From handguns to long guns, and from ARs to lever-actions, manufacturers have recently introduced a number of great new rimfire guns sure to satisfy any shooter.
What's hot when it comes to rimfire .22s:
- Ruger LCRx 3-Inch .22 Revolver
- Henry Frontier Long Barrel 24”
- Smith & Wesson.22 Compact Tungsten Gray Cerakote
- Ruger 10/22 Target Lite
- KRISS USA DMK22C
- Savage B22 FV-SR
- Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Tactical
- Keystone Sporting Arms 722 ‘PT’
- DPMS RFA2-22LR
- Ruger Precision Rimfire
I’ve never asked any successful shooters — of any discipline — how often they shoot a .22 LR without getting some form of overwhelming praise for the lowly “little” .22 LR cartridge. Developed in the late 1800s, the popular .22 LR is chambered in everything from low-priced utilitarian guns to precision target rifles and pistols costing several thousand dollars. It’s been used in Olympic shooting competition since 1924, and almost everyone who shoots has a portfolio of fond memories of shooting a .22 LR.
One of the most important attributes of the .22 LR is its utility as a training vehicle. Low cost, low noise and mute recoil make learning to shoot with a .22 LR fun and without intimidation. The utility is enhanced when the training firearm looks, feels and operates like the full-sized firearm that will eventually be a part of the program. In recent years, we’ve been blessed with all kinds of useful .22s, and I have my doubts this trend will slow anytime soon.
Ruger LCRx 3-Inch .22 Revolver
One of the first handguns I ever owned was a Smith and Wesson Model 34 Kit Gun. Released in 1953, the Kit Gun was a small-framed rimfire designed for carry any time adventure called, hence the name, “kit gun.” It was small, lightweight and available with a 2- or 4-inch barrel and adjustable sights, and Smith and Wesson recently put the Kit Gun back into the line as the eight-shot 317.
Ruger has now introduced its version of a personal adventure companion revolver in the form of the LCRx 3-inch in .22 LR. I was excited when I shot the LCRx 3-inch .38 Special a few years ago, and at that time I asked Ruger to do it in .22 LR. Apparently, I have more swing with the folks at Ruger than I thought, because it’s here.
While the Kit Gun it mimics had classic lines, the LCRx 3-inch is modern with a polymer/alloy frame and stainless-steel cylinder and barrel. The Hogue Tamer grip is comfortable and offers a pleasant grip in any weather condition. The rear sight is adjustable, as it should be, with a pinned ramp front sight. Capacity is eight rounds and the weight, at just over 17 ounces, is light enough to be unnoticeable on your hip or in your kit bag. MSRP is a reasonable $579.
Henry Frontier Long Barrel 24”
Henry has been a smashing success in the modern firearms world. Beginning in 1996 with a couple of lever-action .22s reminiscent of the Winchester Model 92s I admired as a kid watching countless black and white westerns, the line expanded into centerfires and now includes a replica of the original Henry lever action that inspired the Winchester 66. The company has now grown into one of the most popular firearms companies in the United States … and for good reason.
In a world of high-tech tactical replica rimfires, the Henry Frontier 24” represents a simple and solid rimfire version of the kind of gun that truly won the West, and a lot of the Midwest to boot. The octagonal 24-inch barrel is slim and adorned with a post front sight and an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight. The black finish and satin-finished American walnut stock are unpretentious, but blend perfectly with the classic Model 92 lines. MSRP is $470.
Smith & Wesson.22 Compact Tungsten Gray Cerakote
Since its introduction, the S&W .22 compact M&P has been one of my favorite training pistols for concealed carry. The common controls, size and weight are similar to centerfire, polymer, striker-fired defensive pistols, and the low recoil, noise and low cost of rimfire ammunition means new shooters can learn fundamentals without the stress and noise of a centerfire. Simply put, the M&P rimfires are pleasant for any new shooter to learn with, regardless of past experience.
The three-dot sight system is adjustable at the rear for both windage and elevation. I equipped one with a Crimson Trace rail laser in green for diagnosing problems with new shooters. The new Tungsten Gray Cerakote finish on the frame gives them a serious big gun look, and the manual safety allows training new shooters who will be using either manual safety guns or standard striker-fired guns without manual safeties. Best of all, they’re fun for anyone to shoot, and with an MSRP of $409 for the Tungsten Gray Cerakote version and $389 for the standard, they’re affordable as well.
Ruger 10/22 Target Lite
Ruger’s 10/22 has been a world changer since its inception. It’s reliable, reasonably accurate and the popularity it’s generated has created an entire industry of accessories and aftermarket parts. With the 10/22 Target Lite, Ruger has built many of the most popular aftermarket options into a complete gun.
It comes with a lightened black laminate thumbhole stock and the new BX trigger system that finally puts a light and crisp trigger under the index finger of the 10/22 fan right out of the box. The tensioned, cold hammer-forged barrel resides in an aluminum alloy barrel sleeve and ends with a ½-28 threaded muzzle cap that facilitates fitting a suppressor.
The weight of the 10/22 Target Lite is just 5 pounds, and the combination scope base adapter allows the mounting of either Weaver style rings or standard .22 tip-off mounts. The combination of its reduced weight, a good trigger and a stable and comfortable stock that’s adjustable for length of pull makes the 10/22 Target Lite a great candidate for the popular Rimfire Steel Challenge matches right out of the box. The MSRP is very reasonable for a gun that comes from the factory already tricked out, at $649.
KRISS USA DMK22C
With the AR-15 being the most popular firearm system of all time, it’s inevitable that there will be .22 rimfire clones. Most of those clones look and feel like a full-sized AR, but few operate on the same manual of arms, and none offer the level of customization of the AR firearm system. Many of the clones allow using AR triggers and furniture, but up until now, no one has offered the ability of choosing other barrel options. The KRISS DMK offers a locking bolt, 4140 chrome molly barrel, functioning forward assist, a full-sized dust cover and forged aluminum receivers — but the most innovative feature is a patent-pending interchangeable barrel adapter.
The system allows use of any aftermarket 10/22 barrel, opening up a myriad of choices to the shooter who wants to create the ultimate rimfire AR. It uses popular .22 AR magazines and comes well equipped with a floating handguard, six-position stock, a full-length top rail and flip-up sights. Based on the fact that it’s the only clone that operationally works just like a full-sized AR, including forward assist, it’s impressive, but adding the capability to upgrade barrels in almost any configuration makes it remarkable. MSRP is reasonable at $799.
Savage B22 FV-SR
Savage has taken the world by storm with its much-copied AccuTrigger system, which allows an extremely light and crisp trigger pull without fear of accidental discharge. This is accomplished by putting a blade that serves as an inner trigger within the main trigger. If the sear is jarred out of engagement, the inner trigger catches the sear before it can discharge the rifle. When shooting the AccuTrigger, the blade is disengaged with the shooter’s finger before engagement of the primary trigger begins. The end result is a trigger that can be adjusted to be remarkably light, while still remaining totally safe.
The addition of the AccuTrigger to a heavy, short barrel and a stock designed for precision creates an economical yet surprisingly accurate rimfire rifle. The FV-SR sports a stock that promotes accuracy with a vertical pistol grip and high comb for good head position with a scope. It comes with a forward bridge mount for an optic and a rigid 16.25-inch barrel that’s threaded for a suppressor. It uses a 10-shot rotary magazine and weighs 6 pounds. Based on Savage’s reputation for accurate and economical rifles, the FV-SR promises to be a serious performer with an MSRP of just $344.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Tactical
Ruger’s Mark series of .22 rimfire pistols has been the standard of rimfire pistols since the ’50s. The new Mark IV series was the most drastic design change since the introduction in 1949. The Mark IV series disassembles with the press of a button on the rear of the frame, making the pistols much easier to maintain than previous models. The 22/45 models, introduced in 2004, utilize the more familiar grip angle of the 1911 pistols and locates the controls in much more familiar locations for those more used to modern pistols.
The Mark IV 22/45 Tactical comes with a threaded muzzle, an adjustable rear sight and a Picatinny rail on the frame for mounting optics. Weight is just over 33 ounces, making the Tactical Mk IV perfect as a training pistol with accuracy, reliability and familiar controls. To add further appeal, the MSRP is only $529.
Keystone Sporting Arms 722 ‘PT’
While the .22 rimfire cartridge has utility for hunting and pest control, its greatest utility is training. Most .22 LR ammunition is low in cost, noise and recoil, making it the perfect round for training both new and experienced shooters. Keystone is known for its Cricket and Chipmunk rifles, sized and designed as the first gun of young shooters, but the Cricket line also includes some adult-sized rifles as well.
The manufacturer’s most recent offering is the 722 “PT”, a compact rimfire trainer for the aspiring long-range shooter in a chassis stock with guaranteed accuracy of one MOA. It features a seven-round magazine, an AB Arms Mod X aluminum chassis stock, a target chamber and an adjustable length of pull. With a weight of 6.3 pounds, it comes optics ready with a threaded 20-inch barrel and has an MSRP of $599.96.
Currently, there are multiple .22 rimfire clones of the M16/AR-15. I’ve shot most of them, but the one both my grandsons trained on is the DPMS .22 upper I’ve had for several years. My grandson, Phoenix, learned to shoot with that original upper, and his rimfire training with it translated into him winning a Junior National Championship in his first match, the now discontinued National Defense Match. It was also the first time he fired a centerfire AR-15.
Originally marketed as an upper only, the RFA2 is a complete rifle offered in either M4 clone configuration or as a 16-inch bull-barreled version with a floating forend tube. Both versions use aluminum upper and lower receivers, and almost any AR option you can imagine fits and works. The only exceptions are magazine, barrel and interior parts. Any AR trigger will drop right in. The end result is a training firearm that looks and feels just like the original, but offers low-cost, low-impact shooting with an MSRP of $1,029.
Ruger Precision Rimfire
One of the fastest growing shooting sports is precision rimfire shooting with .22 rimfire rifles, shooting targets at distances of up to 200 yards. Ruger isn’t about to miss the boat on this and has introduced the new Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle to meet the demand. A scaled down version of the centerfire Precision Rifle, it uses a glass-filled nylon chassis-style stock that’s quickly adjustable for both length of pull and cheekpiece height using a single cam lever. The ventilated 15-inch M-LOK forearm tube extends almost all the way out to the end of the hammer forged and threaded 18-inch barrel.
Designed as both a competitive rifle and a trainer, it features an extended 3-inch bolt throw to replicate shooting a centerfire, or you can set it for a standard 1.5-inch bolt throw. The 30-minute elevation scope rail allows getting a zero for really long shots; there’s even an attachment point for your squeeze bag. With a weight of 6.8 pounds, it has an MSRP of $529.
The list above dictates the overwhelming love the shooting public still has for the .22 LR. From handguns to long guns, and from ARs to lever-actions, the diversity of firearms currently being chambered for this mini yet mighty cartridge is immense — so much so that a little bit of research should find you the exact .22 LR to suit your needs and wants.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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Among this outpouring of new and interesting models, there is one glaring empty slot; left handed versions, especially low cost models for new shooters. One of the very few exceptions is Savage, who, to their credit, have left handed versions of all of their current B series, and the only left handed rimfire autoloader I’ve ever seen. I would assume that as soon as this new B model appears on their website, a southpaw variant will soon follow. In fact, only Savage, CZ, Browning, and J.G. Anschuetz produce any left handed rimfires. The industry complains that left handed guns don’t sell, but it’s a self fullfilling prediction. Most of the industry makes very few guns for new left handed shooters, a few plain vanilla models for lefties in general, and then doesn’t bother to advertise what they do make ( I only found out about Browning’s left handed BAR’s two years after they were discontinued). the one exception is Savage, though CZ appears to be catching on. It really isn’t a mystery why Savage is the only company that makes money on left handed guns.