Hunting With a .22LR | Complete Guide

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When you think of a gun, you think about firepower and range. Most satisfy this need, but not so many have a long history like the .22lr. It is about the legacy of a rifle that has a shooting span lasting over a century. It is impressive, shoots accurately, and with lethality at ranges of 150 meters.

The .22lr does not have an intimidating design, but beginners will enjoy its ease of use, low price point, remarkable utility, and reliability. If you come from a family of sportsmen and love hunting, the .22 long rifle is a gun to pass down to the next generation. This is the reason why we’re writing this guide to hunting with a 22LR. It’s where most of us started falling in love with hunting!

What is a Good Beginner .22LR Rifle?

The best gun for most beginners is a .22 long rifle. The reasons are many, but the most essential is accuracy. Nothing feels right than shooting a gun and hitting your target. The reason the .22lr is accurate even for beginners is that it has no recoil. 

Many rifles are far accurate and have a better range like the .22 Hornet and .22 Magnum. However, as a beginner new to hunting, the .22lr is the best for hunting small game. It is lethal and does not damage the flesh of the game you are hunting. 

Most beginners need control when they are new to hunting. Gun technology keeps improving, and this makes it easy to hunt your prey successfully. Modern guns give you control of the kill zone, and through powerful scopes, you can choose a target and hit it with pinpoint accuracy. 

Before you think of hunting big game, you should practice with small game. Small animals are fast and offer a small target to shoot. You must weave through the bushes and get close to your prey. You need a rifle that can maneuver tight areas and not give up stealth. 

Why You Should Get the .22 Long Rifle for Hunting

When you are new to guns and hunting, you will need a lot of practice to perfect your skills. There is no better rifle to practice your shooting than the .22lr. These are the reasons why.

Cost

Besides being one of the most affordable firearms, the cartridge ammo for the .22s is one of the most inexpensive and available as well. What this implies is that getting a rifle and starting your shooting practice, is affordable. All you need is a safe shooting range to perfect your shooting skills. 

Ammo

The ammo for the .22s is also among the most lightweight. It is easy to carry, and you can have as many rounds as you need for both hunting and training. One look at the .22 ammo, and you will wonder how it takes down big prey. 

It is small, but this means it moves at a higher velocity in short distances. The size also makes less noise when you fire your rifle compared to other hunting guns. 

Efficiency

The ethics of hunting any game is to put it down as fast and painless as you can. It means that you should have a better aim and the knowledge to hit vital organs of the animals you are hunting. For small games, a body shot will get the job done quickly. 

When hunting big game like the white deer, you need to aim behind the ear near the intersection between the neck and the front leg. To place a perfect shot, you need a gun that has balance and controlled shot placement. 

Best for training

Hunting with a gun needs lots of concentration if you want to be the best. Therefore you need a weapon that has fewer distractions. Ear-splitting guns can take the focus away for beginners who are not used to the sound. Flinching in anticipation of the loud bang can make you miss your target. 

Newcomers also should worry about the recoils most rifles give when you fire a shot. The .22lr has no recoil, and this is good because you do not need to worry about the gun butt smacking your chops each time you pull the trigger.

Survival skill lessons are essential for every gun and homeowner. The advantage of using a .22lr is that the safety and handling skills transcend to other firearms as well. 

When training to hunt small game like rabbits and squirrels, you learn concealment and stalking traits which are useful for hunting big prey. You can apply these valuable hunting lessons for combat training as well. 

If you need targets for shooting practice we have some free ones here you can download and print.

Hunters choice

The .22lr can take down any game regardless of size. Most countries, however, deem it illegal to hunt big animals using it. But it is suitable to control pests like raccoons and gophers, and when you need it during the hunt, it can successfully wade off predators. 

In the hands of an expert, the .22 is a fatal round that kills with precision. Though it is not high on the list of self-defense rifles, it doesn’t have the power to knock down your attackers. If you miss the vital organs, a large wounded prey may still charge at you. 

Shooting distance

The .22 long rifle is an expert firearm. You can shoot targets up to 440 yards accurately. However, at such distances, shooting and killing a big game is almost impossible. But the wound can be fatal enough to slow it down, and you can move in to finish it with your second shot.

If you’re interested in more long range hunting you should check out our beginners guide here.

What Animals Can You Hunt with a .22 Rifle? 

In the hands of an expert, all prey can fall when you take it down with a .22lr. The conditions must be perfect, the distance right, and the environment calm. These conditions are not always there to give you an excellent shot placement. 

Therefore, a .22 is more of a small game rifle that can take down both winged and ground animals.

Winged animals:

  • ducks
  • goose
  • ostrich
  • quails
  • partridge
  • woodcock

Ground animals

  • squirrels
  • rabbits
  • deer
  • roebuck
  • venison
  • coons / raccoons

Read more about coon hunting in our article here

How Far Can You Shoot a .22 Rifle?

Long-range shooting includes lots of variables that affect the quality of your shot placement. They include

  • Wind
  • Terrain
  • Altitude
  • Humidity
  • Size and weight of the bullet 
  • Air pressure
  • Barrel temperature
  • Cosine angle etc.

The wind drift affects the accuracy of a .22 rifle over long distances. When the range exceeds 150 yards, the shot power reduces significantly, and the bullets drop down much faster. Experts range that from 600 yards and a slight breeze, you can hit targets accurately only 4 out of 20 times. For a deeper understanding of the subject and to see it for yourself I really recommend you have a look at this video:

What is the Best Ammo for a .22 Rifle?

There are three types of ammo for the .22 long rifle, and each has a different use for the owner. Some are more lethal and useful for hunting, while others are best for target practice. 

Round Nose/ hollowpoint

These rounds are best when you are out hunting for fun or enjoying some time with target practice. Plinking ammo is good because it has less damage and, therefore, not fatal. At closer distances, hollow rounds are lethal and will easily wound and kill. When shooting at a big prey that is out of range, it can stun or injure. 

Subsonic .22 ammo

These are rounds that will not break the sound barrier when you fire your gun. Most ammo for the .22 long rifle is subsonic. These are mostly rounds that have a lower sound impact and are suitable for beginners or younger hunters who might scare easily when shooting a loud gun

Shotshells

These are special ammo for the .22 long rifle, and most people use them for hunting and sporting activities. Shotshells are fatal and accurate. Most shotshell ammo has a higher velocity and will have a greater impact on your target. 

The .22lr rounds are lightweight because they have no gunpowder and brass. These are the best type of .22 ammo for your rifle.

CCI Stinger 

It is a hollow point round that is suitable for standard game hunting. If you want deadly caliber rounds that are also accurate, then the CCI stinger will do the job. It is a hollow copper-plated 32-grain bullet that is widely available as well. 

Remington Thunderbolt

These are waxed 40-grain lead bullets that are also deadly accurate. They are low priced and available in local ammo stores. They are useful for target practice and plinking. Most guns do not like them, so before you stack them up, you should test them on your firearms.

Federal Automatch 

It gives you the best experience whether you need the rounds for training, hunting, or plinking. They are accurate and best for competitions because of their reliability and consistent shooting experience. One box of ammo carries 325 affordable rounds. 

CCI Standard Velocity

It is a round head that features a subsonic bullet of 1070 ft/second. You will love the accuracy during plinking and competitions. It has a reasonable price and is reliable for most .22 long rifles. The most accurate ammo also has better ignition. 

Eley Tenex match

If you want consistency, the Eley Tenex match is the best cartridge in the market for your gun. It has a flat nose profile, and the cut on the case mouth gives it a better ballistic performance. 

What to Look for When You are Buying a Scope for a .22lr

A scope is useful in any situation as it improves your aim, which leads to your improved shot placement. There are many scopes that each vary in price and performance for your .22lr. Before you settle for one, you must check your boxes against these requirements.

Purpose

Optics on any rimfire is a welcome addition. But to get the right scope, you must know the range of your gun. Getting a scope with extreme magnification is expensive and, in this case, highly impractical. The .22lr cannot fire accurately up to 500 yards; therefore, you should get a scope with a lower magnification. 

Durability

Scopes must be durable because you get to use them in harsh conditions. They should be able to withstand scratches, knocks, and pressure from your surroundings. Over time, your scope will receive dents, and the material should be high quality to withstand extreme conditions. 

Hunting grounds can change, and the weather as well. You should consider a waterproof and dustproof model. Your scope should be able to hold zero marks consistently. 

The scope is an extension of your rifle, and the best are the ones from a single tube piece. It should have fewer moving parts to avoid fog and water infiltrations of the lenses that blur your vision. Some of the best materials for a proper scope are aluminum and graphite. 

Glass

Your scope is worthless unless the lenses are accurate and firm in their position. Make sure you get lenses that can perform in most conditions and quickly bring out clear and bright images. The best scopes produce enough light from the ocular lens to your pupil. These are useful if you plan to go hunting. 

The coating on the scope helps with two things.

  • It reduces the glare and reflection from the sun when you are shooting against the light. 
  • Coatings are suitable for abrasion resistance that protects the scope against scratches

The diameter of the objective lens is usually 33mm in diameter, and this works well for most .22lr.

Weight

Having a substantial scope might throw the balance of your rifle away, and this is why you should get a lightweight one. It is difficult to tell the best cut off weight scope ideal for you without handling your rifle. But if you keep it at 150oz, it will give you a better experience. 

Reticle

Similar to the purpose of your scope, the reticle influences shot distance. You are aware that the .22lr is poor at taking long-range shots, but there are situations where a good reticle can compensate for bullet drop. 

On most occasions, using a simple and duplex reticle will get the shot placement accurate for short-range shooting. 

Magnification Power

Most shooting ranges you can have with a .22 rifle will be below 150 yards. If you buy a scope with a high magnification power is a waste because you will still not account for the accuracy for long-range shots. You do not need a powerful scope when a standard one can do. It is durable and has fewer moving parts. 

What to Look for Before Buying a .22 Rifle

There are many great features that you should be aware of when it comes to getting the best .22 rifle. Different rifles have different prices and features. 

Price

Not all expensive rifles are the best. If you are new to hunting and guns then you should evaluate your rifle with the use you have for it. Some are more reliable, while others are accurate. 

Triggers

The key to any rifle’s accuracy is the trigger. Most people overlook the trigger and focus on the scope for better efficiency. There are many forms of triggers for your gun. Many people are comfortable on the factory trigger but you can get an adjustable trigger or a slim trigger blade. 

Different rifles have different triggers, and knowing the one you are comfortable with can help improve your accuracy in the field. 

Safety

All guns must have a better safety mechanism that allows you to take shots only when you are ready. The safety feature varies in most rifles, and you must ensure that you understand how it works. 

Stocks

There are lots of quality stock rifles you can choose. Here the preference lies with you as specific designs are better than others. Stock rifles are usually lightweight and have a better grip. 

Barrel length

Some people cut off nearly 8-inches of their barrels to fit in a sound moderator. Different models have varying barrel sizes. These sizes determine the length of a rifle. A sound moderator is only useful when using subsonic ammo. 

Some .22 rifles like the sako and Ruger come with a screw cut where you can quickly put in a sound moderator. 

Weight

If you want a hunting gun, a lightweight model is better to stalk prey for hours in the woods without feeling the burden of your rifle. 

The Best Scopes for Your .22 Long Rifle

Leopold VX-2 Rimfire Scope

It is slightly more expensive than other scopes under review here. The reason is it can deliver accurate shot placement in almost all situations. It has a 3-9x variable scope that is perfect for hunting. It is easy to zero in and reliable if you sight your target correctly. 

At 1oo yards, you will get an excellent field of view that ranges from 38.3ft to 15.2 ft. With this kind of range, you can zero quickly on a target even when in low light conditions. It also has a wide range of wind adjustment and elevation of 64 MOA. However, with a .22lr, you will not experience most of these ranges. The Leopold VX-2 is weather resistant and durable.

Nikon P-rimfire scope

It comes with a 2-7x variable magnification power and is suitable for smaller rimfire rifles. It is useful when you are hunting in less favorable hunting conditions like foggy and low light environments.

The scope transmits lots of light to give a bright and clear target with low light settings. It makes the image more vivid than the surrounding field of view. When you get to the x7 magnification, your field of view will drop, and you will be unable to key in on your target. 

The scope uses a tactical turret that makes it easy to adjust while on the field. The use of audible finger clicks makes you coordinate sound and vision when you do not want to remove your eye from your target. 

It uses the Nikoplex reticle, which is a simple duplex reticle and the best to center targets fast. 

Leupold FX-1 Rimfire scope

It has 4x fixed magnification scope that is excellent when hunting for small game in a dense and wooded environment. It has a 25.5 field of view at 100 yards, which is enough to give you an accurate shot placement. 

What this means is that when you are chasing the small game, you can easily center on your target. It uses a duplex reticle with a thick base to taper in fine lines when shooting along crosshairs. It also has better eye relief than most scopes and will give you a comfortable experience in the field. 

The lens gives out a low light performance, which is excellent when hunting in the dark. The field of view remains brighter than the surrounding environment. It is among the best scopes that give a precise shot once you zero on your target.

Vortex Crossfire II Rimfire

It is a high-performance scope with a magnification power of 2-7X. It has a sturdy build with an anodized aluminum finish. It has excellent seals on the movable parts to make it fog and waterproof. Because of these characteristics, you can hit targets even when in poor environmental conditions. 

In low light conditions, you can still expect better-shot placements because it has a big sized objective lens. It has a duplex reticle, but the bold lines have little tapering, which can make it bulky when you are lining up a shot. 

It is simple to adjust the elevation and windage turrets while in the field, as you have a zero resettable feature on the scope. However, with this scope, it is challenging to zero in at targets ranging from 50 to 70 yards.  

Conclusion

The .22 long rifles are the best in history for sporting activities and hunting. The reason is because the model is consistent and reliable for placing accurate shots. It is also the best beginner rifle because it is affordable and available in many gun stores and outlets.

Finding the best .22 LR depends on the use you have for it. When you equip your rifle with the best scope and trigger system, you improve your chances of getting a clean shot each time you fire your gun. 

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