DIY Custom Ruger 10/22

You can do it!
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I’ve always admired the remarkable Ruger success story of the 10/22 rifle. When I bought my first 10/22 in about 1973, I realized it was “pretty good” for what it was, but I also thought it could be better. Since then, I’ve experimented with 10/22 rifles, changing barrels, taking them apart dozens of times, changing action components and more until I realized there was almost no end of improvement you could do while chasing accuracy. The gun you see here is my sort of “final” rifle in this long line of past experiments.

The Briley 10/22 match barrel comes threaded for a CCI .22 suppressor.
What’s more fun than an accurate 10/22?

A suppressed one … The Rubicon action/bolt assembly matched the
Briley barrel perfectly. Note the supplied locking block used to secure
the barrel to the receiver. Roy said it went together smoothly.

Backstory

In 1964 Bill Ruger did what Bill Ruger always did, nailing the buying public’s desires by introducing the 10/22 .22 LR carbine. Ruger used the same .44 carbine stock as his earlier “Ruger .44 Magnum Carbine” — itself based on the U.S. .30 Carbine of WWII fame — with different inletting to hold the different action. Ruger also refined the rotary magazine concept in the 10/22. It was ground-breaking in looks, design, manufacturing and real-world performance. Ammo companies bought 10/22s to test ammo and fired hundreds of thousands of rounds through them with essentially no problems.

Since then, Ruger has kept a steady line of 10/22 models coming onto the market. One of the most amazing things to me is the fact the prototype 10/22, serial number 1, looks virtually the same as the first production models. In Walt Kuleck’s excellent book, The Ruger 10/22 Complete Owner’s And Assembly Guide, he shows a photo of the prototype and serial number 1 and even with a close look, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart from a current production 10/22. Walt’s book is a jewel and I want to thank him, as I used it for a key reference.

Ruger has experimented with other calibers like the .22 Magnum, the new take-down models, heavy barrels, synthetic and laminated stocks, the “Charger” pistol and other ideas. But even today, the basic, original design with a wooden stock is still available — 58 years later. The original $54.50 price in 1964 equates to about $518 in today’s dollars. Yet, Ruger now lists the 10/22 Carbine on their website at an amazing MSRP of $379!

Approximately 5 million 10/22s have been made, which means the used-gun market is ripe with clean, original rifles ready for you to experiment on — and delight in.

CUSTOM RUGER 10/22 GEAR LIST
EAR PRO: Walker’s Razor BT Digital
RANGE BAG: 5.11 Range Ready Bag
SUPPORT BAG: Armageddon Gear Schmedium Bag

Best Attempts

I always felt part of the problem with a stock 10/22, especially in the early days, was the fact the trigger could have been better. This alone would contribute to better accuracy. So, I fussed with detail stripping guns, polishing sear surfaces, smoothing the innards, deburring the action, etc. and found my efforts were rewarded with a smoother trigger pull. It also helped the bolt run more easily and generally turned the guns into “more fun” to shoot and use. But I was convinced — to keep the price-point Ruger had to cut some corners — and I suspected the barrel was one of those.

I found an early “custom” stock/barrel combo kit made by Hogue. I’m thinking it was in the very early ’90s. It was a 1″ lightweight barrel and Hogue “over-molded” stock. My “enhanced” 10/22 action fit right in and my first group at 25 yards showed a ragged one-hole group. Heck, I was onto something. Pushing out to 50 yards, I could get under 1″ easily with the right ammo, and a bit better at times. The rifle did yeoman service for me for years and still does with the young fellow I gave it to.

As time passed companies began to introduce complete actions, trigger parts, action shims, barrel locking blocks and a wide range of custom barrels. I experimented with various drop-in trigger parts, bolt and action parts and kept trying to get things “just right” for me. I found it didn’t take much to change a run-of-the-mill 10/22 into a very pleasant rifle with just the addition of a trigger group or parts, a better stock and heavy barrel. Head shots on squirrels at 50 yards became easy and a far cry from the often 3″ or worse 50-yard groups I was getting with stock rifles. Some shot a bit better, but it was an iffy proposition.

I still wanted more.

The laminated Ruger 10/22 Yukon Silhouette stock by Revolution is stable
and predictable and Roy found the thumbhole to be a feature he grew to really like.

Powder River Precision’s custom bolt, extractor and bolt lever
are first class and made to work as a unit.

The cross-bolt safety is located in the same place as a stock Ruger but
works with a more assuring “click” than the stock ones Roy’s tried. Powder
River Precision’s extended mag release assures easy mag changes using
any Ruger 10/22 style magazine.

At first, Roy wasn’t sure he’d like the thumbhole stock, but he soon
realized how they really serve to tuck the rifle in securely.

Options

Today, there are options galore and companies like Powder River Precision, Voltquartsen, Power Custom (Grand Masters), EABCO and even Ruger offer a bewildering array of barrels, parts, triggers, actions, bolts and controls. I think you can’t go wrong with any of them as long as the parts meet your idea of a “perfect” 10/22.

In my case, it started with a call from Dan Batchelor, founder of Powder River Precision. He knew of my quest for a dream 10/22 so he sent me their “Rubicon” receiver. This is a complete receiver/bolt and action (no need for a 10/22 base gun here), along with a Briley Raptor fluted .22 barrel threaded for a suppressor. This is an unparalleled action group of first-class design and bespoke construction methods — truly a custom design from a custom shop. Quality does not come cheap and it’s between $524 to $621 depending on options. “I have an obsession with intricate, mechanical things,” Dan told me on the phone. “And a quest for excellence in all we do here at the shop.”

I assured him it shows.

But it’s turn-key, including the all-important barrel-locking block. If you pick and choose bits and pieces from many makers, they don’t, as Dan said, “Always play well together,” so sticking with one maker is sensible. The Rubicon features a bar-stock receiver and integrated Picatinny rail, Top Line centerline guide rod and charging handle system (keeps things running smoothly), stainless steel bolt, integrated firing pin and wire EDM (not stamped) precision extractor. The fire control parts are also wire EDM and you end up with a crisp, reliable 2.5-lb. trigger pull. The aluminum V-block helps reduce damage to the barrel, and mine has the anodized aluminum extended mag release. My next “upgrade” will be to a flat trigger, which I really like.

All of this is nice, but doesn’t go the whole route unless you upgrade the barrel. The Briley lightweight barrel is a no-gunsmithing install and matches to the Rubicon smoothly. It’s got a hand-cut chamber and crown, is precision rifled and will deliver match-grade accuracy, I assure you. The fluted aluminum barrel sleeve is attractive, stiff and helps to keep it cool during any heated exchanges with aluminum cans or steel plates. It’s got a hardened stainless breech face, eliminating the “mushrooming” you can get with a standard barrel. It can happen, and I’ve experienced it — it’s due to being hammered by the steel bolt as it cycles. Briley’s barrel is about $300.

The stock is a design I favored from the moment I saw it. I didn’t want to go with a synthetic while the Ruger 10/22 Yukon Silhouette stock by Revolution fits this combo neatly. It’s about $225 and is handsomely made, agreeably finished and comes in different colors and laminations. A rifle like this needs to function well — but also needs to be, I’ll just say it … pretty.

I topped it with a very nice Meopta Optika5 2-10×42 scope, with a sort of a “ranging” reticle allowing you to hold-over as needed once you get dialed in. It’s about $400 or so, but you could easily take things as high as you like since this rifle deserves it.

So — my total investment is about $1,500 or so. The amazing thing here is I have a “Ruger 10/22” with no Ruger parts in it! That’s not saying you can’t build a very nice rifle using Ruger parts, because you can. But I was intrigued by this combo. It also went together as smoothly as greased lightning and I had exactly zero issues with fit or function. Gosh, it’s fun when it happens.

In spite of being compact, the custom 10/22 Roy built shoots like a
full-scale target rifle for hunting and recreation — or just admiring!

Shooting

Okay then, was it all worth it? My first group at 50 yards was 0.5″ with CCI Mini-Mags, which aren’t really known for accuracy. I had high hopes at that point. After going through about a dozen .22 loads, I found some gems. CCI Sub-Sonic (a 40-grain lead HP) slipped into a neat 0.380″ group, nicely rounded. If I took away the “flyer” it closed onto a 0.258″ hole. I used a dial caliper since these groups were so small and consistent!

Basically, anything I shot usually went into 0.5″ or less. On a lark, I shot some 100-yard groups and got a couple of sub-1″ ones in spite of a light breeze kicking up. The groups drifted to the left, but remained consistent. This is simply amazing performance to me and the best I’ve ever had from any 10/22 gun I’ve put together. To say it’s satisfying is to sorely understate things here.

Now, after several months of use, the 10/22 has run 100% from the first shot and delights me every single time I press the trigger. I’ve been on a quest for the “perfect” ammo and have found it even shoots high-velocity ammo with aplomb. SK Rifle .22 Match is a particular favorite. Groups are literally one hole at 25 yards, and average 0.300″ to 0.350″ or so at 50. This is marvelously rewarding and makes me look like a better shooter than I really am.

Now’s your chance. Scrounge up a 10/22 and get to work. Or start with a clean slate like I did. Either way, the journey is great fun and the quest for quality and accuracy satisfies like no other. Go ahead — indulge.

PowderRiverPrecision.com
Volquartsen.com, PowerCustom.com
(Grand Master), EABCO.net

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