Rossi RS22 Semiauto .22 Rifle, by Pat Cascio

I’ve neglected covering .22 Long Rifle (LR) firearms over the years. My apologies. It wasn’t intentional, believe me. I just get so many centerfire firearms to test, that I’ve been concentrating on them. For many years, I recommended that folks who were starting out as Preppers – or Survivalist – make their first purchase as a pump-action 12 Gauge shotgun – as their main firearm, until such time, as finances permitted, to move on to other firearms, if possible. I was wrong! Today, when new preppers ask me what to get as a first firearm, I recommend a .22 LR caliber rifle – or a .22 LR handgun. Let me explain:

First of all, with a .22 LR rifle, you can not only use it for self-defense – I know, save the hate mail – if that’s all you have – it will get the job done with proper shot placement. Secondly, you can take small game, and in a pinch you can take game up to deer-sized – once again, with proper shot placement. Of course, I would never recommend hunting deer with a .22 LR chambered firearm. However, in a pinch, a survival situation, you can certain take deer with a head shot – I knew a fellow who routinely took deer with headshots to feed his family – he wasn’t earning enough money to make ends meet. I can’t fault someone for wanting to feed their family – as best they could. So, don’t think I’m advocating poaching, I’m not!

Of course, if you don’t have a .22 LR chambered rifle, the next best thing is a .22 LR chambered handgun – once again, it could be used for self-defense in a pinch, and you can take small game – as well as deer-sized game if need be. However, you have to be a fairly good shot to take deer with a head shot, but it can be done. Small game is also a challenge with a handgun – just have to know what you’re doing and be a better than average shot.

I wouldn’t recommend a bolt-action .22 LR rifle, or a single-shot rifle – it takes too long to get follow-up shots, especially in a self-defense situation. Needless to say, we are talking about home defense – ‘cause you can’t carry a rifle on your person out in public. So, a semiauto rifle is in order. When it comes to handguns, you semiauto is my first choice, followed by a revolver of some type – they will serve you in a self-defense scenario – if that’s all you have. Believe me, no one wants to get shot, not even with the lowly .22 LR round. Once again, I’m not recommending a .22 LR chambered firearm for self-defense as my first choice – so save the hate mail, once again. Many years ago, I knew the fellow who ran the ballistic testing lab in a big city, and he told me that (at that time) more people were killed with .22 caliber firearms, than any other caliber.

Today, we’re looking at the Rossi .22 LR semiauto rifle, simply known as the RS22L1811 – RS22 for short. Rossi has been around for a lot of years, and they have a close relationship Taurus Firearms, which markets their revolvers. Rossi has always made an affordable line of firearms, starting with .38 Special revolvers and single-shot long guns. Their guns are made in Brazil, and the low labor costs there make their guns quite competitively priced.

Outstanding Sights

A quick look at the Rossi web site, shows very few details on the RS22. Of course, chambered in .22 LR, and it has a matte finish black polymer stock, with a free-floated barrel. The stock has checkering that is embossed on the grip area behind the trigger as well as the forearm for a sure hold in all kinds of weather.

The sights are really outstanding – front and rear have fiber optic inserts – the rear has two green fiber optic inserts, and the front has a single red fiber-optic insert and they really make the sights stand out – even under less than favorable light conditions. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation and the front has a protective hood over it – and the hood has an opening on top, and on both sides, to allow light to reach the fiber-optic insert. Very cool!


The barrel is 18-inches – was a bit surprised on this – most contemporary .22 rifles have a 16-inch barrel. The gun comes with one 10-rd magazine, however you can (and should) purchase some spare mags – remember, one is none and two is one, in the event you lost the single mag. Mags are around $18 each! The bolt on the receiver is a large one – not overly large, but larger than that found on most semiauto rifles – it allows us adults a good purchase on the bolt handle to chamber a round – I like it! There is also a cross-bolt safety, as is found on most similar .22 rifles you press it from the left side to put the gun on-safe, and from the right side to the left to position it to ready the gun to fire. The trigger is pretty good, too – didn’t weigh it, but it is on-par with similar .22 LR rifles.

Now, the mag release – it is a little different if you ask me. You must place your index finger behind it and press it forward, in order to release the magazine. Takes a little getting used to, but it works well. The black polymer stock has two QD sling studs. The gun weighs in at a little more than 5-pounds so there is a little bit of heft to it. The trigger guard is also polymer, and the receiver appears to be manufactured out of an aluminum alloy. The 10-round magazine worked flawlessly, never missed a beat getting those rounds to chamber. And, it more than 300-rounds of shooting, the gun never malfunctioned at all. Oh, by the way, the stock has a slightly raised “comb” on both sides, for a much nicer and better cheek placement – another nice touch.

The top of the receiver is grooved, if you desire to place some kind of scope on the Rossi – a good 4-power is really all you’d ever need, but I’ve seen guys with .22 LR rifles, with 3-9 powered scoped on their guns. Why? I have no idea – they aren’t meant to be a sniper’s rifle – however, in a pinch, I guess it could be used as such – at ranges of 100-yards or less. The fully adjustable rear sight can be adjusted for windage and elevation using dials – so you can just turn the dials to make your adjustments, instead of tapping on the rear sight – nice!

There is a skinny plastic butt pad on the rear of the stock, that is grooved, so it will stay nice and snug in your shoulder – of course, there is no recoil to speak of with a .22 LR chambered rifle. The overall length of the gun is slightly under 36 inches.

Of course, in my testing, I used a mixed bag of .22 LR ammo – from solid lead bullets to hollow points, copper-clad bullets, and a variety of bullet weights, and the gun never missed a beat. It gobbled them all up with a hiccup.

I did my accuracy shooting at only 25-yards, with the rifle rested over a padded rifle rest, that was on top of a big boulder. Without any trouble, I could get 1-inch groups without trying very hard, and some groups were under an inch – quite a bit under an inch. So, this Rossi has some outstanding accuracy.

The only “hunting” I did, was squirrels in my front yard – digging up burrows every place – and I mean every place. So, whenever I spotted one – he was no more. I used to like to get out and do some rabbit hunting, but in my old age, walking all day long to do some small game hunting doesn’t work for me any longer. However, for just plain ol’ plinkin’ fun – you can’t do any better than a .22 LR chambered firearm of any sort – it’s still fun to punch paper targets as well as shooting a large and small rocks – out to 100-yard and hitting them. To tell you the truth, I forgot, over the years, just how much fun a person can have with a .22 rifle or handgun.

Now, for the bad news, we are still in one of the worst, if not the worst ammo drought. And in my neck of the woods, there is no .22 LR ammo to be found anyplace. And, when I asked the dealers about it – they said they were told by distributors, that they had no idea when any .22 LR ammo would be coming in. The good news is, that when .22 LR ammo is available once again – at affordable prices, you can easily stock-up on thousands of rounds of this caliber for your shooting fun.

A Great Price

Now, for more good news, the Rossi RS22 only retails for $146. However, in my neck of the woods, they are on sale for under a hundred bucks – where can you find brand-new firearms for under a hundred dollars these days? Check out your local big or small box stores for this Rossi and snap it up, you won’t be sorry.