Friday, January 30, 2015

Custom Ruger 10/22, Part II

In Part I last week we looked at the new-used 10/22 I found at Gander Mountain for $208. Since then I've made several mods. First was the installation of a 16-1/4", 0.920"  Feddersen bull barrel ($145 plus postage). The Hogue stock I had planned to use turned out to be for the 10/22 MAGNUM, so that plan went down the tubes. I was going to order a new Boyd stock, but my friend Ric made me the offer of buying or borrowing a customized Ruger Target stock he'd done, and I decided to buy it. Along with the visible change (adjustable Kydex cheek rest) Ric added double pillar bedding and filled some areas with JB Weld. There's a provision to add a rear block to the receiver so it can be anchored at two points, but I'm going to test it using the unmodified receiver before I consider trying the double anchor.

Today the mail brought a KIDD recoil buffer, which it just a piece of Viton fuel tubing with a steel pin running down the center. I almost made my own, but the smallest piece of Viton I could buy would cost more than the assembly from KIDD! I also have a KIDD barrel block that I may or may not install, depending on the results from my first long distance test shoots- which, given the current winter weather, may be a month or more away.

I've added a scope, too, a BSA Sweet .22 3-9 X 40 scope that was sitting on my Stevens 25. It's not really adequate for shooting tight groups at 50+ yards, but it'll do for indoor testing for now. I also have a BSA 6-24X44 AO scope here that has enough magnification but it's a bit beat up. Ideally, I'd mount a Weaver Target T-36X40 target scope, but that's a bit rich for my blood right now. I might compromise for now on something like the Simmons .44 Mag 6-21x 44mm scope I used to use in Airgun Field Target.

The last planned mod is a rebuilt trigger assembly. We measured the stock trigger at 6.5lbs, and that's way too high for precision shooting, even though it breaks pretty cleanly. While I decided what route to go, I'm borrowing a trigger Ric worked  on (new trigger, new hammer/sear)  that breaks very crisply at about 2.5lbs. Right now I'm leaning towards the Tier 2 trigger mod from Brimstone Gunsmithing, which runs $70 plus postage.

I'm still thinking of buying a Boyd stock and doing a pillar bedding job on it, but with about $420 invested so far, I may wait a few weeks before making any more purchases. ;-)

(On to Part III)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't Use Aluminum Cleaning Rods

 Kleenbore brass cleaning rods with muzzle guides.

If you go to the gun cleaning aisle at your local shooting or sporting goods store, the first thing you'll see is a wide array of aluminum cleaning rods from Hoppes, or Outers, or some private brand. If you buy a new gun for the first time, the salesman will probably steer you down that aisle and tell you you should buy a kit in the appropriate caliber to keep your gun functioning properly. But that's the last thing you should do, if you want your gun to stay accurate.

Here's the problem: Aluminum rods are extremely abrasive, and repeated use will result in wearing war at the muzzle crown, and even a tiny bit of wear will totally destroy your gun's accuracy. Hang on, you say. Aluminum is a very soft metal- much softer than the steel they make barrels from! How can it possibly wear away the steel? True, pure aluminum is very soft, and even the hardest alloys are softer than steel. But aluminum has another property: It's extremely reactive. As soon as you cut or machine a piece of aluminum and expose it to the air, it immediately reacts with the oxygen in the air and forms a thin layer of aluminum oxide that protects the metal from further oxidation. And aluminum oxide is a very hard material- it's used to make grinding wheels and sandpaper.

A better choice for cleaning your gun is a teflon coated rod, brass cleaning rod, or stainless steel cleaning rod, preferable with a plastic or brass muzzle guide that keeps the rod from coming into contact with the muzzle. Even easier to use, and cheaper, is a bore snake, which combines a brass or stainless steel brush with a soft absorbent section, and is simply pulled through the bore after spraying with cleaning. That's what I use for most of my non-match guns.

New Project: Custom Ruger 10/22 (Part I)

I was looking for bargains at the local Gander Mountain and my eye was first attracted to a Remington 540x target rifle- maybe finest and most accurate .22s ever made in this country. They were asking $450, which made it a bargain, too. Unfortunately when I got closer I could see that it was missing the rear sight and the barrel was covered in rust- which meant I don't think I would have paid over $200 for it, if that.

But nearby was a like-new Ruger 10/22 with a Simmons 4X32 22 Mag scope, and with the store-wide  10% off sale I could buy it for $208, which is about 40% off the usual package sale price. I bought it and immediately put the scope up for sale- if I can net $30 from that my cost goes down to $178, which is a good starting point. I have two scopes I might use- a BSA Sweet .22 3-9X40mm with target turrets, and an older BSA 6-24X40mm with a shade. Either will do for now.

Next step was to look for a stock and barrel. I thought about doing a wood stock, which can be fun, but a synthetic stock is probably more dimensionally stable and easier to bed, so that's the way I went. I found a deal on a brand new Hogue Overmolded stock in olive drab for $49 plus shipping on eBay:

That leaves only the choice of barrel. I can get a Green Mountain or E.R. Shaw for around $100 or so, but my friend Ric, who has built a lot of accurate rifles and pistols, tells me I should consider spending about $60-80 more and get a Kidd, which is made from a Lothar Walther blank and has a tighter chamber. Feddersen, who make .50 cal barrels for the US military, also get strong recommendations from many on, and I can get a .920" diameter bull barrel in matte black from them for $145.

I also have to decide on barrel length. Longer barrels give you a bit more velocity, and are a little quieter, as the propellant gas has more room to expand and cool. Shorter barrels are theoretically more accurate, as the bullet leaves the barrel faster, so there's less time for the shooter to move and upset the flight. High end target rifles use short barrels, sometimes with an extended "bloop tube" to provide an extended aiming radius. The Anschutz match rifles generally have a rifled length of 420mm, or just over 16-1/2", and I think that's the direction I'm going to go.

(Part II here)

Friday, January 2, 2015

The LCRx with 3" Barrel and adjustable sights

Starting with the first LCR in .38 Special, Ruger had a real hit on their hands. There are now versions in .357, .22LR, and .22mag, and an exposed hammer version, the LCRx. The most recent additions are an LCR in 9mm Parabellum, which shares the steel frame of the .375 model, and an LCRx with a 3" barrel, an extended grip, and adjustable sights. 

It's hard to say exactly what market Ruger is aiming at here; it's too big for a backup gun, and the adjustable sights can hang up in a concealed holster. It's too light for competitions like PPC, where you need the mass of a heavy barrel to get back on target quickly between shots. At 15oz, it's only a few ounces heavier than the standard LCRx, so there's not a lot of difference in recoil.

A Ruger VP says that “The newest LCRx is the perfect revolver for backpacking, concealed carry, home defense, or just plinking” which covers an awful lot of ground  but I think he may have hit the nail on the head with his first suggestion. Backpacking, you want a lightweight gun  that won't weigh you down, but which has enough authority to discourage the kinds of animals you might encounter. Now .38 Special, even in +P, is a bit light for the black bears in my state, although it might be just the thing for the mountain lions we're starting to see; a friend carries an airweight Smith & Wesson .357 in a fanny pack when he's in the wilderness. It's not pleasant to shoot, but it's effective.

What I'd really like to see is a .22LR, 8-shot LCRx with a 3 or 4" barrel, and an LCRx in .44 Special with a steel frame and a 3" barrel. The .22 would make a great "kit gun" for trappers, anglers, and hunters, and the .44 would be the perfect lightweight yet powerful sidearm for wilderness hiking trips. I don't know if you could fit 5 .44s in the LCR's frame, though it may well be possible. But I'm willing to bet we'll see a .22 version in the coming year.