-By Mike Searson–
The Ruger little 10/22 rifle may be the “Chevy Small Block” of semiautomatic rim fire rifles. With over 7 million rifles sold, very few seem to remain in stock configuration. This is due to an incredible array of aftermarket parts and accessories that can transform the Ruger 10/22 into everything from a custom tack driver to a survival bug out gun or simply a rim fire clone of a fantasy or collectible center fire rifle.
It does not hurt that the Ruger 10/22 is incredibly easy to work on as well, so most of these modifications can be performed by a basic hobbyist with simple tools, as opposed to shipping the rifle to a gun smith to perform the work.
The factory trigger on a standard Ruger 10/22 is fine for plinking, but if the shooter wants to engage in serious target work, it leaves a little to be desired. Companies such as Tactical Solutions and Volquartsen offer improved triggers that eliminate excessive over travel and reduce the slack found in the factory trigger. Using one of these parts makes a great first step toward any trigger job.
For the ultimate ease of improving the factory trigger, Ruger now offers a drop-in trigger pack that is adjustable in the 3 to 5 pound range.
The number one modification performed on the Ruger 10/22 is improving the sights. The overwhelming majority of Ruger 10/22s in private hands have had a scope of some sort installed on them. This can take the form of a disposable sub-$20 rim fire scope or red dot sight all the way up to expensive optics in the form of a Leupold or Swarovski model.
Due to the inherent accuracy of the Ruger 10/22, the author typically opts for a more expensive scope designed for center fire rifles as opposed to the cheap fixed power rim fire models that break the day after the warranty expires.
This typically means replacing factory bases, rails or rings as these are mostly designed to incorporate the “rim fire rail mounts” that ship from the factory with the rifle.
Because the 10/22 is not considered a long range rifle, many people simply change out the factory iron sights with something from Truglo who makes fiber optic tubes in several colors in order to maximize the gathering of existing light which causes the tubes to glow in daylight shooting conditions.
Most Ruger factory stocks are considered disposable items. Any 10/22 builder worth his salt usually has a pile of them sitting around gathering dust while his Ruger 10/22 actions are sitting in the latest and greatest improvements in materials and ergonomics available.
For an eye-catching and sturdy laminated wood stock Boyd’s, Volquartsen and Fajen have been producing these for decades. For the best all-around utility stock on a truck gun, Hogue makes some outstanding examples that are coated in the rubber used on their grips. For a more modern and indestructible application there are stocks offered by Tactical Solutions and now Magpul.
A handful of other manufacturers offer folding stocks, a chassis to bolt two 10/22s together and fire via a “Gatling Gun” inspired hand crank and complete kits to make the Ruger 10/22 resemble a laser rifle from Star Wars, a Thompson SMG, FN P90, or even an M40 USMC Sniper Rifle. The only limitation is the shooter’s imagination when it comes to a replacement stock for a Ruger 10/22.
The barrel is probably the easiest component to replace after the stock. Match grade barrels in heavy contours (but not necessarily the heavy weight) are available from numerous manufacturers. A number of barrel makers have begun offering threaded barrels to accommodate a silencer on the 10/22 and some like Great Lakes Machine take this a step further by offering a barrel with an integral silencer.
Byers offers an ultralight aluminum barrel with a heavy contour and a rifled steel liner that weighs 12 to 14 ounces and can be had in 17 HMR in addition to 22 long rifle. Companies such as Green Mountain, Volquartsen and ER Shaw offer a slew of aftermarket barrels that will increase the accuracy of any Ruger 10/22.
A personal favorite of the author’s is a version made by Tactical Solutions of Boise, Idaho, that measures 16.5” overall, but has a 4” shroud encompassing the bore that allows the shooter to install a silencer without extending the length much beyond 16.5”.
This alleviates the need for a tax stamp for a short barreled rifle and gives a secondary benefit of making the rifle quieter.
As a bullet travels down a rifled barrel, the velocity increases. In the case of 22 long rifle, even a subsonic round will build enough speed to go supersonic when it leaves the bore. The 12.5” of rifled barrel in the Tactical Solutions barrel keeps the ammunition at a subsonic level.
Speaking of silencers, a company known as Great Lakes Tactical offers an integrally suppressed heavy contour barrel for the Ruger 10/22. The only drawback is that the silencer is devoted to the barrel and cannot be shared among other rim fire firearms.
The smallest parts on the Ruger 10/22 such as the bolt handle, extractor and magazine catch can be replaced with quality offerings from Volquartsen that either improve the basic function or offer a more user friendly approach by giving the shooter more surface area for manipulation.
Slings, bipods, lasers and flashlights can easily be added as well. Some aftermarket stocks incorporate Picatinny rails for mounting. UTG and Harris bipods can be added after installing a sling swivel stud in the forend. A number of companies including Pro-Mag manufacture a replacement barrel band that incorporates rails for the mounting of lights and lasers.
The Ruger 10/22 is simply one of those rifles that begs to be customized and whether you want a reliable plinker or a super accurate tack driver, there are thousands of choices available for you to take your Ruger 10/22 in whichever direction you desire.
Perhaps the best aspect of Ruger’s 10/22 carbine is that the base price of the rifle (both new and used) is so low that more than one may find its way into your gun safe. It may be one of the few firearms out there where taking it beyond its factory configuration will almost always increase the rifle’s resale value.