My goal is to provide you with as much information as possible about the .22 caliber rifle. As you will continue to read, this rifle has long been considered one of the most reliable rifles since its conception in 1845. Consistent reliability, cheap ammunition and endless customization options make this rifle one of the best rifles ever made.
To start things off on the right foot, I wanted to break down a few of the .22 rifles out there right now that I have experience with. This is by no means an all inclusive list but it should get you pointed in the right direction on which model might be best for you. While each and every one of these rifles shoots the same basic .22 caliber bullet, they are each very different variations of an old reliable classic that every shooter should have in their arsenal.
Each model below has similar functionality, but depending on your goals, level of preparedness and budget, one rifle might appeal to you more over the others. Don’t worry – we won’t forget the “cool factor” when talking about the way the gun looks as well (looking cool is pretty important). Some people prefer to go with a base model like the Ruger® 10/22® Carbine, and choose to upgrade later. Others prefer to go with a full blown Smith and Wesson MP 15-22 tactical which has a couple more features like a built in free floating rail as well as an adjustable stock.. Below is a brief table for comparison of 5 popular .22 rifles, and we will break them down into 6 key elements for your review. Below is your key to the comparison chart of each of these .22 caliber rifles:
- Stock Material
- Weight (in Lbs.)
- Use Type
- Year Introduced
Typical Practical Use
|Ruger 10/22||Birchwood or Synthetic Stock||5.0 Lbs.||Hunting/ All Purpose||1964|
|Marlin 795||Synthetic Stock||4.5 Lbs.||Hunting/ All Purpose||2009|
|Mossberg Tactical 22||Adjustable Synthetic Stock||5.0 Lbs||Police/Military Training||2012|
|Ruger 10/22 Takedown||Synthetic Stock||4.67 Lbs.||Hunting/ All Purpose||2012|
|Smith and Wesson MP 15-22||Adjustable Synthetic Stock||5.5 Lbs.||Police/Military Training||2009|
Now that We’ve given you a nice price breakdown of each rifle, please read up below for a detailed review on each rifle to find out which one is best for you.
The Ruger 10/22 Carbine is hands down my favorite firearm in my safe, let alone anything in the rifle category. The 10/22 is sturdy, rugged and built to last. It’s been the top produced .22 caliber rifle for over 40 years, and there isn’t another .22 caliber rifle that’s been mass produced in the same way the Ruger 10/22 Carbine has. It has more customization options than any .22 rifle on the market, and even after years of abuse with minimal cleaning efforts, the Ruger will function with minimal issues. While it may be a sin, I can count the number of times I have broken my Ruger 10/22 down for cleaning on one hand. I’ve beat the snot out of it and it still shoots straight after thousands of rounds. It reminds me of a Jeep – everytime you want to change the look, you just slap another acessory on the rifle, or peel something off to give it a facelift. It’s the only rifle I know that could have been produced 40 years ago, but with a few screws, be completly modernized with tactical accessories by anyone with a little bit of hand tool experience.
The Marlin 795 – you either love it as your favorite .22 or you use it as a backup gun. There’s really no in between. It’s a great backup rifle because it’s functional and best of all, it’s cheap. The Marlin 795 is probably the cheapest .22 caliber rifle on the market today with very little competition. While it has it’s design flaws in my opinion, there is really no better gun outside of the Ruger 10/22 Carbine that’s good for first time shooters to learn the ropes on. It has a nickel plated clip and an automatic “last shot” bolt hold open like many handguns which is great for novice shooters because it’s easy to see when the magazine is empty. While my personal preference is the Ruger 10/22 Carbine, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Marlin 795, especially on a budget.
The Mossberg Tactical is the poor man’s Smith and Wesson MP 15-22. It’s a very quality firearm, but it’s not quite up to the same level of manufacturing as the Smith and Wesson in my opinion. It’s got a nice free floating tactical rail, and other tactical options all while keeping a very mild price point that’s pretty much in the middle of the pack. It’s cheaper than the MP 15-22 and the Ruger 10/22 Takedown but it’s more expensive than the Ruger 10/22 Carbine or the Marlin 795. It’s been reported to have some magazine issues, and I experienced some misfeeds myself at the range when I took one for a test run, so reliability is somewhat questionable, but for the price, there is no other .22 caliber rifle that even comes close from a tactical perspective. If you are on a budget and must have a .22 rifle that “looks cool” then look no further. All the small concerns aside, the Mossberg is a great option for anyone on a budget that doesn’t want to spring for a full blown AR-15.
The Ruger 10/22 is basically the same gun as the Ruger 10/22 Carbine, but with a nice twist… literally. The rifle was made with the minimalist or survivalist in mind. When broken down, this rifle can get tossed in a backpack or carried in several different cases that disguise it well. This makes it a perfect addition for folks living in smaller places with lots of neighbors if you don’t like people to know your shooting habits. If you don’t mind carrying a regular case, pick up a Ruger 10/22 Carbine and buy a nice scope with the money you’ll save between the two. If you like to have something that’s easy to carry and can be grabbed on the go with relative ease, then this is your rifle. The Ruger 10/22 takedown is more costly than most of the rifles in the same peer group, but it makes up with it for the fact that it’s extremely concealable and still shoots straight every time you break it down and put it back together.
The Smith and Wesson MP 15-22 is is the most expensive, yet probably the most sensible rifle in this group for anyone that does ongoing tactical training. Anyone in the armed forces or serves in a public law enforcement role should look at one of these bad boys for a practice rifle. It’s almost the same size as an AR-15 but it won’t drain your pocketbook at the range when you put thousands of rounds through it. The MP 15-22 is extremely reliable and will usually not have fittment issues with many of the AR-15 accessories if you already have one of those in your safe. It makes it easy to swap out old AR-15 accessories as you upgrade your primary rifle, so you can get plenty of experience handling something that’s very simliar size and weight wise as it’s AR-15 cousin. If you are looking for a tactical trainer and have the cash, spring for the MP-15. You won’t regret it.
Rifle Wrap Up:
Thanks for checking out my .22 caliber rifle reviews and please check out my other reviews on optics, custom stocks, and accessories. Hopefully my reviews have provided you some good insight on some of the best .22 rifle models in production. My advice is to go out and try several models to see what rifle works best for you. Most shooting ranges have a rental option where you pay a small fee to test out various firearms which I always do before I make any firearm purchase. Not every model is going to work for everyone, and depending on what situation you are in now or envision yourself in, any one of these rifles might be better fitting for your needs than some of the others. The bottom line is that whether you are a survival expert, avid hunter, range junkie or just like plinking cans at your cabin, the .22 rifle is an absolute “must own” for every shooter. It’s the first caliber I would leave the house with in any survival situation.