The 5 Best .22lr scopes (%currentmonth% %currentyear%)

by Steve Coffman, last updated on
Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle (MOA)

Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35mm Rimfire

BEST CHOICE

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32mm Rimfire

BEST VALUE

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) (VHS-4307-LR), Black

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50mm Dead-Hold BDC

BEST PREMIUM

When you want to buy the best .22lr scopes, it can be a tough call to choose from a wide variety that’s already available in the market. You don’t need to allow confusion to cloud your judgment of what’s best for you. Rifling and barrel length affect the bullet’s velocity. The weight and size of cartridge affect the extent of bullet drop and recoil. In turn, these determine the range; hence, the power of the scope.

A low-recoiling and lightweight cartridge as .22lr requires a low power scope. That means large and powerful optics are unnecessary and wasteful. Ever wondered why a .22lr cartridge is popular for small game hunting and plinking? In this 22lr scopes review, you’ll learn why.

What are the Best .22lr Scopes?

1. Vortex Viper HS 4-16×50 LR

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) (VHS-4307-LR), Black
  • A subset of the Viper HS line, the Viper HS LR (Hunting & Shooting Long Range) 4-16x50 Second Focal Plane scope is perfect for when you need to extend your shooting range and bullet drop and wind drift compensation are crucial.
  • The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over would be a concern.
  • In the advanced optical system, the XD glass renders an image that is sharp and clear from edge to edge. There are XR multi-coated lenses allowing you to capture the most light from dawn til dusk. The 4x zoom range will pull you close to your target.
  • The HS LR offers exposed target-style elevation turrets for dialing elevation at extended ranges. The CRS Zero Stop allows you to get back to referencing zero even after coming up several revolutions on the turret.
  • Ultra-hard, scratch resistant Armortek coatings protect the exterior lenses of the scope. Argon purging provides fogproof and waterproof performance. The hard-anodized matte black finish is extremely durable and looks awesome too.

If you want to hunt small game like squirrel and cottontail rabbit, you require a powerful scope to track the tiny targets whose kill zone is just as small. You’ll also find the scope useful for plinking.

Viper HS is the perfect scope because the size of the objective lens is largest, giving you the highest power. Easily one of the best .22lr scopes out there.

And because the location of the reticle is in the rear focal plane, you’ll have to calculate the changes in increases of the spacing for bullet drop for each power setting lower than 16x, though. If you set magnification at the highest power, you won’t need to do all that math.

And if you use a rifle chambered in .22lr cartridge, bullet drop increases when you shoot at ranges beyond 75-yards. Fortunately, the scope’s reticle has marks for bullet drop compensation (BDC), saving you the need to hold over the barrel manually. Making up the optics is XD glass to increase image sharpness and clarity.

On top of that, several layers of XR cover some parts of the optics to maximize light transmission. Armotek coatings protect the exterior glass from scrape. Argon gas fills up the main aluminum tube to prevent optics from fogging up and water from entering.

2. ​Nikon ProStaff 3-9×40

Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)
  • Compact riflescope with 3 to 9x magnification and 40mm objective lens
  • Fully multicoated optical system transmits up to 98 percent of available light
  • Zero-reset turret with spring-loaded adjustment knob; 3.6 inches of eye relief
  • Nitrogen-filled, O-ring-sealed housing for waterproof, fogproof performance
  • BDC reticle; quick-focus eyepiece; measures 12.4 inches

ProStaff is one of the best scopes for 22lr because the power range and the diameter of the objective lens are just about adequate for the cartridge.

As a beginner-friendly scope, ProStaff’s Match Technology helps you explore ways to aim accurately so you don’t miss targets. In a target shooting competition that requires speed and accuracy, a scope that maximizes field of view at close range can make a huge difference. There’s little time to do adjustment calculations.

ProStaff’s “zero-reset” feature improves your experience and gives you a possibility of humane hunting at long range. Even though the reticle has BDC marks, these needn’t bother you if you zero your rifle at a 75-yard mark. BDC marks have ¼ MOA calibration, but there’s no need for manual holdover.

You also don’t have to worry about visibility in poor light, as multiple coatings cover the optics 100% to maximize light transmission.

Eye relief of 3.6-inches is more than generous for a low-recoiling caliber as 22lr. Thus, there is little chance the eyepiece will knock your brow.

You can even move your scope across varying weather conditions and the optics won’t catch fog and water, courtesy of nitrogen purging and O-ring seals. If there’s one scope that gives you the maximum bang for your money, then this is it.

3. ​​Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle
  • The 2-7x32 Crossfire II Rimfire riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line. The V-Plex reticle is a popular all-purpose hunting reticle intended for a variety of hunting applications.
  • With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture and acquire your target. The fast focus eyepiece allows quick and easy reticle focusing.
  • Anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses provide bright and clear views for the user.
  • Capped reset turrets are finger adjustable with MOA clicks that can be reset to zero after sighting in.
  • A single piece tube constructed from aircraft grade aluminum ensures strength and shockproof performance. O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, the Crossfire II delivers waterproof and fog proof performance.

Crossfire II is the ideal scope for a hunter who wants to shoot at close range. What’s amazing about this scope is that it doesn’t waste resources on large optics and features, which add unnecessary weight and costs.

Any beginner on a budget will find Crossfire II attractive because of its modesty. Unsurprisingly, it weighs 1.5 lbs. (750g), making it friendly for a long-trek hunter. One of the best .22lr scopes for the money.

Even when you shoot with a low-recoiling caliber as 22lr, you can have a benefit that the scope won’t throw the rifle off the balance. It’d be a breeze to shoot at ranges less than 50-yards.

And since it has a second focal plane reticle, the perspective changes when you zoom in or out. That is, the image size changes relative to reticle size.

And so, you’ll need to calculate spacing increases for each power adjustment except for the highest. With that downside aside, the eye relief is more than generous since your .22lr is a low-recoiling caliber.

Covering the prisms and lenses 100% are anti-glare coatings to maximize light transfer and to cover your advances. O-ring seals around the exterior glass protect the interior of the aluminum tube from water or moisture. Nitrogen purging inside the tube prevents fogging up when the surrounding temperature changes.

4. Vortex Diamondback 2-7×35

Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle (MOA)
  • The Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire riflescope is ideal for use at close range on 22 rimfire, shotguns, and muzzleloaders. The V-Plex reticle is a popular all-purpose hunting reticle intended for a wide variety of hunting applications.
  • Lenses are fully multi-coated for crstyal clear, bright images from dawn til dusk. The fast focus eyepiece allows for quick and easy reticle focusing.
  • Metal on metal precision turrets offer the ability to zero reset after sight-in. A precision glide erector system ensures accurate tracking and repeatability.
  • A solid one-piece tube with a hard anodized finish creates a shockproof and durable scope while helping camouflage the shooter's position.
  • Argon purged and O-ring sealed the scope will deliver a lifetime of fog proof and waterproof performance.

Just as Crossfire II, Diamondback is just the right scope for rimfire shooting with a low-recoiling caliber as .22lr, which doesn’t require high power.

You require to set spacing increments for BDC marks on the V-Plex reticle at a lower power setting than 7x. This is because the reticle’s location is behind the power settings.

While reticle size doesn’t change when you vary magnification power, the size of the target relative to the reticle changes. Hence, the spacing increase is correct only at the highest power.

But .22lr requires low power; hence, you need to do the necessary math, which can be a turnoff for anyone with little time and mathematical ability. 

The “zero-reset” feature and the glide erector reduce the hassle, ensuring your aim is consistent and precise. The main tube looks and feels sleek because of the anodized finish. But appearances can be deceptive.

Diamondback’s main tube is tough and scratch-resistant. O-rings around the exterior glass prevent water from entering. Furthermore, Argon – an inert gas – fills up the tube to prevent fogging up of the optics. 

When light conditions deteriorate because of weather or time of the day, the several layers of coatings cover lenses fully to trap available light so images remain clear and bright.

5. ​Mueller Target Rifle Scope

Mueller Target Rifle Scope, Black, 8-32 x 44mm
  • Eye relief of 4
  • Tube size of 30 millimeters. Fast-focus eyepiece
  • Magnification of 8-32x;“Mildot Reticle” (accurate milling based on 10x)
  • 44 millimeter objective. Windage/elevation adjustment range: 40 inches at 100 yards; over-all

Mueller’s scope has an objective lens that’s a bit large. Magnification power range is also wide, making the scope suitable for both short- and long-range shooting.

But for a caliber that’s unsuitable for long-range shooting as .22lr, a lower power setting can do more good than harm given that the cartridge performs poorly at distances greater than 75-yards.

So what makes Mueller’s scope special?

Well, it has a mildot reticle. And so, if you’re out there in the field and you don’t know the range to your target, or rather, you don’t have a laser rangefinder, worry not. As long as you know the estimate of the target size, you can always calculate range using the reticle.

Furthermore, if the reticle’s plane is either in front or behind the target plane, a side focus adjustment is present to correct the parallax error. Eye relief shouldn’t be an issue for a low-recoiling caliber. Despite its large optics, Target Scope weighs just 1.63 lbs. (815 g).

Whilst pocket-friendly, it doesn’t seem to have features to prevent water from entering and lenses turning foggy when the weather changes. Features that make a scope look and feel smooth but tough (i.e. hard-anodized finish) are conspicuously absent. The bottom line is this scope is suitable for plinking.

How to Choose a .22lr Scope?

There are few important facts and features to consider before a scope for rimfire (.22lr) rifle. We tried our best to discuss all the part below. While picking one of the best .22lr scopes for you, bear in mind the following considerations.

What is the best magnification power setting for rimfire shooting with a .22LR cartridge?

A low-recoiling and lightweight cartridge, .22lr doesn’t perform well at longer ranges than 75-yards. Bullet drop increases significantly at 100-yards, making long-range shooting impractical.

Essentially, what this means is that you don’t need a powerful scope. Hence, large objective lenses and high magnification power aren’t useful – they are a waste of your money. If your rifle is chambered in .22lr round, you’ll do well to shoot at distances less than 50-yards, although experts recommend you zero your rifle at 75-yards.

Lower power than 6x can be suitable to maximize the field of view whilst tracking moving targets. A larger power may help you track tiny, fast-moving targets like the cottontail rabbit or squirrel, but it may limit your field of view. Most hunters prefer 4-6x even though some rimfire models come with a 2-7x scope.

Why sight in at 75-yards?

The main aim of zeroing is to maximize the range of point-blank. Sighting in involves raising the barrel and firing the bullet slightly upward so it crosses the scope’s line of sight somewhere along its downrange flight.

And because of air resistance and gravity, the bullet will go back down through the line of sight for the second time at a certain point during its slight.

That point is where you zero your rifle. And because a .22lr bullet weighs 40 grains and travels at around 1300-feet-per-second, zeroing at 75-yards has fewer errors than other distances because the bullet doesn’t fall 1.5-inches under the line of sight until about 90-yards.

Does optics quality matter?

Absolutely. The material making up the glass and prisms of the scope can determine whether you’ll see crisp, clear images.

A 100% multicoated lens transfers light better (hence clearer and sharper images) than a scope that’s partly multicoated and that which isn’t. Some coatings have anti-glare properties.

What can you tell me about the scope’s construction?

The scope’s chassis needs to be weather-resistant and tough. Some manufacturers make the frame sleek and tough but that adds costs. These features affect the durability and hunting experience.

You don’t want to abandon your hunting midway because your scope broke down as a result of changes in weather and accidental dropping. Hence, ensure your scope’s main tube is made of tough material like anodized aluminum.

Purging with an inert gas like Argon or Nitrogen can prevent fogging up. O-ring seals can prevent water from getting inside and damaging the internal components.

And the reticle, is important?

You’ll commonly encounter BDC reticles in scopes even though different types of reticles exist. BDC and mildot reticles are the most common. If you have a rangefinder and don’t know target size, BDC reticles with MOA calibrations are useful. On the other hand, if you don’t have a way to determine target range but you have a way to estimate target size, a mildot reticle can come in handy.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read this .22lr scope review, you’re better placed to choose between the best .22lr scopes in the market. You don’t require a powerful scope when you want to shoot with a rifle chambered in .22lr cartridge. You want the biggest bang for your money. A low-recoiling and lightweight cartridge as .22lr requires a less powerful scope to maximize the field of view. It’s why the scope has found use in tracking tiny targets such as squirrels and cottontail rabbits. 


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Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API