WHAT ARE BIATHLON RIFLES ?
Biathlon rifles are quite different than the old bolt action .22 used on the farm for gopher control. They must weigh at least 3.5 kgs (7.7 lbs) and are chambered for a .22 long rifle rimfire cartridge. The cartridge must be standard velocity (maximum muzzle velocity 380 m/s) which means it is subsonic and quiet. Hearing protection is not required for the athletes. The stock of the rifle has a wide range of adjustment to fit each individual athlete precisely for maximum accuracy. The rifles are either a straight pull bolt action or more commonly a Fortner action.
Fortner action bolt
Match grade iron peep sights are used. No optics are allowed on the sight.
CBR owns a small number of biathlon rifles that are available for new athletes to rent in the junior racing program at a cost of $25 per month. This enables new athletes to try out the sport at a low cost before deciding to purchase their own rifles.
The majority of Athletes at a World Cup or Olympic level use an Anschutz Fortner action rifle.
Anschütz 1827F Fortner – Sprint cost ~ $4,500.00 with accessories
Professional Biathlon Athletes have highly customized rifles for maximum accuracy. The rifle that Anton Shipulin from Russia is using on the 2015/16 IBU World Cup Circuit is truly a work of art. See picture below and note the dragon carved into the forearm. The dragon does not add to the accuracy of the rifle but it sure looks cool!
Below is a picture of Canada’s Nathan Smith as he prepares to shoot prone at the IBU Biathlon World Championship in Kontiolahti, Finland on March 7, 2015. Nathan won a silver medal in that race, note the custom grip carved into his stock. Nathan is one of the few World Cup Athletes that carves his own rifle stocks from raw lumber.
A video of Canadian Athlete Marc Andre Bedard training at the Canmore Nordic Centre with his custom Anshutz Biathlon rifle. Athletes at this level have highly customized rifles to maximize accuracy.
The other rifle that is commonly used is the Izhmash 7-4.
A video of young athletes training with the Izhmash Biathlon rifle
The evolution of Biathlon – equipment | Faster Higher Stronger Part 1
The evolution of Biathlon – format & athlete | Faster Higher Stronger Part 2