The 4 Best .22lr Scopes – Reviews of .22 Rimfire Rifle Optics

best .22lr scope, best 22 scope, best 22 rifle scope

Photo by Mitch Barrie / CC BY

The .22lr is one of the most popular and beloved rounds ever made for public use. Why? Because its bullets are cheap, its accuracy pretty decent, and it’s a great beginner’s tool for youngsters to learn how to shoot (no recoil, etc.). A .22 rimfire has an array of uses. It can be taken along for target practice on one hand, while on the other hand, it can be used for wiping out small varmints and even hunting small game.

However, in matching the brilliant performance of a .22 rifle and using it to its full potential, the rifle demands to be accompanied with an equally well-made scope. So what makes the best .22lr scope?  The best .22lr scopes for your rifle should have just a 1” tube and be nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed.  Your rifle scope should also have an objective lens larger than 32mm.  Since the .22lr rounds out of a rifle have low recoil, great scopes can be had for little money.  (We go into more detail regarding these criteria in the conclusion.)

If you browse the market, you can find a number of options for lenses, varying from optics for plinkers to optics for competitive championships.

1. Leupold Scopes for the Rimfire Shooter Who Demands Perfection

Everybody knows Leupold is one of the finest names in rifle scopes and with that quality comes a price tag, and .22 shooters can be notoriously cheap. After all, even a low cost .22 can be more accurate than the typical shooter, and a basic scope is all that most people need. But for those who have high end rifles, and demand high end performance from their .22 shooting, Leupold has just the .22 scope (see full specs) for you. Designed to maximize light transmission and featuring proprietary optical coatings that enhance how you see the target, the scope also contains a carefully waterproofed body and is designed with the rimfire shooter in mind. The Leupold VX-1 scope is likely the best .22lr scope you can get.

Leupold VX-1 Riflescope

2. Nikon P Tactical

Okay, not everyone needs a top of the line scope or maybe they just have a budget to stick to or have different preferences. Fortunately, there is more than one high-end .22 scope on the market. The Nikon P-Tactical Rimfire scope (see full specs) is Nikon’s offering to the .22 scope market. It is designed for precise windage and elevation adjustment and features a unique reticle which offers aiming points from 50 to 150 yards. It also offers multi-coated anti-glare optics and is built with the .22 rimfire in mind. This is among the best 22 rifle scopes that you’ll be proud to own and use.

Nikon P-22 2-7x32mm Scope Review

3. The Budget Friendly Barska

Everyone loves a good warranty, and it doesn’t get any better than a lifetime warranty. Barska backs their Plinker-22 rifle scope with a rock solid lifetime warranty, making this an excellent choice in the best .22 scope category. Featuring 3 to 9 power magnification, a big 32mm objective lens purged with nitrogen gas to make it fogproof, and including rings and lens covers, the Plinker-22 packs big dollar features into a budget-friendly .22 scope. Designed with .22 shooters in mind, Barska brings a dedicated high quality .22 scope to the market that is sure to impress.

4. BSA Sweet 22 Rifle Scope Review

BSA has been in the optics business for a very long time and is well known for high quality, low priced optics that can run with the big boys in terms of features and quality. The Sweet 22 is no exception to that rule. Designed around the .22 long rifle cartridge, and intended to be a top quality .22 scope, the Sweet 22 features interchangeable target turrets calibrated for all popular .22 loads, a trajectory compensating reticle designed around the .22 round, high quality optics, waterproof and fogproof construction, and a large 40mm objective lens for maximum light gathering. This may very well be the best scope for .22 rifles for a budget-conscious shooter who wants to run a precision target scope.

But What Makes the Best .22 Rifle Scope?

That is an easy question to ask and a very hard one to answer. For some people, the best scope for .22lr is nothing more than a cheapy found at a big box retailer. For others, a low cost but higher quality scope that lets them reach out to accurately plink at small targets will suffice. Other shooters demand a top end target scope that can run hundreds of dollars. However, other than on the extreme low end, the best .22lr scopes will have a few things in common.

First off, don’t waste your time on anything other than a 1” or larger tube. Small cheap rimfire scopes are small and cheap for a reason. If you want to do any realistic shooting, stick with a 1” tube just like you use on your hunting rifle. Next, make sure it’s built well. Any decent scope should be nitrogen purged and O ring sealed or better to render it fogproof. Additionally, it should have an objective lens of at least 32mm. The larger the front (objective) lens is, the better the sight picture you’ll have.

Next look and see if it is a dedicated .22 scope or not. While most any rifle scope will do the job, the best .22 scopes are specifically calibrated and ranged for the most common .22 rounds. This means you’ll be able to adjust and aim your scope for the precise type of round you are using with the built in bullet drop compensator. Just determine your range, use the correct range mark and go to town.

There are a great many rifle scopes on the market. For the casual plinker something like the BSA or Barska will do the job just fine for you. If you have a dedicated match grade rifle and want to make tiny holes in paper at one hundred yards all day, take a look at the Leupold or Nikon. Match the scope to your rifle and your task at hand, and you’ll quickly find the best .22 rifle scope for your needs.

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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