This Is for Fighting, This Is for Fun: The 5 Best .22 Rifles
There is something to be said about reliability in a firearm. When you purchase a .22 rifle, you’re getting a gun that has proven itself to be capable for decades. There’s no reason to invest any more than necessary when you know what you need.
To find the best .22 rifle, you’ll want to know what features are necessary in a design that has been relatively unchanged for a while. You might be surprised at the number of options available, so use the guide below to discover what you need to learn.
How Can I Choose from the Best .22 Rifles?
Most of the time, a hunter’s first weapon is going to be a .22 rifle. They are relatively small, and they can hit most of their targets with a surprising amount of force. You’ll also find ammo to be extremely affordable.
Even if you don’t plan on using it for hunting, you’ll find that the best .22 rifles are also great for just picking off a few cans in the backyard. This will come in handy if you find out that you can’t use it on that hunt you planned, as even the best .22 rifles can’t guarantee a humane kill.
What are the Best .22 Rifles Available?
The options for the best .22 rifles are pretty extensive, as you can see from the list we give below. Take a look at each of them and find out which one catches your eye.
The Legendary Ruger 10/22
You could never shoot a gun in your entire life and you’ll probably still recognize this American classic. Still in production after first hitting the market in 1964, the Ruger is as popular as it has ever been. It’s put together incredibly well, easy to care for, and one simple set of tools will keep this working for a lifetime.
The stock of the 10/22 eats through a 10-round magazine that is secured underneath the action. If you’re in a state that places restrictions on magazine size, you can also find a variant model that keeps a 5-round capacity. These also hold a 25-round box for added convenience. With the more liberal states for gun laws, you can attach coffin, drum, and box magazines that give you anywhere from 25 to 110 rounds. You probably won’t need these for hunting, but they’re a blast to play around with.
What’s great about the Ruger 10/22 is the number of customizations that you can attach to this rifle. With it being around for so long, modifications are widely available and make many quality-of-life improvements to what is already a classic. You can turn this thing from a small game sweeper into a sniper rifle with a few quick add-ons.
Over half a century is a long time to maintain quality in production. The Legendary Ruger doesn’t look like it will give up its place on the list of the best .22 rifles any time soon.
If you have been following guns all your life, you might recognize this design from Brno. The CZ-455 American is a slight variation on a classic, another bolt gun that has been around the block a few times. You now have the usual receiver design and a quick-change barrel system. It comes in two options: .22LR and .17 barrel. If you’re looking for a solid hunting rifle, the CZ-455 American has you covered.
This American model has an amazing 22.5-inch barrel propped to the machined receiver. You can adjust the trigger, and the gun comes with a detachable magazine that holds a total of 5 rounds.
You can find a lot of CZ models currently circulating on the market, all with varying degrees of quality. The American is among the best .22 rifles thanks to the optical sight design. You’ll also like the high comb on the stock walnut-colored frame, and the receiver is ready for you to add any scopes you wish to supply.
You won’t find any standard iron sights coming standard with the CZ-American. Carry this rifle with confidence when you’re ready to invest in a rifle.
Remington Nylon 66
ing that this began with a Remington that first appeared in 1959, but it’s the truth. The Remington Nylon 66 was among the earliest mass-produced rifles that utilized a material that wasn’t wood, and to this day, people still swear by the design of the Nylon 66.
You can tell this was a different approach for Remington just by the look of the outside framework. There’s a diamond accent contained on the stock, and a very obvious color change from a traditional hunting rifle. With this in mind, Remington wanted to make it look like a regular rifle without alarming too many people by changing the stock material.
There are two colors that were used in the original production line for the Remington Nylon 66: Seneca Green and Mohawk Brown. A few years into production, Apache Black was added to the lineup. When it was first released, the rifle retailed for $49.95. It weighs 4 and a half pounds, and the barrel measures 19-1/2 inches.
The Remington Nylon 66 was discontinued in 1991, but that hasn’t prevented it from maintaining a spot on the best .22 rifles. Loyalists of Remington will argue that the quality seen in this radical departure hasn’t been surpassed since its debut. Production costs were extremely low thanks to not needing any hand-fitting during assembly.
If you can find one of these available today, you should check out the Remington Nylon 66 as a backup choice. You won’t be taking it with you anywhere in the woods, but it’s a great piece of history to own and start a conversation with other firearm enthusiasts.
Marlin Model 39A
You’re getting quite the history lesson with this list of the best .22 rifles. All the way back in 1891, the first lever-actions rifle was created. That production history continues to this day, and the production of this firearm has been uninterrupted since before radios were prominently used.
At the time, a tube magazine was loaded through a gate on the receiver’s side. This is how most centerfire lever-actions were operated during the heyday of the Marlin 39A. The following year, the tube mag transitioned into a front-loader after problems arose with feeding such a small round through the gate without binding issues.
The Golden 39A, named for the color seen on the rifle’s trigger, is the model that continues to appear in stores today. Amazingly, the changes to the design of the gun have been minimal for over a century. Basic specs aside, the only noticeable difference in the modern version of this weapon is the cross-hammer safety. All you need to take apart the Marlin 39A is a coin. This unscrews the weapon and allows you to service and clean it.
The components inside the 39A are made of steel, and the American stocks are chiseled from walnut. Ejection comes out of the side, and the receiver is located on top. The ejection makes mounting any necessary optics very easy, as opposed to the annoyance of fighting with a top ejector. You’ll find models that hold 26, 21, and 19 units of .22 short, .22 long, and .22 LR rounds, respectively.
Don’t sleep on the Marlin Golden 39A. It’s yet another example of flawless design that has survived so many other competitors’ coming and going. If you’re a collector, you might even come across some of the commemorative models introduced in the decades since its debut.
Smith and Wesson MP15-22
Now, for something a bit more modern, in design and appearance. The S&W MP15-22 came to the market in 2009 as an alternate for the wonderful but pricey AR-15, which became extremely popular and resulted in serious price gouging.
The .22 rifle option for the MP15 gives you a simple blowback action instead of an impingement-operated action, with upper and lower receivers made of polymer. This is a shift from the aluminum used in centerfire versions. The affordability of the MP15 puts it on the list of the best .22 rifles simply because it’s so well-designed while maintaining a cheap price.
If you’re new to using a .22, the MP15 is another great choice. There’s very little kick involved when firing, and the controls are in the same location when anyone new to shooting decides to move on. Advanced shooters will maintain the fundamentals they picked up with the MP15. You’ll also find that disassembling the MP15 is much like the AR-15, removing the lower receiver with two captured pins.
If you prefer, you can look into the Sport II version of the MP15. This one contains MBUS sights and a threaded barrel, along with Magpul furniture. It’s a flashy design that looks great when you take it with you on your next outing.
The gun has a barrel measuring 16 inches while the entire length comes to 33.75 inches when the stock is extended. This reduces to 30.5 inches when the stock is collapsed. At only 5 and a half pounds with a 25-round magazine, the MP15 is your answer to all of the other older rifles on this list. If you prefer something with a modern take on classic design, the S&W MP15-22 is the perfect choice for you.
Where Can I Purchase the Best .22 Rifles?
Finding a location to buy one of the best .22 rifles on this list shouldn’t prove difficult. You’ll need to find a location to pick up in person, as guns this size cannot be shipped via anything other than an internal store transfer.
Larger stores Iike Cabela’s and Pro Bass Shop are great places to start. If you decide to purchase online, you’ll need to ensure that all necessary paperwork is accounted for before you pick up your purchase. Certain areas of the country require you to spend extra fees for background checks, so keep an eye on your local and state laws.
Once you purchase from an online vendor, sales are typically final. If you aren’t satisfied with one of the best .22 rifles on this list, you’ll need to arrange a return directly with the vendor.
If you decide to purchase from one of your local vendors, check with your local laws on how to properly submit to background checks. There might be waiting periods and you’ll have to fill out several documents before you can purchase one of the rifles on this list. Certain gun manufacturers might have exclusive deals with local stores.
Final Thoughts on the Best .22 Rifles
A collection of older, classic design and modern concepts make up the list of the best .22 rifles on this list. You may notice that many of the features people love in a .22 rifle have been around for a long time. This is a testament to excellent concepts and not needing anything too fancy when looking for an introductory rifle.
When selecting one of the best .22 rifles, you’re investing in something that you can hang onto for a long time. Regardless of your age, you can learn how to shoot with one of the rifles on this list and take your knowledge with you as you move toward other options. If there are other aspiring shooters in your life, you might even be able to teach them what you have learned.
Great shooting comes with safety and an eye for detail. Buying one of the best .22 rifles ensures that you have a reliable firearm for as long as you continue to enjoy the act of shooting. If you’re after small game or just something to use out back, a .22 rifle is the perfect choice to keep your trigger finger limber and ready for action.