Today I’m going to show you the best rimfire scope.
I’ve hand- tested over 10 scopes alone for this review.
The best part?
I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best scope for .22LR rifle, you’ll find it here.
Let’s dive in!
|Best Rimfire Scope for 22LR||Best for||Price|
|Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40||22LR||$299.99|
|Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56||22LR Benchrest||$1,249.99|
|Bushnell Trophy TRS-25||Rimfire Scope Under $100||$76.18|
|Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4×20||22LR Squirrel Hunting||$299.99|
|Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32||Competition||Not available|
Why should you trust me?
I’ve tested over 200+ scopes at this point — including the best AR-15 optics.
That’s why my optic reviews has been featured on various publications like:
- The National Interest
- American Shooting Journal
I personally buy every scope from my own money. In fact, I never accept outside financial support from scope manufacturers (and never will).
Why? I believe honest reviews are better than paid reviews.
Read Before You Buy
I don’t like getting ripped off. I hope you don’t either.
That’s why I created this quick section on choosing the best 22 rimfire scope for your actual needs (rather than what marketing sells).
Here’s what you need to know.
How To Choose A Rimfire Scope
In the 1990s, the Navy Seals used a .22 specs ops pistol (called Ruger MK II).
Why? 4 reasons:
- Recoil (virtually none)
This is why the .22lr caliber is the most popular cartridge today. Out the box, the 22LR can easily hit 50 yard targets without a sight.
However, with the best 22LR scope, you can easily surpass 100+ yard targets..
So how much magnification do you need? To find out, we first have to determine the 3 common…
Rimfire Shooting Distances
Here are the 3 most common ranges:
- Close Range: <50 yards
- Medium Range: Between 50 to 100 yards
- Long Range: 100+ yards
Don’t know which range to choose? That’s OK. Just keep reading and I’ll break it down.
But if you do know your range (or ranges), then select it so you can find…
The Best Magnification for Rimfire Scopes
Before you can find the right magnification, you must first understand WHAT magnification is.
Magnification is how much the optic ‘enlarges’ the image. That’s it.
How do you find the right amount? By choosing a shooting distance based on your use.
Close Range (<50 yards)
This is where 22LR rifles excel.
If you mostly plink at close range, then you’re going to need:
- Magnification: 1 – 4X power
Alternatively, you can use a red dot for your rimfire rifle for fast target acquisition.
Speaking of red dots, I recommend reading my best pistol red dot sights guide if you’re into close range pistol shooting.
If you’re looking for added magnification or if you have astigmatism, check out my recent review of the best holographic sights.
Medium Range (50 – 100 yards)
This is the range majority of 22LR users shoot. Most people use it for small game hunting or plinking. If that’s the case, you’ll probably need:
- Magnification: Between 4 – 7X power
A fixed 4X or low power variable magnification optic (LPVO) is recommended.
Long Range (100+ yards)
Not many people go past 100 yards.
But sometimes you must due to hunting or competitive shooting, then choose:
- Magnification: 7X and up
If you need more than that, then head on over to my best long range rifle scopes guide. With all that said, here’s…
The Bottom Line On Magnification
Choosing a good scope for 22LR is as simple as choosing a shooting distance and then getting the right magnification.
If you don’t do this, you’ll likely buy the wrong amount (or type) of magnification for your uses. I’ve seen this more times than I can count. Don’t be that guy.
Instead, I highly recommend reading this section.
A quick pro tip:
If you combine magnifications (medium + long range), you’ll need a low powered variable powered scope. This allows you to use more than one magnification.
I hope this magnification guide helped you out. You’re now ready to find the best scope for .22 rifles below.
Let’s get started!
If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best rimfire scope:
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40: Best 22LR Scope
- Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56: Best Scope for 22LR Benchrest
- Bushnell Trophy TRS-25: Best Rimfire Scope Under $100
- Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4×20: Best Scope for 22LR Squirrel Hunting
- Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32: Best for Competition
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40: Best 22LR Scope
The Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 is the best .22 rifle scope.
I’ve hand-tested it on multiple .22LR AR-15s for a wide variety of hunting applications and casual target shooting. Trust me when I tell you I loved it, especially for my Colt M4.
By the end of this review, you’ll know if the Leupold VX-Freedom is for you.
Let’s dive in!
The glass is crystal clear, with no edge distortions or color aberrations.
The VX-Freedom comes with a standard duplex reticle in the second focal plane.
SFP means the reticle size will remain the same even as the target size increases and decreases through its magnification range. It was effortless to incorporate hold over at varying distances.
If the duplex reticle not your cup of tea, the VX series has mil dots and ballistic reticles as an option.
Leupold also offers a custom dial service (CDS) model to provide a custom adjustable turret tailored to your ballistic specifications.
The Leupold VX-Freedom has 4.17”/3.66” of forgiving eye relief, which keeps me from getting hit in the eye.
The scope offered a wide field of view between 100-200 yards, which is the distance I typically shoot targets.
Despite the price range, I was impressed with the durability and overall quality of the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40.
The 1″ main tube is 12.39” long and weighs about 12.2 oz. It’s constructed from aircraft quality aluminum, making it waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof.
This rugged optic was impact tested on 3x the recoil of a .308 which is why it’s also known as one of the best AR-10 scopes on the market.
The elevation and windage turrets were a little mushy.
It felt like they might twist off or break if I got too rough with them, but I will say the elevation and windage tracked true.
The adjustments are in ¼ MOA for both, a fine level of adjustment detail for under $300.
On the other hand, zeroing was a breeze. In less than ten rounds, I was pounding away at 200-yard steel plates with no issues.
I put 300 rounds on the VX-Freedom with my Ruger AR-556 rifle, and it had no problems holding zero.
The Leupold VX-Freedom sports a 3-9x variable magnification and 40mm objective, making it an excellent choice for medium to long-range shooting.
Speaking of long range, I have an updated list of the best 6.5 Creedmoor scopes you can use to perfect your long-range shooting.
The best part?
The zoom ring is super easy to turn. It features a large raised part that worked perfectly with thick gloves and cold, wet fingers.
Unfortunately, this budget-oriented scope doesn’t come with accessories.
I have the VX-Freedom mounted on my Glenfield Marlin 22 model 60 using the Leupold Rifleman Scope Rings (Model #56533 – Rifleman Rings 1″ – .22 RF 3/8-inch Rings).
They come with a hex key and set screws. Furthermore, these rings allow enough clearance to use the front sights without having to remove the scope.
I purchased the Leupold Alumina Lens Shade 4″ 40mm for anti-reflection and scratch resistance.
- Model #56190 - Alumina lens shade in size 4"--40mm and Matte finish
Lastly, I replaced the flimsy bikini caps with the Leupold Alumina Flip Back Lens Cover.
- Model #59055 - Alumina flip back lens cover kit in standard EP
If you’re looking for a well-built scope from a renowned optics manufacturer, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 is absolutely worth it.
Why? It’s got…
- Quality glass
- Low price tag
- Second Focal Plane
- Multiple Reticle Options
- Great eye-relief distance
- 3-9x Variable Magnification
- Weatherproof and shockproof build
To top it all off, the VX-Freedom comes with Leupold’s Lifetime warranty. If it breaks, they will repair or replace the scope without charge: even if you aren’t the original owner or lost the receipt.
For under $300, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 is the best .22 scope that is not only budget-friendly but provides top-of-the-line performance.
The Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 is the first scope I have purchased made by Athlon and I am a little annoyed I hadn’t found the brand earlier in life.
They produce high quality scopes that far outperform the price tag.
Here’s why the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 is the best benchrest shooting scope I have found to date…
The clarity of the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 has blown me away. I have had scopes that are in the $2000-3000 range that can’t compete with this scope.
Whether it’s indoors or outdoors this scope has outperformed anything in it’s category.
I use this scope outdoors most often and the brightness has been fantastic so far.
I am not the most accurate shooter; however, with this kind of clarity, I have been shooting some of the tightest groupings of my life.
The FFP reticle on the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 is beautiful and well illuminated. The configuration fits my needs perfectly.
The eye relief on this scope has been unbelievably versatile.
I will admit as you move higher in the magnification, it can be difficult to find the sweet spot. Overall, my experience with the eye relief has been simple and reliable.
This scope is the best scope for ruger american rimfire. I have mine calibered in .22 so I don’t have too much of an issue with recoil.
The eye relief is more than comfortable for a .22 recoil and it would definitely still be comfortable with a firearm that has much more recoil.
The durability on the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 has been outstanding so far. It has a few scratches but in my opinion a scope and firearm look better dinged up.
I buy my firearms and scopes to be used and slightly abused and this scope has certainly rolled with the punches.
The turrets on the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 are some of the most premium feeling turrets I have ever used.
An unbelievably satisfying click sound every motion. Chincy turrets irritate me to no end.
The turrets have a 0.25 MOA click value and the adjustment has been perfect for zeroing.
My experience zeroing the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 was one of the easiest processes I have gone through.
This thing had to have been perfectly zerod in 5-10 shots.
Although I don’t dislike the process, I am glad it was quick and simple and I could spend the rest of my day enjoying the scope.
The Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 has a magnification of up to 30X which is unbelievable to me.
I definitely am not the most capable shooter, but the extra magnification has given me some of my best groupings and confidence to date.
Parallax on the scope has been nonexistent. Even at 30X I haven’t noticed any.
The combination of clarity, magnification, and lack of parallax makes this scope an absolute no brainer in my opinion.
When I purchased the Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56, I also purchased some 34mm Vortex Optics Precision Matched Riflescope Rings.
- These Vortex Precision Matched Rings position the center of the riflescope tube at a height of 1.00 inches (25.4 mm) from the base. Will only work with Picatinny spec mounts—will not work with...
- Our Precision Matched Rings are kept in pairs throughout the manufacturing process — ensuring perfection from one set to another.
- We start with certified USA 7075 T6 billet aluminum and hold it to an extremely tight tolerance of .0005 using our precision Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) mill.
They work fantastic and add a very good look to a great looking scope. Easy to mount on my rifle and haven’t had to mess with them since.
In addition to this, I also purchased a 56mm Athlon Sunshade which was a must in my book.
- Package quantity: 1
- Product Type: SPORTING GOODS
- Country of Origin: China
The Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 is in no way a cheap scope; however, for the price you get the quality of a scope that is 2 to 3 times more expensive.
This scopes has been one of my favorite purchases this year. Here’s why:
- Build quality
- High magnification
In short: The Athlon Ares 4.5-30×56 is one of the most expensive scopes I have ever purchased and I do not regret a cent of that purchase.
You truly do get what you pay for with this scope and I have highly recommended it to all of my range buddies.
- Fully Multicoated optics effectively reduces reflected light and increases the transmission of light giving you a brighter image than normal single coated lenses
Penny for penny, the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is the best budget red dot on the market.
In fact, you’ll get the best rimfire scope for under $100!
I use this scope for target shooting, home defense, and hunting and it performs great in every environment.
Want to hear more? Keep reading…
The TRS-25 has crystal clear glass.
The lenses are multi-coated, which reduces glare and helps to draw in light for better clarity in dim environments.
The best part is that it has an Amber-Bright coating that helps you distinguish between different shades of brown. You’ll easily be able to tell the difference between a brown tree and a brown animal when you’re out hunting.
This scope has a 3 MOA red dot reticle with 11 brightness settings.
It has an easy adjustment dial, so you can set the brightness to whatever setting works best for your own personal preference or the time of day.
The red dot is bright and crisp both in the bright sunlight and during dawn or dusk.
It also has an extended battery life, so you don’t have to worry about losing your dot in the middle of a hunt.
If you prefer not to worry about batteries, I recommend checking out my best prism scopes as an alternate option.
With all red dot scopes, you get unlimited eye relief.
This means you’ll be able to have both eyes open, which gives you access to all your peripheral vision and promotes high situational awareness.
On top of that, you get super fast target acquisition because you don’t have to worry about eye or head position like you would with a LVPO.
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 was built to last.
It features shockproof construction to withstand any rough treatment. I’ve definitely banged mine on a few trees, with no evident damage.
It also is O-ring sealed, which makes it completely waterproof, even if it’s dunked under water.
Plus, it is nitrogen purged. This means you’ll never have to worry about it fogging up in humid environments.
It is compact and light, weighing only 4 oz, which makes it one of the best scopes for Ruger 10/22.
It also comes with a 1 year warranty, so you have plenty of time to test it out for any issues.
The elevation and windage knobs are nice and tight.
You can easily use a dime to make your adjustments and they give a nice, positive click.
I zeroed mine in at 50 yards in a matter of minutes. I’ve shot thousands of rounds with this scope and have yet to need to readjust it.
You’ll get 1x magnification with the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25.
This is perfect for target shooting, hunting, and home defense. It gives you optimum vision at short range and works well for most intermediate distances as well.
If you want to use it for long range, it is possible if you add on a magnifier. You will lose out on your unlimited eye relief though.
The parallax is fixed at 50 yards and I haven’t noticed any issues with it.
This scope mounts easily to most picatinny rails.
It is compatible with rifles, shotguns, pistols, and muzzleloaders, so it is an extremely versatile scope.
Depending on the type of weapon you’re mounting it to, you may need a riser, which is not included. You can choose the height that works best for your firearm. There’s a 0.83
- New Gen. riser mount for rifles with Picatinny/Weaver rail
- 1 Picatinny rail with 3 slots
- Side plate with spring tension for quick and easy installation
or 1” option.
- New Gen. Riser Mount for Rifles with Picatinny/Weaver Rail
- 1.6" Long Picatinny Rail with 3 Slots
- Side Plate with Spring Tension for Quick Easy Installation
You’ll also get a nice rubber scope cover with the TRS-25.
This scope is the best red dot you’ll find at a budget friendly price.
- Multi-coated lenses
- Amber-Bright coating
- 3 MOA red dot reticle
- 11 brightness settings
- Best bang for your buck pricing
- Rugged durability w/1 year warranty
If you’re looking for the best rimfire scope under $100, try the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25. You won’t be disappointed.
- Matte black featuring a 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness settings; Mounts easily on most picatinny rails and is compatible with pistols, shotguns, rifles and muzzleloaders.Adjustment Range : 70+...
- Waterproof construction: O ring sealed optics stay dry inside, even when totally immersed in water. Parallax - 50
- Shockproof construction: Built to withstand bumps, bangs, drops and the rough and tumble environment of the field
Looking for the best .22 rimfire scope for squirrel hunting? Look no further than the Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4×20.
With all the glass quality and clarity you’ve come to expect from Leupold, you’ll be able to accurately pop tiny varmints in all lighting conditions.
Let me show you…
The Leupold VX-Freedom has a very clear picture.
I was impressed that Leupold was able to maintain such clarity in a lower-price range scope.
Unlike many scopes in the $200-$300 price-range, the VX-Freedom has fully multi-coated lenses and exceptionally clear glass.
Edge-to-edge, I found the sight picture to be crisp. Using Leupold’s Twilight Management System to drastically reduce stray light glare, there’s no haziness or fuzziness in my view.
I had perfect color contrast, even in low light situations.
Leupold boasts that their superior light transmission will give hunters an extra 20 minutes of shooting light. After putting this scope through its paces in the early morning and fading daylight hours, I found this to be true.
Armed with my Leupold VX-Freedom and my trusty .22 rimfire, I was able to be out when the squirrels were most active.
The second focal plane fine duplex reticle didn’t obscure even the tiniest target. I easily made headshots on squirrels within 100 yards.
For those interested in a hashed reticle, the Pig Reticle for hog hunting is listed as an option from some sellers.
Even for the range, this scope would be an awesome option for .22 benchrest shooting. No matter what you use your .22 rimfire for, the Leupold VX-Freedom will perform well.
That’s why I recommended the Freedom as my go-to hunting scope in best rifle scopes guide.
I found this scope to have a pretty long eye-relief from 3.75 to 4 inches.
The eyebox was generous though, I didn’t have any trouble maneuvering behind the scope and maintaining a clean view through the scope.
Leupold is king when it comes to making a durable scope, and this little guy was no exception.
The lenses are coated with DiamondCoat 2 which not only improve light transmission, but provide scratch resistance.
The scope is argon/krypton purged making it fogproof in the toughest weather conditions.
It’s also sealed to withstand being submerged in over 30 feet of water.
I do not treat my scopes kindly. I haven’t bothered to cover this scope on my hunting trips. It has been tossed around, dropped, knocked and abused. Still works great, still holds zero.
I think the turrets are where Leupold compromised quality for cost on this particular optic. The turrets on the Freedom VS-Freedom are not at the same quality level that I am used to on higher-end Leupold scopes.
The finger click turrets felt mushy to me. I had a hard time telling when they finally “clicked” when making adjustments.
With that said, I didn’t have to work hard to zero the scope. I was able to sight in my gun in less than 5 shots.
The turret adjustments were definitely better than other budget scopes, but not up to par with what Leupold usually produces.
And that’s to be expected. Leupold has to cut corners somewhere to keep the price of this optic low. I would rather have slightly mushy turrets than crappy glass.
The magnification range for the VX-Freedom is 1.5-4x. This is perfect for small game hunting. In fact, I have taken it out to squirrel hunt several times and I loved it.
I found it easy to get headshots with this scope. Precision target shooters would be very pleased with this optic.
If I was shooting larger targets and a heavier caliber, I could easily push the range out to 400 yards. This low magnification range scope can outcompete many of the others in its class.
There is no parallax adjustment on this optic, but with such a low magnification range, parallax shouldn’t be an issue.
No mounts or rings are included with the VX-Freedom which has a 1 inch main tube.
I choose to mount my optic with Leupold Rifleman rings that include a base.
These rings are affordable and easy to install.
Leupold did not include any lens caps either. I personally don’t have a need for covers.
I think that the scope is built well enough, it doesn’t matter. But if you would like covers, you can buy a set separately.
- Model #59030 - Alumina flip back lens cover in size 20mm
I think the Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4×20 is definitely worth the investment for anyone doing close-range, precision .22 rimfire shooting.
To recap its features, it has:
- Fine Duplex Reticle
- DiamondCoat2 Lens Coatings
- Twilight Maxlight Management System reduces glare
- Highly durable design withstands the Punisher, an extreme recoil/shock simulator
Honestly, the glass clarity of the VX-Freedom meets the standard Leupold has set with its higher-end scopes. At about $300 you will be hard pressed to find a clearer picture.
As much as I like bells and whistles and all the fancy features on my scopes, sometimes simple is the way to go.
If I’m hunting hogs on my property or deer in the nearby woods then I don’t need the extra weight some of those scopes pack on.
At those times, you can’t beat a Vortex Rimfire Scope.
They’ve got the incredible quality I’ve come to expect from Vortex and they’re lightweight and sturdy. Which is why it’s one of the best .308 scope on the market.
But if you’re looking for a simple, elegant, and effective scope, then keep reading and I’ll tell you why this one can’t be beaten.
The glass is ultra-clear and incredibly crisp.
This scope has HD extra-low dispersion lenses that are fully multi-coated and anti-reflective.
Colors are true through it and the resolution is great.
Whether I’m zoomed all the way to 8x or sitting at 1.5x, the clarity is the same and I can see everything I’m looking at.
The anti-reflective coating is great for when I’m hunting in low light as it lets all the light in without ruining my view.
One of its best features is the G4 BDC reticle which gives you both a target dot and hash marks in your crosshairs.
It’s simplicity and uncluttered design makes it a dream for any hunter.
Take advantage of the lens cover and cloth that are included to keep your lens performing at its best.
It’s got a 3.8” eye relief and a generous eye box.
There’s plenty of room to maneuver regardless of your magnification setting.
While it’s not as much eye relief as some higher-end scopes have, I’ve never had an issue with it being cramped.
Like all Vortex scopes, this one is incredibly durable.
It’s made of a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum that is hard anodized and covered in an Armortek coating.
That makes it super scratch resistant and helps it to be shockproof.
No matter what trees my scope has been banged against or brush it’s gotten caught on, it hasn’t gotten a single scratch on it yet.
On top of that its Argon gas purged to prevent internal fogging, which is a huge plus on fall mornings when the temperature is fluctuating.
Finally, it’s also waterproof thanks to the O-ring seals that prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting into it.
You’d be hard-pressed to find another manufacturer with the level of durability that Vortex offers in its scopes.
Whatever environment or temperature you take this scope hunting in, it’s gonna perform amazingly.
The low-capped large-diameter turrets make it really easy to read your elevation and windage adjustments.
The turrets are easily turned with finger pressure, although I do wish the click was a bit more audible. It’s there, but it’s quiet.
The caps are a nice feature though as they help protect the turrets from getting accidentally bumped out of place.
If you’re anything like me, that’s a great feature to have when you’re moving through the brush.
The scope was very easy to zero at 100 yards and it’s had no problems keeping zero.
The magnification is 1.5-8x with a 32mm objective lens.
Although the magnification range starts at 1.5x, for me it really felt like a true 1x.
If it’s not true, it’s so incredibly close I couldn’t tell the difference.
The zoom is fast and insanely smooth from 1.5-8x and everything in between – just like my best ACOG clone.
I had no issues with parallax until I got up to 8x magnification, but it was easy to fix and wasn’t a lasting issue.
You’re gonna have to buy your own mount for this one as it doesn’t come included.
I use and recommend the Monstrum Cantilever Ring Mount.
No products found.
It’s easy to use, durable, and user-friendly.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a Vortex fan. Their optics are high quality and they stand by their products.
This is a great little scope if you’re looking for something simple and sleek.
- Capped turrets
- G4 BDC reticle
- Argon gas purged
- Incredible durability
- 1.5-8x magnification range
- Crystal clear multi-coated lens
- Shock, fog, and waterproof & scratch resistant
If none of that convinces you, maybe the incredible Vortex Lifetime Warranty will.
No matter what happens to your scope, Vortex has got you covered. Go check out the Vortex Razor HD LH and decide for yourself.
- The Razor HD LH series are ultra-sleek, lightweight hunting scopes. High density, extra-low dispersion lenses and premium XR coatings combine to produce razor sharp resolution from edge to edge
- The Razor HD LH series are ultra-sleek, lightweight hunting scopes. High density, extra-low dispersion lenses and premium XR coatings combine to produce razor sharp resolution from edge to edge
- A single piece, hard anodized tube enhances strength and durability. Armortek coatings protect exterior lenses from scratches, oil, and dirt.
By now, you’ve found the right optic for your rimfire rifle. You’re now ready to shoot.
No so fast.
It doesn’t matter how good of a shot you are. If your scope isn’t sighted properly, then you’re gonna miss.
I’m going to show you how to sight in your .22 rifle step-by-step.
Let’s dive right in.
You technically can zero in your gun with just a target.
However, from experience, I’ve found these following tools greatly simplify the sight-in process.
Here are the tools:
- Ear and eye protection: You’re going to have to fire live rounds. These protect your eyes and ears from potential damage.
- Gun Rest: This keeps your rifle as steady as possible throughout the process. This way you don’t accidentally move the gun between shots and potentially throw off the hit comparisons. You can either use a professional gun rest or a cardboard box like this.
- Target: A paper target that’s anchored to something immovable (like steel).
- Range: Indoor ranges are recommended but an outdoor one with windbreakers and damp or grassy ground to prevent dust clouds works fine.
Got these 4 things? Good. It’s now time to learn…
Some guides may direct you to remove your scope from the mount for certain adjustments, but that shouldn’t be necessary.
If you already have your scope set on a good mount, then there’s no need to take it off for zeroing.
The biggest thing to focus on is being patient. Take your time with each step of the process and make sure you get it right.
Get your target set up downrange and fully secured. Make sure there is a solid backdrop to catch your shots.
Aim your rifle towards the target and use your gun vice (or whatever material you’ve chosen to keep your gun secure) to anchor it in place. The surface you rest your rifle on should optimally be level.
This is also the time to put on your safety equipment. This includes the shooting glasses and some form of ear protection.
How far away you shoot from is up to you. I recommend doing it at 100 yards, as anything less just isn’t precise enough. Doing it at more than 100 is simply inviting more interference from wind or other factors.
Focus your crosshairs directly on the bullseye and fire. This is where the patience comes in, as you need to take your time and make sure you don’t affect the shot at all. The gun and scope need to do all the work.
Take note of where your shot landed on target. If the mark isn’t noticeable, then use a marker to make it so. If you completely missed, then try to figure out where the shot went and adjust your aim accordingly.
Once you’ve fired, do your absolute best not to jostle the rifle at all. If you do, you will have to repeat the previous step.
Using your windage and elevation turrets, make adjustments until the crosshairs are perfectly centered on your previous shot.
After this, you can adjust the rifle itself until the crosshairs once again point at the bullseye. Make sure you don’t accidentally touch the turrets while reaiming.
You’ll once again need to align your crosshairs directly on the bullseye and fire. In a perfect world, this is where the bullet will go directly into the bullseye. In reality, it should be very close, but may not be perfect.
You’ll need to repeat the previous two steps until your shots are comfortably close to the bullseye. Once your shot gets close to the center, keep your crosshairs on the bullseye and fire again to make sure that there was no user error in the process.
It’s very likely that your scope and rifle are already sighted, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Give your gun some time to fully cool down before once again shooting at the bullseye. This is just a last little test to make sure everything is truly sighted.
If the bullet lands in a surprising spot, then you may need to repeat the earlier steps to make sure that you’ve completed each one properly.
This is a necessary step to get the best accuracy from your rifle and scope.
The rifle and scope do a lot more work than many people think, and getting them properly sighted makes sure that they can do their job well.
Patience and safety are the biggest factors to keep in mind. Taking your time with each step will make everything go smoothly and will actually speed up the process significantly.
Having your safety equipment and a good backdrop are absolutely essential and part of the responsibility each gun owner has to keep themselves and others safe.
Now that you’ve made it through the guide and gotten your scope and gun sighted, you’ll have a much easier time doing it again in the future.
Just always err on the side of caution and follow each step with patience and precision.
Easily, the most popular caliber is .22 lr. Not only is the round itself affordable and accurate, but you can easily get a great quality rifle (I’m looking at you, Ruger 10/22), for under $150.
If you want to get fancy, it’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on an upgraded, tricked out .22 competition rifles.
Or you could easily have a formidable varmint gun in a price range in between. There’s enough variety in .22 lr availability to please every taste and budget.
Lightweight and with low recoil, .22 lr is an easy caliber for novice shooters to learn the fundamentals and for experts to fine-hone their skills.
You’re probably here because you put a scope on your shiny new .22 lr and you’re ready to start popping squirrels.
Before you get going though, we need to zero in your scope so that you can effectively place your shots at any distance.
I’m going to walk you through the best distance to zero your scope.
It probably isn’t what you expected it to be.
There’s a bit of a debate online as to which is the best distance to sight in your scoped .22lr. Some say to sight it in for the distance you will be shooting, which is the obvious answer for plinkers and set-distance target shooting.
If you’ll be shooting at 50 yards every single time you head to the range, then 50 yards is where you need to set zero.
But if you plan on hunting small game with your .22lr rifle, you will want to be able to accurately hit the kill zone of your living targets from a wide range of distances. Small game animals have smaller kill zones.
We’re talking tiny kill zones. If you over or under shoot by a couple inches on large game, you’ll likely still be able to kill the animal. If you are high or low by more than 1.5 inches on a squirrel, you can completely miss.
For example, if you zero your hunting rifle at 50 yards, your bullet will drop 2 inches at 75 yards and 6 inches at 100 yards. Because of initial bullet rise, at 25 yards, you’ll be 2 inches too high.
That means that your bullet will hit 2 inches higher than you aimed your crosshairs at 25 yards, but then you’ll be 2 inches below the bullseye at 75 yards. At 100 yards, if you aim right at the bullseye you’ll be 6 inches too low.
That’ll leave you completely missing the squirrel at any distance other than 50 yards. Zeroing your rifle at 50 yards is a terrible idea for varmint hunters.
Before I explain why 50 yards is awful, let’s back up to the basic physics of firing a shot and finding zero on your scope.
When you fire a gun and the bullet leaves the muzzle, your bullet moves forward it rises, reaches an apex and then drops as the bullet begins to slow down and falls back to earth. If you were to plot the path of the bullet, it would make an arch, or to be technical, a parabola. Let’s think about it like throwing a softball.
Ideally, you’d want a flatter curve so you have a smaller margin of error at any point along the bullet’s path. To get a flatter curve, the bullet needs to move faster. It needs more muzzle velocity.
Thinking of the softball example, you need a faster pitch to get a flatter curve. A slower pitch will give you a loftier curve. Same with muzzle velocity and ballistics: a slower bullet will have a more dramatic curve; a faster bullet will be flatter.
Like your softball, your bullet will slow down and drop drastically as you increase distance traveled. This is called bullet drop. After 100 yards, your bullet will slow down so much that it will drop significantly, not proportionally.
Remember that 50 yard zero example a minute ago? You’d think that if the bullet drops only 2 inches at 75 yards, it would drop 4 inches by 100 yards, right? Nope. The bullet slows down tremendously over the longer distance and the drop is actually equal to 6 inches. A variation of 6 inches is huge when hunting small critters.
So, how do we correct this?
When you zero your rifle this means that you are setting your line of sight to coincide with the bullet’s impact somewhere along its trajectory curve.
Sighting in your rifle at, say 50 yards, means that you have made the necessary adjustments to your line of sight so that the bullet’s path will intersect, or cross that line, at 50 yards. All other factors removed, your bullet will hit bullseye at 50 yards. When using iron sights, your point of view is even with the muzzle of your rifle. Easy.
But you aren’t hunting with iron sights. You have a scope.
A scope raises your line of sight 1.5 inches above the muzzle. This changes your curve and increases your margin of error throughout a range of 100 yards.
So, how do we sight in our scope to give us the smallest margin of error along a 100 yard range?
I’m so glad you asked! Let’s apply what we just learned about bullet trajectory…
First, use a high velocity round to flatten that trajectory curve as much as possible. You might have to try a few types to find a fast round that works well with your gun.
For a rundown of ballistics from different manufacturers, check out this handy table:
Second, sight your rifle in at 75 yards.
Why 75 yards you ask? Because it gives you the smallest margin of error along your bullet’s trajectory within a 100 yard range.
We’re planning on shooting small, living things, right? And you want to shoot your small, living thing and make it a small, dead thing. To do that you don’t need to impact right on an exact point, you just need to land your shot within a small area on the body of your small, living thing. This area is called the “kill zone”.
We won’t always find these small, living things at consistent distances. Sometimes, we get lucky and they are right in front of us, sometimes, they are a ways out. No matter the distance, we want the best chance of impacting the small, living thing in the kill zone with minimal adjustment on our scope.
This is where 75 yards becomes our magic number for sighting in your varmint scope. I could walk you through the math, but it’s really tedious, so I’m not going to. Suffice it to say that using the bullet’s trajectory and our line of sight, a zero at 75 yards will give us the smallest deviation of the bullet’s trajectory along our line of sight within 100 yards.
If you want to go digging into it, you can learn more here.
Basically, at a distance of 75 yards you will have a deviation of +-1.5 inches above or below your target throughout a practical hunting range of 0-75 yards. That’s a deviation of less than a full squirrel. This will put you in the kill zone at any distance without having to stress about holdover or holdunder.
At point blank, your shot will be 1.5 inches high. At 25 yards, you’ll be just over a 0.5 inch high. At 50 yards, you’ll be just over 1 inch high, and right on at 75 yards. See, no matter the distance, you’ll be landing shots within the kill zone and blasting critters.
If you are shooting at 100 yards, you’ll have a bullet drop of 3 inches. At this distance you’ll want to aim a little high to compensate for the bullet drop.
While all of this is pretty straight forward, it isn’t foolproof. A lot of things can impact your bullet’s travel to its target. The shape of your bullet, the ambient temperature, wind speed and direction, even air pressure can affect your shot.
It’s still a great idea to take notes when out shooting so that you can do some fine-tuning.
As you try different types of ammunition, you’ll find rounds that work really well with your rifle and some that don’t. Keep a notebook in your gun bag and make notes of this.
You may find a sweet spot for holdover at specific ranges. Make notes of this too.
Above all, go shooting. Get familiar with your rifle and your scope. The more muscle memory you build, the more instinctive your shooting will become.
Write down anything that worked, and anything that didn’t. The more detailed you are in your notes, the more you can fine-tune your setup and hone your skills.
I hope you enjoyed my best rimfire scope guide.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which rifle scope will you pick?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.