Thursday, September 25, 2008

My 10/22

I have embraced many difficult tasks during my time on this planet... I won't go into a lot of detail, there, but one thing I have generally excelled at is acquiring vices. The oldest of which was my habit of chain smoking, an activity that I acquired some 16-17 years ago and have fought to kick for the last 10. I finally did back in June, as a birthday gift to myself, and an effort to get more years ont he planet than I might have had otherwise. However, not smoking resulted in some manic personality crises and ultimately in boredom. I opted to fill my time partaking in an activity that had always enthralled me to some degree, recreational shooting. In a fit of boredom and anxiety, I found myself in Big 5 and saw a sale on the Ruger 10/22. I had done some research on rimfire weapons, and had decided that Ruger's prolific weapon was the correct choice for me, since you can customize it up the yang and pretty much make it yours and only yours. I made the purchase...

Mine looked like this upon tearing the box open, and I spent the majority of the following week doing research on the weapon, on different types of .22LR ammunition, as well as optic choices, and also looking for a place to shoot it. I settled on a nice Bushnell rimfire scope picked up on special at Joe's Sports for around 40 bones and bought a set of Weaver rings with which to mount the thing on the included optical rail that came along with the rifle. It was a handsome package, and Aaron and I took it out to the range the following week. My first time out we put well over 500 rounds through the thing an dit performed amazingly. Accuracy wasn't terrific, since we hadn't really taken the time to sight the weapon in. Most importantly it was tremendous fun to shoot.

The following months have seen me habitually adding more and more to this gun, to the point of it being unrecognizable from the original weapon. Primarily, I didn't like the OEM hardwood stock that the 10/22 shipped with, so I upgraded to a synthetic glass filled nylon stock made by ATI, who put out great aftermarket products not just for the 10/22, but for AK's, AR's, the SKS, Mosins, Mossbergs, and a plethora of other weapons manufacturers. All of ATI's products are great from my experience, and I am especially fond of the stock I picked up, a Dragunov styled skeleton stock with vented fore-end and integrated cheekrest for better viewing of the optics mounted on the weapon's receiver. It is comfortable and lightweight, and most notably makes an already pleasurable shooting gun and even greater joy to shoot.

While the factory Ruger magazine is arguably the best loading system available for the rifle, it offers no aesthetic value, and while it's really not teribly important, I am very big on appearances. On a whim during another trip to Joe's, I bought a 10 round Butler Creek banana clip for the weapon with polymer lips for feeding the rounds into the rifles receiver. Constructed of a clear hard plastic material, the magazine looks good, and conveniently allows for the attachment of two additional magazines identical to it. The only real issue I've had with it is that it is nowhere near as reliable as the factory rotary mag, and will fail to feed certain brands of ammunition, namely the choosier more expensive type that I have become used to shooting as of late.

At this point, I decided to fulfill my need for at least one high capacity magazine and purchased a Shooter's Ridge 25 round banana clip for the 10/22. This magazine is also a clear plastic, though noticeably better built than the Butler Creek magazine. It's feed lips are also a tough polymer, but the feed ramp itself is much more akin to the original rotary magazine, making it nearly as reliable as the factory clip. While the range I shoot at doesn't allow more than 10 rounds loaded in a magazine at a time, it is still a great accessory for those occasions when I can get it out to the woods to squeeze off some rounds into dirt piles and fallen trees. All things considered, the Shooter's Ridge magazine wins here, not just for reliability, but again for aesthetic purposes as well.

A fairly recent trip to the wholesale sporting goods store Outdoor Emporium in Seattle saw me finding and purchasing another Shooter's Ridge product, their 6-9 inch bipod. This contraption attaches easily to the sling swivel on my rifle stock and tightens down super secure and easy. It's a bit on the heavy side, but that helps keep the barrel down when firing, and balances the rifle effortlessly on the shooting table, eliminating the need for sandbags when I'm at the range. I mainly got it for the price, as Shooter's Ridge MSRP for it is well over $60, but Outdoor Emporium let it out the door for $20 less than that. For someone focusing on accuracy such as myself, it's a no-brainer anyway, but at the same time, being somewhat miserly I never would have bought it if not for the severe discount I got.

I recently ended up swapping out the scope as well, in favor of an NcSTAR 3-9x42 tactical scope. It's more compact than the Bushnell and has a larger objective lens, with a military style reticle for range finding, distance, and windage accountability. It was somewhat of a bitch to mount, since the Weaver rings I already had were too large for the space available on the scope itself, so I had to purchase a nice set of Burris rings to compensate for that. It took a measly 5 shots to get it sighted, after which I was completely sold. The thing's a champ, and I could already see improvement in my groups using it. My next scope will be another NcSTAR, as they are affordable, great looking, durable, and exceptionally tacticool.

The final add-on came in the mail this week from MidwayUSA... a muzzle brake for my Ruger's barrel. Unfortunately, with a factory contoured barrel, brakes are fairly limited and come in two varieties: the first being a large dual purpose brake that also acts as a flash hider, the second (the one I purchased) a simple AR15 styled brake that is intended to reduce muzzle rise while firing. Initially skeptical of the concept, since a .22 really has no recoil in the first place, I have found that it's actually dependent on the ammo that you're shooting. Take the Remington Vipers I took out a few weeks back. For a .22LR round, those had severe recoil and flash, and as a result were hitting high, or hitting low if I attempted to compensate for the kick they provided the rifle. I plan to pick up a box of those guys to test the functionality of the brake this weekend, as well as a box of Remington's Yellow Jackets. If nothing else, though, the brake looks cool as hell and helps to mask that fact that what I'm shooting is a .22 at all.

Ruger 10/22 $220
ATI skeletonized synthetic stock $50
NcSTAR tactical scope $50
Burris scope rings $25
Shooter's Ridge 6-9 inch bipod $40
Shooter's Ridge 25 round magazine $20
Butler Creek 10 round magazine (not pictured) $15
10/22 Muzzle Brake $20

This gun has no doubt been a money pit, and I know that I've subjected you readers to talk of it previously, but never really gone into a lot of actual detail about my Ruger. The one thing that I'm missing which many people are quick to point out at the range is a target quality barrel, but with everything else I've added to this guy, I'm outshooting other folks who do have one configured. Plus, I can't justify the money a Volquartsen match grade barrel would run me, and I'm leery of most other brands out there when it comes to barrels. At any rate, there you have it, my Ruger 10/22, there are many out there, but this one is mine.


Aaron said...

Between the mods and your seemingly natural ability with a rifle I don't think there's anything you could do to get tighter groups with that gun. IMO a match barrell would be a waste of $ and time, considering you could put that $ into your next full-firearm purchase. Good rundown, makes it easy for a novice to see what the 1022 platform has to offer. I plan on scoping mine asap but may need your help sighting it in.

kafr said...

You can do about anything with the 10/22. It is the best rifle platform in it's pricerange. The only thing you could do better on is 'maybe' a WASR. If you can find one that isn't a hunk of crap for that price.

Nice work on the 10/22 looks great