The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular .22 caliber rifles available today. Over five million have been produced. Needless to say there is an enormous selection of parts available to customize the rifle for almost any purpose.
Before we start down that road, it is important for us to gauge the accuracy of the rifle in its stock condition. It doesn’t do any good to add a component that reduces the overall accuracy.
Our Ruger 10/22 Carbine comes from the factory with a set of fairly serviceable iron sights. They are the adjustable bead and notch type. In my youth, many a rabbit fell to a .22 equipped with these sights. While they may be just fine for plinking and hunting small game, they are nowhere near adequate for a precision training rifle.
When we posted the introduction to this series, we had quite a few readers request that we equip our 10/22 with iron sights. If we were going to build a youth trainer, this would be a good route. I still believe that children should be taught how to use iron sights before graduating to magnified optics. Tech-Sights make an excellent set of iron sights that mimic the function of the sights found on the M16A2 rifle.
Our goal with this rifle is to practice the skills required to operate a center fire precision rifle. The vast majority of those rifles are equipped with some type of magnified optic. A magnified rifle scope makes it much easier to hold a precise aiming point when evaluating the precision of a rifle.
The first step before adding an optic is to install a scope base. Ruger was nice enough to include a base and mounting screws with the rifle. Installing the base is as simple as removing the four plug screws from the top of the receiver and screwing on the Ruger base. There is a small drawback. The base is designed to accept Weaver or 3/8″ dovetail rings. Most of the hardware that is circulating in the Precision Rifle world is Picatinny spec. We will address this issue later in the build.
Like the old mechanic with remnants of past projects hanging on the garage walls, we too have accumulated parts from years of builds. One part that we recycled for this project was a Tasco “Golden Antler” scope. It had been collecting dust in a corner of the shop. I snagged it during a Walmart grocery trip several years ago. It was bought on a whim because I wanted to see how accurate my old Remington 581 was. The Tasco was designed for .22 rifles or air guns. It features an adjustable objective with a super close 7.5 yard minimum focus. The magnification range is 3-9x, which is great for a .22 that will spend much of its time at 50-100 yards. This model even comes with exposed “target turrets”. The icing on the cake is that the Tasco comes equipped with 3/8″ dovetail rings. We were able to drop it on the 10/22 without purchasing any other parts.
Now let me be clear, I am not recommending this as an end-point for a build. I am simply including it because it was laying around the shop. This makes it free for us. There is a very good chance that you have a friend or family member with a cheap .22/airgun scope laying around. If it will maintain a zero, that is all we need at this stage. If you are flipping couch cushions for shooting money, this is your option. If you are forced to buy new, this scope will set you back about $40. The only catch is that the “target turret” version is apparently hard to find online. I am not sure if Wally-world is still carrying them.
Now that we have our scope mounted up, it is time to get a rough zero and shoot some groups. Getting into a stable prone position immediately brought to light a second problem with the stock 10/22 Carbine. There are no sling swivel studs to install a bipod on. This could be easily resolved by purchasing a screw-in swivel stud from your local gunshop. We chose to just tough it out and use a front and rear bag.
With the rifle in this form it would have been easy to burn through a brick of ammo just shooting stuff. It is a light, quick handling package. With the duplex reticle and the scope dialed back to 3x, it was flashback to my youth. I felt that boyhood giddiness again. This is a perfect rifle to keep in the back of the truck for general small-game and pest purposes. Unfortunately, that is not what we are building this rifle for.
With renewed concentration, I buckled down and shot a couple of groups. I put about 10-15 rounds through the barrel while getting the scope dialed in at 50 yards. This was necessary to “season” the bore with the ammo that we will be using for the duration of the test.
In a perfect world we would select a wide variety of target ammunition and test each type to see what the rifle liked. It is pretty common for a .22 rifle to like one type of ammunition over another. The 10/22 is no different. Unfortunately it isn’t possible right now to buy a wide variety of match .22LR. It is hard enough to find bulk .22 on the shelves at our local shops.
The King of match .22 rifles in my safe is the Remington 40XB. I try to keep an ample supply of Wolf Match Target .22LR on hand to feed it. The rest of the .22 rifles we have on hand also shoot this ammo very well. To keep things simple we will be using the Wolf Match Target or Wolf Match Extra throughout this project unless we encounter a problem.
Now that we know where we are starting from, we can build from here. The next step will be to add a stock that is more suited to adult body types and that will accept a bull barrel.
If you have any suggestions on components that you would like to see on this build, please let us know.