OFF-TRACK: Ruger 1022 Buildup, Making a Match Grade .22!


Ruger 1022 Buildup, Making a Match Grade .22!

By Mike Kojima

Judging by the people we hang around with in the car industry, it seems like about 90% of car nuts in our circle are also into guns so we decided to do a little write up about one of our gun projects.  This is a purely for fun tech story and we would never politicize our interest.  We are not doomsday preppers, nor are we fantasizing about smoking zombies, but we do like target shooting and higher performance in the stuff we do.  We figured that our readers would like to see what we did to turn a Ruger 1022 into a tack driving paper puncher.

A Ruger 1022 is perhaps one of the most common guns around.  It is a first gun for many of us, being a relatively low cost but high quality, semi automatic rifle that shoots the inexpensive .22 lr cartridge.  It is a good gun to learn on, is super cheap to shoot and is great for small game hunters and target shooters alike.

Our particular 1022 has been around for probably 25 plus years and has shot thousands of rounds with little care.  We had bought our 1022 for something like 80 bucks back in the early 80's and now they sell for a still relatively inexpensive $260 or so dollars. Our 11 year old daughter has been shooting since she was 9 and is now hinting that whe wants her own gun so we thought it would be cool to modenrize and update the old family 1022 she learned on and make it something really cool for her.  Nothing like a sub MOA tack driver to make a bench shooting little girl happy.

Brand new our stock Ruger 1022 looked something like this.  It is a timeless classic.  This is a great kids gun or something to have fun with, shooting plentiful and cheap .22 long rifle ammo. 
Our stock was pretty beat up having been subjected to many trips to the range and the field on camping trips and stuff.  We removed the battered wood stock and stripped off the hardware.  This left us with the barrel and the receiver assembly.  The barrel had thousands of rounds through it and although it was still fairly accurate “for a .22” we wanted to make a rifle as accurate as the .22 caliber rimfire cartridge is capable of.  Fortunately for us, due to the 1022's popularity, the rifle has a huge performance parts aftermarket, much like the Honda Civic!
We replaced our pencil like stock barrel with this Bull target barrel from Green Mountain.  A Bull barrel is a larger diameter match grade heavy barrel.  This is desirable as the vibrations from the ignition of the cartridge propellant can affect accuracy, especially the harmonics of the vibrations.  A stiffer barrel raises the resonant frequency to the point where vibrations hopefully will have little impact on accuracy.  Our Green Mountain barrel is 0.920″ thick and 17.5″ long.  It has been determined that for a .22, much longer than this reduces velocity.  The barrel is machined with a 16:1 twist to stabilize standard weight bullets. The barrel is machined from wear and corrosion resistant 418 stainless steel with external flutes for cooling and weight reduction.  The barrel features a Bentz chamber.  This is a chamber geometry that is much tighter than the stock chamber but not quite as tight as a match bolt action chamber which could cause jamming in a semi automatic rifle.  A loose chamber can allow inconsistency in how the bullet is launched into the bore negatively affecting accuracy.  The barrel also has a recessed target crown.  This is close tolerance machining of the muzzle which is important for accuracy.  If the muzzle is not perfectly concentric, it can cause instability of the bullet as it leaves the barrel.  A recessed crown means that the crown is countersunk into the face of the muzzle to protect it from nicks and damage that could hurt accuracy.  Our barrel is precision machined to tolerances of 0.0001″
The receiver is going to take a lot of rework to upgrade it from from a recreational plinker to match grade target.  Volquartsen Customs, one of the leading manufacturers of .22 caliber match grade parts was selected to help us bring the action up to spec.  It is a lot harder to make a super accurate and reliable semi- automatic rifle.  Tolerances have to be carefully considered due to the limited operational forces of the reciprocating parts.  You don't rely on arm strength to ram the bolt home and extract a cartridge from a super tightly fitted chamber.  Operating forces are dictated by the mass of the internals and simple springs.  Too tight and your rifles suffer from failures to feed and failures to extract.  Too loose and you don't get the accuracy.
Our first order of action was to break the receiver's action down to the trigger group, the bolt group and the guide rod and main spring.  On the 1022 the receiver is investment cast steel, pretty decent as many contemporary .22 caliber rifles have things made of pot metal and plastic.  The trigger guard is metal and the bolt is solid steel.  Not bad for a .22.  We are going to make it better.


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