Monday, August 8, 2022

Custom 10-22 Power Custom Proof Research Barrel Review

Custom 10-22 Power Custom Proof Research Barrel Review

Though I had experience with Proof Research barrels before, I remember thinking “What in the Actual…[you know the word]” when I shot the first 50-yard group with this Power Custom Proof Research custom 10/22 build - a 5-shot .112-inch group is freaky awesome for a first group. There are a few high precision custom 10/22 brands like Proof Research and Power Custom that we do not hear much about for 10/22 builds simply because they are either just not marketed as broadly or are more expensive than what builders are accustomed to. I decided to stuff them all into one build, and I have to say I was blown away.

My experience with two of those lesser known Power Custom and Proof Research brands has been a real eye opener. The featured custom 10/22 was my first build with any Power Custom products and my third build with Proof Research barrels but first in a 10/22 format.

The build features a $670 Proof Research made-to-order carbon fiber wrapped 16.1-inch 10/22 barrel with a proprietary .22 Benz style match chamber, $199 Power Custom Grand Master Billet aluminum receiver, and another $300 in various other Power Custom parts including a barrel v-block, match bolt with A2 tool steel firing pin and extractor, extended oversized charging handle, extended bolt release and PC Competition Plus Red drop in trigger upgrade kit. I did also purchase a Ruger BX-Trigger which was the basis of the Power Custom trigger rebuild kit used. The entire build was dropped into a $260 KRG Bravo stock and topped with an $450 Athlon 6-25 optic.

From a build cost, this is definitely up there with the rifle build over $1400 excluding the $450 Athlon ARGOS BTR GEN2 6-24×50 APMR FFP IR MIL optic and $50 rings. At just under $2000, this build is at a price right there with the highest tier of custom factory rifles from Volquartsen and Kidd. The great news is that it performed amazingly well and is initially showing that it is easily in my top three historically most accurate 10/22 rifles ever. Although I had shot this barrel in another build and was extremely impressed with tiny groups, in this build my first three 50-yard groups were all at or under ⅛-inch with Lapua match ammo and that is crazy accuracy.


Let’s address the elephant in the room, yes this is a $670 barrel in a land where most aftermarket barrels are around $250. Its a boatload of cash for a match grade 10/22 barrel when the majority of options from Kidd, Volquartsen and Feddersen are under $300 and all routinely are in that same range of accuracy. To be fair though, Proof Research’s competitors are not those well known 10/22 barrel manufacturers, but instead the Gucci level exclusive handmade barrel brands like Lilja, Hart, Shilen and others which are all in the $350-$600 or more price range with extras like fluting and special finishes. Based on my research though, this Proof Barrel is the most expensive “production” barrel on the market for 10/22s, however again to be fair, the price is right there in line with all of Proof’s other barrel prices, so no discount just
because it is a rimfire .22LR.
The quality of 

this barrel is every bit as good as any other Proof Research barrel and the work required to produce it is just the same. The first task of this build was actually getting my hands on the Proof Research 10/22 barrel. They are all custom ordered with your choice of carbon fiber wrapped or the less expensive all stainless in lengths of 16.1, 18, 20 inches all with 4-groove 1:16 twist and proprietary .22 Benz chambers.

Previously, I had been extremely impressed with a Proof Research’s 6.5 Creedmoor carbon fiber barrel for a Ruger Precision build and also an AR pistol barrel with 11-inch barrel, so I decided the bump in price might be worth it in this case as well. I placed the order and waited nearly four months for the custom made-to-order Proof Research barrel to arrive, but it was worth the wait. It is a stunning barrel and in this build it shot amazingly well with very little ammo preference or group increases even over longer shot strings. With more rounds and time to allow for further barrel break in, I have no doubt that this will group even better as time goes on when I am already seeing consistent sub-⅛-inch groups with a selection of Lapua match ammo.

Generally, I would rather have a reliable 50-yard .25-inch grouping gun which does not have wide variances in group size and point of impact when ammo selection is changed beyond its preference. This is one reason I recommend the Feddersen barrels so often, however this Proof Research barrel has those similar traits as well. This barrel still delivers very good groups with quality, but less expensive ammo like SK or CCI SV. Ammo such as SK, SK Plus, SK Rifle Match, SK Long Range, CCI Standard, CCI Velociter and pretty much the entire suite of Lapua ammo all shot extremely well and there does not seem to be a noticeable spread between different lot numbers and not much point of impact change horizontally.

There are big advantages to the carbon fiber wrapped barrel design which Proof Research has proven to the market over the years. Expensive, but the advantages are clear. One of those big advantages is that a similar bull barrel would weigh over 3-lbs where this Proof 10/22 barrel is only 1.6-lbs. The other advantage is that as the barrel heats the carbon fiber manages the heat in a way which allows the barrel to stay cool and retain accuracy throughout a long shot string. Seeing is believing in this case and I am a believer. As a buyer I did breathe a huge sigh of relief when I saw teeny tiny groups downrange - cool or not, heat attacks would have occurred if the performance would have missed being nothing short of amazing on a barrel of this price. Would I buy this for my first set of 10/22 builds, probably not, because you are likely not going to splurge on the other components to make the investment worthwhile. With a commitment to going in on other top tier components and definitely optics on a build, without question I would order another Proof Research 10/22 build.


My first time experience with Power Custom products really surprised me. They have a bit of a different philosophy when it comes to the 10/22. You might recall that they were the first company ever to produce a last round bolt hold open for the 10/22 which required a proprietary bolt and a few other parts. Today they have a Gen 2 version which only requires a proprietary bolt instead of also requiring speciality magazines as well. More on that upgrade in a future article. Some may know of Power Custom’s drop-in trigger parts as sold on Brownells, however most of their other parts are not as well known. Of note, Power Custom uniquely offers many parts in upgraded A2 tool steel or titanium.

The Power Custom Grand Master 10/22 receiver is of premier quality with an elegant design and beautiful finish. The receiver is billet from aircraft grade aluminum and includes a few extra that would be expected on a high tier receiver such as rear cleaning rod hole, integrated and extended 1913 picatinny rail with integrated upper barrel support. The surface finish is also impeccable with a shiny lustrous anodizing. The Cycling was buttery smooth with the Power Custom Match bolt featuring a A2 tool steel extractor and firing pin and operation was also easy with the plus-sized charging handle. Although my first reaction was that the charging handle was huge. At twice the length of many other 10-22 charging handles, it is obvious that their engineering team are shooters, because the size of the charging handle makes more sense than anything I have used so far with optics with giant tactical turrets or potentially gloved hands that sometimes miss a small charging handle. There is not a lot of weight there either with the handle itself made of titanium. Notably I have had zero issues with ignition and extraction has been perfect, so I can highly recommend their 10/22 Match Grade Bolt.

With such a high end build, I was skeptical when Power Custom recommended a drop-in Ruger trigger upgrade kit for the aftermarket Ruger BX-Trigger with plastic housing. Power Custom noted they are targeting all those customers who have a factory trigger or own an upgraded Ruger BX trigger. The Power Custom PC Competition Plus Red BX Trigger upgrade kit is $139. The drop in kit is nothing short of amazing considering I reused a Ruger BX polymer trigger housing and a few other parts. Match quality parts replace the parts in the factory trigger housings that allowed adjustment for pre-travel, overtravel, and trigger pull weight. The kit is designed to fit both the older aluminum model and the newer composite trigger housings including the BX and shims are included to take up any slop. My tuning of the trigger takeup, weight and overtravel netted a very crisp 2.1lb trigger break. The kit installed is a value when compared to other $200 complete trigger packs.


With the upside potential of this build and the light 1.6-lb barrel weight I wanted to maximize accuracy without adding a lot of extra weight. For me that means using a KRG Bravo 10/22 stock which has delivered amazing accuracy paired with initial lighter weight and complete ergonomic adjustability. One of the things I love about the KRG Bravo stock is that if you want something as an option, the Bravo stock can accommodate it - add weight into weight pockets, plenty of picatinny rails, and it is ready for accessories like SPIGOT or ARCA mounts, and is pre-drilled for a night vision bridge mount forward of the optic. The mounting depth of the action is also adjustable as well. It is a very flexible chassis. I did add a few lower picatinny rails and a Magpul bipod which is fast, flexible and solid.

I chose the $450 Athlon ARGOS BTR GEN2 6-24×50 APMR FFP IR MIL optic and mounted it with the high quality Athlon 30mm rings. The optic was chosen for a few reasons including the higher than usual magnification range used on rimfires, parallax adjustment down to 10-yards, FFP, reticle and the obvious clarity of Athlon optics. For a precision bench gun like this that you will lock down on a stable bench, the magnification can be a huge advantage even at shorter distances. There are obvious advantages to the magnification as we start to use all the accuracy at 100-250+ yards. The FFP capability just allows me to have one dope sheet and use it at any magnification. The parallax adjustment is key to be able to adjust down to 10-yards which is important for rimfires since most shots will be way under the usual 100-yard lower parallax limits of other scopes. If you cannot adjust down beyond 100-yards, the parallax can be so bad at even 25-yards that you can be off by inches by shifting the eye left or right. The reticle is also very fine which is helpful with precision accuracy versus having a big thick reticle that obscures part of the target or that needs to be worked around for precision.


After building well over fifty custom 10/22 builds, I have fallen into the trap of using the same proven products over and over, but this build really opened my eyes that there are still more great 10/22 products to discover and enjoy. With the exception of previous experience with the KRG stock, the barrel, receiver, parts, trigger and optic were all new brands for me. Assembled together in this build, the accuracy is stunning and it seems to only get better as the barrel breaks in more and more which always takes a while for stainless rimfire barrels.

Is a $2000 10/22 worth it? I would say it is, but as a builder you need to decide whether you have the budget for premium, super premium, or the exclusive ultra-premium parts like the Proof Research 10/22 barrels. The Power Customer parts by comparison are also about 20% more expensive than other options, however obviously the performance is there and they will look different than what everyone else has. Will the super premium Feddersen, Volquartsen, or Kidd barrels and receiver just one notch down perform as well? Could a premium level Summit or Beyer barrel offer accuracy that still exceeds your ability? Likely yes to all the above, the less expensive barrels would still deliver amazing accuracy beyond your shooting ability, however maybe the uber premium barrel will give you the edge. You really need to make that decision yourself. Once you reach a point where a build is shooting essentially the same ragged hole 50-yard ⅛-inch groups, it becomes really hard to tell which barrel, trigger, optic, stock, and other components are better or whether you just had too much coffee. This build has quickly jumped into my personal inventory of 10/22 builds I covet, for me I would spend the money again.


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