Rimfire shooting is our game. With over 30 years experience enjoying these little rifles and the process of taking them to the upper limits of their accuracy and capability limits, I have put together the buyer’s guide below.
After a hands-on examination and firing session of most of the rifles, I will give you the benefit of my over 30 years of rimfire shooting and what I have leaned trying to take these rifles to the pinnacle of their performance, as a recommendation . Accuracy along with ease of handling will be my measures.
I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of these……in fact, I have in most cases. Here is a summary of my findings. Details below.
Best bolt action performance 22 lr rifles
- Overall Best – Ruger Precision Rimfire
- 2nd Overall Best – CZ 455 Varmint Evolution
- Best Value – Savage Mark 2 FVSR
- Best starter rifle – Ruger American Target
- Most accurate out of the box – Lithgow
- Best for Competition – CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis
- Best for Hunting – CZ 457 Pro Varmint
#1 Overall Pick – Ruger Precision Rimfire
This rifle out of the box is set up to deliver optimum accuracy with a completely adjustable chassis to allow a perfect fit for any shooter. It is a molded, one piece, glass filled chassis which is perfect for reliability and stability of point of impact.
It features a free-floated M-LOK handguard and an anodized picatinny receiver rail. It rivals larger caliber rifles in it’s design that are now being used on the PRS circuit. At less than $400 this is a serious rimfire rifle for serious shooters at a bargain price.The first thing you notice when looking at the table is that the Ruger Precision Rimfire has more green cells than any of the other rifles.
Because of that, this rifle as far as it’s design,when compared to the others, should a very high performer and yield a high degree of shooter satisfaction.Actual 5 shot group sizes obtained while shooting the rifle at 50 yards from bags are listed below.
Note that there was a very light wind during the test which I don’t believe had much of an impact on the results, if any at all. All groups were measured from outside edge to outside edge.
- CCI Standard Velocity = .524 inches
- CCI Green Tag = .479 inches
- Federal Premium Ultra Match = .689 inches
- Fully adjustable chassis
- 15 round capacity
- Very high value at <$400
- Optimum 18″ barrel length
- 30 moa built into scope rail
- threaded barrel
- adjustable trigger pull
- Compact w/ 16.5″ barrel
- Would be slightly heavy to carry all day at around 6.8 lbs total weight w/o scope
- It is the longest rifle of all of those compared
#2 Best Overall Pick – CZ 455 Varmint Evolution
The Evolution® stock has proven very popular on our 455 Varmint platform. Though the bolt is on the right-hand side, the stock design is fully ambidextrous including the cheekpiece, teardrop pistol grip and palm swell.
The extreme free float provided by the Evolution® stock design ensures that there’s no chance of stock-to-barrel contact, resulting in excellent harmonics.
The 455 Varmint action along with the Evolution® stock will accept any of the accessory barrels available for the 455 platform including the American and Lux (open sights) as well as other varmint weight barrels in any available caliber. A 5 rd. magazine is included.
- Name : 455 Varm Evo 22lr Coyote Lam
- Desc : Varmint Evolution
- Model : 455 Varmint Evolution
- Model # : 02246
- Manufacturer : CZ-USA
- Caliber : 22 LR
- Type : Rifle
- Action : Bolt Action
- Capacity : 5+1
- Finish : Blue
- Stock Frame : Coyote Laminate
Best Value – Savage Mark 2 FVSR
Speaking from personal experience, I can say that this rifle is the best value for the money spent out of the box. With good shooter fundamentals, it is a sub MOA rifle with no improvements. With CCI standard velocity ammo, I was able to slap an Athlon scope on this rifle and within the first 3 groups shot through it, get a .48 inch group at 50 yards.
I have since bedded the stock a little better, the barrel was already free floated from the factory and have been able to very consistently hit 2 inch targets at 230 yards.The patented Savage Accutrigger is set on it’s lowest setting and pulls at around 1.5 lbs.
I have experienced absolutely no accidental firings even with the gun being bumped hard due to the trigger being this light. With a can on the threaded barrel and the ammo mentioned above, I have seen no real POI change although I do most of my shooting with the can on the barrel.It comes with sling studs ready for attachment of a bipod or monopod, an oversized bolt handle, and scope base mount.
- Savage adjustable Accutrigger
- Threaded barrel
- Lightest of all rifles examined
- Very accurate for the price
- Lowest price of all examined
- No adjustability in stock
Best starter rifle – Ruger American Target
The Ruger American Rimfire Bolt-Action Rimfire Rifle combines the rugged reliability of Ruger’s past craftsmanship with the a very simplistic rifle design that you don’t normally get in a new factory produced rifle. The trigger is crisp and adjustable although the lightest setting you can attain is around 3 lbs. This yields a very good trigger pull but not quite light enough for my taste.
It comes with an extended mag release which makes the task of removal much easier and a 10/22 BX-1 10 round rotary mag. No need for glass bedding on this one as it has Ruger’s new patented bedding block system with a free floated stock.
It has a bull barrel that is slightly smaller in diameter than those available in the after market. It measures .860′ vs .920 on most aftermarket versions. The barrel is threaded and the bolt has plenty of clearance for almost any scope.
It comes with a bolt release mounted on the receiver which eliminates the need to pull the trigger to remove the bolt. The safety is a normal tang safety. The stock is laminate and length of pull can be changed with additions to the recoil pad. It is fitted with a one pieced picatinny rail. Ruger doesn’t make junk and I would recommend this rifle to anyone just getting started in rimfire rifle shooting.
Realize it will probably be a little heavy for smaller kids but it is a rifle that will last a lifetime. They can grow into it and still enjoy it after becoming an adult. Below is a video from Wuthrich 10 doing a review and ammo test with this rifle.
- Marksman adjustable trigger from 3 – 5 lbs.
- Power Bedding integral bedding-block system
- Detachable 10/22 Bx-1 10-round rotary magazine
- Butt pads allow LOP adjustment
- Heavy for small children
- Trigger only goes down to 3 lbs.
Most accurate out of the box – Lithgow
Lithgow rifles are made in Australia and from the first time you pick it up, you know you have quality in your hands. It just feels good. It doesn’t have the “hot rod” appearance, in fact there are much better looking rifles, but you know when holding it that it is a fine piece of equipment produced with tight tolerances and pride.
Have you ever had a rifle that just easily hit what you were aiming at without really trying hard? If you have ever owned a rifle like this it probably quickly became your favorite.
Although I don’t own one yet, I had an opportunity to shoot one at my local range and this was that kind of rifle for me. I quickly discovered that there was a reason that it was so easy to shoot and hit with……It’s because it is super accurate.
This kind of accuracy doesn’t come cheap though. Expect to pay around $1200 for one of these rifles. Perfection doesn’t come cheap.This title, “most accurate” used to be reserved for the Ruger Precision Rimfire but after shooting the Lithgow, I had to assign that title to it.
Not to take anything away from the RPR……with the right ammo it is easily a sub MOA rifle, but I do have to be honest and say I believe the Lithgow is a little better.
Below is a video with 22 plinkster shooting this rifle. He basically had the same experience..
Best for Competition – CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis
Precision rimfire rifle competitions have been gaining steam in the last few years and CZ rifles have been the go-to equipment for the sport.
The Varmint Precision Chassis pairs our heavy-barreled 457 action with an aluminum chassis of our own design. Equipped with an adjustable Luth-AR stock, an AR-style grip, QD sling sockets and a dearth of M-LOK slots, proper fit and customization are easy to accomplish. Able to be had in 22 LR with either a 16.5” or 24” barrel, both variants are threaded 1/2×28 for use with rimfire suppresssors.
- Action : Bolt
- Caliber : 22 LR
- Barrel Length : 16″
- Capacity : 5+1
- Stock Description : Adjustable Luth-AR
Best Hunting Rifle – CZ 457 Pro Varmint
The Pro Varmint has a heavy 16.5” barrel threaded 1/2×28 for use with a suppressor or other muzzle device. Riding in a black-painted laminate stock, it incorporates features found on much more expensive stocks without pushing the price of the rifle through the roof.
The short barrel gives plenty of time for the cartridge to get a full burn while increasing the rigidity of the barrel, resulting in a rifle that drives tacks. Quietly. If we were to pick one thing that our previous rimfire platforms were lacking, it was an American-style push-to-fire safety — something Hunter’s Education instructors and 4-H shooting coaches have begged us to incorporate for years.
Though that was the most obvious change, we also took the opportunity to tweak a load of small things at the same time. In addition to the receiver-mounted, push-to-fire safety, we chopped almost an inch of length from the action and slab-sided it to reduce its footprint and weight.
The stamped bottom metal of the 455 is gone, swapped for a classy two-piece interlocking system. To make scope fitment easier, we ditched the 90° bolt rotation in favor of 60°, allowing for larger ocular bell diameters with lower ring heights.
To top it all off, the 457 now features a trigger adjustable for weight, creep and over-travel. With the exact same swappable barrel system as the 455 and the same reliable polymer magazine system, the 457 is without a doubt the best rimfire platform we’ve ever fielded.Chambering .22 LR
Rate Of Twist 1:16 in Magazine Capacity 5 Magazine Type Detachable Stock Black Painted Laminate Length Of Pull 13.75 in Sights No Sights, Integral 11mm Dovetail Barrel Cold Hammer Forged Barrel Length 16.5 in Weight 7.3 lbs Trigger Mech Fully Adjustable Safety Two-Position, Push-To-Fire