There’s no doubt that Ruger’s 10/22 carbine is the most popular and acclaimed .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle in the country. For the good reason that its simple blowback bolt design leaves little room for malfunctions; it is remarkably accurate despite its bolt-on barreled action and given its short stature and light weight, it is the perfect range plinker and small-game hunting rifle.
Out of the box, the 10/22 is a winner. You can easily upgrade its performance and appearance to make it even more endearing to everyone; from serious shooters to hunters and even preppers.
If you’re looking to enhance your 10/22’s performance, or simply want to customize America’s bread-and-butter rimfire rifle to suit your own tastes, here are a few ways to go about it.
Nothing unleashes the 10/22’s inherent accuracy and fun quotient like a quality optic. Which optic you choose, however, depends largely on your intended use. Dedicated bench shooters obviously favor a high-magnification scope to zero in on their 50-yard cards. Such optics, though, are a bit unwieldy and impractical for plinking and hunting.
For the latter, it’s hard to beat the standard fixed 4X rifle scope. With most small-game hunting requiring shots under 50 yards (and usually only in the 20- to 30-yard range), a 4X scope such as TRUGLO’s 4×32 Compact Scope (TG8504BR) is right on target. The 4X magnification offers quick sight picture acquisition for erratically moving game animals yet provides enough optical reach for accurate bullet placement on small targets. This is the scope we use on our Plain Jane 10/22 for hunting squirrels or when running trap lines.
For something a little on the uncommon side that also amps up the fun factor, consider a reflex sight. We recently modified one of our 10/22s with an M4-type fluted barrel and an old-school military style wood stock. Keeping the sighting system tracking with the tactical theme, we wanted a fast-action optic. The solution—the TRUGLO Multi- Reticle/Dual Color Open Red•Dot.
Mount the rifle to your shoulder and you get a clear sight picture without losing your situational awareness (such as what can occur when sighting down an optic tube). Aside from the broad vision offered by this sight, we like that it comes with four different reticle designs (to better match our target), red or green illumination (to accommodate the environment), and illumination level adjustment (to match the ambient light).
Fiber Optic Sights
Of course, one of the charms of a light carbine rifle such as the 10/22 is shooting with open sights—particularly when it comes to plinking. Open sights offer a challenge that is mitigated when using precision optics. To get the most out of open-sight shooting when lighting and environmental conditions are less than ideal, fiber optic sights are the solution.
TRUGLO offers a front and rear fiber optic sight set that is compatible with the 10/22 (with the exception of the Ruger Takedown® model). The Rimfire Rifle Fiber-Optic Sight Set includes CNC-machined front and rear sight bases with a 0.060-inch diameter front red fiber optic element and two 0.035-inch diameter green fiber optic elements. They’re ideal for low light or bright light shooting conditions, and easily replace the existing factory sights.
Let’s face it … most 10/22 OE stocks are about as exciting as a Model T at a Ferrari convention. Not only do they lack in the aesthetics department, their one-size- fits-all profile doesn’t necessarily provide the ergonomics needed to maximize the rifle’s accuracy potential.
There are many companies making aftermarket stocks for the 10/22. Choose your flavor, but try to make sure the stock actually fits you. Length of pull (the distance between the flat of the trigger hook and the back of the buttstock) is the most critical element. Too short or too long and you will always be adjusting your head position for the proper eye relief, and that's a recipe for poor shooting form. Ditto for the drop-of- comb (the distance between the line-of- sight and the stock’s comb, where your cheek rests).
Our best stock upgrade was a laminated hardwood stock with a skeletonized buttstock (for light weight), pistol grip (for straighter trigger pull), and a free-float fore end (to eliminate barrel torque). Whichever way you go, however, just make sure the stock fits you.
One of the most accurizing elements of any firearm modification is a performance trigger. No matter how good your optic, how precise your barreled action machining, or the consistency of your ammunition, a rough, unrefined trigger can send everything south in a hurry.
Fortunately, trigger swaps are super simple in a 10/22, and if you’re not comfortable doing it, any qualified gunsmith can perform the work in no time flat. The downside to aftermarket trigger systems is that they cost almost as much as the rifle itself. For most plinking or hunting applications, a high-performance trigger is not necessary.
Competitive shooters, on the other hand, should consider a trigger upgrade a must-have.
The 10/22’s factory barrel is good. A precision-manufactured aftermarket barrel is even better—especially if competitive shooting is in your plans.
One of the great things about the 10/22 is swapping out the stock barrel could not be more simple. After removing the stock and barrel band (easy), removing the trigger assembly (pop out three retaining pins and you’re done), and removing the bolt and charging handle (also easy), you’ll see that the barrel is secured to the receiver by two screws and a V-block.
Remove the screws and V-block and the barrel can be pulled apart from the receiver. Installing a new barrel is just the reverse of the removal process.
The Ruger 10/22 carbine is a favorite among shooters and small game hunters for several reasons—accuracy, weight, and reliability are key among them. What the 10/22 offers that so many rifles in its class do not is the ability to easily customize it to fit your specific needs and shooting style. So, if your 10/22 has been gathering dust, maybe it's time to pull it out, shake it off, and treat it to some of the modifications we just mentioned. Who knows…you may rediscover the excitement and low-cost fun of rimfire shooting!