Well then, now you're talkin' about what occupies me for five months of every year....ground squirrel and rock chuck shooting for alfalfa ranchers.
I use many calibers, but in the Rimfire
world, I'm very fond of the 17HMR, fielding two at this particular time. One is an Anschutz 1517D HB, the other is a switch-barrel rig based on a Ruger 77/22 Mag/Lilja 17HMR barrel.
I've also got 22Mags, the above Ruger 77/22 Mag, and a Winchester 9422 in both 22LR and a twin in 22 Mag. For ground squirrel shooting, the 17HMR is the clear choice, shooting much flatter out to 250 yards. The 22 Mag is good to about 125 yds or so, but the drop is much more noticeable.
My Anschutz 1517D HB in 17HMR with some rock chucks that were not pleased about my choice of rifles that day. All were taken near my place on a local ranch.
My Ruger switch-barrel rig wearing her Lilja 17HMR barrel in the rat patch last year:
Partial view of the rat carnage from that session with the Ruger 17HMR. The rats were running from the alfalfa (food source) across the two-track into the tall sage. The silly things being oblivious to the immanent danger, would stop in the open on the two-track, giving time for a well placed shot from the bench at 215 yards out.
For plain walkabout fun, you can't beat a nice lever gun, and in 22 Mag, they pack a pretty good wallop inside of 100 yards. The Henry rifles are available in both calibers. My Winchester 9422 in 22 Mag with a very impressed ground squirrel:
If I had to choose right now between the two calibers and action types you mention, I'd opine that you "need" a bolt gun in 17HMR for ground squirrels. Many can be found in LH, including Savage and Anschutz. The Anschutz of course is three times the price of the Salvage, but you're also getting 'real' workmanship with high quality materials in a proven design platform. There really is no comparison between the two, except price. One will get you by, the other will be a pleasure to own, gaze upon, and of course shoot. The Annie's are amazingly accurate rifles. "Buy once, cry once" applies here.
Another thing to consider is degree of precision you expect. A squirrel is a tiny target out past 100 yards, so a decent scope is needed. Personally, I don't think any nice lever gun should have a scope, but a scope is right at home on a good bolt gun. So....walkabout rifle for offhand fun, or precision from a bipod or bench waaaay past 100 yards?
(If you're open for some REAL
ground squirrel fun, ask me about the .20 Vartarg.......)