FIRST UP, I HAVE TO MAKE THIS STATEMENT: this’ll be a review with some bias. Let me explain … I really like the Ruger 10/22 – it’s my favourite Rimfire by some margin, and before I even picked this rifle up, it was clear that the upgrades over the regular 10/22 would make it noticeably better. I’ve owned a 10/22 of one sort or another for over 30 years now, and my current one was made in the same year as me – 1966; I don’t know how many rounds it’s had through it, but I’d guess it’s been a few because it’s got plenty of scars and obvious wear, but it still shoots well and it’s dead reliable. I also note that the 10/22 isn’t affected by the changes to the Arms Act as the reliable 10-round magazine meets the new regulations.
The 10/22 comes from Ruger’s Custom Shop, so it’s not just a run-of-the-mill 10/22 with a few trick bits added; instead, it’s hand assembled in a custom shop cell by experienced staff. That said, it does boast a number of additions that the standard rifle doesn’t include.
The most noticeable addition is the stock; it’s grey with a black speckled coating and is actually a painted laminate. The stock has an adjustable cheek piece very similar to the Ruger Precision Rifle; the cheek piece is adjustable up/down and back and forth all by loosening one lever – very simple. The forend is wider and looking from above the barrel, is free-floated. The barrel itself is a heavy fluted 16-inch unit that comes with a radial muzzle brake. The brake can be removed for those wishing to fit a suppressor.
The action also comes in for some worthy upgrades; the most important is the rear action lug. The Ruger 10/22 was always bedded with just one action screw and this made it very tricky to free-float the barrel; while the 10/22 can shoot well with a bedded barrel, competition shooters have been modifying their 10/22s with a rear lug for a while now, and the results show greater accuracy. The action also gets a few upgrades; the receiver itself is now CNC-milled, gets an integrated 30 MOA Picatinny rail, and the whole receiver is hard-coat anodized. There’s also a hole drilled in the rack of the receiver so the rifle can be cleaned from the breach.
The bolt is nitrided, and the cocking handle is now an oversized unit for easier manipulation. It’s good to see that to release the bolt you just pull back on the cocking handle, rather than the old method of having to manipulate the bolt hold open latch while pulling back on the bolt to disengage it.
The final upgrade is one of the most overlooked on a Rimfire and that’s the trigger. Ruger uses its upgraded BX trigger system which breaks between 2.5 and 3 pounds – my trigger gauge measured right on 2.5 pounds.
As part of the BX upgrade, the rifle comes with an extended magazine release which is well integrated into the trigger guard and can be operated with your trigger finger. The magazine is the reliable 10-round rotary magazine which is such a key part of the 10/22.
Aesthetically, the rifle is both stylish and purposeful, but Ruger also offers versions with a stainless barrel and a funky looking Green Mountain stock. As a package for either serious varmint control or competition shooting, the upgrades address the most common areas most people look at when modifying their 10/22, but Ruger goes one step further with the extra action screw.
For testing, the 10/22 was fitted with a GPO Passion 3X 3-9x40i; the scope proved to be a very nice, bright, sharp optic and the illuminated reticle was actually quite useful for target work on a bright day. One thing that really impressed about the 10/22 Competition is that it cycled everything I put through it; from hyper-velocity CCI Stingers to sub 1000fps CCI Suppressor and Fiocchi F320 loads. In the past, not all 10/22s could do that, and I put it down to the superior finish of the bolt and the inside of the CNC receiver being smoother and better finished than the basic rifle.
All accuracy testing was done at 50m off a bench rest on a mildly windy day. Accuracy-wise, the 10/22 Competition lived up to its name with some very good groups. Best of the lot were CCI Mini-Mags at 12.5mm and CCI Suppressor at 13mm; Fiocchi F320 was close behind at 15.3mm and CCI Velocitor at 22mm. It was particularly noticeable how the wind opened up the groups on the slower rounds. I think this rifle has the potential to shoot sub 10mm groups at 50m given the right wind conditions. The enhanced mag release worked very well, and if a quick mag change is what you need, this is one of the best solutions. Trigger-wise, the BX trigger felt better than other versions I’ve used to the point where even at 2.5 pounds pull, I didn’t think about it once while doing accuracy work off the bench. The muzzle brake didn’t reduce recoil that I could notice, but its angled exit ports did seem to keep it on target when doing rapid fire drills, and there’s a bit of talk that says 22 accuracy can be improved when the following propellant gasses are diverted from the path of the bullet – I’ll give Ruger the benefit of the doubt here. The stock is comfortable, and while I didn’t need the adjustable cheek piece, it’s still a very useful addition for those who do run higher scopes.
I’ve tested quite a few 22s in the past year or so, and when I came to an old favourite, I’ll admit to having had a preconceived idea about what it would do. However, the changes and upgrades worked really well, and it’s a rifle that’s greater than the sum of its upgrades.
It can run with the bolt action rifles accuracy-wise but has the convenience of a semi-auto; it has a good trigger and a few nice touches like the mag release. The second action screw addresses an accuracy weakness, and the stock is both clever and comfortable. The second action screw, I believe, adds quite a bit to the accuracy potential and is difficult to add to an existing rifle; so for those who just bolt bits on to a standard 10/22, this is a genuine reason to look at a new rifle instead.
I said this review would be biased, but in the end, you don’t need to be biased to appreciate a very good rifle. My advice, if you have some Jacinda Bucks from the buyback, is to get one; if you don’t, get one anyway!