The .22 Long Rifle is the world’s most popular caliber, with annual sales running into the billions of cartridges (yes, that’s billions with a “b”). It’s also the world’s most useful load for plinking, practice, formal—and informal—competition and small game. It’s mild of report, has no recoil and is amazingly accurate. It’s what most of us started with and, somehow, never tire of. Taking all this into consideration, it’s not surprising that there are lots of great .22 rifles out there.
Every major (and many minor) riflemaker—foreign and domestic—makes a .22. There are single-shots, bolt actions, lever actions, slide actions and semiautomatics. In a field like that it’s amazing that any one .22 rifle could lay claim to being the most popular. But there is—Bill Ruger’s 10/22. Introduced in 1964, this little autoloader has been produced in the millions and can properly lay claim to being America’s No. 1 .22. It’s a simple semiautomatic action, its legendary reliability aided by the rifle’s signature rotary magazine.
During 48 years of production there have been many variations, with the most familiar probably being the Carbine, originally stocked in wood and more recently in synthetic. The stainless steel, synthetic-stocked Carbine with 181/2-inch barrel is the basic configuration of Ruger’s newest variation, the 10/22 Takedown.
Takedown rifles are sexy, compact and handy. Many of them—spanning all action types—have been so designed from the beginning. But the 10/22 was not. It’s one thing to engineer a takedown from the beginning, with one of the design goals being that it can be broken down and reassembled and continue to function flawlessly with no loss of accuracy or shift in zero. With repeating actions, designing a takedown is more difficult to engineer than a solid-frame model, but it certainly can be done.
I’m not an engineer, but I’m told—and it makes perfect sense—that it’s a bit trickier to take a rifle that was designed as a solid-frame gun and work backward, trying to figure out how to turn it into a takedown. From a marketing standpoint, whether tricky or not, this might be a bit of a gamble, especially with a model that’s been selling well for nearly a half-century.
So the 10/22 Takedown is a bit more than just another variation of an existing rifle. It’s a 10/22 sure enough, but it’s altogether different from (and yet much the same as) the millions of 10/22s that have preceded it. And, yes, Ruger’s engineering team pulled it off. From a distance it’s indistinguishable from the solid-frame version, but up close the slight fore-end gap is obvious.
Other obvious differences are a recessed lever in the bottom of the fore-end, just forward of the gap. Then there’s the knurled ring around the barrel, just ahead of the receiver. These are critical to the takedown function. In both assembly and disassembly the bolt must be pulled rearward and locked using the familiar lever in front of the triggerguard. Disassembly is then accomplished by pushing the recessed fore-end lever forward and turning the barrel assembly a quarter-turn counterclockwise (looking from muzzle to action). The barrel then slides out, and the rifle is now broken down into two components.
Since the rifle is shipped in two pieces, you’re going to put it together before you take it apart. The rear of the barrel has a short extension that is inserted into that knurled ring and mates against the action. The rear surface of the fore-end has a beveled locking lug. Assembly (again with the bolt open and locked to the rear) is accomplished by inserting the barrel extension into that knurled ring and turning the barrel assembly a quarter-turn clockwise. The fore-end lever operates the locking lug for disassembly, but for assembly the beveled surface allows it to push forward into the fore-end as you twist the barrel assembly into place, then spring back when it reaches its recess on the forward surface of the stock.
I’m pretty fumble-fingered, but even so, this is the simplest and most trouble-free takedown action I’ve ever messed with. (Just in case you’re like me, the instructions are on a sticker on the stock, which I’m going to leave in place until I’ve done it a few dozen times.)
There is just one more essential step, and it’s the secret to both the simplicity of the design and smooth functioning of the rifle. The first time the rifle is assembled, you must tighten the knurled ring, which is actually the barrel/receiver joint. Looking from muzzle to action, clockwise tightens it and counterclockwise loosens it. Finger tight is good enough, but get it nice and snug. This mates the barrel extension to the bolt face. Once this is done, no further adjustment is needed for removal or installation of the barrel assembly, but it’s probably a good idea to check it for a snug fit. Over time (and thousands of rounds), a bit of adjustment may be needed.
The Complete Package
The 10/22 Takedown comes in a Ruger-logo black nylon backpack-style carrying case. Unzipped, it has an inside main pouch for the receiver and two smaller pouches for the barrel and a scope. There’s also a generous outside pouch for ammo, earplugs and whatever. I like the setup. A takedown model needs a carrying case, and this one fits everything you need.
The rifle has Ruger’s standard flip-up rear sight and barrelband front sight. Also supplied is a rail mount for Weaver-style rings. Now, here’s a dilemma. I like full-size scopes on good .22s, so an obvious answer is detachable rings. There are some good ones today, and I trust them, but I’m not really crazy about constantly attaching and detaching a scope, and it kind of defeats the purpose if you have to check zero every time you put the rifle together.
So I dug around a bit and tried a 1-4X Nikon African. This scope was designed for dangerous-game rifles, and while I wasn’t concerned about man-eating squirrels, I figured 4X was all the magnification I needed and a rugged scope made sense for a .22 intended for rough use. Most important, I had an idea that the main pouch in the carrying case might be roomy enough for the receiver with attached scope, provided the scope was fairly short. I was right; it fit like a glove. (Now I have to figure out what else will fit in that second long pouch.)
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I didn’t expect any functioning problems, and there weren’t any. The rifle feeds like, well, like a 10/22. I put several hundred rounds of 36-grain Winchester Long Rifles through it without a single malfunction. The rifle just plain works, no different than the millions of other 10/22s. There’s no reason why it won’t work equally well with the several aftermarket large-capacity magazines as well as the standard Ruger rotary magazine.
It took me a few rounds to get the scope on paper and properly zeroed.
Once this was accomplished, I got down to the business of tightening the zero and shooting some groups. My only complaint about the 10/22 in general (and this is hardly new) is that the trigger is a bit mushy. As much as I hate to admit it, I haven’t owned a 10/22 for years. Dad had mine—he loved it, too. But he loaned it to somebody who was teaching his youngsters to shoot, and after Dad died I never tracked it down. So I needed some time to get reacquainted with this old friend, and once that happened, the groups tightened right down.
With inexpensive bulk ammo, the rifle grouped inside of an inch at 50 yards when I did my part, which is plenty of accuracy for all the uses I might have for an all-purpose .22 like this one. More important, zero did not shift after assembly and disassembly. So the objective of the takedown is fully accomplished. You can pack it, stow it or carry it to wherever you’re going and be confident it’ll shoot where you point it.
What I didn’t yet know is just how accurate it really is. I needed to experiment with some different loads, just like with any rifle. However, groups were tight enough that I needed to go a step further and see what it would do with match ammunition. I was not surprised that it maintained zero. Lockup is mechanically consistent and sturdy enough that this should be the case, but I was pleasantly surprised at how tight its better groups were. I’m pretty sure it will do even better when fed ammo designed for utmost accuracy.
In between shooting groups, and in the interest of running a whole bunch of rounds through the rifle, my wife, Donna, and I traded off plinking at some reactive steel targets. This, ultimately, is some of the greatest fun you can have with a .22. There’s no pain, little cost, and off sticks or offhand it’s some of the best practice you can get. One of our targets has miniature metallic silhouettes—ram, pig, turkey, chicken—that swing when hit. We kept them swinging with monotonous regularity through magazine after magazine, and the 10/22 Takedown kept ticking without a hiccup.
Look, it’s my job to write about guns, so it’s kind of a normal thing for manufacturers to send me guns to play with. No, we don’t usually get to keep them. In most cases, however, we do have the opportunity to purchase them at a reasonable price. But how many guns does one really need? Perhaps more to the point in this day and age, how many gun safes can you afford, and how many do you have room for? We’re full up, so test guns go back to their manufacturers. This one is an exception. As I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a 10/22, so I’m buying this one. Honestly, I’ve been meaning to get another one for quite some time, so the takedown feature of this model gives me all the excuse I need. And at a suggested retail of $389, I don’t think I’ll get hurt.
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