I'm watching the Olympics Biathlon right now, and wonder what is that rifle? For sure, it must be a custom made rifle only for biathlon, but what are the specifications?

Is it a true bullet, or some kind of paintball? If a contestant was to go bonkers and try to shoot someone else, would it hurt/be deadly?

2 Answers 2


The rifles used are .22LR, a 130-year-old cartridge design that is the most sold type in the world, designated as the only acceptable round for Olympic shooting competition of any kind.

The rifles at the top level are designed for biathlon, with variants for the different categories. According to its manufacturer, the most popular rifle by far is the Anschutz 1827F, and further description of the details are provided by AccurateShooter.com.

They include adaptations to make carrying the rifle easier during the ski portion (lightweight and compact parts, aerodynamic magazine storage) and reduce impact on aiming while firing (straight pull action to reload, multiple magazine releases).

Yes, they are legitimate firearms and yes, they can injure or kill. Regulations are very strict on safety.


Yes, it can be deadly.

The Biathlon rifles from ANSCHÜTZ (and probably the others too) are Caliber .22 and are built for extreme precision, not for being safe against abuse (that would be impossible). And if you zoom in on that picture you can see that the ammo looks very serious too. Although the bullet speed is only 500 mph (normal bullets travel four to five times as fast) it will definitely hurt a lot.

ANSCHÜTZ Biathlon rifle

Also the officials take safety risks very seriously. Just looking into the barrel gets you disqualified.

  • Where in the image can you see any of the cartridges or bullets? These rifles are magazine-fed.
    – Nij
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 18:52
  • 2
    @Nij the extra bullets on the side (you need them in some events where you may reload up to three times before you have to run the penalty lap)
    – dly
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 18:54

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