In production since 1964, the Ruger 10/22 is among the most popular rimfire rifles yet designed. With more than 7 million units sold, these semi-automatics are put to work for a variety of .22 LR-compatible roles, including casual plinking, small-game hunting and formal competition. The “10” in its designation comes from the company's original 10-round rotary magazine which has since been joined by factory made 15-and 25-round options.
My first .22 LR rifle was a Ruger 10/22 that I purchased from the used rifle rack of a local sporting goods store. My family members were mostly Remington fans at the time. But the Ruger was a great price and in good condition despite a chipped front sight and plenty of use by the previous owner. I developed a sincere appreciation for this gun's reliability, accuracy and ease of use thanks to that little factory standard, wood-stocked carbine. I liked it so much that I've kept it despite having access to more dressed-up target models. In regard to durability, a quick check of that 10/22's serial number shows it was manufactured in 1980, and it's still shooting as well as it ever did. So when it became clear that our eldest daughter was ready to graduate to a more sophisticated .22 LR, a 10/22 pattern rifle was the go-to choice.
Multiple Paths to 10/22 Satisfaction
Before we dive into building a competition-grade 10/22 for my daughter, I want to be clear that there's more than one way to enjoy these handy rimfire rifles. There's no reason not to purchase a factory manufactured Ruger 10/22 right off the shelf and put it to work. The company offers a variety of configurations with the more basic models sporting suggested retail prices starting at $389. If the primary reason for getting a 10/22 is to plink at cans, shoot paper targets and harvest small game for the stew pot, then these rifles are a great choice.
The Brownells BRN-22 receiver ships with a V-Block and a set of support screws.
If the goal of the 10/22 purchase is to engage in competitive shooting, then your budget will need to be expanded. One option is to buy a basic model and swap out components as the budget allows. This approach has the benefit of spreading costs out over time while still having a usable rifle on hand. However, this means purchasing those components twice, the factory version first and then the upgrade. The result is a box of parts that may or may not be useful to you at some point down the road.
Another option is to buy a ready-made competition model. Ruger's in-house options currently list for between $799 to $1,089. Competing manufacturers specializing in 10/22-type race guns offer models with premium components that push the price tags past $1,800. These are top-notch rimfires, but someone else has decided which parts are going into them, and a portion of the price tag is the paycheck of the folks who assemble it for you.
Timney Triggers are available with or without interchangeable trigger shoes.
That brings us to the do-it-yourself custom gun. Assembling a 10/22 at home means you get to pick each and every part that goes into it. There's also no duplication of components. You have complete control over the budget so that you can spend more here while buying just what you need there. This means the gun will have exactly the features you want and none that you don't. But self-builds do come with some trade-offs. The sweat equity you invest will include research time, shipping costs, the purchase of the tools you don't already have and the time needed to assemble the gun.
Although barrel selection is important the rifle’s smaller parts play an important role in down-range accuracy.
Some folks will tell you that do-it-yourself projects will always save you money. My experience has been that it might. In some cases, self-assembly resulted in guns that cost less than factory-made models, but in others the prices were still relatively high because premium-grade components were used. And so the top reasons to build a custom gun at home are to get just the parts you want and the pride in ownership that comes with do-it-yourself projects. If you can save money, then that's the cherry on top of the sundae.
Adaptive Tactical’s Tac-Hammer 10/22 accessory line includes stocks, barrels and monopods.
Just Two Screws to Become a Rifle Builder
Here's the thing about 10/22 rifles that many folks don't know: If you've ever disassembled a 10/22 to clean it, then you already know 90 percent of what you need to in order to assemble one from a pile of parts. What’s the difference between cleaning and building? Two screws; that's it. Just manage those screws in addition to the stock screw and you'll be ready to give 10/22 rife building a try.
The Boyds At-One Thumbhole (center) stock is shown here with the company’s Barracuda (top) and Spike Camp (bottom) models.
The screws in question are used to secure a piece called the V-Block to the receiver. This block in turn secures the barrel to the receiver. When a 10/22 is broken down for cleaning, the stock, trigger group, bolt assembly and the various pins and screws are all removed from the receiver to be scrubbed and lubricated. However, the barrel and receiver usually remain united via the V-Block and its two screws. In most cases the V-Block is only removed when swapping out the barrel for a different one, or when installing a barrel for the first time. If you twist those two screws out to release the V-Block and barrel from the receiver, then you will have the exact same number of steps to put the gun back together as you would to build one from scratch.
The 10/22 is a popular gun to modify because of its relatively simple and modular design. Many folks opt to put their AR-15 semi-automatics together themselves at home, and that type of rifle has well over 100 individual components to keep track of. The 10/22 breaks down to around 16 primary components, depending on your rifle's configuration. If you already have a factory assembled 10/22, you can take it apart and see how it goes back together. If not, ask a friend or family member who has one to walk you through it.
This 10/22 has 13 primary components because the optics rail is integral to the receiver.
Author Amilcar Hernandez has written a couple of books about 10/22s, including Build a Custom 10/22 Step By Step. This full-color manual provides a walkthrough of the assembly process along with detailed information about the variety of components and upgrades available. It's a useful guide for folks looking to build for the first time or to tune up a rifle they already have.
To be honest, my daughter's eyes glazed over when I started telling her about the technical aspects of the rifle we were going to build together, like the Adaptive Tactical tensioned and weight reduced Tac-Hammer barrel, the extra smooth 2 lbs. 13 oz. trigger pull (as tested) of the drop-in Timney Triggers trigger group upgrade or the fact that the Brownells BRN-22 receiver has an integral 12-slot Picatiny rail for mounting optics instead of a removable rail. Well, that's what happens when dad is a gear-head gun writer like me.
The first step in building the rifle is installing the barrel and V-Block.
But things changed when we started looking at the shoulder stocks from which she could choose. The shoulder stock plays a major role, if not the major roll in defining the rifle's utility and personality. Whoever is going to be the owner of the rifle (even if that time is still a few years away) should definitely have the final say in the stock selection. This will allow them to be completely comfortable with the carbine because it fits their body shape and their sense of style. But don’t worry, there are a whole lot of stocks to choose from.
Installing the stock screw is the final step.
After spending time looking together on the Internet, we settled on two stocks to consider for this build. They were the Adaptive Tactical Tac-Hammer RM4 polymer stock and the Boyds Gunstocks adjustable At-One Thumbhole model. My oldest son and I are both fans of the RM4 polymer stock's light weight, adjustable length, the dual storage compartments for 10-round magazines and the option to install a mono pod in the grip. My daughter liked the Splash Teal camo pattern, so I made sure she could wrap her hands around one.
The rifle is complete and ready for the range.
But she also liked the Boyds, and that was the stock she settled on in the end. She decided to go with the company's Royal laminated finish. This stock has a comfortably shaped grip, height-adjustable polymer comb and a rubber-padded aluminum butt plate which allows the stock to be lengthened or shortened with the push of a button. The Royal laminate blends layers of grey/black and dark blue/purple wood in a way that somehow manages to be fairly conservative and eye-catching at the same time. It looks great and feels good to shoot.
More Than Noisy a Paper Punch
I feel very lucky to have grown up with folks who enjoy shooting sports. I have fond memories of the immediate and extended family gathering to plink away with air guns and .22s, of trying out one of my cousin's “mountain man” muzzleloaders and packing up to drive out for a weekend of deer hunting. We spent those times together talking, laughing, commiserating and soaking up the beauties of nature as well as shooting. I learned at a young age to respect firearms, to strictly follow shooting safety rules and to reserve shots fired at animals to those we intended to eat. These days I can see how this tradition has been passed on as the granddaughters and grandsons share their shooting sports stories at family gatherings. If I had room here I could tell you several stories of how shooting skills have proved to be both enjoyable and useful to the family.
Ruger factory magazines are available in 10-, 15- and 25-round configurations.
And so, when I asked my daughter if she would like to team up with me to build the first rifle that would officially be her own, I was delighted when she said yes! My goal was to build her one that she could enjoy for years to come. With the parts laid out, we talked about how they worked as we put them all together. It took less than an hour to assemble, lubricate and bench check to make sure it was ready to use before heading to TNT Guns and Range for a morning of target shooting.
Testing out different sights is a part of the fun.
Youth model .22 LRs are often configured in such a way that kids will outgrow them. But rimfires patterned after the Ruger 10/22 are rifles that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Recently we set up this gun with a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro so that she could test drive a micro red dot optic. The jury is still out as to whether or not she prefers it to a magnified scope or good ol’ iron sights. But what I do know for certain is that I can't wait to break out this slick little purple .22 LR and get back to the range with her for another dad and daughter date.
Featured Components & Resources:
Reference Guide: Build A Custom 10/22 Step By Step by Amilcar Hernandez (ISBN 9781717973573) $28.41
Adaptive Tactical Tac-Hammer Components
RCB-22 16" Post-Tension Barrel $299.99
RM4 Adjustable Shoulder Stock, Splash Teal Camo Finish $159.99
TacTRED Grip-Mounted Monopod $44.99
Brownells BRN-22 Stripped Receiver, Integral Optics Rail (BRORUG1022PT001) $136.49
Ruger Factory Receiver Cross Pins (#B5) $9.99
Stainless V-Block Barrel Retainer (XRACC-VB) $18.99
Power Custom Allen Head Stainless V-Block Screws, Pair (713-000-171WB) $20.99
Boyds Hardwood Stocks
At-One Thumbhole, Royal Laminate (Purple/Gray) $227
Barracuda, Sky Laminate (Blue/Gray) $192
Spike Camp, Blaze Laminate (Orange/Gray) $151
DeltaPoint Pro 2.4-MOA Red Dot Optic (119688) $449.99
DeltaPoint Pro Cross Slot Mount (120056) $69.99
Ruger 10/22 Magazines
BX-10 Rotary, Clear (#90223) $26.95
BX-15, Black (#90463) $31.95
BX-25, Black (#90361) $36.95
TK BX-10 Companion Bumpers (TK18N0036BLK1) $24.99 Per Pair
TK KrossFire CNC-Machined Bolt Assembly $139.99
TK Shock Block Bolt Buffer $4.99
TK Spartan Skeletonized Bolt Handle $27.99
TK Twister Titanium Takedown Knob $24.99
10/22 Replacement Trigger (1022-2C) $279.99
Calvin Elite for Ruger 10/22 (1022CE) $299.99