Since its introduction in 1964, Ruger has sold millions and millions of its model 10/22, which was named after its iconic 10-round rotary magazine plus the fact that it is chambered in .22 caliber. In addition to inexpensive and readily available ammunition and low recoil, the original Ruger 10/22 bore a striking resemblance to the M1 Carbine, which was appealing to a vast number of shooters between World War II and up until the AR-15 became the popular choice. Over the last almost 60 years, the Ruger 10/22 has evolved to meet the needs of the shooting community with more than fifty variations including the Military SR-22 used by the Israeli Defense Force. Today, there are 8 model variations in production: the Carbine, Takedown, Takedown Lite, Target, Compact, Tactical, Sporter, and the Competition model.
Chances are, even with all these model variations, styles, and color combinations, you’re going to want to upgrade your gun to specifically fit you, your skills, and your needs. As a matter of fact, so many people choose to modify their Ruger 10/22 in one form or another that it is possible to build a clone 10/22 without using a single Ruger part. This is not to take anything away from the quality or craftmanship of a Ruger, as they say – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
By now, you may be wondering what to upgrade, and as strange as it may sound (especially after reading the title of the article), the answer is – maybe nothing. Ruger 10/22’s are reliable and accurate right out of the box. Your upgrade may only involve purchasing an extended magazine or just finding the ammunition that works best in your gun. But if you find yourself wanting the stock to fit differently, a different set of sights, a smother action, enhanced controls, or a tighter shot group, then keep reading.The most common 10/22 upgrades include: Sights, Stock, Trigger, Bolt Tune-up, Extended Magazine Release, and Barrel.
Before attempting any of these jobs, make sure you know what you’re doing. AGI has a Ruger 10/22 bundle package that covers Disassembly/Reassembly, How to Build a Custom Ruger 10/22 Rifle, the Ruger 10/22 Armorer’s Course, and How to do a Ruger 10/22 Trigger Job. These courses are well worth the money and provide a great foundation to prepare you to upgrade your 10/22.
The iron sights on a 10/22 are a basic gold post/bead front sight and adjustable (elevation only) folding leaf rear sight. If you want to upgrade the iron sights, try a set of Aperture Sights made by Tech Sights. They are durable, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. These sights will allow you to make easy windage and elevation adjustments and provide a familiar M1 / AR-15 style sight picture. Current Ruger 10/22’s also come with a scope base adapter that is designed for Weaver-style and .22 tip-off scope mounts, just in case you want to mount a scope or even a reflex sight in the future.
Or you can purchase a Ruger 10/22 with a scope already mounted to the gun. Ruger has teamed with Viridian to provide you with a quality scope right out the door.
Once you’re shooting tight groups, you may wish to lighten the trigger pull, adjust the creep, or eliminate some over travel. You have a couple of options when it comes to a trigger upgrade, you can purchase the parts and rebuild the trigger assembly or you can purchase a drop-in trigger kit. There are several companies out there that make and sell after market trigger kits, but I prefer to use those made by Clark Custom Guns. These guys have been building national championship triggers for Rugers just about as long as the Ruger 10/22 has been in existence. For the parts to upgrade your current 10/22 trigger, check out their Deluxe Kit. For a complete Drop-in package, check out their Ruger 10/22 Trigger Assembly.
A bolt tune-up is designed to enhance the performance of the action of the gun. A harder and slightly wider firing pin will result in less side-to side movement and reduce (if not eliminate) light strikes. One made of steel will last much longer, too. Likewise, a steel and hardened extractor will perform flawlessly and consistently for years. And finally, an Automatic (or Speed) Bolt Release eliminates the need to push up on the bolt lock mechanism to release the bolt on factory Ruger 10/22 rifles.
If you’re changing magazines frequently and/or during a timed course of fire, you’ll probably want to spring for an Extended Mag Latch Release…trust me, they’re worth it!
Finally, upgrading the barrel will increase accuracy, reliability, feeding, function, and possibly weight. Again, I prefer Clark Custom Guns’ barrels which have been winning national championships since the 1980’s.
If you’re looking for a great place to hone-in your .22 rifle skills and learn a little bit about early American marksmanship, check out the non-profit Project Appleseed and look for a clinic near you.