March 25, 2022
By Jeff John
Rimfire handguns serve many purposes beyond being the ultimate plinking arm. Even if serious competition is not your cup of tea, treating yourself to a highly accurate target pistol is worth the luxurious tariff, but some aren’t all that expensive for what you’re getting. Barrels and assembly of target-grade pistols are usually superior and most come with provisions for the modern scopes or electronic sights that really aid in delivering the goods. The rimfire is often used as an understudy to bigger pistols, but they also excel as dedicated target pistols offering far less blast, recoil, expense and are less fatiguing to shoot while keeping your eye/hand coordination at their peak. Here are six great options, presented from least expensive to most expensive.
1. Thompson/Center G2 Contender
The single-shot T/C Contender set the shooting world on fire with the interchangeable barrel in calibers suitable for any game animal or target shooting, and the second-generation G2 is even more user-friendly in the field than the original. The frame is still suitable for rimfire or centerfire, and barrels that are easily swapped out even afield.
Today’s G2’s grip, frame and fore-end have been profiled and sculpted for a modern, streamlined appearance. In .22 LR, you have a choice between a 12-inch or 14-inch barrel in blue finish only. Barrels are fitted with fully adjustable iron sights, and they’re drilled and tapped for scope mounts. The G2 frame can be had blued with wood grip and fore-end or stainless steel with synthetic grip and fore-end. starting at $523, TCarms.com
2. Taurus TX 22 Competition
The Taurus TX 22 Competition is a full-size, single-action, striker-fired, 16-shot .22 LR semiauto pistol engineered to meet rigorous target shooting demands including a 5.25-inch threaded match-grade bull barrel with a suppressor adapter collar threaded 1/2x28. The slide is topped with a fully adjustable rear and fixed front sight and comes optic ready. A manual thumb safety on both sides, striker block and trigger safety is standard. The slide release is left-side only.
The slide is aluminum, the frame polymer and the barrel alloy steel and given a matte black finish. Overall length is 8.15 inches, height is 5.44 inches and weight 23.2 ounces. A Picatinny rail is factory fitted, and the pistol comes with three magazines. $533, TaurusUSA.com
3. KelTec CP33
With the audacious firepower of its 33-shot magazine, the Keltec CP33 in .22 LR comes ready to run with a Picatinny-style top optic rail and a Magpul M-Lok slot built into the dust cover underneath for no end of additional fun gadgetry. An adjustable fiber optic sight gives a 9-inch sight radius with an overall length of 10.6 inches and a barrel length of 5.5 inches. The barrel has a twist of 1:14 and comes threaded 1/2x28 for a suppressor.
The CP33 offers safety levers on both sides, a heel-catch magazine release and a unique charging handle located at the back of the receiver. The CP33 magazines are an engineering feat considering each magazine holds four rows of .22 LR and still fit flush. $550, KelTecWeapons.com
The new Mk IV versions all share simple, one-button takedown for quick and easy fieldstripping without the use of tools for proper chamber-to-muzzle cleaning. Since the cylindrical bolt runs inside the receiver, there is a permanent sight-to-barrel alignment. Quality iron sights are provided and the receivers are drilled and tapped for Weaver or Picatinny rails to mount an optic. Two 10-shot magazines are included, and a magazine disconnect prevents discharge when the magazine has been removed. A thumb safety is on both sides, and the bolt holds open on the last shot with its release on the left.
The Mk IV Target comes in blue with an aluminum frame or all stainless steel. The 5.5-inch bull barrel gives it an overall length of 9.75 inches and a weight of 35.6 ounces. The all stainless steel version weighs 42.8 oz. Checkered plastic are standard or choose the optional stippled wood finger-groove grips. The Target is also offered with a 10-inch bull barrel. starting at $679, Ruger.com
The Model 41 Smith & Wesson has long been one of America’s premier target pistols beginning with its debut in 1957. Finely fitted and finished with rich, polished blue and checkered walnut stocks, the Model 41 is offered in a standard version and one from the Performance Center with an integral Picatinny optic rail.
A precision button-rifled barrel allows the user to switch between both the 5.5- and 7-inch barrels on one frame.
The high-quality micrometer click adjustable target rear sight is paired with an undercut Patridge front sight. Ergonomic checkered target grips allow for classic one-hand shooting. The crisp target trigger is factory set to break at 2.75 to 3.25 lbs., and a user-adjustable trigger stop is provided.
The 5.5-barreled model is 10.5 inches overall, and the barrel, slide and frame are carbon steel. Weight is 46.4 oz. Capacity is 10+1, and a frame-mounted thumb safety and slide release are on the left side. $1,409 (standard model), Smith-Wesson.com
6. Freedom Arms Model 83 Silhouette
Perhaps the finest revolver made in the world today is the Freedom Arms Premier Grade Model 83. Normally encountered in the powerful .454 Casull and other hard-hitting calibers, it is also chambered in all the rimfire calibers. All these revolvers are hand-built in Wyoming. The super-accurate Silhouette Model has a 10-inch .22 LR barrel with 1:14 twist topped with finely adjustable competition rear sight and adjustable, hooded front sight. The all stainless steel 5-shot revolver has match-grade chambers, is given a matte finish as befits its target use and fitted with rosewood grips. A trigger over-travel screw is standard. Overall length is 15.875 inches with a sight radius of 11.75 inches and a weight of 66.96 oz. $2,957, FreedomArms.com