The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is a magnificent thing. When Sturm, Ruger, & Co. launched this little bundle of rimfire love out into the public on March 2012, everyone’s “Must-Have” survival gun list instantaneously got one rifle longer.
Today, despite many people moving to the M&P 15/22, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have some form of ardent adoration for the 10/22 takedown platform – especially those in the survivalist circles. For a mere $389 bucks new (cost sourced from Cabela’s website as of this writing), you too can be amongst the throngs who consider the Ruger 10/22 Takedown THE perfect survival rifle.
Basic Ruger 10/22 Takedown Mods
But that’s not to say it IS perfect. While eminently serviceable in its out-the-door configuration, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown transforms into an easy-to-use, accurate, reliable masterpiece after you’ve invested a few bucks and a few minutes on the platform. Here are a few suggestions from your buddy Drew, provided in the order I would modify and upgrade the parts.
Guardian Bolt Release Plate
Every. Single. 10/22. Owner. Ever. knows exactly what I’m talking about before I even describe the issue. You see, every other semi-auto .22 on the planet operates in a certain fashion: to lock the bolt back without an empty magazine, you pull the bolt all the way back, bush in the bolt stop, and the bolt stays back.
To get the bolt forward from a locked-back state, you simply retract the bolt slightly to disengage the bolt release, and let go of the charging handle. Voila – the bolt rides forward and all is well in the world.
But with the 10/22, is it that easy? Of course not! The biggest complaint of 10/22 owners since the introduction of the rifle is the clumsy, two-hand wrestling operation required to release the bolt – which becomes something akin to a disaster if you’re wearing heavy gloves.
Though Ruger has yet to formally address the problem, the aftermarket sure has stepped up with quality, easy-to-install drop-in bolt release plates that don’t break the bank.
I have personally used the Volquartsen Automatic Bolt Release ($12.00) and the TANDEMKROSS “Guardian” bolt release plate and can highly recommend them both. Though I dearly love the folks at TANDEMKROSS, I’d probably push you towards the Volquartsen piece if you were indecisive, it seems to be just a tad smoother in operation.
10/22 Sight Upgrade
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown comes stock with basic, though basically serviceable, folding buckhorn-type sights, mounted to the barrel via a dovetail. These as-issued sights work as long as your eyes do – but I’m telling ya, as I get a bit further along in years, my eyes don’t play as nice with these basic sights.
Any rifle that’s possibly destined for survival use really needs a good, solid, functional set of iron sights. Optics are a sometimes-frail luxury that can fail via damage or depleted batteries. If you always want to make sure your gun projects power where the power needs to be projected, you plunk a set of upgraded sights on your 10/22.
There are a couple companies out there that offer my preferred setup, an aperture “peep” sight integrated with a picatinny rail so you can mount optics on quick-detachable rings and have backup irons in one unit.
My Ruger 10/22 Takedown sports a Williams “Ace In The Hole” sight system, which comes with an adjustable rear aperture sight and a bright red fiber optic front sight of the correct height. The Williams Ace In The Hole has been a truly solid performer for me over the past few years, and I appreciate its value greatly.
Other manufacturers that offer these rail/sight units include Tech Sights. I don’t have any experience with that brand, but it appears to be a solid, functional product worth consideration.
Two things to remember, though: if you move the rear sight to the receiver like these sight systems do, there is the possibility that the gun’s point of impact will be slightly changed after you break the rifle down. Also, do remember that the Ruger 10/22’s receiver is made out of aluminum; take great care and use the proper torque on the mounting screws so you don’t strip the screw holes. Ask me how I know.
If you keep your standard Ruger 10/22 Takedown stock (like I have), you’ll notice that there are no provisions for mounting a sling on the rifle – specifically, no sling swivel studs. Granted, you can spend a few bones and get a sweet Magpul Backpacker stock and have QD ports built right in – but I actually mostly preferred the standard-issue stock configuration so I kept it.
Uncle Mike’s offers a pretty simple kit that has all the parts you need, but you’ll need to be a bit handy with the tools. I used a drill with a 3/16” bit to drill the rear stock for the swivel, and a gob of JB Weld epoxy to lock the swivel in place.
The front swivel required some sandpaper for proper clearance of the barrel band and its screw to play nice with the provided front swivel. However, once installed, the whole kit works well indeed. There are probably other ways to fasten a sling to a 10/22 Takedown, but the Uncle Mike’s setup was inexpensive, easy to source, not terribly difficult to install – and it’s held up very well indeed for over 5 years now.
I have my 10/22 outfitted with a spiffy Rhodesian Sling from Andy’s Leather. It’s a stellar, beautifully made leather sling with a built-in loop for your off-hand to provide tension and improve off-hand shooting stability. I can’t recommend it enough for any hunting rifle with traditional style sling swivel placement.
Tandemkross “Krosspins” Receiver Pins
I’m a huge fan of Tandemkross… there, I said it. Not only are they absolutely just the nicest people to deal with, (I have toured their facility in Weare, NH, and the crew was wonderful and the shop was just killer!) but their products are innovative, address specific needs, and are of the highest quality backed by an outstanding warranty. Tandemkross’ products are more match-oriented, but the high quality and user-friendliness of the products they offer ensure that the Ruger 10/22 parts they offer work beautifully with a survival-geared Ruger 10/22 Takedown.
If you’ve ever pulled a Ruger 10/22 out of its stock (and you should – get in there and get to know your gun!), you probably had the two receiver/trigger group cross pins fall right out and onto the floor (or if you were lucky, your workbench).
Now, imagine yourself in a no-holds-barred survival situation where your Ruger 10/22, your survival squirrel gun, was doing what it was purchased to do: keep you alive! However, perhaps a fired case separated and dropped down into the action, or maybe debris or built up carbon has rendered your gun’s action hors de combat.
You crack the action out of the stock in the name of effecting repairs, and the crosspins slide right out of the action, into the snow, mud, or leaf-covered forest floor – possibly never to be seen again. Oops…
Tandemkross has defeated this malady effectively with the Krosspin system. Simply a crosspin with a spring-loaded captured detent ball bearing integrated into the shaft of the pin, the Krosspin doesn’t come out of the receiver unless you physically push it out.
For a mere $9.99, Tandemkross makes sure your Ruger 10/22 pieces stay where you want them when the chips are down. Cheap insurance, and absolutely highly recommended.
I would consider the above parts to be the basic 10/22 upgrade suite.
Advanced Ruger 10/22 Takedown Mods
Now, if you want to really dig in and get your hands greasy, here are a few further options to really optimize your 10/22 for SHTF duty.
The reliability Achilles’ Heel of most rimfires, the stock extractor of the Ruger 10/22 is a fine, simple design that should last a long time. However, you should absolutely have a replacement upgraded extractor ready to go in case your beloved 10/22 ceases to yank the fired cases out of the chamber. Heck, they’re super cheap, so replace the one that’s in your gun now and keep a spare in the parts bin.
Tandemkross offers the “Eagle’s Talon” hardened extractor kit with a new spring for $9.99. Volquartsen’s “Exact Edge” extractor is $12.50, Clark Custom Guns’ extractor is a penny more that the TK part at $10.00. All fine, well made parts that I have personally used; however the Tandemkross Eagle’s Talon lives in my 10/22 Takedown.
Your life is worth the reliability 10-12 bucks brings, isn’t it? Of all the parts listed in this article, this tiny machined part is potentially the one that stands out as affecting your rifles functionality the most. Get you some.
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown’s action is held into the stock via one large screw, located in front of the magazine well. As built, the screw is a hex-head design requiring an Allen wrench to remove.
Most upgraded action screws (such as the $6 offering from Volquartsen) are replacement Allen head screws. Tandemkross offers a “Twister” titanium screw with a large, knurled, slotted head that one can remove with a kung fu grip, the side of a coin, or back edge of a knife blade.
This direct-replacement part allows you to remove the Ruger 10/22’s action from the stock without specialized tools – a boon for basic maintenance and cleaning.
Magazine Bumper Pad
The little 10-round rotary magazines that feed the 10/22 are an engineering marvel – reliable, compact, and a complete and utter pain in the rear to remove from the rifle with gloves on. You could, of course, use extended magazines for extra gripping surface; however, the ease of carry and non-aggressive appearance of the stock 10-rounders make a lot of sense for many occasions.
So, in order to ease removal of the 10/22 10-round magazines, install a bumper pad! These give just enough additional gripping area to help the extraction of the magazine from the rifle without adding unnecessary bulk.
Some offerings (like the now defunct Tactical Solutions SLAM pad) had spring-loaded detents that actually pushed the magazine out under spring pressure. However, TANDEMKROSS offers the “Companion” pad that is an easy addition to the Ruger mags; they sell for $21.99 for a set of two pads and conclude the essential list of great Ruger 10/22 Takedown modifications.
Final List of Additional Modifications to Consider
Honestly, you really don’t need to do much more to improve your stock Ruger 10/22 beyond the parts listed above. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, there are a few other parts to look at – but I wouldn’t consider them to be “Must Replace” parts. These include:
- Firing Pin – there are lots of upgraded, lightweight match parts out there to replace the stock steel Ruger part, but unless your rifle is misfiring regularly, I would just keep the stock Ruger pin. Can’t hurt to have a replacement though; Volquartsen’s SureStrike is $32; TANDEMKROSS’ “Fire Starter” titanium firing pin is $26.99.
- Trigger – the trigger on the 10/22 Takedown as it comes from the factory is 100% serviceable, but it does (if I may steal a term coined by our friend Doc Montana) “break like opening a can of beer.” Ruger’s BX-Trigger set is drop-in and a noticeable (but not exquisite) improvement, though it’ll set you back around $70-80. If you feel like buying more precise parts and replacing the hammer, trigger, sear, and associated accoutrements, could can shop them around from $70-$150 or more.
- Magazines – the more the better! Though kinda big and burly, the Ruger BX-25 magazines are the gold standard for 10/22 extra capacity magazines. You can also buy magazine dust covers for the standard magazine.
- Magazine Release – the stock Ruger mag release is just OK, but fully functional. There are aftermarket pieces that range in size from “slightly extended” to “doubles as a large boat hook”. Nice to have while wearing gloves or operating in cold weather, but remember – the bigger it is, the easier it is to accidentally activate and unintentionally eject the magazine.
- Shock Buffer – these small parts that live in the rear of the receiver are designed to stop the rearward travel of the bolt. The factory Ruger piece is steel; the aftermarket has embraced Delrin, polymers, and other oil-resistant materials. Replace if you want to theoretically make your bolt have a cushier life; personally I’ve seen 10/22s with tens of thousands of rounds run through them with the stock bolt stop, and there has been zero signs of damage or wear to the bolt. Your call, aftermarket replacements are very inexpensive.
- Bolt – aftermarket bolts are designed to minimize vertical movement of the bolt itself as well as the firing pin, as the bolt slides back and forth during operation. This is advertised to enhance reliability and also ensure proper headspace. The CNC aftermarket bolts also should operate smoother and play nicer with the other parts in the rifle. $120 will net you either the Tandemkross “KrossFire” bolt or the Clark Custom bolt, both of which have rave reviews. But let’s be honest – the 10/22 bolt body isn’t known for being a regular fail point.
- Stock – Yeah, Magpul’s Ruger 10/22 stocks are delightful ergonomically and offer storage and QD sling swivel ports – but if it were my gun, I’d spend the Magpul stock’s required $100+ dollars and make the innards of my rifle 100% up to snuff first, using the above-mentioned parts. Then maybe Magpul can get more of my money – the good Lord knows they have enough of it already. I suppose you could get one of those, uh, neat-o bullpup chassis stocks or what have you, but be forewarned: I will poke fun if I see you on the range. A lot.
There you have it, my list of preferred upgrades to make the Ruger 10/22 Takedown the ultimate stow-away survival rifle. Are there any additions you would include? Manufacturers or parts you’re fond of? Sound off in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!