Rimfire Revolution: Top 5 Rimfire Optics for your .22 LR Rifle

Rimfire rounds like .22 LR and .17 HMR aren’t just for plinking cans; they’re ideal for teaching new shooters and just having a good time at the range. They’re affordably priced, produce no real felt recoil, and are surprisingly versatile. In fact, you can do it all with a rimfire, from shooting paper to rabbit hunting. Whether you’re a hunter, collector, or target shooter, you should have at least one rimfire rifle or handgun in your gun safe, and it’s also a good plan to have decent optics for the gun in question. Check out this top 5 list of some of the best rimfire scopes you can buy!

bushnell rimfire scope
Bushnell makes an awesome mid-range rimfire scope that’s perfect for most people with 22 LR rifles. (Photo: Bushnell)

Bushnell Rimfire 3-9×40 Rifle Scope

Not only is this one reasonably priced, but it’s well made. Bushnell designs and manufactures some great optics, and if you’ve never tried them, you’re missing out. This rifle scope is made specifically for superior performance with rimfires (so maybe don’t swap it over to your .308 bolt gun). It has a BDC reticle that’s designed to deliver the greatest possible results when used with 40-grain .22 LR, but of course, you can use it with other rimfires, too. A lot of rimfire rifles on the market are budget-friendly, so if you’re hesitating to put high-priced optics on your rimfire, check this one out. It well outperforms its price point.

This Bushnell Rimfire 3-9×40 Rifle Scope has a body made from aircraft aluminum that’s tough enough to withstand dedicated use. That’s important when you’re dealing with rimfires and the kids who will likely be using them as learning tools. It’s also IPX7 waterproof—a more valuable feature than you might realize—and has capped turrets so wandering hands can’t bump or grab them.

The Dropzone 22 reticle is a BDC-style that’s a relatively simple crosshair with 75-yard, 100-yard, and 125-yard drop points for quick adjustments on the fly. This scope is 12.2 inches long and weighs 14.5 ounces, so it isn’t going to make your rimfire bulky or awkward. It’s a fantastic, straightforward optic that’s made with an eye for detail and durability.

leupold rimfire optic
The gold band says it all; this is a fantastic, high-quality scope. (Photo: Leupold)

Leupold FX-I Rimfire 4×28 Fine Duplex

Maybe you want a higher-end optic on your .22 LR, or maybe you use your .17 HMR for dedicated varmint hunting and require superior clarity. Either way, the Leupold FX-I Rimfire 4×28 Fine Duplex is a stellar choice. Not only is it made according to high standards, but it’s also another dedicated rimfire design, so it’s sure to perform. When it comes right down to it, you really can’t go wrong with Leupold.

This riflescope offers a fixed four-power magnification and uses the company’s recognizable Duplex reticle. It’s a second focal plane (SFP) scope, which tends to be a matter of personal preference when it gets right down to it, and it’s made specifically for precision. Posts on the reticle are thinned down to make it easier to see your target, and the reticle is marked to make adjusting easier. It’s waterproof, fogproof, and made in the USA. This scope also offers some truly fantastic light gathering, so it keeps on being useful in low light—that’s handy when it’s early in the morning or later in the evening. This is a great, basic riflescope that’s definitely a top-tier product.

Vortex’s Crossfire II 2-7x32mm scope fits well on the Ruger 10/22. (Photo: Jim Davis)

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 Rimfire

You’re probably noticing these scopes are all rimfire-specific, and that’s for a good reason. Rimfires are made for more specific bullet weights and engagement ranges, and that translates to different scope designs. It isn’t that you can’t use a standard riflescope on your rimfire; it’s just that using one that’s specifically meant for a rimfire can give you an edge. That’s especially important if you’re shooting for precision.

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 Rimfire offers magnification, but some rimfire models do not, and that’s handy if you know you’re going to be engaging targets at a variety of distances. Turrets are capped so they can’t get knocked around and ruin zero, and the parallax setting is 50 yards. It has a one-inch tube size, which might sound odd if you aren’t used to rimfire-specific scopes, but it’s generally normal for this type. At 11.5 inches in length, this is one of the smaller rimfire optics. It has a V-Plex MOA reticle, which is made for hunting applications but is perfectly fine for whatever you need. This one’s a great all-around rimfire riflescope and a favorite of mine for its versatility.

truglo riflescope
This is the most affordably priced optic on this list, but that doesn’t mean you should pass it by. Truglo makes good optics for basic use. (Photo: Truglo)

Truglo Compact Rimfire and Shotgun Rifle Scope 4x32mm Diamond Ballistic

For a truly budget-friendly scope for a super-basic rimfire, you want the Truglo Compact model. Like many, it doesn’t offer magnification options but is set at four-power, and it’s extremely simple in its design. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re using your rimfire for basic lessons or plinking. And while this is another riflescope designed for hunting, it really can do anything. It’s pretty common for shooters to think Truglo doesn’t make optics tough enough for them, but in reality, this manufacturer does produce optics that are perfectly capable of getting the job done for the average shooter.

The Truglo Compact Rimfire and Shotgun Rifle Scope is waterproof and nitrogen-purged, so it’s also fogproof. It has a multi-coated lens and offers light transmission that’s beyond its price point, and that’s a good thing. You can get it with either a Duplex or Diamond reticle, and it’s compatible with Picatinny rails. This isn’t an optic you can treat badly—it won’t handle being slammed into trees or benches well—but it is good for basic shooting with beginners. There’s nothing wrong with using Truglo as long as you’re realistic about what it can do, and there are many scenarios for which it’s a great fit.

Athlon rimfire scope
Athlon doesn’t get nearly enough attention, considering how good some of their optics are. (Photo: Athlon Optics)

Athlon Optics NEOS 4-12×40 BDC 22 Rimfire

This scope option from Athlon is one of the best options on the market for magnified rimfire rifle scopes. It’s a 4-12 magnification model that’s offered with one of two reticles—the BDC 500 IR or the Center X. Both reticles are pretty standard crosshairs, but the BDC 500 IR does offer a red center and clearer hashmarks. It’s fully multi-coated, nitrogen-purged, and waterproof, so it can handle varying climates pretty well. Turrets are capped, and the reticle is illuminated, which is a huge bonus. Overall, this NEOS scope is a great option for rimfires.

Other features of the Athlon NEOS 4-12×40 BDC 22 Rimfire include a 10-yard parallax adjustment, 1/4 MOA per click value, and a one-inch tube diameter (pretty common for rimfire-specific glass). This scope is 12.4 inches long and weighs in at 18.1 ounces. It’s a relatively durable model that holds up well under moderate use and offers clear glass and a good field of view. Athlon makes quite a few great scopes, and this is one I’d certainly recommend for light rimfire use.

Do you need a rimfire-specific scope?

You don’t absolutely have to have a scope that’s meant for rimfires, but it helps. They’re lighter weight, have smaller dimensions, and are made to work well with the lighter grain bullets rimfires are loaded with. You might be surprised how much those details matter. Just make sure to figure out what you need to do with the rifle before you choose a scope, then select accordingly.

The odds are good if you just need a super simple design for basic range use. You’re totally fine going with a more affordably priced model. However, if you want to hunt with it or put it through rather strenuous use, you might want to up your game to a higher quality scope. Find what works for you, and go with it. Rimfire is a lot of fun and useful, too. Getting decent glass for it really increases its versatility and performance on paper, so don’t leave yours stuck with irons alone.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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