Best 22LR Scope: Top 5 Expert Picks

The .22 Long Rifle caliber is undeniably the most popular rifle caliber in the United States. Everyone from first-time shooters to experienced old hands enjoys an afternoon of small game hunting or target shooting. My first rifle was a Ted Williams .22LR single shot from Sears and Roebuck. I would wager that most rifle shooters had their first experiences with a .22LR rifle.

Best 22LR Scope: Top 5 Expert Picks

I cut my teeth on iron sights on my first .22 rifle. Over the years I purchased other rifles, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on my first Ruger 10/22 that I decided to put a scope on a .22 caliber rifle. Like many other hunters, I was budget-constrained being and needed to find the best scope for the money. That scope turned out to be a second-hand Bushnell that I purchased from a friend.

Over the years I have had many .22 caliber rifles and many different scopes. New technologies and new companies now lead the way in rimfire rifle scopes and making the choice can be difficult. I have returned to the market for a new scope for my Ruger 10/22 Takedown model. In doing so, I looked at many different options. I hope what I found helps you make your selection of the best 22Lr scope for your needs.

The Difference Between Center Fire Scopes and Rimfire Scopes

To understand the difference between rimfire scopes and centerfire scopes, we must start by looking at the rifles. The differences in the rimfire rifles and center fire rifles is the major foundation for the differences in the rifle scopes.

The Obvious Difference

The obvious difference between rimfire ammunition and centerfire ammunition is the point of ignition. Rimfire cartridges use a primer compound that is fixed into a channel or groove around the inside of the cartridge case bottom. Centerfire cartridges use a primer button that fits into a socket in the center of the base of the cartridge. This difference in primer design doesn’t contribute to the differences in scopes, but it is important because it contributes to other differences that matter.

Size Matters

By and large, rimfire ammunition is smaller in caliber and smaller in overall size than centerfire ammunition. The smaller size of the cartridge case is partly due to the rimfire primer configuration. A rimfire primer system isn’t as reliable, nor can it properly ignite larger and bulkier powder loads.

Because rimfire loads are smaller and less powerful than their centerfire cousins, the recoil generated is less, which directly affects the way rimfire scopes are built. Rimfire scopes don’t need to be as heavily built to withstand the substantially less recoil from rimfire loads.

Power and Distance

Smaller cartridge cases and lighter-weight bullets are the hallmarks of rimfire loads. Smaller cartridge cases reduce the amount of powder that can be loaded, resulting in less power and distance. Consequently, there is no need to mount a scope with a range of 400 yards on a rimfire rifle that usually has a maximum effective range of 150 yards.

Most .22LR ammunition is loaded with a .40 grain bullet that develops in the neighborhood of 1200 to 1400 feet per second of muzzle velocity. At 100 yards, this has dropped to approximately 900 feet per second. Most .40 gr .22LR ammunition only delivers about 90 ft. lbs. of energy at 100 yards.

What Does This All Tell Us?

All this data leads us to the conclusion that Rimfire scopes are much different than centerfire riflescopes. For the most part, rimfire scopes have these characteristics:

  • Most rimfire scopes on the market are built considerably lighter than centerfire scopes. There is no need for beefier erectors or housings, since the expected recoil is minimal.
  • Variable magnification rimfire optical sight doesn’t usually offer ranges beyond 7X. There are rimfire scopes that have magnifications greater than 7X, but unless you are an unusually skilled shooter, going out past 150 yards isn’t justified.
  • Most rimfire shooting is done between 50 and 75 yards. A scope with more than 4X magnification is overkill. If you primarily hunt under 50 yards, a fixed power scope may be a good choice over a variable power scope.

With these things in mind, let’s take a look at what I believe to be the best 22lr scopes available.

My Rimfire Scope Choices

There are several things that influence any scope purchase I make. I always consider the clarity of the images produced in the scope, the brightness of those images, and the durability of the scope. The reputation of the manufacturer also plays into my selections.

When considering rimfire scopes, there are a few other factors that I take into consideration. .22 rifles tend to be subject to much more rugged lives than more expensive rifles. In many instances, these .22 caliber rifles are working guns, carried behind the seat in a truck, and subject to hard use. For this reason, the construction of a rimfire riflescope is a big part of my selection.

I also look for a rimfire riflescope that is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof for obvious reasons. Many manufacturers advertise their scopes as meeting these requirements, but few do the testing to back them up. Nothing spoils an afternoon of plinking than a scope that isn’t usable.

These are my choices for the best 22lr scopes. I have categorized them to make your choices a bit easier. I hope that this information is useful to you and gives you a better idea of how to find a suitable .22LR rifle scope.

1. Best Overall Rimfire Scope – Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 Rimfire Riflescope

If you have read any of my other scope-related articles, you should know that I am a huge fan of Vortex Optics products. Given a choice, I will almost always choose a Vortex Optics scope. In this case, my choice of the best overall rimfire scope is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II2-7×32 rimfire model.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II scopes offer some of the best scopes for 22lr

This is, in my opinion, the best rimfire scope for the money that you can buy and mount on your rifle. One of the primary uses of my rimfire rifles is teaching my grandsons how to shoot. This necessarily involves more than the usual number of dings, drops, and rough handling. The Vortex Optics No Questions Asked warranty can be the best feature of these Vortex Optics scopes.

Considering the other features that Vortex packs into these budget-minded scopes just makes them that much better of a deal:


  • V-Plex reticle for all-around shooting is good for hunting small game or target shooting.
  • Long eye relief makes shooting comfortable for almost anyone. The generous eye box makes teaching how to shoot with a scope easier than other budget scopes for 22lr rifles.
  • Fully multi-coated lenses decrease glare and help increase light transmission.
  • Easy to manipulate finger adjustable turrets are capped and feature MOA clicks with a zero resettable feature.
  • Single-piece tube construction using aircraft-grade aluminum ensures a tough and long-lasting scope.
  • Each Crossfire II scope is O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged to take on the most extreme conditions you can imagine on your outings.

Vortex Optics hits the mark by including the same sorts of features on the Crossfire II Rimfire scope that you would find on their most expensive centerfire scopes.


  • Magnification range – 3x to 7x
  • Reticle – Second focal plane V-Plex
  • Objective lens size – 32mm
  • Eye relief – 3.9 inches
  • Field of View – 42 feet to 12.6 feet
  • Tube Size – 1 inch
  • Turret style – Capped
  • Adjustment Per Click – 1/4 MOA
  • Length – 11.5 inches
  • Weight – 13.9 ounces
The Vortex Crossfire II Rimfire scope features the V-Plex second focal plane reticle which is good for medium range shooting

Pros and Cons

  • The Crossfire II scope has a focusing eyepiece that is handy for easy reticle focusing.
  • For the cost of this scope, the clarity and brightness of the images are unbelievable.
  • Tough and rugged construction keeps the scope on my farm gun operating, even when I forget to put it back in the case and ride it over pasture roads laying on the floorboard.
  • The long eye relief and wide eye box make this a perfect scope for kids who are learning to shoot.
  • Finding scope mounts that will fit this scope and your rifle may be a little difficult.

All in all, Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a rugged, easy-to-use riflescope that makes a good all-around scope for almost anyone.

Crossfire II windage and elevation turrets make turret adjustments quick and easy

Why I Chose the Crossfire II Rimfire 3-7X32 Riflescope

In my view, Vortex Optics offers the best value and feature package available to shooters. There are other manufacturers around who make a great scope. However, they don’t offer the background, service, and warranty that I have gotten with my Vortex scopes.

Rimfire rifles are, by their nature, working guns that see everyday use in many instances. A scope that can handle the rigors of riding behind the seat in a pickup or stand being tossed in the trunk of a car is a feature that usually isn’t listed, but should be considered.

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 22:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Runner-up Best Overall .22LR Scope – Burris Droptine Riflescope with Ballistic Plex .22 Reticle

Many hunters and competition shooters swear by Burris scopes. Burris has a reputation among shooters as one of the better mid-range scope manufacturers in the industry. That kind of background and reputation among shooters gets the Burris Droptine Riflescope a place on our list.

The Burris Droptine rimfire scope offers generous eye relief and features usually found on advanced scopes

Burris competes easily in the features area. In fact, the Burris Droptine Riflescope is one of the few .22LR rifle scopes that include a ballistic reticle as a standard issue. This is almost unique among riflescopes intended exclusively for rimfire calibers. The ballistics reticle can be a huge factor for a hunting rifle when choosing a scope.

These are some of the other features you will find on this Burris rimfire scope.


  • The Burris Model 200019 has the parallax adjustment set to 50 yards for rimfire shooting.
  • A 3x to 9x variable magnification is a great range. The 3x allows you to shoot at close range and the 9x will allow you to try your skills at long-range shooting.
  • The ballistic Plex reticle allows easy estimation of hold-over at longer ranges for more accurate shooting.
  • Rugged design features a 1-inch tube made of aircraft-grade aluminum for a tough and rugged scope.
  • You won’t experience any environmental problems with the nitrogen-filled tube that resists water, fogging, and shock.
  • All steel construction in the erector assembly ensures precise adjustments and dependable operation.
  • The integrated eyepiece is easily adjustable to keep the reticle in focus no matter the magnification setting you choose.

You won’t find anything lacking if you choose to mount a Burris rimfire scope on your rifle. These scopes feature superior light transmission at all magnification ranges.


  • Reticle – Ballistics Plex compensating reticle
  • Reticle location – Second focal plane
  • Turret style – Capped Hunter reticles
  • Magnification range – 3x to 9x
  • objective lens diameter – 40mm
  • Tube diameter – 1 inch
  • Field of View – 33 feet to 13 feet
  • Eye Relief – 3.1 to 3.8 inches
  • Adjustment per click – 1/4 MOA
  • Length – 12.2 inches
  • Weight – 13.0 ounces
Burris Droptine Ballistic Plex bullet drop compensator reticle

Pros and Cons

  • This is one of the most affordable rimfire scopes on the market.
  • The reticle is easy to use for adjusting holdover for different distances and is calibrated for most .22LR ammunition.
  • One of the lighter weight rimfire scopes on the market.
  • Burris’s Forever Warranty is one of the better programs.
  • Burris considers this scope to be an entry-level scope.

The Burris Droptine is an entry-level scope, but it offers features not usually found on comparable scopes. For most .22 caliber jobs and rifles, this is an excellent scope at a budget price.

The Burris Droptine rimfire scope brings features such as bullet drop compensation to an entry level scope

Why I Chose the Burris Droptine 3-9X40 Ballistic Plex .22LR Reticle Scope

Burris is an American company that assembles its scopes in the USA. Burris has a long history and enjoys a great reputation among shooters. If you are wanting a rugged and dependable scope with a bullet drop compensation reticle and you are on a budget, the Burris Droptine is a great scope.

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Best Illuminated Reticle .22LR Scope -Vantage IR Riflescope 3-9×40, 1″, Rimfire .22 LR HV

This may be the best scope you have never heard of. Vantage is not one of the names that gets bantered around by hunters and competitive shooters. However, if you want a .22LR scope with an illuminated reticle and a host of other features that most mid-level scopes can’t match, Vantage is the place to look.

This particular scope delivers fog proof operation with excellent light transmission for small game hunting

The parent company of the Vantage line of hunting optics is Hawke, a UK company that sells worldwide. The company has a huge following in Europe and is just breaking into the U.S. markets. These scopes are manufactured in China, but Hawke maintains tight quality control standards to ensure customer satisfaction.

For a mid-range scope, the Vantage IR 3-9X40 scope is a winner. Hawke includes many features only found on much more expensive scopes:


  • Capped low profile turret with a wide range of turret adjustments
  • Fully multi-coated lenses featuring a proprietary 11 layer process
  • 1-inch monotube chassis for rugged and rigid construction
  • High Torque zoom ring that is easy to manipulate, even when wearing gloves
  • This scope features a fast-focus eyepiece for quick target acquisition
  • Illuminated Mil-dot glass etched reticle for the best in a sight picture
  • Nitrogen purged, shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof
  • Hawke no-fault warranty

These are by no means tier 1 rifle scopes. However, the clarity and brightness provided by the optical glass used in the scopes are above par. The scratch-resistant lenses deliver crisp, clear target images and provide maximum light transmission.


  • Length – 12.4 inches
  • Weight – 15.2 ounces
  • Eye Relief – 3.5 inches
  • Field of View at 100 yards – 39 – 12.7 feet
  • Construction Material – aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Magnification range – 3x to 9x
  • Objective lens – 40mm
  • Illumination – Red or green
  • Adjustment Per Click – 1/4 inch
Precision target shooters have long chosen  a scope with mild-dot reticle and variable magnification range

Pros and Cons

  • Great price for a scope that has these kinds of features.
  • Clear glass with no distortions or rainbow effects visible.
  • The illumination adjustment knob is large and easy to manipulate.
  • Holds zero when installed properly and a bit of blue thread lock in the appropriate places.
  • The illumination on the reticle tends to wash out in bright sunlight at even the highest intensity.
  • The lens caps are sort of cheesy.

For a mid-priced illuminated reticle scope, the Hawke Vantage 3-9x40mm IR is a good buy for almost anyone. The scope has enough range to go out to the limits of your .22LR, making it useful for hunting. The glass does a good job of gathering light, making this a better-than-average scope in low light conditions.

Hawke Vantage scopes feature low profile capped turrets with knurled knobs for your rimfire rifle

Why I Chose the Hawke Vantage 3-9x40mm IR Etched Reticle Scope

Price versus features is the big reason this scope made my list. In the quest to get the most bang for a buck, the Hawke Vantage scopes perform admirably and won’t set you back budget-wise. There are more expensive scopes that may offer a few more advantages, but for the average .22LR shooter, this scope will deliver the goods.

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 23:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Runner-up Best Illuminated Reticle .22LR Scope – UTG 3-9X40 1″ BugBuster Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, w/ Rings

Leapers is one of those companies that has been around for years and gets overlooked or sidelined by many shooters. I have been involved with Leapers UTG scopes for many years. I sold them in my retail store, and I gained a good deal of respect for the company and the products.

Great eye relief and emerald lens coatings make the UTG bugbuster one of the best scopes in the budget category

For a budget 3-9×40 rimfire rifle scope, I don’t think you should discount the Leapers UTG scopes. I have found their quality control to be excellent and have had very few problems with the scopes I have sold and installed on rifles.

The features that Leapers includes with their UTG scopes are impressive and get them a spot on my list as a runner-up for an illuminated rimfire scope.


  • Exclusive emerald lens coatings prevent glare, flash, and color distortions.
  • These scopes are completely sealed and nitrogen-filled to keep your scope waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
  • Zero locking and zero resetting target turrets are at home on a hunting rifle or a target range.
  • Mil-Dot reticle with parallax adjustment from 5 yards to infinity.
  • Suitable for close-range or long-range shooting.
  • Each scope kit includes Picatinny/Weaver scope rings and flip-open lens caps.
  • EZ-TAP illumination system allows quick changes between 36 color modes and variable intensity.

You won’t find more features and options on scopes that are much more expensive. For an entry-level scope, this is one of the best rimfire scopes I have found, and I highly recommend you consider the UTG 3-9X40 IR scope for your rifle.


  • Length – 14 inches
  • Weight – .87 pounds
  • Tube – 1 inch
  • Construction material – aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Adjustment per click – 1/4 MOA per click
  • Adjustable 10mm objective lens
  • includes 2″ sunshade, lens caps, and lever0lock quick detachable rings
  • Magnification range – 3x to 9x
If you need a ifle scope that can go long range or close range the UTG Bugbuster delivers a clear and precise sight picture

Pros and Cons

  • Good eye relief from 3.2 to 4.2 inches depending on the magnification level
  • An affordable option for many hunters
  • Tough and durable construction and built to take extreme weather conditions
  • Smooth operation across the entire magnification range
  • Some flattop rifles may need a riser to get the proper eye level
  • The rings seem a bit flimsy and we suggest that you invest in better mounts for the scope

The UTG Bugbuster scope is a medium-range rifle scope that offers a budget alternative. Leapers has moved their manufacturing processes back to the United States to better control quality.

The UTG bugbuster scope offers generous eye relief and a 40 mm objective lens with emerald multicoated lenses to reduce light reflection

Why I Chose the UTG Bugbuster 3-9×40 IR .22LR Rifle Scope

The UTG Bugbuster scope made my list based on my knowledge of the brand and the performance of the UTG scopes I have used. Budget scopes are notorious for quality control issues, light transmission problems, and a poor sight picture. UTG avoids all these problems and delivers a price that almost any shooter can afford to mount for rifle shooting.

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 23:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. The Ultimate .22LR Rimfire Scope – Leupold VX- Freedom Rimfire Rifle Scope

Now we move into the true upper tier of rimfire riflescopes. Not very many shooters will argue with choosing a Leupold scope as the ultimate choice for a .22 rifle. Among scope manufacturers, Leupold is the brand by which most other scopes are measured.

the VX Freedom is perhaps the best rimfire scope on the market

Leupold’s reputation alone says a lot. However, their scopes speak for themselves. Leupold uses the highest quality glass, the most careful manufacturing, and the finest of materials to build their scopes. From the multicoated lenses to the precision glide erector system, these scopes are without equal.

Leupold scopes are among the best. Even for 22LRs, there is a place for expensive high-quality scopes in the long-range shooting and competitive shooting arenas. These are among the best rimfire scopes on the market and offer excellent features.


  • 3x to 9x wide magnification range
  • Rimfire-MOA BDC reticle for accurate range and ballistics estimation
  • 100% water, fog, and shockproof construction
  • Parallax adjusted for 60 yards
  • Twilight light management system for the best performance in low light conditions
  • Precision 1.4 MOA finger click turret adjustments

You get everything you would expect from the Leupold VX-Freedom scope that is designed for .22LR shooting. Even the reticle is designed to work with .22LR ballistics. These are scopes that make long-range shooting possible with the .22LR cartridge.


  • Magnification range – 3x to 9x
  • Objective lens – 40mm
  • Weight – 12.2 ounces
  • Length – 12.39 inches
  • Tube diameter – 1 inch
  • Eye relief – 4.17 to 3.66 inches
  • Field of View – 33.7 to 13.6 feet
the leupold rimfire BDC reticle makes the VX Freedom scope my choice as the best remfire scope you could consider

Pros and Cons

  • The Leupold VX freedom rimfire scope has great eye relief.
  • Leupold’s low light management system provides some of the best light transmission qualities of any scope on the market.
  • Even at the above-average price for a .22LR scope, this makes a great entry-level scope.
  • The Leupold VX Freedom full lifetime warranty covers your scope, even if you aren’t the original owner.
  • This scope may be difficult to mount on some rifles.
  • The price may be above the budget of some shooters.

Who doesn’t want a Leupold scope on their rifle even if it is just a .22LR? If you want to take your .22LR to its maximum potential for long range shooting, the Leupold VX-Freedom is the scope you should be looking through at your targets.

Last update on 2022-05-21 at 01:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why I Chose the Leupold VX Freedom Rimfire Scope For My List

Every list needs that ultimate dream item. In this case, it is the Leupold VX Freedom rimfire riflescope. Is this the very best scope for .22LR on the market? Probably not. I know there are more expensive scopes, but I am not sure you can do better for the money than the Leupold VX Freedom.

THe VX Freedom mounted is arguabley the best rimfire scope for the money you can buy

Me and Rimfire Scopes for Rimfire Rifles

I have a colorful history with rimfire scopes and rimfire rifles. I have shot everything from cheap single-shot bolt action rifles to exotic special-purpose rifles. The scopes that were mounted on each were a wide variety of optical scopes, red dots, and sophisticated night-vision equipment. By and large, I keep coming back to my Ruger 10/22 takedown with a Vortex Optics Crossfire II scope. It is dependable, has great clarity and brightness, and has withstood all the abuse and neglect I have tossed its way.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people’s lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.

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