Rimfire rifles are a lot of fun to shoot, with minimal expense, recoil, and noise. As one of our testers said, we believe in recycling plastic water bottles, but only after they has been properly perforated. Banging away at filled water bottles with 22 rimfires offers some exciting impacts and a lot of fun for novice and experienced shooters. We’ve had quite a few email requests to test 22 rimfire rifles, and we were specifically asked to test a Henry Classic Lever 22 and Browning BL-22 head-to-head. We also threw in the mix a Taylor’s Scout. With this match-up of 22 rimfire lever actions, we held our own against those pesky polymer water containers and discovered the reason we have so little 22 rimfire ammo on hand. The ammo shortage is not because we can’t find ammo to buy, it’s because we use up so much ammo in testing.
Besides plinking and fun, we feel that any of these rifles would also make great small-game hunting rifles or pest-control choices. Common features of these rifles include straight-grip wood stocks, exposed hammers, 14- to 15-round-capacity tube magazines, adjustable open sights, the ability to mount an optic, plastic buttplates, and no manual safeties. The rifling twist rate in the three rifles was 1:16 inches, which is the typical 22 rimfire rifling rate. The Henry and Browning offer a bit more versatility because they are compatible with Short, Long, and Long Rifle 22 rimfire cartridges.
How We Tested
Besides shooting the aforementioned plastic bottles, we performed our accuracy testing on ultra-bright fluorescent-yellow-and-red bullseyes on Thompson Target paper targets set at 25 yards. The black open sights on the rifles are easier to see on these targets. Ammo used included Remington Thunderbolt with a 40-grain lead round-nose bullet (LRN), a CCI Blazer 38-grain LRN, plus Winchester Xpert high-velocity rounds loaded with a 36-grain HP bullet. The latter is a hunting round. Using our range bag as a rest, we were able to shoot some nice groups with these rifles. In some cases, the group were one ragged hole. For our speed-shooting test, we placed White Flyer clay trap/skeet targets in various spots on a dirt berm at 35+ yards. The intent was to fire offhand and see how fast we could fire follow-up shots to pulverize the clay pigeons. As far as speed is concerned, the Browning stole the show with its short-stroke lever. We did notice the Henry took a bit longer to cycle, but its silky-smooth lever was still fast. We also noticed that we short-stroked the Taylor’s in the beginning after shooting the Browning and initially thought it was dud ammo. More on that later.
Loading the tubular magazines on these rifles takes more time when compared to a box-magazine-fed rifle, but the tube magazines offer four to five extra rounds. When we load these rifles, we do not fully remove the inner brass magazine tube. We just extend it to open the loading port. This way it does not get handled, so it does not corrode or get dirty.
After all the plinking and target work, in our opinion, the Taylor’s Scout, Henry Classic Lever 22, and Browning BL-22 Grade I all check the boxes for a fun-to-shoot rimfire. Still, we started to favor one over the others during our range sessions.
Gun Tests Grade: A- (BEST BUY)
The Henry Classic Lever Action 22 looks like a miniaturized Winchester Model 94 with the straight pistol grip stock, smooth satin-finish wood, hooded front sight, barrel band, and adjustable rear sight.
|Action Type||Lever-action, exposed hammer|
|Overall Length||36.5 in.|
|Barrel/Twist Rate||18.5 in.; 1:16 RH twist|
|Overall Height||7.25 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||5.25 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded (22 LR)||5.85 lbs.|
|Sight Radius||14.87 in.|
|Magazine Capacity||15 LR/17 L/21 S|
|Drop at Comb||2.0 in.|
|Drop at Heel||2.75 in.|
|Length of Pull||14.0 in.|
|Front Sight||Hooded blade|
|Rear Sight||Adjustable blade; receiver grooved for optic|
|Trigger Type/Pull Weight||Single-stage, 3.9 lbs.|
|Warranty||100% satisfaction guarantee|
Out of the box, the Henry felt light weight, and the lever was easily manipulated. In fact the lever is silky smooth and the easiest of the three rifles to operate. The receiver has a matte-black finish and the barrel is blued. The finish was okay, but it was nowhere near as nice as either the Taylor’s or the Browning, and that is reflected in the cost. Where the smooth stock and smooth forend were fitted to metal, there were some gaps. The stock had a nice satin finish that was even and consistent. We liked the finish of the American walnut stock. The barrel bands and front sight are polymer, and that no doubt helps to keep the cost of the rifle low. The buttpad is also black polymer.
The 18.5-inch barrel is equipped with a fully adjustable notch rear sight. It uses a step-ladder setup to adjust elevation, but you need a punch and hammer to adjust windage. The front sight sported a metal hood to protect the plastic post front. The front post was a bit bent, but the sights were dead on, so there was no need to fuss with them. The top of the receiver is grooved for a scope mount.
The Henry loads the same way as the other rifles tested, via a port in the magazine tube. Rotate the knurled knob of the inner magazine tube and withdraw it to load rounds. When the magazine is fully loaded, push the inner magazine tube back into the outer magazine tube and twist and lock it into place. A rubber O-ring provides tension and tight fit. Loading the Henry Classic levergun was an easy process.
The trigger pull measured 3.9 pounds, and we thought that was okay because we produced some very tight groups with the Henry. We noted we could slowly operate the lever with no jams. It cycled a mixture of 22 Short and Long Rifles with no issues. The hammer had plenty of serrations, so cocking and unlocking with a thumb felt safe.
Going hot with the Henry, our best five-shot group was with CCI Blazer ammo, measuring 0.49 inches. Both the Henry and Browning gave us the highest velocities. The Winchester Xpert HV hunting rounds gave us a 0.59-inch best group. Remington ammo gave us a best group that measured 0.64 inches.
Our Team Said: The Henry is a great-shooting slick-operating rimfire. It is not as fancy as the as the other rifles tested, but it is a good choice — and at a low price. We think it’s a Best Buy.
22 LR Range Data
|CCI Blazer 38-grain LRN||Taylor’s & Co. Scout||Browning BL-22 Grade I||Henry Classic Lever Action 22|
|Average Velocity||1231 fps||1285 fps||1225 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||128 ft.-lbs.||134 ft.-lbs.||127 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||0.80 in.||0.74 in.||0.49 in.|
|Average Group||0.86 in.||0.77 in.||0.76 in.|
|Winchester Xpert HV 36-grain HP||Taylor’s & Co. Scout||Browning BL-22 Grade I||Henry Classic Lever Action 22|
|Average Velocity||1179 fps||1216 fps||1267 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||111 ft.-lbs.||127 ft.-lbs.||128 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||0.93 in.||0.58 in.||0.59 in.|
|Average Group||1.06 in.||0.62 in.||0.87 in.|
|Remington Thunderbolt 40-grain LRN||Taylor’s & Co. Scout||Browning BL-22 Grade I||Henry Classic Lever Action 22|
|Average Velocity||1173 fps||1216 fps||1214 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||122 ft.-lbs.||131 ft.-lbs.||131 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||0.35 in.||0.48 in.||0.64 in.|
|Average Group||0.48 in.||0.59 in.||0.82 in.|
Value Guide: 22 Rifle Rankings
|Savage Model 64 Takedown 40207 22 LR, $212||Sept. 2020||A||Best Buy. Basically a Model 64 barrel and action attached to an abbreviated polymer stock.|
|Ruger 10/22 Takedown 11100 22 LR, $372||Sept. 2020||A||Our Pick. This has all the performance the iconic 10/22 is known for in a compact package.|
|KelTec Model SU22CA 22 LR, $373||Sept. 2020||A-||While not a true takedown rifle, the folding stock on the SU-22CA makes it easy to stow and go.|
|Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 22 LR, $500||Mar. 2020||A||Best Buy. The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 operated as we wanted and shot well. It won’t break the bank.|
|Walther Arms HK416 D145RS 578.03.01 22 LR, $583||Mar. 2020||B||If you’re looking for an M27 clone, it’s worth thinking about.|
|Anschütz MSR RX22 22 LR, $900||Mar. 2020||C||The Anschütz RX22’s trigger wasn’t the best, its buttpad fell off repeatedly, and no one liked its open sights.|
|ISSC MK22 ISSC211000 22 LR, $270||Mar. 2020||F||Showed ongoing failures to feed and extract. The blems on the sides of the receiver put us off.|
|German Sport Guns GSG-StG44 GERGSTG44 22 LR, $330||Feb. 2020||A||Our Pick. The action had very similar stampings to what you would find on the historical firearm.|
|Walther Arms Colt M4 Carbine 5760300 22 LR, $350||Feb. 2020||B||The Walther Arms Colt 22 LR M4 looks almost identical to the standard-issue Colt centerfire rifle.|
|Walther Arms HK MP5 A5 5780310 22 LR, $390||Feb. 2020||C||As tested, the stock limited the enjoyment of the firearm and was completely unacceptable for the price.|
|Chiappa Citadel CIR22M1W 22 LR, $300 (Two guns)||Feb. 2020||F, C||While the Chiappa looks very similar to a classic M1 Carbine, too many of the parts were made of plastic.|
|TPS M6 M6-100 22 LR/410 Bore, $487||Jan. 2020||A||Our Pick. The M6 follows in the footsteps of the previous M6 design and does it it better.|
|Rossi Matched Pair 22 LR/410 bore, $182||Jan. 2020||A||We liked the sights, the ease of disassembly, and handling of this gun. You get a lot of gun for the price.|
|Savage Model 42 Takedown 22440 22 LR/410 Bore, $425||Jan. 2020||B+||The gun has some fine attributes: accuracy and simple disassembly/reassembly.|
|Hunting Tactical Super Sixty HTSSA1 22 LR, $500||Nov. 2019||A||From the extended bolt release to the super-sharp 3.8-pound trigger, the Super Sixty is an exceptional rifle.|
|Adaptive Tactical Ruger 10-22 Build 22 LR, $635||Nov. 2019||A||We would have liked a better trigger, but we didn’t feel limited by it, as the accuracy results show.|
|Thompson Center T/CR22 12299 22 LR, $350||Nov. 2019||A-||Reliable, accurate, and light. If we were grading for best truck gun, one of the raters said this is it.|
|Mossberg 715T 37209 22 LR, $254||Nov. 2019||B-||Reliable, but the least accurate rifle, and the plastic shell didn’t look very good against the nicer rifles.|
|Savage MKII FV-SR Threaded Barrel 28702 22 LR, $248||Jul. 2018||A-||Affordable and a great shooter. Shot lights out with the Eley subsonic load.|
|Ruger American Rimfire Standard 8305 22 LR, $309||Jul. 2018||B+||This is a well-thought-out rifle with a lot of flexibility. We liked its cheekweld best.|
|CZ-USA 455 American 02114 22 LR, $373||Jul. 2018||B+||Clean lines and the best shooter with the suppressor on. Would have liked a slightly higher comb or less pitch.|
|CZ-USA CZ 455 American 02110 22 LR, $400||Jun. 2017||A||Best Buy. The CZ 455 is our pick as the best all-round, go-anywhere, do-anything bolt-action rifle.|