Ruger 10/22 Target Lite
Bruce Potts warms to this version of Ruger’s enduringly popular .22 rimfire
Ruger 10/22 Target Lite
Price as reviewed: £830
The Ruger 10/22 .22LR has to be the most widely used semi-automatic rimfire on the planet. It was the brainchild of Bill Ruger back in 1964 and its simple inertia type or blowback bolt operating system has proved reliable and long-lasting, spawning many variants over the years. This Ruger 10/22 Target Lite model is one of the better factory offerings. Many 10/22 owners modify their rifles with the numerous aftermarket products, but this new model needs no such embellishments. It wears a well-proportioned laminate thumbhole stock and, being ambidextrous, it is very user-friendly. I also like the target/varmint profile short-tensioned barrel to reduce weight. As it is threaded for a sound moderator, it would make a nice, compact vermin tool, too. (Read more on Why there should be no snobbery about semi-automatics.)
Add to this Ruger’s better BX trigger system with a lighter trigger pull, Ruger’s 10-shot rotary magazine and combination scope base, and the price of £830 does not seem unreasonable.
Ruger 10/22 Target Lite in detail
With the 10/22’s inertia system, the energy from the cartridge on firing operates the bolt system and this latest Target Lite was remarkably reliable for most of the rounds I tested. The extraction is via a single claw, with very positive ejection. Although the aluminium action is painted rather than blued, it is hard-wearing and has a good combined Weaver or 11mm dovetail mount.
Tensioned barrels — be they with carbon fibre wrap or, as here, aluminium sleeves — have been a popular way of lightening a barrel, yet still maintaining a heavy profile 0.920in diameter, so that heat build-up is dispersed, rigidity maintained and accuracy enhanced. The lightening of the barrel allows you to make it a tad shorter. On this sort of rifle, designed primarily for vermin control, that is handy, so as not to increase the overall length too much. This is especially relevant when a moderator is fitted to the ½in UNEF finer-threaded muzzle. The aluminium alloy sleeve tensions at the muzzle end cap with six screws, maintaining even pressure for consistent accuracy.
Being a cold-hammer-forged carbon steel barrel with standard 1 in 16in right-hand rifling twist rate, it’s good for any normal .22 fodder, but not recommended for CCI Stingers. The actual barrel length is 16in, which means the Target Lite is a compact rimfire at only 35.25in long in total.
I like thumbhole designs and this Target Lite incarnation, with its very open grip area and laminate wood construction, allows an ambidextrous and varied hold for all hunting positions. It has a nice ‘planted’ feel in the shoulder, which helps with good handling, while still keeping the weatherproof traits of a synthetic stock. At 5lb without a scope or moderator fitted, the rifle is a delight to handle. Despite quite a glossy lacquer finish and no chequering to the short fore-end with its slanted vent holes, the stock is a triumph.
That large thumbhole lends itself to a great hold, with or without gloves, and a cheekpiece to both sides makes the stock ambidextrous. You can further tune this stock for length of pull with additional spacers fitted between the soft, black rubber recoil pad and laminate.
The relatively new BX trigger is a far better proposition for precision than the older models. It has a lighter trigger pull of 2½lb to 3lb and the new polymer housing is harder-wearing, with far closer tolerances. The safety is a simple cross-bolt unit blocking the trigger blade, while the timeless 10-shot rotary magazine is reliable if looked after with regular stripping and cleaning.
Light and handy
Semi-automatic rimfires can be fickle in their ‘diet’, as some of the slower subsonic rounds can fail to cycle 100%. This was the case with the Eley and Norma subsonics that, despite their excellent accuracy, caused some jams. This was a shame as these two are my favourite bolt-action subs.
The best subsonic rounds were the Winchester 42gr Max, with five-shot 30-yard groups of 0.60in and a velocity of 1,063fps for 105ft/lb energy. Similarly accurate were the CCI Segmented Subsonics, with 0.65in groupings at 1,031fps for 94ft/lb. I tried some RWS HV for those that may want a high-velocity round and we had 1,104fps for 108ft/lb and consistent 0.60in groupings.
Trying some lead-free equivalents did not go so well — they functioned at 100%, but as with all the rimfire rifles I have tested, accuracy was erratic.
The CCI Copper lead-free, with its light 21gr, shot 1.25in groups at a whopping 1,661fps for 129ft/lb. Better were the RWS HV Green 24gr bullets at 1,498fps and 120ft/lb, with 1.15in groups.
I also tried some RWS semi-auto rounds designed specifically for semis, which have a solid round-nose head, so are not really meant for vermin. They shot lovely 0.65in groups at 1,027fps and 94ft/lb.
Having fitted a small Leupold compact 4x power scope and loaded the magazine with some Winchester 42gr Max rounds, I headed for the fields. It’s so light and handy that you hardly notice it. With an A-Tec Wave mod fitted, it was very quiet and I soon had five rabbits in the bag, all with head shots out to 55 yards.
A joy to shoot
I think the Ruger 10/22 Target Lite is the best incarnation of the Ruger 10/22 yet. Its really well-thought-out stock makes it a joy to shoot off a bench or in the field for casual plinking, target shooting or, for me, rabbits. Most 10/22 owners upgrade with the plethora of aftermarket goodies on offer, but I believe that this Target Lite model wants for nothing.
- Manufacturer Ruger
- Model: 10/22 Target Lite
- Type: Semi-automatic rimfire
- Overall length: 35.25in
- Barrel: 16in (aluminium- tensioned sleeve)
- Calibre .22LR
- Finish: Blued barrel/ black painted action
- Weight: 5lb
- Stock Black laminate thumbhole
- Trigger: BX, single stage
- Safety: Cross-bolt operation
- Scope mounts: One-piece Weaver and 11mm rail fitted
- Importer: Viking Arms 01423 780810
The superb Target Lite is a lightweight, accurate and reliable .22 rimfire