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Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage
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We're All Shooting Sports Ambassadors

by Joe D'Alessandro

 

I love my grandkids. It has truly been a privilege being able to share recreational shooting sports and the positive aspects of firearms with them, but it does seems to me that kids are a lot different than adults when it comes to learning. With adults, you just put them in fatigues, send them to basic training and lean all over them until they master a new skill set. With youngsters, it seems that when they stop smiling they stop learning... and then they can be stubborn beyond all belief. So the challenge has always been to maintain control, make sure complete information is learned, but with the type of delivery that keeps them smiling, short of putting on a clown suit. I hate those noses.

With visits from family expected throughout the summer, youth model, single shot, bolt action rim fire rifles are in reserve for the very young and new shooters. However, a Ruger 10/22 was modified to suit those who are a bit older, who have mastered the safety rules and have accumulated a decent amount of shooting experience. For this group, I was trying to assemble a gun that would not shout, "I am owned by a old guy".  The modifications that follow were performed on a Ruger 10/22T.

Take a ride on the Picatinny Railroad. I think that's in New Jersey

It seemed important to mount a scope suitable for astronomy on the 10/22, or at least something 16x and above. These scopes are impressive in size and, when shooting from a bench, they almost always assure a near bullseye even at extended distances. Fun is hitting a distant target. Frustration is when a target is too small and too far away to be hit by anything less than an accomplished shooter. The gun was set up to give an inexperienced shooter a sense of achievement.

A Burris Signature 4-16x44mm was selected because of its solid performance and its relatively longish 1" tube. The scope could be supported over a longer span with wider ring separation for greater stability and the long tube permitted far aft mounting for comfortable head position. The scope is excellent; brightness, contrast and reticle locks. The objective bell, at nearly 60mm, is adjustable for parallax and contains a light controlling iris. The Burris is a flexible scope that can be setup to suit various shooters.

The ¼" high Weaver type base that was packaged with the Ruger would not raise the scope high enough to clear its large objective bell, or achieve a natural line of sight height, without using high rings. Additionally, the base had a few cross slots, which limited fore and aft range placement of the scope for comfortable eye relief.

The Ruger base was replaced with a ½" high Weigand Combat Tactical Picatinny Mount (Brownells # 957-000-067). The Weigand base works with medium height Weaver and Picatinny type rings and the cross slot count was increased from five to twelve.

The Burris rings come with poly inserts that float into alignment and help take the stress off of scopes where rings are minutely out of parallel alignment with one another. For this application, I went one step further and used offset Posi-Align inserts, as they appear above. With insert offsets of +/- 0.005", 0.010" and 0.020", it was possible to align the scope while windage and elevation adjustments remained in an almost neutral position.

Because the slots in the Weigand base are cut to deeper Picatinny standard, the ring cross locks needed to be pushed forward in their respective slots prior to tightening so they would have nowhere to go under exposure to high frequency recoil. The Brownells # for the rings 118-420-421. The offset Posi-Align bushings are Brownells # 118-626-019.

The combination of medium height Burris Signature Zee rings and Weigand base placed the centerline of the scope at 1.460" above the Ruger's receiver, compared to the 1.120" height of an earlier 40mm objective lens scope installation. Head - eye position was getting better, but the stock's head support was not.

Stopping bobble head behavior...

The Ruger 10/20's stock geometry is more appropriate for use with metallic sights. Metallic sights are tucked in close to the receiver, so a stock with a good deal of drop is necessary to get the shooter's eye down at sight level without getting a stiff neck. Measuring from receiver top, the Ruger drop is almost 2" and the comb angle is acute. The scoped Remington rifle (bottom), designed for scope use, has a ¾" drop and the comb is almost parallel to the bore.

For the Ruger, even assuming low scope rings, the line of sight in a natural hold would be 1" inch below optical center. Going to the larger objective with required medium height rings, put the optical centerline another 0.340" above natural line of sight. That's not good.

Handling lots of rifles for brief periods of time, I've grown use to shooting rifles that don't fit very well, rifles that often leave me looking like... Joe Bobble Head. In this case, because the rifle would be used by young shooters, it seems a good place to insert a modern looking stock the kids would appreciate and to address the comb height - eye - scope optical center alignment dilemma. There are lots and lots of good stocks for the Ruger 10/22, but regardless aesthetic bent, they all come off and go on about the same way.

Come on, which one really makes you smile?

The selected replacement stock is a Keystone Sporting Arms Revolution Extreme - Cayenne. Brownells # 100-004-046. Now if that look doesn't just kind of jump out and slap you around the head and ears! The Revolution has a very nice satin finish. Compared to the factory piece, the drop at the heel is increased to 2½" which puts the butt plate in better location on the shoulder. The comb is dramatically raised to about 1½" higher than stock. The pistol grip is basically vertical which makes for a much more positive hold, especially with the thumb hole grasp and the forearm is wide... hand filling. At 2.35 lbs, the Keystone stock is not significantly heavier than the 2.30 lb factory piece. Pull length on both stocks is approximately 13 ¾"

From a inletting and barrel channel standpoint, the Keystone piece is a very tight fit rather than the close, but not very tight action fit for the factory stock and the factory piece's barrel float to the very last ¾" of forearm approach. I'd like to detail the installation process, but even I can't expand on a one screw removal and install procedure. It's easy, with the back of the action tipped into the stock, then the barreled action rotated down until the barrel is laid flush in the channel.

It's not just about appearances...

The factory configured Ruger 10/22 was OK, but not as steadying as I would have liked because contact with the stock was less than optimal. Shooter's comfort has a lot to do with a firearm's  performance, which is why people have triggers and actions slicked up and stocks modified. Below is a table that tracks twenty five yard accuracy for the gun, before and after the stock change.

 Brand Type Bullet
Weight
Grains
Advertised
Velocity
FPS
Factory Stock
5 Shot Group "
Revolution Stock
5 Shot Group "
Remington Subsonic 38 1050 0.7 0.4
Remington Eley Target 40 1085 0.3 0.3
CCI Mini Mag 40 1235 1.0 0.4
Federal Game-Shok 40 1240 0.4 0.5
Peters Solid Point 40 1255 0.4 0.4
Winchester SS RN 40 1300 0.6 0.3
Remington Yellow Jacket 33 1500 1.0 0.4
Winchester TIN HP 26 1650 1.2 0.3

Considering this is a standard rifle, with the exception of the scope and stock, I was please with the degree of improvement. I don't think absolute accuracy showed a huge change, but all of the ammunition that showed a repetitive tendency to scatter with the factory stock was pulled into line with the better grouping ammunition.

The new stock's higher comb makes the alignment with the scope natural. The nearly vertical pistol grip makes for better buttstock pressure control at the shoulder and at the face. The full forearm makes for much better support. The heavy barrels seems to tune ok to the channel contact. Now I can move the target out to 50 yards and perhaps move on to take a look at the fire control system. In any event, I'm positive there is now a gun at the house the kids will look forward to shooting and I'm pretty sure they won't mind if grandpa breaks it in for them.