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American Handgunner May/June 2012 Digital Edition - Page 32
BETTERSHOOTING O daVeanderson Whitney Wolverine 22 POlymer Plinking — in Pink? lympic Arms has reintroduced the Whitney Wolverine .22 pistol. The original 1950s-era Wolverine had considerable potential as a sport/plinking pistol. It was undone by the startup costs inherent in a new business, a few initial teething problems, and costly legal wrangles. The biggest obstacle was competition, namely the Ruger Standard .22 auto pistol. Through the 1950s Ruger kept the price at $37.50. To compete you had to make a basically sound, durable, reliable .22 sport pistol at a competitive price. Otherwise, Ruger would bury you. If anything, the competition today is tougher than ever. So if the Wolverine couldn’t compete successfully in 1960, what has changed? Can the Wolverine of today compete successfully? Time will tell, but current Wolverines have a couple of advantages. They are being made and sold by Olympic Arms, a company which holds its own in the very competitive AR market. They have production facilities, trained personnel, manufacturing and marketing experience. They don’t have to start from scratch, as the original company did. The other advantage is the proven utility of high-strength polymers. We don’t have to question anymore whether polymer pistol frames work. And, although equip- while the frame/housing is polymer, the action ment to make polymer frames is expensive, actual production cost per unit is low. components are steel. the recoil spring surrounds The design of the original Wolverine makes it ideally suited to the use of polythe barrel. note also, a couple of small components mers. The Wolverine frame is simply a housing for the operating components and you don’t want to lose. is not subject to heavy impacts or stresses. Molded in one piece of this wolverine has the optional high-strength polymer, the Wolverine frame houses the steel barrel checkered wooden grips and and bolt in an upper tube, while the grip portion houses the magazine adjustable rear sight. the grip and lock work. polymer is light — and also allows color choices. I’m not sure women necessarily prefer a pink pistol, however it does coordinate nicely with both the shirt and the hemi challenger kaitlyn hanson drives! o riginally, the Wolverine frame was made of aluminum alloy. Some of those I’ve seen had what appeared to be file marks, indicating handwork to fit them properly. Handwork means more labor costs, which means a higher retail price. The Wolverine design is one in which polymer not only works, it works better. Polymer means the Wolverine frame can be made to very precise dimensions. The frame is unaffected by rust, it’s light, strong and durable. Costs of production per unit are low, meaning the Wolverine can be priced lower than the competition. The Wolverine is a full-size pistol, but so light at 19 ounces, as to feel almost toy-like. The manual safety functions the opposite of what I’m used to — up for safe, down to fire. It also has a magazine safety, a feature I could live with or without. I really miss a bolt hold-open feature. Not only does the Wolverine not lock back on the last shot, there is no way to manually lock the bolt open. Using due safety precautions, I tried the trigger pull. Whoa — now I’m really interested. The trigger had minimal take-up and broke consistently at just over 3½ pounds. There was some detectable creep in the pull, but it was smooth and completely free of “steps.” The pull was one of the nicest I’ve seen short of a fullhouse target pistol. I tried two other Wolverines and found their pulls virtually identical. Accuracy was very good too, with 25-yard groups from a rest consistently under 2". Reliability had me frustrated for a while. The adjustable-sight model gave regular feeding failures, with the fresh cartridge sticking at the 12 o’clock position above the chamber. Meanwhile, the “pink pistol” was perking along beautifully. Olympic sent along a couple of spare magazines. I found the magazine supplied with the adjustable-sight pistol gave a couple of feeding failures per magazine. Another would fire nine rounds flawlessly and stick on the 10th round. The other two functioned flawlessly. The results were the same with either pistol, regardless of the ammo I used. it’s in the Details shape provides a very comfortable hold, and it only weighs 19 ounces! LighT, handy and affordabLe! T akedown for cleaning isn’t too hard, provided you read the manual carefully first and undertake the task over a good workspace. There are a couple of small parts which fall out when the bolt/barrel assembly is withdrawn from the frame and would be darn easy to lose. The muzzle is threaded for the polymer nut, which secures it to the frame. For a bit more dramatic appearance the barrel nut can be replaced with a flash hider. More practically, it should be easy to fit a suppressor should you wish to go to the legal steps and costs involved. Everyone who shot the Wolverine remarked on how comfortable the grip was, and on the quality of the trigger. The Wolverine is unusual in that it’s very light, yet unlike most light pistols it has a full-size grip and sight radius. At its moderate price ($294 MSRP), it’s a fun little plinker, and with its light weight it’s a handy pistol for a hiker’s daypack or for a fishing tackle box. * For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/ olympic-arms-inc or (800) 228-3471 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2012 32