So you wanna be a better RifleMan, RifleWoman or RifleKid?
The first steps might be to focus on the fundamentals like body position, trigger control, breathing control, natural point of aim and developing the ability to call your shot. A great way to work on these skills is to work with iron sights and shoot at targets just 25 yards away. Why? At short range, you can see your hits on target and gain instant feedback. And if you can shoot a really, really small groups at 25 yards, you can shoot effectively at 100, 200 or even 500 yards – assuming you can see the target.
You could launch thousands of rounds down range from your AR-15, M1A, AK-47 variant or bolt-action rifle. But with the current cost and availability issues for ammo, it might be easier and less expensive to take up high-performance lawn tractor racing.
Or you could do a quick upgrade to an inexpensive and broadly available .22 rifle to simulate a high-powered rifle. That’s what the Project Appleseed rifleman experts recommend. Use something simple, available and inexpensive, like a Ruger 10/22, equipped with GI Aperture sights to simulate a battle rifle configuration. Then you can improve your fundamental skills without breaking the bank. All of those skills you develop shooting a .22 rifle translate directly to shooting a larger caliber rifle – like an M1A, M2 Garand, M1 Carbine, AR-15, FAL or AK.
Following a tip from the Project Appleseed website, I elected to modify a .22LR rifle with the Tech Sights “GI” Aperture Sights for the Ruger 10/22. The Tech Sights kit includes an adjustable rear sight and front sight replacement that uses a standard AR type front sight post. So if you want to get really fancy, you can replace the sight post with an aftermarket one like the XS Sights High-Visibility Round-Top Front Sight Post.
The version I tested is the TRS200 model and as shown above features adjustable windage and elevation dials on the rear sight assembly with a single aperture. Tech Sights also offers a flip-up aperture version where the rear sight has a large aperture for close range shooting and a small aperture for longer range shooting.
One feature to note about the Tech Sights GI Aperture Sights is that elevation is adjustable on both the front and rear sights. The front sight works just like an AR-15 front sight and you can easily raise and lower point of impact by pressing in the detent button and rotating the post. I chose to configure mine so that the rear sight sat low in the assembly when zeroed at 25 yards. The logic being that having the aperture as low as possible and inset into the sight base would provide better protection from knocks and dings.
How to install the Tech Sights GI Aperture sights on your Ruger 10/22
|Ready for an adventure? Try removing the front sight from a factory standard Ruger 10/22. It probably takes less force to dislodge Michael Moore from a CiCi’s pizza all you can eat buffet. It comes off moving from left to right as you’re holding the rifle normally. The challenge is that Ruger installs a little nub on the bottom of the factory sight, then jams it into the dovetail on the barrel. This is done for good reason – so the sight won’t ever move under lots and lots of shooting. The problem only occurs when you want to remove it to install a different front sight. You can do this by placing the barrel against a firm (but non-scratching!) surface and whacking the bottom of the sight with a hammer and punch. Be careful, as you’ll really need to smack it to break the sight loose. If you can use a hard piece of plastic to support the barrel, that won’t give as much as wood and you’ll have better luck at knocking the sight out. Just a fair warning, this can be an adventure. That sight is installed really, really tightly.|
|A lower risk method of removing the front sight is to use a sight pusher. If you don’t have one, maybe you can beg, borrow or steal one from a friend. Of you can can get one of these general purpose Williams Gun Sight Front Sight Pushers from Brownells. This can be used for most any front sight where the dovetail is not cut directly into the round barrel. It removed the very stubborn Ruger 10/22 front sight easily.|
|While we’re talking tools, if you don’t have a set of gunsmith screwdrivers, you might want to consider investing. Gunsmith screwdrivers have the blades ground flat and have bits sized for common gun applications. Why flat-ground you ask? You’re far less likely to butch up your screw heads using a properly fitted screwdriver. Trust me on this one. And a Brownells Magna-Tip screwdriver set like this one is not expensive.|
|OK, let’s get busy installing the front sight. First, start the socket set screw into the front of the sight base as shown here. DO NOT tighten it yet! This screw will eventually expand the dovetail of the sight base to lock it in place. For now, you just want to get it started as it’s easier to get into place before you install the sight base in the barrel dovetail.|
|Now, slide the new Tech Sights GI Aperture base into the dovetail from the right side – just the reverse of how you removed the factory Ruger sight.|
|The kit includes two button head screws and washers that install on either side of the sight base to center and support it on in the dovetail slot.|
|How you can tighten up the front set screw to lock the base firmly into position. If you’re sure it’s how you want it for a while, apply a little Blue Loctite to all three front sight screws.|
|The rear sight is a snap to install as the Ruger 10/22 receiver includes holes for a scope base mount. These will have small screws in place, so just remove the two towards the rear of the receiver.|
|The Tech Sights GI Aperture Rear Sight will fit over the two rear scope base holes. Just attach it to the receiver with the included screws. Again, you may want to use a little Blue Loctite if you plan on using this for a while.|
|The TRS200 model rear sight includes a windage adjustment dial. Each hole indicates a 1/8″ left-right adjustment at 20 yards, or 5/8″ at 100 yards.|
|The rear aperture is set with an adjustable elevation dial. Each click (visible by the white vertical lines, adjusts point of impact up or down by 1/8″ at 20 yards.|
|The front post is also elevation adjustable. By pressing the detent button down and rotating the site post, you can adjust elevation by 1/8″ at 20 yards. Since both front and rear sights have elevation adjustments, you can configure the height of each according to your preference.|
|Like its military big brothers, the Tech Sights (front and rear) are protected by wings. I also found that the side wings help reduce glare on the sight post.|
|A side view of the rear sight installed.|
This is a nifty little upgrade for a couple of reasons. First, I found the sight picture clear and fast to acquire. The brass bead on the Ruger 10/22 factory front sight is great and easy to see, but I’m not a big fan of the rear leaf sight. Those tend to feel slower for me, but that’s a personal preference issue. More importantly, the Tech Sight mounts about 8 inches further back from the factory rear leaf sight, so the overall sight radius is longer. While the 8″ longer sight radius does not make the rifle “more accurate,” it DOES make the rifle easier to shoot more accurately.
This is a great way to make yourself a fantastic practice rifle. And it’s plenty good for just fun plinking as well. Of course, to really prepare your Ruger 10/22 for rifleman practice, you’ll want to add a sling. We’ll cover that in a separate article.