rossi 22 lever action rifle side by side

5 Best .22 LR Rifles [2021]

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The .22 LR Rifle is a great starter firearm for new gun enthusiasts. The small caliber size makes it manageable even for small shooters. The .22 LR Rifle serves many purposes like hunting, pleasure shooting, and home defense. It became famous as far back as 1857 when it was made for the Smith & Wesson 1 revolver.

The .22 LR has unparalleled popularity in the world of guns. But once you see the .22 LR cartridge, you’ll probably doubt its power because of its size. It’s tiny at 22/100ths of an inch, looking like the size of candy. However, its projectile is great, and there’s not much recoil, noise, and muzzle flash. Moreover, it’s easy to handle, especially when you practice often with it as I do.

These are the 5 best .22 LR rifles we reviewed here on the site:

  • Marlin Model 60: A rifle favorite that is an improved version of the Marlin 99
  • Ruger 10/2 Takedown Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle: The compact and easy-to-carry model of the classic Ruger 10/22
  • Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle: A featherweight and iconic survival AR-7 rifle
  • Tikka T1x MTR Rimfire Bolt-Action Rifle: A lightweight rifle with interchangeable triggers
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport Rimfire Rifle: The carbine’s little brother that’s highly customizable

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The Caliber

Best .22 LR Rifles The .22 Long Rifle
A photo of .22 long rifle ammunition taken from Wikipedia.

When shooting, the firing pin creates an impact with the rim, which results in igniting the propellant. The .22 round is a rimfire cartridge and its primer is on the lip of the shell casing. The shell casing is a single piece of metal, and you can’t reload it like centerfire rounds. However, this ammunition is affordable and easy to find. It also has higher velocities because of its size. The .22 also delivers flat impacts which is great for accuracy and lethality. As a result, its popularity boosted and after a while, firearm companies began manufacturing .22LR specific pistols and rifles.

For more on rimfire and centerfire ammunition read our Rimfire vs Centerfire – What is the difference? article.

The Rifle

In sports, the .22 is king. It’s the rifle often used in competitions because of its tolerance to weather changes. It’s also light to carry at long distances and easy to fire in prone and standing positions. Although not designed to be a powerful firearm, it’s still great to use as a small game rifle. It’s also notable for being able to take down animals like squirrels, foxes, deer, and wild hogs. To sum it up, low recoil, high aiming ability, and accurate shooting are all achievable with the .22 LR.

The Types

  • Semi-automatic: The newer type popular among shooters around the globe. It’s easy to fire quickly using a semi-auto. The user needs only to move the action into a firing position once. Afterward, the old rounds are discharged automatically and reloaded with a new one after every pull and release of the trigger.
  • Bolt action: A rifle with a small metal handle that sticks out of the right side of the weapon behind the chamber. An upward, backward, and forward movement can eject a used cartridge.
  • Pump action: As its name implies, you need to ‘pump’ or slide the mechanism around the barrel in order to eject a used cartridge and load a new one simultaneously.
  • Lever action: A rifle that Involves utilizing a handle located behind the trigger. The cartridge is pulled out of the tube and loaded into the chamber to be fired.

Now those are the types, but let’s talk about which is the best .22 LR Rifle.

Our top 5 .22 LR Rifle Picks

RifleTypeBarrel LengthWeightCapacityRRP
Marlin Model 60Semi-auto19 inches5.5 pounds14 rounds$800
Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle
Semi-auto18.5 inches4.6 pounds10 rounds$349
Henry U.S. Survival AR-7Semi-auto16.125 inches3.5 pounds8 rounds$388
Tikka T1xMTR Rimfire Bolt-Action RifleBolt-action20 inches6.3 pounds10 rounds$499
Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport Rimfire RifleSemi-auto16 inches5.5 pounds10-, 25- rounds$461

Marlin Model 60

The Marlin Model has a 60 in its name, which is for the year it was introduced. It sports a hardwood stock with a walnut finish. This gun has a 19-inch Micro-Groove rifled barrel. It also features a quality crown that makes this rifle accurate. This 5.5-pound model is self-loading. Additionally, it features a last-round hold open design, where it holds halfway after emptying the magazine. Now you can still lock and open it by depressing the bolt handle. The Model 60 has a cross-bolt safety accessible even for small-handed shooters. Some shooters say that it’s slow to reload but the Marlin Model 60 balances this with its round, tubular, corrosion-resistant magazine that can hold up to 14 rounds. It’s also easy to disassemble and maintain.

In contrast with its old model, the Marlin Model 99, the Model 60 is more on the economic side. The Model 60 has a cost-effective birch and brass for its stock and magazine tube while the Model 99 has a walnut and rolled steel. In addition, it comes in five variations: 60SB, 60SS (silver wood finish), 60SN, 60C (camouflage finish), and 60SN (matte black finish) with a 4x20mm scope. You can get the Marlin Model 60 for $800.

Pros
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Has lots of variations to choose from
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Long trigger pull
  • Slow reload time

Ruger 10/22 Takedown Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle

Ruger is one of America’s trusted rifles. The Ruger 10/22 Takedown Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle is an enhanced version of the old Ruger 10/22 model. The difference between the two is that this 4.6-pound Takedown model is easier to clean and pack. Its quick separation of the barrel from the action allows compactness, which is great for those who don’t have the space for a full-sized rifle. Moreover, the smaller size of the 10/22 Takedown makes it a viable option as a survival firearm. It also comes with a case that allows discrete carrying of the rifle. In addition, the barrel is 18.5 inches long, made with stainless steel and finished in clear matte.

Another nice feature is its adjustable ring, which keeps the receiver and barrel connected tightly. It also has a detachable 10-round magazine with a unique rotor to separate cartridges. You can add the Ruger 10/22 Takedown to your rifle collection at a price of $349.

Pros
  • Easy to pack and great for discrete carry
  • Easy to maintain and clean
Cons
  • Some folks have problems shooting it with a sling

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Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle

The AR-7 is the United States Air Force’s first choice of firearms because of its reliability when used in a remote area. In short, the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 is one of the most iconic survival rifles in the firearms world. It’s feather-light, weighing 3.5 pounds. Hence, it’s portable and easy to pack. The big difference between the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 with the original model is the stock. In contrast to the previous model, the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 has a more textured finish with grooves in the grip. Another difference is the magazine, they redesigned the insides of this new model. In addition, the magazine can store three eight-round magazines instead of one. There’s also an additional 22 tip-off ― not Picatinny ― type of rail, enabling the mounting of a scope.

Its barrel is 16.125 inches long, made of steel, with a covered acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic finish for corrosion resistance. It’s a very compact rifle with a water-resistant stock. This rifle also includes a carry bag. Moreover, they have three rifle finishes available: black, True Kimber Kanati Camo Pattern, and True Timber Viper Western Camp Pattern. You can get the black finish at $319 while the other finishes are available for $388.

Pros
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Can be customized
Cons
  • Trigger is stiff and the take up is a bit longer
  • Magazines lack a removable floor plate

Tikka T1x MTR Rimfire Bolt-Action Rifle

The Tikka T1x MTR Rimfire Bolt-Action Rifle is the Tikka T3x’s younger brother. The 6.3-pound Tikka T1x is designed to perform well in the field and on the range. It also has similar features with the T3x but has notable changes like a reduced bolt lift to 45 degrees. However, the downside for this is that the cocking ramp must be steeper. You need to add a little more effort when lifting the bolt. Additionally, the T1x features a 20-inch barrel that has a cross-over profile. The rifle is lightweight without giving up the stability of a heavier barrel.

In addition, it’s got an interchangeable 10-round magazine and it retains the T3x’s side bolt release. It features interchangeable triggers, which is one of the company’s secrets. The bolt is made of stainless steel that offers smooth movement and water resistance. The stock is synthetic, with 35 percent injection-molded fiberglass. Fiberglass is rigid and less sensitive to temperature changes. Another good thing about this rifle is that it has a left-handed version available. Newbies will also like it because it’s accurate and affordable at $499. This .22 LR rifle is compatible with most T3x accessories.

Pros
  • Interchangeable magazine and trigger
  • Lightweight
  • Has left-handed version
Cons
  • Cheek comb height is not adjustable

Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport Rimfire Rifle

Smith & Wesson is popular for manufacturing high-quality products. Likewise, the M&P 15-22 Sport Rimfire Rifle shares the brand’s quality. The carbine is the M&P 15-22 rifle’s big brother and has the wonderful ergonomics as the smaller sibling. In addition, it has a picatinny rail to accommodate any of your accessories. It sports a 16-inch barrel made of carbon steel. This 5.5-pound rifle has adjustable front and rear sights. The trigger is great, and its assembly is solid. Moreover, cleaning this rifle is also easy. You won’t spend much time maintaining this one.

It’s also left-handed friendly and available in a 10- or 25-round magazine. You can add an additional pistol grip to the fore-end hand guard. However, the only thing this rifle lacks is the front sling attachment to pour with the rear. Nevertheless, the S&W M&P 15-22 still has amazing features. It’s also supplied with Magpul M-LOK foregrips, Magnul MBUS folding sights, and a six-position buttstock. Hence, giving you several options for attachments like laser, optics, and lights. It comes in 15 different variations and is available at $461.

Pros
  • Fully adjustable sights
  • Several options for attachments
  • Easy and quick to clean
Cons
  • No front sling mount

Our Final Say

The .22 LR rifle go a long way back. They are a true legacy in the gun world. Because of their impressive characteristics, there’s no reason not to have one. However, remember that the key is always to practice with the firearm you choose.


Now, if you don’t have a scope yet, check out our article The 4 Best .22 LR Rifle Scopes. If you have a knack for hunting, then read our article about the Best Budget Hunting Rifles.

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Hi! I'm Mike, one of the oldest writer of Sniper Country! If you have any feedback or question about my articles, please submit it here, it's always appreciated!

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