When answering the question as to what rifle is the very best in a 22 Long Rife chambering, any writer is going to be taking a super-sized bear by the tail, and with luck is expecting to win a major opinion fight.
When selecting the best of the best in rimfire rifles in my opinion the buck stops with a rifle from Anschutz in their 1827 F Model.
This rifle is a target rifle designed for Olympic competition shooting. The rifle retains a Fortner “ Straight Pull” Action, a Biathlon target stock, Biathlon sight 6865, and comes with five-round magazines. The only problem here is that the rifle is limited, not found in every place, and if you need to ask the price you most likely can’t afford it. $3,995.00.
Now that I have played my little game of over the top high dollar items here, let’s get real.
Today the rimfire market is flowing with good rifles at very reasonable prices. While not designed for Olympic target events the new offerings today will do the job in the field, plinking tin cans on weekends, or even addressing some of the very new long range rimfire events being developed at rifle ranges today.
As you can guess by now, selecting a 22 rimfire is mission sensitive. That is to say, you have to ask yourself what is the use going to be as applied to the rifle?
If you are searching for a good basic design in a well-made rifle, taking a look at Ruger firearms models would not the worst idea you could have come up with.
Best Rifle For .22 On The Market
Best At Everything – Ruger 10/22 .22 LR
My top pick, a Ruger product that I know very well indeed.
I’ve owned many Ruger 22 over the years, I currently have the 22 Long Rifle, 22 WMR, 17 HMR, and 22 Hornet.
Do I like Ruger products? You bet I do because they perform and I can afford them without needing to sell off the house.
Therefore, there is little I don’t know about this turn bolt rifle and I am here to say for the money, it is right at the top of the food chain in terms of rifle design and performance.
The 10/22 can be obtained in a few different colors and finishes. But for me, you got to go with the classic hardwood stock finish. The 10/22 is cold hammer forged to perfection and locked in with their patented two-screw, V-block design.
The rifle uses a rotary magazine ( 10 rounds ), a full-size bolt handle, and wood to metal fit is very good for a mass-produced rifle.
The scope mounts on a Ruger 10/22 are machined directly into the receiver and the Ruger proprietary bases and rings are supplied with the rifle. These rings and bases can be ordered in different highs so as to accommodate a variety of scope bell sizes.
Bottom line: the Ruger 10/22 .22 LR is a highly reliable “classic” .22 that has stood the test of time and is a must-have.
The 10/22 is currently on sale through our preferred supplier until April 5, 2023. They’re selling it for less than when I picked mine up almost 30 years ago… so make sure to use the link below to get the lowest price on this rifle since maybe the 70s:
Best For Mounting a Scope – CZ 457 American
Offered at a bit lower price than some, but still carrying a strong pet agree in terms of quality, the CZ American in their 457 model is a solid rifle wrapped in a very nice European walnut stock.
I shoot this rifle in a .223 Fireball, and I had written it as a sporting magazine project years ago and never sent it back. This rifle is balanced so well that you can off-hand shoot to some extended ranges whereas for other rifles you had better be searching for a solid rest before touching off a round.
The rifles are machined from a solid block of steel, carry a big rifle feel and look even though the chamber is small, and the firing pin is rimfire by required design.
The rifle makes use of a five round detachable magazine which is an asset to a rabbit hunter at times, and the high buttstock comb is set up from a medium ring scope sight.
The rifle comes with no sights out of the box, and has 11mm dovetail milled into the top to make a perfect flush fit for a sight.
Best For Long Range – Ruger American Rimfire
With the rapid advancement of long range shooting within the past decade in the USA, the game has spilled over into the rimfire rifle area as well as long range heavy caliber rifles. Today the 100, 200, and 300-yard events are being designed for the rimfire rifles and this has not gone unnoticed by rifle manufacturers. As such Ruger has introduced the Ruger American in a special target-stocked bolt action rifle that is designed to take on the long range target competition events.
The Ruger American Target is designed on a stock that is fully adjustable for length and comb height.
The wide forend is set up with M-Lok fittings for added bipods and rails, and the rifle makes use of Ruger patented “ Power Bedding”, which is integral with the stock and locks the action down but free floats the barrel for accuracy. In effect, the setup is just like the big rifles that are designed for the one-mile shooting by way of heavy cartridges today.
Currently, I shoot the Ruger Hawkeye chambered in 300 Win Mag using a stock system very much like the one used on the rimfire target model. The results have been very impressive and I push that system to almost one mile during production ammunition and handled fodder reviews.
The rifle as offered by Ruger also retains a fully adjustable trigger, threaded 0.860 barrel with factory installed knurled thread protector, and is hammer forged which resutls in very good accuracy on those 200-yard targets.
The advantages of this rife are its ability to blend into the long range and paper target shooting world.
Also, the rifle is jam packed with features that are the pedigree of a good target rifle being long or close range shooting.
Lacking a full detailed real-time field test of the rifle, this observation is within the perimeters associated with this firearms introduction.
Rifle magazine capacity 10 rounds, color metal matte blue, and stock brown.
Best For Rapid Fire Ruger Precision .22 LR
Here again, is still another Ruger, and that is because this company is not sitting around wondering what to do next. With again the advancing development in long range rimfire target game becoming a major league shooting event Ruger has moved right into the chassis rifle ( all metal ) and build a free floated turn bolt set up for both targets and game if desired.
I believe that has for at least some time to come moved the M-77 in the 22 rimfire over so as to allow this chassis rifle development the chance to stake a claim to a place in the development of accurate shooting rimfires.
The rifle is a bolt action with a touch of almost Ar-15 style built into it. Using the AR pistol grip, and the fully adjustable buttstock, then tacking on a full shroud forend barrel inclosed heat shield, the rifle is very much a modern look at a bolt action AR-15.
This rifle makes use of the “ quick fit precision stock, Magpul M-Lok Slot handguard, and a threaded 1/2” 28 barrel.
The rifle has a length of pull measuring 12”15.50”, and retains an installed rail, but lacks sights. These are long range target models, and as such they are design for scope mounted sight only.
The primary advantage to this rifle is accuracy, a floated barrel that is heat resistant, and fully adjustable stock so as to allow a good fit for any shooter. The disadvantages of owning this rifle are none.
Best For The Collectors – Anschutz 1416D Classic
Turning to still another rifle in the turn bolt design, one of my lifelong favorites and a rifle I have come to know well over some 60 years or more of rimfire shooting is this German-built rifle.
The rifle is offered in both 22 LR and 22 WMR and I have seen and used both in the field for small game hunting.
This rifle carries a magazine loaded for five rounds (Sporting) and it mounts a barrel with a length of 22.5 inches.
This rifle makes use of a hardwood stock with a walnut finish. The rifle is a working model, not a showcase special. You can hunt this rifle without worrying about possible nicks and dings.
When you buy Anschutz rifles, you are buying a gun crafted in quality in terms of materials and engineering as well. These rifles will shoot and bring home the game to the dinner table.
The rifle mounts a Match 64 action and is as smooth as you will ever find in a well-made rifle.
The receiver is grooved for scope mounts but the rifle also carries a set of iron sights for field backup. Topped off with a very nice roll over cheek pice stock, this rifle comes up to the shoulder with good balance and the trigger is as smooth as warm butter on a hot summer’s day.
While the custom model in this action type sells for over $2000.00 and change, this rifle is MSRP priced at a bit over $1000.00. Half the price and still a solid performing German Anschutz.
The One To Avoid – Browning T-Bolt
This is again another bolt action of very high quality as offered by Browning Arms.
Browning is a top-of-the-line American gun builder and the Browning T Bolt has been around forever. Why? Because it is just that good. I have owned several of them and back in the day when I lived in a squirrel woods every chance I got my T Bolt was always in hand.
Offered in again 22 LR, the rifle makes use of a 10 round box rotary magazine. The barrel is free floated at 22 inches in length, and is match chambered carrying a target muzzle crown. If you’re thinking accuracy you are correct. The carry weightless scope is 4.8 pounds, with a total length of 40.1 inches.
This rifle features a straight pull bolt system dating from back in Europe and used on several big game rifles over there. I like this system as it is very fast for a bolt action rifle and simple to maintain as well.
Browning makes sure of the very best in milling and CNC machining, and the wood stocks in walnut are the very best product as well. The rifle comes in composite material as well, but for my money stay with the Browning way of handling wood. Never have I seen a junky-looking rifle on the dealers’ shelf, or in my rifle safe for that matter.
The selection in these rifles includes the Walnut Sporter, and a special target model as well. If you are getting into the new long range 22 LR game, consider the target model as it is better suited for that kind of work.
All that said, what doesn’t do it for me on this one is the price. It is one of the more expensive .22’s on the market and it’s just not justified. I would just go with the Ruger M-77, it’s about half the price and nearly identical quality.
Because the basic content of this review was to take on some of the better-grade rifles in rimfire designs. I have omitted anything in the way of autoloaders, and low-grade bolt guns. There are some nice Henry 22 LR in Yellow-boy patterns available, and if you’re searching for a lever rifle, taking a look down that road is not the worst idea you could come up with.
Browning also sells a great lever rifle in a rimfire, and tack on their little SA 22 Auto which has been built for almost ever, and is about the only autoloader I would put into this class of firearm, we have a wrap in the better grade 22 LR rimfire department. (1)
Our Top Pick
- Wikiwand, .22 Long Rifle. Retrieved from https://www.wikiwand.com/en/.22_Long_Rifle
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM. You can find more info on Barrett Rifles here.
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2 thoughts on “Best 22 Rifle: Top Lever Action .22 LR (Long Rifle)”
I can only say, I too am a Ruger fan, going back to the 80s with a heavy barrel model 77 and a 77/22 to more recent offerings like the 77/22 K Hornet to the 77 hawkeye predator. Interestingly I still can’t bring myself to purchase a 10/22.
I have 52, .22 rifles including 2 Winchester model 52’s and Remington 513T and Cooper M57. My 2 Ruger 77/22’s are the most accurate of them all. Needed to shim the bolt on one of them to increase it’s accuracy but these 2 rifles will shoot with the best.