Tim Finley gets to grips with one of the latest AR15 style .22R rifles – the Ruger SR-22
I have lost count of the number of Ruger 10/22’s I have tested over the years, from straight out of the box rifles to all singing all dancing full custom jobs, where there is very little left of the factory made parts other than the receiver and possibly the bolt.
This new Ruger 10/22 is straight out of the box and one I have been wanting to test since I saw its launch last year. The rifle does not look like any 10/22 that Ruger have produced before. Instead it looks like a “Black Rifle”, or AR if you like. Having a .22 rimfire rifle that looks like a military rifle does many things. It makes it appeal to the shooters who - like those in the UK - are now no longer allowed to own full bore semi-automatic rifles. It means shooters can train with the cheap .22 ammo while keeping the feel of the gun as near a full-bore as possible. Also, like it or not, military designed rifles are designed ergonomically for quick shooting and ease of use, which are needed in competition sports such as Mini Rifle.
The SR-22 does not mimic the AR controls such as magazine release, safety etc., as the standard 10/22 receiver is hidden within an aluminium chassis. The chassis may look familiar - Ruger have in fact gone to Nordic Components Inc., to manufacture a version of the Nordic AR-22 chassis but to Ruger’s own specifications. There are a few subtle cosmetic changes too in the detailed machining on the sides of the chassis. The AR platform dimensions of sighting plane, buttstock height and grip are all the same on the SR-22. It is also fitted with a Mil-spec diameter tube on the buttstock; the SR-22RSC model tested here has a fixed non-adjustable buttstock for the UK market. The mono pistol grip is made by Hogue for Ruger, again to AR specifications.
The famous Ruger Eagle trademark is picked out on the right hand side of the rear buttstock. Also on the top and on both sides of the rubber pistol grip, as well as being big and bold machined into both sides of the chassis. Make no mistake they want you to know it’s all Ruger!
The mid length hand guard does not look the same as a Nordic Components one. It has lines of eight 14mm dia holes offset from the main four axis, the Nordic has slots rather than holes. One feature of the hand guard around the barrel is the tapped holes for affixing Picatinny rails, four on each side, five on the top and four underneath, although there is also a stud for a sling or bipod on the bottom of the guard. This is screwed into a barrel support block attached to the barrel. A Picatinny rail the full length of the top of the hand guard can be fitted if required as well as shorter rails for lights/lasers on the sides.
The hand guard itself is fitted to the gun via an AR style barrel nut, meaning again - if you wanted - you could fit other types of AR hand guard. The add on rails can be bought from Viking Arms the distributor of the Ruger brand here in the UK. The top of the chassis has a 200mm (8 inch) long rail for fitting optical sights, which is just what you will have to do as there is no open sight facility on the SR-22.
Action and controls
Looking at the action there are several new things about this too, it is fitted with Ruger’s new cast bolt, which by all accounts has improved the 10/22’s already famed reliability. The trigger housing is the new plastic version which has the new magazine release catch. This now extends downwards as opposed to the old flush fitting one and pushing it forward the magazine drops out of the action, a major plus point for the potential use of the SR-22 in Mini Rifle events. The bolt release lever is in front of this, and I found it hard to fathom at first as it does not operate like the old one. In the end I got it and actually found it better than the old version. One thing to note is that you cannot simply pull back the bolt to release the catch and allow the bolt to go forwards. You have to operate the catch manually to release the bolt from its locked back position. I did find it a bit niggley, but only based on what I am used to and not a fault with the gun at all.
The safety catch is a manual one, consisting of a button right in front of the trigger guard, push to the right for safe and push to the left and you are ready to fire with a red ring no visible around the circumference of the button. The action also has a sinter black textured finish, which is mostly hidden by the chassis on the SR-22 model. One thing Ruger have thought of is the need to be able to see the serial number on the left hand side of the action; the chassis is cut away here where the top section meets the bottom.
The trigger pull came in at 2.6kg (or 5lb 12 oz in real money), but more of that later.
Holding the gun gives an impression of solidity, and weighing in at just under seven pounds without a scope fitted it is a meaty bit of kit. I fitted a Sightron 10*42 scope and a Harris bipod for initial accuracy testing and found the rifle sat well on the bipod - it also looked good too.
At 50m it shot sub-20mm five shots groups with a variety of ammunition both subsonic and high velocity. The 16inch right hand six grooved barrel is 0.75inch (19.1mm) in diameter and does not come threaded on this model. It would be nice to add a muzzle brake as on the SR-22 R model. The trigger does not lend itself to benchrest style shooting and the groups sizes I know would have been smaller with just a little bit of work on the trigger.
The rifle does come into its own with a bit of tactical short range style shooting such as for Mini Rifle, I tried my own Butler Creek and Tactical Inc high capacity magazine and the gun never missed a beat, even with Eagle Plastic 10 shot magazines it was flawless. In fact over all my testing the rifle did not jam or misfire once, a testament to the 10/22 action and possibly the new cast bolt.
I also tried a rapid fire sequence into a 15m target with a Tactical Inc magazine. These magazines can be set up and tuned to your own action and mine were set up for my own Mini Rifle combo and not the SR-22. I only ever load 20 rounds into the twenty five shot magazines and always have done, that way you never get a malfunction due to the magazine. So with 20 CCI mini mag’s loaded into the magazine I aimed at the spot at 15m and ‘let rip’ as it were… 4.08 seconds later the magazine was empty.
The only fault I could find with the whole concept/gun was the size of the bolt handle, Ruger have kept the standard bolt handle within the new cast bolt and fitted this to the SR-22. The 2.5mm thick chassis fits over the original receiver, so I would have expected them to realise this and fit a longer bolt handle. 2.5mm does not sound like much but when you are shooting Mini Rifle on a cold day you need to be able to feel the bolt handle and operate it quickly and smoothly. As it is the bolt handle only protrudes some 12mm (½ an inch) from the side of the over chassis. Being the standard bolt it is short and curved and your finger can slip off it if you operate the thing in a hurry. I really hate to go on about this but with just a bigger bolt handle fitted the rifle would be perfect.
This is a solid, well-built and above all reliable rifle. The Ruger SR-22 is without doubt the best out of the box Ruger 10/22 I have ever shot, bar none. Accurate, fun and with the performance to back up its looks, the SR-22 is selling well and having used one I can see why.
|Model||Ruger 10/22 SR-22RSC|
|Action||Semi-auto blow back|
|Calibre||.22 Rimfire long rifle|
|Capacity||10 round rotary magazine supplied|
|Barrel twist||1:16 Right hand six groove|
|Length of pull||13”|
|Trigger weight||5lb 12.50z (2.6kg)|
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