The .22lr is one of the most bought and shot calibers in the United States. This caliber is available in a variety of rimfire cartridges and is used from casual plinking to small game hunting. In any shooting situation, the use of a .22lr scope can be extremely beneficial. Because of this, it is in your best interest to become familiar with the best scope for 22lr rifles that are available.
In this article, we will take a look at some components and performance characteristics that are associated with quality rimfire scopes. We will then take a look at four scopes that can easily be considered the best scope for 22lr rifles.
.22 Rifle Scope Buyer’s Guide
- Purpose: Let’s take some time to discuss the purpose of optics on rimfire, specifically .22lr chambered firearms. There are a lot of scopes that are going out on the market that might seem like better options than the scopes we are going to list here.
The bottom line is that you don’t need extreme magnification because this caliber is not going to reach out to 500 yards and high power magnification scopes are generally much more expensive. The best 22 scope is going to be durable, reliable, lightweight, and have the necessary performance standards for any scope.
- Durability: Any scope that is going to be put on your firearm, whether a rimfire or high caliber, needs to be built of quality materials that can handle environmental conditions as well as stand up to bumps and scrapes that accrue over trips to the woods.
You want a scope built from a single piece tube, as this helps increase durability and you want the scope built from materials such as aluminum or possibly a high-quality graphite. You also want to these scopes to be purged and sealed in key areas to keep the scopes water and fog proof. And even though we are only dealing with a .22 caliber you want a scope that is going to hold zero consistently over many outings.
- Glass: A scope is going to worthless unless is has the lenses able to perform in a variety of conditions and be able to provide a bright and clear image. You are going to want a scope that can transmit a good deal of light from the ocular lens to your pupil, especially for those with hunting purposes in mind. It always seems the most squirrels are out at those first rays of light coming down through the trees.
Lens coatings help as well as the diameter of the objective lens with most scopes that work well for rimfire rifles being 33mm or less in diameter. Lens coatings also help cut down on glare and light reflection on your lens and an abrasion resistance coating will help increase the longevity of your glass and make those frustrating scratches less likely.
- Weight: For optics going on your .22, it’s important that your scope of choice does not throw off the balance. .22 rifles are generally lightweight and throwing on a heavy scope can throw the balance of the rifle off.
You shouldn’t have an issue with any of the scopes we will cover in this article being too heavy for your .22 rifle, but it is something you should keep in mind if you decide to venture out and look for a 22lr scope. While we can’t tell you what the cut off is without handling your particular rifle, and scope used on a .22 shouldn’t be over 15oz.
- Magnification Power: As we keep saying, for most shooting scenarios that occur with a .22lr rifle are not going to be over 150 yards. Because of this, the need for high-powered magnification scopes is overkill. A 3-9X variable scope is going to be more magnification than you will ever need and it also provides enough settings for most target shooting scenarios.
A lot of plinkers or hunting situations do not even require a variable powered scope, and a fixed scope has a lot of benefits. They are most often cheaper, and they are also more durable as there are less moving parts. We’re not here to tell you which type of .22 rifle scope you should put on your rifle, but simply let you know there are options and to think about the shooting applications you have in mind.
- Reticle: Building of the purpose section, remember what you are shooting. A .22lr chambered rifle is not meant nor is it capable of taking shots at long distances. There might be situations where you want a more technical reticle that features bullet drop compensation, but for the most part, a simple and crisp duplex reticle is more than enough for .22lr chambered firearms. Now, if that’s not what you’re about then more power to you and go with a reticle that you feel the most comfortable with.
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The 4 Best Scopes for .22lr Rifles
Following the criteria outlined above, the next section will provide a selection of scopes that perform well in combination with the .22lr caliber.
If you are looking for a high-quality variable scope for your .22lr chambered rifle this scope will deliver in just about any situation. This is one of the best rimfire scopes that is available, and while more expensive than other scopes, it is well worth the price.
This 3-9X variable scope is perfect for shooting on the range and in hunting situations. This scope has the potential to land itself with the title of the best 22 scope. This scope is easy to zero and is highly accurate when sighted in properly.
It has a fantastic field of view that ranges from 38.3 to 15.2ft at 100yds. This FOV allows you to quickly pick up a target, especially hunting quickly at low magnification. On top of this, it has an excellent quick focus eyepiece that comes in handy when utilizing the full range of magnification power.
The low profile turrets on this scope are great at resisting being knocked off settings when slugging through brush and they are also easy to adjust in the field. This scope features a wide range of elevation and windage adjustments at 64MOA, though it is likely you will never have to utilize most of this range.
This scope features a simple duplex reticle that might not have all of the quick adjustment features more technical shooters rely on and might be a drawback for some of you. For simple plinking or hunting purposes, the reticle is fine and will not be an issue.
This 22lr scope is 11.6” in length and 11.5oz so it will fit on just about any .22 chambered rifle comfortably and you don’t have to worry about balance being affected in any way.
- Durable scope
- Weather resistant
- Clear image through entire magnification range
- Simple and reliable reticle
- Great low light performance
- Excellent field of view
This 22 rifle scope is a 2-7X variable powered scope that is specifically designed for use with smaller rimfire rifles. It is both fog and waterproof and performs well in less than ideal weather conditions often encountered when hunting.
We love the lenses used in this scope. They transmit a lot of the light through the scope tube, and at low light settings, the image appears brighter through the scope than the surrounding field of view. At the 7X magnification the field of view drops off, and you’re not going to be able to key in on the target directly from the 7X and will need to work your way through the magnification range. For target shooting, it’s not a problem, but while hunting small game long distance shots can be difficult to zoom in on your target quickly.
This scope has high tactical turrets that are extremely easy to adjust while in the field and also have audible finger clicks that make it much easier to adjust when keeping your sight down the scope.
The Nikoplex reticle, which is a simple duplex reticle is extremely crisp and clear throughout the scopes magnification range and is very easy to center targets.
The biggest issue we have with this particular scope is that it is pretty heavy at 16.1oz. It will fit just fine on your .22 rifle and has great eye relief. If you are using a heavier .22 tactical rifle, this is one of the best 22lr scopes on the market, and the heaviness helps keep recoil down when rattling off dozens of shots in a small time frame.
- Weather resistant
- Incredible low light performance
- Crisp reticle
- Easy to adjust turrets
- Poor field of view at higher magnification range
If you haven’t noticed, we really like Leupold scopes and for good reason. The quality and performance of Leupold glass are unrivaled.
We have presented two variable scopes, but a lot of hunters/marksmen prefer a simple fixed scope on their .22 chambered firearms. Like we mentioned in our buyer’s guide it’s all personal preference and what type of shooting you will be doing. 2.5X, 4X, or 5X fixed power all have their advantages and disadvantages.
The FX-1 Rimfire Scope by Leupold is a 4X fixed magnification scope. 4X is an excellent small game hunting magnification power for small game in more wooded environments. This particular scope is great with a 25.5′ FOV at 100yards. What this allows is quick target acquisition which is important when chasing after smaller game. We also like the fine duplex reticle that features thick bases that taper into fine lines along the crosshairs that help you center your shot quickly.
This is a compact and lightweight scope that balances well with just about any .22lr rifle. It also has very generous eye relief that allows you some flexibility for where on the rail you mount the scope and provides you the chance to set up the outfit for comfortable shooting.
Like any Leupold scope, the lenses are fantastic and give you optimal low light performance. You won’t have an issue with these lenses fogging up and will be pleased with the how water beads and rolls right of the lens.
All of this technology and scope features result in a highly accurate and precise scope once zeroed. This is a contender for the best 22 rifle scope as it paired with a reliable firearm can be a tack driver from 50 to 100 yards.
- Compact and lightweight
- Excellent field of view for quick target acquisition
- Weather resistant
- Top quality lenses
- Extremely accurate scope
- Easy to use and clear reticle
Our final scope for 22lr rifles is the Vortex Crossfire II. This is another variable powered scope with a magnification range of 2-7X. This is a well built and sturdy scope made from anodized aluminum. It is also treated and sealed to be water and fog proof. You shouldn’t have any issue with this scope throwing off the balance of your firearm, and it has fantastic eye relief so you should be able to place this scope to give you optimal shooting posture.
With the size of the objective lens and the lens treatment, you will be happy with this scope’s performance in low light conditions. This scope has a fast focus eyepiece although there is some issue with keeping the scope in focus at its highest magnification setting.
The V-Plex reticle can be a pro or con depending on your personal preferences. It’s a simple duplex reticle, but it features bold lines with little tapering that we think feels a bit bulky when trying to line up a shot.
Once you get this scope zeroed it holds it extremely well. The problem you might run into is getting it zeroed in at 50-75yards. The windage and elevation turrets are easy to adjust and have a useful zero resettable turret feature for quick adjustments in the field, but some users have had trouble with the reliability of adjustments.
- Well built and sturdy scope
- Great eye relief
- Good performance in low light
- Hold zero well
- Hard to Zero
- Blurry picture at high magnification
- Focus slides in and out at high magnification
Winner & Conclusion
Before we wrap up the article, we need to decide which of the four scopes wins top honors. The title for best 22 scope goes to the VX-2 Rimfire Scope by Leupold.
As far as scopes for 22lr rifles go, this scope excels in all categories. Right out of the gate it comes with all of the top qualities associated with Leupold optics. It’s going to hold up in any weather conditions and take all kinds of passive abuse our shooting and hunting gear often encounters. You have a wide range of magnification power with each setting providing a clear and crisp image in the minimal light conditions. Right out of the box there is nothing difficult about this scope. It will be compatible with nearly every .22 rifle, it zeroes with little effort, it holds that zero, and is a tack driver when paired with a good rifle. For these reasons, we cant imagine why this scope would ever not be one of the top options to pair with your 22 rimfire rifle.
Scopes for 22lr rifles can give you a lot more versatility out of your target shooting, plinking, or small game hunting rifle and the best part is that they are not going to break the bank. Abide by our buyer’s guide and take a close look at the four scopes for 22lr rifles we listed and you can’t go wrong.