Packable Precision

Ruger’s Very Portable 10/22 Target Lite Delivers

By Holt Bodinson

Now in its 54th year of continuous production, Ruger’s iconic 10/22 is still at the top of its game. This classic design keeps reinventing itself with the introduction of new models or variations of existing models with every passing year. The core models of the 10/22 currently include the Carbine, Compact, Sporter, Tactical, Takedown, Takedown Lite, Target and, just released, the Target Lite.

My go-to 10/22 is the snappy looking, stainless steel, bull barrel, Target Model. I like its looks, its weight and, fed Aguila Rifle Match ammo, its ability to knock out 1-inch, 5-shot groups at 100 yards, so I was more than curious to check-out the new Target Lite version to see if Ruger had maintained the accuracy standards of the original Target model after putting it on a diet and giving it a radical and chic restyling.

Weighing 5 pounds unsighted and only 5.75 pounds when mounted with a svelte, 4X Gru-Bee scope and rings, the Lite is light! Black laminate, ambidextrous, thumbhole, target stocks aren’t particularly noted for being light so I doff my hat to Ruger’s stylists who carved out enough wood from the modernistic Lite stock to maintain the rifle’s advertised bantam weight.

The real weight-saving is in the composite construction of the 16.13-inch barrel assembly. The barrel exits the receiver at full diameter, then disappears beneath an aluminum shroud and re-emerges as a 1/2-28 threaded muzzle protected by a thread cap. Beneath the aluminum shroud, the barrel diameter must be minimal because at the threaded muzzle, just before the thread protecting cap, is a threaded barrel-tensioning nut. A tensioned rimfire barrel is not new to the accuracy game, but it works, and it’s interesting to see Ruger adopting the technology.

Speaking of new technology, Ruger’s BX-Trigger for the 10/22 models is a joy to use. The trigger on the test gun broke crisply at an average 3-pounds when checked out with a Lyman electronic gauge. Although I didn’t weigh it, the trigger on the Target Lite model at my dealer’s was even lighter, maybe 2 or 2-1/4 pounds, which brings up another point. Ruger has an astonishing capacity for rolling out surprise products. Plus, when they announce a new model these days, chances are very good it’s already down at your dealer’s.

Varmints beware! The Target Lite is equally at home in the field or at the range.

Pro Tips

There are a couple of points about prepping the Target Lite not covered in the owner’s manual. There’s a 1/2-inch plastic spacer between the rubber buttplate and a plastic baseplate sealing the butt. With the spacer in place, the length-of-pull is 14.5 inches. To remove the spacer, you work through the two holes in the rubber buttplate, but Ruger doesn’t tell you what type of fasteners are holding things together. I started off trying a Phillips head screwdriver. Didn’t work. Then a screwdriver with a simple blade bit. Nope. Finally, I unleashed a whole set of Allen wrenches, and the bolts require a 9/64 Allen wrench for removal.

My second prepping point is when installing the factory supplied, combination scope base adaptor for Weaver style and .22 tip-off mounts, you must remove the four, petite, plug screws from the top of the receiver. The 10/22 aluminum receiver is finished with a thick, black coating with those screws in place. To start those coated screws, it is necessary to use a screwdriver that fits perfectly with a bit of downward pressure applied as well or else there’s a good chance of stripping the soft, tiny screw heads. Ruger warns owners not to use any thread locking compounds on the scope base screws for fear of mucking up the action.

With a flea weight of only 5.75-pounds, the Target Lite (foreground) treads right
on the heels of Holt’s 8.75-pound Target model.

In spite of its flea weight, the Target Lite can hold its own at 50 yards.

Performance Results

The spacy stock of the Target Lite with its broad, flat fore-end, squared-off butt and thumbhole pistol grip, settles down in benchrest bags like it was glued there. It’s a wickedly stable design. When firing for group, I found by squeezing the ears of the rabbit-ear rear bag around the butt, I could keep the reticle fixed on the target with minimal movement. Because of their blowback action and husky bolt, Ruger 10/22’s do recoil. Dampening that recoil with good bag or a suppressor is the road to exceptional accuracy.

Fourteen types of Long Rifle ammunition, ranging from match loads to high-speed hollowpoints, were tested at 50 yards. Rimfires are idiosyncratic firearms. At 50 yards, my 8.75-pound Ruger Target model averages 0.60 inch for 5-shots with Aguila Rifle Match. The 5.75-pound Target Lite model didn’t take to expensive match ammunition but averaged 0.74 with common Remington Target and 0.79 with CCI Mini-Mag.

Weighing 3-pounds less than my Ruger Target, the Target Lite gives little away in terms of inherent accuracy. With its stylized black laminate stock, 16.13-inch threaded and tensioned barrel, BX-Trigger, 10-round magazine, 5-pound bare weight and an overall length of 35.25 inches, the Target Lite carries a retail of $649. At the range or in the field, the Target Lite is yet another successful addition to Ruger’s extensive stable of 10/22 variants.

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