The 10 Best .22 LR Rifles [2022]

Looking for the best .22 LR rifle? These five options are sure to please, with something for everyone from beginners to experienced shooters....

22lr reviews rifles
The 10 Best .22 LR Rifles [2022]
ImageProductPrice
Ruger 10 22 Carbine Semi-Automatic RifleOur Top Pick – Ruger 10/22 Carbine Semi-Automatic RifleCheck Price
Marlin Model 60 Semi-Automatic Rifle Runner-Up – Marlin Model 60 Semi-Automatic Rifle Check Price
CZ 455 American Bolt-Action Rifle Best Bolt-Action Rifle – CZ 457 American Bolt-Action Rifle Check Price
Ruger American Rimfire Compact Bolt-Action Rifle Runner-Up Bolt-Action Rifle – Ruger American Rimfire Compact Bolt-Action Rifle Check Price
Savage Mark II Bolt-Action Rifle Best Budget Bolt-Action Rifle – Savage Mark II Bolt-Action RifleCheck Price
Tikka T1x MTR Black Bolt-Action RifleBest Bolt-Action Hunting Rifle – Tikka T1x MTR Black Bolt-Action RifleCheck Price
Henry Classic Lever-Action RifleBest Lever-Action Rifle – Henry Classic Lever-Action RifleCheck Price
Anschütz 1710 HB Walnut Classic Bolt-Action RifleBest Premium Bolt-Action Rifle – Anschütz 1710 HB Walnut Classic Bolt-Action RifleCheck Price
Browning BL-22 Lever-Action RifleBest Premium Lever-Action Rifle – Browning BL-22 Grade II Lever-Action RifleCheck Price
Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster Pump-Action RifleBest Pump-Action Rifle – Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster Pump-Action RifleCheck Price

Introduction

The .22 Long Rifle caliber has been a staple of American firearms for more than a hundred years. It’s arguably one of the most practical, cost-efficient, and viable calibers you can find on any shelf in any gun store.

However, because of the caliber’s unwavering popularity, the firearms market is absolutely flooded with .22 LR rimfire rifles.

You can find a budget plinker for less than $100 and just as easily spot a premium-grade rifle for thousands of dollars, and still, we have new rimfire rifles and updated models coming out almost every year. It definitely can be mind-boggling and overwhelmingly difficult to pick a suitable .22 LR rifle.

Option paralysis aside, I managed to list out some of the best .22 LR rifles, some that I own, some I’d like to own, and one of my favorites.

Most of my picks are well-rounded and based on critical factors like price, brand reputation, reviews, recommendation, word of mouth, and, of course, unadulterated gut feeling.

Let’s start with the people’s favorite from our best .22 LR rifles.

Top 10 Best .22 LR Rifles

Our Top Pick – Ruger 10/22 Carbine Semi-Automatic Rifle

Ruger 10 22 Carbine Semi-Automatic Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Round capacity: 10+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 18.5 inches
  • Overall length: 37 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Stock: Synthetic
  • Finish: Satin black
  • LOP: 13.5 inches
  • Sights: Gold Bead front sight; Adjustable rear sight

Pros

  • Industry-standard .22 LR rifle
  • Impeccable reliability and cycling
  • Ruger quality and durability
  • Multiple models available
  • Countless aftermarket parts
  • Easy to operate and maintain

Cons

  • None, besides maybe plain aesthetics

There’s no better .22 all-rounder than the legendary Ruger 10/22. By no means am I saying that this is the best plinker ever, although you can easily make the case that it is, but I want to stress that it simply feels like it is.

Ruger 10 22 carbine review (4)
Ruger 10 22 carbine review (2)

Steamrolling in production since ‘64, the Ruger 10/22 Semi-Automatic Rifle was designed just for casual recreational shooting, but it slowly became one of the most successful rimfire rifles of all time.

The 10/22 offers smooth operation and reliability with a standard, cold hammer-forged barrel that’s held in place via the two-screw V-block system. Though the trigger housing is pure polymer, it’s very durable.

Ruger 10 22 carbine review

There’s a scope base adapter for Weaver-style optics as well, and the detachable rotary magazine, along with the extended mag release and well-placed safeties, makes it a very easy and convenient little shooter.

Ruger 10 22 carbine review (3)

I’m convinced that this iconic Ruger rifle should be in every plinker, competition championship holder, casual shooter, and hunter’s arsenal just for its sheer, unwavering reliability.

Ruger 10 22 carbine trigger

If you think otherwise, just look at all the various models and variations, copycats, and the vast amount of aftermarket parts that are uniquely made for this gun alone.

You can check out other models like the WWII M-1 carbine-inspired Hardwood, the lightweight and cheaper Ruger 10/22 Compact, the Sporter, and of course, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, which is a versatile survival rifle that easily folds and still retains its zero.

Runner-Up – Marlin Model 60 Semi-Automatic Rifle

Marlin Model 60 Semi-Automatic Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Round capacity: 14+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 19 inches
  • Overall length: 37.5 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Stock: Hardwood
  • Finish: Faux walnut
  • LOP: 13.25 inches
  • Sights: Adjustable open rear sight; Ramp front sight

Pros

  • Simplicity at its finest
  • Rust-resistant construction
  • More round capacity than the Ruger 10/22
  • Shoots right out of the box
  • Highly accurate

Cons

  • Hard to find (check the pawn shops)
  • Not much aftermarket availability
  • Picky eater

Introduced in 1960, the Remington-made Marlin Model 60 is an inexpensive yet brilliantly well-made semi-automatic sharpshooter that, much like the Ruger 10/22, is regarded as an American classic.

Both share the throne in terms of popularity, practicality, and functionality, but the Model 60 is an iconic .22 LR rifle with an excellent trigger that will last you long enough to become a family heirloom for future generations.

Marlin Model 60 .22 lr (2)

Many will appreciate the hardwood stock with a walnut finish and the full-pistol grip. That’s without mentioning the sling mounts that are more than suitable for hunters. Moreover, there’s an easily accessible cross-bolt safety above the trigger and a last-round bolt hold-open feature.

Marlin Model 60 .22 lr

The straight blowback operation design doesn’t exactly offer the sharpest precision ever, but shooting a .22 LR means shooting around the 50- to 100-yard range, so there’s no need for splitting hairs here. However, the Model 60 is a picky eater and stovepipes 40-grain Remington Thunderbolt bullets.

Older models manufactured before the 70s have a whopping 18-round capacity mag, so check your pawn shops.

Best Bolt-Action Rifle – CZ 457 American Bolt-Action Rifle

CZ 457 American Bolt-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Round capacity: 5+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 24.8 inches
  • Overall length: 38.2 inches
  • Weight: 6.17 pounds
  • Stock: Turkish walnut
  • Finish: Blued
  • LOP: 12.5 to 14.25 inches
  • Sights: 11mm Dovetail Optics Rail

Pros

  • Durable walnut stock and steel receiver
  • Modifiable length of pull
  • Same barrel from former 455 model can be swapped
  • Long barrel with a 1:16-inch twist rate for enhanced accuracy
  • Adjustable trigger

Cons

  • Might be heavy for some
  • 60-degree bolt rotation

The CZ 455 Bolt-Action Rifle has been the scourge of varmints across the US throughout the 2010s.

CZ 457 22LR (3)

Now that that time has passed, the new and improved CZ 457 American is the newest iteration that has seen the market in today’s post-pandemic era. Simply put, it’s a testament that CZ finally listened to the public’s feedback.

The latest CZ 457 has all the unnecessary stuff removed and has retained its former beauty and essential components from its predecessor. The ergonomics are also slightly changed with a slab-sided cut on the main profile, and this makes it even lighter.

CZ 457 22LR (2)

The lousy trigger has been enhanced for over-travel and creep, and now it’s adjustable, clean as a whistle, and crisp as deep-fried Russet taters. This alone makes it one of the best bolt-action .22 LR rimfire rifles I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting.

The loaded chamber indicator, magazine, swappable barrel system, and push-to-fire safety are still there, while the insane 90-degree bolt throw was replaced by a much quicker and smoother 60-degree pull which is suitable for scopes.

CZ 457 22LR

What’s more, the CZ 457 accepts other 455 barrels without the need for a gunsmith.

One of my other favorites that we’ve talked about is the CZ 457 Varmint Precision Trainer, if you’ve got a bit of a higher budget and want a slightly nicer version of the 457!

Runner-Up Bolt-Action Rifle – Ruger American Rimfire Compact Bolt-Action Rifle

Ruger American Rimfire Compact Bolt-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Round capacity: 10+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 18 inches
  • Overall length: 35.75 inches
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds
  • Stock: Interchangeable buttstock with comb height modules
  • Finish: Satin blued
  • LOP: 12.5 inches
  • Sights: Drilled and tapped for scope base

Pros

  • Excellent for beginners and youth shooters
  • Adjustable buttstock and length of pull
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Accepts 10/22 magazines
  • Available in many different calibers

Cons

  • Stiff bolt
  • Could use more aggressive grip texturing

The American Rimfire Compact is one of Ruger’s safest manually-operated bolt-action platforms. It’s lightweight, cost-efficient, and user-friendly.

Ruger American Rimfire review (2)

The American Rimfire Compact has open iron sights, tang safety on the back of the receiver, and adjustable trigger and barrel length. What’s more, it can accept Ruger 10/22 magazines, so that’s a big plus.

That being said, the polymer stock is a bit too smooth, and this greatly diminishes your control. Ruger could really make the textures more aggressive.

Ruger American Rimfire trigger review

Nevertheless, what makes it stand out is the interchangeable stock modules that allow you to adjust the LOP. The length of pull is already short, but with this feature, you can easily adjust it further as you get better. This is what makes it a great rifle for rookies despite the stiff bolt.

Ruger American Rimfire review

Best Budget Bolt-Action Rifle – Savage Mark II Bolt-Action Rifle

Savage Mark II Bolt-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Round capacity: 5+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 21 inches
  • Overall length: 39.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds
  • Stock: Synthetic
  • Finish: Satin blued
  • LOP: 13.3 inches
  • Sights: Drilled & tapped for optics rail

Pros

  • One of the cheapest options
  • Decent quality build
  • Wood and steel models are available
  • Long barrel for accuracy
  • Crisp and customizable AccuTrigger pulls

Cons

  • Barebones model with no essential features
  • Heavy for a budget rifle

The rifles I mentioned above are well within the reasonable price range for .22 LR rifles, but if you want to go even lower and not sacrifice quality, you’re looking at Savage Arms.

Savage Mark II BTV review

The Savage Mark II Bolt-Action Rifle is an old model that has seen a couple of decades, but it’s still going strong as ever.

It comes in a wide range of wood and synthetic stocks, hunting models like the Savage Mark II FV, Savage Mark II FVT, and Savage Arms B-Series that are worth checking out.

The reason why it’s so cheap is the single-stack 5-round capacity mag and no-nonsense, straight-feed system. It’s no competition shooter, but for some, that capacity may be all they need. There’s a 10-round mag if anyone’s asking.

Savage Mark II BTV review (3)

For a budget option, the polymer AccuTrigger really takes the cake. It’s a very cool, adjustable trigger system that lets you modify your trigger pull, and you won’t even need a gunsmith.

Savage Mark II BTV review (2)

Best Bolt-Action Hunting Rifle – Tikka T1x MTR Black Bolt-Action Rifle

Tikka T1x MTR Black Bolt-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Round capacity: 10+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 20 inches
  • Overall length: 39.6 inches
  • Weight: 6.4 pounds
  • Stock: Modular synthetic
  • Finish: Black
  • LOP: 13.25 inches
  • Sights: No iron sights; Drilled & tapped for scope base
Tikka T1X MTR (2)

Pros

  • Incredible accuracy
  • Single-stage trigger is adjustable from 2- to 4-pound trigger pull
  • Well-made for heat-resistance
  • Good, contoured ergonomics with a comfortable recoil pad
  • Suitable for both newbie and expert varmint hunters

Cons

  • Heavy in comparison to other rifles
  • Expensive

The Tikka T1x MTR (Multi-Task Rimfire) is the first .22 LR rifle from the Finnish gun maker. It caused quite the ruckus when its first supply was delayed, creating massive word-of-mouth chaos and increasing the demand for quite some time before the pandemic hit.

Much like its companion rifles in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, the Tikka T1x MTR is in a league of its own with untouchable accuracy and reliability thanks to its single-stage trigger, 20-inch barrel, and 1:16.5-inch rifling twist.

The controls are user-friendly, and the ergonomics, ⅓ fiberglass stock, and heat-resistant recoil bedding make it a hunter’s top choice. It has as heavy a barrel as the CZ rifle and with solid quality at that.

Tikka T1X MTR

As for the stainless steel bolt, it’s the smoothest, shortest, 1.5-inch run with rear locking lugs that shoot right out of the box. The 10-round magazines could have been flush, but it cycles brilliantly.

There’s also a .17 HMR model, and an ambidextrous model for lefties. All of these rifles are of top-notch quality, but the Tikka T1x MTR is the most popular choice, for sure.

Best Lever-Action Rifle – Henry Classic Lever-Action Rifle

Henry Classic Lever-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Lever-action
  • Round capacity: 15+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 18.5 inches
  • Overall length: 36.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.25 pounds
  • Stock: American Walnut
  • Finish: Blued
  • LOP: 14 inches
  • Sights: Iron sights; Drilled & tapped for scope base
Henry Classic Lever Action .22 (3)

Pros

  • The most fun .22 LR rifle to shoot
  • Quite compact
  • Proven quality and reliability
  • Aftermarket availability
  • Exception accuracy
  • Henry Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Slow reload for a Henry tubular magazine

Either blued or bright brass, a Henry Classic is a Henry Classic. Every piece of wood and metal is American-made, and the aesthetics are absolutely nothing short of brilliant.

The genuine walnut stock, blued steel barrel with multiple-groove rifling, and drilled & tapped receiver make it one of the most well-built .22 rimfire rifles, and it’s much cheaper than the competitors’ bolt-action rifles. The lever loop is large enough for larger or gloved hands.

Henry Classic Lever Action .22 (2)

With proper practice, arm movement, and muscle memory, I guarantee shooting it will be the most fun you’ve had in a while. The action feels smooth, and it’s not at all a hassle, so it’s a great lever-action gun for beginners.

Henry Classic Lever Action .22

If you want something smaller, the Repeating Arms Lever-Action Youth Model and the Henry Golden Boy Youth Rifle with a 16.25-inch barrel length and 12-round capacity are both good choices.

Then there’s the ultra-fancy option, the Henry Golden Boy. It has an immaculate design with solid shootability, but it’s expensive, heavy, and very hard to find.

Best Premium Bolt-Action Rifle – Anschütz 1710 HB Walnut Classic Bolt-Action Rifle

Anschütz 1710 HB Walnut Classic Bolt-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Match 54 bolt-action repeater
  • Round capacity: 4+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 23 inches
  • Overall length: 42 inches
  • Weight: 7.56 pounds
  • Stock: Classic walnut
  • Finish: Blued metal finish
  • LOP: 14.1 inches
  • Sights: No iron sights

Pros

  • Championship-grade competition rifle
  • Unmatched accuracy and performance
  • Dual-locking lugs for stability and control
  • Beautiful aesthetics

Cons

  • High-tier price
  • Heavy
  • Low aftermarket accessibility
  • Good luck finding one

I smugly added this Anschütz just to spite those who think that rimfire rifles don’t belong in the championship fields where centerfire rifles clearly dominate.

Anschutz 1710 DHB_ 22lr Rifle

The price tag of the Match 54 Series is as close as you can get to the “mortal realm” of civilians, and anything above is just competition-grade rifle tiers made for Olympics shooters.

The Anschütz 1710 HB Walnut Classic belongs to the Match 54 Series, among the 1710 AV (American Varmint), the 1710 D HB Classic, and the extra fancy 1710 D KL Monte Carlo.

Anschütz’s 1710 HB Walnut Classic can come off as bare-bones in comparison to the bunch, but you can bet it schutz.

Anschutz 1710 DHB_ 22lr Rifle (2)

It has a unique Match 54 bolt-action repeater mechanism, a standard, single-stage trigger, and a blued receiver with a 23-inch barrel that makes sure you hit nothing but mosquito-sized groups.

Then you have the even crazier variants that dominated the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, like the Anschütz 1761 Sporting Rifle, a rework of the 54 Sporting, or the  Anschutz 1416. Good luck finding one.

Best Premium Lever-Action Rifle – Browning BL-22 Grade II Lever-Action Rifle

Browning BL-22 Lever-Action Rifle

Specifications:

  • Action: Lever-action
  • Round capacity: 15 rounds
  • Barrel length: 20 inches
  • Overall length: 36.75 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Stock: Gloss Grade I Walnut
  • Finish: Polished; Blued
  • LOP: 13.5 inches
  • Sights: Iron sights & dovetail optics rail

Pros

  • Browning reliability
  • High-quality walnut stock
  • Easy 33-degree lever pull
  • Suitable for both experts and beginners

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Hard to find

If it’s not a Henry, it’s a Browning.

The Browning BL-22 Lever-Action Rifle is by far one of the classiest lever guns you can find on the market. If you can find one, that is.

Browning BL22 Grade 2 Lever Action 22LR Rifle

First off, it’s an absolute beauty, and you’ll have a hard time deciding whether you should take it to the ranges, go varmint hunting, or just mount it on your wall for showing off.

What makes it shine so bright is its intricate, well-designed trigger mechanism that goes in combination with the lever. The machined steel receiver does its job brilliantly. As for the accuracy, well, it’s a Browning rifle with a 20-inch barrel, so expect laser precision.

The lever has a really short 30-degree stroke, making for the quickest cycling this side of the Mississippi, and it’s great for rookies and experts alike.

There’s the Grade II version with an improved gold trigger mechanism, an engraved receiver, and cut checking on the forend, but it’s really expensive for this list, IMHO.

Best Pump-Action Rifle – Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster Pump-Action Rifle

Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster Pump-Action Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Pump-action
  • Round capacity: 15+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 21 inches
  • Overall length: 40 inches
  • Weight: 5.75 pounds
  • Stock: Walnut
  • Finish: Polished blued
  • LOP: 13.62 inches
  • Sights: Adjustable front & rear sights

Pros

  • Pump-action reliability
  • Can handle .22 Short, .22 Long, and .22 LR cartridges
  • Not a picky eater
  • Smooth and fast operation
  • Great for beginners
  • Adjustable front & rear sights

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Not the best choice for hunters

Want a pump-action .22 plinker? Sure you do.

The Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster has been brought back from the dead and is definitely one of the most high-performing bolt-action .22 rifles, also known as sliders.

It has a classic look with modern features. The larger body with a US-made walnut stock has great ergonomics, and the added weight lessens recoil.

The 21-barrel with a 16-round tube gives you an edge in accuracy with smooth and quick operation that’s suitable for strengthening your muscle memory for pump-action shotguns.

What makes it stand out is that it effortlessly eats .22 Short, .22 Long, and .22 LR cartridges, and the pump means fewer jams and stovepipes. I recommend some Remington Golden Bullet 36-grain round-nosed hollow points, 40-grain Thunderbolt LRN, or the bulk PHP bucket edition for the complete Remington experience.

The Remington 572 Fieldmaster Pump

Overall, the Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster is a pump-action plinker for those who don’t like picky eaters. It will serve you well, as long as you get used to cleaning it regularly.

Honorable Mentions

Here are two .22 LR rifles that are made for more specific purposes like survival and customization. Nonetheless, they are still great options worthy of mentioning.

Best Survival/Takedown Rifle – Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle

Henry AR-7 Survival Semi-Automatic Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Semi-automatic; Blowback
  • Round capacity: 8+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 16.5 inches
  • Overall length: 35 inches
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Stock: Polymer; Collapsible stock
  • Finish: Matte black
  • LOP: 14 inches
  • Sights: Bladed front sight; Adjustable peep rear sight

Pros

  • One of the most versatile survival rifles
  • Teflon-coated steel barrel and receiver withstand harsh weather and rust
  • Comes with two 8-round mags
  • Very reliable for a takedown rifle

Cons

  • It’s very lightweight, so the recoil is tough
  • Not a good option for plinking

Here’s something collapsible for the great outdoors.

Designed in 1959 for the US Air Force, the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle is the hunter’s lego set.

I was this close to fitting the Ruger 10/22 Takedown among the honorable mentions instead because it’s a great survival rifle, but it’s expensive. More importantly, though, the AR-7 Survival Rifle fits the bill better with its outstanding features.

First off, the Teflon-coated receiver and steel barrel make sure the rifle doesn’t have problems with rusting and harsh weather.

Second, the collapsible barrel, synthetic stock, and steel receiver are very easy to take down. You don’t need tools to do it, and it fits in a 17-inch backpack for the ultimate forest trekking. You can also fit the two 8-round magazines inside the stock.

There’s a Henry AR-7 Survival camo model, but it’s rarely in stock. Additionally, I recommend the Henry U.S. Survival Pack that comes with paracords, water filters, knives, tourniquets, blankets, and what have you.

Best Moddable Option – Smith & Wesson MP15-22 Sport Semi-Automatic Rifle

Smith _ Wesson MP15-22 Sport Semi-Automatic Rifle

Rifle Specifications:

  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Round capacity: 25+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 16.5 inches
  • Overall length: 33.8 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Stock: Polymer
  • Finish: Black
  • LOP: Adjustable
  • Sights: Magpul MBUS front and rear sights

Pros

  • Inspired by the AR design
  • Great value
  • High capacity which is great for target practice
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Quality blowback system for enhanced reliability
  • Low recoil

Cons

  • Blowback action causes fouling
  • Lower receiver is polymer

Last but not least, here’s S&W MP15-22 Sport. It’s a great moddable option that looks like an AR-15. A couple of years ago, S&W made an announcement, begging buyer’s not to purchase the rifle because of potentially dangerous bolt flaws. Luckily, they fixed the problem now, and boy, does it shoot.

There’s no direct impingement here, only a straightforward blowback system that’s designed for .22 LR ammo. Expect minimal recoil and muzzle rise, despite the 4.8-pound weight.

The lower is polymer and doesn’t suit AR-15 uppers, but it fits most of the common AR-15 parts, and it comes with a free 2-inch Picatinny rail for the modders jackpot.

All of the features like the two-position safety lever, shell deflector, standard AR pistol grip, 25-round magazine, 10-inches handguard with a Magpul M-LOK system, and MBUS sights, make it one of the best rifles with outstanding market value.

From training, plinking, or small game hunting, the MP15-22 Sport can do it all. I recommend this one if you’re absolutely done with blowing cash on .223/5.56 NATO bullets.

What To Look For in a .22 LR Rifle – A Buyer’s Guide

Before you purchase a .22 LR rifle, you need to consider two things:

  • The purpose of your purchase;
  • The action type.

All of the models I mentioned above excel with their features, shootability, and overall feel.

Every hand, eye, finger, and shoulder are different, and who knows, maybe those Tikka, Henry, Ruger, and CZ models really are good rifles. It just depends on how well you shoot.

Ask yourself what the main purpose of this purchase is. It’s equally important to know what they are capable of, who they’re most suited for, and how they work.

What’s Your Purpose?

I’m convinced that most of today’s .22 rifles are reliable enough and offer great value for both newbies and experts alike.

You need to fully grasp why you would need the .22 rifle, whether it’s for practicing, self-defense, or just getting rid of pesky vermin ruining your porch.

Practice Rounds

The most obvious reason why folks go for a .22 rifle is to teach their kids and newbies how to operate, shoot, and take care of their gun.

The .22 LR caliber is quiet, cheap, available, and doesn’t have much recoil. Since there’s minimal recoil, you don’t flinch as much before pulling the trigger.

Practicing with a .22 rifle means understanding the basics of firearms etiquette, maintenance, and overall experience, and starting out with a low recoil paves the way for bigger calibers when the time comes.

Self-Defense

Oh boy, here we go.

Never let anyone convince you that the .22 LR isn’t viable for self-defense or home defense. The .22 isn’t as powerful as the 9mm or the .380 ACP, but it’s more than enough to incapacitate a would-be assailant.

However, when you’re camping in the forest, and a grizzly bear decides to stop by, either stick with a .44 Magnum handgun or regular .30/06 rifle calibers.

Speaking of bears…

Hunting

Most hunters use the .22 LR caliber before moving to the big boys like the 30-06 or the .308 Winchester. It’s illegal to shoot deer, but there’s no caliber better in hunting small game and varmints like coyotes, rabbits, possums, and even ducks.

If you’re a hunter that’s looking for an accurate plinker, remember that shooting 1-inch groups at 75-yards is all you need for varmints. There’s no need for surgical precision rifles, in contrast to deer hunting calibers. We’re talking squirrels here.

Most brand-name rifles get the job done, but if you really want that edge, try different ammo types and velocities. This is what you should be focusing on.

Scopes are another thing. I suggest you pick anything with drilled and tapped receivers, Weaver-style or Picatinny rails.

Types of .22 LR Rifles

The venerable .22 caliber drives the force of the collision of two diagonally opposite spectrums of shooters; enthusiastic rookies to hardened competition shooting veterans.

For this reason alone, you got people scrambling to choose between all kinds of .22 LR rifles models, variations, barrel lengths, and action types.

We’re talking semi-autos, bolt-action, lever-action, and even pump-action rifles that fit the bill for all kinds of practical purposes like plinking, hunting, competition shooting, self-defense, and of course, teaching the basics of hunting. It’s imperative that you know how these rifles work.

Let’s start with bolt-action rifles.

Bolt Action and Single Action

Bolt-action rifles can be cycled manually via a handle.

Although they need a little bit of practice and hand motion techniques, they are extremely reliable and efficient. Since the action can be manually operated, they are also great with suppressors.

Single-action .22 rifles are a sort of subtype for bolt-action rifles.

You need to handload every single shot, which makes for a great practice rifle. They’re difficult to come by, but they’re easy to maintain due to the handful of moving parts.

Lever Action

Lever Action .22 rifles are also hand-cycled, usually via a mag tube below the barrel. But, instead of a handle that’s attached to the bolt, there’s a lever on the trigger that’s operated vertically.

In my opinion, these are the most fun to operate and shoot, and you can find fantastic lever-action rifles in other calibers with attractive price tags.

Pump Action

Pump-action rifles are just what you think they are. They feed from a magazine tube, and they cycle via pump on the fore-end of the rifle.

I haven’t seen any other pump-action rifles besides the Remington 572 BDL Fieldmaster, and they’re really hard to find.

Semi-Automatic Rifles

Last but by no means least, these are the most common .22 rifles that range from popular budget options to high-tier competition shooters.

They feed from the box magazines that are usually with a 10-, 15-, and even 25-round capacity.

Simply pull the trigger and shoot, but keep a steady tempo because these are arguably the most jams.

Keeping your .22 LR Rifle Clean

Last but not least, let’s talk about hygiene.

The .22 LR is the piglet of firearms, meaning it’s absolutely baffling how easy it fouls up and botches your rifle’s cycling, especially semi-auto rifles, which are super picky when it comes to ammo.

Nobody likes stovepipes and jams, so remember to regularly clean your plinker with CLPs, gun oils, and solvents.

If it jams often, I suggest you stick to lead-nosed bullets like the Remington Golden Bullet 36-grain round-nosed hollow points or the Winchester M22 40-grain. Most .22 rifles are picky eaters, so consult your user’s manual for more info.

Conclusion

You’ve probably heard conflicting ideas and all kinds of recommendations that further complicate your .22 LR rifle choice.

If you’re just dipping your feet with the .22 LR, pick your very own Ruger 10/22 model, and start from there. With its accuracy, ergonomics, size, and reliability, the Ruger 10/22 has set the standard of what a .22 rifle should be.

The Marlin Model 60 isn’t as modular as the 10/22, but it has a far superior out-of-the-box performance, and if you’re looking for some fun, a good old lever-action .22 rifle will do the trick.

Just follow your gut, hold some rifles at the gun shop, shoot them at the range if you can, and pick the one that speaks to you.

The .22 LR rifle is an important landmark in American culture and heritage. I know how difficult it is to sell off a family heirloom that has been passed down for generations. Besides how viable and flexible this round is for varmint hunting, that should tell you all you need about its value.

Some folks barely consider any newer models and settle for their dad’s rifle that’s inherited from grandpa and his father before him, ad infinitum, or at least to the stone age.

I don’t see any prehistoric slingshots, so I’ll just shoot my rifles and happily wait for the next big thing.

Stay safe, and shoot straight.

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Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.

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