An Affordable Mini-Chassis Marve
By Holt Bodinson
Once the specialty of a handful of custom makers, the centerfire chassis rifle market exploded in 2015 when Ruger entered the game with their own Precision Rifle retailing for around $1,000. Chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win. and .243 Win., the rifle proved you didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get into the fascinating game of long-range competition.
Well, Ruger’s just turned the market on its head again with the introduction of its Precision Rimfire Rifle, chock-full of innovative features and carrying an MSRP of only $529.
The new .22 LR Precision Rimfire was designed from the get-go as an understudy clone to Ruger’s centerfire version, providing great practice at rimfire prices. With a rifle molded along the lines of their big-bore competition rig, shooters no longer have to travel long distances to extended-yardage ranges to hone their skills — the nearest 100-yard range will do. Set up with the same sights and shooting accessories as a centerfire chassis rifle, a rimfire version is ideal for maintaining a high level of proficiency at lower cost.
Moreover, shooting a rimfire chassis rifle at 100 to 200 yards under a variety of conditions — particularly when there’s a bit of wind wafting across the range — and practicing getting into a variety of positions common to long-range competition would benefit us all.
In fact, there’s a new sport brewing incorporating rimfire rifles into precision competition courses-of-fire. For current match information, go to www.NRL22.org. In terms of features, the new Ruger understudy is right on the cutting edge of this development.
Shoot more, pay less: The Precision Rimfire (front) was designed as an economical
understudy to their centerfire model
Built To Shoot
The heart and soul of a chassis rifle is its precision body assembly incorporating a magazine well, pistol grip and buttstock assembly. Ruger’s one-piece chassis and buttstock is molded from tough, stable, glass-filled nylon. Its features are numerous.
The buttstock is fully adjustable for length-of-pull, comb height and facial contact and position of the rubber buttplate. The buttplate can be moved up-and-down by loosening and tightening two Allen screws. That’s pretty conventional, but the LOP (12″ to 15.5″) and comb height are both controlled by a single cam-lock that can be reversed for left-handed shooters — that’s pretty innovative, plus both the LOP and comb feature molded-in graduations so the shooter can repeatedly lock-in previous adjustments based on shooting positions adopted.
The comb itself is reversible providing a wide range of support based on an individual’s facial structure. The base of the butt features a flat Picatinny bag rider, forming an ideal mounting surface for a rear monopod. Just aft of the short Picatinny rail is a QD (quick-detachable) pocket for securing a sling while a molded-in window above the QD provides a tether point for a rear squeeze bag.
All the controls emulate those of the centerfire model, including the oversized bolt knob.
The buttstock is adjustable for LOP, comb height, facial contact and buttplate position.
Adjustable Trigger, Bolt Throw
One of the chassis features that blew me away was a snap-up-and-off cover just to the rear of the bolt providing access to an Allen wrench used to adjust the externally controlled weight-of-pull of the trigger. Adjustable from 2.25 to 5.0 lbs., this trigger is truly a precision match feature.
Moving forward along the chassis, the AR-style pistol grip is familiar as is the AR-type safety selector that’s easily reversed for left-handed shooters.
The magazine well accepts all 10/22 magazines. Speaking of which, the rifle is offered with either a single 15-shot or two 10-shot magazines to comply with local regulations. What more can you say about a Ruger-made, 10/22 magazine? It works so well it’s almost boring.
The chassis is innovative but so is the barreled action. The bolt is downright cool. It features the same oversize knob as Ruger’s centerfire version, but the best part is the rimfire bolt throw can be adjusted to simulate that of its larger counterpart. To switch from a 1.5″ rimfire bolt throw to that of a 3″ short-action bolt throw, all that’s necessary is the removal of a small circular clip located in the middle of the bolt body. It’s easily pried off with a screwdriver. My hat’s off to the engineer who came up with the idea.
Another big-bore adaptation evident in the Precision Rimfire model is the use of a 30 MOA Picatinny top rail for scope mounting. With 30 MOA built into the rail, a 200-yard zero is a cinch and — depending upon your scope — a 300-yard zero is entirely possible.
Ruger fits the Precision Rimfire with a stout 18″ hammer-forged target barrel which can be replaced with a custom barrel by a gunsmith using AR-style wrenches and headspace gauges. It’s threaded 1/2″-28 for silencers, like Ruger’s new Silent-SR models, or for other accessories.
Rounding out the new rimfire is a 15″ free-floating aluminum handguard featuring Magpul M-LOK slots on all four sides for mounting compatible rails and accessories.
The total Precision Rimfire package weighs 6.8 lbs. The overall length is 35 to 38.5″. So how did the rifle shoot once I mounted a Leupold Mark 4/2.5-8 x 36mm scope?
By removing this one little clip, bolt throw is changed from 1.5″ to a full 3″. Holt
hones his prone skills with the Precision Rimfire.
To minimize wind issues, I like to test rimfires at 50 yards. I tested 12 different loads from Aguila, CCI, Federal, Remington and Winchester. The best 5-shot groups were delivered by CCI Standard Velocity (0.47″), Remington Target (0.51″), Federal Hunter Match (0.63″) and CCI Mini-Mag Segmented (0.71″). This is the second time in recent memory I’ve seen CCI Standard Velocity beat out CCI Green Tag. It’s a remarkable load.
Is Ruger’s Precision Rimfire an ideal understudy to their Precision Centerfire? Absolutely! But even as a stand-alone, it’s simply a superb rimfire the whole family can enjoy and — given its innovative features — it’s also a superb value.