Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ultimate 10/22 Shootout Test

Ultimate 10/22 Shootout Test
Back long long ago as a teen I lusted after both a Ruger Mark I and 10/22.  I vowed that I would eventually own these incredible firearms and purchased my first 10/22 shortly after receiving my first paycheck.  Oh how times have changed. Today the 10/22 owner has custom options we never dreamed of with incredible upgrades in performance, fit, finish, and accuracy.  

There are three generally acceptable states of 10/22s; stock, upgraded and custom.  There is of course a grey area between upgraded and custom, however most consider a custom 10/22 one which has the majority of the primary components swapped out for custom aftermarket parts versus just adding a barrel or trigger job. 

Fortunately, my quarterly bonus was good this year from my “real day job” and I was able to indulge my love for 10/22s and build up not just one of the finest 10/22s ever made, but several. I keep adding more over time and find myself updating this article frequently with impressions as they change simply from shooing each of these guns more and more. Hopefully my findings will help you in making some decisions as you upgrade or build your ultimate 10/22.

For this Ultimate 10/22 Shootout, I wanted to discover in a true side-by-side comparison, what I liked, what I would change, and which parts I coveted on each of 10/22 upgrades. Obviously, I could not test every option from every manufacturer. Several notable 10/22 manufacturers are no not represented, however each unique build provides insight into things I would prefer in an Ultimate build and I will update this article as other 10/22 build materialize. There are no slackers in this group; each and every one of these aftermarket components are the Seal team of 10/22 upgrade products.  They do all have their benefits and weaknesses and I am proud to own them all as configured.

Before we begin, I will make the point that the venerable Ruger 10/22 is not a tightly spec’ed firearm rather its specs fall into a range versus a specific measurement.  Aftermarket 10/22 parts attempt to tighten these specs to a specific measurement and sometimes they work when you drop them in, and sometimes they need a little or a lot of tweaking.  This should be expected for the buyer upgrading a 10/22.  

These tighter tolerances can create a bit of headache for yourself if you start mixing and matching manufacturers. Even my simple stock 10/22 upgrade to a Tactical Solutions barrel required a little sanding of the barrel to make it fit into the stock receiver. If you are not up for tinkering, tweaking, tuning, and a bit of swearing you should call Force, PWS, Kidd, Tactical Innovations, Volquartsen, or Tactical Solutions and build a complete factory assembled rifle or buy at least the barrel, bolt, and receiver from one manufacturer to guarantee fitment. That is the easier path.  

As you tighten tolerances on this or that 10/22 component, you generally get a pickier feeding rifle compared to the eat-n-fire everything stock Ruger 10/22.  These custom builds are not unreliable by any stretch of the imagination, however they can be picker with ammo and that is the price you should expect for far greater accuracy, a better trigger pull, more beautifully finished parts which will be the envy of your friends. Discover the right ammo that delivers great accuracy and functioning and buy a bunch exclusively for the rifle.

This article takes up enough space as is, so plan on following me on Facebook or Twitter or check back on this sight as I will release deep detailed reviews of each rifle, much more insight and hopefully more accuracy information.

KIDD, TACTICAL MACHINING, BOYD, & LEUPOLD - Until the MLR22AT started shooting with the advantage of a perfectly still day, this build was the accuracy front-runner, the overall accuracy winner, and was edged out by the Force Production build ever so slightly from a consistency perspective. As time goes by the Kidd now holds the best group record for me again. Based on my experience so far, the Kidd consistently delivers the same holes with the same ammo, pretty much every time.  If you spend any time on Rimfire Central, you know Kidd is considered by match shooters to be the best of the best when it comes to custom 10/22s tied only with Volquartsen's components however Kidd's trigger is superior to any 10/22 trigger on the market.  This build remains the easiest to shoot tight little groups thanks in part to that wonderful Kidd trigger.
Kidd Innovations manufacturers their own version of every single 10/22 component with the exception of the wood stock all in-house and they do it to a custom level of fit and finish which is stunningly detailed.
Build Specs - Kidd CNC bolt group, complete 8oz/8oz 2-stage trigger assembly with flat trigger, cocking assembly, V-Block, bolt buffer, & 18” 2lb. lightweight barrel, Tactical Machining T-22 Billet CNC Receiver, Boyd Tacticool Stock, Leupold VX-2 3-9X33mm Rimfire Scope with Adjustable Objective. $1076 as equipped.

What I Liked - Every Kidd component is phenomenally finished to beautiful Swiss watch-like quality that makes you just sit there and think “wow”. Everything fits together with really tight precision and would recommend any Kidd component without reservation for the person set on building a match rifle. This combination delivered tack driving accuracy with best five-shot groups under .25” at 50 yards. According to Kidd this is not their most accurate barrel just one of their lighter variants. I am not sure about that because my best group to date was a .05" 5-shot 50 yard group; essentially single hole.
The Kidd trigger is exceptional and was the the lightest and most crisp feeling trigger of the bunch thanks to the beautiful 2-stage flat trigger. The trigger unit is the most sophisticated in the industry with complete adjustment control.  That said I would order it how you want it and leave it as is - these are exceptionally tuned and only about 1% of use could tune it better.  Kidd’s charging handle comes with three spring rates to tune your bolt for various ammo and the bolt buffer is the best of all the buffers tested because of the innovative neoprene and titanium rod combo. 
The captured receiver pins required countersink cuts on the T-22 receiver, however once in place the entire action assembly is a solid single unit. The Tactical Machining T-22 receiver is a deal in the custom 10/22 category and delivered a solid performing, tight fitting receiver with integrated picatinny top rail all for under $130. As you will find with my comments regarding Boyd in all the other builds; Boyd laminate stocks are beautiful and the best deal for custom 10/22 with no downside. 
The Boyd Tacticool stock is a similar style to high dollar target stocks and would be my choice for a bench or general purpose target gun. The barrel channel of the stock was sanded to deliver a fully floated barrel to optimize accuracy. The Leupold V2 3-9X scope with adjustable objective is the ultimate scope for the precision rimfire shooter who also wants a practical scope for hunting. Sure more power would deliver even better accuracy however this scope allowed me to even print a sub-1” group at 100 yards!

What I Would Change - Although the Tactical Machining T-22 receiver is a deal, a bolt guide rail corner had to be squared off with a file to allow the gorgeous Kidd bolt to drop-in.  This was a very minor 2-minutes tweak and is far from a deal breaker for me. I would probably note that this is a "what I would change" item for the simpler 10/22 build, however for the accuracy obsessed, the tighter the better.
For the accuracy obsessed, the T-22 receiver and Kidd barrel offer the tightest fit possible and in fact required about three hours of sanding, hand fitting, and a whole lot of rubber mallet banging on the back of the receiver.  Quite frankly it was beyond painful to get the barrel seated.  Tight? Yes, however it is a union which will only be separated with cutting tools and the power of God and guarantees the best accuracy possible; the V-block is superfluous. Although the Kidd trigger is exceptional, the unit would not initially reset as tuned at the factory. Backing out the trigger over travel screw an ⅛ turn solved the issue. 
The  hammer requires great deal of force to reset which feels like you are charging a 30-06.  I actually contacted Kidd and requested a replacement hammer spring as I thought it was a .22 Magnum spring - the original was the correct spring. I also used the lightest charging spring included in the kit to allow cycling with standard velocity rounds. The hard charging hammer coupled with the super tight barrel chamber makes for picky eater until a couple thousand rounds are sent down the barrel. It requires some testing to find reliable rounds and a whole lot of break-in to function reliably. This is not a gun you can just plop any ammo in an expect it to function perfectly. It demands high quality ammo.

The Parts I Covet- Every component. This is a stellar performer.

Final Thoughts - There is a price to pay for the premium of accuracy which comes in the form of a picky eater. Initially within the first 5000 rounds, this was not my most reliable 10/22, however now I rarely have issues. On occasion it does not have enough umph to cycle and cock the hammer, however it is 99.9% reliable and good enough that this would be my preferred ammo. Generally if the round goes in the chamber, everything runs perfectly.  As time goes on, this Kidd build functions better and better and I can assume that eventually its picky nature will not be an issue and I can start shooting some cheaper ammo. If I want to deliver tiny little groups downrange, this is the rig I reach for.

TACTICAL INNOVATIONS, RUGER, BOYD, & NIKON P-22 - This was more of a showy build because my wife's favorite colors is purple and I wanted to build something special, fun and unique for her. I also already had a barrel and trigger group internals ready to drop into a receiver and trigger guard. Where these other builds all have match grade aftermarket barrels, this build goes a different direction and actually features a vintage stock 10/22 barrel which originally had a bad crown.  
The stock barrel was chopped to 16.25” and then recrowned using a Pacific Tool and Gauge 11 degree crowning tool for us in a drill and then I polished the crown. This stock barrel tweak cost me $50 for the tools, increased the accuracy by almost 100% and delivered a .8” 50 yard group with CCI Standard Velocity ammo - yeah that is really good for a stock barrel. 
The same Boyds Royal Evolution stock used in the Force build was recycled for this build.  As their name indicates, Tactical Innovations are innovative with unique offerings such as the beautiful CH22 Top Charge Receiver and Bolt group. Although Tactical Innovations delivers high precision components and barrels, the big attraction for me was all the anodizing colors and custom options which really make the build unique compared to a stock build. 

Build Specs - Tactical Innovations Purple CH22 Top Charge Receiver with Machined Bolt Assembly, Tactical Innovations Gold Trigger Guard and bolt buffer, Ruger Stock trigger internals, Ruger stock barrel chopped and recrowned to 16.25” with Pacific Tool and Gauge 11 degree crown, Boyd Evolution Royal stock, Nikon P-22 2-7x32 BDC Rimfire Scope. $1120 as equipped.

WhistlePig Barrel Upgrade - $196 - After the original publish of this article I upgraded to an 18" WhistlePig Octagonal Ported barrel and all I can say is Wow what a difference.

Though the WhistlePig barrel line can be showy, they are designed first and foremost for accuracy.  With my Leupold V2 3-9x33mm scope topping the rig for testing, I managed a nice tidy .207” 5-shot 50-yard group with Wolf Ammo.  Averaging all the ammo tested delivered a .694” average for the twelve 5-shot 50-yard groups .  

What I Liked - An old target shooter once told me he recrowned any firearm which did not shoot well and over 90% of the time recrowning greatly improved accuracy.  This was the case here where an old stock barrel which could rarely manage 1” groups at 25 yards delivered a .8” group at 50 yards after being recrowned and free-floated. Although that was a fun experiment, the WhistlePig barrel upgrade brought the capabilities of this rifle in line with the other premium 10/22 in this shootout. Tactical Innovations delivers a finish every bit as good on their billet CNC machined receiver, bolt, and trigger guard as Kidd or Force, however they offer a ton of varying colors to really make your build stand out. 
The CH22 Top Charging receiver is a stunning simple idea and would be my pick of all the receivers here simply because it provides ambidextrous charging and a similar manual of arms for AR15 shooters. Low scopes can pose a problem though. The CH22 is also the easiest of the group to remove the bolt with because there is no charging handle juggling, just pull back the handle and remove the bolt. The Evolution stock is so nice and performs quite well off hand, but without a bipod is a little awkward on the bench. 

What I Would Change - The circa 1990s stock trigger parts suck and need to be upgraded to something which classifiable as decent. Although I used Tactical Innovations precision receiver pins, they still would slide out by themselves.  Scotch tape on all the pins remedied this issue and was hidden once in the stock. Although I am impressed with my experiment with the stock barrel, the WhistlePig barrel dynamically changed the accuracy of this build.

The Parts I Covet- WhistlePig Barrel, Tactical Innovations Purple CH22 Top Charge Receiver with Machined Bolt Assembly, Boyd Evolution Royal stock, Leupold V2 3-9x33mm Rimfire Scope (note the pictures shot the Nikon mounted because I had to try it out).

Final Thoughts - Tactical Innovations Top Charging CH22 is a really cool and unique concept which works flawlessly smooth and for the AR15 shooters is THE receiver I would recommend. In fact I found it the most user friendly to use and definitely the fastest to reload. The tweaked stock barrel is a great option to consider for those that just want to update a used and abused 10/22 barrel.  If you want a flashy colored 10/22, Tactical Innovations offers over seven colors and is a little less expensive that the others on most of their parts as well as producing every single 10/22 replacement part in house.  The TI parts seemed to be the most friendly from a spec perspective if you are planning on mixing and matching parts.

PWS T3 SUMMIT BIATHLON ACTION RIFLE - The T3 Summit was an interesting performer in this test and is certainly the most unique of the five.  The T3 is not a semi-auto action, but instead is an innovative biathlon action which is 100% 10/22 parts compatible.  The owner of PWS (Primary Weapons Systems - AR manufacturer) decided there should be a European legal 10/22 (they do not allow semi autos) and developed the T3 Summit action. 
Obviously the receiver and Summit action is proprietary to PWS, however any 10/22 compatible barrel, barrel v-block, trigger group, magazine, or stock will work just as it would on any other 10/22 receiver. The action knob is pulled back to charge and extract a round and pushed forward to chamber a round; in essence it is a bolt action, but far faster to cycle. PWS made this build unique with its own proprietary Boyds stock design, an excellent trigger and tensioned carbon fiber threaded barrel.
Build Specs - PWS T-3 Biathlon receiver with Summit action, T-3 Carbon Fiber tensioned barrel, complete trigger group, PWS Raptor Stock, and Leupold VX-1 2-7x28mm scope. $1020 as equipped.

What I Liked - The action fed anything that resembled a L (long) or LR (long rifle) length round including insanely quiet CCI CB Longs and the very effective Remington CBee’s.  A buddy screwed on his suppressor with these rounds and the only thing audible was the hammer dropping and with CCI standard velocity ammo it was significantly quieter than the Troy Tactical Solutions barrel build.  The tensioned barrel is suppressor friendly, so if you live in a free state and can swallow the $200 tax stamp plus the cost of the suppressor, you will have one really quiet rig. I was so impressed, I have now started the process to purchase a suppressor just for this gun.  The T3 action is intuitive and smooth as silk and can be cycled with just the index finger, however tighter rounds do require a little extra force. Shooting the rifle from shot to shot is very fast and does not require that you change positions or come off the scope. 
The carbon fiber sleeved barrel is extremely light and delivers a very easy carrying and shooting rifle for the hunter. PWS did a fabulous job with the modified PWS Raptor stock based loosely on the Boyds Evolution stock. The action gets all the attention, however PWS did a wonderful job on developing the crisp and light trigger which is very similar to the Timney trigger, but not quite as heavy as the Force. Of note the PWS trigger cannot be used with a regular 10/22 semi-auto action as it does not have hammer catch. This means that if the trigger is held while cycling the round the hammer could detonate the round as the bolt moves forward.

When you have a field of 10/22s around you, you notice things and the PWS magazine release is outstandingly more ergonomic in a way that makes you want to replace all the other magazine releases on the other builds.
What I Would Change - I topped this rig with the VX-1 2-7 scope which has excellent clarity and is the perfect magnification range for hunting and moving targets, however this build could have taken advantage of a bit more magnification and I did notice the lack of a parallax adjustment did not offer the precision at 25 and 100 yard distances like the Nikon and other Leupold VX2 3-9 scope used on the Kidd Build. The only other complaint I had was that the PWS was very inconsistent accuracy from round to round; some ammo it loved, but when it didn't like a certain brand/sku the target showed it.  Accuracy ranged from a fairly stock 1.237” 50-yard group to nearly taking the best group title from the Kidd build with a .247” group at 50 yards (initial testing). It is a spectacular barrel when you find the right ammo, however it can be a bit frustrating to see stock level groups printed during that process of ammo discovery. Unlike the other builds this barrel was very sensitive to varying ammo, however when you find the right ammo, you will be rewarded with stunning groups. The carbon fiber barrel looked the coolest, however the accuracy variability really drove me nuts. Hopefully this variability will decrease as the rifle breaks in and I can continue testing various rounds.

The Parts I Covet- T-3 Summit Action, trigger, Magazine Release, & PWS Raptor Stock.

Final Thoughts - During testing PWS always seemed to create wind gusts.  Pull the gun out and the wind picks up, start shooting something else and the wind died down... almost comical at one point. In the end the PWS shooting accuracy results have some gaps and I wish I could have spent more time side by side in the same conditions shooting this against the others before this article, however testing 6-8 rounds at a time takes the better part of a day for five rifles. Look for the individual review with the scope swapped over to a 3-9X with adjustable parallax Leupold. I felt in some situations the parallax was off enough it was affecting accuracy shooting off the bench. More shooting data and a scope swap may reveal more consistent and even better accuracy. 

Sadly I could not get the PWS barrel to deliver consistent accuracy with anything other than its "preferred" ammo. Later I sold off the PWS barrel in favor of a Feddersen barrel which transformed the accuracy and actually increased it over the stock 10/22 action. Love the action and trigger.

FORCE PRODUCTION, RUGER, BOYD, & NIKON - Force is owned and operated by the head engineer for STI, you know the 1911 race gun guys?  The owner operates this non-competing business which produces super premium 10/22 rifles and upgrades.  
Force is most known for the honeycomb barrel fluting which is noted to produce very consistent shot-to-shot accuracy, maintain barrel stiffness, reduce weight and potentially reduce harmful barrel harmonics. From what I can tell Force is head to head on quality and performance with Kidd, and does some things I liked best of all the builds. 
Build Specs - Force Production 18” Honeycomb barrel, bolt buffer, complete trigger assembly, charging handle, & barrel block, Ruger stock bolt group, Boyd Evolution Royal purple stock, and Nikon P-22 2-7x32 BDC scope. $1120 as equipped.
What I Liked - The Nikon P-22 BDC scope is really quite awesome for fast shooting at various distances and very clear.  The BDC circle was right on at 100 yards and the target knobs with resettable zero are really helpful in changing zeros between loads. It is also $180 retail which is an attainable price after you just spend your house payment on a custom 10/22. 
The barrel is the coolest looking of the bunch and the Boyd’s Evolution stock shows it off appropriately however a bipod is required for bench shooting. The Force build may not have pulled the lowest number however it was only .05” from tying the Kidd build for first place and it did produce the smallest Max group size at only .813”.  Force is my pick for the most consistent build all without so much as one feeding or functioning issue. It was also easy to charge and I liked the size and grip of the charging handle better than the Kidd.  The Force and Timney trigger felt very similar with the Force being just a bit crisper but heavier.

What I Would Change - Nikon has an expansive line of scopes and does have an adjustable parallax 3-9 model, but it lacks the target knobs and BDC reticle. If the Nikon P-22 was also available in 3-9X magnification model, with target knobs, BDC, and had an adjustable parallax adjustment it would be the perfect 10/22 scope for target and field, however it still the best general purpose scope magnification for hunters and plinkers and edged out the Leupold 2-7x mounted on the PWS because of the above mentioned features all for less money.Force needs to offer a threaded barrel option with the Honeycomb design and offer their own bolt versus relying on the stock Ruger bolt as I did on this build. 
With a more precise bolt, there is a good chance the accuracy may have bested even the Kidd. No other complaints.

The Parts I Covet- The only component I would like to replace is the new stock 10/22 bolt to potentially squeak out a little more accuracy.  Every part and optic performed perfectly.
Final Thoughts -  Although I loved the features of this scope, in fairness the Kidd build had an accuracy advantage due to the higher power and higher end optic. The Force was more consistent from round to round and had no qualms about digesting any ammo I stuck in the magazine.  The Force groups did not move around as much from ammo to ammo either as the other build in the group did.  Whatever voodoo Force has done with their barrel, I am sold, because it works. I was able to accomplish really odd plinking feats such as hitting a 6” 200 yard gong 10 times in a row with cheap Winchester 555 bulk ammo.

TROY, TACTICAL SOLUTION, TIMNEY, & EOTECH - Sometimes you need to let loose a bit and get a little crazy.  The reality though is that this is my most used rifle over and over again.  It is fun to shoot, accurate and looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. My review of the Troy T-22 Chassis Review, Timney Trigger Review, and Nordic Stock Review are already on my site, so check out those reviews for all the details of this build.
Build Specs - Stock Ruger receiver & bolt assembly, Tactical Solutions 16.25” fluted threaded barrel, Timney complete trigger assembly, home brew Delrin bolt buffer, Troy T-22 Billet 10/22 chassis, Nordic collapsible stock, customized A2 grip, and Eotech Zombie Stopper Sight (*Nikon 2-7x32 BDC was used for accuracy testing). $1418 as equipped.

What I Liked - The Troy stock paired with the Nordic collapsible stock is insane, off the hook, the bomb, or whatever other term you want to us.  With the Eotech Zombie Stopper sight mounted you feel like you are playing a video game when you start shooting.  Bricks of any cheap .22 ammo seem to evaporate when this setup is around.  With the Tactical Solutions lightweight barrel this is a very light packable rifle which feeds and functions with the reliability of a stock 10/22. Tactical Solutions has made a name for themselves as an aftermarket 10/22 barrel and owns the Rimfire Challenge events. As exhibited in my accuracy the TacSol barrels can deliver .378” groups at 50 yards which is very good for a 16” hyper lightweight barrel all while delivering stock levels or reliability and functioning.
What I Would Change - This build needs an internally suppressed barrel and then I would probably clap my hands and scream like a little girl every time I open my Liberty Fat Boy safe.  Other than that it is THE perfect plinking gun and with a light attached, I will say is quite a good nuisance critter getter as well. I need a better charging handle and will likely use a Force.

The Parts I Covet- Honestly this is an ultimate build when it comes to plinking and all around reliable 10/22 shooting.
Final Thoughts - I love this build.  It looks just plain badass and can still deliver very good far above average accuracy. This build exists in a different category as the other builds and would be like comparing an orange to a toaster.  The other builds get treated and handled like works of art; this build gets beat on and flogged and still keeps coming back for more. One thing is for sure, shooting with a bio hazard reticle makes the ammo box go empty faster.

See my Google Docs spreadsheet of accuracy results - Ultimate 10/22 Accuracy Results

The MLR22AT is the sleeper in the group and by far the best bang for the buck all while still having some upgrade potential.  

It is also by far the lightest of any 10/22 made at an insanely light 4.5lbs and the Banner scope only adds another 15 oz.  

If you want to keep the weight super low, consider a Bushnell TRS-25 Red Dot sight for around the same price as the Banner scope.

Build Specs - Stock Magnum Research MLR22AT comes with CNC billet upper receiver, billet machined match bolt, custom charging handle, lightweight stock, proprietary graphite match barrel with Benz target chamber. Bushnell Banner 3.5-10x36MM Rimgire Scope - Total $655 as equipped.

What I Liked - Everything except the stock trigger assembly. The stock itself was light and sturdy and an excellent interpretation of the above Boyds Evolution stock but far lighter. I love the giant bolt charging handle.  

The bolt is not showy but is an in house precision billet machined part which has all the extra tuning features such as pinned firing pin and correctly dimensioned face. 

That crazy light 16" graphite barrel is amazing. It runs super cool and maintains accuracy even after lots of sustained fire. This is one barrel and bolt combo I would use again and again on any build. Probably the two things I liked best were that I have yet to have a non-ammo related malfunction with this rifle, the other is that although it kinda hates match grade ammo, it shoots its best groups with the quality HV stuff like T-22 and Mini-Mags. This rifle delivered my current personal best .167" group at 50-yards with inexpensive T-22 ammo. Actually it delivered a .211" group and I found that hard to believe and then shot the smaller group after re-shooting the group.

What I Would Change - As time has gone by this rifle has shown to be a really consistent shooting rifle with all ammo, but initially in the first 2000 rounds it was not. The trigger is a stock Ruger 10/22 unit which means it is far from ideal. Any of the above match grade triggers would be an enormous improvement and probably even shrink already tiny groups even a bit more. The stock trigger assembly comes with the flat circa 2000 magazine release however a $3 extended Ruger replacement part can solve that issue. A couple sling studs would have been appreciated, but are easy enough to drill for and attach yourself. I would have liked to see this barrel threaded and suppressor ready.

Parts I Covet - Everything on this rifle except the stock trigger assembly. The Banner 3.5-10x36 is really a perfect magnification range scope for this .22. Of course it does not have the optic clarity the high end Nikon & Leupold however it gets the job done. The scope has features such as an adjustable objective and bullet drop compensating scope turret with various turrets for different rounds to put shots on target all the way out to 150 yards.

Final Thoughts - Top to bottom this is an awesome super accurate and reliable setup, however it does not have the finish quality and refinement of the Force or Kidd. It is clear to me that Magnum Research wanted to produce a competition killer at a competitive price. Generally I say that a trigger is one of the top accuracy upgrades, however they pretty much proved me wrong with the capabilities of this stock trigger equipped gopher getter. To be fair on the accuracy numbers the testing day for the rifle was on a virtually windless day, however time will tell whether this $655 rig can consistently out shoot the top rigs here. Longer term, the best group battle has been back and forth with the MLR22AT as a contender.

I want to fair here and note that the Feddersen Tennessee Ridge Runner is not an "Ultimate 10/22" with all the bells and whistles of these other premium 10/22s. The Feddersen is a superbly shooting rifle for half to a third the cost of any of these above options. In reality the only upgrades this Feddersen has is a Feddersen 16" bull barrel and a Hogue stock, so it is far from the glorious ultimates above.  

Build Specs - Feddersen 10/22 Tennessee Ridge Runner ($465), bipod, and Nikon 2-7 P-22 Scope - $650 total build.

That I Liked - The barrel, everything else was yawn-able stock configured parts.

What I would Change - The trigger needs an update and anyone with a Hogue stock knows tweaking the torque setting of the take down screw can drastically change the accuracy. A stock swap to a Boyd's or Glacier Ridge stock would be preferable.

Parts I Covet - The barrel is the only part on this that is covetable; everything else is stock.

Final Thoughts - Feddersen of course offers their barrels separately for Ultimate type build, but some of us don’t want to play gunsmith and just want to buy a rifle ready to shoot that does not cost an arm and a leg. This is where the complete Feddersen 10/22 Tennessee Ridge Runner Rifle makes so much sense for the 10/22 fanatic, avid hunter, target shooter, and/or common sense survivalist. The rifle delivers sub-1/4” groups at 50 yards out of the box with a decent powered optic all for $465; it is without a doubt the best accuracy deal for the dollar of any ready to shoot 10/22 rifle package I have yet to test.

At long last I was able to build a 10/22 with Volquartsen parts and it lived up to its reputation.  I will cut to the chase, its spectacularly accurate. It should be since Kidd, Force and Volquartsen all use the same Lothar Walther blanks with a standard'ish Benz match chamber. It delivered outstanding accuracy all with a flair that none of the other builds could touch.

Build Specs - For this build I used a Volquartsen THM Tension I-Flute Lightweight 10/22 .22LR barrel with Forward Blow Compensator, CNC Machine 10/22 Bolt Group, and TG2000 Competition Trigger Unit. When paired with a stock Ruger 10/22 receiver, Glacier Ridge Stock and Simmons 6-18 Prosport Scope the build came in at $1177.

What I would Change - My poor Simmons 6-18 has seen better days and this build honestly deserves a better optic than what this glass can deliver.

Parts I Covet - Only thing I would change is the optic. Everything thing else worked perfectly.

Final Thoughts - Volquartsen remains up there in the top slot or at least tied with Kidd. Where Volquartsen blows everyone away including Kidd is maintaining that quality across the huge diversity of 10/22 and other firearm products.  It is truly stunning how many options they have available; each and everyone one is gorgeous.

From an accuracy perspective the Volquartsen build is equal to the reference accuracy standards set by my Feddersen and Kidd builds. The net of this superb accuracy, quality and design  is that you will not only match shot for shot with the best 10/22s on earth you will look better doing it. I can see why Volquartsen is so legendary in the 10/22 market.

Since publishing this article, my observations have changed little about the features of each of these 10/22 parts, however my mailbox is overflowing with questions, about which is the ultimate. The answer is I don't know yet. Just when I think one is more accurate another rig delivers a tighter group. As I test new ammo brands, the results change once again.
The purpose of this article was not just to show which delivered the tightest groups, but more importantly to highlight the unique attributes of each 10/22 part.

We as buyers can get down into the weeds of accuracy discussions and loose sight that each of these barrels and accessories are all different in one respect or another. With the exception of the recrowned stock barrel, every single one of these high end barrels will deliver supreme accuracy far beyond the capabilities of even a recrowned stock carbine barrel. If we compare best groups from each barrel, we are talking about the difference of 1/8" and this difference could come down to the varying optics, more or less wind, ammo preference (and its consistency), optic magnifications or my own familiarity of each of the rifles. As you will see in the posted accuracy results, I have shot some even better groups than those mentioned during the initial review of this article.

If you are going to build a bench gun or an accuracy rig, pick up the Kidd or Volquartsen with a 20” match barrel and 4oz/4oz trigger, and mount a high magnification adjustable parallax scope and learn how to shoot it, because it will deliver stunning single hole results. My Kidd build is an ever so slight step to the right of that extreme bench build with their 18" light weight barrel and still plants rounds in essentially the same hole at 50 yards. 

The Volquartsen was a giant leap into the land of funky, but it still is shot for shot with the Kidd. Find the ammo it likes and buy a truckload and you will be smiling for a very long time. Kidd’s components are so tightly spec’ed they do require a long break-in cycle.  I would simply buy a complete Kidd or Volquartsen rifle or at least the barrel, receiver and bolt group from them versus going through the rather painful use of another receiver.

The Force build is for those that want to shoot a match grade rifle but don’t want to deal with the headaches of figuring out ammo or the very painful process of perfect tolerance hand fitting. This build assembled easily and just worked from first shot without any hiccups and delivered the best ammo to ammo consistency in the group second only to the Feddersen.

Tactical Innovations is an underdog in the group that many see as just a pretty anodizing part manufacturer.  They produce a great product with a lot of innovation such as can be seen in the CH22 top charging receiver with integrated top picatinny rail.  
The recrowned stock barrel really surprised me and delivered some of the best accuracy I have seen from a stock barrel.  Unfortunately once you taste what a match grade barrel can deliver and ultimately I made the change to a WhistlePig 18" Barrel.  

I continue to be intrigued by the PWS T3 Summit as it really is not a 10/22 at all, but a completely different animal altogether. The tensioned barrel is finicky only from an accuracy perspective, however it becomes an amazing tack driver once you discover the right ammo. I replaced the barrel with a Feddersen and now do not swear each time I take it out. The think I love about this gun is that I can shoot and feed any Long or Long Rifle length .22 ammo even the really really quiet stuff. The PWS magazine release is a must have component for any 10/22 build. If you want to add a suppressor, this is THE 10/22 build to use, it is light and really seems to like the standard sub-sonic rounds from an accuracy perspective. With manual cycling action, the T3 Summit has the opportunity to deliver the best accuracy of any receiver tested.

The Troy T-22 Chassis, Nordic Stock, and Eotech Zombie Stopper sight equal more money than most people put into their 10/22 rifles, however they make this build the blast that it is.   Despite running a stock receiver and bolt group, the Timney trigger is my preference for a good standard non-adjustable hunting and plinking trigger.  It works so well it becomes invisible in the shooting experience versus having to concentrate on not pulling a too light trigger too early. Tactical Solutions makes great barrels for about $60-$90 less than Kidd or Force, and with the right ammo deliver excellent accuracy even at 50-75 yard distances on ground squirrels. 

...and then the Magnum Research rifle shows up at about half the price of any of the rifles here. Kinda like the guy in the tweaked Nisson 300Z who can keep up and occasionally beat the guys in $1 Million sports cars.  My opinion on the accuracy of this rifle has changed since my initial accuracy testing. In my first fourteen recorded groups, the rifle preferred non-match grade ammo. Maybe I started recording groups too early before the rifle had broken in, however as I shot groups with the rifle informally over the last couple months I have noticed that the initial groups I have recorded in the below spreadsheet do not tell the entire story. Honestly I was pretty blown away at the capabilities of this rifle considering its price and weight.  The receiver is every bit as nice as any of the other custom receivers and overall it is a well made rifle, however the other components do not have the custom finish and touches of the other rifles and components. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want a custom showy match rifle that shoots match ammo really well or one which is light, has a factory finish quality, and shoots Mini-Mags really well.

The Feddersen is in the same price range and performance as the Magnum Research, however without a match machines bolt and billet upper receiver. The Feddersen does edge out the MLR in accuracy with a broader array of ammo. The Hogue stock is nothing special, however "the" feature is that glorious barrel of which I now own three of. For the shooter who just wants a durable ready to roll 10/22 which delivers playing card splitting accuracy out to 50 yards all without touching a screwdriver, the Ridge Runner is an excellent option for only $465. It isn't and "Ultimate" but it shoots like one.  Add in a Kidd or Timney match trigger and you really have a stunning shooting rifle.

You cannot go wrong with any of these rifles. Choose one and get out on the range.

Hopefully after the financial recovery of these builds, I may pick up a few more as well to see how it compares and update this article.

I hope my observations help you make some decisions on your ultimate 10/22 build. Have fun!


Buy it at Brownells.com and support MajorPandemic.com

Kidd - Cool Guy Guns - www.CoolGuyGuns.com

Force Production - http://www.forceproduction.com/
PWS - Primary Weapons Systems - http://primaryweapons.com
Tactical Innovations - http://www.tacticalinc.com/
Tactical Machining - http://www.tacticalmachining.com/
Tactical Solutions - http://www.tacticalsol.com/

Feddersen - http://www.1022rifle.com/rifle-ruger
Volquartsen - http://www.volquartsen.com
Timney Triggers - http://timneytriggers.com/
Boyd Stocks - http://www.boydsgunstocks.com/
Nordic Components - http://www.nordiccomp.com/
Nikon Optics - http://www.nikonhunting.com/
Leupold Optics - http://www.leupold.com
Eotech Sights - http://www.eotech-inc.com/
Pacific Tool & Gauge - http://pacifictoolandgauge.com/

Magnum Research - http://www.magnumresearch.com/
Bushnell - http://www.bushnell.com/


Unknown said...

Would the tactical innovations upper fit on the troy chassis?

Ironheart Artisans said...

Great write up, thanks for putting all your findings up. Saved me a pile of work and time answering almost all of my questions in one article.

Anonymous said...

This is the most comprehensive match-up of various 10/22 manufacturers I have ever seen! Thanks for spending the time building and reviewing these gems. I have a few frankensteins of my own with many of the aforementioned parts/receivers etc and I would only like to add one thing that I didn't notice here... Tactical Innovations also makes what I consider a MUST HAVE for any diehard 10/22 enthusiast.. The TI25 aluminum mags!!! If you have a feeding issue with any build, these mags have a hex screw in each corner that allow the mag to be adjusted within seconds! Additionally, they are the best made mags EVER for a 10/22 and will last a lifetime..

Anonymous said...

AWESOME REVIEWS!! Only thing I would add is the TI25 aluminum mags from Tactical Innovations are the best ever made and can also correct most any feeding issue encountered with a new build!

Unknown said...

I just dropped my 10/22 build in to an Archangel percision stock, next time you are tinkering about you might want to try one, what a fantastic article I'm a volquartsen die hard but you have me considering a kidd trigger a assembly.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for all the time and effort put into these reviews. Does the PWS barrel have two grooves at the chamber mouth to accommodate the dual extractors in the bolt face? Thanks again.

Unknown said...

post by ironsburg I have 6 10/22 rifles with 20" 920 bull barrels . I have 4 kidd barrels and a lilja 920 21" barrel and a volquartsen barrel 18" a;; stainless steel . if you are going to shoot regular ammo and get tight groups around .250" use kidd barrels . if you shoot the fancy barrels you will have to buy expensive eley ammo to get tight groups cost for barrels , kidd 200.00 lilja 440.00 and volauartsen 350.00 Tony Kidd has ir going on , barrels , great 3oz over 3 oz triggers , bolt , charging handles and a complete rifle if that is your thing .

Orson said...

Great article with the best info ive found on the summit action. Im in the process of building "my ultimate .22"! Im thinking kidd chassis and 2 stage trigger, volquartsen summit reciever, feddersen 4.5" barrel, custom folding target brace (hoping to legally keep this a pistol), swfa SS 10x mil/mil scope, atlas bipod, modlite short okw w modbutton. What are your thoughts on the summit reciever attaching to the kidd chassis. Ive never found any info on it going jnto a metal chassis, im worried about the rear set screw for the reciever...wish the summit had a rear tang like kidd! Any thoughts??? Recomendations? I want the quietest, most accurate, smallest package i can get! The 4.5" barrel will keep standard and HV ammo subsonic...

Orson said...

Great article with the best info ive found on the summit action. Im in the process of building "my ultimate .22"! Im thinking kidd chassis and 2 stage trigger, volquartsen summit reciever, feddersen 4.5" barrel, custom folding target brace (hoping to legally keep this a pistol), swfa SS 10x mil/mil scope, atlas bipod, modlite short okw w modbutton. What are your thoughts on the summit reciever attaching to the kidd chassis. Ive never found any info on it going jnto a metal chassis, im worried about the rear set screw for the reciever...wish the summit had a rear tang like kidd! Any thoughts??? Recomendations? I want the quietest, most accurate, smallest package i can get! The 4.5" barrel will keep standard and HV ammo subsonic...

Unknown said...

Wow, your write up just blows me away! The time, energy and money that went into this is just enormous.
I am currently building my own ultimate 10/22 and your research, although done back in 2014 I believe, influenced me greatly.
I am totally enamoured with the PWS/Volquartsen toggle bolt action and that is going to be the heart of my build but I am opting for stainless steel instead of aluminum. Machined into the receiver is a 20 MOA picatinny rail. The trigger is a Kidd 2 stage, 8oz/8oz. The barrel is a 20" blued, non fluted, non threaded Kidd.
All the information that I can find on accuracy points to this barrel. Blued chrome moly is better than stainless.
For ultimate accuracy stay away from fluting and a threaded muzzle.
And finally, the brand to go with is Kidd. They hand lap every barrel, cut the chamber and extractor slot. All with extream precision.
For glass I have an Althlon 8 x 24 x 56mm. What I am undecided about is the stock. I believe that I've narrowed it down to two, the Boyd AT ONE, or the Victor Titan. I want a very nearly vertical grip which feels best in my hand and will help in positioning my hand to manipulate the toggle action.
If anyone has any comments or suggestions I'd love to hear them, especially concerning stock selection.