If the AR-15 is America’s most popular rifle, the Ruger 10/22 might be its most beloved. Thousands, probably millions, of youngsters have cut their teeth on the little rimfire, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. My father-in-law, who first introduced me to the wonderful world of firearms, still keeps an old (loaded) 10/22 hanging in his shop alongside his equally old collection of hammers.
The hammers are for fixing the house; the 10/22 is for fixing the snakes.
I’ve always wanted my own 10/22, but Ruger’s offerings never spoke to me. I knew I’d have to purchase an aftermarket stock and barrel, and I didn’t want to spend the cash on a complete rifle if half of it would be immediately relegated to the spare parts bin.
So, when Brownells announced in May the release of their new BRN-22 receiver, I knew I had to take it for a spin.
The BRN-22 is machined from high-grade 6061 T6 aluminum billet and finished with an anodized Type 2 hardcoat similar to many AR-15 receivers. Machined receivers can be held to super-tight tolerances to ensure a smooth fit with other parts, which is important when you’re using aftermarket components from a variety of different companies. Aftermarket barrels can be especially difficult to fit into a factory receiver because the casting (rather than machining) process can create variances in barrel opening dimensions. The BRN-22 mitigates this problem, and my barrel fit without any trouble.
If you’ve handled a high-quality AR-15 receiver, the BRN-22 will feel familiar. I didn’t find any blemishes or rough machining marks, and the pins and screws all fit well in their respective locations. It even includes a hole in the rear of the receiver that allows for easy bore cleaning.
The BRN-22 comes in flat-top and railed configurations as well as models that fit takedown barrels, stocks, and accessories. Brownells also offers receivers with pre-installed barrels, though, as you’ll see, the barrel can be installed with nothing more than an Allen wrench.
Brownells isn’t the first to offer an aftermarket 10/22 receiver, but they’re the first to hit this price point. At $79.99 for the standard receiver and $89.99 for the railed, it’s never been cheaper to build a custom 10/22 for a variety of applications. I wanted something I could use to practice target shooting and hunt squirrels, so I went with the following parts list:
|Stock||Magpul Hunter X-22||$132.95|
|Barrel||E.R. Shaw Target Barrel||$108.99|
|Trigger||Ruger Trigger Guard Assembly||$47.99|
|Bolt||Ruger Bolt Assembly||$33.99|
|Bolt Handle||Power Custom Competition||$31.99|
|Receiver Pins||Ruger Factory Replacement||$4.99|
|Takedown Screw||Volquarstan Socket Head||$4.99|
|Bolt Stop Pin||Ruger Factory Replacement||$3.99|
You can save an extra $100-$125 by purchasing a less expensive barrel and stock. You can find factory 10/22s for even lower prices, but, again, cast factory receivers sometimes struggle to integrate aftermarket barrels. If you have any plans to modify your 10/22 in the future, getting those aftermarket parts now and pairing them with the BRN-22 makes the most sense both from an economic and long-term quality perspective.
I’ve run into more trouble constructing IKEA furniture than I had building this 10/22. IKEA’s directions are written by Satan, admittedly, but you get the idea. Putting together a 10/22 takes all of twenty minutes (tops), and you don’t need fancy tools or specialized knowledge. If you purchase a socket head takedown screw, all you need is a set of Allen wrenches (though an inch-pounds torque wrench also comes in handy).
Step 1: Install the Bolt and Bolt Handle
This is the trickiest bit. Start by placing the bolt handle and spring assembly into the notch at the rear of the receiver. Pull the handle back from the inside of the receiver, then switch to holding the bolt by the handle as far back as it will go. Place the bolt in the receiver so that its notches fit into the corresponding notches in the handle. Release the handle so the bolt travels to the front of the receiver.
Step 2: Install the Bolt Stop Pin
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Step 3: Install the Barrel
Place the barrel into the receiver’s barrel opening and make sure it fits flush to the receiver. Also ensure the extractor fits into the corresponding notch in the barrel.
Secure the barrel to the receiver with the V-block and screws (Brownells includes these parts with the BRN-22). When you start to feel resistance, begin alternating between the screws to ensure even tension. Ruger’s customer service recommends that the screws be torqued to 10-20 inch-pounds. You might find different numbers elsewhere online, but I’d go with Ruger’s recommendation, even though in this case they didn’t manufacture the receiver or the barrel.
If you can’t fit your torque wrench along the barrel, you can estimate 10-20 inch-pounds by getting your screws hand tight and then giving them one last pull with an Allen wrench. Don’t overtighten! It’s possible to strip the threads on the aluminum receiver.
Step 4: Install the Trigger Assembly
No hammer is necessary here. The pins don’t need to be tight because they’ll be covered by the stock. If you’re unfamiliar with a 10/22 trigger, be sure the ejector is in the notch at the rear of the assembly. It probably fell out during shipping.
Step 5: Fit the Barreled Action to the Stock
The Magpul X-22 includes stock-specific instructions that I’m not going to cover, but this step is more-or-less the same no matter which stock you choose. Start by placing the safety button in the middle position between “safe” and “fire.” The receiver fit might be a bit snug, so work it back and forth until it fits flush into the stock. The Magpul stock recommends tightening the takedown screw to 20 inch-pounds, and your stock’s instructions likely have a similar recommendation. Twenty inch-pounds isn’t very much, so if you don’t have a torque wrench, just tighten the screw until it’s tight – and no more.
Step 6: Function Check
Be sure the bolt moves freely and the safety functions as it should.
Shooting my new 10/22 reminded me why so many people love Ruger’s design: it’s flat-out fun. The little rimfire is accurate, reliable, and comfortable. The heavy barrel on this model all but eliminates recoil, and the semi-auto action let me burn through cheap .22 to my heart’s content. After some mag-related issues (stay away from the 25-rounders), the rifle functioned beautifully.
I didn’t bring any match ammunition during last week’s range trip, so I decided to perform an accuracy test with the cheap stuff I (and probably most 10/22 owners) had on hand. Remington’s 36 grain “Golden Bullet” hollow point is a staple of the .22 world, and I was curious to see how it performed.
In a word, great. I steadied the rifle on a shooting sled and shot 5-shot groups from 50 yards. I shot quite a few groups, all of which were acceptable, but the two in the photo are my best and final offerings. The group on the right measures 1.15 in, and the group in the middle measures .878 in (I adjusted my point of aim slightly between the two groups). I was pleased with the rifle’s accuracy, and I’m looking forward to finding out what it can do with higher-end ammo.
Whether you’re looking to build a precision rifle, or you just want an upgraded stock and barrel, Brownells’ BRN-22 is a fantastic place to start your 10/22 build. Their precision machining process ensures that your aftermarket parts will fit without any trouble, and Ruger’s design is simple enough for even the most technically challenged to modify. At this price, there really isn’t any reason not to get started today.