Best Rimfire Rifles of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

0 233

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More


Updated Sep 21, 2023 11:02 AM

A rimfire rifle is what all shooters should be started on. They’re the most fun and affordable guns to shoot, and a house without one is as desolate as a Monday is long. You can buy a .22 rifle for survival, hunting, plinking, or precision accuracy. They can shoot squirrels at 25 yards and ring steel at 300 yards. The ammo costs cents, even at today’s prices.

How We Chose the Best Rimefire Rifles

Picking the best rimfire rifles is somewhat of a subjective task; the best choices will be a little different for everyone. My goal is to give you a well-rounded selection of excellent rimfire rifles that fit a variety of tasks, needs, and tastes. I based my choices on decades of experience shooting and hunting with a wide variety of rimfire rifles, and picking rifles that if aren’t already the best for you, will be a good starting point.

The Best Rimfire Rifles: Reviews & Recommendations

Whether you’re in the market to buy a rimfire rifle or not (you should be), these models will help you make your decision. Every shooter and hunter has different tastes, preferences, and applications for their rimfire rifles, and our goal is to give you a well-rounded list of some of the best rimfire rifles in different styles and calibers to choose from.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr
  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 5.2  pounds
  • Stock: American Walnut

Pros

  • Accurate and dependable
  • Good magazine design
  • Lots of aftermarket parts and magazines
  • Excellent all-around small-game rifle

Cons

  • The 10/22’s iron sights aren’t the most durable

Now more than 50 years old, this little semi-automatic rimfire has become the gold standard by which all 22 rifles are judged. A tremendous value for the dollar, the 10/22 is available in a multitude of configurations including takedown and target models. It is also one of the most customizable rimfire rifles ever created. It’s a great rifle for a kid to grow up with, and every parent should spend money on one.

The Henry US Survival AR 7 is the best survival .22 rifle.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr
  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • ABS Stock/Case

Pros

  • Compact and easily stowed
  • Action and barrel can be stored in water-tight stock
  • Great survival/backup rifle
  • Iron sights and optic rail

Cons

Engineered by the man who designed the AR 15, this takedown rimfire rifle was conceptualized as a survival gun for Air Force pilots. They’re reliable, accurate, and the ideal behind-the-truck-seat rifle. The AR 7 is also offered in a survival kit for $550 with a bunch of good-day-gone-bad goodies including a Buck knife, food bars, and a space blanket.

The Ruger American is the best affordable rimfire rifle.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr, 22WMR, 17HMR
  • Action: Bolt action
  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Stock: Synthetic

Pros

  • Great Value
  • Accurate
  • Uses Ruger’s excellent rotary magazine
  • Stock insert for using with a scope

Cons

  • Bolt operation isn’t the smoothest

These rifles might be the best example of modern American gun making. They are reliable, accurate, and affordable. They’re also available chambered in the 22 LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR. And, you can choose between compact or standard length models, with or without sights, and with either a synthetic, wood, or laminated target style stock. The 22 LR rifle models feed from Ruger 10/22 magazines and the trigger is user adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.

The Franklin Armory F17-L is the best varminter.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 17 WSM
  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Gas piston, not blowback operated
  • AR15 furniture compatible

Pros

  • Most powerful rimfire cartridge
  • Runs cleaner than blowback or direct-impingement guns
  • 10-round magazine
  • Crisp single-stage trigger

Cons

  • Ammo can be difficult to find

The fastest rimfire cartridge on the market, the 17 WSM, never really caught fire, but it’s an excellent varmint cartridge for rimfire rifles. It’s close to the 17 Hornet in performance, and makes a fantastic fox, bobcat, or prairie dog cartridge. One of the few semi-auto 17 WSM rifles is the Franklin armory F17-L. It’s a piston-driven semi-automatic AR-style rifle that uses a rotating bolt design to handle the pressures of the high-speed cartridge. It uses a 10-round magazine, is compatible with regular AR furniture, and is suppressor-ready. The accuracy and flexibility of the AR platform makes it adaptable for rimfire predator hunters, and the gas piston system makes it one of the cleanest-running semi-auto rimfires you’ll find.

The Volquartsen VM-22 is the best semi-auto rimfire.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr
  • Action: Semi-auto, 10/22-style
  • Carbon-fiber barrel
  • Magpul stock

Pros

  • Premium components
  • Comfortable to shoot in many positions
  • Light
  • Accurate

Cons

When it comes to souped-up 10/22-style clones, Volquartsen has it dialed in. Many gravitate to Volquartsen rifles because they produce reliable 10/22-style rifles in both 17 HMR and 22 WMR—something that Ruger discontinued. They also make fantastic 22lr rifles, and the VM-22 is a great example of a premium 10/22-style rifle that’s got top-notch components and is great for a variety of target and hunting needs. The VM-22 is essentially the Volquartsen Superlite barreled action in a Magpul X-22 Hunter stock. It’s light and ergonomical to shoot offhand or prone off a bipod or bags. You’ll have a hard time heating up the carbon-wrapped barrel, and it comes optic- and suppressor-ready. 

Best High-End: Vudoo Sinister

The Vudoo Sinister is the best high-end rimfire rifle.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22 lr, 22 WMR, 17 Mach 2, 17 HMR
  • Weight: 8 pounds (depending on features)
  •  Barrel Length: 16, 18, or 20 inches
  •  Carbon fiber-wrapped barrel

Pros

  •  Customizable to order
  •  Top-shelf accuracy
  •  High quality components and assembly
  •  Versatile, more-traditional non-chassis stocks

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not available in retail outlets   

Vudoo Gun Works is a Utah based company that builds top-end rimfire rifles, particularly for competition. They’re expensive and in-demand but are top-notch rifles. Unlike some of their chassis-based rimfire rifles, the Sinister Carbon model features more traditional styles of stocks to choose from. It is built on Vudoo’s V-22 controlled-feed action which features a Remington 700 footprint and utilizes over-sized magazines to feed short rimfire cartridges including .22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 Mach 2, and .17 HMR. It’s a full-length-sized action that’s designed specifically for cycling rimfire cartridges.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport is the best AR-style rimfire.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr
  • Action: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 4.8  pounds
  • Stock: Collapsible, AR15-style

Pros

  • Great plinker or AR 15 trainer
  • Fun
  • Suppressor ready
  • Flip-up iron sights

Cons

If fun is what you seek, look no further. Configured to mimic the feel and function of America’s most popular rifle—the AR 15—the M&P 15-22 Sport is a rifle that will help transform your range into a shooting gallery. With 13 variants to choose from, you’re bound to find one everyone in the family will enjoy. And, at less than five pounds, this rifle is light enough everyone in the family can handle it.

The Zephyr II is the best rimfire rifle with a fancy wood stock.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr, 22 WMR, 17 HMR
  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Weight: 5.8 pounds
  • Stock: European Walnut

Pros

  • Classic hunting rifle look and feel
  • Heirloom-quality construction
  • Models with or without iron sights
  • Very accurate

Cons

The Zephyr II is a grown man’s rimfire rifle. Intended for the field, it shoots well enough to win a bench rest match. It comes standard with a European walnut stock fitted with a Bavarian cheek piece. It has a five-round detachable magazine, and elegantly simple but practical and beautiful fish-scale checkering. It is available in 22 LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR. You’ll brag about its accuracy in the squirrel woods, and about its loveliness around the campfire.

Read Next: Top 10 Best Lever Action Rifles

The Henry Golden Boy is one of the best lever action rifles.

Key Features

  • Caliber: 22lr, 22 WMR, 17 HMR
  • Action: Lever-action
  • Weight: 6.75  pounds
  • Stock: American Walnut

Pros

  • Classic, flashy lever-action design
  • Great for hunting and admiring
  • Reliable
  • Excellent rifle for all ages

The Henry Golden Boy is the type of rifle that’s pure fun to shoot no matter your age. It’s available in 22 LR, .22 Magnum, and .17 HMR. There is even a shortened youth model for a dedicated youth plinker. It has an adjustable buckhorn-type rear sight and has a 20-inch octagonal barrel. The .22 LR version holds 16 rounds. The .22 Mag can carry 12 rounds and the .17 HMR holds 11.

Also check out the Classic Lever-Action Rimfire Rifle, which is under $400 and has many of the Golden Boy’s features.

The T1X MTR is the best budget NRL .22 rimfire.

NRL .22 is one of the fastest growing shooting sports. One of the appeals is that the rifles and the ammo is much cheaper than the centerfire NRL and PRS competitions. The Base Class in NRL .22 is for shooters with a rifle and scope, that combined, have less than a $1200 MSRP. Zane Hermann won the 2022 NRL .22 Championship in Base Class with the Tikka T1X MTR and proved that it’s a great option for competitions.

How to Choose The Best Rimfire Rifle

The best rimfire rifle for you will depend on what you want to use it for, how much you want to shoot it, and your personal tastes and style. There are great general-purpose, all-around rimfire rifles, and also highly specialized ones. The caliber you choose will be closely related to these things too. 

The most popular caliber choice for rimfire rifles is the 22 LR, and it’s the best for a  general-use, multi-purpose rimfire. If you want to shoot high volume or competition, the 22 LR is your best bet. Some specific applications can use a little more power or velocity, which might steer you towards the 22 WMR, 17 HMR, or 17 WSM. 

Action type is generally a matter of your personal preference, and they’re all fun and effective. Other Key things to consider are: Sights/optics options, magazine style/availability, options for aftermarket mods, threaded muzzle or not. 

FAQs

Q: What is a rimfire rifle?

A rimfire rifle is a rifle that’s chambered in a rimfire cartridge. A rimfire is a cartridge that’s ignited when the firing pin strikes the rim or out-side edge of the cartridge. The outer rim is packed with a priming compound and that impact ignites it. Centerfire cartridges use a self-contained primer that’s seated in the center of the case head—that’s what the firing pin strikes to ignite that style of cartridge. 

Q: What is the best .22 lr rifle for target shooting?

Vudoo Gun Works and the CZ 457 are two of the best all-around .22 rifles for target shooting. But, the best rifle for target shooting depends on the type of target shooting. A great rifle for NRL 22 isn’t a great rifle for bull’s-eye. For a complete list of the best precision .22 rifles, click here.

Q: Who makes the best .22 rifle?

The Ruger 10/22 is the most popular .22 rifle. It’s an excellent rifle for hunting and plinking.

Q: What is the best 10/22 rifle?

There are eight main 10/22 variations to choose from. The most well-rounded rifle is the Ruger 10/22 Sporter.

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.

Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts on the Best Rimfire Rifles

Despite being invented almost 180 years ago, the rimfire rifle is as relevant as ever; every hunter and shooter ought to have one. Because of the wide diversity in those of us who use rimfire rifles, our tastes and applications, there’s great freedom in finding what will be best for you. There are excellent rimfire rifles in just about every style and configuration—you just have to pick one.



Read the full article here

Subscribe to our newsletter

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy