The Buying Process of the Best 22LR Rifle Demystified

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 some of our favorites.

These 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 rifle a little cheaper online.

When selecting a .22, you need to keep in mind what your uses for the rifle are. The most common uses are varmint hunting, plinking, for a survival rifle, and teaching new shooters. Your specific use will drive what features are important, but some of the features to consider are:

  • 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. For plinking and teaching new shooters, you want a rifle that is easy and enjoyable to shoot.
  • Accuracy: You may only get one shot at the varmint, and you definitely don’t want it to be wasted. Similarly, accuracy is important for plinking.
  • 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.
  • 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.

List of Best .22LR Rifles

Rifle

Type

Top Feature

Price

Bolt Action .22LR

Reliability

Bolt Action .22LR

Affordability, scope

Semiautomatic .22LR

AR-styling

Semiautomatic .22LR

Lever Action

Lever Action .22LR

Quality

Lever Action .22LR

Accuracy

.22LR Precision Rifle

Top Quality

Best Bolt Action .22LRs

CZ 455 Varmint .22 LR Bolt-Action Rimfire Rifle

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 rifles. 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 rifleis 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 rifle 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.

Top Features

  • Adjustable trigger: Awesome feature for a .22.
  • Accurate: By far the most accurate rifle 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 rifle will last.
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 rifle, there is nothing more that you need. It comes completely ready to shoot.

This rifle  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 rifle would serve great for general shooting. It could function as a varmint rifle, but you would be better off with a better quality rifle. 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 rifle will work for you. This is the best affordable .22LR rifle.

Top Features

  • Scope: The fact that this rifle 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 rifle. While it isn’t the highest quality, we haven’t seen many issues with it.

Best Semiautomatic .22LRs

RUGER 10-22 CARBINE

The Ruger 10/22 is an absolutely iconic rifle. 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 rifle 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.

Top Features

  • Quality: The quality of this rifle is unquestioned. It will continue to be an extremely popular rifle 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 rifle.
  • Positive safety: Always a great feature on a firearm.
Smith & Wesson® M&P 15-22 Sport .22 LR Semiautomatic Rifles

This is a modern rendition of a decades old rifle. The cartridge that this rifle fires predates this style of rifle by decades. However, due to the continued popularity of this cartridge, Smith & Wesson and other firearm manufacturers have created AR-15 style rifles that shoot .22LR.

This rifle comes with some Magpul add-ons, such as an M-LOK handguard and MBUS sights. The picatinny rail system makes this rifle 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 rifle based off an AR-15 is certainty not a bad idea. The AR-15 frame is by far the most popular rifle 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.

Top Features

  • Customizability: Just like any AR styled rifle, there are literally hundreds of accessories you can add to this rifle.
  • Ease of use: AR styled rifles are very easy to use and shoot with.
  • Safety
  • Magazine capacity: Always nice, for both casual shooting and hunting.

Best Lever Action .22LRs

Golden Boy Rimfire Rifle

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 rifle 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 rifle 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 rifles, but it does result in more accurate shooting. Despite the added weight, it still feels like a very balanced rifle. The rifle is also extremely expensive for a .22.

While this rifle 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.

Top Features

  • Classic styling: Lever action, classic and unique look, including old style sights and an octagon barrel. It is also a popular rifle 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 rifle.

Browning BL-22

BROWNING - BL-22

As is very common with lever actions, the Browning BL-22 is extremely accurate. It’s enjoyable to shoot, and is also very easy to use. Despite the fact that it’s a pretty simple rifle, there’s a lot to like about this one.

The rifle’s got a pretty aesthetically pleasing look to it, with a walnut stock and a blued receiver and barrel finish. The receiver is grooved, so it’s ready for scope mounts when you get it. This makes scope installation and zeroing much easier. If you don’t choose to go for a scope, the rifle does come with adjustable sights.

The lever action rifle is extremely easy to use, and has a very short throw. The short throw is very comfortable and quick to use, and will allow you to fire the rifle pretty fast. As far as rimfire lever action rifles go, the Browning BL-22 is extremely accurate.

Lastly, the rifle is extremely easy to use. From firing to taking apart, the rifle is quite simple, which is to be expected of a lever action rifle.

The one con is that the rifle is very expensively priced. However, the quality is there to back the price up, and the rifle would be great for varmint hunting and range shooting alike.

Top Features:

  • Accuracy: One of the most accurate rifles out there.
  • Short throw: Very easy, comfortable and fast to use.

Best .22LR Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rimfire

Ruger Precision Rimfire

While it may seem somewhat backwards to have a rimfire precision rifle, there is a market out there. Whether it’s for children or you’re shooting in a rimfire only match, there’s a place to have a precision rifle that shoots the rimfire .22LR cartridge.

If you’re just a casual plinker, this is not the rifle for you. It’s an extremely high quality bolt action, but if you’re just casually shooting targets at the range, you probably don’t need all of the features of this rifle, but you may have fun with it.

Odds are you’ve seen a Ruger Precision Rifle before. This one is simply a scaled down version to shoot .22LR. It’s got all of the same features, which are almost too many to list.

Our favorite features are the adjustable stock, adjustable trigger, free float M-Lok handguard, and the large bolt handle, to name a few. Of course, the accuracy is pretty nice as well.

Everything about the rifle is adjustable. You can change every aspect of the stock to fit your shoulder. You can adjust the trigger pull, thanks to the excellent Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger. You can even adjust the length of pull of the bolt. All of this directly adds in to the accuracy of the rifle.

Between the M-Lok handguard, the picatinny rail, and the AR-style pistol and safety, this rifle feels pretty natural in most peoples’ hands, and you’ll be able to easily mount any number of accessories to it. You’ll really enjoy shooting this rifle!

Top Features:

  • Accuracy. This goes without saying. Every aspect of the rifle is designed to make you a more accurate shot.
  • Customization options. Very easy to add accessories.
  • Adjustability. Like we said, every aspect of the rifle is fully adjustable, or so it seems.
  • Modern styling.

Comparisons

  • .22LR Rifle vs 9mm Carbine

This is a difficult comparison, because both rifles  are excellent choices. It’s hard to make a blanket decision, because they are both good at different things.

The rounds and rifles are similar in that they are both pretty small and compact, but they do have some huge differences. .22LR is definitely better suited for hunting, while 9mm would be way better for a defense rifle. The range of the 2 is nearly identical, but 9mm is slightly more accurate. However, 9mm is also more expensive.

If you’re just plinking, .22LR is always a great choice. It’s very cheap, pretty easy to find, very quiet, has almost no recoil, and is accurate enough for normal shooting. It’s also great for varmint hunting.

However, if you’re looking to shoot a bit more accurately or competitively, or if you’re looking for a defense oriented rifle, a 9mm carbine is a much better choice.

  • .22LR Rifle vs .22LR Pistol

.22LR is a pretty interesting cartridge because it’s available in so many different kinds of rifles. Let’s talk briefly about the differences between a .22LR rifle and a .22LR pistol.

Obviously, a rifle is a good bit larger and heavier than the pistol. This comes with some perks, because it’s much easier to shoot accurately with a rifle than with a pistol. Part of this is due to the size and the weight. The rifle will also fire the round at a higher velocity, which gives it a little bit more lethality.

Now, despite the fact that pistols are not as accurate to shoot, they do have some advantages. For example, they can be packed down really small in a pack and carried on a multi-day camping trip without even realizing.

If it were up to me, I would choose a .22LR rifle over a pistol. Specifically, I would choose a 10/22 Takedown, because it packs down almost as small as a pistol. I shoot much better with the rifle, and the extra muzzle velocity could help me. It also has greater range. However, if I were to be in a survival situation, I would not be opposed to having both a rifle and a pistol.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is the range of .22LR?

Out of a rifle, your range is about 150 yards. From a pistol, your accurate range is likely closer to 50 yards, but you may be able to stretch it to 75.

  • How accurate is .22LR?

.22LR is a rimfire cartridge. This means that it doesn’t have a centrally located primer, so there is a little bit more error in firing the cartridge. Inherently, this makes it less accurate than centerfire cartridges.

However, with high quality ammunition, a good rifle, and proper shooting technique, 1 inch groups at 75 yards aren’t out of the question. Keep in mind that rimfire ammunition is a little inconsistent, so you may have some shots that are way off.

  • How powerful is .22LR?

Simply put, not very. It is generally fired around 1300 feet per second, and generates a little over 130 foot pounds of energy. For comparison’s sake, 5.56x45mm NATO generates around 1800 foot pounds of energy.

  • Can I hunt with .22LR?

.22LR is great for varmint hunting. I like to use it for hunting squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and other varmints/small game. The round has the potential to kill larger animals, such as coyotes, hogs, and deer, but in my opinion, it’s not humane to do so.

Conclusion

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 rifle 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 .22LR rifle. While we have pointed out some features to keep in mind, you ultimately have to decide what your use for the rifle 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.

The Buying Process of the Best 22LR Rifle Demystified
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3 thoughts on “The Buying Process of the Best 22LR Rifle Demystified

  1. I would argue the h&k mp5 22lr is the best. With the collapsing stock you can throw it in a backpack for a weekend camping trip with a couple hundred rounds and have about as much fun as possible while pretending you are square in the middle of Nakatomi Plaza while giving your best Bruce Willis impression. Thing is reliable, accurate, and fun as all get out. Yippee ki yay MoFo!!

  2. “WEAPONS”??? Who would call a .22lr, let alone any firearm a weapon if it is not intended nor has ever been used as such? I’ve got a lot of guns, but until any is used as a weapon none are weapons.

  3. At the risk of being pedantic, I’m going to throw in with Nellbrowns. I’ve never used any of the firearms I currently possess as a weapon. Not yet anyway. Firearm is a better word.

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