Saturday, August 25, 2012



In the world of 10/22s there are several distinct categories including “stock” spec, “upgraded” where a barrel or few components are swapped, and then there is “custom”. Within that top custom world, few components are ever left stock including the receiver; this is the world Kidd rules. Kidd is consistently thought of as the top tier of the custom 10/22s and the founders are definitely gun industry rock stars for their contribution and advancement of the 10/22 platform.

If you want true match grade accuracy, simply slapping on a cheap bull barrel to your stock action will not get you the results you are looking for and a heavy barrel does not always equal more accurate. In reality almost any current factory stock 10/22 will punch .75” groups at 25 yards with a decently powered optic and simply free-floating and recrowning your stock barrel can deliver .75” 50-yard groups as I did in my Ultimate Shootout, but even that accuracy does not cut it in the Match Grade category where sub-.5” 50-yard groups are expected and .25” groups are far from uncommon.

Being the accuracy whore that I am, I thought it was about time I built a serious shooting 10/22 from the ground up based on Kidd; the manufacturer many believe to be the finest match grade 10/22 parts available. This is the in depth review of the same Kidd rifle I featured in my Ultimate 10/2 Shootout article.

Kidd Innovative Design is located in McQuenney, TX and is run by Mary & Tony Kidd.  From my experience while picking up these custom Kidd 10/22 parts, Mary runs the customer facing operations and assures Tony, who many regard as the evil genius of 10/22s, is kept securely locked away in the machine shop churning out beautiful parts.  That jokingly noted, Kidd AKA is famous for their customer service and if you have a specific question, Tony or Mary will get personally back to you if needed. My email questions were answered within 24 hours.

In August of 2000, Kidd launched their website with the now famous Kidd 10/22 trigger.  I was not a tweaked and re-tuned 10/22 trigger or a precision remake of the factory trigger parts like so many have done, but an entirely new trigger design from the ground up.  The Kidd trigger remains the most advanced and tunable 10/22 trigger available anywhere. 

It is so advanced that no one has yet to equal the performance of the trigger. But the innovation does not stop there. Production has expanded to match grade versions of every part making up the 10/22.  “As the owner and driving force behind Kidd Innovative Design, my foremost goal is to build and maintain the most reliable and accurate match grade products for the Ruger 10/22 Rifle.” said Tony Kidd.  Since then Kidd products have been putting smiles on faces of 10/22 owners everywhere. 

From my perspective Kidd represents the best of the best in 10/22 and classily it does this in a formal black-tie look. Kidd does not offer purple, yellow, and pink anodizing of uppers, trigger groups, and barrels, they offer black or silver, or in the case of barrels, blued, stainless or light weight sleeved.  Kidd also does not offer fifty different charging handle options; they offer one. In fact Kidd’s product catalog is not that expansive when we compare them to others in the custom 10/22 category who have every part, in every color of the rainbow. Kidd indicated that they want to focus on the custom quality of every part and that offering a ton of production versions takes their attention away from that.

What Kidd Innovative Design does deliver are the highest grade, custom quality, most tastefully designed and finished 10/22 parts available which have continually shown to outshoot others in the market.  Kidd’s understated design screams classy all while delivering tiny little groups downrange which the guys with fancy purple barrels will drool over. Set a Kidd component next to any other manufacturers component and you will see a level of refinement that can only come from the years of experience... every little detail is perfect and optimized for accuracy.

For this custom Kidd tack driving build, I used four vendors for this $1372 build; Tactical Machining TM-10/22 billet receiver, Boyd Tacticool Stock, Leupold VX-2 3-9x33mm Rimfire Scope with Adjustable Objective, and Kidd’s barrel, bolt, charging handle, receiver pins, v-block, and trigger group.  

Tactical Machining TM-10/22 Billet Receiver $129.99 - Kidd certainly makes a very fine receiver, however I already had a beautiful and super affordable Tactical Machining billet 10/22 receiver.  This receiver was begging for a project, so that was the starting base of the build. This 7075 T6 billet receiver is precision milled from billet stock with an integrated extended picatinny rail and cleaning rod guide at the rear of the receiver.

Kidd Two Stage Trigger Assembly, 8oz/8oz, Red Flat Trigger $306.90 - This is a complete ready to drop-in pre-tuned Kidd Two Stage Trigger Assembly with an auto bolt release ready to pin into a receiver with choices of pull weight, trigger blade style and color, magazine release style and housing color. 
Honestly, I think it is the best feeling trigger I have ever used on any firearm and it certainly contributed to making punching little groups easy.

Kidd 18” Light Weight Barrel $245 - Kidd has a variety of barrel profiles, however the 18” Light Weight Barrel intrigued me. The barrel is designed to offer all the advantages of a bull barrel at a reduced weight.  
The bull diameter extends for the first two inches and then steps down a little to .870” until the muzzle and an aluminum sleeve is installed in the place of the removed material.

The result is a barrel which is about a full pound lighter than equivalent fluted barrels, all while retaining the stiffness and performance of a bull barrel.  The Kidd Light Weight barrel is available in 16.5” and 18” and weighs 1 pound 14 ounces and 2 pounds respectively. I choose the 18” version for this build.

Kidd CNC .22LR Bolt Assembly, Scalloped $109.95 - Stock bolts do not assure perfect pickup and handling of the round.  Kidd maximizes round control through the shooting cycling with a precision bolt CNC Machined from 4140 tool steel and precision tuned with a .0425" headspace, .035 firing pin protrusion hardened to 48c Rockwell for durability, and “pinned" firing pin for consistent ignition.  All these tweaks increase the precision of how the bolt handles rounds and adds a margin of accuracy improvement. The bolt also has been tuned to improve reliability with a radiused and polished bolt end for improved cycling and a tuned firing pin and extractor to improve ignition and extraction. I sprung for the scalloped bolt which does nothing for accuracy, but tastefully adds a little style to the build.

Kidd Receiver Pin Kit $29.95 & V-Block $22  - Kidd’s Receiver Pin Kit is an oversized countersunk screw retained pin set which delivers a much more solid receiver to trigger assembly union. Installation of the pins does require the receiver pin holes to be countersunk, however the kit includes the countersink bit and only involves about five minutes of drill-work. 

The result is that the action feels and operates like one piece, versus two parts loosely pinned together. Kidd’s V-block is such a gorgeous part in unto itself that you hate to cover it up with the stock.  Interestingly Kidd recommends only a nominal 10 lbs of torque on the barrel retainer bolts as they believe anything more affects accuracy.

Kidd Charging Handle Cocking Assembly $35.95 - The stock 10/22 compatible KIDD Cocking Assembly is available in either black or silver and is partially wrapped with a Viton cushion for improved comfort during rapid charging. The included guide rod is precision ground and made from hardened tool steel which is held to 2/10,000" tolerance throughout its entire length.  The guide rod is then nitride treated which gives its surface a 70C Rockwell (harder than a file) surface hardness for very smooth cycling. The assembly also includes three springs in varying tensions for standard, subsonic ammo, or 17HM2 ammo. In order to assure cycling with Wolf standard velocity ammo, I installed the subsonic spring. If you are having cycling issues with your custom build this is the cocking assembly to get.

Boyd Tacticool Stock $92 - Following the black tie theme I had to go for the Boyd Tacticool stock. The TactiCool Hardwood Stock was designed by Boyds' to meet the requests of our customers looking for an affordable free-float barrel tactical design for their 10/22 rifles. The beavertail forend allows for greater stabilization while shooting off of bags, but is still trim enough for general purpose shooting. Boyd designed the dual purpose butt hook for greater control of the stock and firearm with your non-trigger hand, as well as allowing for a better grip on the rear bag when shooting from the bench. 

Three sling swivels are mounted and provide points for bipod, and sling attachment. The Monte Carlo comb brings the shooter's cheek up for use with larger scopes and comes with an ambidextrous grip that allows either hand to assume a more natural position. The slight palm swell on either side provides for a more comfortable grip. All considered the Boyd Tacticool stock delivers a lot for a $92 stock and is one of the top 10/22 choices for benchrest shooters. It was the perfect  choice for this build.

Leupold VX-2 3-9X33mm Rimfire Ultralight Scope with Adjustable Objective $399.99 - I will be honest, on my first Leupold scope I did not have the enlightening love of all things Leupold that most users do. That experience caused this scope to be my second Leupold ever almost two decades later. That noted, this scope changed my entire perception of what clarity and scope quality could be in a sub-$400 scope and opened my eyes to what everyone has been raving about. If you are a hardcore 75+ yard shooter and gopher hunter then you will want a high magnification scope. 

Although generally more power will deliver more accuracy, this 3-9X scope is the perfect compromise for those that want the best of both practical hunting/plinking and benchrest shooting from a 10/22 all without being a gigantic optic.

The Leupold Ultralight VX-2 line is specifically designed for use with rimfire cartridges and features multi-coated super clear optics, blackened lens edges to reduce glare, fast focus eyepiece, and most importantly and adjustable objective. Parallax is most severe at typical sub-50 yard ranges of our rimfire rounds. 
Most centerfire riflescopes will be preset to be parallax-free at 100-yard but could delivery you off target as much as several inches at 25 yards based on the power of the scope and your eye’s relationship centering on the scope. At these close distances you either need a rimfire dedicated scope with a 25 or 50 yard parallax-free design or an adjustable objective. Above 100 yards the effect on accuracy is less and less, up close at .22LR ranges parallax is a problem when attempting to punch tiny little groups. To maximize accuracy, a scope with an adjustable objective is critical to tune parallax and the features of this Leupold scope fit the bill perfectly for even 10 yard shooting.

Kidd Two Stage Trigger Assembly - The Kidd Two Stage trigger is what made Kidd famous and allows almost every aspect of the trigger to be controlled and tuned. Their 2-stage triggers are available pretuned in 6oz, 1lb, 1.5lb, 2lb, 2.5lb and custom weights which come pre-tuned from Kidd with a perfect 50%/50% weight distribution over the first and second stages. Unlike the stock polymer trigger housings, Kidd precision machines each trigger housing from 6061 T6 aluminum and then perfectly black hard anodized or clear anodized for the silver finish.  The triggers are finished with Kidd’s signature red powder coating, but are also available in black as well.

The hammer, sear, transfer bar and other internal tool steel parts are CNC machined and cut by a wire EDM in house by Kidd. EDM offers extreme precision and is one of the reasons the trigger feels so great. All springs are manufactured by Murphy & Read Springs who also happens to be huge Kidd Innovation fans. Then all these super premium proprietary trigger components are hand assembled and tuned to perfection in a way that has made Kidd famous.

Kidd also has new interchangeable magazine release levers for their trigger assemblies. If you want a flat lever, Extended (medium) or Speed (long) lever that wraps around the bottom of the trigger guard, the interchangeable system allows you to swap based on your need, easily and quickly. Because I am “a Mid-speed kind of guy”, I choose the Medium magazine release. The other nice included feature on the trigger assembly is Kidd’s auto-bolt release, which allows the bolt to be released by just pulling back on the charging handle.

There have been many an argument about which is better a single-stage or two-stage trigger. Kidd satisfies both camps with both single and two-stage trigger options, however the majority tend to believe a two stage trigger allows less trigger weight safely and therefore maximizes trigger control and delivers higher accuracy. A two-stage trigger provides a defined first-stage take-up which leads to the crisp breaking second-stage break.  As you pull the trigger rearward taking up the first stage weight, you will feel a stop at the second stage. Kidd only offers down to 1.5lb triggers on their single stage triggers, however their two-stage models go all the way down to feathery 6 oz trigger pulls. The rationale behind this variance is that a two-stage trigger provides a margin of safety with the first stage where a very light single-stage trigger may have more likelihood of being accidentally touched off. To increase safety further the unique two-stage Kidd trigger when cocked has approximately .040" hammer and sear engagement, almost 10 times that of the factory trigger.  This means it is far less likely to accidentally discharge even with the much lighter trigger. Currently Kidd is the only manufacturer offering this level of safety in a very light trigger; another reason everyone wants a Kidd trigger.

After a discussion with Mary Kidd on my intent of the rifle and intended Boyd’s Tacticool stock, she suggested a 1lb two-stage trigger with a flat trigger blade. The 1lb trigger delivers an 8oz first and 8oz second stage weight distribution ideal for light target shooting and plinking.  Honestly unless you are building a dedicated 100 yard benchrest gun, I would go no lighter, as this 1lb (8oz+8oz) is a mighty light trigger and about 1-2lbs less than any of the other trigger groups I have tested. If you have a special need, Kidd will gladly distribute the trigger weight to your individual needs, however as picky as I am on triggers, the trigger was perfect in factory tuned state. Initially the hammer was not resetting during shots so the only tuning needed was to back out the trigger overtravel about an eighth of a turn and everything was dandy.

Kidd 18” Light Weight Barrel - The KIDD stainless steel light weight barrel and breech are machined from Lothar Walther bored and rifled blanks as one piece then sleeved with a permanently attached anodized tube and then hand lapped. This creates an extremely rigid and durable barrel while maintaining unparalleled accuracy for a barrel in this weight class.  

Tony Kidd then performs all the final machining to make our match barrel uniquely KIDD. A proprietary chamber reamer is used to ensure the cartridge and bullet feed smoothly while allowing the bullet to consistently engrave the rifling at .020".  An important note is that Kidd barrels are chambered to accept .22LR ammo (not long enough for CCI Stingers) and have a 1:16 twist.  

The unique convex extractor slot eliminates extraction problems by ensuring the extractor is always in perfect alignment with the case rim and Kidd is the only manufacturer that takes the expense and time to do this operation. Each barrel receives a beautiful 11 degree crown and the double ring logo at the muzzle which does nothing for accuracy, but it does look cool.
For the most part, 10/22 parts works well together however when you get into the high spec aftermarket parts, some fitting can be required. Initially the hammer required a great deal of force to reset which felt like I was charging a .22 Magnum and was not cycling any rounds.  I actually contacted Kidd and requested a replacement hammer spring as I thought it was a .22 Magnum spring. The original trigger spring was correct however I had the 17M2 spring on the charging handle and needed to switch to the lightest (standard/sub-sonic velocity ammo) charging spring and tune the trigger reset plunger as noted above. Once those corrections were made functioning returned to normal.

The advice I will give everyone as they embark on a full custom 10/22 build, such as this, is to start from the ground up instead of upgrading a stock 10/22.  In my opinion, you are just adding $200+ to the finish price of the gun and you may end up tweaking/tuning a fitment that you later wish you had not as you continue to swap out components. When buying components, either buy a single brand or expect a little fitting if mixed and matched brands are used. Typically the most problematic issues are barrel to receiver fitting, extractor/barrel issues, and aftermarket receiver bolt fitting. Ultimately the easiest path is to just call up Kidd and order a complete assembled 10/22 tack driver tested and ready to shoot or buy all the parts for your build in one shot from one manufacturer. In this case I wanted to do the build myself, however if I was suggest it to someone else, I would recommend just ordering an entire Kidd rifle ready to shoot.

The beautiful Tactical Machining TM-10/22 receiver used is a very tightly spec’ed premium receiver designed to allow tight fitment and a lot of tuning flexibility with typically looser spec'ed barrels. The Kidd barrel is perfectly spec'edwhich lead to a zero/+zero tolerance fit between the two brands.  Kidd notes that their barrels are very tight and will require some work to seat, however the barrel to receiver fit was so incredibly tight between these brands, I had to aggressively sand off all the anodizing on the receiver’s barrel mount to be able to seat the barrel. I am considering the barrel permanently mounted because I highly doubt the near zero tolerance fit achieved will ever come out without cutting off the receiver. Ultimately this is the best possible fit and solution.  I am pretty sure the beautiful V-block is even un-needed to retain the barrel.  If you are using the same brand or upgrading a stock 10/22, you will generally not have this challenge.

Even after the above tuning corrections, the hard charging hammer coupled with the super tight match grade barrel chamber has made for a whole lot of break-in to function reliably and initially a picky eater.  A fact most do not know is that a proper match chamber will be so tight that live round extraction is generally not possible for “match spec” rounds and the round will have to be shot before extraction can occur. With some rounds this is definitely the case on the Kidd rifle and for a few bulk ammo brands the rounds were almost too tight to cycle.

With this chamber precision in mind, most of my problems have centered around the cheap bulk pack looser spec’ed ammo. If you are investing in this level of gun, you should expect to also invest in quality ammo to feed it.  A match chamber plus the cheapest bulk ammo you can get your hands on will deliver frustrating reliability and accuracy on par with far less expensive rifles. You may get lucky and find cheap precision reliable ammo options, however I believe this is similar to buying a Bugatti Veyron and then running it on the 15% ethanol gasoline or like putting a fat man in $220 BIOM ECCO running shoes... it does not make a lot of sense. If you want to blast away with the cheap stuff, there are less expensive build options; if you want the best precision accuracy from precision ammo, this is your build. This is the top end of the 10/22 world and shoots wonderfully with good quality ammo.  When I say “good” I do not mean expensive either; CCI Mini-Mags, Standard Velocity, and Velociter rounds functioned perfectly from the first magazine and have shown to deliver superb accuracy for plinking.

Reliability overall is getting better and better. Initially, the outstanding shooting Wolf target ammo would not cycle one-in-twenty rounds and appeared to be just on the bottom edge of the power curve required to cycle the action every time even with the light charging rod spring. The good news is that the more I shoot the gun, the less I have cycling problems with this or any ammo.  The parts are so tight that this build needed well over 500 rounds through the gun before it starting cycling reliably. Currently with over a 1000 rounds through this Kidd powered build it is almost broken in and reliability of my preferred Wolf ammo is now almost flawless.

The beauty of Kidd components is they may you shoot like a superhero without breaking a sweat. Obviously you need to have the fundamentals of shooting mastered, however if you do, these components deliver tiny little groups effortlessly. A buddy of mine is a good shot, but in his words not as “experienced as me” but even he was drilling sub .5” groups at fifty yards. It is a rifle that is easy to shoot well.

This is a .25” grouping gun at 50 yards and it does it even with the less expensive quality ammo also. During initial accuracy testing my best group was a stunning .214” group at 50 yards with Wolf ammo and that is hardly expensive ammo. Even my worst group was only .866” and the 50-yard average of all rounds tested was .442”. If I am able to lay my hands on the really expensive match grade ammo and I will bet near single hole groups are possible at 50 yards.  The most exciting group for me was the .294” 50-yard group from CCI Velociter; although not the smallest group, is a smoking hot round that allows 100+ yard hits on ground squirrels with half the bullet drop of the standard velocity Wolf round.

In order to prevent me from having to continually update a half dozen 10/22 articles, I will be keeping track of all my 10/22 build accuracy data going forward here (Google Docs Spreadsheet).

A perfect crown delivers a perfect perfect 
powder burn on the crown.
It may be that so many think of Kidd because of the tiny groups they consistently shoot for everyone, not just the especially talented people. It could be the stunning custom level workmanship that goes into each and every Kidd 10/22 part, or it could simply be someone was tired of being out-shot every weekend by someone with a Kidd 10/22 setup.  Whatever the reason, Kidd has flourished and consistently runs into backorders despite moving and expanding all their machining capabilities to handle the demand.

Every Kidd component is gorgeous and each and every time this rifle comes out of the safe, it brings a smile to my face. Each part is custom grade in every way. The great thing is that all this glorious workmanship, quality and accuracy is about the same as any of Kidd’s match-grade competitors.  $1300+ is a lot for a custom 10/22 however it is typical in this world of super premium accuracy.

When I want to mount up the bipod and settle in on the bench to impress myself and others with tiny little groups this is the 10/22 I reach for; this build delivers each and every time without fail. Although the trigger is a light, I would still feel comfortable trekking through the woods on a squirrel or rabbit hunt with this 1lb trigger. This setup with the Leupold 3-9x33mm VX-2 scope would make an exceptional squirrel rifle especially for those shots way up at the top of the tree.

With inexpensive Wolf ammo, the groups are stunning and once I find some of that really good match grade ammo, I bet the groups will be even smaller.  This is an exceptional rifle in quality, accuracy, fit and finish and I truly understand why everyone puts Kidd out front of the 10/22 pack.

$1372 build
Tactical Machining TM-10/22 billet receiver
Boyd Tacticool Stock
Leupold VX-2 3-9x33mm Rimfire Scope with Adjustable Objective
Kidd’s barrel, bolt, charging handle, v-block, and trigger group.  

Kidd - Cool Guy Guns -
Tactical Machining -
Boyd Stocks -
Leupold Optics -

1 comment:

Maz said...

I agree with you on all points. I'm going on my third full KIDD rifle and every one of them is a treasured piece...