Gun Digest

How To: Creating a Custom Day/Night Ruger 10/22

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Ruger 10/22 Custom build - 1In this custom build, a standard factory Ruger 10/22 is transformed into a suppressed predator and varmint slayer capable of daytime or nighttime operation.

Many shooters own or have fired a Ruger 10/22. For some, it was their first rifle, their first real gun.

With millions of them sold since 1964, the accessory aftermarket for customizing Ruger 10/22s is very robust. These rifles can easily be transformed from stock, Plain Jane wood-stock-blued-barrel guns to nearly Star Wars status. This article covers the conversion of a stock factory Ruger 10/22 into a compact and stealthy day/night rifle designed to deal with daytime varmints and nocturnal pests.

There are many versions of the Ruger 10/22 available from the factory. For this project, I used the bare-bones model 1103, essentially for the action alone.

Immediately after purchase, I removed the stock as well as the trigger group and barrel. These items were later sold to cover part of the cost of this build. Although it carries an MSRP of $309, the model 1103 10/22 carbine can be found on sale for about $250.

After stripping the rifle to the action, I did some work to the bolt. Using a belt sander, I gave the back of the bolt a new radius to raise the part that strikes the trigger when the action cycles. This is done to smooth out the action.

The action largely remains the same, but just about every other element has been tinkered with.

Then, using 240-grit sandpaper, I polished the surfaces of the bolt that mate to the action. This was followed with 400-grit sandpaper on a flat surface using some oil. Any factory imperfections inside the action were taken down with a Dremel.

I replaced the stock charging handle and spring with a KIDD charging handle assembly. The KIDD is quite a bit smoother than the stock option, as it is precision ground and polished.

Next, I added a Ruger BX trigger assembly after modifying the bolt catch to release simply by pulling back on it. This bolt catch upgrade can be done in about 5 minutes with a Dremel. The BX trigger breaks crisply at about 3 pounds, and helps increase accuracy. The BX simply drops in after pulling the two action pins.

Finally, I replaced the stock steel buffer with a soft aftermarket model. All of these upgrades made the action far smoother than how it arrived from the factory. A Hogue Overmolded stock in ghillie tan was selected for this stealthy rig. The rubber overmolding keeps the stock very quiet for when things go bump in the night.

In order to be able to easily attach a light to the rifle, I made an aggressive modification to the stock. A polymer Magpul picatinny rail section was attached to the underside of the stock near the sling stud.

This customization was not simple, as part of the inside of the stock had to be removed with a Dremel to make room for fasteners. Also, the bottom of the stock angles toward the barrel, so the rail section had to be sanded down at an angle to get alignment between the light and the bore.

The light I chose was the Inforce WML IR/visible torch. This light has one of the easiest to use quick-detach (QD) mechanisms out there and toggles between visible and IR light quickly. It only weighs 3 ounces, and it puts out 200 lumens of visible light and 850 nm/75mW of infrared output.

When used with a helmet mounted PVS-14 night vision device, the IR illuminator/laser combination create a point-and-click solution for close-range nighttime varmints. For IR illumination beyond about 30 yards, another IR flashlight is required.

One choice here is the Torch PRO Mk II from TNVC ( The Torch Pro is a bit overkill for this Ruger 10/22 application, but it can also be used for long-range nighttime predator hunting. Check your local game laws for legality.

The barrel I chose was the SB-X by Tactical Solutions. The SB-X is a unique design, which allows for a suppressor to be recessed inside a permanently attached barrel shroud. This gives the finished product the practical length of a short barreled rifle (SBR) with a suppressor attached, without the need for an SBR tax stamp from the ATF (The suppressor still requires a tax stamp).

The rifled portion of the SB-X barrel is 12.375 inches, but the ATF considers the shroud part of the barrel. The resulting ATF barrel length is 16.625 inches. The threads are standard 1/2×28.

The SB-X is made from 6061-T6 aluminum and is very lightweight. A chromoly steel barrel liner delivers good accuracy.

The barrel must be fit to the action by lightly sanding the barrel extension by hand using 400-grit sand paper. This is a quick and easy operation. After fitting the barrel, the v-block is replaced and torqued to about 10 inch/pounds.

I selected the Tactical Solutions Axiom from the Silencer Shop ( The Axiom’s titanium body and baffle stack keep the weight low at about 6 ounces. Running .22LR ammunition clogs suppressors, so they must be disassembled and cleaned periodically (usually about every 1,000 rounds). The Axiom design uses a split, stainless steel tube that surrounds the baffle stack, which makes maintenance easier.

At just under 6 inches in length, the Axiom is a perfect match to the SB-X barrel. The end of the suppressor sticks out just an inch or so from the end of the shroud. The Axiom can stand up to full auto fire for everything from .22LR to .17HMR and even 5.7 x 28mm.

The daytime optic chosen was a Burris Fast Fire red dot sight atop a Tactical Solutions one-piece Picatinny base. This little red dot is lightweight, fast-pointing and easy to zero. It is perfectly at home on a 10/22.

A red dot sight is not intended for long-range precision, but for predators and varmints inside 100 yards, it is more than adequate. Using the red dot sight, the rifle groups a couple of types of ammunition around an inch at 50 yards for five-shot groups (see table).

For nighttime operations, an infrared laser from Crimson Trace was added just in front of the red dot. While the red dot does not appear to the casual observer to clear the laser it actually does.

A before and after shot illustrating where the rifle began, and where it ended up.

This dual sighting set up broadens the applications for this rifle significantly. When used with helmet mounted night vision, it is easily capable of hitting coyote-sized targets at 100 yards with good shot placement using only the infrared laser. Shouldering the rifle in the usual sense is not even necessary. Just point and click.

Alternatively, by using the visible light and the red dot sight, similar results can be had without the need for night vision. And of course the red dot works very well during the day.

One very practical application for this rig is to carry at the ready when approaching coyote hunting stands day or night. Coyotes or random varmints accidentally happened upon en route to a stand may be engaged without ruining that set.

This is particularly true with subsonic ammunition because the thump of the impact is louder than the report of the rifle. This high-speed, low-drag project was very easy to accomplish, and the end result is a welcome addition to this writer’s gun collection.


Ruger 10/22 Customized Day/Night Rifle
Action: Ruger 10/22 model 1103, MSRP $309,
Stock: Hogue Overmolded, MSRP $89.95,
Barrel: Tactical Solutions SB-X, MSRP $295.00,
Trigger: Ruger BX Trigger Assembly, MSRP $89.95,
Charging Handle Assembly: KIDD bolt handle charging assembly with guide rod and springs, MSRP $35.95,
Suppressor: Tactical Solutions Axiom, MSRP $440,
Optic: Burris Fast Fire 2, MSRP $239,
Scope Base: Tactical Solutions 1 piece base, MSRP $33,
Laser: Crimson Trace 201-IR infrared laser, MSRP $269,
Illuminator: Inforce WML IR/visible weapon light, MSRP $165,
Illuminator option for longer range: TNVC Torch PRO Mk II, MSRP $248 with mount,

This article is an excerpt from the November 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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