No armory is complete without the presence of a 22LR rifle of some type. These little plinkers are often the gateway gun into the firearm world for new shooters. 22LR rifles are lightweight, low recoiling, quiet for a firearm, and often make learning to shoot easy. Outside of being awesome for plinking and target practice, 22LRs are outstanding hunting rifles for small game and pest removal.
22LR rifles come in all shapes and sizes. They can be semi-autos, single shots, bolt actions, lever actions, and beyond. One they all have in common is that they are made better via an optic. What optic? What kind of optic? Where do you even start?
Well, you’ve come to the right place, and we’ve gathered a few of the best in all sorts of configurations, and often at plain ole affordable prices for you.
WHY USE AN OPTIC?
You might be asking why exactly do I need an optic on my 22LR rifle? Iron sights work well, right? True, but optics are always better than iron sights. How so? Well, let’s see.
Any optic has the potential to improve your accuracy. Optics with magnification allows you to see smaller targets, and if you can see small targets, you can shoot small targets. Zoom in with a little magnification, and you can pop small targets, clay pigeons, and make humane headshots on squirrels and rabbits.
Optics also increase your ability to shoot at various distances. When you apply some magnification, your ability to reach out and touch a target improves greatly. Not only that, but optics equipped with specialized reticles allow you to estimate for ballistic drop and let rounds hit the target from a healthy distance.
Don’t forget some optics are all about speed. A good red dot will get you on target and allow you to do so with a quickness. Red dots do not require you to align sights, and their bright visibility makes them easy to see regardless of external conditions.
WHAT OPTICS WORK FOR A 22LR?
Before we dive into the best optics, let’s talk about the types of optics that work best with 22LR rifles.
Red dot optics is a name applied to 1X optics that use a simple red reticle. Red is optional, as is a dot reticle. They can be various colors and reticle shapes. The name has been applied as a generic term for optics designed for close-range shooting. Red Dots come in all sizes as well.
Magnified optics allow you to see further and shoot with extreme accuracy. These optics can vary from a low power variable optic which ranges from 1-4X all the way to crazy stuff like 8-64X. Some magnified optics feature fixed power magnification, and you cannot transition between magnification levels.
As a 22LR, you don’t need a superpower level of magnification. A 3-9X at most will get the job done. So will lower magnification ratings. There is no reason to go too big and too heavy.
BEST RIFLESCOPES FOR YOUR 22LR
REVIEWS OF THE BEST 22LR RIFLESCOPES
WHY USE A BUSHNELLS OPTICS DROP ZONE?
Bushnell creates tons of optics at all price points. Most shooters are familiar with their affordable brand of optics aimed at hunting and plinking.
The Drop Zone rifle scope joined the AR line of optics years ago as an affordable 1-4X LPVO. For me, the Drop Zone isn’t one I’d toss on my AR and trust for anything beyond target practice.
However, on a 22 LR rifle, it’s perfect. A 22 LR is used in less demanding environments and situations than a AR 15.
BUSHNELLS OPTICS DROP ZONE SPECS
- Magnification 1-4x
- Objective Lens 24mm
- Tube Diameter 30mm
- Eye Relief 3.5″
- Weight 18 oz
I love LPVOs on my AR rifles, so using an LPVO on my 22LR is a natural extension and allows my training to improve and remain consistent.
The Drop Zone gains its name for the bullet drop compensating reticle tuned to 5.56 rounds. So it’s not super useful here, but you aren’t taking 500-yard shots with a 22 LR anyway. The glass is surprisingly clear for a budget optic, and it’s a compact and lightweight scope. The adjustable fingertip turrets make zeroing quite quick and are a nice touch. The .25 MOA adjustments ensure each click is precise.
It’s tough enough to take a little abuse. Not duty levels of abuse, but it can bump around in the backseat, at the range, or in the field for hunting. It’s not a fragile ceramic piece of China. LPVOs are very versatile optics, and the Drop Zone allows you to use your 22LR for both close and moderate range shooting.
BUSHNELLS OPTICS DROP ZONE PROS AND CONS
- 1-4X Provides excellent versatility
- Compact and Lightweight
- Reticle is not illuminated.
WHY USE A TASCO RIMFIRE SERIES 3-9X?
Rarely would I ever suggest a 50 dollar scope for much of anything. On this list, it’s included because it’s cheap and good enough for a 22LR rifle. It’s very simple and provides absolutely zero fancy features. It’s splashproof, shockproof, and nitrogen purged to keep the fog out. Beyond that, it’s not going to blow your mind.
Unless you look at the price tag, for less than 50 bucks, you are getting a 3-9X optic that will hold zero and remain precise. The glass clarity is good enough for the shorter ranges you are shooting with a 22LR.
TASCO RIMFIRE SERIES 3-9X SPECS
- Magnification 3-9x
- Objective Lens 32mm
- Tube Diameter 1″
- Eye Relief 3″
- Weight 11.3 oz
You won’t get great low light performance or clarity out to 500 yards. However, at 100 yards, you’ll see your targets without issue and hear the ping as that little 22LR round hits steel. Is 3-9X overkill for a 22LR rifle? Not at all, especially if you are shooting at small targets at various ranges.
This little Tasco will let you zoom in on a squirrel or rabbit when hunting and apply an accurate and humane shot. To double up on the affordability, the scope even comes with a set of rings for easy mounting. For a 3-9X scope, it’s rather light as well, at only 11.5 ounces. While it’s far from fancy, it’s a solid budget optic for a 22LR. It gets the job done and allows you to get on target without issue.
TASCO RIMFIRE SERIES 3-9X PROS AND CONS
- Comes with Rings
- Suitable For Most 22LRs
- Far from fancy
WHY USE A BURRIS DROPTINE RIFLESCOPE?
If you want a fancy 3-9X for your 22LR rifle, I have you covered here. The Burris Droptine might be one of the fancier 22LR dedicated optics.
The Droptine series comes with a ballistic plex reticle designed around the 22LR round. What this means is the reticle gives you a multitude of drop points that allow you to automatically compensate for range.
Shooters zero the Droptine at 50 yards, and then the marks below the reticle go to 75, 100, 125, and 150 yards.
BURRIS DROPTINE RIFLESCOPE SPECS
- Magnification 3-9x
- Objective Lens 40mm
- Tube Diameter 1″
- Eye Relief 3.1-3.8″
- Weight 13 oz
Dropping rounds at those ranges is deeply satisfying, and the ballistic plex reticle makes it simple to do so. In fact, it’s so reliable and accurate it makes shooting a bit boring. BDCs are often controversial, but I find them handy.
Additionally, we get adjustable fingertip turrets for ease of adjustment and simple zeroing. I doubt you’ll be making on-the-call turret adjustments with a 22LR, but you can. The Droptine provides a good clear image downrange, and the glass is perfect for hunting.
Trying to shoot squirrels in the fall is tough. Brown squirrels blend in with brown leaves, so high-quality glass helps make it easier to see your prey. The little things are also well done. The magnification ring is smooth, the adjustments are accurate, and a 1-inch tube makes it easy to find mounts and rings.
Burris considers the Droptine their budget line, but for a 22LR, it’s one of the higher-quality options. Burris offers an outstanding warranty and great customer service, so your investment is protected.
BURRIS DROPTINE RIFLESCOPE PROS AND CONS
- Clear Glass
- Excellent Reticle
- Well Made Optic
- Parallax is not adjustable
WHY USE A VORTEX SPITFIRE?
A 1x prism optic seems specific, and well, that’s because it is. The Spitfire is a simplistic optic that many people may ask, “Why not use a red dot?”
As a prism sight, the Spitfire provides those with astigmatism an option that replicates a red dot.
More so than that, the Spitfire’s reticle is etched and illuminated. If the batteries die, or you don’t want illumination, the reticle is still present.
VORTEX SPITFIRE SPECS
- Magnification 1x
- Objective Lens 25mm
- Tube Diameter 25mm
- Eye Relief 3.8″
- Weight 11.2 oz
Etched reticles are the rough and tough option if you don’t trust electronics.
On a 22LR, the Vortex Spitfire gives you a versatile optic that’s also tough as hell. Prisms are tough optics with few failure points. You get a weight penalty compared to a red dot, but Prisms are extremely rugged. For hunting in thickets or removing pests, the Spitfire performs admirably. The forgiving eye box and generous eye relief provide an excellent optic for tracking moving targets.
The reticle also provides an easy to see option for fast sight acquisition. The center dot is 3 MOA with a 44 MOA outside ring. You can see both in crisp and clear high definition due to the etched nature. Throwing the article up and on target is effortless and easy to do. The Spitfire provides a durable but simplistic prism optic for your 22LR rifle.
You can pop squirrels or tin cans with ease and never worry about batteries or blurry reticles with a prism optic.
VORTEX SPITFIRE PROS AND CONS
- Etched and Illuminated Reticle
- Build-in Mount
WHY USE A BUSHNELL TRS 25?
Bushnell appears once more on the list, and it’s another optic from the AR optics line of optics.
This time we are going with a compact red dot that’s been quite the shake-up to the red dot market. The TRS 25 might be super affordable, but it’s proven to be quite durable and perfect for a variety of roles.
A red dot on a 22LR makes perfect sense for rapid, close-range shooting.
BUSHNELLS TRS 25 SPECS
- Magnification 1x
- Objective Lens 25mm
- Tube Diameter 25mm
- Eye Relief Unlimited
- Weight 3.7 oz
The TRS 25 provides a big 3 MOA dot that’s perfect for a 22LR optic. It’s easy to see and works well within a 22LR’s effective range. The TRS 25 is super compact and lightweight, with a number of mounting options available. You can go AR height or super low, depending on what your rifle needs.
I know that a price tag of less than a hundred bucks doesn’t inspire confidence, but hear me out. I beat the hell out of one of these over a week with drops, water, and recoil, and it never gave up. On a 22LR, it won’t face a quarter of the recoil it faced on a pump-action shotgun. Bushnell makes these things water, shock, and fogproof.
I wouldn’t go to war with it, but for a 22LR, it’s more than enough optic. Hunting, plinking, pest removal, or even general training, the optic is more than capable. This little red dot doesn’t tap out for much and can even be paired with a cheap magnifier to replicate a centerfire setup.
This is one of the better optics for kids, to begin with. It’s easy to mount and zero, and the simple nature of a red dot optic makes it easy to be accurate. Soda cans won’t stand a chance with a 22LR rifle equipped with a TRS 25.
BUSHNELL TRS 25 PROS AND CONS
- Multiple Mount Options
- Heavy amber tint
WHY USE A TRUGLO RED DOT 2×42?
This optic interested me, but I never saw a use for it until I considered a 22LR rifle.
I like my 22LR optics lightweight, I like a little magnification, and I like a little speed. I also don’t want to spend a ton of money.
Those little factors blend together to make something like the Truglo Red-Dot 2X42. While the name is uninspired, the design is unique.
TRUGLO RED DOT 2×42 SPECS
- Magnification 2x
- Objective Lens 42mm
- Tube Diameter 30mm
- Eye Relief 4″
- Weight 6.89 oz
It’s a red dot optic through and though but features fixed magnification. The 2X design gives you a little extra visibility when you need it most but also keeps the optic very lightweight. Since the magnification is minimal, a red dot is still rapid and easy to use for shooting that requires more speed than precision. You can always slow it down and guide that little red dot in for precise shots on small targets.
The 42mm objective lens makes them bright and opens up a good field of view. A two eye-opening shooting style is preferred and allows for that rapid target acquisition. On average, the optic costs less than 50 bucks and weighs only a little over 6 ounces. It’s an excellent combination of all the features I want for a rimfire rifle scope.
TRUGLO RED DOT 2×42 PROS AND CONS
- Inspired design
- Glass could be clearer
WHY USE A BURRIS FASTFIRE 3?
The FastFire 3 and I go back a long way. It’s an optic I’ve kept on hand for review purposes and used on dozens of different guns over the years.
It’s a mini red dot sight that’s perfect for a handgun or lightweight rifle. Lots of 22LR rifles are designed to be take-down or folding designs, and big optics kill their compact designs.
For those types of guns, the little Fastfire 3 is perfect.
BURRIS FASTFIRE3 SPECS
- Magnification 1x
- Objective Lens N/A
- Tube Diameter N/A
- Eye Relief Unlimited
- Weight 1.5 oz
It’s a tiny optic, but Burris backs it with an absolute ton of different mounts and accessories for it. From a simple Picatinny mount to dedicated barrel mounts for take-down rifles. It’s ultra-small but provides all you need from a red dot. The Fastfire 3 is super lightweight and very easy to use.
It’s also rugged and can take a real beating. You should see mine; it’s roughed up beyond belief and keeps on functioning. The good thing about red dots like this is that they work with anything. It can fit your S&W AR 22, your Ruger 10/22, or even something like the Chiappa Little Badger. My suggestion is to get the 3 MOA model with the included Picatinny mount; this will work best with 22LR rifles and set you up for success.
BURRIS FASTFIRE 3 PROS AND CONS
- Extremely rugged
- Only three brightness settings
BEST 22LR RIFLESCOPE
When it comes time to choose a 22LR scope from the list above, you might be asking how do I choose? Well, good thing you made it this far down the list. We have a few things to consider when choosing a scope for 22LR, but the most important is purpose. The purpose of your 22LR rifle will drive your selection in an optic.
HUNTING AND PEST CONTROL
Hunters shooting game are best served with magnification. As little as 2x or 4x is enough, but serious squirrel hunters could be well served by 3-9X optics. Zooming in and aiming at squirrel and rabbit heads allows for a humane shot that’s an instant kill while preserving meat.
Magnification allows you to see your prey without getting too close and scaring the little fellas off. It can often mean the difference between a well-placed kill shot and a frustrating miss. A little magnification goes a long way.
A 22LR rifle can be used as a stand-in replacement for a centerfire rifle. Plenty of 22 rifles are mocked up to resemble a centerfire AR 15, MP5, or AK series rifle. Even if your 22LR is not a good match for your actual centerfire rifle, it can still be used for training purposes. In this case, it would be best to match the optic on your rifle as much as possible.
If your rifle wears a red dot, get a red dot. If it’s an LPVO, get an LPVO, so on and so forth. That being said, you don’t have to replicate your exact optic on your gun. An Aimpoint red dot costs 800 bucks, and there is no reason to buy an extra Aimpoint for your 22LR. Simply purchase a red dot that replicates the size and style, and you’ll be good to go.
The same can be said for any optic setup. Training with a 22LR rifle is an affordable way to stay sharp in times of high ammo prices and limited options. Replicating your optic on your training rifle makes the transition more seamless when you go back to a centerfire.
The famed 22LR is an awesome survival rifle. Perfect for being tucked in a plane, a boat, or a truck in case of emergencies. Plenty of 22LR rifles are designed to fold in half, be broken down, and be made extremely compact and lightweight. These rifles are often best suited with a fixed power magnified optic or a miniature red dot.
Miniature red dots save the most weight and size, and with take-down rifles, it’s possible for shooters to mount these optics directly to the barrel. Take-down rifles can have some play when indexing and barrel mounts are often the most accurate means to mount optics on these weapons.
Fixed power magnification optics offer magnification in an often compact package. Fixed power optics offer fewer failure points than variable optics, are lighter weight, and do offer the advantages magnification offers.
Most 22LR rounds are fired in the name of plinking. Plinking is the art of informal shooting that is mostly done in the name of fun! If this is your situation, then the world is your oyster! It doesn’t necessarily matter what optic you utilize. I like my 1-4X for plinking because it’s rather versatile.
However, for new shooters, I almost always suggest a red dot, even over iron sights. A properly zeroed red dot makes it as easy as putting the dot on the target and pulling the trigger. This makes shooting more fun than frustrating, and with new, especially young, shooters, that is invaluable.
OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT 22LR OPTIC
Use isn’t the only factor you need to take into consideration when choosing your scope. There are 2 other extremely important things you need to look at when selecting an optic.
We all live in a world where Picatinny rails rule, right? We use pic rails to attach accessories, stocks, and even optics. It should be rather simple, right? Well, no, sadly, it’s not that simple. 22LR rifles use Picatinny and Weaver rails, but they also use a mounting system called a Dovetail mount.
Dovetail mounts are not compatible with Weaver/Picatinny attachments. You may need to swap mounts to accommodate certain optics or purchase dovetail rings. It’s smart to ensure you know what amount your rifle comes with and what rings your optic comes with.
Adapters and various rail mounts exist as well. Don’t feel discouraged; simply do a little bit of shopping around. 22LR rifles vary quite a bit, so low mounts and risers are always an option. If you have an AR-type 22LR rifle, make sure you get an optic that sits at typical AR heights for ease of use.
QUALITY AND DURABILITY
This is where I normally talk about how price matters significantly. You get what you pay for is my usual go-to. That’s still present here, but it’s nowhere nearly as important as with most optic selections. 22LR rifles put very little force and recoil on the optic. Shooters max out with 22LR at roughly 150 yards. Super clear glass is not a huge requirement either. It’s nice for hunting, but it will rarely make a major difference.
No need for a Nightforce, a Trijicon, or Aimpoint here. You also want to avoid those no-name 30 dollar Amazon specials that populate the website. Going budget-friendly is fine, but stick to name brands. Lots of affordable optics work well on 22LR rifles. A name brand often offers a warranty, and a warranty is critical with budget optics.
Those el-cheapo Amazon options rarely offer any kind of warranty, and the ‘companies’ selling them come and go so often you’ll never be able to track them down for warranty work.
PLINKING WITH STYLE
Who doesn’t love a 22LR rifle? They are a must-have for any collection and offer an affordable, lightweight, and low recoiling rifle that is nothing but fun. Admittedly they are rather handy for small game hunting and pest removal, but target practice and plinking are where the fun comes. Tossing an optic on just increases the fun as it increases precision, range, and speed. A 22LR rifle isn’t complete with a good optic.
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