First Firearm: First 22LR, A Cheap & Easy Way To Marksmanship

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    Welcome to another installment of TFB’s First Firearm Series. This series is dedicated to those that are contemplating buying their first firearm ever, or the first of whichever is the topic at hand. In this week’s edition, we’re covering the classic, practical, and affordable to almost any budget, .22 Long Rifle (lr).



    In the Series Intro, there were lots of comments suggesting a gun chambered for the rimfire .22lr should be a first firearm. Some explained that they started with a powerful caliber, only to develop a nasty flinch that they had to work to eliminate. Learning fundamentals on something with virtually no recoil, lets you focus on the things you need to do to get your rounds on target without having to flinch or flex in anticipation of violence that will follow the trigger pull. The internet has a plethora of videos in which a small-framed person (typically female) is handed a firearm that’s far too big and powerful for their skill level. Laughter can usually be heard in the background after the gun is dropped or the shooter stumbles. It may be entertaining on a certain level, but it’s rarely helpful to the new shooter and the bigger picture of expanding people’s view of gun ownership. Starting with a bigger caliber can be fine, but it’s hard to go wrong with a .22lr. When starting with .22lr, you should be able to build a good base of fundamentals that will carry into bigger calibers and longer distances down the road.

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    Rimfire VS. Centerfire. The primer on a rimfire cartridge is held around the rim at the base. The primer on a centerfire cartridge is in the center (.45acp as an example).

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    .22lr next to 9mm, .45acp and .357 magnum.



    Your first 22lr firearm can come in the form of a rifle or handgun. Becoming accurate while handling either type of firearm uses different muscle sets, but both still require controlled breathing, steady hands and proper sight picture. .22 rifle prices start around $100, while .22 handguns start a bit higher around $200. If your budget allows, buying a rifle AND a handgun for your first 22lr is a possibility. We’ll cover prices more in depth below, but if you want to start your gun ownership shooting the cheapest round commercially available, this is it.

    I started shooting BB rifles young. I became proficient with that rifle and took those skills with me into adulthood when I bought my first centerfire rifle a few days after I turned 18. My ability with handguns was another story that took time to correct. It wasn’t until my younger children came of age to learn to shoot that I bought my first 22lr. I bought a pink Cricket bolt action rifle and took my daughter out to the range. Each child since has accompanied me to the range to shoot that same rifle when I determined they were able to follow the safety rules and my instructions on how to shoot it. I later bought my first 22lr pistol as well and my wife and children love to shoot it. I notice improvement with each trip to the range.

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    Author’s daughter shooting a .22 rifle.



    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    Image from



    Your first 22lr, be it a rifle or handgun, can be much more than just a range toy or confidence builder. For those in rural settings, the .22lr firearm is well suited for dispatching nuisance animals or injured livestock. In a pinch, the .22’s can also be pressed into a self-defense role, though few would recommend the .22lr to be a dedicated self-defense caliber. Aside from plinking, the .22’s are commonly known as great guns for hunting small game like squirrels and rabbits and such. Most .22 rifles, and some pistols, have the ability to mount red dot scopes or magnified scopes.

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr



    People can learn to shoot accurately on their own, but having a knowledgeable person with you can speed up the process. If you’re new to shooting, ask a gun owner you know for a little help at the range. People that can observe what you’re doing wrong and give advise on needed corrections when needed are invaluable to new shooters.

    Project Appleseed was started to promote marksmanship for all ages with a variety of events and reasonable pricing. You can view their website HERE, and their forums HERE. To find an event nearest you, click HERE. Are there any TFB readers that have helped or participated in an Appleseed event?

    First Firearm Series: First 22lr

    Image from



    As usual, I asked the other staff at TFB for feedback on what they recommend for your first 22lr pistol and rifle. As always, they gave great examples. Feel free to check the links in their suggestions.

    Austin R.Semi: Ruger 10/22 – It works, and everyone makes parts for it. It’s the .22LR equivalent of the AR-15. Bolt: Savage MKII – Most accurate Bolt Action .22 I’ve ever shot (that wasn’t something crazy custom) Pistol: M&P .22 Compact– Because it’s the only .22 pistol I’ve found that isn’t picky about ammo (Specifically the Compact because it was made by Smith, and not under contract by Walther).”

    Rusty S.Rifles: Semi: Ruger 10/22; Bolt: Tikka T1x or Savage Rascal
    Pistols: Ruger Mk IV

    Eric B. “My first 22lr pistol was a Feinwerkbau AW93. Bought it brand new for something like $2,500 USD or possibly more. Expensive, but such a great surgical tool. I had waited a long time and used the useless club guns. Only ever used expensive .22lr ammo for it, but if I did my thing, it did its. Shooting was like yoga, 5 shots in 6 minutes at 25 m. Then I started practical shooting, but I sometimes look back and miss those golden moments.”

    Matthew M. “My first 22 was a Browning BL22, love it. First I ever shot was a stock 10/22, not a fan but they’re great guns, foolproof and customizable.”

    Nicholas C. Ruger Precision Rimfire. You can find it for under $400.”

    Mike R. “Ruger 10/22. Cheap easy. Good place to start the fundamentals. Kids (if for a kid) will have way more fun with a semi. As you get better, quality upgrades are readily available.”



    As previously mentioned, your first 22lr firearm can be very affordable. Not only are the entry level .22 firearms affordable, but the ammunition is also the cheapest available. There was a time not long ago in which .22 ammo was hard to find and double or triple its normal cost, although prices seem to finally be normalizing. At the time of this writing, I was able to find .22lr on sale for around $18 for a 500 round box. Comparatively, the most affordable centerfire ammunition, 9mm Luger, costs roughly $80-100 for the same number of rounds. If you decide to buy a .22lr firearm, now is a good time to stock up ammo while it’s available and affordable.

    If you’re looking for your first 22lr pistol or rifle, check out the links below for a sampling of what’s available. The list doesn’t represent every offering in .22lr, but it’s a good start.


    Keystone Crickett, Keystone Mini Mosin (just announced by TFB), Savage Rascal, Ruger AmericanCZ 455 (TFB Review) ,Tikka T1x (TFB Review)



    Ruger 10/22Savage A22, S&W MP15-22 (TFB coverage), Thompson Center T/CR22 (TFB Review)



    Henry Repeating Arms



    Beretta NEOS,  Ruger Mk IVS&W MP22S&W SW22 VictoryBrowning Buckmark



    Ruger LCRRuger SP101, S&W 617

    If you’re looking to buy your first firearm, do you lean toward starting with a .22lr, or something else? Which make and model fits your needs best? To our regular readers, what .22lr firearm would you recommend to someone looking to buy their first firearm, or first .22lr? What did you start out with?


    We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.
    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.