Slide- or pump-action 22 rimfire rifles pack a lot of fun into a Saturday-afternoon plinking session. They also make handy small-game hunting rifles for squirrels and rabbits. A few generations ago, pump-action 22s were used at shooting galleries and arcades. Traveling fairs and carnivals would set up the range with small cast-iron targets, and anyone who paid the cost to play could plink away for bragging rights or to win a prize for their sweethearts. Many of those rifles were Winchesters loaded with 22 Short ammo. They had minimal recoil and noise. Since those days, the rifle and ammo have been replaced by BB and water guns at fairs and carnivals.
Finding new pump-action 22s wasn’t exactly easy, even though pump-action 22 rimfires are a long-standing American tradition. Rossi recently introduced the Gallery 22 in two models, a classic hardwood-stock model and a modernized polymer model (RP22181SY). We opted for the polymer pump. Henry offers a new Pump Action Octagon (H003T) with classic wood-and-steel construction that looks vaguely reminiscent of Winchester pumps of yore. For our third rifle we found a used, but like new, Taurus Model M62R, which is a Brazilian clone of the American-made Winchester Model 62. Close your eyes and handle the Taurus, and you will think it is a Winchester.
These rifles uses a manual slide- or pump-action to fire, eject, and reload the chamber, same as a pump-action shotgun. One big difference, however, is the external hammer. On the rearward pump, the bolt slides out the rear of the receiver to cock the hammer. If you have your grip close to the hammer, you may whack your thumb on the bolt during the rearward stroke of the pump. That’s the reason why exposed-hammer shotguns are called “thumb busters.” The bolt movement on a pump-action 22 is less than a 12-gauge shotgun, but still be warned. We were reminded of this when we tried to open the bolt using the slide release when the Rossi was cocked. Because the trigger guard is oversized, some of us choked up on the grip when we cleared the action and whacked our thumb. With the Rossi and Henry rifles, you can only operate the pump when the hammer is fully forward in the fired position or at quarter or half cock. You need to use the slide release when the hammer is cocked to cycle the action. On the Taurus, you can operate the slide if the hammer is cocked or not.
In addition to the exposed hammer, other common features of these three rifles are open sights, straight-grip stocks, and tube magazines. The Rossi and Henry both have 3⁄8-inch grooved receivers, making them optics ready. They also spit out empties from the side. The Taurus is old-school with top ejection and no easily way to mount a scope. To keep the playing field level, we opted to test the rifles using open sights, and we can say that at 20 yards, these rifles are capable of shooting one ragged hole if you do your part. In addition to accuracy, we looked at ease of use, such as the slickness of the pump and balance of the rifle. We also looked at safety features and compatibility with other 22 rimfire ammo. All of the rifles were fed a diet of 22 LR shells, and we gave bonus points to Henry and Rossi because they cycled 22 Short ammo. Note that Rossi does not indicate the Gallery 22 functions with 22 Short ammo, but we tried them anyway in limited use. In reality, nearly any 22 LR rifle is compatible with 22 Long and 22 Short ammo. The question is whether the shorter ammo will cycle in the rifle. Your pump action may turn into a single shot with 22 Shorts, as did the Taurus. Another note we have mentioned before with 22 LR guns, continuous use of 22 Shorts will build up carbon in the chamber and may cause extraction problems when switching to 22 Long Rifle. Best practice is to clean the chamber and bore after use. The downside with a pump action is they are not easy to clean, unless the rifle is a takedown like the Taurus.
To load the tubular magazines, you twist the end of the inner magazine tube and pull it out the just enough to access the loading port. No need to pull it out all the way since oils from your hands can corrode the inner tube, and you do not want to get debris or dust on it. The loading ports on all of the rifles are cut in the shape of a cartridge, so we knew which way the cartridge dropped in. We mixed up LR ammo in the magazines to see if we could choke any of these pumps, but all ran strong eventually. The Rossi jammed a few times initially, and we’ll get into it more detail later.
For accuracy testing, we aimed at 3-inch bullseye Splatter Targets at 20 yards. The black open sights on the rifles were fairly easy to see on these targets because the bullseye is black with a red center. Our range bag doubled as a rest. The 22 LR ammunition started with our plinking go-to round, Remington Thunderbolts with 40-grain lead-roundnose bullets. For hunting ammo, we fed the pumps Winchester Xpert HV with 36-grain HP bullets and CCI Velocitor with 40-grain copper-plated hollowpoint bullet. Our 22 Short ammo was CCI Target loaded with a 29-grain LRN bullet. The factory muzzle velocity of the CCI ammo shows the difference between the LR and Short cartridges, 1435 fps and 830 fps, respectively. Our speed-checking chronograph, however, told the real story. Muzzle velocity was slower than the factory stated.
We used an 8-inch paper plate set at 20 yards for our fast-shooting test. We pumped and pressed the trigger as fast as we could. With all three rifles, it was easy to keep shots on the plate. We also found the Taurus is mechanically similar to the Winchester in that we could slam-fire the rifle, which we’ll get into.
With five-shot groups measuring less than an inch at 20 yards, accuracy was super. In fact we channeled our trick-shooting mojo and sliced playing cards with all three rifles. It was easier with the Taurus and Henry than with the Rossi due to the heavy sights on the Gallery 22.
We liked all of these rifles and would happily plink away our life savings with any of them, but the devil is in the details. Here’s the bottom line from our test team on these fast-shooting pump actions 22s.
Gun Tests Grade: A (OUR PICK)
Like the Taurus, the style of the Henry Pump is reminiscent of the Winchester Model 62 with a straight pistol grip buttstock and ribbed, corn-cob fore end, and traditional iron sights. This is an adult-sized rifle with 6 pounds of heft and length of pull of 14 inches. Overall length is 38.5 inches, making it a half-inch shorter than the Taurus, though it feels a lot shorter. The balance point of the rifle is above the support hand, making the Henry a bit muzzle heavy. The fore end is fatter than the Taurus fore end, so the Henry feels more substantial in hand. It shoulders nicely, and some of our team were smitten by the Henry from the get go.
|Pump/slide action, hammer-fire
|Barrel Length/Twist Rate
|16.1 in.; 1:16 RH twist
|Smooth American walnut, straight pistol grip serrated plastic buttpad
|Buttstock Length of Pull
|Tube, 16 rounds (22 LR); 21 rounds (22 Short)
|Steel post, brass bead
|Semi-buckhorn w/diamond insert, fully adjustable
|Trigger Pull Weight
|Quarter-cock hammer, trigger disconnect
|100% satisfaction guarantee
Wood-to-metal fit was good, but there was a small gap between the receiver and buttstock. The plastic buttpad was superbly fitted to the wood and had a checkered texture. The fore end differed from the Rossi and Taurus fronts in that it overlapped the receiver, so there is no chance of pinching your hand during the rearward stroke of the pump. We liked this feature, though we didn’t pinch our hand with either the Rossi or the Taurus.
The Henry’s metal work was nice, especially the blued octagonal barrel, which reminded us of the barrel on the Henry Golden Boy 22 LR lever-action rifle. Our guess is Henry uses the same barrel for both rifles, and that works for us. The roll marks on the barrel are “gold” filled and give the rifle an old-time look. The receiver cover was matte black and was held in place by four slotted screws, two on each side.
The sights were traditional, with a brass-bead front post dovetailed into the barrel, which looked at lot like a Marble’s front sight. The rear sight is a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn with a diamond insert. The shooter adjusts windage with a brass hammer and punch and makes elevation corrections via a stepped ladder. The diamond insert is also adjustable for elevation. The rear sight was a bit crooked when we looked down the barrel, but the sights were dead on when we started putting lead down range, so we left them alone. If you want to add an optic to the rifle, the receiver has a 3⁄8-inch groove on the top. One thing to note: If you mount a scope on the Henry and completely disassemble the rifle, you will need to re-zero the optic. The trigger guard is polymer and large, bigger than the one on the Taurus and smaller than the Rossi’s. The trigger is serrated, which we thought was a good feature. Because the pump is manually operated, the serrations help keep your finger in place, especially when shooting for speed. The one-stage trigger had no take-up and broke cleanly at 2.8 pounds. The grooves between the ribs are shallow yet still provide good purchase. The bottom edge of the fore end is flat for steady shooting on a rest. The pump’s stroke length measured 1.7 inches of travel.
The hammer is wide and well textured with coarse serrations. It uses a quarter-cock safety position that locks the trigger. A grooved release button is located at the right side and front of the trigger guard. The fore end locks in place when the hammer is cocked. It was an easy stretch of the trigger finger to press the release button without getting whacked in the thumb by the bolt.
We had no loading hang-ups. The brass inner magazine tube slid past all bullet shapes with no issues. Unlike the other rifles, the Henry is compatible with 22 Long and 22 Short ammo, as the barrel rollmark clearly indicates. We ran handfuls of 22 Short ammo through it. The rifle worked flawlessly with all ammo types.
The range data was impressive. With Winchester Xpert HV rounds, our best group measured 0.25 inch. The next-best group was with Remington Thunderbolts, 0.33 inches, which was followed by the CCI Velocitor with a 0.48-inch group. The CCI Target 22 Short ammo gave us a best group that measured 0.45 inch. Nice shooting. In speed shooting, the rifle was comfortable to operate, and the extra weight allowed us to be fast on follow-up shots. Recoil was nil with all ammo. We noticed the extra pound in the Henry helped absorb recoil. In fact, it sounded like a BB gun shooting the 22 Shorts. As we mentioned, the action was a bit stiff at first, but as we used the rifle, it smoothed up nicely.
Our Team Said: The Henry Pump was the most expensive rifle tested, but in our opinion, it is worth it. It has classic good looks, a smooth-operating pump action, decent trigger, good sights, uses a variety of 22 rimfire ammo, and has excellent accuracy, even with inexpensive ammo.
22 LR Range DataTo collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 20 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
|Remington Thunderbolt 40-grain LRN
|Henry Pump Action
|Winchester Xpert HV 36-grain HP
|Henry Pump Action
|CCI Velocitor 40-grain CPHP
|Henry Pump Action
22 Short Range DataTo collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 20 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
|CCI Target 29-grain LRN
|Henry Pump Action
Value Guide: 22 Rifle Rankings (Various Actions)
|Bergara B14R 22 LR, $950
|Our Pick. The Bergara was ready to perform right out of the box. Heaviest, most accurate, most expensive.
|Christensen Ranger 22 22 LR, $830
|Were we to grade this quartet strictly for hunting, the Christensen would win running away.
|Tikka T1X 22 LR, $519
|Best Buy. The most pedestrian of the rifles tested in this group, the Tikka would be suited for hunting afield.
|Ruger Precision Rimfire 8401 22 LR, $480
|Lots of features that should bring a smile to the face of competitive shooters. Would like to see more accuracy.
|Henry Golden Boy Model H004 22 S/L/LR, $500
|Our Pick. The Golden Boy Henry shines. It is heavy and has a very smooth operating lever.
|Rossi Rio Bravo RL22181WD 22 LR, $300
|Best Buy. Bravo to the Rio Bravo. The test rifle was accurate, lightweight, and had a smooth-cycling lever.
|Chiappa LA322 Standard Carbine 920.383 22 LR, $290
|The LA322 had several failures to feed and showed some soft firing-pin hits.
|Browning BL-22 Grade I 024100103 22 S/L/LR, $700
|Our Pick. The fit and finish were superb, and that is reflected in the cost. Accuracy was the best of the three.
|Henry Classic Lever Action 22 H001 22 S/L/LR, $386
|Best Buy. The Classic 22 Lever Henry is well made, fun to shoot and inexpensive. Accuracy was good.
|Taylor’s & Co. Scout RIF/2045 22 LR, $594
|Styled after a resized Winchester Model 1873. We liked the option of adding an optic. Silver finish is striking.
|Savage Model 64 Takedown 40207 22 LR, $212
|Best Buy. Basically a Model 64 barrel and action attached to an abbreviated polymer stock.
|Ruger 10/22 Takedown 11100 22 LR, $372
|Our Pick. This has all the performance the iconic 10/22 is known for in a compact package.
|KelTec Model SU22CA 22 LR, $373
|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
|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
|If you’re looking for an M27 clone, this one is worth thinking about.
|Anschütz MSR RX22 22 LR, $900
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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)
|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
|Our Pick. The M6 follows in the footsteps of the previous M6 design and does it better.