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SHOOTING THE BULL: From economical plinker to certifiable tack driver

Unless you live under a rock, you’re likely aware that a small but vocal minority of our national legislators are pushing for a total ban on semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines.

Equally obvious is the fact that many of these politicians’ views do not reflect the desires of their constituents. Semi-autos are hands down the most popular firearms carried by law abiding citizens, sportsmen and law enforcement personnel. Two in particular dominate the sales charts: Ruger’s 10/22 rifles and carbines and the ever-evolving line of AR-15 variants.

These two have become so popular that each has spawned an aftermarket industry devoted exclusively to modifying that firearm to meet the individual user’s particular tastes and needs. The array of replacement barrels, stocks, sights, lights, triggers, extractors and magazines is mind boggling.

A future column will focus on the AR-15’s adaptability, but today I want to zero in on the ease and affordability with which a standard Ruger 10/22 can be converted from an economical and accurate plinker into a certifiable tack driver. The best part is, you can make this conversion for a fraction of the cost of buying a specialty .22 target rifle.

This affordable metamorphosis is made possible by the modular nature of the 10/22. Simply loosen the bedding screw and barrel band (if present) and the stock drops free. Back out two screws from the barrel retainer and the barrel slips from the receiver. Drift out two steel pins and the trigger group parts company with the receiver. Then it’s just a matter of gathering the desired components and reassembling.

As mentioned earlier, the array of customizing accessories for the 10/22 is legion. Many area sporting goods stores carry a fine selection. Numerous sources also are available online, such as MidwayUSA, Brownells and Cabelas, which distribute the largest variety of aftermarket selections.

For specific brands, check out,,, and Boise-based Tactical Solutions produces what many aficionados consider the highest quality 10/22 accessories available anywhere.

For this project, I attached a Shooters Ridge camo-finished thumbhole stock. This excellent synthetic model features a soft rubber recoil pad, easy grip forearm panels, sling swivel studs, and a steel bedding pillar for stability.

For optimum accuracy, I chose an 18-inch Shooters Ridge .910 fluted target (bull) barrel. With their Benz Match chambers and carbide button rifled bores, these premium barrels are one-hole shooters.

To prevent the 10/22’s notorious accuracy-diminishing bull barrel droop, I firmly secured the barrel with a Tactical Solutions V-block retainer. To cushion the violent bolt slam, I fitted a Clark recoil buffer and screwed down a Weaver Picatinny rail to allow wide latitude in optic choices.

Final results: Not only was the heavy barrel/thumbhole stock combo easier to stabilize at the range and in the field, its accuracy potential absolutely went through the roof. My plain Jane 10/22 evolved from pounding out decent 1½-inch groups at 50 yards to drilling wonderfully tight ½-inch clusters.

Just imagine, for less than two Benjamin’s you too can transform your run-of-the-mill 10/22 plinker into a certified tack-driving machine. Why not give it a try?

Good shooting!

Rich Simpson may be reached at

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