There are a number of reasons to love rimfires. Nostalgia is at the top of the list. My first gun was a single-shot Savage with iron sights and a straight-pull cocking mechanism that doubled as a safety.
Ammunition is still cheap, and in most parts of the country, we're seeing more of it on the shelves. Low-recoiling rimfires produce minimal muzzle blast and have helped me practice trigger squeeze.
They're an excellent choice for early-season squirrel, winter cottontail and vermin elimination missions.
The rimfire remains one of the most versatile, economical and shooter-friendly cartridge designs.
Here are my picks for the best new rimfire rifles for 2015.
Ruger | American Rimfire
Ruger introduced the American Rimfire
rifle on the heels of the success of the American, which is a centerfire. The American Rimfire is a bolt-action that features a 60-degree bolt lift and a composite stock with interchangeable straight and high comb inserts.
It borrows the rotary magazine found in the 10/22 as well as the semiauto rifle's easy-to-use flip-down rear sight. It comes with a Power Bedding integral bedding block, and for 2015 there's a suppressor-ready version as well.
Accuracy is outstanding, and it's an affordable rimfire for plinking and small-game hunting.
Browning | Semi-Auto 22
The Browing Semi-Auto 22 LR
has been around for a century. But this year we get the option of a centennial High Grade model with gold inlays of rabbits, squirrels and the gun's legendary inventor John Moses Browning.
The classic is a lightweight, accurate rifle that operates on a blowback, bottom-eject design with a tubular magazine and crossbolt safety. The 100th anniversary rifle is exquisite, and so is its [imo-slideshow gallery= 324],999 price tag (it is limited to 100 units).
If you like the rifle but not the price, check out the Grade I rifle for $699.
MRSP: $699-[imo-slideshow gallery= 324],999
CZ-USA | Model 455
bolt-action rimfires are the evolution of the popular 452 line. This is one of the most extensive rimfire lineups in the world, with everything from long-barreled training rifles to serious target guns.
The new 455 lineup includes suppressor-ready models, thumbhole versions, left-handed rifles and combo guns that switch between rimfire calibers. The 455 retains the same hammer-forged barrel, billet-machined receiver and adjustable trigger as its predecessor, but improved machining gives the 455 tighter tolerances.
All 455s have sturdy, integral 11mm scope bases machined to the receiver. For 2015, there's a new thumbhole version of the 455 with a heavy, fluted barrel.
Mossberg | Blaze
new Blaze .22 autoloader features a polymer receiver, which is extremely light and durable. This material gives the new rifle an overall weight of just 3.6 pounds, making it one of the lightest autoloading .22s on the market.
It's available with adjustable sights and either a barrel-mounted scope rail or a green-dot sight, so there is a wide range of shooting options. A 16 1/2-inch free-floated barrel keeps the rifle's overall length at 35 inches. Polymer stocks in black, Wildfire, Muddy Girl and Kryptek Highlander with 10- or 25-round magazines.
Ruger | Charger
Based on the venerable Ruger 10/22, the Charger
pistol has returned for 2015. Even though it's technically a pistol, the Charger is accurate enough for serious small-game hunting.
A top rail allows the shooter to mount an optic on the rifle (there are no sights shipped with the gun). The Charger operates using the 10/22's blowback action with a rotary magazine.
The standard version has a brown laminate stock, and there's also a takedown version with a green laminate. Both guns are extremely accurate and come with bipods for additional stability.
S&W | M&P15-22
The increased interest in AR rifles has spilled over into the rimfire world. Smith & Wesson immediately jumped into the AR rimfire market with their blowback M&P15-22
Smith has designed and built dozens of different semi-auto .22 rimfire configurations with a host of different options.
These rifles come with quality iron sights, and they are accurate enough for plinking and small-game hunting. Smith & Wesson has a wide variety of styles, sizes and colors, including M&P15-22s in Realtree APG
HD, and the wild Harvest Moon Orange and Purple Platinum camo patterns.
MSRP: $559 for most models
Sako | Finnfire II
The Sako Finnfire II
is a high-quality rimfire bolt-action with a 2-lug bolt, excellent walnut stock, a single-stage adjustable trigger (2.2 to 4 pounds) and integral tapered dovetail scope mounts that are machined to the receiver for stability.
The stock has a raised comb for proper eye alignment with a scope, and the 22-inch match grade, cold-hammer-forged barrel is free-floated for accuracy. It is available in either .22 LR or .17 HMR with the option of 5- or 10-round straight-feed magazines. It isn't the cheapest rifle in this roundup, but the Finnfire II is certainly one of the nicest rimfire bolt guns on the market today.
Savage | A17
Savage's big release for 2015 is the A17 rimfire
. In the past, companies have tried to develop a semiautomatic .17 HMR rifle but have had very limited success, mostly due to cycling problems.
Savage's A17 in .17 HMR was tested for accuracy, safety and reliability. It features a steel receiver and specially designed lug that releases the bolt at the right time to utilize the proper amount of gas to cycle the action reliably.
In addition, CCI Ammunition
also introduced their new A17 .17 HMR, which leaves the muzzle at 2,650 fps and is the prefect complement to the new Savage rifle. The A17 rifle comes with a synthetic stock, a rotary magazine and Savage's sweet Accutrigger.
Savage | B.MAG
The other new Savage rimfire announced for 2015 is the new B.MAG Laminate Thumbhole
.17 WSM, an extension of their existing B.MAG line. The thumbhole version features rear locking lugs and a cock-on-closing bolt design similar to the Lee-Enfield rifles of the past.
The new Savage has a center-feed rotary magazine design, heavy stainless barrel with thread-in headspacing, an adjustable Accutrigger and a heavy laminate stock with dual front studs. The trigger is exceptional.
The hot .17 WSM generates high velocities with very minimal recoil.
Winchester | Model 1885
This rifle's design is 130 years old, but it's been updated and made for the latest ultra-modern, high-velocity rimfire cartridge. The Winchester 1885 Low Wall Rimfire
is chambered for the hot new .17 Winchester Super Magnum, the world's fastest rimfire.
The rifle's classic walnut stock and blued, octagonal barrel give it a timeless look. Choose from .22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 HMR or .17 WSM chamberings. This little single-shot is one of the best rimfires available, perfect for everything from backyard plinking and target shooting to squirrel, rabbit, varmint and predator hunting.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 324],469