If you are looking for “THE BEST” 22lr semi auto you have come to the right spot. The first thing a shooter should do when searching for THE BEST rifle, is to define what “THE BEST” means to you.
Is it accuracy, reliability, weight, balance when shot from a standing position, or something else entirely? What are you going to use it for? Long range shooting from the prone position, fast shooting from a standing position, bench rest competition, NRL competition, or just plinking for fun?
Will you be speed shooting or taking slow deliberate shots? The list of manufactured rifles that best fit the bill for each one of these requirements will change with each need. I have acquired a room full of rimfire rifles, each being a little better at one thing than the others, to prove it.
But what if your definition of BEST is “I want this rifle to perform at a high level no matter what I am doing with it”. You are just looking for a rifle that will yield a high level of performance, no matter what you ask it to do. A great all around semi auto 22lr rifle.
Below is my list of recommendations, to include the best semi auto 22lr rifles manufactured today. All are capable of less than 1 inch groups at 50 yards with the a good tuning effort. Some are capable of 1 MOA or less with the right combination of ammo.
Fact is, any of these rifles could perform better than any of the others in this list on a given day and with the proper tuning. I won’t attempt to say any of them are better than the others. They are all capable of superior performance and are in my opinion the best manufactured rimfire rifles available today.
Notice in the table at the far right there is a column named “Best in Category Score”. For each rifle I have marked any feature in green that I consider to be the best of all rifles in the table. The category score is simply just the count of green cells for each rifle meaning it has more of the best features, in my opinion, than any of the others.
1. Savage A22 Precision
The 22 rifle doesn’t usually get this kind of design and build by most manufacturers but Savage has taken 22 rifles to the next level with this one.
It comes out of the box solidly bedded in an MDT solid aluminum chassis.
That’s right…the same type of chassis used by all top precision rifle competitors who count on accuracy for a living.
The adjustability of this chassis allows fast and easy customization for any shooter. Although it doesn’t quite have all of the adjustability of the MDT chassis made for big bores, it is still light years ahead of most rimfire offerings.
Combine the Savage action, accu trigger, and this chassis and you have a rifle that is capable of some very fine shooting…..even in 22 lr.
The barrel is an 18 inch, heavy carbon steel, threaded version which is completely free floated in the MDT chassis and has a 1 in 16 inch twist rate which is perfect for target ammunition in the 1000 fps range with a 40 grain bullet.
Overall length is 37.25 inches and weight without an optic is 7.278 lbs.
It can be purchase in 22lr, 22wrm, or in a bolt action version.
I have never shot this rifle but have seen it perform at a 1 moa level at 50 yards. With this set up right out of the box, it should be very easy to tune this rifle to near perfection and with a $599 price tag on a Savage rimfire with all of these features, I don’t see how you can go wrong.
- Most accurate bolt action 22lr rifle out of the box
- Most accurate 22 rifle for the money
- The most accurate 22 LR factory pistol for the money
- Best 22 LR Rim fire Scopes for Target Shooting
2. Magnum Research 22MLRAT
This little rifle comes with a free floated graphite stock which allows the action to be solidly bedded ensuring no movement during the firing process. The polymer stock is less sensitive to environmental changes than the typical solid wooden stock so the “change in zero” that occurs when a rifle is stored for a long period of time or when shooting conditions change are minimal if any at all.
If desired you can also get a laminated wood stock that comes in 3 different colors. They look really good but I prefer the polymer version due to it’s proven stability.
This stock is also super light. When fitted with a good sling you can almost forget it is on your shoulder. Less fatigue from carrying the rifle undoubtedly results in more accurate shots. I own a previous year’s version and can attest to this.
At around 4 lbs, it makes the whole shooting experience much more enjoyable for us older guys whose strength is beginning to wane somewhat.
The action is patterned after the proven Ruger 10/22 and is produced from one block of aircraft grade aluminum with a 30 MOA pic rail machined in. If you are not familiar with rails having built in MOA, it just means the rail is built at a small incline allowing your scope to utilize more of it’s adjustability and therefore shoot further with no hold over.
It even uses Ruger 10 /22 magazines so if you are like me and already have a box full, you can use them all with this rifle.
It comes with a 17 inch carbon fiber barrel which makes this rifle handle like a feather but still provides the accuracy of big heavy bull barrels. Other versions of this barrel are options for a little more moola including the 18 and 18.5 inch carbon barrels. The 18.5 inch can be had in a threaded version.
There is also a 20.5 inch version of this barrel that comes integrally suppressed.
The manufacturer claims the trigger has been upgraded this year and I must say it does feel lighter than last year’s model. I haven’t measured the pull weight yet but can say that it is close to my Savage accutriggers and they are all set at around 2 lbs.
For me accuracy is a top priority. Most semi auto rimfire rifles, depending on the ammo combination and several other factors, will shoot around a 1 inch group at 50 yards. This rifle does much better than that.
In fact, with all of the Ruger 10/22 builds I have done and factory rifles I own, I will say it is my most accurate semi auto 22lr. Watch the video below. Around 5:21 look at the groups gunblast.com was able to get. I have been able to approach this kind of accuracy myself using this rifle.
When shooting, we tend to blame most misses on our technique, ability to hold steady, or some other facet of skill, but then you pick up a rifle like this and all of these mistakes just seem to go away and you start hitting everything you aim at. This usually means that the rifle is more accurate and the reasons you were missing before were not truly all because of your skills. The MLR 22 is that rifle for me.
The MLR22AT, which is the version I own, is sold for a retail price of around $562 and is well worth it. Sure you can find cheaper semi auto rimfires out there but in this case, you get what you pay for. You can’t build a rifle like this for that amount of money.
3. Volquartsen Lightweight
This is the top of the line in 22 lr rifles and is the product line used on the television show “Top Shot” by Dustin Ellerman to hit a golf ball at 100 yards to win the series.
It features a 16.375″ lightweight THM barrel. The lightweight match grade barrel ensures the shooter all the accuracy of a heavy barrel without the additional weight. The bore is taper-honed and the sleeve tensions the barrel to provide a very rigid, accurate, lightweight barrel. The first time you pick this rifle up you will be shocked at how light and well balanced it is. Total weight comes in around 5.2 lbs.
The barrel is also threaded with 1/2 – 28 threads to accept all silencers and muzzle attachments on the market.
The trigger comes in around 2.25 lbs of pull and is as smooth as silk which is a large contributor to accuracy. The receiver is machined from stainless steel with an integral picatinny rail. No screws loosening up on this one.
The rifle can also be purchased in 17hmr or 22 wmr with a different, more traditional stock if desired.
These rifles are true tack drivers. They are built from the Ruger 10 /22 platform but everything has been upgraded to deliver outstanding reliability and accuracy.
All of this doesn’t come without a price. This rifle is the most expense of all rifles listed in this article coming in around $1735 but if you want the best, this is it.
4. Ruger 10/22 Competition
Ruger took a standard 10/22 and installed all of the upgrades that most people will do to prepare the rifle for competition. So for around $750 you get a competition ready 10/22 which is about half what the average person would spend on this effort.
It comes with a painted and textured stock that features a very stable cheek riser to allow the correct cheek weld for almost any optic.
The receiver is hard coated and machined from one piece of 6061 aluminum and comes with a 30 moa pic rail to maximize dead on hold from your scope.
The receiver incorporates a rear cleaning port, allowing you to clean the barrel from the breech. A proprietary, enhanced semi-auto chamber increases accuracy while not compromising reliable feeding and extraction.
A heat-treated and nitrated, CNC-machined match bolt creates a tight-fitting, smooth action enabling the highest level of performance.
The cold hammer-forged, fluted, bull barrel is threaded (0.5″-28) to accommodate the included muzzle brake or other aftermarket barrel accessories.
The Ruger 10/22 Competition Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle incorporates a unique dual bedding system, with a second bedding lug, to ensure the receiver is securely bedded to the stock for maximum accuracy potential.
A BX-Trigger™ breaks crisply at 2.5-3 lbs., with minimum overtravel and a positive reset. Uses standard 10/22 magazines. Includes: hard case, a Ruger Custom Shop certificate of authenticity, challenge coin, cleaning cloth, and decal. Made in USA.
Here is a video created by Corey D comparing group sizes from this rifle to the Ruger Precision Rimfire which is a bolt action and should be capable of much finer accuracy than a semi automatic. This will give you some idea of the accuracy to expect right out of the box.
Remember, the group sizes you see in these videos also includes shooter’s error.
5. Savage Target Thumbhole or A22 BTV
The A22 Target Thumbhole boasts a proven, straight-blowback semi-automatic action for the most reliable cycling of 22 LR. It features a hard chrome over sized bolt, case-hardened receiver, 10-round rotary magazine and button-rifled barrel.
The user-adjustable AccuTrigger and heavy barrel further increase accuracy. These triggers are my favorite factory produced trigger. It can be adjusted down to close to 1 lb of pull and has a super smooth action.
The stock has a gray laminate finish that really brings out the black colors from your scope and other accessories.
6. Ruger 10/22 Target Lite
The legendary semiautomatic action is a tried and true Ruger design that guarantees consistent, reliable performance.
The 16.13” cold hammer-forged barrel is tensioned in an aluminum alloy barrel sleeve with a 1/2″-28 threaded muzzle fitted with a removable thread cap for use of muzzle accessories. It carries a standard 1 in 16 inch twist rate.
BX-Trigger™ with light, crisp 2.5- to 3-lb. trigger pull weight with minimal overtravel and a positive reset. Positive, push-button, cross-bolt manual safety.
The combination scope-base adapter works with both Weaver-style and .22 tip-off scope mounts.
Patented, detachable 10-round magazine features a unique rotor to separate cartridges and feed reliably into your firearm. Extended magazine release for smooth, no-fuss removal of flush-mounted magazine.
The heat-stabilized, glass-filled, polymer trigger housing has an unmatched ability to withstand the elements. The high-tech material can be manufactured to higher tolerances for superior impact and abrasion resistance.
My intention with this article was to make it easier for a shooter who is looking for that next project to make the right purchase. All of these rifles are great high performance rifles with the potential to be constantly improved upon so you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you are still having trouble making a decision just do what I do and get one of each.