Best Rimfire Rifle Scopes For .22LR

best scope for 22lr

Unlike most people I didn’t learn to shoot on a 22LR rifle,I learned on a surplus M1 Garand with iron sights. By the time I was looking at my first rifle I was looking at the AR-15 or the M1A. A 22LR never entered my mind because it wasn’t a real caliber rifle to me. Boy, was I wrong.

I bought my first rimfire, when I was 19 and ammo prices were sky high.

I hated the sights and quickly switched them for TechSights. I built a Liberty Training Rifle before Project Appleseed was the primer for rifle shooting in the United States.

I loved it, I loved it then and I love it now.

I scoped my 22LR because for my father. It is a great little gun that is absolutely fun at 100 yards. Finding a range near you with more distance is always difficult. 100 yards and 200 yards is great for the little rimfire round. Iron sights, thanks to the great options for scopes are slowly disappearing.

Now that there is a perfect 22LR rifle scope, I don’t blame them.

Why you should buy a dedicated Rimfire scope?

Some people love the standard V-Notch iron sights, I can’t stand them. TechSights makes the perfect product for most rifles that do not yet have Back up Iron Sights(BUIS). Iron Sights are great for the beginning shooter, cheap, durable, and they are perfect for those 20 yards or less shots. But what if you want to take it out farther. Reach out to the extremes of the Rimfires accuracy. Better scope up.

The Features you want in a Best Rimfire Scope

Reticle

Rimfire Reticle

For the common man, the duplex reticles are the crosshair of choice. Simple, clear. None of that pissing around with the Bullet Drop Compensator, you zero it at your distance of choice and until you get outside of your effective point blank range you are golden. The Duplex reticle is like an Iron sight in that you can use it to adjust for ranges but with the duplex reticle, you have magnification.

Magnification

22 rimfire scope

I have to admit I never thought I would need magnification on a 22LR. But once you scope a rifle you rarely go back. The most common hunting magnification is 3-9x, it is effective for 100 to 200 yards before most hunters think maybe a bit more magnification. Since 200 yards is near the effective range of most hunters to ethically hunt at we were happy with it.

But what about the 22LR, I prefer a 2-7. It is never going to go out to 300 yards effectively without the significantly modified rifle, But it is perfect for 100 yards at the range and varmint hunting.

Weight

Most rimfire rifles only weigh 5lbs, adding a big heavy rifle scope on top can change the balance of the rifle, while this isn’t a factor of bench rest shooting. Offhand shots with an unbalanced rifle are difficult, in the best conditions. A light scope built for the 22LR should be a priority if you plan on using it as a hunting, varmint rifle, or even as a cheap training rifle for offhand positions.

Turrets

Nikon Turret
Leupold Freedom Turret

Turrets on a rimfire scope are either essential or they are an afterthought. The Leupold VX Freedom has terrible turrets in their standard scopes ¼ MOA friction, while not as bad as many hunting rifle scopes they are designed to be zeroed and left. The Nikon P-Tactical are made for quick and easy changes of elevation and windage. YMMV but I prefer good solid turrets on my scopes.

The Top Ten .22 LR Rifle Scopes

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

​Leupold VX-Freedom

​Leupold VX-Freedom

  • Circle
    Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 2.8 inches
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Diameter: 33mm
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds

​Nikon P-Tactical

​Nikon P-Tactical

  • Circle
    Magnification: 2-7x
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
OUR TOP PICK

​Nikon PROSTAFF RIMFIRE

​Nikon PROSTAFF RIMFIRE

  • Circle
    Dimensions:19.2 x 4 x 4.5 inches
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
BEST FOR HUNTING

​Vortex Optics Crossfire II

​Vortex Optics Crossfire II

  • Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 3 inches
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces
BEST VALUE OPTION

​Vortex Optics Diamondback

​Vortex Optics Diamondback

  • Dimensions:14.5 x 2 x 1.7 inches
  • Magnification: 1.75-5x
  • Weight:1.3 pounds
  • Magnification: 1.75-5x

​BARSKA 6-18x40 mm

​BARSKA 6-18x40 mm

  • Length: 15.65 inch
  • Magnification: 6-18x
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 1.28 pounds

​Primary Arms Silver

Primary Arms Silver

  • Magnification: 1-6x
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
BEST FOR STARTERS

​BSA Sweet .22, 3-9x40mm

​BSA Sweet .22, 3-9x40mm

  • Dimensions: 15 x 3.5 x 3 inches
  • Magnification:3-9x
  • Diameter: 24mm
  • Weight: 1.7 pounds

​Primary Arms Classic Series 6x32

​Primary Arms Classic Series 6x32

  • Reticle : ACSS 22LR
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces
BEST BUDGET SCOPE

​Bushnell Optics Drop Zone-2

​Bushnell Optics Drop Zon

  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.5 x 2.9 inches
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds

​Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm

​Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm

  • Dimensions:14 x 3 x 3 inches
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds
BEST FOR GENERAL USE

​Bushnell Red Dot Sight

​Bushnell Red Dot Sight

  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 3.4 x 2.2 inches
  • Magnification:1x
  • Diameter: 25mm
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

1. Leupold VX Freedom Rimfire - Best Rimfire Scope

best rimfire scope

Its Leupold. If you think the new VX Freedom line was built to compete by one of the most successful optics companies to compete at the low tier market you are, dead on. 

Scope arrived on Saturday, I purchased the 2-7x, the build quality is just amazing. Clear glass with an almost excessive amount of eye relief. 

Leupold Freedom top
Leupold freedom glass

The Rimfire MOA reticle is perfect, 25 MOA in 1 MOA hash marks at max magnification allowed us to shoot from 50 to 200 yards with no adjustments.

Leupold Reticle

If you want to hit with a rimfire at 200, This is the rifle scope for you, just try not to laugh at the AR-10 next to you having trouble hitting the plate. Remember the rifle can do it, the Problem is the Tasco.

Leupold VX Freedom

Magnification

2-7x

Obj Diameter

33mm

Field of View

43.8-29.8 ft @100 yds

Reticle

Second Plane

nikon rimfire scope
nikon tactical right side

Nikon, in the Land of sub $500 optics, The best glass is king and Nikon has the best glass. Not to be outdone by Leupold Nikon Released their new P-Tactical Rimfire to compete with the VX-Freedom Series.

nikon tactical glass

Nikon has been the leading manufacturer of entry-level scopes for years because of their glass quality. Their push to include an instant zero-reset turret allowing you to quickly zero your rifle without tools might push them ahead of Leupold once again. 

nikon rimfire top

The MK I MOA reticle allows for quick holdovers at the range.

Nikon Reticle

Nikon P-Tactical Scope

Magnification

2-7x

Obj Diameter

33mm

Field of View

6.4-22.3 ft @ 50 yds

Reticle

BDC reticles

Because the rimfire rifle scopes have evolved into a basic one-inch tube “big rifle scope“ design, so there are obviously a number of fine systems out there today for the rimfire rifle shooter to select from. But Nikon Prostaff can be a good starting point when considering the advancement of a 22 rifle from the old tip off style scope to this far better grade full field of view “ big rifle scope”. 

The Nikon P-Rimfire retains the full one-inch main tube and the 40 mm objective lens. This makes the scope perfect for even long distance shooting, timber hunting small game, and general target or plinking work as well. 

Nikon uses quality glass in the mid-range budget scopes as to what is found on the open market, and based on the pair of big rifle scopes I currently own for the long range, today the Nikon's scope is a shooter dream as it works like an armored tank as far as the ability to take a pounding from general field use and high recoil as well. I would expect no less from the rimfire variant of the Prostaff series in rifle scopes built by this company. 

Nikon P-Rimfire makes use of a fully multi-coated lens with a 150 BDC reticle, This reticle is designed expressly for the rimfire cartridge, and as such it is built regarding its sub tensions to fit this round on the purposely built rimfire scope. 

This rifle scope is shockproof, nitrogen purged, O-ring sealed which makes it fog proof, waterproof and retains lifetime warranty.

Nikon Prostaff Rimfire

Magnification

3-9

Obj Diameter

40mm

Field of View

parallax free @ 50 yards.

Reticle

BDC reticles

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a good option for use on a variety of rifles. The scope retains a long eye relief, and also a large selection of reticle patterns (sub tensions) as well. These include 2-7-32 Dead-Hold BDC MOA, 2-7X32 Rimfire V-Plex MOA, 3-9X40 Dead-Hold MOA, and 3-9X50 V-Bright Illuminated MOA reticles.

As you can quickly see, this scope has a massive number of options, some of which have not been included here due to space.

This rifle scope can be obtained with a red center dot for use in low light conditions by hunters that do much of their work at dawn and dusk. 

The optical quality of the glass is very good. I shoot 6.5 Creedmoor with Vortex's different long range rifle scopes and to date, every 6.5 creedmoor scope of theirs I have used in the field or on targets has returned clear sharp images. No color distortion, blurry edges, or flat spots out beyond 500 yards. This is a quality product that returns positive results.

Vortex makes sure of single tube construction. That means strength, I ran their tubes through commercial hunts in Australia for a month at a time while living in the bush under all sorts of difficult conditions. Vortex never came up short, as shooting Kangaroo is a fast action event with moving targets at high speed. Vortex glass was never difficult to acquire my target with, and the scope retained enough eye relief at all times to pull in my scope for a clear shot. 

When changing MOA clicks for elevation or windage the click adjustments ¼ MOA are crisp and stop with a solid hold. Nothing to get upset about in this area either. 

This year (2019) at the massive worldwide Shot Show in Vagus, Vortex flexed its muscles in that they put on a display that would knock the eyes out of a rattlesnake at 1000 yards. Nothing but sold in terms of a growing company that has found its place in the shooting sports world.

The Vortex Crossfire II is a high-quality choice for centerfire or rimfire rifles. 

Vortex Optics Crossfire II

Magnification

2-7x

Obj Diameter

32mm

Field of View

42-12.6 feet/100 yards

Reticle

BDC reticles

Vortex is a rather young company that has hit the deck running with some very quality glass that is considered higher middle end in the optics world.

Vortex offers a one-inch tube rimfire series built right alongside the big rifle scopes, and as such carry the pedigree associated with these higher grade optics for rifles. The Diamondback in the 35mm reticle is ideal for 22 rimfire use, and with its V-Plex reticle is ideal for the general range and performance of the 22 rimfire cartridge. 

Built of a one-piece main tube, the scope is designed for rough field use. Small game hunters often encounter field conditions that defy description at times. I hunted all of my younger years with rimfire rifles as applied to a squirrel woods, willow swamps, and muskeg bogs of northern Minnesota. Rifles and optics can take a pounding at night hunting raccoon, or tracking with a dog against snowshoe rabbits in the 10 below zero dead of winter. 

Vortex builds a rimfire “working gun” scope that can take the pounding and keep coming up for more.

This rimfire rifle scope retains an argon purged tube and an O-ring seal which makes it Fogproof and waterproof. It also retains a lifetime warranty.

Vortex Diamondback

Magnification

1.75-5x

Obj Diameter

32mm

Field of View

68.3-23.1 feet/100 yards

Reticle

BDC reticles

This rifle scope is an interchangeable scope with 30 Winchester Mag and other large centerfire rifles. This Barska scope is designed for 22 rimfire rifle but with “ big rifle” features.

The lens is adjustable for parallax settings correction which is necessary at long ranges, and the scope also retains trajectory correction from 100 to 300 yards by turning a simple dial-up system. This scope is designed for the 17. HMR, but the scope is workable on all rimfire rifles. In effect, this scope is again a full size “ big rifle” optic and as such is made to take recoil or lots of sight changing when in the field or on the target range.

Barska is a newer company that has caught on well among shooters due to price points, and quality in the area of manufacturing. 

Barska 6-18X40mm BDC

Magnification

6-18x

Obj Diameter

40mm

Field of View

14.5/4.86x, 4.5/1.518x

Reticle

BDC reticles

best 22lr scope

Primary Arms out of Texas may have created the best reticle for the 22LR. The scopes made in China lack the glass quality of the Nikon and Leupold but in exchange, it adds features, Illuminated reticle, adjustable parallax, and a 30mm tube for 15% more incoming light makes the scope competitive with the other offerings.

Primary Arms Reticle

The 1-6x Power Advanced Combined Sighting System, allows for fast ranging and holdovers, the 1 power allows for those close shots at moving targets like rabbits and raccoons. While the 6x and reticle allow for shots out to 200 yards. We can’t say for certain the parallax setting adjustment allowed the rifle to be more accurate but we were 20 for 20 on clay pigeons scattered out to 200 yards.

Primary Arms 1-6x24

Magnification

1-6x

Obj Diameter

24mm

Field of View

Low: 110.00 Ft / High: 19.30 Ft

Reticle

ACSS 22LR

The BSA Sweet 17 is a scope that I have run with on my Ruger M-77, 17 HMR for many years to date. Tested at first on the Silver Spur ranch in Wyoming on grass rats for a total of two straight weeks, the rifle went through a case of 17 HMR while making turret changes with almost every shot. 

Built on a one-inch tube with high adjustable turret settings at ¼ moa, the scope has been a good product for me. I have a partner that bought a broken scope and sent it for repair by BSA, and as like me he has been shooting the heck out of her for years on his 17 HMR.

The scope as currently offered has both a red and green reticle with etched glass. Early models did not have lighted features on them. This is not a massively high-quality optic, but for the task at hand, it is a good buy if taken care of properly.

It contains a limited lifetime warranty.

BSA Sweet Rimfire Scope

Magnification

3-9x

Obj Diameter

40mm

Field of View

Low: 110.00 Ft / High: 19.30 Ft

Reticle

Duplex

PrimaryArms 6x

Want the Primary Arms ACSS for half the price? All you have to give up is the variable magnification and the illumination. I like the reticle, I like Fixed Optics for rifles, especially when you use BDC under 10x. You won’t be shooting this rifle out past 200 yards in the best of times but you can hit the 200.

rim fire rifle scope

While I see guys on the range time and again with their optics at max magnification, save the money, save the weight and just purchase a fixed magnification scope. They are more durable, the glass is clearer and brighter while with less complications.

Primary Arms 6x ACSS

Magnification

6x

Obj Diameter

32mm

Field of View

17.50 ft

Reticle

ACSS 22LR

Bushnell AR Optics 2-7x36

While I honestly recommend saving for a Nikon or Leupold, I can’t help but love Bushnell. Glass is on par with the Primary Arms it doesn’t have the ACSS reticle or Illumination, what it does have is parallax adjustment and target turrets, the reticle might be a BDC but it was about dead on at 100 yards.

Bushnell AR Reticle

If you want a solid scope it won’t let you down but it is heavy at 19 oz and after pay day you will be wishing you had held out for a keeper. The turrets are a bit mushy, especially compared to the Nikon, while the build quality just isn’t as good.

Bushnell AR Optics

Magnification

2-7x

Obj Diameter

32mm

Field of View

50/15 @ 2x

Reticle

BDC reticle

best 22 rifle scope

Simmons 8 point is a great scope. They are the best bang for the buck scopes. They know all you need a Duplex and 3-9x Magnification for a 22LR Turrets track and are finger adjustable underneath the protective caps. You’ll adjust it to zero your CCI MiniMags and never touch them again. The 8-Point is a fun generic workhorse of a scope.

Simmons 8 Point

Magnification

3-9x

Obj Diameter

50mm

Field of View

31.4 ft @ 100 yds

Reticle

Truplex Reticle

Red Dots

Red Dots for 22LR

Why a red dot? The 22LR Rimfire does have tons of power. At about 100 yards it will lose ⅓ of its energy and will be falling like a stone in another 100 yards. If you are only shooting critters or training with your rifle there is no need to spend a significant amount of money on magnification. 

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25

Never change Bushnell, The Trophy TRS-25 is everywhere, and for good reason it is dirt cheap, for the price of 5 boxes of 22LR you will have the perfect red dot,3 MOA dot means you can Zero for 75 yards and hit between 0-100 with no Adjustment. Clear, quick, if you need pest control or don’t care for magnification. This is the optic for you

Bushnell Trophy TRS-2

The Trophy is a great cheap little red dot sight. It can work on the AR-15 or a 10/22 while it doesn’t have the durability of an Aimpoint, EOTech or even a holosun.

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25

Magnification

1x

Obj Diameter

25mm

Field of View

Unlimited

Reticle

3 MOA Red Dot

Iron Sights 

Insert Content Template or Symbol

The 22lr is a great gun to learn on especially when it comes to Iron Sights.

TechSights

Tech Sights makes M4 Aperture Sights for a variety of rifles. The benefit of the adjustable Iron Sights or BUIS over the standard v-notch irons is increased accuracy, simple adjustability and training for larger rifles like the M1 Garand, AR-15 and the M14.

Wide field of view allows shooters to get out of the tunnel vision of the scope and see their surroundings. While Glass is great, iron sights are durable, lightweight, and just dead simple.

The Other Option

22LR Rifles are some of the cheapest training rifles to use. Many shooters practice on a Rimfire before they use those skill on rifles of higher calibers. When buying for your setup look at your rifles maybe it will be better to upgrade another scope, and use that scope for your 22LR While I don’t think it is the best way I believe in maximum cost benefit. Many Scopes works great on the 22LR if you can stand the weight.

Scope Pick

The best scope is going to be the one that fits your budget and use but I will recommend the Nikon P-Tactical Rimfire, Leupold is a very close second, having a great reticle and slightly better glass but the lack of target turrets inch the Nikon P-Tactical into the lead. Leupold nearly made the perfect scope, and while I will probably never adjust the turrets it is a fun option for a cheap little 22LR rifle to big able to work like the big boys. 

But if you can’t find the P-Tactical, or don’t think that you need the Target turrets go Leupold and don’t look back. Leupold has a great custom shop that will make custom turrets for Leupold scopes or replace the finger click dials with the custom dial system. While I don’t recommend for the Leupold Rimfire Scopes, the VX Freedom Line has great looking scopes, with few downsides.

References

Andrew Maurer is a Precision Rifle Series competition shooter and gunsmith. Building competition rifles for over 12 years. He works as a big game hunting guide in Iowa, South Dakota and Arizona. He is also a political scientist studying the effects of gun control on society. He teaches youth rifle shooting.

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