No grand battle for the title of the most popular rifle caliber can start without the rimfire family members either as viewers or one of the contestants. Hardly known for their high stopping power, the .22 rifles nonetheless never leave the stage, for their enormous fanbase simply won’t allow them. Having earned the crown of the best training caliber, the .22 LR is the most prominent representative of the .22 family. However, it is not the only one.
The .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire is a higher-impact option for those who need higher penetration at longer ranges, varmint hunters, for example. Regardless of the exact caliber, the .22 rifle line is very diverse. We’ve compiled the list of the six best .22 rifles for 2023 as suggested by gritrsports to spare you the onerous task of trying dozens of them firsthand.
RUGER 10/22 Sporter
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 18.5”
Ruger 10/22 is hands down the most popular rimfire rifle in America, and it has every reason to be one. It is one of the few examples when the usage of the word iconic, unfairly overused by so many people, is truly justified. The original model, followed by its many variations, has been around since 1964, showing nothing but proven performance. The Ruger 10/22 Sporter inherited all the signature features of its ancestor: a patented 10-round rotary magazine, constructed for the most reliable feeding, a V-block barrel mounting system that allows attaching and removing the barrel without resorting to gunsmith services, and a breechblock decelerator that ensures the optimal speed of the bolt action. The 10/22 Sporter takes on the appearance of a traditional hunting rifle encased in the wooden (American walnut) case. The cold hammer-forged 18.5” barrel and heat-stabilized, glass-filled, polymer trigger housing are some of the pillars of the gun’s robustness, due to their impact and abrasion resistance. A time-tested classic in its best form.
SAVAGE 64 F
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 21”
Even though Savage Arms are better known for their bolt-action rifles, their portfolio is more varied than that. The Savage 64 F is a pearl hidden at the bottom of the treasure chest. Overlooked by many, it shines like nothing else when brought into the sunlight. This gem is not only beautiful but also robust: sturdy polymer stock and carbon steel barrel, both featuring matte finish, are highly resistant to the elements. The safety is in the form of a classic push-forward lever, commonly found on bolt-action rifles. The catch of the rock-in-style magazine is located on the front together with the mag release. Such a configuration might need some getting used to, but once you form a habit, you’ll see there is nothing off-putting about it. Even though this rifle weighs only 5lbs, the feel is very well-weighted. The Savage 64 F is also the most affordable gun on the list, with an unparalleled price-performance ratio. The customization options are scarce, but the rifle is already pretty sufficient. If you don’t like following mainstream beaten paths, this rifle is just for you.
HENRY Pump Action Octagon
Caliber: .22 Mag
Barrel Length: 20.5”
We offered you variety – we serve you variety. Pump-action is not the most common choice for a rifle, but when chambered in a Magnum caliber, it paints you a whole different picture. Reminiscent of the good old days of a traditional shooting gallery, this is a rifle for those who long for a shot of something different. It is very optics friendly, with a grooved receiver for scope mounting and a Marbles fully adjustable pair of rear sights, with standard 3/8” dovetail slots in case you might want to change them. The .22 WMR caliber combines the lightness and low recoil of .22 LR with the increased power of a Magnum family. The stock starring American Walnut and an octagon blue steel barrel complete the picture of a rifle that is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. If you share this determination, consider checking this Henry 22 pump action rifle out.
CZ 457 American
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 24.8”
Everyone appreciative of bolt-action firearms will find CZ 457 American to be an excellent rimfire rifle. Everything one might expect from a quality rifle, CZ 457 American has. Designed specifically to be used in tandem with scopes, this rifle features an integral 11 mm dovetail milled into the receiver. To cater to the tastes of the American audience, CZ placed a pivoting safety on the right side of the receiver. Pushing the safety forward sets the gun into the ready-to-fire position, revealing a red dot on the receiver’s side. Applying the safety locks the trigger but doesn’t affect the bolt allowing you to load or unload the rifle with the safety on. The CZ 457 American is also equipped with a trigger with adjustable pull weight, take-up, and overtravel, so you can tailor it to your own preference. The magazine capacity is not the strongest side of this rifle, but it makes up for it with other useful features. The walnut stock with a classic checkering pattern features a high, flat comb for more comfortable optics use. The cold hammer-forged 24.8” barrel is free-floated, meaning there is no contact with the fore-end that might affect your accuracy. To sum it up, the CZ 457 American is an exemplary bolt-action rifle that will make for a fine addition (or a starter) to any firearm collection.
BROWNING BL-22 Grade II
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 20”
Leverguns are some of the most frequently overlooked firearms, but hunters and sports shooters were always able to see the true potential of these guns. Browning Bl-22 Grade II is a fine member of the lever-action family that won’t leave you longing for more. Be it ergonomics or configuration, this rifle excels at everything. The magazine tube has an impressive capacity of 15 rounds, and you can load .22 Long and .22 Short in addition to .22 LR. The lever is a short downward pull that ensures extremely smooth ejection and chambering, allowing you to remain in the same position and keep your aim steady. It’s a 30o pull, crisp both downward and upward, quite a treat if you ask us. The stock features Black Walnut with a gloss finish, feels good on your hand, and doesn’t allow the rifle to slip off. The plastic buttplate diminishes the recoil’s impact on your precision. The steel blade front sight and folding rear sight constitute the aiming setup, which performs exceptionally well for a set of pre-installed sights. There are no holes for optics mounting, though, so unless you are very determined to mount a scope, iron sights are going to be your primary aiming assistant. This rifle is embellished with engravings on the receiver and trigger guard, so those appreciating little fine features in their firearms should be quite pleased.
SMITH & WESSON Performance Center M&P 15-22 Sport
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel Length: 18”
The cherry on the top, the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport is a breath of AR-15 in our garden of hunting rifles. Even though this gun features a blowback design that is quite different from the gas systems of true AR-15s, the operation process might deceive you into thinking you are not using a rimfire rifle. The two-mode manual safety located on the lower receiver features safe and fire modes. The mag release is at its usual place, and it does its job freely without the need to tug on it. The six-position VLTOR Adjustable stock features a rubber buttpad, several sling attachments, and even two storage compartments to keep batteries or spare parts. The compartments also provide a wider cheek weld surface. The Hogue Black grip has three front finger grooves. The Performance Center model enjoys some premium-level upgrades, lacking regular ones. The 18” barrel features longitudinal fluting on the exposed portion of the barrel and is threaded in 1/2×28. The handguard is a 10-inch polymer Magpul M-Lok rail with plenty of space for accessory mounting. Atop the receiver, you can find a pair of removable folding Magpul sights, both front and rear. The latter is adjustable for windage and elevation, the former- for elevation only. The Smith & Wesson PC M&P 15-22 Sport is like a detailed elaborate painting: the more you look at it, the more features you spot.