Many hunters and shooters started out with a rimfire rifle, whether plinking cans or hunting squirrels and other small game. Often, however, as we mature and begin to hunt larger game, we put away these guns in favor of larger centerfires or shotguns.
Part of the reason for this switch to larger caliber firearms was a result of the limited power that rimfires produced and the relatively small pool of rifle designs from which to choose.
Today, however, the rimfire market has expanded to cover just about every platform and style imaginable, from small, lightweight single-shots to semiautomatic .22 magnums with carbon fiber barrels and laminate stocks. These new crops of .17s and .22s range in price from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, depending on the manufacturing process and features.
Just as rimfire rifles have undergone a dramatic change in the last 30 years, so too have rimfire cartridges. The introduction of the .17 Winchester Super Magnum in 2012 heralded the development of the first rimfire cartridge that surpassed 3,000 feet per second. Though it’s still not a big game cartridge, the introduction of the hot .17s made the modern rimfire capable of shooting flatter and hitting harder than at any previous time in history.
Selecting the best modern rimfires is a difficult task, as there are several good guns and loads from which to choose. Some of these designs offer modern styling and incorporate advanced machining and materials, and some are more traditional in their design and function.
No matter whether you’re teaching a youngster how to shoot, punching paper targets or hunting small game and varmints, there’s a modern rimfire that’s right for you.