Chris Parkin reviews the Ruger 10-22 Target Rifle
I have used and also owned a few 10-22s over the years and realise they will always be a gun that splits opinion because of what was at first, a quite rare blowback semi-automatic capability with the usual ammo related caveats. Here I get my hands on a Ruger Rifle in 10-22.
The ‘Target’ has a fantastic, ambidextrous grey laminate stock with thumbhole layout and when shouldered, first impressions immediately dawn of its difference. The rubber recoil pad is grippy and solid in the shoulder because of its shape and with the two supplied spacers fitted, the length of pull came in at 14.5”. The cheekpiece is high with a slim comb slotting under the cheekbone with great linear alignment above the receiver, along the Weaver/Dovetail modular scope rail screwed to the action. Easy enough to remove the spacers if you do not want them, a deal maker if you do!
The reach to the serrated trigger blade is 75mm from the throat of the vertical pistol grip with a delicate ambidextrous palm swell. It’s single-stage breaks with minimal creep, that’s quite easily judged and more target delicate at 922-grams (32oz), which I thought suited this physically light rifle well. The underside of the butt is heavily relieved and shows a bag rider for secure support, with a slight hooked surface to apply grip from the non-firing hand in a supporting role when prone or bench rested. It’s a really unusual stock, full of contrast somehow, yet in all the subtle but very good ways. It’s visually delicate but never too skinny to get hold of. It’s a tough material with a timber feel and sculptured smoothly.
Ruger’s action is fastened into the stock inlet with a single screw ahead of the magazine well, which shows an extended-release lever just behind the 10-round rotary magazine. These can be stripped down for cleaning and the system is also compatible with Ruger’s extended 15 and 25-round mags. The trigger guard is quite small but can still accommodate thinner gloves and there’s a crossbolt safety blocking the blade - left for FIRE (red band exposed), right for SAFE.
A small bolt catch nestles between the guard and the mag release. It’s a steel catch that moves in a complex half rocking, half-pressed way to function perfectly, but it takes a little while to develop the knack for using them and you will need to pull back on the bolt to release pressure on it, to allow the free movement of the catch. In use, the blowback action is never blocked by the mag follower and in fairness, other than visible chamber safety, it’s easiest to just reload the mag and cycle the bolt rather than lock it open.
The bolt is polished silver and shows a single, right side extractor claw that draws the spent cartridge from the chamber and over a fixed ejector pawl, just behind the magazine’s metal feed lips.
This Ruger’s barrel is an interesting compound design with inner steel rifled core, wrapped in a larger 24mm aluminium tube. The muzzle is neatly crowned flat with a ½”x28 thread for moderator or brake. Its matte, hard anodised finish contrasts subtly with the polished black steel in an attractive format with great looks on this compact 16” barrelled gun.
Form before function
Ventilation slots are machined into the free floating forend’s sides. It is quite slim in the hand with a flat underside, yet amazingly comfortable and won’t leave your fingers wrapping the barrel for grip on the upper surface. Rearmost, it swells outward ahead of the action for more hand support, building a slightly higher bridge rest for the front hand in dynamic environments requiring more improvised positions. It’s a really nice stock and my favourite so far on any 10-22, showing a more rearward balance point exactly where the safety catch is for fast pointability. Although designed as a target gun, the handling is sublime in the close quarters of a truck cab when rabbiting.
There is a sling stud under the butt and I fitted a Harris bipod to the forend’s underside one. Up top, I attached a 3-15x Hawke scope. For the test, Viking Arms had supplied some SK ‘Magazine’ ammunition in a 500 round can with a refreshing peel open lid. It’s quite slippery ammo and incredibly well finished, with bright shiny brass and a thin film of lubricant on all surfaces.
10-round group sizes at 50m were quite variable, with some coming in at over an inch and some below. It seemed one or the other, never anywhere between of more average proportion. Still, the point of impact remained central with no ill effects from different supporting positions (bipod, rest bag, handheld or supported on the elbows). I switched to some SK Standard ammunition for longer shots at 100m on paper, also fast fire plinking fun on steel out to 150m. The rifle suffered a single stoppage at around 100 rounds into a 200-round session (20 mags full), when a tumbling case lodged over the magazine and jammed the following round. I wiped the building firing residue from the mag’s external surfaces.
Disassembly for cleaning requires the underside screw to be removed. Then, the whole barrelled action lifts out of the stock with cautious positioning of the crossbolt safety to fit through the inlet. Here is where different ammunition shows its character and experimentation will reveal the best compromise for action cleanliness as well as accuracy on target. The recoiling case literally blows the relatively heavy bolt back under spring tension. The bolt then returns forward, stripping a new round from the rotary mag and chambering it. This means a lot of smoky firing residue will enter the action and some particulates come with that. Generally, bolt guns just suffer the lubricants on the bullets and here is where semis are fussy with their preferred ammo companion. Slightly less oily in feel, the SK Standard proved more consistent on paper, yet at a moderately greater cost. SK ‘Match’ was not actually as good as the ‘Standard’, which so regularly seems to be my go-to choice.
Velocities from the 16” barrel with ‘Magazine’ ammunition were ideal. The rounds maintained subsonic speed from 989 to 1003 feet per second, which as an extreme spread, was quite impressive from a semi-auto. The SK ‘Standard’ fodder crept slightly higher to a 1034 FPS average and printed 15mm, 10-round groups at 50m and 55mm ones at 100m, plus remained below 150mm at 150m, which was pleasing.
I tried the BX-25 magazine for some seriously fast fire fun and managed an assortment of strings, continuous from 13-20 shots without feed failures for the first 4 magazines. After that, it seemed to bed in nicely with a few, full fill strings, before the accumulating powder residue deserved a clean-up. I found it important to keep my left wrist clear of the banana BX-25 mag as it tended to push laterally against it and was the reason behind at least two jams. I feel the 10 and 15-round options are sweetest because loading 25 rounds of rimfire soon gets less fun than shooting it, whereas 10 or 15 maintain a good time balance of on/off gun shooting/loading.
Cycling the action with the right-side charging handle was fast enough when required, and I never suffered stuck cases from failed ejection. I rather liked this 10-22 Target, especially the stock, which has a fantastic design layout and ergonomic proportions, whilst maintaining featherweight handling. It weighs just 2.46kg/5.42lbs. Semi-autos always suffer from failures to feed and cycle, but I’m glad in this one, it was just the ammo that showed how some suit better than others.
Performance on paper with the free floating, compound barrel structure held great promise. Had the barrel at 24mm, been all-steel, the gun would have none of its visual appeal or handling character, so well done Ruger. The overall shape is organic, never mechanical and all surface finishes, including the laminate itself, have proven tough. Quite a few laminate stocks I see on factory rifles show marks from skin contact immediately, not the Ruger. It shows a well-sealed matte sheen with a slight tactile perception of the grain texture, but no shiny spots. That may sound petty but with the amount of lead and lubricant residue on your fingers from mag loading, it’s a big benefit on this rifle.
Like any semi-auto, 10-22’s deserve consideration for ammo function. They are so much fun to shoot, especially here with a good trigger and great stock geometry building superb looks from an unusual but consistent barrel. What’s not to like?