Find tips on Hunting, Firearm News, Reviews, & Training
We all have our tastes in firearms. Some like a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver while others prefer a Glock 9mm. Some like an AR15 but a Winchester 94 lever action .30-30 kindles the flame of other shooters. With the plethora of choices, there is something for any shooter.
When it comes to .22 rimfires, many shooters prefer a modern autoloader but my preference runs toward a bolt action sporter like the Winchester 75, my Anschutz 141, or the Ruger 77/22. These rifles have the classic lines of elegant sporting rifles which have always gained my admiration. However, I do have three .22 autoloaders, two of which are for nostalgia reasons. The third autoloader is something special because I assembled it to suit my idea of a modern firearm with flair. That special .22 autoloader is none other than a Ruger 10/22.
The Ruger 10/22 is the rimfire for those who like to tinker. It is a simple matter to replace the factory barrel, trigger assembly, and stock with aftermarket parts. In fact, numerous companies exist primarily to produce parts for the approximately 7 million Ruger 10/22s that have been produced since its introduction in 1964. The initial price of $54.50 has risen to he MSRP of $389.00 for the basic carbine version with the price going up from there for some of the special models. However, the owner of a Ruger 10/22 can make it into about anything imaginable for an autoloader. So, why leave it stock? If you want something special, make it special. After all, as someone has said, life is too short to hunt with an ugly gun.
Accuracy of a factory Ruger 10/22 is nothing special. I generally got groups of about 1.2-1.4 inches for five shots at 50 yards. Some types of ammunition shot a little better, some a little worse. So, the first upgrade was to replace the factory barrel with one that would give smaller groups. My choice was the Magnum Research Mag Lite which has a slender steel barrel enclosed in a sleeve made of carbon fiber. This barrel has a diameter of 0.920 inch, but it is very light. To me that choice makes sense because with a Ruger 10/22 the barrel is attached to the aluminum receiver that might not hold a three pound target barrel very well.
Having a barrel that has a diameter of 0.920 inch with no taper means that a new stock is in order. With a desire to have a rimfire autoloader that has some panache, I chose the Boyds Agility in the Coyote laminated pattern. Even though this stock has some metal parts and is a laminated model, it does not result in a rifle that feels heavy and clunky. The length of pull and comb height are adjustable so the stock works well even with a high mounted scope. With the sleeved Magnum Research barrel and Boyds Agility stock, the rifle scarcely feels any heavier than the factory carbine.
With those changes accomplished, it seemed appropriate to install a trigger assembly that would behave like the trigger of a target rifle. For that I chose the Timney unit, which features a lever under the trigger guard that functions as the magazine release. On the Ruger 10/22 the trigger assembly is held to the receiver by two pins so it a simple process to drift those pins out, insert a different trigger assembly, and reinsert the pins. A very special Ruger 10/22 was coming together.
Almost all replacement barrels for the Ruger 10/22 have no sights and the Magnum Research barrel is no exception. Some sort of sighting equipment must be provided so I decided to use a 2-12X42 Athlon Heras scope. That scope measures just under 12 inches in length and is not too heavy to be out of place on a rimfire rifle of modest size having an aluminum receiver. I wanted my special 10/22 to be short, light, and convenient to carry so the Athlon scope is a good match. The Athlon Heras has a reticle that has a series of tic marks along the crosshair to estimate holdover or wind deflection. Adjustments are in 1/10 mils (1 mil is equivalent to 3.6 inch at 100 yards). Therefore, at 50 yards 20 clicks gives a 3.6 inch movement of the point of impact.
In mounting a scope on the aluminum receiver of a Ruger 10/22 it is wise not to get too ambitious with the screwdriver. It is all too easy to strip the threads in the receiver. To avoid that I use a Wheeler Fat Wrench. This allows the user to set the desired torque on the driver and tighten screws to that value. For flexibility in mounting scopes on a 10/22 it is best to use a scope rail that has numerous lateral grooves so that the scope can be positioned properly.
When the parts were assembled, I still had a Ruger 10/22, but the only parts that were original were the receiver, bolt assembly, recoil spring, and recoil buffer. To see what the rifle would do with regard to accuracy, it was necessary to get some range time. After getting the rifle sighted in, I first performed the zoom test in which a shot is fired, the magnification of the scope changed, and the process repeated until the scope has been changed throughout its range of magnification. This was done by firing shots on even power settings from 2 to 12 resulting in a six-shot group. The result was a cluster of about three-fourths of an inch with five of the shots in less than half that size. I kept track of the shots and the outlier was the one shot with the scope on 2X, which hardly allowed me to see the small circle that I was shooting at. Changing the magnification did not result in a change in point of impact.
Next came the exercise known as shooting the square. In that test a group is obtained and the scope is adjusted a certain number of clicks up, right, down, and left which brings the point of impact back to the original. I did this with 20 clicks (equivalent to 3.6 inches at 50 yards and got very small groups measuring under an inch with each series of shots. The centers of the clusters were exactly 3.6 inches apart indicating very accurate scope adjustments. During other testing with several types of ammunition, almost all five-shot groups were of 0.5-0.7 inch size and that on a windy range in Wyoming. Under the right conditions the special 10/22 will do better. This experiment on a redo of a 10/22 shows what is possible to produce a very accurate Ruger 10/22 that also has panache. This may become my favorite walkabout rimfire.
The Ruger 10/22 in factory form is a reliable .22, but it lacks panache.
Removing the barrel simply requires the removal of two screws.
The trigger assembly is held to the receiver by two pins that are easily removed.
The Timney trigger utilizes a lever that functions as the magazine release.
Screws on rings and mounts should be tightened carefully.
The lever below the trigger guard is the magazine release and this Ruger 10/22 shoots as good as it looks.