If more boys grew up with a 22 rimfire rifle, if more men spent their weekends with a 22 rifle, and if more mothers shared a 22 rifle with their daughters, maturity would thrive, and the world be a much more pleasant place. A rimfire rifle is the tool all shooters should be started on. They’re the most fun and affordable guns to shoot, and a house without one is as desolate as a Monday is long.
Would You Buy A Rimfire Today?
The ongoing shortage of .22 rimfire ammo has become the new normal for shooters and while availability has slowly improved the situation isn’t anything like it used to be. Purchases are still rationed in most places and online retailers remain back ordered. It isn’t clear when, or if, this is going to change.
The culprit here, of course, is us. Manufacturers are churning rimfire ammo out as fast as they can—Winchester recently added thousands of square feet of production explicitly for rimfire production—but it hasn’t been enough. Shooters keep hoarding all the rimfire ammo they can lay their hands on, which has perpetuated the crisis.
Read Next: 10 Top Precision Rimfire Rifles for Competition
Given this, we are faced with a conundrum. Does it make sense to purchase rimfire firearm in this environment? This used to be a no-brainer for first time shooters and casual plinkers, but if ammo isn’t readily obtainable, is it a smart move?
And a deeper question is does this rimfire shortage hinder our ability to recruit and encourage the next generation of shooters?
The 12 Best Rimfire Rifles
Here’s our list of the best rimfire rifles. Whether you’re in the market to buy a rimfire rifle or not, (you should be), these models will help you make your decision.
Best Survival .22 Rifle: Henry US Survival AR 7
Engineered by the man who designed the AR 15, this takedown rimfire rifle was conceptualized as a survival gun for Air Force pilots. They’re reliable, accurate, and the ideal behind-the-truck-seat rifle. The AR 7 is also offered in a survival kit for $550 with a bunch of good-day-gone-bad goodies including a Buck knife, food bars, and a space blanket.
Best Classic Rimfire: Ruger 10/22
Now more than 50 years old, this little semi-automatic rimfire has become the gold standard by which all 22 rifles are judged. A tremendous value for the dollar, the 10/22 is available in a multitude of configurations including takedown and target models. It is also one of the most customizable rimfire rifles ever created. Any boy with designs on becoming a real man should grow up with one, and every father should spend his money on one.
Best Affordable Rimfire: Ruger American
These rifles might be the best example of modern American gun making. They are reliable, accurate, and affordable. They’re also available chambered in the 22 LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR. And, you can choose between compact or standard length models, with or without sights, and with either a synthetic, wood, or laminated target style stock. The 22 LR rifle models feed from Ruger 10/22 magazines and the trigger is user adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.
Best Rimfire for Everyday Hunters: CZ 455 American
For the money you’ll not find a rimfire rifle that shoots with more precision. The 455 American features a Turkish walnut stock and bluing as deep as the iris of an Irish maiden. A match grade adjustable trigger is standard, and the 455 comes chambered in the three most popular rimfire cartridges: 22 LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR. There’s even combo package that includes two barrels – one for the 22 LR and one for 17 HMR – that the end user can change on their own.
Best AR-Style Rimfire: Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport
If fun is what you seek, look no further. Configured to mimic the feel and function of America’s most popular rifle – the AR 15 – the M&P 15-22 Sport is a rifle that will help transform your range into a shooting gallery. With 13 variants to choose from, you’re bound to find one everyone in the family will enjoy. And, at less than five pounds, this rifle is light enough everyone in the family can handle it.
The Best Upscale Semi-Auto Rimfire: Browning SA 22 Grade 1
Available in several grades priced from $700 to $1600, the Browning SA 22 might be the ultimate, up-scale, semi-automatic, rimfire rifle. Fitted with open sights, beautiful wood, and bluing that will make your knees weak; this lithe five-pound semi-auto rifle is as accurate as it is elegant. Just as at home on the range as it is in the field, it’ll turn heads, ventilate pop cans, and cap squirrels with regularity.
Best Pump-Action Rimfire:Remington 572 Fieldmaster
An iconic rimfire pump-action design, it calls back to a time when you could by rimfire ammunition by the single round, and when rimfire rifles were used to feed families. The tubular magazine will hold 15 rounds of 22 LR, and its one of the few rimfire rifles that will reliably feed and fire 22 Short, 22 Long, and 22 LR ammo with the smoothness of the inner thigh of a super model.
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Best Rimfire Rifle for High-End Hunters: Steyr Zephyr II
The Zephyr II is a grown man’s rimfire rifle. Intended for the field, it shoots well enough to win a bench rest match. It comes standard with a European walnut stock fitted with a Bavarian cheek piece. It has a five-round detachable magazine, and elegantly simple but practical and beautiful fish-scale checkering. It is available in 22 LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR. You’ll brag about its accuracy in the squirrel woods, and about its loveliness around the campfire.
Most Accurate Rimfire for Hunting: New Ultra Light Arms Model 20RF
If you want to shoot the center out of a nickel at 100 yards with a 22, this is the single shot for you. Built by bolt-action rifle genius Melvin Forbes of West Virginia, it comes on a proprietary, hand-machined action with dual extractors. A Douglas barrel and a Timney trigger are standard, and it’s available in right and left hand, weighs less than six pounds, and comes with Talley one-piece scope mounts.
Read Next: Top 10 Best Lever-Action Rifles
Best Lever-Gun .22 Long Rifle: Marlin 39A
Regarded by many as the premier rimfire rifle ever built, unfortunately they’re now only available through the Marlin Custom Shop. And, a new one in the Extra Fancy version that is offered will wear your wallet out. You can find used 39As in a variety of configurations for around $500. The real find – the one small game hunters pine for – is the TDS (take-down-special) version with a 16.25-inch barrel.
Best New Semi-Auto Rimfire: Savage A22 BNS-SR
Savage’s A22 line is actually an offshoot of it’s A17 line, which was designed as the first reliable semi-automatic rifle chambered in .17 HMR. The BNS-SR model hit the market in 2020 and brings a “real-rifle feel to the rimfire game (It weighs 6.6 pounds and has an overall length of 37 inches). Read Tyler Freel’s full review on the Savage BNS-SR here. The rifle features a nice laminate stock, a pistol grip, and a suppressor ready barrel.
Best Precision Rimfire for Your Money: Christensen Arms Ranger
Christensen Arms is known for making quality, light-weight precision rifles and their Ranger 22 is a good fit for the brand. It sports the company’s carbon fiber tension barrel and a carbon fiber composite stock.
It’s tricked out with 0 MOA picatinny rail, and a match grade Rem 700 style trigger and is backed by Christensen Arms’ Sub-MOA at 50 yards guarantee. It utilizes a 10/22 compatible magazine. All these features aren’t going to cost you as much as you might expect, the MSRP is $795, which makes it very competitive in this line up of quality rimfires.