Tested: Rossi RB22M Bolt-Action Rifle

posted on October 28, 2019

There are few rifles that offer greater utility than a bolt-action rimfire, and the .22 WMR chambering adds significant capability to that equation in terms of velocity, range and lethality. Rossi USA has made a name for itself among consumers as a maker of affordable, quality firearms, though the brand has not traditionally been associated with bolt-action rifles. Rossi’s RB22M, however, is a simple, rugged and functional magazine-fed, rimfire bolt-action chambered in .22 WMR at an attractive price.

The RB22M is made in Brazil and imported under the Rossi USA brand. This is a few-frills rifle ideal for a variety of applications; the plinker, rancher, small-game hunter and youth shooter will all find much value in this model. The heart of the RB22M is a tubular, steel alloy receiver that is simple and robust. A right-side ejection port allows access to the chamber, and a milled slot to its rear accommodates the bolt’s handle as the bolt rides forward and rearward. A round gas port at the 3-o’clock position of the chamber vents propellant gases away from the shooter’s face in the event of a case failure.

The extractor and ejector are part of a one-piece sheet metal spring that snaps over a slot in the bolt body. If the extractor ever needs replacing, swapping this part would be a process within the capabilities of most end users. The firing pin engages at the top position of the bolt face, and a red, stem-like loaded-chamber indicator is visible at the rear of the bolt. The bolt handle serves as the rifle’s locking lug, which means that the bolt throw is shorter than most two-lug designs at approximately 60 degrees. The bolt handle flares outward at the bottom and provides plenty of grip to cycle the action without being overly large. The steel bolt is removed by confirming that the rifle is unloaded and then holding the trigger to the rear as the bolt is drawn backward.      

The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting, and comes standard with two-piece Weaver-style bases. It should be noted that, though the bases came mounted on our test rifle, they were not torqued to spec—always confirm that mounting screws are tight before adding an optic. The RB22M does not feature iron sights. The barrel is of a medium profile for a rimfire, and tapers only minimally from the breech to the 0.608" muzzle diameter. The crown is recessed approximately 0.065" from the muzzle, which should protect it from most impacts.

The RB22M’s thoughtful features include (l. to r.): a crossbolt safety and magazine release (arrow), Weaver-style bases, a cocked-striker indicator and a recessed muzzle crown.

The trigger guard is polymer, and a crossbolt safety is positioned just forward and above the guard’s opening. The safety locks the trigger and prevents any movement. A cast-metal magazine release lever articulates forward from the leading edge of the trigger guard. A five-round steel magazine locks securely into the magazine well and is compatible with both Rossi’s .22 WMR and .17 HMR models. If disassembly beyond removal of the bolt is desired, two Phillips head action screws, fore and aft of the trigger guard, allow the action to be removed from the stock.     

The synthetic stock is well-designed and incorporates a cheekpiece of sufficient height to properly align the shooter’s eye with a mounted scope. The pistol grip is fairly vertical in shape, which makes it comfortable to shoot both prone and from the bench. Panels are molded into the stock at the pistol grip and fore-end to provide a nonslip surface, and the texture does the job without being overly abrasive. The buttplate is a simple polymer model, appropriate for this rimfire’s lack of recoil. Sling swivel studs are threaded into the stock near the toe and fore-end tip. Though the injection-molded stock is fairly flexible and can easily touch the free-floating barrel if pressure is applied, we saw no indication that it had a negative effect on accuracy during our testing. Reinforcing the fore-end with epoxy would likely eliminate the flexibility.

All of the metal work on the rifle was finished with a traditional hot blue, and the satin finish was consistent throughout the rifle save for the bolt handle, which has a matte look. Overall, the fit and finish of the rifle is quite good for a firearm that retails south of $200. The most impressive aspect of this Rossi rifle was the trigger. Our example broke cleanly at 3 lbs., 5 ozs., a feat that many expensive center-fire rifles would do well to emulate. Ten-shot, 50-yd. groups ranged from good to great, with Hornady’s 30-gr. V-Max load proving to be the most accurate of the three loads tested.

The Rossi was simple and straightforward to operate, and the controls will be familiar to anyone comfortable with a bolt-action repeater. But for one failure to fire out of more than 150 rounds expended, the rifle performed flawlessly. That round fired after the bolt was used to re-cock the rifle, and the ammunition could have been the source of the problem. Feeding was not always smooth, but we encountered no failures to feed. Empty cases were ejected with authority. Recoil was inconsequential and muzzle blast was minimal.      

The Rossi RB22M is a serviceable and accurate rifle available at an immensely reasonable price. Its functional elements, particularly its accuracy and good trigger, are on par with many premium-brand firearms in today’s marketplace. As a truck gun, utility rifle, varmint-hunting arm or general-use rimfire, the Rossi has a lot to offer.


LLE Leadweb
LLE Leadweb

The L42A1: A Sniper Rifle To Remember

For most of the 20th century, Lee-Enfield rifles were the backbone of the British army. The last British service Lee was the L42A1 sniping rifle. Built on the World War II No.4(T), the reliable and accurate L42A1 was retired in the early 1990s.

The Armed Citizen® July 30, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

NRA Gun of the Week: Uberti USA 1873 Single-Action Cattleman New Model

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman staff take to the range for a closer look at Uberti USA’s special edition "Teddy" revolver, a replica of Colt's New Model 1873 SAA. 

Kentucky Rifle Raffle to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Contemporary Longrifle Association

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Contemporary Longrifle Association, Judson Brenman and sons have made a masterpiece contemporary Kentucky Longrifle for a raffle held by the organization for the occasion.

The ArmaLite Story

The history of ArmaLite is long and tortured, filled with marvelous innovation and crushingly bad timing. Yet, now it looks like its day has finally dawned.

The Immortal Winchester Model 94: From the 19th Into The 21st Century

Since its invention at the end of the 19th century, the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle design has become an iconic American firearm that is still produced and celebrated to this day.


Subscribe to the NRA American Rifleman newsletter