Build Your Dream 10/22 with Brownells’ New BRN-22 Receiver (Full Review + How To)

The BRN-22 is a great, economical place to start your 10/22 build.

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 a high-quality product Brownells offers at a reasonable price.

The receiver comes in both railed and flat-top models.

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.

Billet aluminum ensures proper, consistent dimensions for the barrel opening.

A hole in the rear of the receiver allows for 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:

PartModelCost
ReceiverBRN-22 Railed$89.99
StockMagpul Hunter X-22$132.95
BarrelE.R. Shaw Target Barrel$108.99
TriggerRuger Trigger Guard Assembly$47.99
BoltRuger Bolt Assembly$33.99
Bolt HandlePower Custom Competition$31.99
Receiver PinsRuger Factory Replacement$4.99
Takedown ScrewVolquarstan Socket Head$4.99
Bolt Stop PinRuger Factory Replacement$3.99
Total:$459.91

 

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.

How-To

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 step is the most difficult (and it’s not very difficult).

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.

Range Time

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.

Even with the heavy barrel, the rifle is light enough to shoot easily without support.

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.

It’s always a good sign when three out of five shots go through the same hole.

Conclusion

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.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Dan Hue July 25, 2018, 9:51 pm

    Cool project. I’m considering building my own 10/22, and this looks like a great template to follow. One question though, how different would it be to build a takedown version? I’m guessing the stock and barrel would be different, but what else should I be looking for?

    • Dan Hue July 26, 2018, 9:37 pm

      I answered my question, and figured the receiver is also different (makes sense). I saw online references to a BRN-22T (or BRN-22TR with the rail), from Brownells, but it’s not available yet, it seems. Anybody knows anything about this product?

  • JC July 12, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Bought my Ruger Bull Tact bull barrel 10/22 about 6 years ago. I did the trigger modification as shown on you tube . I added an 8 1/2 ” tactical rail that I JB welded in place so as to accommodate a larger scope and this thing is a tact driver at 200 yards. The Bull Tact 10/22 is a great rifle right out of the box so I don’t see the advantage of this BRN receiver over the Ruger setup

    • John Scales July 13, 2018, 1:58 pm

      How big are the tacks you are driving at 200 yrds? Realistically you would be doing good to shoot a 6″ dia. group at 200 yrds. and that would be with a good rifle and good ammo. bullet drop is like 4 ft.

  • John Scales July 11, 2018, 10:29 am

    Jordan, I am from Waco too. I have been a big fan of .22 rifles but have avoided the 10-22 because EVERYONE has one. your article has encouraged me to start on my next build, and it will be a variation of yours. I have already ordered the parts. Thanks for your article, hope to see you at the range sometime.

    • Jordan Michaels July 14, 2018, 5:40 pm

      Hey, John. Great! I’m glad it was useful to you. See you around.

  • Jeff July 10, 2018, 8:52 pm

    Jordan,how long did it take to get your barreled receiver? I’ve had one on order since the first week of the intro. Getting a little antsy lol

    • Jordan Michaels July 14, 2018, 5:41 pm

      I ordered the receiver without the barrel attached, but if it’s been over a week (and your shipping method predicted 5-7 days), I’d give them a call. Brownells’ customer service is great.

  • Tommygun851 July 9, 2018, 2:24 pm

    Great article! Just picked up another used 10/22 to play with so this article gives me a direction to go with. One thing that you didn’t mention , does the receiver have to be shipped to an FFL dealer? I assume that it does and that would change the total price for the build

    • Jordan Michaels July 9, 2018, 4:05 pm

      Good point. The receiver does require an FFL transfer, so those fees should also apply to the total.

  • BILL July 9, 2018, 7:45 am

    #Metoo ( sorry, I couldn’t resist ) I li e my 10/22 And spent some quality time with mine this weekend. I ran 400 rounds through it and loved every single one. I’m still having some feeding issues, very few though, maybe 6 out of those 400. I’m using the BX-25 mags and love them. The bx25 is the best mag out there. My issue stems, I believe, from using the stock bolt and receiver and this Brownells unit is right on time, I definitely see one in my near future, along with a new bolt while I’m at it.
    I bought a GreenMountainBarrel, 16″, Victor stock and BX trigger unit for mine along with and extended mag release, bolt release and a few other small pieces. The Victor Company stock is King. I looked at the Magpul but the Victor is made of fiberglass and Kevlar and is on par with any high end precision bolt gun stock on the market today. It actually makes the magpul feel like it’s made by Mattell, and I love Magpul products.

  • Justin Barnes July 9, 2018, 7:04 am

    Finally a review of this receiver. Thanks for doing the write up and would really like to see a follow up with what it does with real match grade ammo.

    • Jordan Michaels July 9, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Hey, Justin. Will do. I’m hoping to take it out this weekend. The Magpul stock also includes a shim that lets users tune barrel harmonics. I didn’t mess with that for this piece, as the accuracy was fine already, but I might be able to shrink those groups even more. We’ll see.

      • Jordan Michaels July 14, 2018, 5:43 pm

        Just tried some Federal HV Match. Groups were marginally smaller than the bulk stuff, but nothing amazing. The search continues!

  • Mike Adkinson July 9, 2018, 6:06 am

    Love the 10/22 myself. What was the issue with 25 round mags? I have a few Ruger factory that my stock 10/22 love?

    • Luke July 9, 2018, 8:11 am

      Feeding. I have two of the 25 mags and a few of the 10’s. Never had a problem with the 10’s because they’re a longer design and have a better/tighter fit: no wobble. The 25’s began to stove-pipe after a few cycles. So, I did the 22 casing mod on both of them and they work fine now. (I thought it was the lead-head ammo that was causing the mis-feed and stovepipes – not so).
      Here’s a couple YT references:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTz-vFLpa-s&t=14s

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG2icP0k1_Q

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw4rSR3NGCM

      • Jordan Michaels July 9, 2018, 12:35 pm

        This was my experience, too. The 25-round mag cants forward, which keeps the next round from feeding.

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