While Ruger's 10/22 has always been the most practical, capable semiauto rimfire available, now it's got bling, enough bling to satisfy Al Capone.
The latest and greatest from Mr. Ruger's firm is a souped-up, lightweight, high-octane version of the excessively popular 10/22 Takedown. It is possibly the finest grouse and backcountry rimfire rifle there is.
Lest you mistakenly suppose the desire for a fancy-looking firearm is a new, impractical fit of indulgence among today's crop of irrepressible shooters, allow me to suggest a perusal of vintage firearms ranging from prewar German double rifles to Pennsylvania longrifles to the earliest matchlocks.
The only difference is that instead of silver and ivory inlay and painstaking engraving, modern guns like the 10/22 Takedown Lite have racy, space-age lines and colorful coatings. Oh, and average guys like you and me can afford them.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown Lite
Several features lift the new 10/22 Takedown Lite above the average gopher-getter. Super-light construction favors hunters trekking through miles worth of prime grouse country. The takedown design makes the little rifle Transformer-like in its ability to go compact and fit anywhere shy of the cargo pockets on your tactical trousers.
Its slender steel barrel offers match-barrel accuracy without match-barrel weight courtesy of being tensioned inside a lightweight aluminum shroud (more on that in a bit). Plus, it's threaded 1/2x28 for use with most rimfire suppressors. Finally, the 10/22 Takedown Lite features the same adaptable-stock technology that made Ruger's American Rimfire so versatile.
Back to the tensioned barrel: This accuracy-enhancing device was discovered — or at least became well known — back when handgun silhouette competition was popular.
Competitors needed the ability to consistently hit steel rams at 200 yards, and Dan Wesson revolvers proved more accurate than most. Said revolvers featured an interchangeable barrel design with an aluminum shroud that applied tension to the front of the barrel. Shooters took note, and the rest is history.
Ruger's 22/45 Lite rimfire pistol also uses a tensioned barrel, and I once mounted scopes on three and tested them side-by-side. Incredibly, all three would keep 10-shot groups at or under an inch at 25 yards with premium ammo.
Aluminum is easy to anodize and to powder coat. If you're going to add bling, do it right, like Ruger did. The hard, glossy finish on the red Takedown Lite shown here is beautifully applied and — so far — impervious to the rough handling I've diligently applied to it.
Plus, it's very, very red in a fire-engine sort of way. My two little boys approve heartily, and my wife displayed what I can only call lust when I showed it to her. While the green version is perhaps more appropriate for hunting, this red rifle is a good-looking bit of hardware.
Only the all-black version is available across the broad range of Ruger dealers. The three colored versions — red, green, and blue — are distributor exclusives. Not a problem — it just means you'll have to find a dealer that orders from a distributor that carries the limited versions if you prefer your rimfires with a bit of color splash.
The Takedown Lite has a quite short 16.1-inch barrel. Fifty years ago most shooters turned up their noses at short barrels, believing longer barrels were more accurate. Long barrels do offer a bit more velocity, and sometimes a more complete propellant burn, but back then almost everybody shot with iron sights on their rimfires and rifles with a long sight radius are much easier to aim precisely.
But in terms of pure accuracy, short barrels oscillate less and are often more accurate than a long barrel of the same caliber and diameter. Now that many folks — possibly even most — are mounting optics on their rimfires, more length doesn't mean more accuracy.
The Takedown Lite has a short barrel for three good reasons: reduced weight, easy accuracy, and manageable length when a suppressor is screwed on.
Most probably, that last reason is the key to why Ruger engineered the 10/22 Takedown Lite with a barrel as short as legally possible. Suppressor use is a tidal wave trend on today's shooting scene.
Screwing a good can on the end of your favorite plinker makes it ear-safe — a multifaceted benefit we don't have the room to expound upon here — but it does add considerable length to the firearm. If you don't need length for sight radius, it makes good sense to make threaded, suppressor- ready barrels short.
To add additional versatility, Ruger opted to integrate the interchangeable-module stock technology developed for its bolt-action American Rimfire. Unscrewing the rear sling swivel unlocks the module, allowing the user to swap it for one with a different comb height or length.
The 10/22 Takedown Lite uses the same modules as the American, so modules are already available on shop ruger.com. Two — a low comb, standard length module and a high comb standard-length version — come with each rifle. A compact version that reduces length of pull to 12.5 inches will set you back $19.95.
The crowning characteristic of the already cool model is the takedown feature. By simply pulling on a short sliding catch in a stock recess just ahead of the magazine well and twisting the front half of the rifle about an eighth turn, you can pull it in two.
The longer rear half measures 20.25 inches from the buttpad to the front of the action. With a compact stock module installed, it's only 19 inches. That's small enough to fit into any backpack, and at 4.5 pounds it's light enough to take just about anywhere.
In keeping with the light-and-fast concept behind the 10/22 Takedown Lite, I mounted an Aimpoint Micro H-2 red dot — a superb little 3.3-ounce red-dot sight that provides over five years of continuous use on one CR2032 lithium battery — and headed out for some practical testing.
To evaluate accuracy, I shot three five-round groups at 25 yards and averaged the results with each type of ammo. Of the seven different loads, four tallied less than an inch. No doubt a magnified scope would have helped me tighten groups even more.
Function with standard- and high-velocity ammo was stellar. Not a hiccup throughout my testing. I included three loads built for quiet performance to see how low sound is with my SilencerCo Warlock II mounted. Remington's CBee and CCI's Quiet-22, which are designed for minimal sound through unsuppressed rimfires, did not provide enough blowback pressure to function the action.
Each fresh cartridge had to be manually cycled into the chamber. However, Eley's subsonic hollowpoint ammo functioned the action perfectly and turned in the smallest accuracy average. Also, it was so quiet with the SilencerCo suppressor mounted that I could literally hear the firing pin hit when I fired.
My only complaint with the rifle was a slight one, and it was easily fixed. The trigger was a bit heavy and not particularly smooth. Not to worry. In less than five minutes I'd removed the standard version and dropped one of Ruger's BX-Trigger modules in, which gave the rifle a crisp pull that averaged 2 pounds,
12 ounces on my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.
With formal accuracy testing complete, I rezeroed the Aimpoint with high-velocity 40-grain ammo, stuffed a full 25-round Ruger BX-25 magazine into the mag well, and went to turning dirt clods into respectable topsoil to evaluate hand-ling characteristics.
With the high-comb stock module installed to provide a good cheekweld, the light little rifle shoulders, points, and balances beautifully. It's amazingly responsive, making transitions from target to target easy, which should make it a top-notch bunny-buster.
I sometimes point out that you may not need whatever new rifle I'm reviewing. But need has nothing to do with sportsmen and guns. If you want it, buy it. This time? There's nothing else like it — you need one of these.