Cheap and reliable, the 10/22 is built to last and is a handy little vermin tool, says Bruce Potts
The Ruger 10/22 rimfire semi-automatic rifle, produced more than 50 years ago in 1964, has to be the most widely made and distributed .22 rimfire rifle in existence. It led to a whole genre of aftermarket paraphernalia to upgrade the basic rifle.
Ruger makes a variety of off-the-shelf 10/22s, including standard wood-stocked, take-down, target and tactical models. Probably the most “vermin-friendly” is the stainless steel carbine. This is a no-nonsense, cheap and reliable semi-auto rimfire that has an all-stainless steel construction to shrug off the elements and tough black synthetic stock to take all those knocks and scratches that hunting around the fields entails.
Add to this Ruger’s 10-shot rotary magazine and now a reliable 25-shot option — which is ideal for lamping sessions — and the fact it only weighs 5lb, and you have a fast-handling and handy little vermin tool.
Action, trigger and safety
The action has changed little over the years since its inception, save a few modifications. But it still has a recoil-activated bolt system that relies on the energy from a fired case to cycle and eject the spent .22 Long Rifle round. It’s a simple but reliable system if kept clean from unburned powder residue and bullet grease, which can attract dirt. A dry lube is best on any semi-auto rimfire. As such, the single claw extractor reliably ejects cases from the stainless-steel action.
The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope-mounting base, which is supplied with Weaver-style or dovetail rings due to its dual platform arrangement.
The lever in front of the trigger-guard is the magazine release — when pushed forward and up, it drops the magazine into your hand.
It is now extended in length, so is easy to manipulate with gloves or cold hands. The 10/22 is famed for its 10-shot capacity rotary-designed magazine, so that all the rounds rotate around a centre stem in the magazine to keep it short. It is plastic-bodied with harder-wearing metal lips, where the bolt picks up the cartridge but keeps it clean for best functioning.
For review, Viking Arms sent a 25-shot magazine that has a straight line feed. Though it makes the 10/22 look more “tactical”, it is handy to have 25 shots without reloading when you are out lamping, as it stops you having to fumble for new magazines in the dark. It was also totally reliable.
The trigger is a single stage unit that is necessarily heavy to make it safe on a semi-automatic rimfire. Most are like this, but you can upgrade the trigger to any aftermarket unit to improve the pull weight and keep it safe. But I had no problems. Again, the safety is a simple cross-bolt unit housed in the trigger-guard that blocks the trigger travel to make the rifle safe.
In this model, the barrel and action is made from stainless steel instead of blued steel. This makes it highly weather-resistant. It’s also not too shiny, so it’s good as a hunting rifle because it won’t catch the glare. It comes in a slim Sporter trim, with a fast-tapering profile from the receiver down to the muzzle. This comes threaded for a sound moderator with a 0.5in UNF thread and has a total barrel length of 18.5in, making for a nice, short carbine rifle.
The barrel is good internally, with a one-in-16in rifling twist rate and six grooves or rifling lands to stabilise the bullet.
There are open sights, with the foresight having a fixed, elevated gold bead with windage adjustment, with a small folding rearsight that has an adjustable leaf arrangement. Again, windage adjustment is via a dovetail mount.
The stock has a basic “fit all” character to it, but it works — and, at this level, that’s just what you want from a hunting gun. The black synthetic design is moulded in two halves and glued together, giving a hollow feel, but it also makes the 10/22 carbine light. On a centrefire, it can flex, but on a rimfire it aids in fast handling and long-term handling in the field.
There is no cheekpiece — which would be nice when a scope is fitted — and the black rubber butt-plate is thick and grippy, but the textured finish is ideal on a hunting tool to stop unwanted reflections.
The chequering is moulded in but surprisingly grippy. The length of pull is a tad short for me, at 13.5in, and the fore-end is secured by a metal barrel band around the barrel. It places your supporting hand on it, so it’s best to grip the stock not the band for best accuracy.
Ruger 10/22 on test
I shot the Ruger with subsonic loads and high-velocity (HV) ammunition. I experienced no malfunctions other than partial ejection on two RWS subs — they were a bit tight in the chamber. I shot a lot of ammunition in the tests and the Ruger proved accurate with nearly all the loads — it was not bullet-fussy at all.
The best accuracy went to the RWS HV rounds, at 1,218fps for 132ft/lb energy with five-shot groups just under an inch at 50 yards at 0.95in — for a semi-auto this is very good. These bullets are above the speed of sound, so will still have the supersonic crack, despite having a sound moderator fitted, but that’s where the subsonics come in.
There was a tie for accuracy — the best subsonic rounds were the Eley and Winchester; the CCI was very close behind. Both shot 1in to 1.25in 50-yard groups, with the Eleys shooting 1,011fps for 91ft/lb energy and the Winchesters at 1,043fps velocity and 97ft/lb, so take your choice.
Good-value workaday rifles for multipurpose vermin control. A good all-rounder