Rimfire firearms are almost the same as centerfire guns except for the firing method from the construction aspect. The main difference lies in ammunition, more precisely in primer positioning. The centerfire ammunition has the primer directly placed in the center, whereas the rimfire cartridges have primer located around the rim at the base of the round.
Generally speaking, rimfire ammunition, due to their smaller size and lighter weight, generate less recoil than centerfire ammo. The most common rimfire cartridges are .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, .22 WMR, .17 HM2, and .17 HMR.
Since most of these various rimfire cartridges are so low-powered and have fragile construction, their useful range is about 50-60 yards.
However, due to the ever-advancing science and modern technology, modern rimfire rifles will serve an avid shooter at much greater distances.
Since the .22 cartridges do not pack much stopping power, each shooter and an ethical hunter must procure the most quality rifle scope he can afford.
For the longest time, rifles chambered for .22 LR and similar ammo, owing to weak recoil impulse and inexpensive mass production, were destined for cheap, low-quality rimfire scopes. Though you will still find today some of these specimens with inferior glass and unreliable adjusting mechanisms, there are more scope models that cost two or three times the price of the rimfire rifle.
Before you start looking for the scope, you have to decide what targets and what distances you will be shooting on.
Commonly, shooting distances for rimfire rifles and cartridges can be classified at a close range up to 50 yards, medium range for targets within the 50 to the 100-yard range, and a long-range for shooting at targets at 100 yards and over.
For each of these ranges, you will need a scope with different specs and features.
Of course, you can use the scopes made for centerfires, but optics purpose-built for rimfires are better suited for small-bore work than most centerfire rifle scopes.
When you’re looking for the best .22 scope that fits both your needs and your rifle, one of the key features is the optics' size and weight. Rimfires are compact and light weapons, so the optic should be lightweight and have moderate dimensions.
A great rifle scope should have clear lenses with externals surfaces protected with multiple layers of anti-reflective film.
A magnification of the scope should be appropriate for the ranges and purpose you intend to utilize your rifle. for hunting, most gun authors recommend 3x-9x or 4x-16x and for competition 4x-16x and even more if budget allows.
The more important feature is a reticle design. While an average shooter with a .22LR rifle can fire precisely to about 50 yards with less than 1″ bullet drop using iron sights, most people will need scopes with rimfire-specific reticles at larger distances that have hash marks tuned to .22 LR ammo trajectories.
Like in the centerfire world, the weatherproofing ability of the riflescope is necessary.
Unlike rifles chambered for powerful centerfire cartridges, Rimfire doesn't require long eye reliefs. Since rimfire ammunition is typically low recoil, these optics usually have 3 inches or fewer eye reliefs.
Besides these primary features, you can also consider if the scope comes with fixed or adjustable parallax.
First Focal Plane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane (SFP) and Parallax
The reticles are usually available in the First Focal Plane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane (SFP), making another dilemma you have to fight with.
In short words. If you plan to use your Rimfire for the precision small-bore match, then you should consider scopes with a side focus knob for parallax control and reticle set in the first focal plane. On the other hand, many hunters prefer SFP scopes with a 50-yard fixed parallax.
With all that considered, you may find an adequate rimfire scope in our next chapter.
- Best Rimfire Scopes Review
- 1 Athlon Optics Argos BTR, 6-24x50
- 2 Nikon P-Tactical Rimfire 2-7x32
- 3 Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50
- 4 Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire 2-7x32
- 5 Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40 Side Focus Duplex
- 6 Bushnell Optics Rimfire 3.5-10x36
- 7 Bushnell Forge 4.5-27x50 SFP Deploy MOA
- 8 Athlon Optics Ares ETR 4.5-30x56
- 9 TruGlo TRU-TEC Micro
- 10 Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44
- 11 NightForce ATACR 7-35x56
- 12 Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight
- 13 Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Handgun Scope
- Final thought
Best Rimfire Scopes Review
1 Athlon Optics Argos BTR, 6-24x50
Athlon Optics has a wide offer of quality and reasonably priced riflescopes for any shooting activity.
The Athlon Argos BTR GEN2 6-24x50 is a great and light scope offered in one of the most popular competition configurations that can be successfully used on rimfire platforms.
For scope models with a large 50mm objective lens, a 30mm maintube, and a 4x zoom ratio, Argos BTR weighs a modest 29.6 oz.
The Athlon Argos BTR GEN2 comes with a choice of illuminated reticles in either MOA or MIL versions set at the FFP. As a standard feature, the reticles are matched by MOA or MIL exposed turrets.
Besides an optical system offering impressive power of 24x magnification, the Argos BTR GEN2 features fully multicoated lenses with protective XPL coating to keep your lenses from dirt and grease.
The scope body is built out of aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum and features an interior purged with argon to prevent any internal fogging.
2 Nikon P-Tactical Rimfire 2-7x32
Specifically designed for the .22 Long Rifle caliber, the Nikon P-Tactical Rimfire 2-7x32 is an ideal scope for both beginners and advanced users.
Nikon P-Tactical series riflescopes are made with various reticles, with subtensions specially engineered for different calibers. A model with SKU number 16529 features a BDC 150 reticle calibrated for rimfire ammunition. This specialized reticle offers the shooter unique open circle aiming points from 50 to 150 yards.
Like all P-Tactical models, this Nikon has exposed windage and elevation knobs, which you can instantly reset to ''zero'' after sighting-in.
Nikon P-TACTICAL Rimfire 2-7X32mm has fully multicoated lenses to provide you brightness, clarity, and contrast of the sight picture.
It comes with a 1" aircraft-grade aluminum main tube nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed to ensure waterproof and fogproof performance.
3 Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50
Another suggestion in the 6-24x50 category comes from the reputed US company Vortex Optics. Their model 6-24x50 belongs to the mid-priced Vortex Diamondback family of scopes that packs a lot of features into affordable packages.
Like all Vortex scopes, this one comes with Vortex'sVortex's unlimited, unconditional, no-questions-asked lifetime warranty. Though it has "Tactical" in its name, this 6-24x50 scope with a broad zoom range makes it ideal for hunters and paper shooters.
Optically the Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 features extra-low dispersion XD glass and fully multicoated lens surfaces.
The scope employs a Christmas tree style reticle set in the first focal plane for ranging, holdovers or windage corrections.
As one of the best base class scopes for the National Rifle League, NRL22, the Diamondback Tactical with 30mm maintube offers an affordable precision rimfire package that tips the scale 24.6 oz.
4 Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire 2-7x32
One of the low-priced Vortex offers comes from the Crossfire family in configuration well-suited for the rimfires, a 2-7x32mm.
Along with the perfect all-round magnification range, this upgraded Crossfire II version boasts the reticle and the parallax settings adapted for use on rimfire weapons.
Measuring at 11.5" in length and weighing just 14.3 oz, the Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire is perfectly set for lightweight hunting or plinking rimfire rifles.
The scope comes with fully multicoated lenses for a clear and sharp image and ArmorTek coatings for protection against drops and scratches.
Like all Vortex riflescopes, the Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire has a nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed scope body for waterproof and fog-proof performance.
This Vortex model comes with caliber specific reticle called the V-Plex Rimfire and capped turrets.
5 Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40 Side Focus Duplex
Surprisingly, the scope with that magnification power is long-only 12.60" and weighing mere 15.3 ounces.
Featuring a slender profile and lightweight but durable 30mm housing, the Leupold VX-3i rifle scope is a perfect match for your hunting rimfire rifle.
Leupold'sLeupold's Twilight Max Light Management System will provide you an extra 20 minutes of shooting light.
With fully multicoated optics and the use of DiamondCoat 2 protective lens coatings, this Leupold will boost light transmission and provide unsurpassed abrasion resistance that exceeds high military standards.
The new VX-3i features a side focus knob, capped, finger-operated turrets and Leupold'sLeupold's standard duplex reticle with thick posts with a thin crosshair the second focal plane.
The scope is built of 1-piece aircraft-grade aluminum with a 30mm main tube diameter. The scope is shockproof and waterproof, while the body is filled with a mixture of krypton and argon gases for fogproof reliability in the field.
6 Bushnell Optics Rimfire 3.5-10x36
The Bushnell 3.5-10x36 is quite a decent rimfire riflescope at a reasonable price.
With a length of 12.5" and weighing 15 ounces, this mid-power scope is the smallest in its class. It comes with the caliber specific DropZone 22 BDC reticle, which is specially designed for 38-40 grain high velocity .22 Long Rifle ammunition. You can also choose another model calibrated for the hot new 17 WSM cartridge.
This is basically a Duplex-style reticle with aiming points corresponding to 75, 100, and 125 yards.
As an ideal rimfire scope for long-distance varmints, the 3.5-10X 36mm features anti-reflection multiple layers coatings for the brightest images at dusk or dawn.
The scope is constructed from a 1" single-piece aluminum maintube, O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for total waterproof and fogproof protection.
7 Bushnell Forge 4.5-27x50 SFP Deploy MOA
The Bushnell Forge 4.5-27x50mm is designed for mid-to long-range use, for both varmint hunters or very long target work.
The scope is equipped with Bushnell'sBushnell's Deploy reticle in two versions, a precise thin crosshair or holdover style reticle with long hashmarks to aid in windage and elevation hold. You have a choice of SFP and FFP models, with Deploy MOA or MIL reticle.
While magnification range enables for centerfire rifles the easy acquisition of targets up to 800 yards away, mounted on rimfire laser flat 17 HMR, the scope will provide you a dead-nuts hold at 360 yards.
One of the Bushnell'sBushnell's newest riflescopes features fully multicoated optics that provides astounding brightness, light-gathering, and contrast.
This riflescope comes with locking turrets; a side focus parallax goes down to 25 yards and a Throw Hammer power change lever.
With a 30mm aluminum scope body, the Forge is long 14 inches and weighs 29.2 ounces.
8 Athlon Optics Ares ETR 4.5-30x56
Another best rimfire scope with a massive range of 4.5-30x comes from the popular Athlon Optics Ares line. This first focal plane scope has 4.5- to 30-power, providing ridiculous versatility for any activity from long-range target work or cleaning up prairie dogs.
Ares ETR 4.5-30x56 comes with a parallax adjustment with a side focus from 25 yards to infinity, enabling you to pick up targets clearly from 20 yards to 100 with your precision rimfire rifle.
The Ares ETR 4.5-30x56 is constructed with a 34mm 6061 T6 aluminum tube which is more than 15 inches long. The additional cause for the weight of 36.5 ounces is undoubtedly the big exposed locking turrets and a 56mm bell.
9 TruGlo TRU-TEC Micro
TruGlo family of optics is well known for their field-proven, pistol-compatible red dots.
The Truglo TRU-TEC Micro is a reflex sight designed for optic-ready pistols, but you can also mount this miniature red dot on your rimfire rifle and even on a shotgun.
Tru-Tec Micro red dot is available with standard 3-MOA Red Dot or with Green Dot. You can also opt for different mounting systems compatible with Trijicon RMR-style mounts or use it as a backup optic mounted on a 45-degree mount.
This ultra-lightweight red dot with a versatile profile features the 23mm x 17mm display with a multicoated objective lens.
The Truglo TRU-TEC Micro is powered by a single 3V-CR2032 lithium battery and has the auto-off feature to preserve battery life.
The Tru-Tec Micro is built with durable CNC-machined aluminum and it weighs just over 1 ounce.
10 Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44
Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44 is a high-quality scope from Japan that comes with a 30mm body tube, etched glass non-illuminated reticle and side parallax adjustment.
The RS.1 is equipped with capped windage and elevation dials, making it is the ideal scope for hunting.
With a 6x power ratio, magnification range of 2.5x to 15x, and mid-sized 44m objective, this hunting scope will allow you close shots at squirrels as well as 80-plus-yard headshots.
The Maven SHR (Simplified Holdover Reticle) reticle is a duplex-style reticle with basic windage markings and three additional distance yardages for holdovers.
Weighing in at just over 24 ounces, this 30mm maintube optics is lighter than similar first-focal plane riflescopes in the same general price range.
11 NightForce ATACR 7-35x56
The Nightforce ATACR7-35 x 56 is the most powerful and most expensive scope on our list. Manu rimfire competitors use this scope to equip their high precision-rimfire rifles.
Along with an extensive 5x magnification range, the Advanced Tactical Riflescope (ATACR) comes with a selection of sophisticated FFP reticles designed for precision rifle competition and long-range hunting.
Besides illuminated MOA or Mil-based ranging reticles, the ATACR 7-35x56 offers a fully multicoated ED glass package, Hi-Speed ZeroStop, capped windage adjustments integrated Power Throw Lever (PTL).
With an overall length of 16 inches and a huge 34mm scope body, the Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56 tips the scale at 39.3 ounces.
12 Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight
The Vortex has upgraded its popular Strikefire Red Dot with new energy more efficient sight increasing battery life to 80 000 hours at setting 6. The red dot boasts12-hour auto-shutdown feature to maximizes CR2 battery life.
The StrikeFire II is tubular style reflex sight available with 4MOA Red or Green Dot with ten variable illumination settings.
While the 4 MOA dot is crisp and bright for daylight use, Strikefire II also features two night-vision compatible settings.
Like other red dots, this StrikeFire 2 features 1x magnification and an unlimited field of view.
The StrikeFire II comes with the lower 1/3 co-witness cantilever mount, which is ideal for AR-15 rifle platforms.
13 Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Handgun Scope
With an overall length of just 9.7 inches and 10.9 ounces weight, this compact and lightweight Leupold handgun scope is a perfect match for your hunting rimfire rifle.
The Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Pistol Scope features a practical and straightforward Duplex reticle and the extended, 15" eye relief.
The Leupold Twilight Max Light Management System will provide you to see your quarry clearly in almost all conditions from sunup to sundown. Additionally, the exterior glasses are protected with Diamondcoat lens coating for abrasion resistance.
The Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Handgun Scope comes with a full lifetime guarantee.
With the low cost and availability of the .22 LR guns and ammunition, many new owners want to try their skills in all shooting disciplines without taking a second mortgage.
Using scope guides like ours, we hope you got a picture of what you can expect on this overwhelmed scope market.