Among the most useful, versatile and functional rifles for anyone to own is a good .22 self-loader. If you can own only one rifle, it should be the .22. My grandfather taught me to shoot well, taught me safety and was a fine role model.
He never owned a centerfire rifle. I grew up shooting a single-shot rifle and then moved straight to the .22 caliber self-loader. I did not own the most expensive rifles, but I cannot recall a malfunction of any type as a young teen hunting.
I have taken quite a number of bedded rabbits with headshots and even a few running rabbits with through-the-shoulder shots. Squirrels were no more difficult. A few possums were taken. Funny, at one time I felt that I needed a bolt-action rifle to be more accurate.
I owned a heavy bolt action for several years and pulled off some amazing shots but went back to the self-loader a bit later. I never looked back.
Today, we’ll take a look at another self-loader: the Rossi RS22.
Rossi RS22 Design Features
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a decent .22. The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is a low-pressure number. It is almost a surprise we are able to convince a rimmed cartridge with a heel based bullet to feed in a modern self-loading action.
The Rossi RS22 is an affordable rifle that costs less than $130. Yet the rifle isn’t by any means a “cheap rifle.” The Rossi has features that were not available on expensive rifles when I was a youngster.
The rifle features a synthetic stock that is impervious to oil, solvent and weather. The 18-inch barrel is free-floated. The rifle isn’t an inspired new design; it is similar in most ways to the proven Marlin 60 rifle.
The front sight features a bright fiber optic for maximum visibility. The front sight is protected by a removable hood. My truck guns sometimes get thrown around more than they should and I like the protected hood.
The rear sight is fully adjustable, and more importantly, easily adjustable. There are green fiber optics set on each side of the rear sight. This is a sight system that offers a very rapid bead on the target.
A marauding rodent in the garden or a dangerous reptile demand fast shooting. The Rossi RS22 system also offers real precision when properly lined up. By precision, I mean putting the 40-grain pill exactly where you want it at 25 yards or so.
If you need a .22 more accurate than that, then you may need a different rifle. For 90 percent of what rifles are used for, the Rossi RS22 is ideal. While the sights are easily adjusted without tools, it isn’t difficult to mount optics if desired.
Other Rossi RS22 Specs
The rifle is a simple blowback action. The bolt features an extended cocking lever. While normally an expensive aftermarket addition, the extended lever wasn’t hard to work into the design, I am certain.
The bolt holds open on the last shot—uncommon in an inexpensive .22 rifle. The only rifle I own in .22 rimfire that locks open on the last shot (other than this one) is a Thompson/Center T/CR22.
The magazine must be removed to release the bolt, and then a push is all that is needed. The rifle features a 10-round detachable box magazine. The magazine catch isn’t difficult to operate.
The trigger on the test rifle was 6.25 pounds when unboxed, but after a few hundred cartridges broke cleanly at 6.0 pounds. If you train young shooters, you do not want a light trigger, but a smooth and manageable trigger is good to have.
RS22 Feel and Function
The Rossi RS22 has been a lot of fun to fire and use. Firing at small targets at known and unknown ranges builds marksmanship. Even firing at dirt clods at the 100-yard berm has been interesting.
At this point, I am nearing 900 total rounds without a malfunction and minimal cleaning, but regular lubrication. As for absolute accuracy, the Rossi has proven generally accurate.
At 25 yards, the Rossi is good for shoulder shots on game, and headshots (perhaps with optics). With the standard iron shots, the rifle has exhibited four-inch groups at 50 yards. Most of the ammunition has been bulk ammunition, such as the Winchester Wildcat.
In the end, the rifle isn’t cheap but it is affordable. The Rossi RS22 is, overall, a solid performer.
What do you think of the Rossi RS22? Do you use self-loaders? Let us know in the comments below.