With the development of the first 22 Magnum rimfire rifles, the whole world of rimfire was turned upside down.
While the 22 Long Rifle had ruled the world of small cartridge shooting, the new kid on the block was making waves, and hunters were learning that this new hot rod in rimfire ammo was about to outrun the 22 Long Rifle by double the range, and do it with far more energy and accuracy as well.
There was a problem in the case of the new cartridge, however. As Mossberg had just brought out the first bolt gun in the new round, they had cut grooves in the receiver for the old school 3/4” tip-off mounted rimfire scope.
Little did they understand at the time that the rimfire scope originally designed for the 22 Long Rifle was just not going to cut it when sending the mail via the new and much more powerful Winchester designed 22 Magnum (WMR).
While modern technology design chased the new cartridge, we small-game hunters as ardent midwestern squirrel hunters used the old Weaver 3/4” 4X tube rimfire scopes.
Objective Lens Diameter
Simmons 22 Magnum
Vortex Crossfire II
Barska 3-12 AO Hot Magnum
Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Rifle Scope
BSA 3-9X 40 Sweet 22 Rifle Scope
Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle
UTG 4-16X50 Hunter
TruGlo TRU-TAC 30mm
But as soon as the first set of grooved 1-inch rings became available, it was off with the toy scope and a quick turn to a Weaver 4X 1-inch tube deer rifle scope.
While people in the know (writers) were saying it could not work as the parallax situation was completely out of wack when using that big rifle scope on such a short-range cartridge, the truth was it was a letter-perfect fit.
And we were now rolling high tree limb fox squirrels in deep oak forests around water holes at 100 yards or more all day long.
In keeping with Hunting Mark, the following is a detailed review of several different new scopes that fit the task of harnessing the ballistic performance of the 22 Magnum rimfire round.
1. Simmons 22 Magnum TruPlex Rimfire Rifle Scope
In terms of a baseline rifle scope for the 22 Magnum, this Simmons TruPlex fits into the category of a basic first level glass sight system. This scope is at a price range that is about the same as a 3/4 inch tube rimfire scope was back in the 1960s, given the change in the value of a dollar.
The scope uses a 1-inch tube size, sealed turrets with threaded knobs, a dull chrome lens coating for weather resistance and sealed lenses. With coated coverings on the glass, this scope can take a pounding.
I currently run this scope, or a sister of it as it is an older model, on one of my 22 Magnum Ruger M-77 bolt-action rifles. It has been run for several years, sold and returned once, and then run again for another five years. The scope won’t quit.
This scope is a 3-9X32 A/O and is very workable for plinking and hunting to acceptable range limits. It is a better scope than the early models built by others for the larger centerfire rifles years ago.
The scope retains a field of view at 100 yards of 31.4/10.5 feet, and uses 1-inch rings.
2. Vortex Crossfire II
Upgrading into a scope with value and with tough guts inside as well, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II is more like a big rifle glass optical system then it is a rimfire scope unit.
As the company is new to this particular marketplace, it does not have any background history. But it is leveling the playing field by dealing with scopes that are current regarding production, and as such require designs that fit the needs of rifles like the modern 22 Magnum rimfire.
The Vortex Crossfire is offered in a second focal plane. This means that when magnification is increased, the crosshairs stay the same. This scope is set to 2-7X32 power and objective lens size. This is ample for the 22 Magnum in terms of clearly picking up long-range targets.
This scope uses the BDC reticle system, and that means it can be adjusted quickly for holdover by way of the 22 Magnum round. Even though the 22 Magnum has a real edge on the 22 Long Rifle, it is sill a rimfire and, being small in terms of fuel cell capacity, it has limits.
When range is extended some holdover will always be required. The Crossfire takes this situation in to account with its reticle design.
The turret settings on this scope are a full 60 MOA in elevation adjustment. That means bullet drop is considered, and this makes for a very good 22 Magnum glass sight. The turrets are click-adjustable and have a zero reset as well. So returning to a true zero setting is simple and fast.
Vortex scopes are waterproof, built from aircraft-grade aluminum, and designed as full 1-inch tubes. This scope can also take recoil reliever by heavy center fire rifles. In other words, a switch-out is always workable between rifles.
3. Barska 3-12 AO Hot Magnum 17/and 22
Barska offers a budget scope in terms of what the tube has to offer and it's designed for the HMR 17 as well as the 22 WMR. This scope uses the upper turret adjustment calibrated for rimfire magnum-type ammo.
This scope has a BDC reticle and is setup to factor the holdover requirements of the 22 Magnum round. Click adjustments are set to ¼ MOA, and the sight system is interchangeable with bullet gain weights from 40, 38 and 36 grain pills.
Optics have a lens coating, and the tube is built field-tough so it can take on all the problems associated with the elements.
The optical turret adjustments makes for fast and easy elevation correction when required. This scope would work as a longer-range target scope based on the maximum range of the 22 Magnum round.
The scope can be switched-out to use a 30/30 reticle adapter, as well. Again, this is a dual-type big rifle and rimfire glass sight. Tube size is 1-inch, and it uses big rifle rings for mounting.
4. Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Rifle Scope
This Leupold rifle scope is designed to be used on a 22 rimfire rifle, but can also make the transition to the 22 Magnum rimfire. All that is required is an observation of the minute of angle settings within the sub-tensions of the optical glass.
The scope is a 2-7X33, carries a soft matte black finish, and is 100% waterproof. It is has parallax-adjustment for 60 yards, and that could be an issue for longer-range 22 Magnum shooting. This scope uses the Leupold “Twilight Light Management System”.
Elevation adjustments are controlled by ¼ MOA click adjustments on the upper turret controls.
If extended range is in the picture when shooting our 22 Magnum, I would strongly suggest moving to the VX series scope offered by Leupold in a full-center-fire big rifle glass option. (Scope #174180.)
The second scope in the centerfire model is the same basic scope, but built to some general military standards as well.
A note here: Leupold is one of the companies that hand-sets their optical glass versus gluing it into place.
There is a big difference in terms of lifetime operational effectiveness. I have had a 3-9X40 Gold Ring for more than 60 yards to date. It still holds zero and has been on a 30-06 Springfield Winchester Model 70 the whole life of the optical system.
5. BSA 3-9X 40 Sweet 22 Rifle Scope
This scope is one that I own in the Sweet 17 model, but currently it is not offered in the Sweet 22 Magnum model at all. Using the Sweet 22 long-range model, however, the shooter can DOPE in the correct drop adjustments nicely with some down-range target work.
After that it is click-and-go regarding longer-range shooting with the 22 Magnum.
These scopes are in the mid-price range and offer open turret elevation adjustments, side parallax-adjustment for long-range, and a 40 lens system with camera-quality glass.
The scope is listed as water- and fog-proof, and I can say that my scope is now about 10 years old and still functioning as a fully operational system on my 17 HMR rimfire. We did have one scope that had issues, but BSA took care of the problem in short order.
6. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Rifle Scope
Bushnell has been building tough-as-nails rifle scopes for rimfire and light rifles for years.
The current offerings in these scopes are outstanding. I shot them at a special event a couple of years ago down in Indian country, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where the air temperature went well into the 105-degree range during midday, and the dust conditions were totally crazy.
We had many targets (prairie dogs), and used 22 Magnums, and 17 HMRs as well, for several days. I came away with the rimfire model Bushnell mounted on my 22 Magnum (personal model), and the scope is still returning great results in the field today.
The Banner series are tough scopes, use the HD system for clean, clear glass sighting, and take on low-light situations very well. The tube size s a full 1-inch, and the DDB multicoated lens will hold up well regardless of the field conditions encountered.
The elevation and windage turrets use ¼ MOA adjustments, and the bell size on the objective is a full 40 mm.
I may add that I have also used the Bushnell Banner series on two different Remington 870 Slug shotguns for more than 15 years. I've never changed the zero setting and I've never experienced any failure whatsoever.
That’s a good glass system seeing as we shoot, test and hunt these shotguns all the time both spring and fall each year in the turkey and deer woods.
7. UTG 4-16X50 Hunter
UTG offers a scope that carries a whole lot of features and is designed to push the range of any rimfire cartridge, which includes the 22 Magnum round.
Built as a “big rifle” scope, it is made using open turret knobs for fast elevation or windage adjustments on long-distance targets. By long-distance, I mean more than 200 yards with the 22 Magnum cartridge.
This scope has a dual-color reticle (red, green and 36 light changing levels) in order to accommodate all weather and light conditions afield.
This UTG Hunter retains a zero lock after running up elevation adjustments, and a ¼-MOA elevation adjustment graduations setting system.
The mil-dot sub-tension settings are designed to allow the shooter to estimate elevation requirements (holdover) through the lens., or pre-sent DOPE according to hard data on bullet flight, etc.
The scope comes with Weaver-style rings, and a 3” sunshade covered by a flip-open lens cap.
This is a large scope and best set on a full-sized rifle chambered in 22 Magnum. Rifles like the Ruger M-77 are a good example of the type of rifle using a scope of this size.
The 4-16 can be considered for rifles shooting centerfire ammunition as well. The parallax-adjustment on the rifle will handle 400 or 500 yard targets as well as closer-range options.
8. TruGlo TRU-TAC 30mm
This is a move from the standard scope to the new generation of TruGlo red dot sights that can be switched from centerfire to rimfire with no extra hassle.
I have been assigned by TruGlo to field-review a number of their special red dot sights, and this 30mm tactical sight is an example of the quality afforded by this American company.
This sight offers a wide field of view and enhanced clarity and contrast. The 2 MOA red dot reticle is designed for precision aiming. The sight is CNC-machined and is lightweight, thereby not adding bulk or extra weight to a carry rifle.
Built with aircraft grade aluminum, the tube housing is tough and will stand hard field use and rough weather to match.
The sight uses a 12 brightness setting system and has a programed on/off system to save battery life.
Built as a complete mountable unit, the sight retains a quick-detach lever to allow fast mounting or dismounting of the optical unit in or out of the field. The sight mounts to standard rail systems.
This TruGlo has a main housing installed red or green laser sight for those kinds of assignments as applied to the 22 Magnum rifle.
I for one have not shot my 22 Magnum a great deal in terms of longer-distances, but I have shot many a raccoon at night and beaver on bank ledges just about midnight, and the laser options really come into play on my working rifles.
With five different TruGlo sights now here at Ballistics Research & Development for hard-nose field-testing, and tags in hand for the South Dakota bow season, you can bet you're going to hear more about these new, state-of-the-art red dot sights.