Saturday, March 23, 2013

Force Production 10/22 Barrel Receiver Trigger Review

Force Production 10/22 Barrel Receiver Trigger Review
As I was searching to expand my 10/22 collection, the Force barrel stopped me in my tracks.  I mean look at that thing; how amazing is that hex machined barrel... I had to have one.  Admittedly the looks caught my attention however beyond the stunning looking barrel, the Force Production barrel offers more than a few engineering advantages.  The company also offers every other main part of the 10/22 with the exception of the bolt and all are custom level which deliver stunningly consistent accuracy and flawless functioning.

Force production was started in central Texas by Charles Watson in 2007.  To say Charles has street credibility would be an understatement as he has a long impressive resume of engineer and and CNC programmer that goes all the way back to 1989. In 1996, he joined STI and has been at the forefront of innovation and engineering since at STI firearms.  Charles is now one of the Employee Stock owners of STI and still leads engineering of STI’s great hunting, defense, and competition based 1911 platforms.

Charles had always had a small machine shop as a home business and after an internal discussion at STI decided to start a business dedicated to non-competing custom products such as parts for the Ruger 10/22 and custom gun barrels for a number of rifles manufacturers. Today Force Production’s primary business are extreme accuracy 10/22 & Remington 700 action parts. 

Over the last couple years the premium 10/22 market has exploded due to constant innovation to get tighter groups and more consistency. One day Charles was sitting around attempting to develop a better barrel fluting structure. He then looked up and watched as a wasp entered it’s honeycomb; honeycomb design, the perfect natural structure. The design optimally breaks up harmonics, sheds heat, and delivers incredible rigidity without weight. As an engineer, he knew he had found the fluting he was looking for.  The result of the fluting was almost a over a 30% reduction in barrel weight all while maintaining barrel integrity and rigidity of the bull barrel design.

Charles dedicated that same attention to redesigning the 10/22 trigger for outstanding feel all while increasing the safety when it was used in the field.

From my testing, the Force equal to the other top end 10/22 custom rifles. From a reliability perspective it does a few things I like better than some of its competition. As we all know, premium parts rack up quick on 10/22 and this build came in right at $1120 as equipped with the P-22 2-7x32 BDC scope.

Barrel - $359.99 - My Force build features their proprietary 18” Honeycomb barrel made from stainless steel Lothar Walther blanks and then finished with a target crown and match chamber.  Force then applies its honeycomb design which reduces the 20” bull barrel blank from 3.43lbs to an astounding 2.364lbs. 
This 17oz weight savings plays a bit of a mind trick on you as the barrel now weighs far less than you would expect. The beauty of the design is a much lighter barrel with the retained accuracy of a bull barrel design plus extraordinary heat dissipation and retention of the rigidity of the barrel. 

Trigger Assembly - $239.99 - Force has worked its magic on their trigger and the result is a extremely crisp trigger feel of between 2-3lbs with an overtravel adjustment on the semi-flat blade trigger.  This trigger design gives you more control and reduces the perceived trigger pull as well. 

The trigger body assembly is machined from billet 6061 aluminum and the hammer, sear, and disconnector are precision heat treated and EDM cut for the best precision possible.  

The trigger pulled has been improved further with a cammed action which also increases safety as well; the gun will not fire from normal dropping or bumping like some other match triggers will. The trigger is quite exceptional and breaks extremely clean, crisply, and feels much lighter than its specs would allude to. The Force Production Trigger assembly also includes an extended magazine release which makes magazines drops fast and easy.  Other features included an integrated bolt guide.

Receiver & Extras - Force also manufactures a precision billet 6061 10/22 receiver which fit a variety of barrel I test fit easily and also offers an integrated and extended top picatinny top rail.  One of the things I really liked about the receiver was that the top rail extension extended a bit longer than other recievers; a nice touch to add a bit more stability to your optic. Force also developed a Tygon and steel bolt buffer which significantly reduces both cycling noise and shock transmitted to the scope.  The simple and classy looking charging handle is one of my favorite.  Other parts used were Force’s precision barrel block and a Ruger stock bolt group.

Scope - Nikon P-22 2-7x32 BDC scope.  Although this scope lacks parallax adjustment, it is a blast to shoot with because the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticle makes it easy to start plinking at 100, 150, and even 200 yard targets. The optic is very clear and the resettable zero turrets are simple and easy to use and were very handy when switching between loads.It is also $180 retail which is an attainable price after you just spend your house payment on a custom 10/22. 

Glacier Ridge Gunstock - Initially I my Boyd Evolution Royal purple stock was swapped over to this build for my initial testing, however I finally settled on the same Glacier Ridge 10/22 stock which was included on my Magnum Research MLR22AT. This was an exceptionally comfortable stock similar to the Boyds Evolution stock but could take the hard licks of a field rifle. The radial freefloat design also does a great job of showing off the stunning Force Production barrel and action.
Force Type III hard anodized all their black parts and finishes to perfection all their stainless parts. The barrel is “the” coolest looking of any 10/22 barrel I own.

The Force build may not have pulled the lowest number on the accuracy charts however it was using the lowest powered and non-adjustable objective scope and a stock bolt and was still only .05” from tying the Kidd build's accuracy.  In my initial testing, it did produce the second smallest Maximum group size at only .813”.  Force is my pick for one of the most consistent shooting builds second only to Fedderson barrels all without so much as one non-ammo related feeding or functioning issue. 

It was also easy to charge unlike the Kidd and I liked the size and grip of the charging handle better than others I tested.  The Force's trigger is just as but just bit eavier than the Timney 10/22 trigger.

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.  The BDC is a big selling point which also allows another zeroing point for high velocity verus low velocity rounds.

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 and higher power scope, the accuracy has shown to equal the Kidd which is not surprising considering they are both using Lothar Walther blanks.

Functionally the Force has been an exceptionally reliable rifle and far less picky than other rifles I tested and matched the Magnum Research in reliability, but was also far less picky about which ammo it shot well. In general it shot all the ammo very well and was the second most consistent shooting rifle of those tested in my Ultimate 10/22 Shootout.

From the first time I shot the Force to last weekend, the Force build has been one of my favorites. It would most likely be my chosen gun for a weekend of hunting because I know that even if I have to change ammo the gun will still shoot well and function perfectly. The Nikon P-22 turrets even make this potential ammo swap rezeroing task easy. 

I have tested nearly every premium 10/22 on the market. Some performed well, some exceptionally, but note that the accuracy numbers are so close that I feel compelled to note that your results may vary. If you look across all the builds (with varying powered optics), the Force build's accuracy was still third which is no small feat.

This is a sub-.25” grouping gun with the right ammo at 50 yards and it does it even with the right less expensive quality ammo. 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 .816” and the 50-yard average of all rounds tested was .505”. The most exciting group for me was the .305” 50-yard group from CCI Velociter; although not the smallest group during initial testing, it is a smoking hot round that allows 100+ yard hits on ground squirrels with half the bullet drop of the standard velocity Wolf round. 

I have found that many times a rifle can shoot much better or worse from just a stock or part change. Most recently, after a change to a Magnum Research Glacier Ridge Stock and a billet machined 10/22 bolt from the stock version. With this setup, I was able to manage a 4-shot (one flyer) single hole .16” group at 50 yards with CCI Velociter ammo. This is an incredible shooting rifle.

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).

Although I loved the features of the Nikon BDC P-22 scope it does not provide an apples-to-apples accuracy comparison, however it does provide a simple and fast shooting BDC reticle. In reshooting groups with the marginally more powerful Leupold used on the Kidd, the Force has shown that it is an even match for the Kidd any day.

The Force was more consistent from round to round and far less picky or finicky 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 builds tested in my Ultimate 10/22 Shootout.  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 the 6” 200 yard gong 10 times in a row with cheap Winchester 555 bulk ammo. From the Force’s ability to consume almost any round stuffed into the magazine to tiny little groups, this is without a doubt a top contender to put a trophy in your cabinet or lay waist to tree rats or ground squirrels.

So it has been a bit since I first reviewed this action and it has still been an all love relationship.  The action has seen three different stocks and now finally has its own custom stock, which I am pretty sure it will stay with.  After much deliberation, I decided this action needed a stock with a little more weight in the back end and selected a Boyd's Tacticool stock. 

The black textured stock was stripped of the hardware and painted with a deep candy apple blue Rustoleum spray and then the fades and skull pattern effects were added with a chrome spray. It is critical that you not stop there with rattlecan finishes as pretty much any gun grade solvent or oil with distroy the finish on the gun.  The key is about a dozen coats of spray lacquer. Lacquer in general is very tough stuff and is highly resistant to solvents. After the dozen or so coats of spray lacquer, I had one very tough and sharp looking 10/22 stock.

My accuracy was the same as the Glacier ridge stock, however I did pull off this rather nice set of 100-yard (yes 100 yard) groups with CCI Standard Velocity with only the shown 2-7x Nikon scope pictured.  I kept the steel ground squirrel spinner on the 100-yard line moving all afternoon.

This was not some lead sled punched group, this was shot off the bench with just a bipod and my fist under the rear of the stock for elevation.... not bad at all.

Force Production

Nikon Optics 

Magnum Research - Glacier Ridge

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