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Eaglan Kurek
4/11/2022 8:44:55 AM

The top 6 rimfire rifle scopes of 2022

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I recently purchased a Lithgow CrossOver LA101 in 22LR, which doesn’t come with sights from the factory, so I must find a proper scope appropriate for its foreseen use and calibre. I purchased the rifle to do some varmint hunting, but it will also see quite some time at the range as well as the LA101 is supposed to be a real tack driver.

22LR is a great, cheap little cartridge for that purpose, but of course, it has its limitations. While PRS shooters are trying to find the limitations of that cartridge at those extended ranges (300-500m), it’s unethical to hunt at. For PRS, it is recommended to have a scope with very high magnification and FFP, but those scopes typically come with huge objectives, a small field of view and a lot of weight, which is not great when you’re lugging your rifle around the entire day.

Most lists of rimfire scopes I found online weren’t helpful – either they listed scopes that aren’t available anymore (e.g. the little Weaver rimfire scopes) or put in scopes that are great for centrefire cartridges, but not exactly for rimfire.

So, what are my requirements?

  • Zoom magnification. While fixed may work perfectly fine, zoom benefits a wide field of view at its lowest setting and a good view of the target at its highest. For close range (<50m) you'd want 1x to 4x magnification, for medium range (50m to 100m) 4x to 7x and long range (>100m) 7x to 9x.
  • A wide field of view; at least 9m (29ft) at 100m (~100y) at its lowest magnification. Anything less would hamper the ability to scan the environment and acquire a target easily. Other benefits include easier target reacquisition after recoil, spotting splash and tracking moving targets. As such, the larger, the better.
  • Lightweight. Under 500 grams (17.6oz). I set this limit as a) I’m looking for a scope for a lightweight 22LR rifle, and b) I want an as-light package when carrying it the entire day.
  • Not too big. Length under 380mm (15in). Anything above would start to look silly on a 22LR rifle.
  • A clear target at 50m. We’re talking rimfire, so the parallax should be set at 50m (50y) or minimally 50m or less when adjustable. This is important as few rifle scopes have their parallax set at 50m, one of the main distances you will be shooting 22LR. As such, you want a sharp reticle and target at that distance. An adjustable parallax is even better as it allows you to shoot at 50m with a clear sight picture while pushing the cartridge to further lengths without a blurred reticle.

These requirements combined limit the number of scopes that qualify dramatically. Without further ado, here are the top six rimfire rifle scopes:

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire (the cheapest)

If cost is the most important consideration for you, it’s good to know that the Crossfire II meets all requirements. That said, with a 32mm objective, which is the smallest lens of this group, it may struggle in bad lighting conditions. The turrets also do not track very well (but hey, what do you expect for this price?), so if you decide to go with this scope, I recommend going for models with a BDC reticle, so you don't have to use the turrets. As such, while not a bad scope, I recommend going with the Diamondback below if you can spare just a bit more.

 

To like

  • Affordable

Not to like

  • Small objective (limiting use in low light conditions)
  • Optics not that great at high magnification
  • Turrets don't track very well
Stats
Magnification 2-7x
Objective lens diameter 32mm
Field of view 42-12.6 ft at 100m
Weight 394 grams
Length 293mm
Zoom ratio 3.5x
Parallax 50m/50y
Price $ - Check price on Amazon

 

2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Rimfire

While not much more expensive than the Crossfire II, the Diamondback Rimfire is an upgrade. A 35mm objective allows more light in than a 32mm and it comes with a significantly larger field of view (the largest even in this whole group!) as well and even is a bit lighter to top it off. As such, it’s a no brainer to recommend the Diamondback Rimfire over the Crossfire II. The only downside compared to other scopes in this list is not having adjustable parallax, limiting its effective range to approx. 125m for varmint hunting as beyond the reticle tends to become blurry and/or drift at max. magnification.

To like

  • Exceptional field of view (20m at 100m)
  • Good optics

Not to like

  • No adjustable parallax (range limiting)
  • Eye relief on the short side
Stats
Magnification 2-7x
Objective lens diameter 35mm
Field of view 64.3-19.3 ft at 100y
Weight 388 grams
Length 295mm
Zoom ratio 3.5x
Parallax 50m/50y
Price $$ - Check price on Amazon

 

3. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x33 EFR (the best value)

This Leupold has adjustable parallax, which gives an excellent sight picture at short and long distances. The VX-Freedom 3-9x33 EFR can set parallax as low as 9m (10y). It is the lightest scope in the group, at 343 grams (12.1oz) and the shortest, so perfect for that small rimfire rifle. The 9x max. magnification does limit it somewhat for varmint hunting at longer distances. The 33mm lens physically limits the light sensitivity, but Leupold's Twilight Light Management System brings it almost, if not fully, on par with the 40mm scopes in this group, which is also helped by excellent optics.

To like

  • Adjustable parallax
  • Lightweight
  • Small size
  • Optics quality
  • Multiple reticle options

Not to like

  • Small objective (limiting use in low light conditions)
  • Mushy turrets

 

Stats
Magnification 3-9x
Objective lens diameter 33mm
Field of view 37.2-14.1 ft at 100y
Weight 343 grams
Length 290mm
Zoom ratio 3x
Parallax 9m/10y-infinity
Price $$$ - Check price on Amazon

 

4. Bushnell Prime 3-12x40

While most scopes in this group have around 7x or 9x max magnification, this Bushnell Prime goes up to 12x, which is excellent for those long-distance shots while keeping a low 3x for area scanning. Like the Leupold, it also has adjustable parallax. However, it is the heaviest scope in this group at 482 grams (17oz), and being part of Bushnell’s entry-level line, the optics aren’t the best. Still, it does have a lot of value for its price point.

To like

  • Adjustable parallax
  • 4x zoom ratio (wider field of application)

Not to like

  • Not the best optics quality
  • Small field of view

 

Stats
Magnification 3-12x
Objective lens diameter 40mm
Field of view 29-7.5 ft at 100y
Weight 482 grams
Length 305mm
Zoom ratio 4x
Parallax 9m/10y-infinity
Price $$ - Check price on Amazon

 

5. Burris Droptine 3-9x40

The Droptine is the most average scope in this group, in price, weight and field of view. It lacks the adjustable parallax as seen on the Leupold and Bushnell and, as such, is more comparable with the Vortex Crossfire and Diamondback. Like the Diamondback Rimfire, the effective range of this scope will be approx. 125m for varmint hunting due to the lack of adjustable parallax.

 

To like

  • Not the best, but also not the worst in all categories

Not to like

  • No adjustable parallax
Stats
Magnification 3-9x
Objective lens diameter 40mm
Field of view 33-13 ft at 100y
Weight 369 grams
Length 310mm
Zoom ratio 3x
Parallax 50y
Price $$ - Check price on Amazon

 

6. Swarovski Z5(i) 3.5-18x44 P (the best but most expensive)

The Swarovski is the odd man in this group, with a whopping maximum 18x magnification, which is more than enough. However, with its 3.5x minimum magnification, it almost fell off this list, as typically the higher the magnification, the lower the FOV. But even at 3.5x, this Z5 has a FOV of 10m at 100m, which is better than the Bushnell Prime and on par with the Burris Droptine. It also clearly has the superior optics in this group, but that comes at a price – it is three times as expensive as the runner up, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x33 EFR. At more than 100 grams more than the lightest scope in this group, it’s not a feather, but objectively this is still considered a lightweight scope, definitely for its zoom ratio and optics quality. With that, it holds a niche position, as other premium optics vendors, such as Leica, Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender, Kahles, ... do not have any similar scopes (they all tend to be quite a bit heavier). For a scope produced since 2013, that is quite an achievement!

To like

  • 5x(!) zoom ratio
  • Exceptional optics
  • Good low light performance
  • Adjustable parallax

Not to like

  • Price
Stats
Magnification 3.5-18x
Objective lens diameter 44mm
Field of view 32.8-6.6 ft at 100y
Weight 450 grams
Length 363mm
Zoom ratio 5x
Parallax 50y-infinity
Price $$$$

What scope did I end up with in the end? Stay tuned!

About the author
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Eaglan Kurek

Eaglan has a passion for sport shooting, especially for the more dynamic disciplines and long-range shooting. As the founder of Arms & Ammo he aims to make shooting a more pleasant sport.