.22 LR rifles are great for a number of uses, such as small-game hunting, target shooting, training new shooters and plinking at the range. Best of all, .22 LR ammo is cheap and recoil is almost non-existent. Whatever your purpose, having a good .22 LR rifle is an asset.
However, with so many on the market, how do you know what .22 LR rifle is for you? If you choose one of the firearms on this list, you’re sure to have a high-quality and fun .22 LR rifle.
1. Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Any list of the best .22 LR rifles wouldn’t be complete without the beloved and ever-popular Ruger 10/22 in one of its various forms. I’ve selected the 10/22 Takedown, but you can opt for the standard model as well. The Takedown model can be quickly separated in half for easy transportation and storage.
All Ruger 10/22 variations are accurate and reliable semi-auto .22 LR rifles that are great for plinking and small-game hunting. The 10/22 also offers a host of magazine options, from compact 10-rounders to 25-round sticks and 50-round drums.
Additionally, no other .22 LR rifle on this list has the same amount of aftermarket support for everything from replacement sights to stock chassis. This allows you to truly customize your Ruger 10/22 and make it your own. Personally, my favorite 10/22 Takedown upgrade is the Magpul Backpacker stock that allows the barrel to store attached to the stock.
2. S&W M&P15-22 Sport
For shooters with more tactical tastes, the Smith and Wesson M&P15-22 Sport provides a great platform to fire .22 LR. The M&P15-22 has the same features and battery of arms as a standard AR-15 rifle, so it makes a great training aid. Practice your mag changes, malfunction clearance drills and trigger control on a platform that translates directly to your main AR-15.
It incorporates an M-Lok handguard to attach any standard AR-15 accessories and has a six-position stock to create that perfect fit. Further, the receiver has a top rail for mounting optics and a threaded barrel to attach a suppressor or flash hider. Constructed of lightweight polymer receivers, this .22 LR rifle is easy to tote around.
3. Savage Mark II FV-SR
For target shooting and small-game hunting, the Savage Mark II FV-SR offers outstanding performance. This bolt-action rifle utilizes a heavy threaded barrel to provide consistent shot placement round after round. A heavy barrel is less susceptible to flex and takes longer to heat up, helping to keep your shots on target for longer.
Additionally, an optics rail makes mounting a scope or optic a breeze, whether you’re looking for a red dot or a magnified scope. The rifle is fed through a detachable box magazine that holds five rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition. The Mark II FV-SR also features a user-adjustable Savage AccuTrigger, allowing shooters to fine-tune their trigger pull for a crisp and clean break.
4. Christensen Arms Ranger 22
This next option is the most expensive on the list, but it provides exceptional performance and match-grade accuracy. Built from the ground up as a precision bolt-action rifle platform, the Ranger 22 has it all and delivers the goods. The Christensen Arms Ranger 22 has a hand-lapped barrel with a match chamber, and the company guarantees it to shoot sub-MOA at 50 yards. The carbon-fiber composite stock and carbon-fiber wrapped barrel is not only stylish, it makes this rifle lightweight and easy to carry.
The Ranger 22 is compatible with Ruger 10/22 magazines and utilizes a Trigger Tech Remington 700 trigger. Further, dual ejectors and dual opposing locking lugs provide an extremely durable and reliable action. This is an excellent .22 LR rifle and if you’re going to be doing some serious target shooting, this is the one for you.
5. CZ USA 457 Scout
The CZ 457 is purpose-built for training new shooters and hunters. My favorite models are the Scout and Precision. It includes an adapter to make the bolt-action rifle a single-shot, but can also be configured to use detachable CZ 455 box magazines.
The Scout model features a Beechwood stock and adjustable iron sights, and the Precision model features an AR-15 style adjustable stock. Either option is equipped with a rock-solid receiver that is machined with an integral 11mm optics mount with a 60-degree bolt lift to give you a wide range of optic choices. The CZ 457 has an adjustable trigger, so you can really dial the rifle in to your specific preferences. This rifle is not only great for training new shooters, it is also a blast to use at the range or small-game hunting.
6. Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle
The Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle is similar to the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, in that it can be separated into multiple parts for easy storage and transport. However, the AR-7 is designed with a synthetic stock that provides storage for the barrel and action when disassembled. The stock also has room to store additional eight-round magazines and .22 LR ammunition.
This is a great choice for a bug-out situation and it easily fits inside a backpack. The rifle features a steel barrel with an ABS plastic cover and teflon coating. There are also camouflage versions that are great for blending in to the environment. Additionally, the AR-7 includes an adjustable peep rear sight and blade front sight.
7. Marlin Model 60
The Marlin Model 60 has been one of the most popular small-caliber rimfire rifles for over 50 years! Great for beginners and experienced shooters alike, the Marlin Model 60 has many of the classic features you’d expect on a traditional rifle, like the walnut Monte Carlo stock and blued steel.
This American classic sports hair-splitting accuracy, rugged reliability and sleek lines. The Model 60 incorporates a last-round bolt hold-open feature, as well as a 14-round tube magazine. Additionally, the adjustable rear and ramp front sighting setup are easy to learn, and the cross-bolt manual safety is great for training new shooters or when transporting your rifle while out small-game hunting.
How to Choose a .22 Rifle
Picking a .22 rifle will be largely dependent on your purpose for the rifle. If you want a fun plinker for the range, a standard Ruger 10/22 or Marlin Model 60 are good options. For more serious target shooting or small-game hunting, the Christensen Arms Ranger 22 or the Savage Mark II FV-SR are top choices. If you’re looking for a good survival rifle for your bug-out bag, the 10/22 Takedown or Henry AR-7 are the clear winners. Finally, the CZ 457 Scout and Keystone Crickett rifles are great for training new shooters and children on the fundamentals of shooting.
Why Buy a .22 LR Rifle?
Having a good .22 LR rifle can be useful for a number of reasons. Primarily, a .22 rifle is fun and inexpensive to shoot. If you love firearms, then you likely love shooting, and having a good .22 allows you to shoot more for less.
The .22 Long Rifle is also useful for hunting small game and varmints, as well as critter and pest control around the property. A .22 LR rifle will also do for self-defense in a pinch (though it is not optimal), especially if you cannot make accurate hits with a larger caliber.
Finally, another great reason for owning a .22 rifle is for teaching young or new shooters. The .22 LR is not too loud and has little recoil, making it a great option to train marksmanship fundamentals.
Conclusion: Best .22 LR Rifles
.22 LR rifles are great for target shooting, training new shooters, small-game hunting and plinking at the range. They’re lightweight, have little recoil and the ammunition is inexpensive. Whatever your intended purpose, if you choose any of the firearms on this list, you are sure to have one of the best .22 LR rifles.
What do you think are the best .22 LR rifles? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.