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If you’re looking for a 22LR scope to turn your Ruger 10/22 or other .22 caliber rifle into a tack driver, this guide is for you!
Although the .22 rifle is a tried and true platform that hasn’t actually changed much over the last 100 years, optics are a totally different ball game. They have come a very long way and new advancements occur regularly.
On top of all the changes, there are some very important factors to consider when choosing a scope for 22LR rifles.
Choosing the Best 22LR Scope Possible
I recommend looking for the best rimfire scope you can find within your price range. These scopes will pair well with rifles that fire rimfire ammunition.
Rimfire Scopes vs Centerfire
Rimfire scopes are designed to be parallax free at 50 yards, opposed to most scopes (centerfire scopes), which are designed to be parallax free at 100 yards.
Parallax refers to the movement of the crosshairs relative to the target. When a scope is parallax free, when you move your head up, down, left, or right, the crosshairs will stay centered on the target.
In other words, with a rimfire scope, both the target and your scope’s crosshairs will be on the same focal plane. You don’t necessarily need to put a rimfire scope on a 22LR, but it will make your groupings a little better and reduce the chance of scope error.
Also, when shopping for a 22 rifle scope, you don’t need to buy more scope then you need. What I mean is that you don’t need a scope with high magnification capabilities or fancy features. That means you can get a great 22LR scope for a reasonable price!
As I said above, you don’t technically need a rimfire scope for a 22 caliber rifle, but if you’re looking for optimum performance, I do recommend buying a rimfire scope. You can learn more about rimfire vs centerfire ammunition below.
I know, the idea of a .22 is to maintain a cheap and low-profile design that’s sturdy, durable, and fun to shoot. That’s why I’ve done the digging for you and have come up with scopes that will keep the bank account intact while giving your rifle the right set of eyes.
Video Explaining the Differences
Here is a great video explaining the difference between rimfire ammunition and centerfire ammunition.
- Here Are the Best 22LR Scopes
- 1. Leupold FX-I Rimfire Fine Duplex (Best Overall)
- 2. Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II BDC (Best Value)
- 3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire Scope (Editor’s Choice)
- 4. Sig Sauer Romeo5 Compact (Best Value Red Dot Sight)
- 5. Weaver Rimfire Scope
- 6. Monstrum Tactical 1-4×24 FFP
- 7. Primary Arms 6×32 ACSS .22LR BDC
- 8. Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot 2 MD-RB-AD
- 9. Bushnell Banner Dusk and Dawn Circle
- 10. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25
- 11. Simmons Truplex .22 Mag Riflescope (Best Under $50)
- 12. BSA Sweet .22 Duplex
- 13. Burris Droptine Ballistic Plex .22
- Buying Guide: Finding the Right Scope for 22LR
Scopes are actually more complicated than most people realize and without understanding what they’re looking for, they may end up with a set of optics that are less than ideal for a 22 rifle, like a Ruger 10/22.
In this guide, we’ll be discussing how to choose the best scope for 22LR platforms. Along with telescopic scopes, I will also include some of my favorite red dot sights.
Here Are the Best 22LR Scopes
I know I know, this is what you’ve come for! Here I’ll try and help you find a great scope that fits your budget!
I’ll include scopes in a few different price ranges but unlike other scope pages on MarineApproved, these will all be under $300!
As a bonus, I’ll also be including a few of my favorite red dot sights (reflex) style 1x magnified optics for .22 rifles as well. An experienced operator can easily squeeze out the effective range of a .22 with no magnification and a good dot!
First up: Small Caliber Big Leagues $100+
You don’t need these scopes, but do you want one? Hell yeah you do! If you can pony up the extra cash, go for it! These scopes have top tier glass covered in the best multi-coating systems available. Buy once, cry once!
1. Leupold FX-I Rimfire Fine Duplex (Best Overall)
My Review: Expensive and minimalist? That doesn’t make sense, does it? If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re totally right to assume so, however, once you use this scope you’ll understand where the moneys at!
No other scope on this list packs such durable performance in such a small and lightweight design.
This scope is meant to last and you’ll likely find yourself passing this bad boy down throughout the generations of your family. Aside from durability, which is unmatched by any other scope in this list, the lens coatings really stand out.
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The DiamondCoat 2 is a project that has been worked on with Leupold for quite some time now and finally we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor! DiamondCoat 2 plus the anti abrasive ion-assist coatings provide a very clean sight picture with an incredible level of protection.
It’s found often that anti abrasive coatings can take away from the clarity of the lens but the way this scopes lenses have been coated overcomes this and provides crystal clear sight pictures that will likely last longer than the rifle you mounted it on!
This is my pick as the best 22LR scope out there if you’re willing to spend the money.
- Fixed 4x magnification power
- One of the highest performing scopes in one of the smallest packages possible
- 28mm objective lens diameter
- So light that you hardly even notice the weight difference on your rifle!
- Leupold DiamondCoat 2 lens coating for light transmission and clarity
- Ion-assist lens coating for abrasion resistance
- Leupold class fast focus eyepiece with low profile lock ring
- Mico-friction turrets marked in ¼ MOA increments
- 1” main tube constructed of aircraft aluminum
- Proprietary argon and krypton purged and O-ring sealed
- Water, fog, and shock proof
2. Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II BDC (Best Value)
My review: If anyone knows optical systems, it’s Nikon. Without a doubt, Nikon makes some of the most competitive optics around and have been well known for high quality for a very long time.
This scope immediately feels like a much more expensive scope right out of the box. The light transmission is claimed to be 98% and as far as I can tell, I’m not going to argue that!
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The lenses are coated for increased light transmission, especially in low light situations and the one-piece design is impeccable sturdy. The entire Nikon Prostaff line is probably one of the most durable and trusted lines of optics on the low side of the budget. If you’re looking for the best ruger 10/22 scope this is a great option.
- 3-12x magnification range
- 40mm objective lens diameter
- Sight picture looks great on all magnification power settings
- 13” single piece tube
- Multi Coated lens specifically increasing low light transmission
- Water, fog, and shock proof
- List Fast-focus eyepiece
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire Scope (Editor’s Choice)
My Review: Vortex always delivers quality products and when they falter, the Vortex Warranty is there to cover your six. The Vortex VIP warranty is the best in the industry. It offers a transferable lifetime, no questions asked warranty, even if you lose your receipt.
I’m incredibly surprised to see a few negative comments on the web as there really isn’t anything bad to say about the scope itself. Yeah, the lens caps are garbage, but the scope itself is nice!
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The first thing you’ll notice is the scope fairs well in eye relief department. It’s comfortable to use so long as you can mount the scope a decent amount forward and offers a very clear sight picture even when you’re several inches away from it.
This scope will turn any .22 rifle into a true tack driver and if you don’t like it, Vortex will gladly take it back. No risk!
- 2-7x magnification range
- 32mm objective lens diameter
- 3.9” eye relief
- Incredibly comfortable eye relief and sight box
- Reticle is as close to perfect as I could imagine for a .22 rifle
- Anti reflective lens coating
- Multicoated lenses for increased light transmission
- V-Plex MOA reticle with a focus on hunting
- Capped reset finger turrets
- MOA click adjustments
4. Sig Sauer Romeo5 Compact (Best Value Red Dot Sight)
My Review: It wouldn’t be a complete optics guide without a Sig Sauer. The Romeo5 is not new to MarineApproved as I’ve written about it before, but since I adore this sight so much and it fits right in on a .22 rifle, here it is, again!
Sig Sauer is that company that takes average things that most people are happy with and they add a bunch of awesome stuff that you didn’t really ask for but ends up really damn tacticool. You can tell how it has been engineered with servicemen in mind. The Sig Sauer Stealth ID concept is really interesting and they claim it helps to maintain cover as the scope doesn’t appear like a scope to spying eyes. Interesting concept. I’m not sure if it actually works out that way but hey, it looks damn cool!
Aside from that, this thing is a monster. I’m almost short of smacking it with a baseball bat to see if it’ll withstand it. I’ve seen these things dropped, smacked around, drug through the woods, fully submerged, etc and still operate like brand new.
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MOTAC really sets the Romeo5 apart from other red dots and is a very nice feature to have, especially if you have a tendency to forget your dots are on. MOTAC will turn the red dot illumination on when you shoulder your rifle and will turn it off to save battery life when not in use automatically!
Crystal clear Sig Sauer glass as always. Durability that matches a Marine. Power features that keep that sucker alive when it matters most. Buy this thing and thank me in the comments later.
- Designed and tough enough for use in real combat scenarios
- My top choice for overall design quality in reflex red dots
- Non-magnified 1x red dot
- Made in the USA
- Spectracoated lenses for ultra wide broadband transmission and anti reflective properties
- Stealth ID electro optical solution that breaks up the shape and identifiability of the scope
- 2 MOA red dot with 10 illumination settings
- 2 illumination settings dedicated to night vision compatibility
- Unlimited eye relief
- MOTAC motion activated illumination
- IPx7 waterproof and fogproof
5. Weaver Rimfire Scope
Nothing says “extra mile” more in the .22 scopes category than the Weaver rimfire optics. You can obviously see the designers and engineers who developed this scope were avid rimfire rifle fans and dialed these bad boys in perfectly. The scope has this specific fit that just feels right on top of your average .22 rifle or airgun. It looks good, it feels good, and you get to shoot good!
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The body is durable and nicely designed but the money is in the lenses and coatings. This scope is ultra-tiny but still somehow manages low light conditions with ease thanks to the proprietary Weaver multi-coating. Turrets are easy to dial in and forget about with a very low profile design.
- The scope performs very well in low light situations
- Very light and slimline design
- 2.5-7x magnification range
- 28mm objective lens diameter
- Fully multi-coated lenses for optimum light transmission and anti-glare
- Incredibly low weight at 9.75 ounces
6. Monstrum Tactical 1-4×24 FFP
My Review: Monstrum makes a very nice tacticool looking scope that I really enjoyed using! The scope package I’ll link you to has everything you need to get started immediately including a battery for its illumination, spring-loaded flip up lens caps, felt carry bag, medium profile Picatinny scope rings, and honeycomb sunshade
I think this is a damn good deal on a very good scope! The 1-4 magnification range is perfect for plinking and the scope has excellent eye relief at roughly 4”. At 1x, this thing is ultra-small but still behaves like a red dot type scope with more than enough eye relief.
This scope probably isn’t the first choice for most .22 rifle enthusiasts but I thought it would be nice to add to the list because it’s a bit more tactical feeling than most of the other scopes on this list and I know some people like that! Aside from its appearance, it provides excellent eye relief and a very clear sight picture. The BDC reticle is kind of… meh, only because it’s a .22 and I don’t really implement BDC reticles on .22 rifles but hey, it’s there if you need it.
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I also wanted to mention the small objective lens. At only 24mm, it seems quite small compared to most other scopes, however, this one was very clear and easy to peer through. I’ve used 24mm objective lens scopes before and I never really liked them as it feels like you’re trying to look through a keyhole. Monstrum made sure this wasn’t an issue and somehow managed to provide fairly decent light transmission as well!
- Insane eye relief at over 4”!
- Feels very durable and rugged
- 1-4x magnification range
- 24mm objective lens diameter
- First focal plane illuminated bullet drop compensator (BDC) reticle
- Reticle has both green and red options
- 4” eye relief
- Fingertip turrets with ½ MOA per click
- One piece tube design constructed of aircraft aluminum
- Nitrogen purged
- Water, fog, and shock proof
- Available in matte black or dark earth color configurations
7. Primary Arms 6×32 ACSS .22LR BDC
My Review: The PA6X32 is the poster child of simplistic optical solution. It’s a fixed 6x with a 32mm objective lens, which seems a bit too simplistic at first, but the magnification power is complemented by how clear the glass is and is perfect for the average .22 rifle.
Its bare bones as you can get and includes no illumination, however, it’s tough as nails and clear as an eyeglass.
- Positive click adjustments are very smooth and tactile feeling
- Dial it in and leave it design
- Fixed magnification level of 6x
- 32mm objective lens diameter
- ACSS 22LR optimized reticle with bullet drop compensator (BDC)
8. Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot 2 MD-RB-AD
My Review: Primary Arms will be featured several times on this list and for good reason.
They’re a solid go-to manufacturer for optics on the low end of the budget spectrum. I’ve reviewed a number of Primary Arms scopes and I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed! This little red dot is fantastic, giving a bit of a boost over the Bushnell TRS-25 with some cool features such as 2 night vision settings and a much cleaner sight picture.
The removable base is also a very nice feature as it makes the scope extremely easy to take off and put back on. This option also makes this red dot a fantastic co-witness optic.
This optic is built SOLID! I suppose that’s why Primary Arms is never afraid of handing out lifetime warranties like candy on Halloween.
- The red dot emitter mechanism is almost invisible
- 50,000 hour battery life on a single CR2032 saucer battery
- Non-magnified 1x red dot
- 2 MOA red dot reticle with 11 brightness settings
- Multicoated lenses for increased light transmission and durability
- Tilted lenses for increased red dot visibility
- Ultra low profile reticle emitter
- T1/H1 and night vision compatible
- Removable base
- Constructed of one piece consisting of 6061 aluminum and type II anodized matte black finish
- Water, fog, and shock proof
Get The Job Done For Under $100
Scopes here aren’t the best thing that’ll ever sit atop a .22 rifle, however, these scopes will get the job done for pennies compared to scopes for larger caliber rifles. The real price reduction here is that these scopes won’t need to withstand large amounts of recoil. Scopes in this section will also likely lack waterproofing and fantastic multicoated lenses but hey, they’re ultra-cheap and they’ll get the job done!
9. Bushnell Banner Dusk and Dawn Circle
My Review: This is one of the only scopes on this that isn’t a rimfire scope, but since it gets the job done and I think it is such a great value, I decided to add to the list. Bushnell has always made quality scopes at reasonable prices to it’s certainly no surprise that the Dusk & Dawn line is top-notch. I haven’t ever seen the RealTree Camo version but the regular matte black scope is very nice looking, maintaining the low profile style of most .22 rifles.
A lot of budget scopes that utilize a variable magnification range usually incur a lot of difficulties at their highest settings. In my experience, budget scopes set to the highest setting offers an awful sight picture with virtually no eye relief and sight picture shadowing.
This scope, despite being a budget scope, performs fantastically on all variable settings and really stands above in this aspect. The low light lens multi-coating also shines through as I personally shoot later in the evening. This scope provides significantly higher levels of light than other budget scopes in its class.
Lacks in eye relief department. Not horrible but certainly not great
Some people think the crosshairs are a little thick
- One of the highest quality scopes out there.
- Clear picture at all zoom levels
- 3-9x magnification range
- 40mm objective lens diameter
- Fast-focus eyepiece
- Comes in matte black or RealTree AP Camo styles
- Dusk & Dawn (DDB) lens coatings for low light clarity
- Circle-X reticle with ¼ MOA fingertip windage and elevation
- Water and fog proof
10. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25
My Review: This little sucker is the subject of debate for a lot of noob operators. First, most people rip this thing out of the box and crank the brightness setting to the max, then they hop on the web and complain about the dot being blurry.
Don’t be these guys, the illumination settings are to be matched with the available light in your environment and this system works very well. For the price this sight actually has amazing dot clearly.
As a matter of fact, I’ll just go ahead and say that this is one of the top budget reflex red dots you can buy today. It’s insanely cheap but the build quality is top notch.
The amber lenses are pretty cool and the red dot is very crisp. The only odd quirk that this scope contains is the inside mounted reticle hardware.
This slightly obstructs view by design and I find it a little odd, but after a while you barely notice it. The scope is able to maintain unlimited eye relief and is usable with both eyes open. Perfect for quickly acquiring furry critters!
Awkward red dot mechanism taking up sight picture space.
- Insane light transmission and very crisp red dot for a very reasonable price!
- These sights are tough as nails and built specifically for hunters in mind
- Non-magnified 1x red dot
- Bushnell trophy red dot reticle
- Amber ultra bright bushnell exclusive high contrast lens coating
- Tilted front lens for LED reflectiveness
- Multiple illumination settings for various light settings
- 1 piece design dry nitrogen purged
- Water, fog, and shock proof
- Unlimited eye relief and open eyes compatibility
11. Simmons Truplex .22 Mag Riflescope (Best Under $50)
My Review: This particular scope seems to be extremely popular nowadays and quite well received despite being relatively inexpensive and coming from a lesser known household brand like Bushnell or Nikon. Is it worth the money and can Simmons build a quality scope for under 50 bucks?
Well, for starters, the body and turrets are very well refined and offer very tight adjustment experiences.
This scope does lack in the parallax department but with proper adjustment and a little getting to know each other, it’s not so bad that you can’t get around that.
With that said, the glass is far superior to other inexpensive .22 scopes and offers a Hydroshield coating that repels water and dust, making this scope very easy to use even in the rain.
The scope overall does perform better than I would expect for a 22LR scope at this price point. The glass is very clear and obtaining a sight picture on your target is very easy despite the tube and objective lens being a bit on the small side, which, by the way, is fantastic for a .22 rifle.
It’s light and very compact, two things many people like because many of us will end up training our young ones with our .22LR.
I’d highly recommend this scope for anyone who enjoys popping papers for fun on the weekend but i’d give it a miss and keep scrolling down the list if competitive grade shooting is your cup of tea.
Requires purchase of proper mounts to be used on some popular .22 rifles such as the Ruger 10/22 Carbine.
- 32mm objective lens diameter
- 3-9x magnification range
- Parallax correction from 50 yards plus
- Hydroshield lens coating
- Lenses are clearer than expected in this price range
- Incredible overall value. This scope is perfect for entry level .22 shooters.
- Comes in matte or silver finishes
- Includes Rimfire ⅜” dovetail mounting rings
12. BSA Sweet .22 Duplex
My review: One of the best-valued scopes for turning your .22 rifle into a master varmint slaying machine!
The magnification ranges offered on this scope are perfect for a Ruger 10/22 or other .22 platform and the picture quality is surprisingly clear. In the world of rifles where you have to spend at least $200 to get a decent scope, it’s odd to get your hands on a $60 scope and have it perform above expectations.
The scope has 3” eye relief, is 100% sealed making it water and fog proof, and maintains a very nice profile atop of most basic style .22 rifles. There’s really not much else to say, it gets the job done well!
Note: This scope seems to be hit or miss, and if you read reviews on Amazon you’ll see many people have had issues with the reticle. For around $50 it’s a good scope, but because it’s not as reliable as some others on this list, it wouldn’t be my first recommendation.
- 3-9x magnification
- 40mm objective lens diameter
- Includes 3 interchangeable knobs for ammo type selection
- Build quality far exceeds other scopes in this price range
13. Burris Droptine Ballistic Plex .22
My Review: I’ve only tried a few scopes from Burris but they seem to be a pretty reputable brand and haven’t let me down thus far.
This particular scope peaked my interest because of the .22 optimized Plex reticle, which I am a big fan of. At 50 yards you can easily and accurately hit targets at 100 yards using the hold over points. This scope is perfect for those of you who like a bit of versatility out of your .22 rifles and would perform fantastically in varmint hunting.
This scope does come in two flavors, however, I do recommend the 2-7x over the 3-9x for the simple reason that I think 7x is enough for a .22 rifle and 3x is a little tight for close range shots. Of course, the 3-9x is definitely usable and a viable option so choose whichever works for you!
- Very sleek and streamlined construction
- Ultra light but still very durable
- 2-7x magnification range (also available in 3-9x)
- 35mm objective lens diameter (also available in 40mm)
- Index-matched Hi-Lume multicoating system for optimum light transmission and glare reduction
- Ballistic Plex .22 optimized reticle
- 1” single main tube design
- Nitrogen purged tube
- Fingertip turrets that are low profile and feel silky smooth
- Double spring tensioning to provide zero holds even after a major drop
- Water, fog, and shock proof
- Fast-focus eyepiece with no-slip grip
- Lifetime Burris Forever warranty
Buying Guide: Finding the Right Scope for 22LR
Every scope you come across will have a number sequence appearing similarly to 1-10x 30mm. To the untrained eye, higher numbers ring better and lower numbers seem less tacticool. Don’t be that guy, understand the numbers, plan your use case, and buy the perfect scope for what you need.
So, what do these numbers mean and how can you find the right ones?
The 1-10x signifies a range of magnification power. Not all scopes come with a range. A scope with a fixed magnification setting will look something like 2x30mm.
For our 1-10x range of magnification, this number sequence signifies that the scope is capable of changing its magnification. Usually, the scope will have a dial or ring near the side closest to you that you can turn to achieve this effect.
1-10x is a great range for .22 rifles, however, there are many to choose from and the range you need will depend on how you plan to use the rifle and how much magnification you prefer. A .22 rifle has an effective range of roughly 150m. After 150m, the bullet drop is significant and is difficult to calculate for as the drop is exponential.
Some shooters like having their targets as the only thing viewable in their optics and thus require a very high level of magnification while others simply use the magnification to identify targets a bit further than their equipped jelly bags can handle.
No matter what type of shooter you are, magnification levels are important and should be considered a personal preference type of deal. Just know that ridiculous magnification ranges, such as 10-40x are way overkill for a .22 rifle and will likely be more trouble using them than it’s worth.
The last part of our number sequence is 30mm. This can vary a lot as i’ve seen scopes with 10mm even up to 80mm and further. This number signifies the diameter of the piece of glass facing your target. This piece of glass is called the objective lens.
The objective lens diameter size determines its size but it doesn’t stop there. The size of this lens will determine the scopes capability in light transmission and picture quality. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the objective lens, the more light your scope can use to produce a clean and clear sight picture.
With regards to the .22 rifle, you won’t necessarily need a large objective lens unless you plan on shooting in odd lighting situations, such as at dusk or dawn. Most likely, you’ll be searching for scopes with objective lenses ranging between 20mm and 50mm. Anything smaller and you’ll have major sight picture issues and anything larger is simply overkill for most situations.
Since glass is the most expensive part of the scope, I advise steering clear of glass that’s too large, otherwise, you risk throwing money away on glass that’s bigger than necessary. Buying glass that’s too big also adds considerable weight to the firearm and may even throw off your ability to hold the rifle steady!
22LR Scope Attributes
Aside from the numbers, scopes have a plethora of characteristics that set them apart in a market flooded by optical manufacturers.
Starting back at glass, you’ll want to see how the manufacturer has protected and wrapped the glass. What films and coatings come installed?
Films and coatings have a variety of different uses but the most popular tend to be increased light transmission, HD picture quality, scratch resistance, water resistance, and glare eliminators.
For a 22LR, you likely won’t care about the glare and glint coming off your scope, so we won’t talk about that. We will talk about multi-coatings for light transmission, though, as this is almost as important as the objective lens size when it comes to sight picture quality.
A lot of manufacturers will have “proprietary” lens coatings but in a nutshell, if they don’t say they increase light transmission or if they have no lens coating at all, steer clear. Scopes with high-quality lens coatings are plentiful and affordable, there’s no reason to buy into a scope without good lens coatings.
If you’re the type of person to buy once and cry once, finding scopes with scratch resistant coatings will likely run you a couple extra bucks, but is it worth it? I think this comes down to personal preference.
I’m the kind of guy that has a phone case for the phone before I even buy it and as soon as it exits its original packaging, it goes into that case and it never leaves. I feel the exact same when it comes to optics. Every time I need a new set, you best believe scopes that come with protective offerings get a sweet spot on the top of my list. After all, optics are expensive, and I’d much rather spend a bit more for proper protection than have to buy new optics after they incur damage!
Aside from lens coatings, scopes generally have turrets attached to their outer bodies. These turrets, although most doing the same jobs, come with profiles that may favor a shooters style or preferences. Turrets come in a variety of flavors and will determine how your scope is adjusted, dialed in, reverts back to zero, etc.
Here is a quick list of the most popular turret configurations.
Ballistic turrets are designed to make broader adjustments. Sometimes these are also called tactical turrets. These turrets are designed for quick and easy changes out in the field. When you need to make adjustments quickly and get on target in a hurry ballistic reticles are where it’s at. These are especially nice if you’re taking shots at targets that vary in range or you aren’t aware of the range prior to lining up your sights. Ballistic turrets are similar to fingertip turrets but they usually have special increments.
Fingertip turrets can be adjusted with just your fingers. No tools required. Just turn the dial, and the reticle adjusts. This is a quick and easy way to make those field adjustments and to get that perfect shot off. These are very similar to ballistic turrets but typically have a less specific incremental change effect.
Slotted turrets require some kind of tool to make adjustments. The slot is often the same you see on a flat head screw you can use a coin, a piece of brass, or another similar tool to make adjustments. These are often for short to medium range tactical scopes and are especially nice if you shoot at the same distance each and every time you take your rifle out. Your settings will remain the same even if the turrets brush up against something or get knocked around.
Target Turrets are named for their use by precision target shooters. The adjustments you make are excellent, fractions of an MOA or MIL. Although the vast majority will come in MOA. These turrets allow a shooter to shrink their group and zero their rifle in a way noticeable only to a precision measurement device. These will likely be the optimum choice if you use your rifle primarily in competitive shooting contests.
Aside from turrets and coatings, the final most notable attribute of a scope you should be double checking to make sure you have is a single tube design. The glass is important and the turrets could make or break a scope but a single tube design is an absolute must. There is absolutely no reason to buy a pieced together tube.
In short, single piece tube designs are unmatched in keeping moisture out of the scope and holding their purge. A purge is when the scope is released of its air and filled with something such as argon, nitrogen, etc. These gasses ensure moisture won’t seep in and fog up your lenses.
There are several different gasses manufacturers use to fill the space inside their scopes and in my experience, it doesn’t really matter what gas is used, so long as it’s purged correctly and claims to be fog proof. You may even see a blend or proprietary mix and that’s fine, it’s purged and its good to go. Rest easy, you can leave your periodic tables at home!
Lining Up The Lines
Every scope has glass. Every scope has some kind of tube. Not every scope has a reticle that you’ll enjoy using. You’ll notice that you have numerous options in design, layout, as well as features like illumination, color, and caliber optimization.
When it comes to choosing a reticle, you want to consider the short-range capabilities of the 22LR.
A lot of shooters really enjoy a reticle that provides hash marks of some kind in either MOA or MILs that allow the shooter to compensate for things such as windage and elevation. These, however, are not absolutely imperative, as the .22 round isn’t capable of flying far enough to make adjustments worthwhile in most situations.
A lot of times, a simple crosshair configuration is all you need to achieve Marine Approved groupings. With a .22 caliber rifle, we aren’t trying to set the world record in confirmed sniper kills and we aren’t hunting game that would require a perfect kill shot and thus removes the need for a fancy reticle. However…
If you want, you can go as crazy as you like with reticles. In almost all cases, having a tacticool reticle isn’t going to hurt you so if it’s what you like, go for it!
An illuminated reticle is certainly a viable option if you are planning to shoot in lower light conditions and scopes with illumination have increased the versatility but usually also increase the price tag. They also almost always need batteries, so keep that in mind if you take that route. Tacticool, but more weight, more cost, more aggravation when the batteries die and you forgot your spares!
Now we’ve come to MIL. When you first see Mil-dot you might think these sights are for military use, but the mil in mil-dot has absolutely nothing to do with the military. The Mil stands for milliradian (1/1000 radian) and the mil-dot will have little dots spaced out across your crosshairs that are precisely spaced apart. These give the shooter advanced information using complex mathematical equations to form estimations of range. Again, tacticool, but perhaps a bit overkill for a .22 rifle.
Some of these reticles come equipped with helpful tools to aid your journey on the path to professional .22 plinking mastery. These are coined as bullet drop compensator reticles (BDC). They include helpful little lines or dots set at multiple levels of range. Typically, you’ll dial in your centerpiece at the range you will most likely shoot at and then use the lines to make adjustments once you’ve found your target. These are best used in hunting or variable target situations where you won’t be privy to range information prior to engaging. BDC reticles can be found optimized for a very wide variety of calibers, the .22 being no exception!
Choosing the right reticle really comes down to personal preference. The difference between a dot and a crosshair won’t drastically change the performance of your rifle but one or the other may be personally preferred. In choosing a reticle, it’s important to simply plan ahead. Think about how you’ll be using your rifle and what environments it’ll find itself inside of.
Take A Seat
You’ve found the ideal scope and you’ve pressed that yellow buy button on Amazon, but you aren’t done yet! Or maybe, you might be…. But you also might be far from it!
A lot of scopes will come with mounting hardware but these typically vary and will not fit on every model of .22 rifle. You may need to invest in spacers, risers, mounting clips, mounting rings, etc! Before that scope gets to your doorstep, make sure you’ve triple checked that you’ll have the correct mounting hardware or you’ll be left leaving that scope in its box for another few days!
While we’re talking about spending more money and buying more stuff, make sure you also have loctite on hand. Loctite is a gooey solution that acts similarly to glue but its application is specific for keeping threaded objects married to their threads. On firearms, your scopes and mounting hardware will most likely have screws and such that require them being threaded. After long duration and the shock from recoil, those threads can back themselves out, resulting in a loss of zero, wiggly scope, and could even result in your scope falling off!
Getchu you some of that gooey goodness for all things threaded here:
Scope rings. Ugh. Pain in the butt these are! Right out of the gate I’ll just say it. Almost all mounts that come with scopes, whether they be high quality scopes or not, suck for the most part. It’s almost always better to buy a set of high-quality mounts that are a perfect match to your rifle.
I could go through each and every type of scope ring and mount possible, or you could just figure out what your rifle will work with and buy accordingly. The manufacturer’s page for the rifle should tell you what will fit. There are a massive amount of options here and it would take an entire guide to go through them all. If you’d like to see a guide on scope rings, comment below and I’ll whip one up!
Here’s a good example of solid scope rings for a 22 rifle:
Warne has been long known to manufacture top quality scope rings but there are many other brands you could choose. Keep in mind, your scope is only as good as the mounts it sits in. Without good mounts, your scope will fail to hold zero.
All in all, stay away from anything plastic. Plastic can wear out and expand overtime, allowing your scope some leeway in its mounts which throws off your zero. Plastic also gets damaged by the sun and humidity resulting in cracks, making the mounts completely useless.
I know, scopes are expensive and you likely didn’t want to spend anymore money than you had to, so go ahead and chock up scope mounts as a “have to” purchase. I’d argue that nearly 50% of negative comments on scopes have to do with their awful included mounting hardware. Don’t be that guy judging a book by the quality of the desk you put it on.
Optic manufacturers are well aware that you’ll likely buy mounts that are made for your rifle and so they avoid putting high quality mounts in the package to lessen the price of the scope. Most people have to get rid of the mounts that come with the scope anyways due to incompatibility, so it’s actually a good thing that you need to buy your own!
Before pulling the trigger on scope mounts, ensure the mount is compatible with the rail system it’ll be mounted on and the scope rings are the proper diameter for your scope. Check the scopes tube diameter and make sure it matches the rings diameter!
A bonus pro tip regarding .22 rifles: you don’t need your rings to choke the life out of the scope. Tighten them snuggly, but not to an extreme. A .22 rifle has very little recoil and does not require an ultra-tight hold like larger caliber rifles may warrant. It most certainly is possible to warp the tube and even crack the glass by overtightening. It’s better to use loctite than to overcompensate!
As a final scope rings tidbit, consider whether or not you enjoy using your iron sights. Low profile mounts will likely line up that giant tube smack dab in the middle of your irons, making them unusable. If using your irons and your scope in tandem is important, I recommend using risers.
Risers come in many different flavors and offer different levels of height, so I recommend measuring the clearance you need. This means you may want to wait until you’ve got your scope and the proper mounts before ordering risers.
Some rifle and scope combos may actually require risers. That’s right, risers may not be a choice at all. Depending on the size of the scope and its lens diameters, the scope may not clear your rail and still manage to grip its mount. Usually, this isn’t a problem for low profile scopes, however, if you buy monster scopes with huge amounts of eye relief and massive lenses, you’ll likely need at least half an inch of extra height.
Using a riser also sometimes increases the comfort level of your rifle. This generally comes down to personal preference, however, if you find that you’re smashing your face into the butt of your rifle just to get a sight picture, you may want to add some height for a proper cheek weld.
You’ve got a few options when it comes to risers but these simple peek through risers are a good start:
And there we have it folks, the 2019 list of best scopes for .22 rifles from the perspective of a Marine! Of course, I haven’t gotten my hands on every single scope available so if I’ve missed a winner, let us know in the comments and I’ll try my best to review it!
Thanks for reading and don’t be shy, post what you decide on and ask all the questions you can muster below!
Nowadays, it seems like just about every sportsman has at one point owned or does own a trusty rifle chambered in .22.
But what if there’s more? What if the .22 is capable of unmatched precision, 100-yard shots, and fist size groupings? Is it possible?
Of course it is! Like any rifle, the most important attachment you’ll ever invest in is a set of high quality optics. There is no replacement for good glass and some magnification when it comes to precision shooting. .22 Rifles can benefit greatly and with the right scope making you nearly as lethal as your AR15, you’ll never want to go back to iron sights!
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.