Updated all content on Sep 10, 2017
Why is there still someone looking for the best .22LR rifle?
Despite the fact that it is over a century old, .22LR remains one of the most prominent and popular rifle cartridges. The primary reasons for this are how inexpensive it is, how effective it is for varmint, and how quiet it is for general shooting.
Due to the fact that there is very little kick and it is extremely quiet, .22 is commonly used to teach new shooters how to safely and effectively use a firearm. If you are in the market for a rifle that fires the classic rimfire .22LR cartridge, in this article we will review five of the best available.
These five rifles will be reviewed in depth, covering their best features, biggest shortcomings, as well as the suggested retail price. While a price will be given, it is worth noting that this is a manufacturer’s suggested retail price, so you may find the weapon a little cheaper online.
When selecting a .22, you need to keep in mind what your uses for the weapon are. If you are looking for a varmint rifle, you are going to have different needs than if you are only looking for a weapon to teach your kids to shoot with.
If you are planning on using this as a varmint rifle, these features should drive your purchase heavily:
- Ease of use: Varmint are often active, so when you finally get that shot, you want to make sure your rifle is easy to use.
- Accuracy: You may only get one shot at the varmint, and you definitely don’t want it to be wasted.
- Quality: If you’re looking for a varmint rifle, odds are you are going to keep it for when the varmint continue to show up. Having a quality rifle will provide you a varmint rifle for the foreseeable future.
If you are using this for general shooting or teaching your kids to shoot, you may have different features to consider.
- Safety: Especially if you are using this to teach someone to shoot, safety is paramount.
- Price: If you only want a gun to plink with every once in awhile, you probably aren’t looking to break the bank.
Best Five .22LR Rifles
Savage Arms 64 FXP
Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport
Henry Golden Boy
CZ 455 American
The Ruger 10/22 is an absolutely iconic weapon. It has been produced for decades, and continues to be one of the most popular .22s in the world. This high praise is well deserved, as this is one of the most reliable and high quality weapons available. If you are looking for a best .22LR rifle, the Ruger 10/22 absolutely has got to be on your list.
This rifle has a smooth action designed by Ruger. It is a gas blowback system, meaning that it will chamber a new round for you after you shoot it each time. This action has been used for years and years, with overwhelmingly positive reviews. The magazine is a 10 round rotary magazine that is patented by Ruger. While it is nothing fancy, this magazine has proved to be effective, and provides plenty of ammunition capacity for a .22. Overall, this is likely the absolute best .22LR rifle.
There are multiple different models available. The carbine has a classic American look. The Takedown has a detachable barrel. The tactical model has a picatinny rail for mounting accessories. The target model has a distinct look. There is also a youth model available.
Suggested Retail Price: $309
- Quality: The quality of this weapon is unquestioned. It will continue to be an extremely popular weapon for years to come. This rifle will last for a long time.
- Reliability: Not much has changed over the last 50 years. This rifle will work every time.
- Action: Smooth and precise.
- Ease of use: Blowback safety makes it easy to use this weapon.
- Positive safety: Always a great feature on a firearm.
Savage Arms 64 FXP
While certainly not the highest quality on this list, the price will make it hard to complain. For an extremely low price, you get a rifle that will work fine that comes from the factory with a scope. When you buy this weapon, there is nothing more that you need. It comes completely ready to shoot.
This weapon has a detachable box style magazine that has a 10 round capacity. It has a blued carbon steel barrel that measures 21 inches long. The synthetic stock, while nothing special, does have a comfortable shape.
This weapon would serve great for general shooting. It could function as a varmint rifle, but you would be better off with a better quality weapon. For the purposes of this list, it is on here because it is extremely affordable and it comes with a scope. While it isn’t the highest quality, and the scope isn’t the highest quality, this makes it very easy for the consumer that is just a casual plinker. If you’re just looking to shoot targets occasionally, this weapon will work for you. This is the best affordable .22LR rifle.
Suggested Retail Price: $188
- Scope: The fact that this weapon comes with a scope removes any additional headache.
- Ease of use: The semiautomatic action makes it easy to use.
- Safety: Once again, any added safety in a firearm is not a bad thing.
- Price: It is nearly impossible to beat this price for a weapon. While it isn’t the highest quality, we haven’t seen many issues with it.
Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22
This is a modern rendition of a decades old rifle. The cartridge that this weapon fires predates this style of weapon by decades. However, due to the continued popularity of this cartridge, Smith & Wesson and other firearm manufacturers have created AR-15 style weapons that shoot .22LR.
This weapon comes with some Magpul add-ons, such as an M-LOK handguard and MBUS sights. The picatinny rail system makes this weapon easy to accessorize however you would like. The stock can be used in six different positions, which adds to the customizability. Unlike many AR-15 styled .22s, this one actually has a functioning charging handle. The magazine has a 25 round capacity, and is also semiautomatic.
This would be a good rifle for casual shooters and hunters alike. For a casual shooter or someone new to shooting, getting familiar with a weapon based off an AR-15 is certainty not a bad idea. The AR-15 frame is by far the most popular weapon of our time, and being familiar with it will not hurt. For someone looking to hunt with their .22, this one is on the smaller side, so it is easy to carry around, and is also very accurate. This is the best .22LR rifle for shooting, and is the best modernized .22LR rifle.
One issue that we have heard and can understand is that this is way too much technology and modern touch for a very old round. At the end of the day, .22LR is a very basic and old round, and some will argue that all of the modernized touches are way too much.
Suggested Retail Price: $449
- Customizability: Just like any AR styled weapon, there are literally hundreds of accessories you can add to this weapon.
- Ease of use: AR styled weapons are very easy to use and shoot with.
- Magazine capacity: Always nice, for both casual shooting and hunting.
Henry Golden Boy
The official gun of the Wild Wild West! This lever action rifle is another American icon. It has been selected as the gun of the year in the past, and the quality has remained unchanged. From its unique looks to its classic lever action, this weapon is an absolute classic.
The rifle has a very shiny brass receiver, paired with a walnut stock, giving it a one of a kind look. The action of this weapon is slower than others, but is extremely smooth. The rounds are loaded below the barrel, and the rifle has a 16 round capacity.
One issue is that it is slightly heavier than comparable weapons, but it does result in more accurate shooting. Despite the added weight, it still feels like a very balanced weapon. The weapon is also extremely expensive for a .22.
While this weapon would work for small game hunters, due to the classic styling and the lever action, this one is probably better left to the casual shooters and gun collectors.
Suggested Retail Price: $550
- Classic styling: Lever action, classic and unique look, including old style sights and an octagon barrel. It is also a popular weapon with collectors for this reason.
- Smooth action: Easy/exciting to get the next round in the chamber.
- Quality: Despite all of its old school features, this is still a very high quality weapon.
CZ 455 American
The CZ 455 is a bolt action rifle that is sure to impress you. It’s got some excellent features for a .22, and is an improvement on some of CZ’s older bolt action weapons. One of the more interesting features is that it is available in a combo package with an interchangeable barrel, to allow you to shoot either .22LR or .17HMR.
This rifle features an adjustable trigger, a finely machined receiver, and a hammer forged barrel. This barrel allows for extreme accuracy compared to other .22s. Improvements in this newest version from CZ include higher quality machining and stricter tolerances. All of these features go a long way in making this one of the most accurate .22s on the market.
One of the only issues with this weapon is that the magazine is limited to only 5 rounds. Dependent on your use for this rifle, that may be an issue. While it is expensive, it is also extremely high quality.
This weapon would be excellent for both hunters and casual shooters. It is one of the highest quality .22s available, and it will exceed your expectations. The only things to keep in mind for the hunter are the limited magazine capacity and the classic bolt action, which is fun to shoot, but may be too slow for your use. This is the best .22LR rife for long distance shooting.
Suggested Retail Price: $421
- Adjustable trigger: Awesome feature for a .22.
- Accurate: By far the most accurate weapon on the list, due to the stricter tolerances in machining and hammer forged barrel.
- Bolt action: While slower, this also means there is less that can break. This weapon will last.
Despite its age, .22LR continues to be one of the most popular cartridges available. Even though rimfire has been improved upon with modern centerfire cartridges, consumers continue to purchase rimfire .22LR cartridges thanks in large part to how cheap it is, and how widely applicable it is.
While it seems strange buying a weapon that shoots a cartridge that is over a century old, buying a .22LR rifle is a safe investment. The rifle can serve many purposes for you, and will last for decades to come. Many people have fond memories of learning to shot a .22 with their father, which is a tradition that is very likely to continue.
Hopefully this list has pointed you in the right direction in your hunt for a best .22LR rifle. While we have pointed out some features to keep in mind, you ultimately have to decide what your use for the weapon is. Once you have defined your use for the rifle, you will know which features you need and which attributes are most valuable to you. Different people will have different uses for their rifles.