 22 Rifle it will be a CZ without a second thought. The exception would be one of the Savage guns. My BSEV Savage 22 has to be one of the uglier guns on the market. Also, got very good service from the Savage 93R17 with wood stock. That rifle is not a thing of beauty but shoots great. Both rifles are genuinely accurate have smoothed nicely out after some use. If you want the old time quality it's about forking out some money. There are some excellent accurate metal and wood 22's that shoot very well. Hand fitting is not there but plenty accurate. I enjoy shooting these Savages and my CZ452 warts and all.
Those Springfields were neat guns although they were pretty utilitarian from the factory, every once in while you'll see one on GB that's been restocked that is fantastic.KB: No doubt the rifles on GB are excellent. As you cold probably tell I was speaking of ordinary day to day 22 rifles. The CZ's are wonderment. The Savages are a good value. Some of the fancier Mark II's can get pricey on my fixed income. I have on hands experience with these guns as you do yours. We are talking about two different worlds. If you want something with first class workmanship and history check a 1922 M2 Springfield. Always appreciate your comments.
Nobody is talking about the old Wildcat. Those were inexpensive guns... not "cheap". I am actually keeping a casual eye out for the bolt action "old" Wildcat. Looked them up and then was disappointed quickly when I saw the Wildcat semi auto.I have the earlier version of the Winchester Wildcat .22 bolt action rifle with wooden stock and I believe was made in Russia and introduced around 2010. I found it on the used gun rack at a decent price. It shoots well and is not fussy about what I feed it. Guess it is a matter of personal preference. I just like the older .22 rifles that I found on the used gun racks in the gun shops that I visit. All the best...