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Rifles Rim Fire Semi Auto

Review: 3 “Tactical” Semiauto Rimfires

by James Tarr   |  November 4th, 2011 13

The current popularity of AR-15 style rifles, combined with the high cost of ammunition, also has caused a surge in popularity of rifles styled like their centerfire big brothers but chambered in the ubiquitous .22 LR. I enlisted several of my friends and my two sons, ages 13 and 9, to test three of the newer tactically styled semiauto rimfires on the market.

Ruger SR-22

Ruger’s SR-22 is a 10/22 dressed up in AR furniture. It features a rail for optics, ventilated handguard and more.

Ruger SR-22

The Ruger SR-22 is basically a 10/22 attempting to peg the needle on the cool meter. All black, it has a six-position collapsible AR-style stock, pistol grip and ventilated fore-end. The exterior aluminum receiver seems to be cosmetic only, two pieces of aluminum affixed to a standard 10/22 receiver on the inside.

The rifle comes with a signature Ruger flash hider, and the receiver has a top rail to mount the optic of your choice. A fixed-stock version with no muzzle device is available for sale in states that have restrictions on such things.

The controls are purely 10/22, and it comes with the 10/22s 10-round rotary magazine. If you are looking for a cheap way to refine your skills with an AR-15, the SR-22 perhaps isn’t for you as the controls are different. That said, it is still a heck of a

Ruger SR-22 controls

The SR-22’s controls are pure 10/22, which means this wouldn’t make a good AR trainer.

lot of fun to shoot. The rifle retails for $625.

The only complaint my youthful testers had with the SR-22 was the weight. Between the thick receiver and the metal fore-end the rifle tips the scales at 6.5 pounds but felt heavier because a lot of the weight is out front. This wasn’t a problem for the adults, but I noticed the weight even before my youngest son made a comment. My only complaint is that the rifle’s traditional 10/22 controls, which I’ve never been a fan of.

We also tested the new BX-25 from Ruger—a factory 25-round magazine designed for the 10/22 by the same people who make the rifle. The BX-25 inserts the cartridges into the chamber at the same angle as the proven 10-round rotary magazine, is easily disassembled, and retails for only $30.

Fast Specs: Ruger SR-22

  • Capacity, 10; bbl length, 16.12 in.; weight, 6.5 lb.; OAL, 32.75-36 in.
  • 6-position adjustable stock, vent aluminum fore-end, railed for scope (no irons)
  • Avg. 50 yd. accuracy: 1.7 in.
  • Price: $625


S&W M&P 15-22 MOE

The M&P 15-22 MOE, is nearly indistinguishable from a centerfire AR apart from the magazine and ejection port.

S&W M&P15-22 MOE

Smith & Wesson made big news just a few years ago when it introduced a .22 Long Rifle version of its  M&P-15. This rifle was interesting because both the upper and lower receivers were made of polymer, as opposed to aluminum, and it has the same controls as a standard AR-15.

We tested the S&W M&P 15-22 MOE variant, which comes with a Magpul MOE stock, pistol grip, trigger guard and flip-up sights. I tested the black version, but S&W sells one with flat dark earth MOE furniture.

Because the controls are exactly the same as on a centerfire rifle, the 15-22 alone of the three rifles we tested would be an excellent inexpensive trainer for military or law enforcement personnel.

S&W M&P 15-22 MOE controls

Other than a lack of a forward assist, the M&P 15-22’s controls are just like a centerfire AR’s.

The rifle comes with a quad-rail fore-end, and even though it is polymer it will still take standard rail covers or mount flashlights or other accessories designed for Picatinny-style rails. At 5-1/2 pounds the rifle feels quite light, and one of the reasons for that is because it is so well-balanced.

The 15-22 comes with a well-designed 25-round magazine that is easy to load, even for kids, and the rifle itself is more than accurate enough to do anything a .22 can do.

Of the three rifles we tested this one was the hands-down favorite of the adults because it has the exact same controls as a .223 AR-15. The kids liked it because not only did it feel the lightest, it looked just like the ARs they shoot in video games.

The S&W M&P 15-22 MOE’s suggested retail is $609, but depending on options, accessories and camo patterns, the 15-22s retail from between $499 for the basic version and $769 for the Performance Center model

Fast Specs: S&W M&P15-22 MOE

  • Capacity, 10; bbl length, 16 in.; weight, 6.25 lb., OAL, 30.5-33.75 in.
  • 6-position adjustable stock, polymer quad rail, Magpul flip-up sights
  • Avg. 50 yd. accuracy: 1.53 in.
  • Price: $609
Mossberg 715T Carry Handle

The Mossberg 715T Carry Handle .22 resembles an M16A2 with an 18-inch barrel and fixed sights.

Mossberg Mossberg 715T Carry Handle

The Mossberg is obviously built to resemble an AR-15 but is not likely to be mistaken for one if you have any experience with the design. With an adjustable M4-type stock made by ATI, carrying handle, 18-inch barrel, long quad-rail fore-end and pistol grip the Mossberg superficially looks like an AR-15A2, but the controls are very different.

The safety is a crossbolt in front of the trigger guard. The magazine release is an ambidextrous lever on the side of the magazine well. The charging handle is just for show and doesn’t move. The “forward assist” is just a jutting lump of plastic.

The Mossberg has A2-length non-removable sights and a polymer Picatinny rail attached to the top of the carrying handle. It is actually the lightest of the rifles we tested at five pounds, but it felt a little heavier than the M&P 15-22 because of the longer barrel—more weight was out front. Like the M&P its receivers and fore-end rails are polymer.

Mossberg 715T Carry Handle handle

The 715T Carry Handle comes with a rail atop the handle. Unfortunately, the rail on the test sample wasn’t positioned very well, negating scope use.

The Mossberg comes with a 25-round magazine that I couldn’t get more than 22 rounds into. Once inserted into the gun the magazine has the same profile as a standard AR-15 magazine, but the portion inside the magazine well is a skinny traditional single-column design.

The Mossberg had some of the best features of any of the guns, as well as the worst. First off, it is the least expensive, by far, at $276. And it had the best trigger of any rifle we tested, breaking at just a five-pound pull.

On the negative side, I mounted a scope on the provided Tapco rail but couldn’t get the rifle on paper past 10 yards because the rail was too far off to the right. Also, the bolt locked back on an empty magazine, but dropping the magazine with the mag well mounted release lets the bolt fly forward, which is odd. It is possible to lock the bolt back by pushing in on the bolt handle. The Mossberg’s pistol grip was integral to the receiver and not replaceable, unlike the other two guns tested.

Fast Specs: Mossberg 715T Carry Handle

  • capacity, 25; bbl length, 18 in.; weight, 5 lb.; OAL 33.25-37
  • six-position adjustable stock, polymer quad rail, adjustable rear sight/fixed front
  • Avg. 50 yd. accuracy: 1.75 in. (w/iron sights)
  • Price: $276
  • timbo

    Nice to see a honest reveiw of rifles!

  • Tracy Ware

    i have one of the 715t and i love it ant had any problems with it none at all

    • Will

      how did u get it zeroed accurate on paper it may be because this is my first .22 but what is the bwst sistance to sight it in at with iron (plastic) sights im not sure what the tradectory of a 22 round is but at 5 oaces im about a foot low and at 50 paces im about 10 inches to high this is without making any sight adjustments as i cant because my elevation is screwed all the way down.

      • Mateen Ahmed Khan

        I want to buy this rifle, how can I??

  • Desert Junkie

    I bought the 715t for my wife and she loves it because of how light it is. I am having a problem with the trigger sticking back after the trigger pull and having to pop it forward again just to shoot it. As for the sights, I could not get the sights to zero in. The approach I took was to put an inexpensive red dot sight ($40.00) and zeroed it in with that. Now it has about a 3 – 4 inch grouping at about 150 to 200 feet which isnt too bad for a cheap Tasco Red Dot sight, enough to knock a can off a fence post and fun with.

  • Lt.J.RAMZ

    i bought mine like a month ago,and not even one problem with ammo what so ever,ive gone thru 3,000 rounds so far and not even one hickup,reming,blazer,winches,all in bulk purchased at walmart,and he keeps amazing me everytime,mine has the flat top,so its easier to sight,adj stock,piccati rails on all four sides,but 25 mags are a little hard to find,and trying to release the mag is a little hard until you get the hang of it,and so far cleaned just twice,everybody should have not one but two.Oh and best of all the price,i got mine for a bargain only 200.00 out the door,so thats a no brainer.

  • Jehanne

    Just ordered the Mossberg last week, its pretty much all you can find but it had mostly good reviews provided you keep it clean/oiled and shoot decent ammo. Any recommendations on what type of ammo this rifle likes best? Email me at I would appreciate to hear from other Mossberg tactical .22 owners.

  • shane

    just bought mine at wal mart went to shoot at range after i mounted a red dot scope had it zeroed in at 40yds after bout 20 rounds its dead on now ,making a oil can dance at 30 to 50yds even my two small kids could do it .i am pleased with the gun and the price at 240.00 but you need decent ammo cheaper stuff will jam or misfire

  • Walt Fletcher

    Mossberg hurt their image with this one. Rating it on appearance, they scored a 5. Rating it on design quality I drop it to a 1. You’ll discover the cheapness of design and manufacture when you break down to clean and reassemble. A 1/2 turn too much to snug the dozen or so screws will strip the threads and spoil your day. Insert molding nuts into one side or the other would have eliminated that issue. The consumer can retrofit with Press-in Nuts and matching machine screws as I did, but it should not be necessary if it were a quality product. Caution is advised when replacing the Recoil Spring as it will bend / distort easily. Fun to shoot, just not well made. Bought the Smith & Wesson version a few weeks later and as expected, it is a quality firearm.

  • Christopher Lanuto

    I just got one and I was using subsonic ammo, and they are so weak that they would spit out the barrel, I coud’nt hit the target at 20 feet, no matter how much I adjusted sigths, she shoots about 10 inches low, crazy,,, so I guess It needs stronger ammo for the barrel length,, or the barrel is bent,

  • Christopher Lanuto

    has anyone had any problems with the type of ammo you use, so far im not happy with it, im gonna try stronger ammo and see whats up, no new gun shoud shoot that much off

  • Drake

    I bought my wife one last week and it jams like every for or five rounds . It’s a brand new gun and I have tried three different types of ammo any suggestions

  • anonanon863

    Sigh. I want the 715T. $279? Thats cute, here in the UK the cheapest price is £370 ($550) …. Yup.

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