Lever-action rifles are still on fire, and for good reason. They are practical, compact, highly mobile, and can satisfy a variety of shooting needs. Chambered for the most popular rimfire cartridges, they also peg the fun needle. Here are our picks of the top five lever-action rimfires on the market today.

by Jace Bauserman

The first rifle I fingered the trigger on was a lever-action Winchester…and I remember the smile that spread across my face the first time I squeezed the trigger, worked the lever, and watched a spent .22 LR casing hurl into the air. Of course, I can’t forget about the adjustable iron sights, which, when I took my time, proved ultra-accurate. I spent most of the day, though, with grandpa, seeing how fast I could empty the tubular magazine.

Why Rimfire?

Ammo tends to be cheaper (promotes more shooting) and available, encourages more recreational shooting and marksmanship training, increases hunting opportunities for varmints, which are everywhere and typically always in season, is more manageable for introducing new/younger shooters, and is just plain fun.

Our Criteria 

We chose rifles that include ring mount grooves, a rail, or a drilled/tapped receiver to accommodate magnified optics. A red dot is not optimal for this platform because targets tend to be small, making the more common 3+ MOA dots too large for practical and accurate shot placement on small targets and game animals.

Meet The Top Five

  1. Henry Octagon Frontier .17 HMR
  2. Browning BL-22 FLD, Grade 1
  3. Winchester Ranger 22 LR
  4. Henry .22 Magnum Express
  5. Rossi Rio Bravo Tactical

Henry Lever Action Octagon Frontier .17 HMR 

I was struck with a sense of nostalgia the first time I spied Henry’s Lever Action Octagon Frontier .17 HMR. In my youth, I’d sit and admire my grandfather’s collection of octagon-barrel shooters for hours. 

Henry replaced the standard round barrel on its .22 LR, .22 Magnum, and .17 HMR Lever Action Octagon Frontier rifles to honor the time-tested classic octagon barrel. Each rifle sports a 20-inch barrel; however, for those looking to create ultra-precise rimfire groups, Henry offers a 24-inch barrel option.

The rifle has a traditional Western look, and although the gun accepts modern-day optics via the 3/8-inch grooved receiver, the easy-to-adjust Marbles semi-buckhorn rear sight with a diamond insert and visible brass beaded front sight ensures accuracy. 

This .17 HMR shooter has a 1:9 twist rate, weighs 6.25 pounds, and measures 38.5 inches long (with a 20-inch barrel). The length of pull is 14 inches, and the safety is a 1/4 cock. 

Browning BL-22 FLD, Grade 1

Yes, Browning’s BL-22 FLD, Grade 1 is an out-of-box and on-the-shelf stunner. The satin nickel receiver finish is sexy, and the American walnut stock and steel barrel give this lever-action plinker a classic look. Even better news is that the rifle shoots as good as it looks. 

FLD stands for Full Line Dealer, meaning this accurate and ultra-reliable lever action is available through a limited number of dealers. We cheer the short 33-degree lever throw. It makes cycling fast and easy for all skill levels, and the tubular magazine holds any combination of .22 short, .22 long, and .22 long rifle ammunition. The grooved machined steel receiver is ready for optics, and the trigger travels with the lever to help prevent finger pinching.

The rifle has a 20-inch barrel, a twist rate of 16 inches, and, at five pounds, is exceptionally light. It comes with a classic butt plate, and the overall length is 36-3/4 inches. 

Winchester Ranger 22 LR

Winchester is the lever-action kingpin, and this year at SHOT Show, the manufacturer lifted the veil on its latest .22 LR. 

Dubbed the Ranger, this .22 LR is a lever-action with a precision-machined aluminum receiver, satin-finished walnut stock, and adjustable rear sight. Perfectly engineered, the Ranger’s operating forces are ultra-light, making it ideal for all shooters. The rifle cycles like a dream, and the removal of a single screw in the action separates the rifle for easy, rapid in-the-field/on-the-range cleaning. 

The lightweight receiver adds to the rifle’s exceptional balance, and the top-end chromoly steel barrel is precision bored and button rifled to ensure out-of-the-box paper-punching and small-game accuracy. 

The Ranger’s 13-inch length of pull delivers shooting comfort for a wide range of users. The hooded front sight and adjustable rear sight are excellent, and grooves in the billet aluminum receiver allow for easy optic mounting.

The Ranger has a tubular magazine, weighs 5.4 pounds, and has an overall length of 37 3/4 inches. 

Henry Lever Action .22 Magnum Express

Renowned for its accuracy and flawless cycling, Henry’s Lever Action .22 Magnum Express comes with a pre-installed Picatinny rail on the receiver cover for simple optic mounting. When excellent optics are added, this rifle, with its Monte Carlo buttstock, is a tack driver. The buttstock is capped with a soft rubber pad, ensuring no-slip shoulder pocket placement. 

The 11-round tubular magazine makes loading easy, giving you plenty of trigger pulls before reloading. The 19.25-inch barrel has a 1:16 twist rate, and the barrel is blued. Ready to punch paper, bang steel, or hammer small game, this 5.5-pound, 37 1/2-inch long rifle will meet your needs.

Rossi Rio Bravo Tactical

A lever-action rifle with a futuristic/tactical look, Rossi’s Rio Bravo Tactical was a must-add to our list of five. We love the ergonomic black polymer stock with rear sling mount and forearm. Multiple accessory slots combined with the Picatinny rail on the receiver are why this lever-action has the word “Tactical” in its name. The accessory slots are ideal for lights, sling attachment, etc., and the rail accommodates red dots and standard scopes. 

The medium-loop lever is wrapped with a nylon cord, and the trigger guard is spacious. The 16-1/2-inch barrel is threaded, and the rifle holds 10 rounds. Weighing under five pounds, the rifle is a joy to tote, and measuring under 35 inches long, most anyone can enjoy plinking with this tactical-style lever action. The gun’s twist rate is 1:16, the frame finish is matte black, and the barrel finish is polished black oxide. 

Optic Choices For Lever-Action Plinkers

Our criteria: compact and lightweight in keeping with the carbine-size platforms onto which they are mounted. A fixed 4X scope is optimal for most rimfire applications — particularly short-range target shooting and small-game hunting. Variable power and a calibrated reticle (for .22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR drop compensation) are recommended for longer distant target shooting and varmint hunting.

Leupold FX-I Rimfire 4×28 Fine Duplex

  • This scope promises ultra-clear four-power magnification that’s adjusted to account for parallax out to 60 yards.

Burris Signature HD 2-10×40

  • The E3 reticle provides shooters a simple method for determining wind drift, and the one-inch nitrogen-filled tube is rock solid.

Bushnell Rimfire 3-9×40

  • Designed for 40-grain .22 LR, this economic rimfire scope provides drop points out to 125 yards.

Sig Sauer SIERRA3BOX 2.5-8×32

  • Compact, light, and durable, this do-all scope has Integrated BDX Ballistic Data Xchange, which means you have a rangefinder/riflescope system that uses ballistics, environmental conditions, and Bluetooth to illuminate the correct holdover dot.

Trijicon Huron 1-4×24

Final Thoughts

Few things are more fun than heating up the barrel on a lever-action rifle, and these five, from small-game hunting to hitting bulls-eyes on paper, don’t disappoint. 


Born and raised in southeast Colorado, Shoot-On contributor Jace Bauserman cut his hunting teeth chasing ducks, geese, quail, and pheasants near his southeast Colorado home. The seed that was planted stuck, and Bauserman’s outdoor pursuits grew. He started chasing elk and mule deer in the Colorado mountains with his 7mm Rem. Mag., and coyotes, fox, and bobcats across the plains. In 2003, Bauserman started writing about his adventures. Today, Bauserman is an accomplished outdoor writer. He has served as editor-in-chief of Bowhunt America and Bowhunting World magazines and has penned thousands of articles for top-tier outdoor publications.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Jace Bauserman
Load More In Firearms

Check Also

Personal Defense Gear for Civilians

If you’re in the market for protective gear that won’t let you down in a crisi…