Is it just a fad or phase? What is needed to mount a scope? Is it worth it to upgrade your 22 rifle with a scope?
I’ll help you explore these questions and fill you in on what you need to know.
Is Wanting a Scope Just Another Phase?
The short answer is “no.”
This isn’t the newest pair of sneakers or a toy they’ll grow out of in a couple hours.
Once the basics of shooting with open sights is realized, it’s only natural that anyone, kids included, would want to push the limits of their shooting platform.
A Ruger 10/22, or any 22 rifle for that matter, is more capable than the shooter with rifle sights. This gap starts to close with magnified optics. Instead of popping cans at 30-40 yards, they’ll start reaching out towards the 100 yard line.
Learning to use a scope is an education all its own, teaching some new math skills, hold over, ranging, and wind correction, especially on this wonderful caliber.
In short, a scope provides a lifetime of new skills that translate to a more thoughtful and skilled marksman when the time is right, and there are plenty of good scopes to pick from.
If they have taken the time to learn the basics with irons, and they are interested in increasing their accuracy, or just looking to up the number of critters they bag for supper, then a scope can be a wonderful addition to their rifle and skillset.
It doesn’t even take up any extra room in the gun safe.
What do I need to mount a scope on a 22?
Most scopes these days are set up for typical Picatinny or Weaver rail mounting systems.
With a 10/22, the top of the bore is typically already tapped to mount a rail to. All that is needed is to remove two or four of the useless screws on top and get a rail kit that fits the rifle.
Marlins and other types of rifles may come with dovetails cut into the top of the bore. These look like two parallel grooves cut directly into the barrel. Dovetail rings can be mounted directly to this base without the addition of a dedicated mount.
After that, simply add a scope and rings and you should be all set.
What Kind of Scope Should I Get?
The 22LR round isn’t really designed for great accuracy past 100 yards, so you need to factor that in.
The reason for this is that the bullets have a light weight and low sectional density, and their speed out of the muzzle is only a touch above the sound barrier. Typically, they will drop below the speed of sound somewhere in the 100 yard range.
When that happens, the bullet drops through its own sonic boom, and in doing so it changes course.
This has nothing to do with the skill of the shooter, it’s just physics.
With this knowledge, it should be obvious that dropping a $1000 40x scope on a 22 is pretty pointless, unless of course your kid is going to be shooting in the Olympics.
At 100 yards, a 3-4x scope is all that’s really needed to get the most accuracy possible out of a 22 when shot from a rest or prone. You could push this to 8-9x, but that will be a choice for you and your child to make.
You also don’t need something super rugged and designed to handle the kick of a 10GA shotgun. Even an airsoft scope will handle the recoil of a 22LR bolt action just fine.
That’s good news for you. You can save money and get them something that might even look a little gimmicky (cool in kid talk) for a reasonable price.
If it were me, I would find them a good 3x or 4x fixed magnification scope, or a red dot with no magnification. Either can be had for a decent price, and both will help them drop shots on target with a bit more precision.
That said, there are a ton of great scopes out there. Pick the one that fits your budget and the needs of the little one to maximize their shooting. If you want some more advice on choosing one, there are good guides out there to help with the specifics.
Is It Worth It?
Considering all of the above, I’d say that this is a no-brainer.
If your child is ready to take the next step in their shooting, then it’s time to upgrade from open sights to some kind of optic.
It really doesn’t cost that much, and a quality optic can later be moved to another gun if they really like it, perhaps to a .223 rifle for their first “big game” hunt.
The question then, isn’t, “Should I get a scope for my kid’s 22?” The real question is why you haven’t yet.
Wait for a birthday, Easter, Christmas, or another big life event if you must, but find out what kind of optic would suit them, and just go ahead and get it.
That’s how I feel at least. I take a lot of pride in raising my little marksman and giving him the tools necessary to excel.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.