The .22 LR is a great starter rifle for new gun enthusiasts and is still a staple for veteran firearm aficionados.
It’s a great general purpose rifle for pleasure shooting, hunting, and home defense. .22 LR ammunition is affordable and easy to find. Plus, the caliber’s small size, especially when compared to the size of a rifle, makes it manageable for even small shooters.
Because .22 rifles are so popular, every manufacturer makes at least one. Many make several. So with the market so flooded with .22 LR rifles, how do you know which one is right for you?
That’s where this list comes in. Here I’ve assembled several of the best .22 rifles available.
Here is a cheat sheet for your convenience:
|Wallet Friendly Semi-Auto:||Marlin Model 60|
|Most Compact Takedown:||Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle|
|Most Reliable Takedown:||Ruger 10/22 Takedown|
|Best Bolt-Action 22:||CZ-455 American|
|Tacticool:||Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport|
|Cadillac of Takedowns:||Browning 22 Semi-Auto Rifle|
|Honorable Mention:||Henry Golden Boy .22LR|
I’ve ordered these rifles from most affordable to most expensive to help you find the one that’s right for your budget. While having more to spend certainly opens up your options, higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean a better rifle, and all of these rifles are great.
The Marlin Model 60
The Marlin Model 60 has been in continuous production for almost 60 years (though it’s now made by Remington) and is, according to the manufacturer, the most popular firearm of its kind in the world.
The Model 60 features a hardwood stock with walnut finish, full pistol grip, and Mar-Shield finish.
The Model 60 also has a brass inner magazine tube with a 14 shot capacity. If you can find one manufactured before 1968, you can expect an 18 round capacity.
The Model 60 is self-loading with right side ejection (sorry, lefties), a straight blowback design, and both manual and automatic “last- shot” bolt hold open. Above the trigger is the cross-bolt safety, easily accessible for even small handed shooters.
Some shooters have complained that the gun is slow to reload, but the high capacity and corrosion resistance of the brass magazine help counterbalance this flaw.
Another high point is 19” micro-groove barrel. The 16 shallow grooves and quality crown make the rifle very accurate. In addition, there’s an adjustable rear sight and open front sight, plus grooving in the receiver for mounting a scope.
The Model 60SB ($210) features a stainless steel barrel, an adjustable semi-buckhorn folding rear sight, and a ramp front sight with high-visibility post and cutaway Wide-Scan hood. The Model 60SS ($250) also has the improved sights, but with a silver wood finish.
At well under $200 for the standard model, the Marlin Model 60 is a great choice for both new shooters and longtime firearm enthusiasts on a budget.
The Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle
The Henry Repeating Arms U.S. Survival AR-7 is a semi-automatic .22 rifle made with the backcountry in mind. This rifle was originally designed in 1959 for use by the United States Air Force, but is now a favorite among civilians for all the same reasons it was popular with military pilots.
The AR-7 Survival Rifle is lightweight (only 3.5 lbs.), reliable, and compact. It’s also highly portable thanks to its ability to be disassembled and has all parts of the rifle stored in the impact resistant and water resistant stock.
While the full length of the assembled gun is 35”, the AR-7 Survival Rifle is only 16” long when all components are stowed. That’s small enough to fit in almost any backpack or the cargo area of even small planes and boats.
Assembly is also incredibly easy. All you have to do is attach the receiver to the stock, insert the barrel, and tighten the nut. No tools are needed.
The hardy stock is made of durable ABS plastic with a rubber buttplate pad. The 16” barrel is comprised of a steel liner surrounded by a composite housing, while the receiver is cast from aluminum. The entire rifle is Teflon coated. Like all Henry firearms, the AR-7 Survival Rifle is made in the United States.
The rifle features an adjustable peep rear sight and fixed blade front sight and has a ⅜” grooved receiver for scopability.
The AR-7 Survival Rifle comes with two eight round magazines. The low capacity is a disadvantage for this rifle, but two mags certainly help make up for it, as does the rifle’s excellent portability.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Ruger claims that the 10/22 Series is the most popular .22 series in the world. If you look at the Ruger 10/22’s outstanding reputation for durability and reliability, Ruger’s claim isn’t at all surprising. Today, however, we want to specifically focus on the 10/22 Takedown.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is similar to the Henry Survival Rifle AR-7 in that it can also be taken apart and reassembled with incredible ease and convenience. However, instead of storing within its own stock, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown comes with a backpack style storage case in which it can be stowed. In addition to the rifle, the case has room for ammunition and accessories.
This gives the Takedown the same storage convenience as the Henry Survival AR-7, but it’s not as protected from moisture or impact unless you store it in a different case.
On the other hand, the 10/22 Takedown has a higher capacity, with a removable 10 round magazine. Some reviewers also claim that the Takedown is more reliable, though both rifles are highly dependable.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is available in two barrel lengths, an 18.5” barrel and a 16.62” barrel ($350). The 18.5” barrel option features a brushed aluminum receiver designed to look like stainless steel. The 16.62” barrel option has a black alloy receiver. Both are heavier than the Henry AR-7. The 18.5” barrel option weighs 4.67 lbs., while the 16.62” barrel option weighs in at 4.3 lbs.
Regardless of length, the threaded rifle is precision rifled and cold hammer forged. Both length options have a black synthetic stock.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown also features a positive, push button, cross bolt manual safety and a combination scope base adapter for both Weaver-style and .22 tip-off scope mounts.
What’s your take on the Ruger?
The CZ-455 American
The CZ-455 American is one of the newest in the CZ-455 lineup, a follow up to another great .22 rifle, the CZ-452. While the 455 American doesn’t have the long history of the Marlin Model 60 or the collapsibility of the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle or Ruger 10/22 Takedown. What it does have, however, is just as neat.
The CZ-455 American’s interchangeable barrel system allows you to shoot several calibers for the price of a single rifle. While the rifle may not have the stowability of the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle or Ruger 10/22 Takedown, it saves space by fulfilling the purposes of multiple rifles in one.
Barrels are easy to switch out, using twin set screws to fix the barrel into the frame.
And, if you just want additional barrels, you can buy .22 LR ($123), .22 WMR ($134), and .17 HMR ($134) barrels individually, each with a 5 round capacity polymer magazine of the corresponding caliber included, as well as the necessary spacer and tools.
Furthermore, actions can be swapped between any CZ-455 stock, not just among models from the American series for even greater interchangeability.
Each barrel is 20.5” long and cold hammer forged steel with a sporter taper. The stock is American style constructed from Turkish walnut and is designed for use with telescopic sights via an 11 mm dovetail rail along the top of the receiver. The CZ-455 American has an adjustable trigger mechanism and two position safety.
The CZ-455 American is one of the larger guns on this list. It has an overall length of 38.2” and weighs in at 5.85 lbs.
For those who want a quieter shot, the CZ-455 American is also available with a suppressor ready 16.5” barrel ($400), chambered for .22 LR.
The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport
The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport ($450) stands out from the other .22 rifles on this list because of its AR styling. However, the M&P 15-22 Sport is considerably more lightweight than an actual AR, only 4.8 lbs, because of its use of polymer, rather than aluminum, for the upper and lower receivers, as well as the proprietary 25 round capacity magazine ($22).
Other than its badass appearance, one advantage of the AR styling is that the M&P 15-22 Sport features a 10” handguard which incorporates Magpul’s M-LOK system. This allows M&P 15-22 Sport rifle owners to customize their rifle with any M-LOK compatible accessories without removing the handguard.
M&P 15-22 Sport rifle owners are also able to mount Picatinny rails for even further accommodation of accessories. One 2” rail is included with purchase.
In short, the M&P 15-22 Sport is compatible with most standard AR-15 components and accessories.
Additionally, the M&P 15-22 Sport features Magpul MBUS sights, a six position CAR stock, and a functional charging handle. The rifle has a two-position receiver mounted safety lever, as well as a shell deflector.
Ultimately, the M&P 15-22 Sport is a great firearm either for training shooters new to the AR world, or just for those who want an alternatively styled or particularly accessory friendly .22 rifle.
The Browning 22 Semi-Auto Rifle
Wrapping up our list is the classically styled Browning 22 Semi-Auto rifle ($620).
The SA-22 is another takedown rifle, disassembling into two parts, the buttstock/receiver and forearm/barrel. A mounted scope is able to stay in place when the rifle is disassembled, saving shooters time and energy by eliminating the need to re-zero the sight.
The one downside here is that the SA-22 neither self-stows or includes a carrying case, so you may need to purchase a case separately. The rifle does, however, come with two 10 round (16 short) capacity magazines.
The SA-22 features a stock and forearm made from checkered American walnut with a glossy finish as well as a blued steel receiver and trigger mechanism.
The 19.25” barrel is precision rifled and drilled to accept a scope mount, though the receiver is not.
The rifle has a gold bead front sight and adjustable folding leaf rear sight.
And unlike other rifles on this list, the Browning SA-22 has a bottom brass ejection, making it a great choice for lefties and ambidextrous shooters.
There you have it, six of the best .22 rifles on the market, each with its own unique qualities that help it stand out from the crowd. These aren’t the only good .22 rifles, but they are tried and true workhorse from some of the best gun manufacturers in the industry.
That said, I also want to give a special shout-out to the Henry Golden Boy. The Golden Boy is as good as any gun on this list, but we’ve given Henry lots of attention lately, so I wanted to limit this list to only one Henry rifle. You can check out Eric’s recent review of the Golden Boy for more (and more detailed) info.
Now here’s your chance to let us know what you think.
What’s your favorite .22 rifle? What is your favorite all-purpose gun? Let me know in the comments.