Recommended Rimfire Hunting Rifles

By Chuck Hawks


Probably the single most important thing about any hunting rifle is that it be reliable and fit the owner. A prospective buyer should make a list of possible models and then visit his or her local gun shop and try each. Throw the rifle to your shoulder, operate the action, switch the safety on and off, dry fire the rifle. Then buy the one that fits best. Stock fit and ergonomics are important, so if a recommended rifle does not fit you, don't buy it.

Over the years I have formed opinions about the various brands and models of hunting rifles and this is an opinion piece. These recommendations were not handed down to me by God, engraved on a stone tablet. I have not used every brand and model of rifle in the world and particularly not models seldom seen in the U.S. But at one time I did sell rifles for a large gun retailer and I have been a fairly active recreational shooter for my entire adult life and a gun writer for over a decade, so I have come into contact with most of the well established models.

Like all shooters I have personal likes and dislikes. These preferences are reflected in my recommendations. I am, for example, a fan of genuine walnut or laminated wood stocks. (Not "walnut finished hardwood" stocks!) Not only do I find most synthetic stocks surpassingly unattractive, I am convinced that the majority of them are functionally inferior to wood stocks in most circumstances. (See my article "Rifle Stocks" for more on this subject.) Synthetic stocks are certainly inferior in resale value. If you must have a synthetic stock, you will find that there is a synthetic stocked variation of most of the models listed below.

If I don't list a particular rifle that you cherish, if does not mean that it is no good; it merely means that I find the features of the rifles I did list more desirable. There are few really bad rifles in the marketplace.

Also note that only currently produced rifles as of the time of this writing are included in the lists below. I admire many discontinued rimfire rifles, such as the Browning A-Bolt Medallion, Winchester Model 52B Sporter and Model 9422 lever action, but they are not included here.

I have grouped my recommendations into categories, which you will find below. These categories are intended to group rifles of similar type, application, grade, and general price class. To facilitate comparison I have listed more than one choice in each category, in alphabetical order.

Remember, all models listed below are recommended. In many cases there is, objectively, little to choose between the rifles in a given category. The rifles I'd recommend to left handed shooters are the left handed models of the rifles listed below, when available.


.22 LONG RIFLE AND .17 MACH 2 CALIBER RIFLES

Bolt Action Ultra-Deluxe Rifles

  • Anschutz Models 1710 D and 1702 D
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Custom Classic, Western Classic
  • Kimber Super America

Bolt Action Deluxe Rifles

  • Anschutz Models 1416 D and 1502 D
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Classic
  • CZ Model 452 American
  • Kimber Classic
  • Ruger Model 77/22R
  • Savage Mark II Classic
  • Weatherby Mark XXII

Bolt Action Standard Rifles

  • CZ Model 513
  • Marlin Model 980S
  • Remington Model Five
  • Savage Mark II-FSS

Deluxe Lever Action Rifles

  • Browning BL 22
  • Henry Golden Boy and Golden Boy Deluxe
  • Henry Lever Octagon Frontier
  • Marlin Golden 39A

Standard Lever Action Rifles

  • Henry Lever .22 and Lever Carbine
  • Ruger Model 96

Deluxe Autoloading and Pump Action Rifles

  • Browning SA .22 (auto)
  • Henry Pump Action Octagon (pump)
  • Marlin Model 60DL (auto)
  • Remington Model 552 BDL Speedmaster (auto)
  • Remington Model 572 BDL Fieldmaster (pump)
  • Thompson/Center 22LR Classic (auto)

Standard Autoloading and Pump Action Rifles

  • Marlin Model 60SS (auto)
  • Remington Model 597 LSS (auto)
  • Ruger Model 10/22DSP, K10/22T (auto)
  • Savage Model 64FSS (auto)

Single Shot Rifles (any action type)

  • Dakota Model 10
  • H&R Ultra Hunter (break-open)
  • Henry Acu-Bolt (bolt)
  • NEF Sportster (break-open)
  • Savage Mark I (bolt)
  • Stevens Model 30G, 30G-TD (falling block)
  • T/C Contender G2 (break-open)
  • Winchester 1885 Low Wall (falling block)

Youth Rifles (any action type)

  • Henry Lever Youth (lever)
  • Henry Mini Bolt Youth (bolt)
  • Marlin 915Y, 915YS (bolt)
  • Savage CUB (bolt)
  • Savage Mark I (bolt)
  • Stevens Model 30G "Favorite" (falling block)

.22 WMR (MAGNUM) CALIBER RIFLES

Ultra-Deluxe Bolt Action Rifles

  • Cooper Arms M57-M Custom Classic, Western Classic

Deluxe Bolt Action Rifles

  • Anschutz Model 1516 DKL
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Classic
  • CZ Model 452 American
  • Ruger Model Model 77/22RM

Standard Bolt Action Rifles

  • Marlin Model 25M
  • Marlin Model 983S
  • Marlin Model 982L
  • Remington Model Five
  • Savage Model 93FSS

Lever Action Rifles

  • Henry Golden Boy and Golden Boy Deluxe
  • Henry Lever and Lever Octagon Frontier
  • Ruger Model 96/22M

Autoloading and Pump Action Rifles

  • Henry Pump Action Octagon (pump)
  • Remington Model 597 Magnum (auto)
  • Ruger Model 10/22RBM (auto)

Single Shot Rifles (any action type)

  • Dakota Model 10
  • H&R Ultra Hunter (break-open)
  • Stevens Model Model 30GM (falling block)

Varmint Rifles (any action type)

  • Cooper Arms M57-M Light Varmint Target (bolt)
  • Henry Acu-Bolt (bolt)
  • Marlin Model 982VS (bolt)
  • Remington 597 HBLS Magnum (auto)
  • Ruger Model K77/22VMBZ Target Grey (bolt)
  • Savage Model 93FVSS (bolt)

.17 HMR CALIBER RIFLES

Ultra-Deluxe Bolt Action Rifles

  • Anschutz Model 1717 D
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Custom Classic, Western Classic

Deluxe Bolt Action Rifles

  • Anschutz Model 1517 D
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Classic
  • Remington Model 547
  • Ruger Model K77/17RM
  • Savage Model 93R17 Classic
  • Weatherby Mark XXII

Standard Bolt Action Rifles

  • Marlin 917
  • Ruger Model K77/17RM
  • Savage Model 93R17-FVSS
  • Weatherby Mark XXII

Lever Action Rifles

  • Henry Golden Boy and Golden Boy Deluxe
  • Ruger Model 96/17M

Autoloading Rifles

  • Remington 597 MAGNUM
  • Ruger Model 10/17RBR (auto)

Single Shot Rifles (any action type)

  • Dakota Model 10 (falling block)
  • NEF Sportster 17 HMR (break-open)
  • Stevens Model Model 30R17, 30R17-TD (falling block)
  • T/C Contender G2 (break-open)
  • Winchester Model 1885 Low Wall (falling block)

Varmint Rifles (any action type)

  • Anschutz Model 1517 D Heavy Barrel (bolt)
  • Anschutz Model 1717 D Heavy Barrel Classic (bolt)
  • Cooper Arms M57-M Light Varmint Target (bolt)
  • Henry Acu-Bolt (bolt)
  • Henry Varmint Express (lever)
  • NEF Sportster 17 HMR (break-open)
  • Remington 597 HBLS Magnum (auto)
  • Ruger Model K77/17MBBZ Target Grey (bolt)
  • Savage Model 93R17-BVSS (bolt)



Back to the Rimfire Page


Copyright 2005, 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.

G&S Onilne T-shirt back logo
Click to visit the G&S Online store!


HOME / PHOTOGRAPHY & ASTRONOMY INFORMATION GUIDE / GUNS & SHOOTING ONLINE / NAVAL, AVIATION & MILITARY HISTORY / TRAVEL & FISHING INFORMATION GUIDE / MOTORCYCLES & RIDING ONLINE