Since its 1964 introduction, Rugerâ€™s amazingly successful 10/22 has been the undisputed champion of the aftermarket industry (rimfire division). This modest little .22 autoloader has been the recipient of more stock and barrel configurations, finishes and drop-in trigger units than you can count. There was simply no way Ruger was going to sit on the sidelines and simply provide the basic platform for all that custom sporting, competition and (yes) tactical tweaking, so the company jumped into the game itself and currently offers 10 cataloged variants under the general headings of Carbine, Target, Compact, Sporter and Tactical.
That and a staggering 35 variants (generally revolving around different stock material, color and configurations) that fall under the banner of Dealer Exclusives.
Thanks to its bombproof 10-shot detachable rotary magazine, the rifle simply works. And anyone whoâ€™s ever had his share of malfunction frustrations with detachable inline .22 box magazines and tubular mags should be able to appreciate that. A colleague of mine with considerable experience in military hardware once told me that much of the AK47â€™s reputation for doomsday reliability lies in its magazine. An oversimplification? Maybe, but the 10/22â€™s rotary unit deserves a lot of credit for the rifleâ€™s reputation, even though shooters who prefer svelte rimfire receivers may find the rifleâ€™s chunky midsection aesthetically unappealing.
I recently got hold of a 10/22 variant that I wanted, the Model 1240. Itâ€™s a stainless/polymer number in the Carbine series. Having relocated to the Midwest, where humidity is an all-pervasive fact of life, I wanted something weather-resistant. Having long reached the downhill side of 50, I wanted something a bit more amenable to my aging eyes than the folding-leaf open rear sight and gold bead front that the 1240 comes with. Yet I didnâ€™t want to hang a conventional scope on what is a trim, easy-to-handle five-pound .22. So I chose an Aimpoint Micro. I was interested in hitting small targets quickly (and repeatedly) at short to medium rimfire ranges. What I envisioned was a user-friendly plinker that would work well on small game and wouldnâ€™t need obsessive wipe-downs and coddling. A utility rig? Yes. But not a beater.
After mounting the Aimpoint to the rifle, I followed a rather simple, but effective method for testing it at the range. I grabbed a single 50-round box of every brand/weight/bullet type of .22 Long Rifle ammo I could lay my hands on and a whole bunch of targets and headed out.
I planned on following a rather basic procedure: (1) Shoot several five-shot, 25-yard groups with everything; (2) determine what ammo delivered the tightest groups; (3) adjust the sights to put that particular ammo at the desired point of aim; and (4) get a whole bunch of the winning ammo and stay with it exclusively. Another important step, of course, is to select one or two runners-up in the accuracy department and make note of where they impactedâ€”just in case you run out of, or canâ€™t find, the winning stuff when you need it.
Windage and elevation adjustments on the Aimpoint are made with a pair of ingenious screw-on caps with two small prongs. Just reverse them, fit the prongs into the holes on the adjustment dial and turnâ€”windage counterclockwise to move right, elevation counterclockwise to move up (and reverse the turning direction for left and down).
Of the brand/types of ammo I used, there were two clear showstoppersâ€”Winchester 40-grain Power Point and CCI 32-grain Stingers, at 1,178 and 1,574 fps, respectively. Both of them stayed inâ€”or aroundâ€”a half inch at 25 yards (actually, more like 28). No, itâ€™s not what youâ€™d expect with standard-velocity match ammo from a Winchester Model 52, but thatâ€™s not the point. The Aimpoint features 1X magnification and a four-MOA red dot, which translates to about one inch at 25 yards. I was using the Aimpointâ€™s red dot in a center hold, meaning I was subtending just over an inch. I left the brightness level on the Aimpoint at around mid-level. More brightness simply ragged out the edges of the red dot to the point where it wasnâ€™t quite as crisp as I would have gotten (at least when I was 30 years younger) from a globe-and-peep smallbore setup.
What sold me on the whole thing was how fast that red dot was to line up. I blew off an unconscionable amount of ammo busting clay target chips on a 50-yard berm, and it was a hoot once I figured out where to hold. Is this a precision (meaning on paper) 50- to 75-yard setup? No. Is it good enough for plinking and small game at those yardages? Yes. Once itâ€™s cranked up or down to the most appropriate level of size and brightness, the red dot contrasts well with mottled shadow-and-light backgrounds.
As far as function goes, the 10/22 didnâ€™t even stutter. The trigger, at a rather rough 51/2 pounds, couldâ€™ve been better. Iâ€™m debating whether to live with it or join the legions of 10/22 tweakers whoâ€™ve gone the drop-in-replacement route. I could, I suppose, stick a conventional rimfire scope on it. But Iâ€™d rather not. The Aimpoint-ed 10/22 is perfect for what I want a rimfire forâ€”smacking stuff fast and having fun.