To Reload Or Not To Reload… 12 Important Considerations

Once you decide to start reloading, you'll want all the cool gear...

Once you decide to start reloading, you’ll want all the cool gear…

The first step towards healing is to admit you have a problem. I’ve got an ammunition reloading addiction. I can spend hours fantasizing about all the cool gadgets like case concentricity gauges in the Sinclair Reloading catalog. There. I’ve said it.

Since part of my problem is uncontrollable reloading evangelism, I’m going to allocate a couple of these weekly columns to reloading your own ammunition. This week, we’ll look at factors you should consider when deciding whether to reload or not. After our SHOT Show coverage next week. We’ll come back and talk about how to get started.

So how do you decide if reloading is for you? Consider the following.

Are you, or can you be, detail oriented?

As with any shooting related activity, safety comes first. Like shooting, reloading is perfectly safe, as long as you pay attention and follow the rules – every time without fail. With reloading, you have to pay close attention to all aspects of the task. Undercharging (not enough powder) and overcharging (too much powder) are equally dangerous and can harm the shooter and the gun. Seating bullets at the proper depth consistently prevents dangerous over pressure situations. Using the right components, per professionally published recipes is mandatory. While it sounds scary, as long as you are careful and attentive, you can manufacture safe and reliable ammunition.

It’s a gateway drug.

You know, like Crystal Meth. Once you start on that stuff, you’ll quickly move to something really serious. Likewise, if you start reloading something simple, like pistol cartridges, you’ll soon move to rifle cartridges. Before you know it, you’ll be melting lead in your kitchen and casting your own bullets. And we all know how much other family members enjoy lead fumes in the kitchen.

You’ll save money.

If you reload for fun and/or don’t place a dollar value on your reloading time, your cost per cartridge will almost certainly be lower than the price of factory ammunition. Of course, you have to reload often enough to cover the startup equipment costs. We’ll cover that in the next article.

Let’s look at a simple example. Right now, .223 practice ammo costs somewhere around $.45 to $.50 per round. If you reload it yourself, plan on spending about $.09 per bullet, $.03 per primer and $.08 for each powder charge. If you have to buy brass, you can use each casing about 10 times, so your per use cost is about $.04. That brings us to about $.24 per round, not counting your time. Yeah, I know. You know a guy who can get all this stuff cheaper. Keep in mind, this is just a rough estimate example for those uninitiated.

You’ll spend more money.

Once you start reloading, you’ll want to get all the gear. Like digital scales, electronic powder dispensers, power case trimmers, progressive reloading presses, and custom reloading benches. You’ll also shoot a lot more, so even though your cost per round might be lower, you can easily end up spending more money overall.

What’s your time worth?

In our .223 Remington example, we might save $.25 per round, not counting the value of your time. So on a per round basis, your time needs to be worth less than $.25 for the time it takes to assemble one round, else you’re unprofitable. The time value calculations are tricky because they depend on the equipment you have and the pace at which you work safely. Progressive reloading press manufactures claim numbers like 500 rounds per hour, but that doesn’t count other chores like case preparation. Read this to get an idea of the steps involved in reloading .223 Remington ammunition. It’s a little tongue in cheek, but will give you an idea.

If you spend most of your waking hours hanging out at Occupy Something Evil Protests, you’re probably in good shape. If you have a paying job, chances are you’re not beating the ammunition manufacturers in the hourly wage efficiency game. You might be better off working more to cover your ammo bills.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Buy Bullets! It’s National Ammo Day

I’m not quite sure who decides that November 19th is National Ammo Day, but hey, I don’t need much of an excuse to buy 100 rounds of ammo.

Buy 100 rounds of ammo - it's National Ammo Day!

Buy 100 rounds of ammo – it’s National Ammo Day!

Yeah, I know, you can’t find it. Well, it’s out there.

Try your local gun store. If they don’t have what you need, check out Brownells. Or Cabelas.

If you want to get really adventurous, check out Gun Bot. It’s a free ammo search service that scans all sorts of online retailers to see who’s got what. You can even filter the search results for in stock only.

So go buy 100 rounds of ammo. You’ll save the economy, so it’s your patriotic duty!

Deal Alert: Brownells AR Magazines On Sale For $9.99

Brownells AR MagazineJust saw this folks – a great time to stock up on Brownells AR magazines. They’re excellent and reliable.

How (Not) to Install an AR-15 Flat Top Gas Block and Front Sight Base

Well, mostly this is an article about how to install an AR-15 flat-top front sight base and gas block. But we will share a few tips about how not to, learned the hard way, to save you aggravation should you choose to get adventurous with your own AR-15 rifle.

Here’s a pretty basic AR-15 rifle. This one happens to be a DPMS Lite 16 A3 AR-15. As you can see, it has the standard front sight base and gas block installed. While this piece looks to be permanently affixed to the rifle, it’s not. It’s just stuck on there, albeit really tightly, with a couple of pins.

AR 15 JP Gas Block Installation

Here’s a DPMS Lite 16 A3 AR-15. We’re going to replace the integral front sight base / gas block with a flat top version. So we can do a bunch of cool customizations to this rifle.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping the standard AR-15 front sight base, especially if you use no or low-power optics on your rifle. With a very low-power scope or red dot sight, you won’t really see the front sight (too much) and it makes a nice backup should your optic fail.

However, there are a number of good reasons you may want to consider removing the standard AR-15 sight block and replacing it with a flat top gas block.

Top 5 reasons to remove that ungainly AR-15 fixed front sight:

  1. While charging enemy positions, the wind resistance of the fixed AR-15 front sight slows you down.
  2. While it appears to double as a handy, integral bottle opener, you’ve come to your senses and determined that’s a really bad idea.
  3. Hardly any of Stickman’s rifles have one.
  4. You can use those cool AR-15 flip-up backup sights. Magpul, the company who just told Colorado politicians to enthusiastically pound sand, makes them. Support the resistance!
  5. If you use a scope, you can still kind of see the front sight getting in the way. It get’s really annoying with a higher-powered optic.

Whatever your reason, you can do this from the comfort of your home!

AR-15 JP Adjustable Gas Block System Installation

The JP Enterprise Adjustable Gas System

We have a number of reasons for embarking on this Dremel-free (hopefully) home-gunsmithing journey. You see, this rifle is going to be the starting point for a project we’re doing with the folks at Blackhawk!. As we wrote about earlier, Blackhawk! is making some really swell accessories for AR-15 style rifles, and putting a flat top gas block will give us a little more flexibility. Stay tuned!

After consulting the folks at Brownells.com, we decided to install the JP Enterprise Adjustable Gas System. We like the way it mounts with 3 solid hex screws and that it offers a quick-detach rail at standard height. This will allow us to mount a Blackhawk! backup sight system later. We also like the adjustable gas flow feature which allows you to tweak the amount of gas flowing back to the action. Adjust it so enough gas flows to ensure reliable operation with your favorite .223 or 5.56mm ammunition, but not so much that your rifle gets battered to bits over time.

Ready for some basic gunsmithing? Let’s go!

AR-15 Front Sight Base Here’s our existing front sight base and gas block. It kinda looks permanent, but only because some parkerizing goop has been sloshed over the seams. It’ll come off with a little love and tenderness!
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation remove upper First, remove the upper receiver from the lower. This will make things a lot easier.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation padded vise In order to remove the front sight base, you’ll need to remove the flash hider or muzzle brake on your rifle. This will be much easier if you have a vise. Since we don’t have a dedicated barrel vise, we’re doing some budget improvisation and using an old kevlar vest as padding between our AR-15 barrel and those toothy vise jaws. What? It works…
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation remove flash hider On our DPMS rifle, the flash hider was plenty tight, but not ridiculously so. A proper fitting wrench, a little elbow grease and some caution allowed us to take it right off.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation keep washer Be sure not to lose the washer. And pay attention to its orientation as this will go back on after the new gas block is installed.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation muzzle threads Now the threaded end of your barrel is exposed. What a great time to brush the crud off!
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation (1) The next step is to punch out the two lower pins that hold the sight base to the barrel. This picture shows our highly-sophisticated system for supporting the barrel and sight base while allowing the pins to get knocked out the bottom.
AR-15 Front Sight Bench Block Better yet, get this AR-15 bench block from Brownells.com. It’s specifically designed to support the front sight and has cutout holes for pin removal. You’re far less likely to ding up your rifle trying to pound out stubborn pins. It’s well worth the money, especially if you’re going to use it more than once. We got impatient waiting for ours and used the budget method, with the expected results…
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation remove pins If you have brass punches, use them. You’ll be far less likely to ding up your existing sight base and your barrel. While brass leaves marks, it can be scrubbed off. Also, use a punch pin that is as close as possible to the diameter of the pin, without being larger. Using too small of a pin will “mush out” the pin and make it harder to remove. These pins are going to be pretty tight, so you’ll have to support the barrel well and smack the crud out of it. One of ours was so stubborn, we had to drill it out. Hopefully you won’t have to resort to that!
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation gas tube pin Now remove the upper pin that holds the gas tube in place. This one will come out pretty easily. Be careful not to bend the gas tube. Try not to notice the brass marks where we fought that second pin with very little elegance.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation remove gas tube Now the gas tube will pull out of the front sight base. And you have yet another great spring cleaning opportunity. Clean the interior and holes of the gas tube, but remember to leave it bone dry when finished.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation hammer Here’s another one of those right tool for the job opportunities. You’ll need to whack the front sight base towards the muzzle a couple of times to break it loose. A plastic hammer like this one from Brownells will do the job.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation remove sight block Once broken loose, the front sight assembly will slide forward and off the barrel. Here’s where you’ll get to see how much attention to detail was placed on your rifle’s manufacture. This barrel was not parkerized under the sight as you can see the bare steel.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation gas port Yet another cleaning opportunity. If your rifle has been used, there will be some gas crud around the gas port. Clean it off and dry.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation adjustable Now we’re cookin’ with propane! Insert the gas regulator screw into the gas block just enough to hold it in place. Next, insert the gas tube, making sure to insert the right end.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation line up gas port Be sure that the hole in the gas tube aligns properly with the gas block port before the next step.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation (2) Slide the whole assembly into place, being careful not to bend the gas tube.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation (3) You’ll see the holes where the gas tube enters the receiver. Line everything up.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation (4) Once you’re confident that everything is in place, you can insert and tight the three hex screws that hold the gas block to the barrel. Now you can reinstall your flash hider or muzzle brake.
AR-15 JP Gas Block Installation completed That’s it for the installation portion of this upgrade. Just replace your hand guards and reattach the upper and lower receivers. The next step has to be done at the range, so be sure to read on!

Adjusting the JP Enterprise Gas Block

Earlier we mentioned that you can tweak the gas flow using this particular JP Enterprises gas block. The process is a lot easier than it sounds.

  1. Bring your normal .223 and/or 5.56mm ammo to the range.
  2. Be SURE to bring the included hex wrench that fits the gas adjustment screw!
  3. Turn the gas adjustment screw (the silver one) all the way in to completely close off the gas port.
  4. Now back it out a couple of turns.
  5. Load and fire one shot.
  6. If the bolt of your rifle stays open, you’re likely done. If it does not, then you’re not getting enough gas. That sounds kind of wrong doesn’t it?
  7. If your bolt is not locking open on the last shot, keep opening the gas screw until the bolt locks back consistently on the last shot.
  8. When you get it set, you may want to use a little LocTite to keep it from moving around. Be sure to use low or medium strength so you can break the screw loose later if you need to!
  9. Just remember, if you change ammunition, you may need to readjust.

Next up, the Blackhawk! AR-15 upgrade project. Each article, we’ll document one part of the upgrade process.

Stay tuned!

 

You can find this at Brownells

J P Enterprises Ar-15/M16 Adjustable Gas Block
Loading…

A Custom Ruger 10/22 for Project Valour-IT

Custom_Ruger_1022_right.jpg

 

We’ve just completed an epic building project. Successfully. Without bleeding. Or parts left over.

This Custom Ruger 10/22 is a phantasmagorical plinker

This Custom Ruger 10/22 is a phantasmagorical plinker

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been working with the great folks at Ruger and Brownells to customize a stock Ruger 10/22 Carbine. It’s now a fancy race rifle. A glamorous gun. A fantastic firearm. A phantasmagorical plinker. You get the idea.

Ruger graciously donated the rifle, and the always generous Brownells team donated the parts, and more importantly, the expertise for the project.

Our role was simply to be average and build this custom Ruger 10/22. Being average, mechanically uninclined and generally untalented was not at all hard for us, as most gunsmithing projects around here end badly – usually with a large ziploc of parts being delivered to a genuine gunsmith. But one of the primary ideas behind the project was to see how much can be done to customize a Ruger 10/22 without special tools or knowledge. The other main objective was to document the process so our readers could see exactly how to customize their own Ruger 10/22′s.

Custom Ruger 10/22 with original parts included

If you win this auction, you get the factory original parts too

Fortunately, we picked the right platform – the Ruger 10/22 – and the right partners – the Brownells Gun Tech Team. This combination of an easy to customize rifle platform, and always ready advice and expertise made a positive end result inevitable. Even for us.

You see, a quality outcome for the project was a critical objective, because as much as we wanted to keep this rifle, it was destined for greater things. Last week, we sent it off to Ruger for final cleanup and photography. Now it’s listed for auction on Gunbroker.com.

The best part? 100% of the proceeds are being donated to Project Valour-IT. In case you’re not familiar, Project Valour-IT is a group within the fantastic Soldiers Angels organization that aims to provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.

This is a great cause and we’re glad to help them out.

Now you too can help Project Valour-IT and obtain a fantastic rifle in the process. Ruger will ship the customized rifle to the winners FFL for delivery along with all of the original parts and a signed letter of authenticity.

You can read all about the Ruger 10/22 customization process and the parts used.

More importantly, head on over to Gunbroker.com and place your bid!

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 5: Optics – Add The Right Riflescope

Soup it up for Soldiers Custom Ruger 10/22 Project Step 5 - Scope

After much crying, whining, gnashing of teeth, a few injuries, but no lost parts, we’ve reached the finish line with Step 5 of the Ruger 10/22 Soup it up for Soldiers Custom Ruger 10/22 build.

Ruger Custom 10/22 Project Step 5: Add A Sweet Riflescope

Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 4x32 scope on Ruger 10/22

The Nikon ProStaff Rimfire scope makes a perfect complement to the custom Ruger 1022

The generous folks at Brownells have donated a sweet optic for our project Ruger 10/22 – a Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 4×32 Riflescope. They also sent a set of Burris Signature ZEE rings so we could mount the Nikon on the rail included with the stock Ruger 10/22

The Nikon ProStaff is a 4x fixed power scope – perfect for plinking and small game hunting. It’s nitrogen filled so it won’t fog in humid or rainy conditions. We know this for a fact as the rifle was zeroed in South Cackalackee’s 90/90/90 weather conditions. To the uninitiated, that’s 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity, and 90 times as hot as should be legal.

We really like the windage and elevation adjustment design on this scope. Under the protective turret caps are hand operated knobs that provide 1/4” adjustment per click at 50 yards. Nice and simple and no tools are required to zero the scope. We zeroed the scope at 50 yards as this scope is designed to be parallax free at that distance.

At the range we found the scope to be bright and clear. The reticle is the Nikoplex Duplex design. This is a fancy description that means the crosshairs are fine in the center with heavy posts closer to the circumference. This design naturally directs your eye to the center of the scope.

The Burris Signature ZEE rings are medium height and matte black finished. These rings include self centering synthetic inserts. This accomplishes two things. First, as you mount and tighten the scope, the inserts automatically adjust to align the scope with the rings. The scope bases are concave on the interior which allows the inserts to move freely as the scope is placed in the rings. Second, the inserts help to protect the scope from dings and bending.

Let’s get started!

Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 4x32 and Burris Signature scope rings

The Nikon ProStaff Rimfire scope comes with elastic mounted lens covers, instruction book, and Torx wrench.

Mounting Burris Signature scope rings on the Ruger 10/22

Remove the top half of the rings completely using the included Torx wrench. The Burris Signature ZEE scope rings will slide over the end of the rail. Just remove the bolt and slide each bottom ring over the rail. Now re-insert the bolt so that it is set in one of the rail slots. Tighten it up.

Burris Signature ZEE scope rings insert

Drop half of one of the included synthetic inserts into the base of each ring. Note that the inserts are designed to fit together in a specific way. You’ll see a small cutout notch on one side of the insert. Line that up for top and bottom halves of the insert.

Mount the Nikon Prostaff scope and adjust eye relief

Rest the scope in place and install the top inserts, followed by the top half of the rings. Do not tighten anything at this point. Now pick up the (unloaded) rifle and mount it to your shoulder in a normal shooting position. Slide the scope back and forth until you have clear visibility through the scope with no shadowing around the edges. When it’s perfectly positioned, tighten the top halves of the rings. Not too much! Time saving tip: be sure that the crosshairs are perfectly aligned vertically before tightening.

Nikon ProStaff Rimfire scope turret dials

Now it’s off to the range to zero this bad boy. Using your preferred .22 ammo, set up on some sandbags and remove the windage and elevation adjustment covers. You can easily adjust both using the exposed knobs. We recommend setting the zero at a distance of 50 yards as that distance is parallax free with this particular scope. Once you’re happy with the zero, raise each knob vertically. This will disengage the cap from the adjustments so you can rotate the knob to read zero. Push the cap back down and you’re done. You’ll see a zero line for each adjustment just underneath the knob at the back.

The Custom Ruger 10/22 was tested with a variety of .22LR ammo - Winchester, CCI, Eley, Armscor, Remington

We tried a variety of .22 ammo in the rifle and had the best overall success with CCI Mini Mag. .22 ammo is notoriously finicky with semi-autos, so try a few types to see what your gun likes. We’ve not had good success with the Winchester white box bulk packs in a number of semi-auto rifles and pistols. The other brands we tried all worked completely reliably in this gun.

The Custom Ruger 10/22 shot excellent groups with Eley .22LR ammo

Being total idiots, we dashed off to the range to zero this scope without our sandbags. Using a shooting bag as an impromptu rest, we were still able to get some fantastic groups with this rifle. The photo here shows 4 shots in one large hole at 50 yards. The 5th was a result of a poor rest combined with aging eyes and a spastic trigger finger. This group was shot with Eley Practice ammo. The CCI Mini Mag load performed just as well. Measured center to center, the four shot group measured .443 inches. Nice!

Now that we’re finished, we’re packing up this rifle and sending it to Ruger to be photographed and placed for auction on Ruger’s GunBroker.com page. Of course, all original parts from the Ruger 10/22 Carbine will be included in the auction.

Remember, all proceeds from the auction go directly to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels! So bid generously! We’ll post a notification and link to the auction as soon as it goes live.

You can review the complete Soup it up for Soldiers series with detailed commentary on each step here.

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 4: Custom Ruger 10/22 Extended Bolt Handle Installation

Customize Ruger 10/22 for Soup it up for Soldiers

We’ve completed 3 steps out of the 5 planned for this Ruger 10/22 customization project. As my teenage kids would say, we’ve got “one sick rifle” at this point. As you’ll see from the photos, we’ve put a temporary optic on it for testing as the bull barrel has no iron sights.

volquartsen_bolt_handle_ruger_10-22

This week we’re going to install a new Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Rod

What’s next?

Custom Ruger 10/22 Step 4: Install Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle

How about an extended charging handle and recoil rod? Even with the temporary optic mounted, it’s ever so slightly inconvenient to reach the standard bolt handle. Since this is a benefit gun for Project Valour-IT, let’s make it awesome.

With some help from the guru’s at Brownells, we chose the Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Rod. From Volquartsen’s specs:

The Extended Bolt Handle features the same shape and design as the bolt handle featured on our fully machined bolts. This handle has also been extended .25″ for faster, easier operation. The recoil rod is polished, hardened and coated with a proprietary finish. This finish is not only extremely hard but also contains lubricating features to create an extremely smooth operating guide rod. This coated recoil rod reduces friction which improves both feeding and ejecting. A recoil rod spring is also included. This spring has been cryogenically treated to withstand years of use.

Here are the steps to install the Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Rod on our custom Ruger 10/22 rifle.

Ruger 10/22 remove stock

If you’ve been reading along, you should remember how to do the first step – removing the barreled receiver from the stock. To refresh your memory, see the first article. As always, be sure the rifle is completely unloaded (chamber too!) before starting. Just remove the single screw that holds our new stock to the receiver and gently lift the barrel from the muzzle end first.

Ruger 10/22 trigger group housing removal

To get to the bolt handle, we need to remove some stuff. First, we need to remove the trigger housing that we installed in the last step. To do this, push the retaining pins out, or at least far enough through the receiver to allow the trigger assembly to drop out.

Ruger 10/22 receiver bolt retaining pin removal

Now you will see the bolt in the upper portion of the receiver. While you’ll be able to move it back and forth, you won’t be able to remove it as there is a large solid pin at the very back of the receiver that prevents full travel. Gently punch this pin through and out of the receiver.

ruger 10/22 bolt removal

Now, if you push the bolt all the way to the rear of the receiver, you’ll be able to remove it. It’s a tight fit and the bolt needs to drop out ‘as is’ without much angle, so it might be easier to turn the receiver upside down and let it fall into your hand.

remove recoil rod and belt handle from ruger 10/22

You can actually remove the existing bolt handle and recoil rod and spring by simply lifting up the front of the bolt. Go ahead and completely remove the bolt though. That will make installation of the replacement bolt handle much easier.

cleaning ruger 10/22 receiver

Hey! Now that you have an empty receiver, this is a great time to scrub any gunk from those hard to reach places.

ruger 10/22 recoil rod bolt handle installation

The new bolt handle and recoil rod assembly drops into place as shown. Be sure the back end of the recoil rod is captured into the notch in the receiver.

install bolt in ruger 10/22

Now you’re ready to drop the bolt back in. Retract the new Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle as the bolt has to drop onto notches in the bolt handle itself.

Volquartsen bolt handle recoil rod installed

Replace the large pin at the upper rear of the receiver first to make sure the bolt is secured. Then re-install the trigger housing assembly and secure it with the two retaining pins.

Volquartsen extended bolt handle clears optic

Now just mount the barreled receiver back to the stock and you’re ready to go with a new Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle. Piece of cake.

 

That’s it! We’re done with Step 4 of the custom Ruger 10/22 project! No parts left over. No blood. All in all another successful endeavor.

Join us next time as we add the final piece of gear to this customized Ruger 10/22. We’re working with the great folks at Brownells to select just the right optic. If you have any ideas, let us know in the comments!

Remember to keep track of Soup it up for Soldiers here. As soon as this rifle is done, it’s getting shipped back to Ruger where it will be photographed and placed for auction on Gunbroker.com with all proceeds going to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 3: Ruger 10/22 Competition Trigger and Magazine Release

Soup it up for Soldiers Customize Ruger 10/22 trigger group

Now that steps 1 and 2 of the Customer Ruger 10/22 project are complete, we’ve got one nasty accurate rifle with what is perhaps the world’s most comfortable (and sporty) stock. As you’ll recall, with the help of Brownells, we installed a Revolution Extreme custom stock on the now customized Ruger 10/22.

Force trigger and extended magazine release Ruger 1022

The Force Trigger Housing System is ready to go out of the box. And idiot proof. We know.

What’s next?

Step 3: Ruger 10/22 Customization

How about a two-fer. This week in Step 3, we’re adding a Force Trigger Housing System which gives us a competition grade trigger AND an extended magazine release that allows speedy magazine changes without losing your firing grip. Nifty.

We have to confess that we got lazy with the shopping process for this episode. Overwhelmed by all the possible options for this step, we simply crawled to the Brownells GunTech team whimpering and asked them to take charge of the selection process for the next Ruger 10/22 customization step. A few days later, the Force Trigger Housing System showed up in the mail. And, as you’ll see, it couldn’t be easier to install. I suspect the folks at Brownells are well aware of our lack of engineering skills and deliberately chose something that we couldn’t screw up. Smart folks those Brownells Techs…

First, a little about this component:

This is a complete drop in aluminum assembly with match quality trigger pull of between 2 and 3 pounds. The housing is made from aluminum and is available in matte black or silver. The trigger features a serrated, semi-flat surface with over travel adjustment for individual shooter preference.

This Force trigger group and extended magazine release includes an extended release which allows magazine drops with your trigger hand. It’s quick and easy.

Let’s get started!

Ruger 10/22 stock removal and installation

Step 1 is starting to get familiar and we should all be professionals at removing the action and barrel from the stock by now. I’m thinking about starting a new business: Stock Removal Specialists, Inc. There must be an enormous market for this type of service. My wife is not convinced. As always, be sure the rifle is completely unloaded (chamber too!) before starting. Just remove the single screw that holds our new stock to the receiver and gently lift the barrel from the muzzle end first.

remove ruger 10/22 trigger housing front pin

The Ruger 10/22 is beautifully engineered – especially when you start taking it apart and realize how easy it is to do customizations. The entire trigger housing is held in place by two punch pins. Simply prop the receiver and barrel up on something non-scratchy like these custom wood blocks and gently tap the forward pin through. Make sure your wood blocks or alternative platform allows enough space for the pin on the bottom side. This should take very little pressure and/or light tapping.

remove rear pin ruger 10/22 trigger housing

Now tap out the rear pin in similar fashion.

remove trigger housing ruger 10/22

Don’t worry if the pin does not want to come all the way out. On this rifle, the front pin fell all the way through fairly easily, while the rear pin remained in the receiver. Either way is fine as long as the pin pushes through enough to pull the trigger housing out. See? This is a low stress project after all.

ruger 10/22 receiver with trigger removed

Remove the original Ruger 10/22 trigger housing. It will slide right out. This is a great opportunity to clean out the inside of the receiver and re-lube things. Everything is easy to get to with the trigger housing removed. Think of it as ‘Spring Cleaning.’ Pun fully intended.

install force trigger system in ruger 10/22

The new Force Trigger Housing System will slide right in to the now clean receiver.

install force trigger system ruger 10/22 pins

Now, simply replace the two retaining pins. On this setup, the Force Trigger Housing System holes aligned perfectly with the receiver. Piece of cake.

completed force trigger housing installation in ruger 10/22

Ta Da!

Force trigger magazine release in ruger 10/22

Now that you’re an expert at stock removal and replacement, put the barreled receiver back into the stock and tighten up the retaining screw.

That’s it! We’re done! No parts left over. No blood. All in all another successful project.

With the new Force Trigger Housing System, we’ve now added a two-fer: A competition grade trigger with adjustable travel and an extended magazine release lever for speedy mag changes. If you’re faced with a horde or rodents on your property, you can maintain a high rate of accurate fire.

Join us next time as we add some more gizmos to this fine rifle. We’re going to call the folks at Brownells GunTech to see what we ought to do next. Perhaps an extended bolt handle. Would night vision goggles qualify as a rifle upgrade? Hmmm. Not sure the Brownells folks will buy that logic…

Remember to keep track of this project here. As soon as this rifle is done, it’s getting shipped back to Ruger where it will be photographed and placed for auction on Gunbroker.com with all proceeds going to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 2: Bull the Barrel

Soup-it-up-for-Soldiers_custom_ruger_10-22_Step-2

Last Week…

Last week in Step 1: Sportify the Stock, we replaced the standard stock on our Ruger 10/22 with a custom Revolution Extreme one, graciously donated by Brownells. This week, we’re going to replace the barrel with a sporty competition model from Tactical Solutions – also graciously donated by Brownells.

Remember, at the end of this series, we’re going to end up with one heck of a rifle. And we’re going to auction it on GunBroker.com so 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Step 2 Objectives

  1. Take a perfectly good barrel off a perfectly good Ruger 10/22 carbine. Because we can.
  2. Do NOT butch up the receiver. “Butching up” is a techincal gunsmithing term that loosely translates to “gouging metal.”
  3. Do NOT butch up the shiny new Tactical Solutions barrel.
  4. Try to avoid the use of large sledgehammers and/or blowtorches. This might cause the Brownells GunTech Team to resign en-masse and we wouldn’t want that to happen. Who would we call for advice about Step 3?
  5. Make sure that the rifle still feeds and shoots. In a forward direction. Preferably .22LR ammunition.

The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project Parts

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel fluted

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel (fluted)

Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel upgrade adds the “bull” part of this step

  • .920” diameter, 6061-T6 billet aluminum construction
  • Threaded end with included matching thread protector
  • Oversized shank (more about this below)
  • 1 in 16” twist 4140 button rifled steel liner with 11° target crown
  • This one is silver. And quite sporty looking.

Tactical Solutions Compensator

Given the massive power and recoil of the .22LR rifle, we opted to include a thread-attached Tactical Solutions Compensator. Ok, to come clean, we didn’t really add this to help reduce recoil, because it’s pretty much non-existent anyway. It just looks cool, OK? Isn’t that a good enough reason?

tactical_solutions_ruger_compensator

The Tactical Solutions Compensator – more genuine coolnesss

  • 360° gas ports allow for even distribution of gasses for optimum accuracy
  • Machined from solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum
  • No indexing or gunsmithing required to fit on Tactical Solutions ½ x 28 TPI Threaded end barrels
  • 0.920” Outside diameter so it fits exactly flush with the X-Ring barrel

How To Install The Tactical Solutions Bull Barrel

Admittedly, we were more than a little nervous going into this step as our previous gunsmithing experience has been limited to advanced techniques like ordering extra magazines from Brownells.com and replacing the factory grips on a Beretta 92-FS with Hogue Rubber Grips . That one was kind of hairy – we had to remove at least 4 different screws. And put them back.

However, Larry Weeks from Brownells talked us off the ledge and convinced us we could do this without professional assistance. While psychiatric services might be required, there would be no need for professional gunsmithing.

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel includes a very easy-to-follow set of instructions. And, as it turns out, swapping a barrel on a Ruger 10/22 couldn’t be easier. Apparently this rifle was designed with interchangeability in mind. As for the compensator, we were able to do without detailed instructions – you just screw it on.

Here goes…

Installing a Tactical Solutions barrel on the Ruger 20/22

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel comes with a great set of easy to follow instructions. Between this article and the included directions, you’ll be fine!

remove receiver and barrel from ruger 10/22

First, remove the stock by loosening the screw just in front of the magazine well. Lift the barrel from the front to remove the receiver assembly. Seems like deja-vu no?

Ruger barrel to receiver mount v block

Just under the barrel, you’ll see two allen screws holding a barrel retainer v-block. Now would be a great time to find an allen wrench that fits these.

ruger 10/22 magazine release

We found that the magazine release lever and it’s corresponding pin like to fall out fairly easily when not contained by the insides of the stock. No biggie, just be aware of this so you don’t lose the pieces. If your magazine is out during these steps, you might also want to keep an eye on the magazine latch plunger.

ruger 10/22 v block removal

Loosen the allen screws and remove them completely. The barrel retainer v-block will come right off.

ruger 10/22 barrel removal

The Ruger 10/22 barrel will pull right out with hand pressure. If you have an older rifle, or things are crudded up, be gentle – this is probably not a great place to use impact tools or recreational explosives.

tactical solutions fluted barrel threaded thread protector

Since the Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel on this particular rifle is threaded, we went ahead and put the thread protector on so we wouldn’t butch up the threads during the next few steps.

tactical solutions barrel installation ruger 10/22

Using your hands only (no large metal hammers or other tools substituting as hammers! This includes screwdrivers, pliers, and heavy flashlights) insert the new barrel into the receiver.Oh, it probably won’t fit. That’s OK – it’s slightly oversized by design. Tactical Solutions makes the shank just a hair on the large side so you can custom fit this barrel to a variety of Ruger or aftermarket receivers and create a perfect fit for your particular gun.

tactical solutions barrel installation custom fit

Here’s a great time to be really, really patient. If you have to, pretend that you’re in an old 007 movie tinkering with an atomic bomb fuse – except that the clock is not ticking down while the co-star looks concerned. This is an easy step that will have major impact on the accuracy of the rifle. Using some emery cloth, gently sand down the barrel shank. Wipe off the crud, and try the fit. The barrel should eventually fit in the receiver very tightly, but with hand pressure only. Take your time and repeat the sanding, wiping, and test fitting as necessary. Remember, this part is made of aluminum, so it will sand down fairly easily.To the future buyer of this rifle: We were very patient with this step. The fit is rock solid.

tactical solutions custom barrel installed ruger 10/22

If you look closely at this photo, you’ll see that hand pressure has gotten the barrel to fit in the receiver except for the last 1/16th of an inch or so. Leave the hammers in the drawer!

install v block with new tactical solutions barrel ruger 10/22

Place the barrel retainer v-block back in position and tighten the allen screws alternately. This will snug the barrel right up to the receiver.

tactical solutions fluted barrel fit ruger 10/22

Look at that fit. Perfect!

tactical solutions compensator installation

This would be a swell time to screw on the new Tactical Solutions Compensator!

ruger 10/22 rail installation

Now it’s time to put the new barreled receiver back in the stock. See Step 1 if you need a refresher on that.This would be a great time to add the rail that Ruger includes with the 10/22. Simply remove the four screws in the top of the receiver, and fasten the rail using the included screws. Remember to use proper gunsmith screwdrivers here so these very visible screws stay nice and tidy. You can get a set at Brownells.

bushnell red dot ruger 10/22

Since Step 2 resulted in the loss of our factory iron sights (The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel does not have them) we popped a nearby Red / Blue / Green Dot sight from BSA on the newly mounted rail just to test things out. During a future step, we’ll decide what optic should live on this rifle permanently. Let us know if you have ideas!

Voila!

Custom Ruger 10/22 Tactical Solutions Barrel and Compensator

The custom Ruger 10/22 is starting to look somewhat nifty

Purely as a quality control measure, we took the completed rifle with it’s shiny new barrel to the range to make sure it still worked. After all, one of our Step 2 objectives was to make sure that the rifle still was able to fire .22LR ammunition in a mostly forward direction. We tried a small variety of ammo types and experienced not a single problem with ejection or feeding. Considering we just put a whole new barrel on the Ruger 10/22, that was some very good news.

22LR_ammo_eley_remington_CCI_aguila

The custom Ruger 10/22 worked just fine with a variety of ammunition

Yes, this rifle is already more fun to shoot than should be legal. Golf balls will be at your mercy at most any reasonable distance.

Next Steps For The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project…

Join us next week when things get really hairy. Hairy and triggery. We’re taking apart the receiver to install a new trigger group. Be on the lookout for explosions originating from an undisclosed location somewhere in South Carolina.

Stay tuned!

Soup It Up For Soldiers – Step 1: Ruger 10/22 Stock Upgrade

Custom Ruger 10/22 - Revolution Extreme Stock

The Mission: Customize a Ruger 10/22 Carbine

We’re building a custom Ruger 10/22 rifle. For education and charity. And fun.

We’ve always thought that the Ruger 10/22 rifle is one of the classic customizable platforms out there. It’s so popular, and so extensible, that an entire supporting industry has sprung out out of the (gun) works – so to speak – offering replacement parts, custom options, and various enhancements. That people would build entire companies around Ruger 10/22 customization speaks volumes about the quality, longevity, and flexibility of the rifle platform.

Earlier this year, while jawing with the Brownells folks at the 2012 SHOT Show, we got to talking about all the things one could do with a Ruger 10/22. Dave Bennetts, GunTech Team leader at Brownells even bragged that eventually you could replace every single part on a Ruger 10/22. So we took him up on that claim.

Ruger 10/22 Carbine

It was actually hard to start taking the 10/22 Carbine apart. It’s a sweet handling gun right out of the box!

Over the next 6 weeks or so, we’re going to customize the dickens out of this rifle – just to see what’s possible. And we’re going to document the process here so you can learn how to do it yourself.

With parts and expertise donated by Brownells, a 10/22 Carbine donated by Ruger, and assembly by our fearless gunsmith-wannabe team, we’ll end up with one heck of a rifle at the end. And we’re going to auction it  on GunBroker.com so 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Step 1 Objectives

  1. Replace the factory stock on the Ruger 10/22 Carbine with the new Revolution Extreme stock.
  2. Do NOT call the Brownells GunTech Team whimpering and begging for technical assistance.
  3. Do NOT send a bag of parts to the Brownells GunTech Team with a note asking if they can ‘fix it’.
  4. Make sure that the rifle still shoots (preferably in a forward direction) after this step is complete.

The Ruger 10/22 and Custom Stock Parts

Ruger 10/22 Carbine

We’ve got a stock Ruger 10/22 Carbine equipped as follows:

  • Wooden stock with metal buttplate
  • 10 round rotary magazine
  • Removable scope base adapter
  • Iron sights adjustable for windage and elevation (gold bead on the front sight)
  • 18.5” barrel

Keystone Sporting Arms Revolution Extreme Stock

The Revolution Extreme stock is just plain racy…

  • Contoured palm swells
  • Vertical thumbhole grip
  • Rubber buttplate
  • Cutouts in the forend and stock to reduce weight

How To Install A Custom Stock On A Ruger 10/22

Well, here goes nuthin.

The Revolution Stocks people must know us well – especially our habit of ripping open packages and tossing the instructions. Directions for changing the stock are printed right on the back of the package. We suppose it can’t be too hard then.

Unload the Ruger 10/22 and remove the magazine

Make sure the gun is unloaded! Remove the rotary magazine, open the bolt and lock it in the open position.

Make sure the Ruger 10/22 chamber is empty

Check again to make sure the gun is unloaded and be sure there’s not a stray cartridge in the chamber!

Remove the Ruger 10/22 barrel band

Now remove the barrel band. This is techno-gun-speak for that round metal thing near the front of the stock. First, loosen the screw on the bottom of the band. You don’t need to remove it entirely – just enough for the barrel band to slide off the front of the rifle. If you want to be professional about this and not butch up the screws, use a gunsmith screwdriver set like this one available at Brownells. It makes a huge difference. Since we are donating this gun, we’re using all the correct tools!

Slide off the Ruger 10/22 barrel band

Now simply slide the barrel band off the front of the rifle. It should pass right over the front sight.

Loosen the Ruger 10/22 takedown screw

Next, loosen the takedown screw. This is located on the bottom of the stock just in front of the rotary magazine.

Remove the Ruger 10/22 factory barrel

Gently lift up on the front of the barrel, making sure that the safety button is positioned in the middle – halfway between on and off. Be careful with this step as the safety can catch on the inside of the wood stock if it’s not centered. Also, there is a notch on the back of the receiver so be sure to remove the barrel end first. We want to keep this nice little stock for a future use after all.

Keystone Sporting Arms Revolution Extreme Stock

Position the receiver and barrel into the new stock, receiver end first, so that the notch in the receiver fits over the corresponding protrusion in the stock. Lower the barrel into place.

Replace the takedown screw in the Revolution Extreme stock

Using the takedown screw from the original stock, fasten the new stock to the action. The front barrel band is not required with the Revolution Extreme stock so store that away.

Ruger 10/22 Carbine with custom Revolution Extreme stock

Go shooting!

Next Steps…

Admittedly, the stock replacement step was a piece of cake. We’ll consider it a warm up exercise for the barrel swap, which we’ve not done before, so if you hear explosions originating from the southeastern US we might know something about that. We’re going to call the folks at the Brownells GunTech Team to get some advice for the proper one for this rifle and some tips on how to do this without breaking too many parts. We’ll cover that next week.

Stay tuned!

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture