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First rifle for rabbiting: what should you choose?

Mark Ripley advises a newcomer to rifle shooting

Tikka T1x UPR .22LR

Tikka's T1x handles beautifully, with superb long-range accuracy

Q: A while ago I took up rifle shooting and I’m now applying for my FAC and am looking to buy my first rifle but wondering what to get. What would you recommend? I’m looking to buy a .22 rimfire for rabbit shooting and looking at perhaps a Ruger 10/22. Would either of these be a good accurate first rifle?

First rifle choices

The Ruger 10/22 has been around for a long time now and has been very popular, especially in the US, with a large fan base and numerous aftermarket accesories and upgrades available. (Read our review of the Ruger 10/22 here.) These rifles are rather like Lego — you can build all kinds of variations of the same gun with all the different extras, rather like the popular Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22, which is another great fun semi-auto rimfire. (Read our review of  Smith & Wesson here.)

CZ 455 Mini Sniper .22 rimfire

The CZ 466 mini sniper .22 rimfire shoots well, surprising rabbits that thought they were well out of range

Should you choose a semi-auto?

In honesty, semi-auto rifles, although great fun to shoot, can often suffer with reliability and accuracy issues over a standard bolt-action rifle. If you want a fast shooting, fun plinking and casual hunting rifle then by all means a semi-auto such as the 10/22 would be the way forward. (Read more on semi-autos here.)

If you’re looking for more precision, accuracy and reliability, then a bolt action rifle such as the Tikka T1X or one of the popular CZ models offer excellent value for money.

The Tikka T1X is a great option for a first rifle; it offers excellent value for money, with precision, accuracy and reliability. (You might like to read winter stalking kit – what to wear to deal with the weather.)