Don't overlook old Mossbergs and Marlins from the 40s and 50s. They were better made back then especially the Mossbergs.They are also easy to find and not that exspensive.
Also, store brand .22 rifles are another source of good cheap rifles. Collectors haven't caught on to these so the prices haven't been driven up. You can often get a store brand rifle cheaper than the exact same name brand rifle.
Another thing to consider if you are going to buy old .22s is parts availability. You may find a old gun that you really like for a good price but it may need a little work. Firing pins, feed mechanisms, and springs are some of the parts that may need replacing.
Taking some dummy .22 rounds to try in the gun also helps. Its not a completely accurate test but at least you can see if it feeds and ejects properly.