I'll answer on ammo unless you say otherwise. The best ammo in Rimfire is the one that your rifle shoots the best. If just for plinking, I'd get a box of 50 each of CCI, Remington, and Winchester; and head to the range.
I agree - on the cheap end- hard to beat a Marlin, then go to Savage - I personally have a Ruger 77/22 which is very accurate and has been a great rifle. The CZ's are top notch for the money and if you care to go high end look to Anschutz. Just depends on your budget and what you want to do with it.
i have been looking for a .22 rifle for a few weeks here are my findings.
marlin good luck they were bought out by remington and there are pretty much no marlins out there right now.
savage, they feel really cheap, almost toy like, just dont have the feel i like
ruger 77 22. omg is that a sweet rifle, may still buy one. had one in my hand saturday and was gonna buy it but it had a big gouge in it and when the store owner said he would knock $10 bucks off it well he can keep it ( i was not happy with him and wont buy a gun from him again) a almost $600 dollar gun and they are gonna tell me it'll sand out, i dont think so.
CZ this is one i wanna get my hands on, gets great reviews for the 452, i wanna hold one but have a feeling its the one for me. i like the 452 american but wanna hold one first befor i decide.
long story short i been looking and the ruger is hands down my favorite so far, just alittle pricey but it has the feel i like. if the cz dont have that feel i may look for a used ruger
If I were looking for a .22 I would hit the local gun stores, the ones that offer older guns for resale, and see if I could latch onto anything that is from the Remington 500 series. Naturally you will be searching for features that you want: grooved reciever and ofcourse the overall condition. I have had a number of these rifles and have never been unhappy with any of them.
yea i handled a "wood" stocked savage, wasn't impressed. i have 3 savages so not brand bashing just not impressed with their offering in the .22 market. i have no doubt a savage will shoot good, just not the feel i was looking for