I often wonder how many gun owners are missing out on the joy of owning a .22 or at least a .17 caliber rifle. Sure, there some people only own a firearm for defense. But you need to experience a .22 or .17 at least once in your life.
They are fun, easy to shoot, perfect to learn on, highly accurate, and affordable. If you add the very best rimfire scope, it just gets better!
In a hurry? Don't have time for the details? Here are our best picks for Rimfire Scopes:
Personally, I own nearly a dozen .22 and .17 caliber rifles. I have collected them since I was probably 5 years old. Some have scopes and some do not. No matter what, I love shooting them, especially the .22. .22 is by far the most popular rimfire cartridge.
The main reason I love .22s is their short range accuracy. It is possible to effectively use a rimfire scope for 25 yards. Out to 50 yards, they can be tack drivers. To 100 yards, I can hit targets the size of a tennis ball even with a stock .22. Nearing the 200-yard point, I can still shoot a small coffee can. I even have a custom .22 that can hit a nickel at 100 yards if the wind is good.
There is simply nothing that beats a scoped .22 for sheer fun! But you have to get the right scope, not just for the rifle but for you.
- .22 Scope Mentality
- The Purpose Made .22 Rimfire Scope
- .22 Rimfire Scope Considerations
- Best Rimfire Scope Reviews 2020 - Comparison Table
- Top 5 Best Rimfire Scopes on the Market Reviews
- Sighting in a .22 Scope
- What is a rimfire scope?
- Differences between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope?
- Similarities between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope?
- Can you use a rimfire scope on a muzzleloader?
.22 Scope Mentality
First of all, you need to know how you will be using the .22. Do you want a rimfire rifle scope for target shooting? Do you want one for hunting? What range and \size targets do you plan to shoot? Will you be using your rimfire scope for squirrel hunting? How accurate is your particular rifle?
The answer to those questions and the following information will help you choose the correct scope.
One of the best capabilities of the .22 is its ability to hit very small targets. This leads some shooters, especially sandbag or benchrest shooters, to pick scopes that have very high magnification. They will even choose scopes that have magnification in the 40x range.
This is what I use on my custom rifle. I use a 32x scope that has a big picture for tiny targets. It may seem overpowered but a dime sized target at 50 yards is a tough shot without a powerful scope.
For the plinking type of target shooting you don't need as much power. Usually less than 10x but no more than 15x will be fine. This allows me to shoot at closer range. I can also get out to 200 yards on a target about the size of a softball.
Many hunters opt for a scoped .22. It is especially popular in squirrel and small varmints hunting. A hunter's mentality and the way they use a scope differs from a target shooter.
You won’t find many successful hunters using powerful rifle scopes because they lack the field of view needed to track the target. A scope like my 32x would be horrible for hunting. Instead, I would stick with something less than a 10x. Ethical shots with a .22 are probably around 50 yards. They are definitely not more than 100. The .22 just lacks the power to kill cleanly at long ranges.
Matching a Scope to your Rifle
Let’s face it, some .22s just aren’t that accurate. A perfect example is the 10/22 by Ruger. It is an amazing firearm. Just don't expect super accuracy out of the factory model.
This is the case with most automatic .22s. They really benefit from shorter range shots. They can also get by with a less powerful optic. There is no reason to stick a 20x optic on a Ruger 10/22. It can’t keep up with the scope and will never be perfectly zeroed.
Many .22 bolt guns can be insanely accurate. For example, a scope for Ruger American rimfire rifles can be more powerful and still work well. These rifles are highly accurate. They will still not have the accuracy to warrant a scope 30x or higher. But any scope in the teens and low 20x range will do well.
If you want to step it up to those 30x and 40x scopes, you need a custom gun.
The Purpose Made .22 Rimfire Scope
There are some companies that make optics specifically marketed for rimfire rifles. As long as the company is reputable, these scopes are pretty good. Avoid a budget .22 rimfire scope from any sketchy company.
Many budget scopes are more affordable because they aren’t durable or good with recoil. This can save you a little money if your budget is tight. Look for an affordable scope by a reputable company. These products may even have a BDC reticle. It is a decent feature for novice scope shooters.
Otherwise, .22 scopes are no different than a standard rifle scope. Go with what works for your rifle. Don't let marketing make your decision. I have a couple rimfire specific scopes but most are standard rifle scopes. I like to have the option of moving my scopes to a more powerful rifle. You can’t do that with a purpose-made scope. If you go with a standard scope, ensure the features are suited to the .22 rimfire.
.22 Rimfire Scope Considerations
Your goal here is either to find a great rimfire scope for the money or the best rimfire scope available. You can spend a lot of money on an optic. Usually you get what you pay for. Even so, you always want to research to find a scope that matches your needs. Consider each of these features when making your decision.
If you know how you will be using the scope, figuring out magnification is easy. Here is precisely what I would recommend:
For scopes intended for hunting, look for something that maxes out between 7x and 10x. This magnification level gives you a good field of view. It also provides plenty of magnification for shooting even small game at modest ranges. 50 yards or a little more will not be a problem.
For plinking and target shooting, I would go with something between 10x and 15x. This still gives you plenty of magnification for long ranges but doesn’t get so powerful that you are restricted. This is the most versatile scope power for hunting or target shooting.
For long range shooting, I would go with the same power spectrum of 10 to 15x. The bullet drop on a .22 is alarming past 100 yards. High powered scopes make holdovers very hard.
For a dedicated target gun that shoots very small targets at modest ranges, you can go as high as you want. There are .22 BR scopes that have magnification in the 40+ range. This requires a very precise accurized or custom rifle. Otherwise, there is no advantage to having a scope this powerful.
I will personally say that I am not a fan of a plain crosshair reticle. They are easy for newbies to use but you will quickly outgrow them. Only hunters that never shoot more than 50 yards should consider them. Even then I would prefer a different reticle.
My favorite all-purpose reticle would be a duplex reticle with markings that gauge bullet drop. If it were tuned to the .22 that would be a bonus. This is rare, however. The duplex reticle allows you to judge bullet drop from around 30 yards to over 100 without issue.
Most of my high powered scopes have a full BDC reticle. These are complicated. For the beginning they are a little confusing. They can be used for any purpose once you get the hang of them.
There are two types of adjustments you can get on a scope. These are often called capped or turret adjustments. Capped adjustments are intended to be a set-it-and-forget-it option. You use holdover and Kentucky Windage to put rounds on target. Turrets are made to adjust on the fly so your crosshairs are always on the target. You can adjust your elevation and windage so the bullet always hits the crosshairs.
For a .22, most people will never need turret adjustments. There is little downside to having them other than cost. For a hunting rifle or a scope under 10x, I wouldn’t consider them worth the investment.
If you shoot small targets in competitions with a high-powered scope or do some long range plinking, turrets can make you more consistent. They can even handle extreme bullet drop. You just have to balance the usefulness with the cost.
Ruggedness & Weatherproofing
I will opt for a rugged piece of gear every time, even if it costs more. I like to know what I have will function well even if it takes a little abuse. That said, most .22s don’t see much abuse and have very little recoil. If cost is a factor, you can get by with a scope that is a little less durable.
The same is mostly true for weatherproofing. I always opt for fog and water resistance in my gear. But if you shoot indoors, under cover, or only in clear weather, there is no reason you HAVE to have these features. I always recommend them just to be safe. But, the final decision is up to you.
Best Rimfire Scope Reviews 2020 - Comparison Table
Top 5 Best Rimfire Scopes on the Market Reviews
1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire
What would happen if one of the greatest manufacturers took one of their best optics and fitted it out for the .22 caliber round? You would get the best budget rimfire rifle scope on the market. This one can do everything you need with a.22. It also has all the durability and features of a high-end centerfire scope.
The aircraft aluminum one-piece construction is incredibly tough. It is even more tough than you would need for a .22. The scope is nitrogen purged and 100% waterproof and fog proof. Even on a higher-powered rifle, recoil shock wouldn’t be an issue. You get all that from a scope that weighs less than a pound.
The adjustments are a blend of capped and turret style with finger adjustments. They can also be covered to avoid any issues with loss of zero. The reticle is Vortex’s V-Plex. It combines the simplicity of a standard crosshair with a 1 MOA gap for calculating holdover. Everything about this rifle caters to the hunter. It is simple and fast with plenty of accuracy.
Of course, we have to mention the amazing glass in a Vortex scope. Their own multicoated lenses absolutely shine when it comes to image quality and brightness. There are few better lenses on the market and none at this price. No-glare and no-fog mean you can shoot anytime in any weather. This scope may be over-engineered for a .22, but that’s okay.
2 Bushnell 633941 Rim Fire Optics Series Riflescopes
Bushnell makes great scopes for those who want to shoot a little farther. They make outstanding products for .22 rimfire that will also function well for .17 and even .22 mag rounds. With all of the features for targets past 100 yards, this scope is the king when it comes to budget scopes.
This Bushnell scope has a max 18x zoom and trueplex reticle designed for the .22 cartridge. Even tiny targets are well within the abilities of this scope. Combine these features with target turrets for .22 or .17 caliber cartridges and you can hit well past the usual 150-yard mark. The 80moa of adjustment travel make it possible to even shoot out to 200 yards without much issue.
Like all Bushnell scopes, the glass is clear and bright. It includes Bushnell's anti-glare and anti-fog coating. The side parallax focus clears up images from 25 yards to past a reasonable range. Most scopes of this power designed for .22 have 1/8 MOA adjustments. The 1/4 MOA on the Bushnell, however, seem to work just fine.
This scope is weather resistant. It is also made from a 1-piece aluminum tube that is sealed against dust. The scope will resist any recoil. Although it is great for lower powered rifles, keep it off anything more than a .22 mag. It just won’t hold up. This is a scope made for the range, not the woods.
3 Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II
Let's discuss Nikon with their dedicated rimfire scopes. Their Prostaff series has been a best-selling optic for years in all calibers and markets. They are simple, effective, and highly accurate. This was one of my first optics. I keep coming back to it for the price and quality.
All ProStaff scopes have great glass that provides amazing light transmission and clear images. When matched with a huge 40mm objective lens and full multicoat, it just gets better. Nikon even adds their own BDC reticle. You definitely get a highly accurate and easy to shoot scope.
The turrets adjust easily. They are very precise because they were designed for the fast-shooting .22 loads. The capped turrets adjust by hand rather than needing a tool. You get the best of both worlds with this scope.
All in all, this is a sturdy scope. It is lightweight, waterproof, fog resistant, and easily capable of lasting a lifetime. Sight this scope in at the suggested 50 yards. The 3-9x magnification will carry you through a variety of shooting situations and ranges.
4 Bushnell Rimfire Optics 3.5-10x
Back again but this time to provide you the best damn rimfire scope under 100 bucks. The 10x max power is lower than Bushnell's other scope. Still this one is as much as most shooters are ever likely to need. It is great for hunting, plinking, and even some target shooting. For such a highly versatile scope, the price is nearly beyond belief.
The RImfire Optics has the quality you would expect from a Bushnell scope. It has great glass and clear, bright clear images. It is also a high performer that is specifically designed to work with standard velocity .22 ammunition. The Dropzone .22 optic makes holdover calculations quick and easy for the hunter. For long range targets, the optic will be accurate once you get the hang of it.
It has a waterproof and fog proof with a one-piece construction. It is also sealed and tough enough to last for years. This is a perfect scope to permanently pair with a rifle. You can even hand it down to your kids when you are done. The multicoat provides some of the best low-light brightness you will ever get, especially considering the small 36mm objective.
Dollar for dollar, this is a great scope for the money. If you want to get the best on a tight budget, you can do no better. Bushnell has always done a great job on their .22 dedicated optics. This one is just another shining example.
5 Nikon PROSTAFF RIMFIRE II 3-9X40 BDC150
To kick things off, Nikon has always made amazing scopes. Their scopes for lighter powered rifles are especially good. For the .22, it's really hard to beat the P-Rimfire if you are a hunter or plinker. The 3-9x magnification is just about perfect.
The scopes comes with a zero-reset turrets and a BDC reticle specifically designed for hypervelocity .22 rounds. It will get you on target quickly with dead-on accuracy. The quality of the glass is quite good. It has Nikon’s own multicoat technology. Images are bright, crisp, and clear with enough power to shoot up to 150 yards, the max range on the reticle.
Weighing just under a pound, this aluminum and polymer scope doesn’t add mass to your lightweight rifles. Even so, it will hold up quite well. It is fog and waterproof with enough shock resistance to handle a few bangs here and there. It is durable enough for the .22s marginal recoil.
With a good rifle and quality high-velocity ammo, this scope is capable of very tight groups and consistent impacts. For the hunter, you would likely never need more features. This solid and durable scope that won’t break the bank. It is perhaps the best rimfire scope under 200 dollars right now.
Sighting in a .22 Scope
I am most often asked what range to use to sight in a .22. There are a lot of theories about what range works best. You may be told to use anything from .25 yards to 100 yards. I personally sight different rifles at different ranges depending on their use.
If you have a scope with dedicated turrets or BDC reticle, its best to always follow the manufacturer's recommendation. Most of the time they will recommend 50 yards. 50 is a solid range to sight in for a variety of uses.
For hunting and plinking rifles I always sight in at 50 yards. I also use that range for any rifle that I intend to dedicate to shooting in 50-yard competitions. I would say that at least half my .22 rifles are sighted in at this range.
Scopes that are intended for shooting a wide range, such as plinking or varmint rifles, I sight in at 75 yards. For these rifles you will need to remember the range you used to sight it in. I usually keep a small note taped inside my lens cover with the sight in range. This strategy helps me manage shorter and longer range shots accurately.
I do have a couple of rifles sighted in at 100 yards. I shoot these rifles at that range nearly exclusively. Bullet drop on a .22 is significant at that distance. Shooting a much shorter distance is very difficult with a 100-yard sight in. These are also the rifles I use for the occasional 150 and 200-yard shots.
What is a rimfire scope?
A rimfire scope is a type of scope you can use with a rimfire rifle. A rimfire rifle is a specific type of rifle. Thefiring pin strikes the rim of the cartridge base to ignite the primer. Typically, anything smaller than a .22 will be a rimfire-type rifle.
A rimfire scope is a scope that will work with this type of rifle. Any scope should allow you to see the full field of vision. You should not have to center your eyes. Since a rimfire scope is typically used on smaller caliber guns, it is better for shooting at closer ranges.
Generally speaking, the rimfire scope is also a bit cheaper. It is made with different materials than other scopes. It doesn't need the durability of the higher-powered scopes and rifles.
Another feature of the rimfire scope is the parallax. With a rimfire scope, the parallax is usually adjusted to 50 yards. You may be able to find some “rimfire scopes with parallax adjustment.” This means the side focus can be adjusted. The side focus helps you vary your focus from 10-100 yards.
If you have a really good rimfire scope, there is also the ability to use it as an air gun scope. However, in order to use your “rimfire scope on an air gun” scope, you need to be sure it can handle the recoil. Many air guns use a double pulse, fore and aft, momentum, which creates significant recoil.
Rimfire scope should also have good quality glass. Eye fatigue is a real issue for hunters when shooting. The various brands of rimfire scopes are made with different types and qualities of glass. Be sure to thoroughly research them before purchasing.
Differences between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope?
There are a few distinct differences between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope. Knowing the differences will help you to choose the right one for your needs. Generally speaking, a rimfire scope will have less eye relief. It will be parallax free at closer ranges. A rimfire scope will also not be able to withstand the recoil from a rifle above a .22.
A centerfire scope will usually have a focus range of 100, 200, 500 yards, etc. This is a much greater range than the rimfire scope. A rimfire scope might be good from 25 yards to 100 yards. A rimfire scope is more suitable for shooting targets at a closer range.
Additionally, a centerfire scope is more likely to have an Adjustable Objects lens, or an A/O. The A/O focus feature will allow you to adjust the parallax at any range. You can search for a rimfire scopes with adjustable objective, but they are not common. Usually you will not find a rimfire scope with A/O, unless it’s very expensive. Since rimfire scopes will generally not have A/O, most rimfire scope do not have target turrets. The turrets are more likely to be found on other types of scopes.
Another difference between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope is the eye protection. Since a rimfire scope is meant to be used with a smaller caliber rifle, there is less recoil. A centerfire scope will have more eye protection.
Similarities between a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope?
In some ways, both the rimfire scope and centerfire scope are alike. Both scopes are meant to be an accessory to your rifle. They can increase your accuracy at a greater range. Both a rimfire scope and a centerfire scope can help you see a bit further than the naked eye. You can expect to find both a centerfire scope and a rimfire scope with side focus. The side focus helps the user to adjust the parallax.
Both types of scopes are designed to work in a similar fashion. They just work with different distances. These scopes work by aiding your sight. They are often made of similar materials, too. They will also attach to your rifle in a similar manner.
You do need to know what type of rifle you will be using. Knowing this helps you purchase the correct scope. A centerfire scope is generally recommended for .22 or higher rifles. If you do use your rimfire scope with a mount, be sure you are using the right one.
You can use both a centerfire scope and a rimfire scope with a sunshade. The advantage to a sunshade is that it helps cut down on glare. You are also able to purchase a rimfire scope with BDC, or bullet drop compensator works. The BDC works by using a reticle pattern that predicts how much a bullet will drop at a given range. It helps you maintain accuracy when shooting.
They are often made with different materials. The centerfire scope has better eye protection since it is intended to be used with higher-powered rifles. If you use a rimfire scope on a higher-powered rifle, you may injury your eyes. For example, using a rimfire scope with an AR 15 may not be a good idea.
1. Will a rimfire scope work on a centerfire rifle?
Technically you could use a rimfire scope on a centerfire rifle. The main objective of a scope is to aid in sighting. Therefore, a rimfire scope on a centerfire rifle would work.
A rimfire scope is set to have a 50 yard parallax setting. If you are trying to sight out further than this, you can experience crosshair creep. This occurs when the angle you are sighting from changes. Crosshair creep makes the reticle move around the target. Ultimately it can affect your shooting accuracy.
Some users feel that you can still accuracy shoot with a rimfire scope on a centerfire rifle. It will just take practice. A rimfire scope with illuminated reticle might be helpful in this case.
Some users wonder if you can use a rimfire scope on a 30-30. A 30-30 is considered a more powerful rifle. A centerfire scope would be preferable on a 30-30.
Additionally, you need to consider the quality fo the rimfire scope. Some rimfire scopes are made with plastic materials. This is because a rimfire scope is typically used on a smaller rifle. A smaller rifle has less recoil when fired. If you use a rimfire scope of less quality on a centerfire rifle, you may damage it. You also run the risk of damaging your eye when it kicks back.
It is possible to mount a rimfire scope with rings to a centerfire rifle. If you are considering using your rimfire scope on a centerfire rifle, proceed with caution. It is possible to be injured. You could wreck your scope and you could miss your target!
Can you use a rimfire scope on a muzzleloader?
It is not recommended to use a rimfire scope on a muzzleloader. The reason is simple: the muzzleloader's sheer power will be too much for your rimfire scope.
When you are using a muzzleloader, you need to use the proper accessories. There are several reasons why. The first reason is physical safety. A muzzleloader will kick back with tremendous force. Using an inadequate scope will not protect your eye. Everyone will know you didn’t have the proper scope when you walk around with a half-moon shaped mark under your eye. There is also the chance that the glass in the eye piece will shatter. Getting glass in your eye is a major emergency. You don't want this, especially when you are out in the field.
A muzzleloader packs such a punch that is can, and probably will, break your rimfire scope. A rimfire scope is designed to be used with a small rifle, generally less than .22 caliber.
There are scopes that are made specifically for a muzzleloader. It is worth the money to purchase one. This is why you usually won’t find a rimfire scope with a mil dot. A rimfire scope is not intended to be used with higher caliber rifles or to shoot long ranges.
Scopes are important accessories. You should purchase the best one that your budget allows. Having the right accessories will help you with shooting accuracy and keep you safe. You should always use protective eye and ear gear when shooting.
Purchasing the appropriate scopes for your rifles is an investment. It is an investment in your gun collection and an investment in your sport. If you are unsure of what you need, see your local gun shop. The professionals there can make sure you are getting what you need. They can also show you how to attach and use your accessories. Finally, they can give you tips and helpful information.
It's important to remember that getting a .22 on target at long range or with small targets is a joint effort. The best scope in the world won’t make you or your rifle shoot any better. It just makes you more consistent. In order to not have a consistently bad shot, you need to practice. Purchase a rifle that is capable of handling the accuracy you expect.
Choose a scope with a power range and features that coincide with your planned use. This will ensure your expectations of accuracy remain consistent. Most people will do well with a scope 10x or less for shooting with a .22.