7 Best 22LR Rifles for Plinkers, Hunters, and Survivalists in 2024 [UPDATED]

by Travis Pike

October 6, 2023



No armory, arsenal, or collection is complete without some form of a 22LR rifle. The venerable 22 Long Rifle earned its fame by being one of the smallest, most efficient cartridges known to man. It’s the most successful rimfire cartridge known to man and became super popular due to its affordable price point, its low recoil, minimal noise, and the fact it’s super fun to shoot.

22LR rifles are and always have been superbly popular and come in all shapes and sizes. You can find semi-auto rifles, bolt actions, lever actions, single shots, pump actions, and heck, even revolving cylinder actions. With so many rifles out there, it can be tough to find the right one for you.

The good news is I’m here today to show you the best 22LR rifles out there and to give you the best rifles for the specific categories 22LR rifles excel in.

The Little Plinker That Could

Way back when sodas only cost a nickel, the 22LR came to be. Building and improving upon the 22 Long, the 22LR came to be in 1884. Since then, the round has improved a bit, but ultimately it’s still a rimfire round designed for a few specific purposes. These days, the round uses smokeless powder and modernized projectiles but still excels in a number of categories.

The little 22LR absolutely dominates the world of rimfire rifles. Newer, faster, and more effective cartridges exist, but they’ve never outclassed the 22LR. Reason being is while those new rounds deliver some serious potency, they can’t match the efficiency of the 22LR when you factor in ammo availability, useability, rifle selection, and of course, cost.

Why does the 22LR rule? Well, first off, it’s cheap, super cheap. Even the best 22LR rounds still cost a lot less than any centerfire ammunition. 22LR varies in quality and also varies in price, but it’s always cheap.

22LR rifles provide a very soft shooting experience. They deliver very soft recoil, very little concussion, and deliver excellent performance for the price and size. Even small children can handle the 22LR with ease. I’m betting most shooters who started as kids have stories about 22LR rifles as kids.

Some of my fondest memories are being a kid with a 22LR rifle putting holes in Coke cans under the watchful eye of my dad. The super-low recoil and low cost of ammunition made it an excellent option for new shooters.

Even shooters who begin as adults benefit greatly from a 22LR rifle. I taught a very nervous young lady basic shooting fundamentals with a 22LR, and after a few shots, her fears subsided. She expected it to be loud, to have excessive recoil, and to be hard to control. After her fears subsided, she became quite the shot.

How We Picked the Best 22 LR Rifles

When choosing the best 22LR rifles for this list, I didn’t rank them in any particular order. Instead, I’ve thought of how shooters use their 22LR rifles and found the best one for each category. In addition to that, I also used the following criteria to evaluate each rifle. 

  • Construction – Is the construction solid? A well put together rifle will last you for a long time, so this is one of my main criteria for evaluating a rifle. 
  • Accuracy –  Can the rifle shoot well enough to hit the target consistently? The degree of accuracy you’ll need for something like plinking will be different compared to accuracy of a match rifle but you need your rifle to be fairly accurate, no matter its purpose. 
  • Value – Does it give long term value for the price? It doesn’t make sense to drop a lot of cash on a rifle if it doesn’t give you equal value. 

Now that you know how I’ve evaluated the rifles on this list, let’s jump straight to the list itself. 

Best 22LR Rifles by Category

Best 22LR Rifles by Category

Best Overall

Ruger 10/22

Ruger 10/22
  • Modular
  • Reliable
  • Jack of all trades
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Best Training

S&W M&P 15-22

S&W M&P 15-22
  • Replicates AR15
  • Ergonomic
  • Fun to shoot
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Best Hunting

Tikka T1X

Tikka T1X
  • Extremely Accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Refined and well-made
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Henry Classic Lever
  • Cowboy-style lever action
  • Fun gun from the Wild West
  • Accurate and reliable
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Ruger American Compact
  • Built-in irons
  • Adjustable LOP
  • Uses 10/22 Mags
  • Affordable
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Best Survival Rifle

Chiappa Little Badger

Chiappa Little Badger
  • Folds in half
  • As compact as it gets
  • Fascinating design
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CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis
  • Extremely accurate
  • Easy to adjust
  • Modern handling
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Specs Comparison of the Best 22LR Rifles

Ruger 10/2210-255 pounds37″Semi-auto
S&W M&P 15-22254.8 pounds33.8"Semi-auto
Tikka T1X105.7 pounds34.75"Bolt
Henry Lever Action155.25 pounds36.5"Lever
Ruger American Rimfire Compact10-256 pounds37"Bolt
Chiappa Little Badger12.9 pounds31"Single shot
CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis57 pounds31.5"Bolt

List of the Best 22LR Rifles:

  1. Ruger 10/22
  2. Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22
  3. Tikka T1X
  4. Henry Lever Action 22LR
  5. Ruger American Rimfire Compact
  6. Chiappa Little Badger
  7. CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis

Reviews of the Best 22LR Rifles

Now that we’ve covered a list of the best 22LR rifles, I’m going to go in-depth on each one, their specifications and basically defend my choices for each one winning the category they got. Granted, these are my professional opinions and if you disagree, then make sure to leave a comment explaining your thoughts or observations.

#1 Ruger 10/22 : Best Overall

Ruger 10/22

The Ruger 10/22 sets the standard for what a 22LR rifle should be.

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value A+

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Ruger 10/22 Specs

  • Capacity 10-25
  • Weight 5 pounds
  • Length 37″
  • Action Semi-auto

Ruger 10/22 Review

There is no better example of the 22LR rifle than the famed Ruger 10/22. With over 7 million sold, the Ruger 10/22 sets the standard for semi-automatic 22LR rifles.

My own 10/22 has been kicking around for more than a decade and what has to be tens of thousands of rounds with no real issues. This is because of its superbly reliable action that eats through the cheapest of ammo types.  The gun’s also got a cold hammer-forged barrel, so it can take a beating and still keep going strong. 

Ruger produces tons of different models, including a carbine, rifle, take-down models, and many more 10/22 for everyone and for every purpose. The Ruger 10/22 takes its place as the best overall because it can be used for essentially every purpose under the sun.

A Ruger 10/22’s capabilities include hunting, survival, plinking, target practice, pest control, and as a teaching rifle for new shooters. Its small size and lightweight makes it perfect for even kids; it’s a great rifle to introduce shooting to them because they can easily handle it (under supervision, of course). You also won’t have to worry too much about safety as the cross-bolt manual safety makes sure that your gun won’t accidentally go off. 

One of the things I really like about the Ruger 10/22 is that it can be dressed up and down to improve ergonomics, accuracy, and overall function. It has more than enough options for customization; you can change almost anything including the receiver, charging handle, stock, bolt, and trigger. 

My Ruger 10/22 carbine model has pretty cool sights: a gold bead front sight and an adjustable, folding rear sight that come in handy for both long-range and short-range shots. I’d say it works great within 10-80 yards and if you’re swapping between shooting scenarios, the push button allows for quick engagement and disengagement. 

I’m usually not a fan of factory triggers, but this one is impact- and abrasion-resistant so it can last a long while. The Ruger 10/22 offers you an affordable and reliable rifle that can fulfill the needs of nearly any shooter. It might not be the top of the line or the best in any specific category, but it’s more than suitable in any 22LR rifle role.

Ruger 10/22 Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Reliable
  • Expensive extended factory magazines

#2 S&W M&P 15-22 : Best For Training

S&W M&P 15-22

If you’re looking to “get good” with an AR-15 without all the extra expense, this 22LR is the perfect training rifle for you.

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value A

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S&W M&P 15-22 Specs

  • Capacity 25
  • Weight 4.8 pounds
  • Length 33.8″
  • Action Semi-auto

S&W M&P 15-22 Review

Let’s be real here, the vast majority of gun owners own some form of AR15. Gun manufacturers pump AR15s at an unbeatable rate, and the gun-buying public picks them up at nearly any price point. They are a staple of any gun enthusiast’s collection and we even did a list of the best AR15s to help folks find the right AR15 for them.

That said, 5.56 ammunition gets expensive. When it comes to training on the cheap, the 22LR provides a hefty source of ammunition at a low price point and you can get the look and the feel of the AR15 without breaking the bank for training ammo.

The S&W M&P 15-22 takes the standard AR15 format and chambers it into 22 LR. A lot of AR15 based 22LRs look like AR15s but do not function as actual AR15s. The M&P 15-22 effectively mocks up an AR15 nearly perfectly. I’ve had a few friends mention how this looks like a toy gun, but it doesn’t really bother me because the construction is solid. Despite its plasticky look, it’s a pretty sturdy gun with a carbon steel barrel and a corrosion-resistant armornite finish that can take a lot of abuse while remaining functional.

As this gun is compatible with most standard AR15 components and accessories, you can customize it however you wish. It’s got a 10-inch M&P slim handguard with the Magpul M-LOK system that lets you add accessories without removing the handguard and you can also mount Picatinny-style rail sections for any additional accessories.

This rifle provides shooters with a weapon perfect for training for reloads, malfunctions, accuracy, and drills on the cheap. You can easily engage or disengage the safety with the 2-position, receiver-mounted safety lever, adjust to your grip using the adjustable stock, and attach any muzzle devices you want to the threaded barrel. Direct impingement is gone and replaced by a simple blowback system that functions well with 22LR ammunition.

I recommend this if you have a kid and you want to teach them how to shoot as it’s a pretty good option for beginners. It’s also great for anyone with physical difficulties (such as a shoulder injury or arthritis) that makes it tough to deal with the recoil and bulky guns. 

Everything from the magazine to the size of the rifle mocks the typical AR15 design. The biggest difference will be in recoil, muzzle rise, and the rifle’s weight. Other than that, the M&P 15-22 mocks an AR15 perfectly and makes for an awesome training rifle and a very fun plinker.  

S&W M&P 15-22 Pros and Cons

  • Mocks an AR perfectly
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and ergonomic
  • Blowback action causes fouling

#3 Tikka T1X : Best For Hunting

Tikka T1X

Tikka T1X

Looking to take down smaller game? This light bolt-action rifle from Tikka is exactly what you need.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value A+

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Tikka T1X Specs

  • Capacity 10
  • Weight 5.7 pounds
  • Length 34.75″
  • Action Bolt

Tikka T1x Review

Tikka made a big name for themselves by producing high-end bolt action rifles enjoyed by hunters around the world.

As Tikka’s first 22LR rifle, the T1X had one mighty expectation to live up to.

Luckily, the T1X lived up to the reputation of both Tikka and Finnish firearms designers with this superb rifle. Even at first glance, I noticed how well-designed this rifle is; it’s meant for serious use out there on the hunting grounds.

Like most Tikkas, the T1X excels in the accuracy and ergonomics department since both are quite critical when it comes to small game hunting. Tossing an optic on the T1X requires little effort, and once done, you have a powerful option for head-shotting squirrels, rabbits, and even coyotes. 

The versatile stock is compatible with most aftermarket T3x stock accessories, so you can easily customize your gun. For precision shooting, I use the threaded muzzle to attach a suppressor and modify the grip for better performance. 

The bolt movement on this rifle was a little stiff right out of the box, but it smoothed out nicely as I used it. The single-stage, adjustable trigger breaks crisp and clean, giving you quick and accurate shots when you’re out there in the field. There’s also an adjustment screw to customize the pull weight, and almost zero creep or overtravel. 

The barrel is cold hammer-forged, and it gives the stability and durability of a heavier barrel while shaving off a good bit of weight. Hunting small game often requires lots of movement, and a light rifle ensures you can track tree rats all afternoon and not feel tired. When tracking those tree rats through the trees, the rifle’s lightweight design ensures you don’t start shaking due to muscle fatigue. It also has a low bolt lift and the throw is short, so your rounds can be cycled quickly and without affecting your shooting position. 

I’ve constantly been impressed by how smooth-functioning and accurate this rifle is, even at 100 yards. As far as bolt action rifles go, the Tikka T1X might be the most accurate out-of-the-box rifle for hunters.

Check out our full review on the Tikka T1x

Tikka T1x Pros and Cons

  • Superbly accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent trigger
  • Comb height

#4 Henry Lever Action 22LR : Best Fun Gun

Henry Lever Action 22LR

There are few things more satisfying than a lever-action 22LR.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A

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Henry Lever Action 22LR Specs

  • Capacity 15
  • Weight 5.25 pounds
  • Length 36.5″
  • Action Lever

Henry Lever Action 22LR Review

If you don’t give a rush of dopamine every time you work the lever of a lever-action rifle, I’m afraid you might hate joy.

There is something so fun about shooting lever-action rifles. Henry has been making my rimfire dreams come true for decades now with the Classic Lever Action design. And with over a million sold, I’m not the only one who loves the design. 

This classic Western-style rifle is affordable, looks great, and is very light with little to no recoil. Henry also doesn’t skimp on safety; the rifle has an internal transfer bar to prevent firing when dropped on the hammer or if the shooter’s thumb slips while cocking. The crisp and clean trigger pull adds to its beginner-friendly design, and the Length Of Pull (LOP) is quite short, so it’s perfect for kids or even small-framed shooters who are starting out with rifles. 

Americans are born with a piece of inherent knowledge and adoration for lever-action rifles. Lever action rifles often shoot expensive calibers, like 45-70, so getting that dopamine hit is expensive. Or is it? I’ve tried almost every ammo brand under the sun with this gun and have come across zero jams or misfires. If you’re looking for an option to save up on ammo, here it is.

Working the lever of a 22LR delivers the same dopamine rush as a larger caliber. The Classic Lever Action design makes me wanna saddle up and play cowboy. It’s tons of fun, super accurate, and easy to shoot. It’s a super simple design that delivers not only a very fun but very capable rifle.

I did replace the sights because I prefer using high quality sights, but the sights it came with were very reasonable for the price I paid. It had a fully adjustable buckhorn-style rear sight and a front sight that would be helpful for precise shot placement if you’re going for small targets. Adjusting the sights and zeroing the gun was also relatively easy, so I’d say this gun is a breeze to work with. 

It’s fun to shoot but also effective for hunting, training new shooters, and any other tasks you need a 22LR for.

Henry Lever Action 22LR Pros and Cons

  • Super fun to shoot
  • Quite accurate
  • Very reliable
  • Slow to reload tubular magazine

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#5 Ruger American Rimfire Compact : Best For Kids


Ruger American Rimfire Compact

Rimfire rifles are an excellent way to safely introduce kids to properly handling firearms.

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  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

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Ruger American Rimfire Compact Specs

  • Capacity 10-25
  • Weight 6 pounds
  • Length 37″
  • Action Bolt

Ruger American Rimfire Compact Review

Most of the guns on this list are actually great for kids, but I chose the Ruger American Rimfire as the best kids’ rifle for several reasons.

For safety’s sake, I like starting new shooters on single-shot or manually operated weapons. Manually operated weapons also tend to be more reliable while being very affordable. You can use the cheapest, crappiest ammo and still keep the gun running. It uses 10/22 magazines, so they are available everywhere at all price points. With the Ruger American Rimfire Compact, the safety blade and the manual tang safety can prevent it from accidentally firing.

Ruger’s compact variant utilizes iron sights that are open and easy to shoot with. Ruger wisely designed the rifle with a short youth-sized length of pull, and the gun weighs a mere 5.3 pounds, making it perfect for kids. Kids get interchangeable stock modules that allow you to extend the LOP as the shooter grows. The trigger pull is also only about 3 pounds, so a kid can easily handle the gun.

I did have some minor issues with my ammo getting stuck, but nothing major and I was able to fix all of them without much hassle. The only problem I ran into was when I wanted to swap the barrel; I had to go around looking for a bit because this gun doesn’t use the same barrel as the 10/22 and is not as readily available, so keep that in mind if you are looking to get this gun. 

Ruger American Rimfire Compact’s accuracy is tough to beat when you combine a great bedding, a cold hammer-forged barrel, and an adjustable trigger. Even in difficult weather conditions, this rifle stays pretty accurate up to about 50 yards. You’ll have young shooters popping tin cans, steel targets, and more before you know it.

Ruger American Rimfire Compact Pros and Cons

  • Adjustable ergonomics
  • Excellent accuracy
  • Perfect for smaller shooters
  • Affordable
  • Bolt is somewhat stiff

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#6 Chiappa Little Badger : Best Survival Gun

Chiappa Little Badger

This rifle is perfect for stashing away in the event of emergency or wilderness survival.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability B
  • Accuracy B
  • Ergonomics D
  • Value C

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Chiappa Little Badger Specs

  • Capacity 1
  • Weight 2.9 pounds
  • Length 31″
  • Action Single shot

Chiappa Little Badger Review

Survival rifles come in numerous shapes and sizes with a wide variety of different roles.

For off-road trucking, ATVing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and more, a folding 22LR can be quite valuable. The Chiappa Little Badger is perfect for survival use and delivers shooters an incredibly compact folding rifle that folds in half (from 31” to 17.5”).

The Chiappa Little Badger is extremely cheap and perfect for stashing for emergencies. This single-shot, hammer-fired rifle delivers surprising performance. The adjustable peep sights are a nice touch, the quad rail allows for optics and accessories, and the threaded barrel is perfect for a suppressor. The sights are decent but you definitely need a red dot optic for shots over 35-50 yards. 

The gun looks like a guy made it out of pipes in his garage, but it functions and does well. The Chiappa Little Badger delivers as compact a rifle as you can legally get. Its skeletonized stock sheds off weight and also doubles as a carriage for your spare rounds. Despite its delicate look and size, this rifle is pretty sturdy, has low recoil, and is fully ambidextrous. While there’s no manual safety, I’m satisfied with the half-cock position safety on this firearm as it won’t misfire by accident. 

It’s small enough that you can fold this light and thin rifle up and toss it in a backpack and forget about it till you need it. It’s not great for other tasks and can be outperformed by most rifles on this list. However, they don’t get much smaller than this. 

If you’re on the fence about this firearm and need some more help to decide, check out our full review on the Chiappa Little Badger.

Chiappa Little Badger Pros and Cons

  • Super lightweight
  • It folds in half
  • Out of the box ready
  • Poor ergonomics

#7 CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis : Best Target Shooter


CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis

Whether it’s competition shooting or just target practice, this CZ takes the cake.

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  • Reliability B+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Shootability A
  • Ergnomics A+
  • Value A-

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CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis Specs

  • Capacity 5
  • Weight 7 pounds
  • Length 31.5″
  • Action Bolt

CZ 457 Varmint Precision Review

Someone once said, “CZ, you come for the handguns, but stay for the rifles.” That statement presents my exact experience with CZ. 

Rifles like the CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis rifle provide you with one of the most modern and most accurate 22LR rifles out there. In fact, the CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis rifle gave me an excellent .29” group at 100 yards when I tried out my test rifle. I didn’t expect that kind of precision from a 22LR so I decided to assume it was a lucky shot, but what do you know, I ended up getting sub-MOA groups at 100 yards all day long. 

The CZ 457 was already a winning design, but the addition of the Varmint Precision Chassis takes it above board. This chassis allows you to adjust the rifle’s stock, customizing the length of pull and comb height and anyone can tailor the fit for their specific needs and body type to a rather absurd degree. CZ used the famed Luth-AR stock that’s quite popular with the precision crowd. It might look heavy, but it’s honestly rather light. Not that it matters for most target shooters.

On the CZ 457, you have a somewhat vertical grip giving you a nice upright body position which comes in handy especially when taking positional shots in competitions. The grip is interchangeable–you can swap it out with any other AR15-type grip out there.  

The trigger is fully adjustable so you can play around with the weight, creep, and over-travel to customize the best fit for your use case. Most rimfire competitors (AKA target consumer for CZ 457) would jump at a trigger that they can easily lighten and tune, so I’d say CZ knows their target consumer very well.

One thing to keep in mind is that the CZ 457 isn’t cheap; it retails for a little over 1000 bucks so this rifle is not for the casual plinker. However, a serious rimfire competitor might call it a value purchase because of how customizable, ergonomic, and accurate the rifle is. 

Featuring a buttery smooth bolt action and an adjustable trigger ensures you receive a high-quality experience with every shot. You’ll be producing teeny tiny groups with little effort, and if you’re not careful, the rifle will make your ego grow. CZ proved once more that they could keep pushing their designs forward.

Check out our full review of the CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis

CZ 457 Varmint Precision Pros and Cons

  • Adjustable trigger and stock 
  • Extremely accurate
  • Suppressor ready
  • Far from cheap

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22LR Rifle Buyers Guide

Armed with this knowledge of 22LR rifles, you have hopefully narrowed your options down based on use. I know it’s tough when many amazing 22LR rifles exist, so keep in mind you can always have more than one. This is America and all.

Now that you’re on your way to choosing a 22LR rifle, I have a few pointers that will ensure your success with any 22LR and make the ownership experience a good bit smoother. Before that, let’s take a quick look at how you can use your 22LR rifle.

Best Uses of the 22LR Rifle

As a small-bore, lightweight projectile powered by a low powder charge, the 22LR is limited in its usefulness. It’s hardly the best option for self or home-defense. It doesn’t do well hunting anything beyond small game and certainly won’t win long-distance awards.

However, like anything, the 22LR excels in a number of roles. 

  • Training and target practice –  The 22LR is perfect for training new shooters. It’s also very affordable, making it a great choice for training and casual shooting. It has a low recoil and almost no concussion, so it makes for a pleasant shooting experience. The 22LR competition presents one of the cheapest shooting sports out there. Ammo for 22LRs are widely available at a low cost, so it’s convenient for instances like target practice that require several rounds in an outing. 
  • Hunting small game – Squirrels, rabbits, and similar animals quickly become stews with a well-placed 22LR projectile. For pest removal, snake defense, and similar tasks, the little 22LR excels. As for larger animals, I would only recommend a  22LR to well-experienced hunters who know the weak spots of their targets. 
  • For survival kits The 22LR rifle is an excellent choice for survival purposes. With rifles and ammo as light as this, it’s easy to put a rifle and 300 rounds of ammo in a backpack without adding a ton of weight. It’s relatively silent and has low recoil, so it’s easy to do follow-up shots while maintaining accuracy. Plus, the 22LR cartridge works well for taking small games and even for some limited self-defense in the brush roles. When used correctly, the noise of a gunshot can be a signaling device.

If you are thinking of getting a 22LR, it’s best to know exactly what you are getting into. So I’ve broken down the benefits and disadvantages of this gun below. 

Pros and Cons of the 22LR Rifle

Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of handling the 22LR.  


  • Light recoil – The 22LR has a super low recoil so it makes for a comfortable (and fun!) shooting experience. You can take quick and accurate follow-up shots because you have better control over the rifle.
  • Silent – The quietness of the rifle makes it a great option for varmint hunting because you can take down your target without alerting the critters to your presence. 
  • Affordable – The 22LRs are great for beginners who don’t want to break the bank on their first gun. With the 22LRs, you can get the hang of the sport and then later upgrade to something that better fits your goals.  
  • Great for hunting small game – The low power and reduced recoil of the 22LR cartridge is ideal for small game (at short range) because it won’t destroy the meat like some big cartridges will.  
  • Lightweight and portable – Its compact design and reduced weight make it easy to carry and maneuver, especially for kids. Its portability means you can easily carry it for outdoor activities, including hiking, plinking, and small game hunting.
  • Available in a range of sizes and styles – 22LR rifles are available in a variety of different stocks and actions, so there’s something for everyone with this rifle. 


  • Low bullet speed – The 22LR is not a very fast gun and low bullet speed means that you don’t get a lot of range or penetration out of it.  
  • Low range – While a 22LR rifle is great for shooting small game at a short distance, it becomes less accurate the further away your target is. 
  • Not the best for self or home defense – I don’t recommend using the 22LR rifle for home defense because it doesn’t have much stopping power or penetration. If you are looking for a serious home defense option, something with a larger caliber would be the better choice. 

Now that you know the pros and cons of the 22LR, here’s what you should know about when buying a 22LR rifle. 

What to Consider When Buying a 22LR Rifle

When buying guns, you need to know that not all specs are created equal. Let me walk you through some of the more important ones you need to keep in mind when purchasing a 22LR rifle. 


You can get your 22LR in all sorts of actions. Here are the most common ones. 

  • Semi-auto – These are the most common rifles you can find. They use magazines and you can fire several shots one after the other by pulling on the trigger. 
  • Lever action – A lever action rifle is operated by hand where you feed the cartridge into the system by pulling back on the lever. These are pretty old and are often only found in the reissues of the Old West guns. 
  • Single shots – These rifles, like their name indicates, only lets you fire a single round before having to round. 
  • Bolt action Bolt action is a combination of single shots and lever action; it only allows for a single shot but you can refill your chamber with the lever.
  • Pump action With pump action, you load your gun by sliding your forestock back to load the cartridge into your chamber. 
  • Revolving cylinder action Revolving action uses a revolving cylinder containing a bunch of cartridges to line up the shot before firing. 

With actions, I mostly recommend going with personal preference. While some actions are better than others for certain situations, the difference is not really noticeable with 22LR rifles. 


You have a few stocks to go for when you’re choosing your 22LR.

  • Wooden – Many lever action and bolt action rifles come with wooden stocks. The stock is ergonomically built with a durable finish so it can handle the elements well. Wooden stocks give a good balance to your rifle because they add weight plus they look good on your rifle. 
  • Synthetic – Synthetic stocks are usually lighter than wooden stocks if they are hollow, but there are solid stocks which are not as lightweight; your choice should depend on how comfortable it is for you to handle. Synthetic stocks endure wear and tumble much better than wooden stocks, so consider that when you’re looking for a 22LR rifle.   
  • Chassis – The chassis is a super stable platform good for competitive shooters because it has excellent precision. It has good ergonomics and often, you have the ability to adjust it to your fit.

At the end of the day, the right stock for you really depends on what you want from your gun. 


While you want your gun to be accurate for whatever purpose you are going to use it for, the type of accuracy you want for each use case is going to be different. For example, if you’re hunting small game within short ranges, you wouldn’t need tight-spread long-distance accuracy, but it may be necessary if you’re using the rifle for competitions.

Speed and range

The speed of the bullet when it leaves the gun (muzzle velocity) can vary depending on your rifle. A Standard Velocity 22LR round can reach 1,125 FPS (Feet Per Second), and the maximum effective range of an LR is about 150 yards. In my experience, when I hunt small game like squirrels or rabbits, the most effective range I’ve seen with a long rifle is between 75-100 yards. This is because the bullet drop is almost zero at this range, and I’ve seen a bullet drop of close to 5 inches below my line of sight past 120-150 yards.

Barrel length 

With barrel length, think of what you want to use your gun for before making a choice. If you are planning on hunting, I recommend going for a longer barrel as they have better muzzle velocity and accuracy. Shorter barrels are easier to maneuver and are considerably lighter, so if you want a compact gun for plinking, a short barrel can be a good choice. If you prefer to add a silencer to your rifle, the length would go further up, so keep that in mind. A good balance of the barrel length and the weight of the rifle can give you better control on the firearm, so consider the balance factor too. 


The trigger is another thing I pay close attention to. The trigger pulls and weight differs from rifle to rifle, so I recommend finding one with your ideal weight. You would want to go with a light pull, crisp, and clean trigger because the way a trigger breaks can help you time your shots and impact your accuracy. Some 22LRs come with adjustable triggers that help you customize the pull weight, so keep an eye out for that too!

Safety features

Most 22LRs on this list have multiple safety features to prevent accidental firing, including trigger guards/blades and tang safety (like the Ruger American Rimfire Compact, for example). The safety factor needs extra attention if you’re planning to buy a rifle for a beginner or for a kid. 


22LR rifles can cost from $200 to over $1000, and your cost really depends on how you’re planning on using it. If you’re a competitive shooter, you might want to invest in a competition-grade rifle with high precision and durability, which will drive up your price. If you’re only looking for a plinking rifle, you can get good value out of low-cost 22LR rifles.

22LR Ammo

22LR utilizes a rimfire primer. Most modern cartridges use a centerfire primer that’s prominently placed in the center of the cartridge. Due to the small size of the 22LR’s case, centerfire isn’t possible, so it’s stuck with that rimfire system. Rimfire is old tech and was replaced by centerfire largely due to the unreliability of operation.

22LR often has a higher number of ‘duds’ than centerfire cartridges. You’ll have to expect a click when you should hear a bang. It’s the nature of the beast, and even the highest quality 22LR ammunition can present duds.

Speaking of, 22LR ammo varies widely in quality. Cheaper bulk ammo tends to be less reliable and more prone to duds, poor cartridge seating, lower accuracy potential, and often poor cycling in some semi-autos. 22LR ammo was not designed for semi-auto rifles, so it’s wise to look for ‘hot’ ammo to ensure the blowback actions function correctly.

Ammo like Federal Automatch, CCI Stinger, CCI AR, Aguila Super Extra, and Eley High Velocity offer better performance at a minimal addition to recoil. Some high-quality ammo might not function well in semi-autos when it’s labeled subsonic.

These rounds keep the projectile’s speed below supersonic and eliminates the crack associated with supersonic rounds. Subsonic rounds are perfect when paired with a suppressor for the ultimate quiet rifle. They tend to work best in manually operated rifles.

When putting your 22LR rifle to the task of hunting, consider high-quality ammunition with a copper jacket and hollow point. This ammo is not only more reliable but penetrates deeper and expands to ensure a safe and humane kill.

The Many Different 22 Rounds

Projectiles .22 inches in diameter tend to be quite popular, and in the rimfire world, we get four total 22 caliber rounds. We have the 22 Long Rifle, as mentioned extensively in this article, but also the 22 Long, the 22 Short, and 22 Magnum.

The 22 Long Rifle is not compatible with 22 Magnum, and the rounds won’t chamber or fit in most rifles and magazines. 22 Long and Short can be chambered and often fired safely in 22LR rifles. As always, refer to your manual to ensure compatibility. Be warned they won’t fit in most 22LR removable magazines.

In tube-fed rifles, using these shorter cartridges can grant you higher capacity but tend to underperform and be somewhat uncommon compared to the classic 22LR.

Other Things to Consider with your 22LR Rifle

Once you choose your 22 long rifle, there are a couple of things you should think about.

  • Optics – They are incredibly affordable and can really improve your experience with your rifle. If you aren’t sure which one to get (because the needs of a 22LR are very different from other rifles), then be sure to check out my list of favorite 22LR scopes
  • Scope mount – It is really important that you look into how you choose to mount a scope. I made the mistake of using normal rings on my 10/22 Ruger takedown, and this caused accuracy issues. This is because the barrel detaches and if you don’t attach the red dot to the barrel itself, every time you remove and attach the barrel, you’ll have to re-zero. So, if you get a scope, be sure to check out my list of 22LR scope mounts. That should really help.
  • Bipod – A bipod is a good idea because your accuracy and consistency improves when your 22LR is stable and balanced. Have a look at my list of best rifle bipods if you’re going for one.


I can’t describe sufficiently how much fun a 22LR rifle is. As I write, this ammo is tough to obtain, yet my stash of 22LR keeps me entertained without worry. I own several 22LR rifles and will likely own several more. Having a 22LR in the armory means worry-free shooting that often remains unconstrained from financial burden.

Plus, we can’t forget their overall usefulness as training rifles, pest removal rifles, and the means in which I plan to obtain rabbit stew this fall.

What’s your favorite 22LR rifle? Let us know below.


What is the range of a 22 rifle?

22LR rifles are usually effective up to about 150 yards, but this could vary depending on the model you choose. For example, the Tikka T1x has excellent accuracy up to about 100 yards while the Ruger American Rimfire works best within 50 yards. 

Is a 22 rifle good for defense?

A 22LR rifle is not the best option for defense, but it does work well in emergencies. You will need to hit a vital body part to bring your target down completely, but a few hits here and there could slow your target down if you’re in a squeeze. It’s also lightweight and has a low recoil which makes it easy to take quick follow-up shots.

How much is the average cost of a 22LR rifle?

22LR rifles can cost anywhere from $200 to over $1000. The more expensive ones are usually competition grade, so if you’re not competing and just want a rifle to go plinking with, one of the more affordable ones would do just fine.

What is a 22LR rifle commonly used for?

22LR rifles are usually used for plinking, hunting small game, and sometimes for home defense. They’re lightweight and very easy to use, so they also make a good rifle for beginners and kids to start shooting with. 

Is a 22LR good for beginners?

Yes, a 22LR rifle is good for beginners because it’s easy to handle, has a light recoil, and isn’t very loud. It’s also got cheap ammo so it’s a lot easier to get a lot of practice in without breaking the bank.

What is the best 22 rifle made today?

I think the Ruger 10/22 is the best 22LR rifle made today. It’s more reliable and versatile than any other 22LR I’ve ever used, plus it retails at a pretty affordable price.


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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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  1. The Marlin 795 is my choice for an extremely accurate .22LR, inexpensive semi automatic with ten round magazines. I bought one for $139 several years ago and placed a 20 or 30 MOA rail on it with a Simmons 10X fixed scope with an adjustable objective lens. The rail is necessary for the scope to be zeroed to 100 yards.

  2. Great information resource.
    I’m a dedicated rimfire shooter and would love to know others experiences of Weirauch 66 (mines the 22WMR) MY .22LR is an Anschutz 1416 and 1517 in 17HMR.
    All bought pre-loved and all accurate as heck. Although the HMR is very ammo fussy but groups sub moa at 100m.

  3. We own a half dozen .22 firearms, split between rifles and handguns…when ammo is in short supply, as recently happened, we never stopped going to the range…with .22 we are plinkers, and shoot the cheapest bulk we can find, allowing certain ammo brands to certain firearms to maximize operations and our fun…on your list we own the Henry, and it just runs and runs…there is no real substitute for actual trigger time, and .22 keeps it affordable…everybody needs at least one…

  4. you missed some good rifles, the HK 416 .22 and the Tippmann Arms m-4 .22 elite are better training rifles in my opinion

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