Since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to build a custom 10/22 rifle. While the Ruger’s mainstay .22LR semi-automatic rifle is great straight off the rack, there are so many cool options out there that anyone can build their own unique firearm that perfectly suits their needs.
I’m nuts for accuracy in a rifle. If a rifle doesn’t shoot tight groups on paper, it’s my belief that it won’t perform well when you really need it, like on a hunt. With accuracy in mind, I decided to finally realize my longtime dream and build a 10/22 rifle to my own standards.
I won the 10/22 for my rebuild in a raffle at my local National Wild Turkey Federation banquet. It was a factory carbine with a birch stock — worth about $230. Shooting Blazer 40-grain lead, round-nose cartridges, I was able to maintain a 1 ¼-inch group at 50 yards. This isn’t bad for someone with not-so-great eyesight using iron sights, but I know the gun has the potential for much better. I wanted a rifle that would put bullets through a single hole, so it wasn’t good enough for me.
One of the biggest culprits in degrading accuracy is the stock. Unsealed wood can shrink or swell depending on the weather. This presents a variable that can change your point of impact just by taking your rifle out of your climate-controlled house into the humid backyard 20 feet away. Eliminate that variable, and you’re one step closer to a one-holer.
Several stock materials are more stable than standard wood. Synthetic (plastic, blended or fiberglass) stocks are great, and most are drop-in ready for a reasonable price. Plastic stocks can range from $50 to $200 depending on the features you want, but blended material and fiberglass stocks will cost you at least $100 and can be as high as several hundred dollars.
I like the look and stability of laminated wood stocks. Laminated stocks are made from layers of wood (sometimes of different colors) glued together with their grains opposing in each layer. The combination of the wood and glue create a beautiful wood that is stable and not susceptible to humidity or rain. The stock I used on my 10/22 is an original Ruger straight-grip laminated stock. This one was a sample with custom engraving that was rejected, so I picked it up cheap. A similar stock will cost around $100.
I prefer a crisp, light trigger with little creep. Creep is movement in the trigger before it discharges. Reducing the amount of movement during the firing process will greatly improve your ability to hit your target. While a light trigger is great on the range, it can be dangerous in the woods. A happy medium is best when selecting a trigger for a hunting rifle.
My choice was the Timney Complete Drop-In Trigger system. This product completely replaces the factory Ruger trigger group with a CNC-machined, tunable trigger, hammer, magazine release and bolt lock. It’s as simple as removing two pins, removing the old trigger group, inserting the new trigger group then replacing the pins. It’s a more expensive option at $200, but by the time you replace all of the components needed to improve the stock trigger, you’re not too far off from this price. Plus, it’s a lot easier to install and adds features that greatly improve on the Ruger design.
My only complaint is that the extended magazine release is touchy, and if you’re not careful you can eject the magazine unintentionally while walking in the woods. I’ve adjusted how I carry the rifle and that has reduced the potential for this happening.
Fish in a Barrel
While there are many options for 10/22 replacement barrels ranging from steel bull to carbon fiber, I chose to stick with the original tapered, sporter barrel. Ruger is known for their accurate barrels, and since I was running low on money, I decided I could work with what I had. If I had issues with accuracy after putting all together, then I could always purchase a replacement at that time.
Being a little near-sighted without my prescription glasses or contacts, I have a difficult time using iron sights when shooting at a distance. With that in mind, and already having a Leupold VXII 3-9x40mm scope in the safe, I decided that it would be a fine addition to my new, custom rifle. The 10/22 came with a Weaver-style sight base, so I installed that using a little thread lock on the screws, then added Leupold rings and the scope.
The Dream Come True
Finally finished with my rebuild, I was eager to take it to the range for a little test. I bore-sighted the scope, then using the bench and a good rest, I dialed the scope in after just a few shots. Now’s the time of reckoning: I squeezed off five shots at 50 yards, breathing slowly to reduce my heart rate, holding half a breath and smoothly squeezing the trigger until the discharge surprised me. I did this for each shot. My group was a little less than ½ inch!
While it wasn’t a one-hole group, it was pretty close. I’m sure if a truly skilled marksman was operating the rifle, it might well be all that I dreamed.