Ruger 10/22 Sporter Stealth Re-do
Major Pandemic 04.08.14
I don’t know about you and your friends, but within my circle we like to compete for stakes. One thing always leads to another, cash comes out, and sometimes we even suck strangers into the challenges as well. “Hey do you think you can hit the 300-yard gong on the first shot with a .22?”
Most of these challenges center around our custom Ruger 10/22s, with wagers ranging from distant gong hits to topping a 12 gauge shotgun shell with a .22 at 100-yards and splitting playing cards at 50-yards. The dollars involved in the wagers are lower and shots are harder when you have a $1,500 custom Kidd or Volquartsen 10/22 on your bench, which obviously screams tack driver. Generally, agreements on a wager come a bit easier the more the gun looks stock, so I wanted to create a covert tool for taking my friends’ money.
The 10/22 had to look and feel as stock as possible, but could still deliver playing card dividing accuracy. Sure, I could just use my Feddersen Raptor TN Ridge Runner rifle complete with rubber hogue stock, but my friends have already seen that rig take plenty of money from their pockets, so I needed something new.
After a bit of head scratching, I decided to start with a rather attractive but innocuous looking factory Ruger Sporter. I have always been a fan of the gorgeous walnut stock, but the barrel performance and trigger simply would not do. Based on the simply stunning performance of my numerous Feddersen 10/22 barrels, I decided that another one of these subtly styled, 16.25” fluted and polished barrels would be the perfect option.
As was shown in my Ultimate 10/22 Shootout article, the Feddersen 10/22 barrels are extremely consistent with a wide variety of ammo. In other words, the barrel is very forgiving about what goes in the chamber and will deliver great accuracy.
The accuracy on some of the match barrels tend to vary greatly depending on ammo. The Feddersen definitely has its preference for Lapua, CCI, and SK standard match ammo, but it still maintains stunning accuracy with other ammo. When you have friendly wagers on the line and don’t know what ammo you might have at the range, that consistency delivers in a huge way when there is a evil playing card that needs bifurcating.
The first challenge is how do you fit a bull barrel profile to factory Ruger stock designed around a skinny factory tapered barrel design. The answer is either to use purpose designed gunsmith stock bedding tools or to DIY the fitting with a lot of sanding.
I opted for the DIY method and picked up a 1” piece of PVC, glued on some 60 grit sandpaper, and went to work sanding down, widening, and deepening the barrel channel to accept the Feddersen barrel. If you don’t want to ruin your stock finish with a slip of the sandpaper, I recommend covering the stock with a double layer of painters Frog tape. A slip of the hand will not grind 60-grit paper down the side of the stock, and the tape is easily removed after the sanding chore is complete.
Meanwhile, many hours and test fittings later, I had a free floating barrel on the factory walnut Ruger Sporter stock. With the painters tape still in place, I sprayed the bare barrel channel with spray can lacquer. This helps seal up the stock and limit moisture/humidity from influencing the performance of the stock.
With the barrel mounted, the next step was to work on the trigger. I would have liked to slip in a Timney, Kidd, or Volquartsen trigger, but those custom looking drop-in triggers would have made it obvious to a seasoned 10/22 shooter than the rig was far from stock inside. The bull barrel will get a pass, but a custom trigger shoe hanging out the bottom is a dead giveaway. Instead, I disassembled the stock trigger and polished all the surfaces with a leather strop and polishing compound. This is a tedious process that delivers an exponentially better trigger, but with the stock overtravel and take-up. The important part is that the trigger looks stock and feels similar to stock if a friend should decide to test it.
The bolt and factory spring was left alone, but a Volquartsen Edge extractor was installed to assure reliability with some of the waxed match rounds.
One critical accuracy trick is to bed the action with 2-part epoxy. This essentially locks the action into a custom fitted inlet instead of flopping around in there due to loose manufacturing specs. You can generally see a 10%+ accuracy improvement by just bedding the action. This is done by spraying down the action with release agent and then carefully applying 2-part epoxy to the inside of the stock and then hope and pray – a lot – that you put enough release agent on the receiver and trigger housing. If you didn’t, you now have a permanently epoxied receiver in the stock. If you did everything right, the action should pop out and you should have a perfectly tight fitting receiver in the stock with a receiver that you can still remove for maintenance.
Originally, I had a Burris 4.5×14 Fullfield Tactical scope with Ballistic Mildot reticle mounted on this build, but an oversized 30mm $500 scope on a 10/22 tends to stick out a bit and let on that something is going on.
I decided to opt for one of Burris’s new $300 street ($415 MSRP) priced 1”-tubed Timberline 4.5-14×32 scope. The optic looks the part of a 10/22 sized optic, but with very clear optics in a compact package. The Timberline is sized nearly identical to your standard 3-9 power .22 rated scope that rides on most 10/22s, but it is far from a budget optic and is a fully recoil-proof rated scope for any caliber. Beyond the double-spring tensioned reticle and repeatable steel-on-steel clicks for windage and elevation adjustment, and beyond the multi-coated and indexed lenses, the Timberline had several other features which I find critical on a 10/22 when shooting for accuracy.
The Burris Timberline features a parallax adjustment from a stunningly short 7 yards to infinity, to eliminate parallax error, which increases the closer the target is. At 7-yards it can be significant. The scope features a wide and higher 4.5-14 magnification range to improve precision a bit over a 3-9 power optic, and the Ballistic reticle which allows you to establish known aiming points with your ammo of choice. Need to kill a fly swarming the target at 10-yards and then hit a 12-gauge hull at 100-yards? No problem. This optic has the flexibility and clarity to get the job done with ease.
This build did not disappoint in the accuracy department, and it was literally just a hair better than the performance I got from my Feddersen Tennessee Ridgerunner. CCI Standard velocity ammo will get you into the .3X” range at 50-yards consistently; Lapua Midas will deliver groups in the .13x” range at the same distance, but if you have a double or nothing wager on the line, the ammo is worth it.
If you want to put the smackdown on a critter, the CCI Velocitor round is very accurate, delivering groups just a bit bigger than the CCI STD Velocity rounds. Even some of the bulk Winchester 555 ammo I had from before, the shortage delivered sub-.5” 50-yard groups. You have to love the Feddersen barrel and the Burris Timberline as a combo.
In reality, you could get really close to the same performance I had here just by ordering a Feddersen TN Ridgerunner or sliding on one of their very affordable match barrels and mounting a Burris Timberline 4.5-14×32 scope, but I suppose I wanted something just a bit different. The net result of this “Money Machine” build is that I have the confidence to lay down some hard earned cash to substantiate the trash talk coming out of my mouth. If you have a bet or a trick shot, this little 10/22 ringer can grab the money while your friends stand in awe of your precision marksmanship.
Anatomy of the Accuracy Wager
If you want to grab the big bucks, win 10lb of venison sausage, or have your lunch paid for the the next week, you can’t just spend the day showing your buddies how great the new build is. You have to develop a backstory.
“….Yeah I don’t know anything about the rifle, I got it from a guy I go to church with, beyond the barrel he said it’s stock and the most accurate gun he has ever shot…, Ya know I just got it sighted in last weekend. Want to wager $10 I can split a playing card at 10-yards in less than two shots?” [Playing card splits] “How about double or nothing at 25-yards” [Playing card splits] “How about you owe me lunch for a week if I split it within three shots at 50-yards?” [Playing card splits] Move on to your next victim. 😉
- Ruger Sporter 10/22 $379 MSRP ($299 Street)
- Burris Timberline 4.5-14×32 Scope (with Plex adjustment and ballistic reticle) $300 Street
- Feddersen 16.25” barrel fluted and polished $205 Direct