Firearms

The Best .22 LR Rifle on a Budget: The Rossi RB 22 (Rule Beater)

Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle, with magazine inserted, right quartering away

What should you expect from a rifle retailing for around $150? Maybe not much. Then again, you may just get more than your money’s worth. I picked up the Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle illustrated for a song. Retail today is a little less than $160, while mine was a bit less (two years ago).

I really have not used it often. However, I realized I owned a ridiculous number of .22 rimfire rifles and should cut down a little. This meant firing each and evaluating their usefulness.

Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle, right profile
The Rossi RB 22 (Rule Beater) .22 LR rifle is affordable, but that is not code for cheap. Instead, it is full of features.

Rossi RB 22 Features

The Rossi RB 22 Compact Rifle is a neat little bolt-action rifle with many good features. It is lightweight and will digest a wide range of .22 Long Rifle ammunition. It will also use CB Long and .22 Short as a single shot. You may be able to convince .22 Short to feed — if you are careful.

The barrel and magazine are marked ‘Long Rifle only.’ So, don’t complain. Just the same, most .22 Short and certain CB Long will be used in single-shot fashion. .22 Short feeds just fine in my model.

The rifle is a good choice for informal target shooting, plinking, and teaching new shooters how to fire a rifle. The Rossi is lightweight and may be a youth rifle. It works well for anyone needing an ultra-light .22 rimfire.

The rifle is manufactured in Brazil. It is way shy of a yard at a mere 32.6 inches. Weight is under four pounds and balance was good. The stock has a European look that I find attractive. The stock is smooth, save for a web-type abrasion around the semi pistol grip and forend.

The trigger guard is plenty large for gloved hand use. There is a push button safety in front of the trigger guard. This bolt-type safety is positive in operation. The safety may only be applied when the rifle is in the cocked position.

Magazine and mag release wit the disconnect in between
Note easy access to the magazine release. The bolt-type safety is positive in operation.

The steel magazine holds 10 .22 LR cartridges. The magazine release is large and easily manipulated. Someone designed this rifle with ergonomic operation in mind, and it becomes apparent the more the rifle is used. The receiver is grooved for the typical inexpensive rimfire scope. I found no need to mount optics at this point.

The sights are excellent, no matter what price rifle you are dealing with. The rear sight features twin fiber-optics in green. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. No tiny screws here. Instead, the Rossi RB 22 features two large knobs with excellent gripping surface.

Why such complex sights on an inexpensive rifle? The Rossi RB 22 is accurate enough to demand good sights. The front sight is protected by a robust hood. The front sight is a red fiber-optic enclosed in a robust post. These sights offer a good sight picture that is easily picked up quickly.

Green glowing rear sight on the Rossi RB 22 in low light
The author took this image in dim light. The green fiber-optic is highly visible.

I found that precise shooting and fast, snap shooting was easily carried out. These sights invite firing with both eyes open. I improved the trigger by cleaning grease from the action and dry firing with a snap cap in place. The result was a fairly clean 4.0-pound trigger on the RCBS scale. Overall, a recipe for decent accuracy was inherent in the sights, trigger, and nicely shaped stock. Let’s look at the specifications before we continue.

RB 22 Specifications

  • Barrel length: 16.50 inches
  • Length: 31.20 inches
  • Height: 7.30 inches
  • Width: 1.70 inches
  • Weight: 52.00 ounces
  • Rate: 1:16-inch RH Twist
  • Grooves: 6

Firing the rifle was a joy. The steel magazine was easily loaded. Topped off, the magazine locked in place easily. The bolt is smooth with a short, light bolt throw. You will be able to fire and work the bolt quickly for a follow-up shot if needed. This is fine practice for hunting game, and the bolt-action rifle is certainly accurate enough for small game hunting.

During the test, I found myself wondering what it would do with an optic mounted. There are small rails for mounting a traditional, low-power, rimfire scope. But then, I have scoped rifles. This little gun is destined for other chores.

CB .22 Short ammunition and 5-shot group in one ragged hole
Loaded one at a time, CCI .22 Short cartridges provided good accuracy.

Most of the shots were offhand while firing at stationary targets at known and unknown ranges. I also settled down and fired a few shots over the benchrest to test accuracy. I chronographed several cartridges for velocity as it is an interesting pursuit.

Velocity was good to very good for a 16-inch barrel rifle. There is also an 18-inch barrel version you may find interesting. Current production includes a threaded barrel… hint-hint.

I fired for accuracy from a bench rest at 25 yards. At this range, accuracy was very good. With an optical sight, the rifle should easily stay in 2 inches for three shots at 50 yards. That is surprising accuracy for this type of rifle.

Then again, a bolt-action rifle with a well-cut chamber should be accurate. I had a great deal of fun with the Rossi during the test program. As for whittling down the rack of .22s, no, the Rossi RB wasn’t one of them. It is too good and too inexpensive to part with.

Accuracy and Chronograph Testing

Velocity was tested at 15 feet. Groups were fired at 25 yards — three-shot groups from an MTM Case-Gard shooting rest.

Load

Velocity (FPS)

Group (inches)

CCI Stinger1,4091.25
CCI Mini Mag1,230.75
CCI Mini Mag Segmented1,2241.0
CCI Suppressor929.8
CCI Velociter1,350.9
*CCI Quiet6601.3
Federal Game Shock1,1311.2

*A joy to fire! Very low DCB, shoots low compared to others due to the low velocity.

I fired a few ‘rat shot’ cartridges with good results but did not run them over the chrono. I was concerned an errant pellet may impact my not inexpensive chronograph.

At the price, with plenty of accuracy, and given the fact the Rossi RB 22 is chock full of features, it’s hard to beat, but you be the final judge. What’s your opinion of the RB 22? Would it have a home in your gun safe? Share your answers in the Comment section.

  • CCI Mini Mag segmented .22 LR ammunition and paper bullseye target with two groups
  • CCI Stinger .22 LR ammunition and paper raccoon target
  • Load testing target for the Rossi RB 22 Semi-auto .22 LR rifle and paper target
  • CCI Mini Mag segmented .22 LR ammunition and paper bullseye target
  • CB .22 Short ammunition and 5-shot group in one ragged hole
  • Red cocking indicator on a .22LR rifle
  • Bole in the open position on a .22 LR rifle
  • Magazine and mag release wit the disconnect in between
  • Box magazine with green follower for the Rossi RB 22 semi-automatic rifle
  • Green glowing rear sight on the Rossi RB 22 in low light
  • REd fiber optic front post with hood on the RB 22 .22 LR Rossi gun
  • Red fiber optic front sight and hood on the Rossi RB 22 rifle
  • Fiber optic rear sight on the Rossi RB 22 rifle
  • Adjustment knob for the rear sight on the Rossi RB 22 gun
  • Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle with 18-inch barrel
  • Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle, with magazine inserted, right quartering away
  • Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle, right profile
  • Rossi RB 22 .22 LR rifle, right quartering to

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. Budget .22s 🙂 Bought my wife a Marlin-Glenfield 75 back in ’77. Still shooting it today.

    Saw someone mention the Taurus 85. We got her one of those when they first came out. She liked it and still shoots it some. But after shooting the M&P .380 EZ I got for my daughter, I had to buy the EZ for my wife too.

  2. @Marianne Whitney, another budget minded revolver model to look at would be the Armscor/Rock Island Armory M200 or M206. The 200 has a 4″ bbl and the 206 is the 2″ snub nose. They’re chambered for .38 Spl only. 6 shot cylinder. I’ve had the M206 for a few years and it’s provided great service and reliablity. It’s no S&W for about $200-250 new it’s perfectly fine.

    @Bob Campbell, glad the Rossi is working for you. My DIL got a Rossi break action .243 a few years ago for deer hunting. It was inexpensive, accurate, quick to maneuver… but even right out of the box it absolutely refused to fire Remington factory ammo. Out of 100 rounds it managed to set off two. The rest had solidly dented primers. Federals, Winchesters, no problem. Couldn’t rely on it to shoot any type of factory ammo it was fed. Only being able to shoot selected makers means it’s no good. Rossi’s CS said “We don’t know, just don’t shoot Remington in it.” Unacceptable answer and turned me off to their products.

  3. I purchased a Rossi RB22M (.22 mag model) and it was a failure the first time I tried to shoot it… Would not feed any type of ammunition, and the fore end of the plastic stock started to warp away from the barrel. After numerous calls to Rossi/Taurus in Bainbridge, Georgia, I was finally told to return the firearm to them for repair…(Rossi DOES NOT/WILL NOT give refunds). Almost one year later Rossi informed me that the parts which were “on order from Brazil” were no longer available and they would be sending me a new firearm. I had to go to a local FFL dealer, pay another $35 NICS fee (In addition to the $85 I paid UPS to ship the original rifle back to Rossi). Rossi/Taurus has the absolute worst customer service I have ever encountered. I made dozens of phone calls to them, spent many hours while waiting on “hold” to speak to a supervisor or manager, and wrote numerous letters asking about the status of my rifle. One Rossi customer service agent actually denied that they received the rifle that I sent them, even though UPS provided proof of signed delivery receipt. Never, ever will I purchase a Rossi product again.

  4. In 2019 I bought a Rossi .22 semiautomatic rifle because I wanted something using inexpensive ammo. It is the same rifle as the Mossberg Plinkster – uses the same magazines. Paid $99 on sale. Agree with the review, especially the wonderful sights. I’m sure the bolt action model is at least as good as the semiautomatic.

  5. In 2019 I bought a Rossi .22 semiautomatic rifle because I wanted something using inexpensive ammo. It is the same rifle as the Mossberg Plinkster – uses the same magazines. Paid $99 on sale. Agree with the review, especially the wonderful sights. I’m sure the bolt action model is at least as good as the semiautomatic.

  6. Thank you Bob for your service, your experience, cumulative knowledge and dedication to the shooting sports. At 67 I too enjoy helping and introducing both young and old to shooting sports with that which I’ve gleaned since the age of 6. I still have so much to learn. Again, thank you.

  7. Marianne

    I would say if you are on a budget, the Taurus 85 or the Taurus 856 is ideal.

    Try to find one with a three inch barrel.

    Watch for articles on snub .38s coming soon
    Bob

  8. Norm

    Are we talking about the same rifle???

    In my entire life I have yet to see a bolt action .22 rifle failure to feed, chamber, fire or extact
    bob

  9. I’m not looking for a rifle right now. I am looking for a small (38,357,etc.) for household protectionon a budget. Thank-You.

  10. To me anything Rossi is a definite no. Several years back I bought a Circuit Judge, it was fine, I liked it and still have it. Then a chunk of the stock fell off right behind the cylinder release so I called and was told how sorry they were and send it to us and we’ll replace it. That took over a year. After calling a few times I finally got the new one. That didn’t fit very well and started to split just behind the hammer within a year. Went through the whole process again, and have never received a replacement yet. For a while I had a Houge grip on it. Its really just a Taurus Tracker. Then I heard Boyd stocks started making replacements so i got one of them. Works fine. A year later I called Rossi just out of curiosity and they said I’m on the list for a new stock as soon as they get them in. Ok. Never do business with them again.

  11. I have a Marlin 795? which I tricked out as an Appleseed model, I believe it was about $139.00. Ten round mag. & some trigger work. Very accurate rifle at 50 yds. I have it set up with a Simmons scope (variable objective) on a 20moa rail for 100yds. I couldn’t figure out why it was shooting 1″ high at 100 adding the moa rail solved that problem. The Appleseed project had some rifles made up to their specs at the Marlin factory. By the time I was interested they were all gone. Marlin’s barrel on that model is exceptionally accurate.

  12. I bought mine as an alternative to the expensive 10/22. Thought it would be ok as I own several Taurus and Rossi guns. I have had numerous failure to feed so I bit the bullet and now own the Ruger. Fortunately I bought it on sale for $99.

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