The Ambidex was a rifle developed by the Musgrave company in South Africa in the late 1980s. It was a straight-pull bolt action rifle inspired by the Browning T-Bolt, but with the ability to have the bolt swapped to either the left or right side for ambidextrous use. They were chambered for the .22 LR rimfire cartridge, and offered in three different grades. However, in light of high cost and plenty of competition from CZ rimfire rifles, the Ambidex was a commercial flop. Only about 400 were made, and by 1991 it was discontinued.
It appears that truly ambidextrous bolt handles for bolt-action rifles are yet to be invented. I don’t include the AR-15 charging handle here. I could be wrong…
Good day Ian,
I follow your series after your visit to South Africa with interest. My son now owns my Ambidex Supreme. A most pleasing rifle. Must still view your video and maybe you mention that it is a true controlled feed action.
Good day Andries
Do you still have the rifle? I am a Musgrave collector and have only seen the Standard and Deluxe model. I would love to see some pictures of the rifle and how it is different from the other two models.
Finally a gun for Ian!
Mentioned production high cost does not surprise me. Similarly deigned Browning T-bolt is also very expensive at around 1k in Canada, although it is chambered for .22 WM. Good looking rifle overall with clever bolt swap.
The CZ bolt action 22s command fairly high price in Canada; typically in excess of 500 CDN dollars. In comparison, good quality Savage Mark II with laminated stock and heavy barrel cost me last year 400.- CDN.
And I must question: is that left-right-hand swap really that needed feature? How many users of .22 rim-fire need that? Producing of “left” and “right” version of .22 rim-fire repeater should not be very complicated, unless it has some specific design peculiarities.
Also, if you need .22 rim-fire 2-movement repeating which could be used in “left” and “right” manner there is also option of using pump-action – many such guns were produced in history so possibilities are many.
There are actually quite a few straight-pull rifles out there today. In centerfire, there are the Blaser R-8 and R-93, the Heym SR-30, and the Merkel RX Helix. In rimfire, you have the reintroduced Browning T-Bolt and the newly-designed Anschutz 1727.
The reason nobody makes one with a centered charging handle like an AR-15 is probably that such a bolt pull maneuver is fairly awkward with a conventional rifle stock. You’re literally pulling the bolt back far enough for your hand to connect with your nose or cheek, thus requiring you to lift your head from the cheek weld. A bolt handle on the side in the “standard” turnbolt position generally does not present this problem.
What would be really interesting in a straight-pull .22 rimfire like the T-Bolt would be having the “bolt retractor” set up more like that of the original AR-10, except instead of being inside a carry handle on top of the receiver, have a “ring” trigger inside an extended trigger guard behind the firing trigger. Rather like using a double set trigger, to operate the action use the “ring” to run the bolt back and forward again, then just move your finger to the front trigger to fire.
Who knows, it even might be fast enough to be banned in Olympic small-bore rifle competition.
If I am not mistaken rim-fire straight-pull bolt-action rifles were and are widely used in biathlon competitions: https://kalashnikov.com/en/press-service/news/news_40.htm claims that solution implemented in BI-7-2 increased the firing rate of the rifle to the self-loading level
Did toggle bolts contribute to the higher firing rate?
Also there exist Browning Maral: http://revivaler.com/browning-maral-straight-pull-rifle/
A pleasure to see you commenting here!
Hope you are well
Good day Keith!
Same smiles to see you around. I trust the flames shooting out of the hot blue skies that according to BBC and CNN apparently set Portugal and California alight passed England. Good luck with the 33 degrees balmy weather.
Yes. That Musgrave Ambidex Supreme I have is a quality rifle in every respect – every single aspect of every component shows design and workmanship of the highest order. Its dimensions make it handle like a larger caliber rifle and accuracy is superb. The cartridge feeding is truly controlled – it picks the case out of the magazine and feeds it concentrically into the chamber, the bullet not touching any part of the ramp or action at all.
Just like the other large calibre Musgraves in the family which after 40 years of use still shoot half inch groups at 200 yards the Ambidex is a pleasure every time one shoulders it.
Very high cost for a nice .22 rimfire would not be commercially viable in the US. Semi-automatic .22s are ubiquitous at a reasonable price and many are handy for both right and left hand shooters. My Remington 552 for example has a very effective shell deflector and swapping a crossbolt safety from right to left handed is not a problem.
I do wonder if the ambidextrous action could be designed for centerfire calibers would it be more popular?
In Europe, straight pull hunting rifles with comparable actions exist. They are becoming increasingly popular.
Mel, please tell us more about the manufacturers and their designs?
“manufacturers and their designs”
One example: LYNX, straight-pull made in Finland: