By: Tom Claycomb
The Ruger 10/22 seems to have everything going for it. Not only has it been the most popular .22 rifle on the market for decades running, it is the most trickouttable (is that a word?!) gun on the market.
Everyone raves about the AR platform, but I think for one rifle, there are more after-market parts for the 10/22 than any other rifle ever made.
But wait! Why would you trick out a .22? Why invest money in a caliber that is only capable of 1 ½-inch groups at 25 yds.? And what would you do with it? And do all those items actually make it more accurate?
All good questions. Let’s trick one out and see what we discover. I’m excited, so let’s get started.
What’s Our Goal?
To obtain a super accurate .22.
First Things First
If you have a lapping compound (available at Brownell’s), run it down the barrel to remove any burrs left from the factory. Always do this on any new rifle. If you don’t have lapping compound, at least run a rag with gun oil.
Next, mount on the scope base. Use some Brownell’s Blue locktite to ensure the screws don’t loosen. Now we know our base is secure and eliminate that from being a future issue.
To obtain any degree of accuracy, you are going to have to mount a scope. With a .22 you will be hunting small animals/birds with small kill zones, so it is imperative to use a scope. And since the kill zones are small, a 3-9 just isn’t quite powerful enough. And you don’t want a cheap, blurry scope, so for this project, I went with a Riton Optics X1 PRIMAL 4-16x44. It is a clear, crisp, top-quality scope.
Triggers and Stocks
Another huge item in obtaining any degree of accuracy is a good trigger. To show what I mean, make sure your rifle is empty. Put the safety on and aim at something and try to pull the trigger. Notice how you pull off to the side? That’s what you do when the trigger won’t break.
10/22 triggers are notoriously horrible. This one was no exception and had horrible creep. Order a Timney trigger, and you’ll be amazed at how your group will tighten.
Timney Triggers are super easy to install. Remove the stock. The instructions say to remove the two pins. The first time I installed one I was all worried. I removed the stock and two pins fell out. Hmm, wonder if that is the two pins I need to remove? Yep. Usually it is that easy.
If you’re going to all the trouble and expense to trick out a rifle, you might as well be a little vain and suck the wind out of everyone when they look at it. The easiest way to add that “Awe” factor is to mount it on a Boyds Stock. They are the coolest stocks in the world and automatically turn an ordinary rifle into a high-class looking gun.
Getting past the vanity factor, they claim their stocks slightly reduce recoil, which, of course is not an issue on a .22, but the reason I use them is that they are so comfortable. Anyone can get 1 ½-inch groups, but to dial down to 3/8s, ¼, or all bullet holes touching, things have to be perfect.
While shooting, you need to only focus on breathing and your squeeze. A Boyds Gunstock is so comfortable that holding the rifle will feel like it is part of you. It will take zero effort to get comfortable while holding it.
Mounting a Boyds Stock is easy. Remove the bolt in front of the trigger. Some 10/22s have a barrel band. If yours does, remove it, too. Now lift out the action/barrel. Slide into the Boyds Stock. Usually it will be a snug fit. Bolt it in, and you’re good to go.
Choosing the Proper Ammo
Now for the last and most important step: Choosing the proper ammo.
I used to think.22s were inherently inaccurate and only capable of 1 ½-inch groups at 25 yds. Then I started experimenting with ammo. The accuracy of .22 ammo varies greatly. I understand that when plinking and shooting we want $16.00 bricks. And that’s fine, but don’t blame your rifle for being inaccurate if you’re buying cheap ammo. If you really want to know what your rifle is capable of, then you’re going to have to test some good ammo. We will talk more about ammo below.
One last thing to tighten down your groups: Don’t use the regular old round targets with a 1-inch bullseye circle. If your cross hair is in the circle, you think you’re OK. That right there will cause you to shoot a 1-inch group. I only shoot targets with square orange boxes, so if I move literally a hair, then I know it. Try it, and your groups will tighten.
So How Did It Shoot?
The rifle is now tricked out and ready to shoot. I loaded up my shooting table, sandbags, and other gear and headed out to the high plains to test it out. I set up a target at 25 yds., which is how I do all my .22 shooting. I started off with cheap ammo to get it on paper.
I was now ready to shoot for real. I had six different brands of ammo I wanted to test. I started off with a cheap brand just to see how it shot. Surprisingly, I got a 5/8s-inch group. The next cheap ammo shot a 1 ¼” group.
It surprised me, but the CCI SUB-SONIC 22 LR shot a ½ and then a ¼” group. Wow, impressive.
Now the moment of truth was here: How would the Eley tenex 40gr. ammo shoot? When I want to know how good a .22 can shoot, I always test it with Eley ammo. Eley makes the ultimate .22 ammo as far as accuracy. With the first group, the first two shots were in the same hole. The third shot widened out for a ½” grp.
As suspected, the next two groups tightened up. I shot a 3/16” and then a ¼” grp. Yes, this rifle was going to be a shooter.
There was an 11-mph wind which is the norm out on the prairie. This adversely affected me, plus the target slightly wobbled, even though it was braced. Some day when there is less than 5-mph winds I want to go out and shoot it again. I bet I can get it down to pushing 1/8” groups.
Personally, I don’t see the benefit of installing a bull barrel on a Ruger 10/22. First off, you’re shooting a .22, so the barrel is not getting hot, and secondly, the Ruger barrels I’ve tested have all shot fine. Years ago, on one project, I installed a chrome bull barrel, but it didn’t improve my grouping one iota, so I’d say save your money. Plus, a bull barrel makes the gun a lot heavier.
If you want to tighten the groups on your Ruger 10/22, I’d recommend these four steps:
- Install a Timney Calvin Elite Trigger.
- Mount on a good scope like the Riton Optics X1 Primal 4-16x44.
- Mount your 10/22 on a Boyds Gunstock.
- Shoot Eley or CCI Subsonic ammo.
Tom Claycomb III is a product tester for outdoor manufacturers, hunter, and outdoor writer, writing from Idaho.