A Father-Son Ruger 10/22 Build

How Bob and his boy, Josh, re-bonded while customizing a rimfire rifle.

father and son holding new rifle
The Jedi 10/22 teacher and young disciple (and son), Josh.Robert Sadowski

Think back to when you just started to learn how to shoot. I remember I felt like a king with a pocket full of .22 LR cartridges and a 10/22 in my hands. I wasn’t that much taller than that old Ruger was long. I’m sure you have stories, too. I also remember the distinct ringing in my ears after burning through a box of 50 rounds.

Ear protection wasn’t a necessity then as it is now. Of course The Who, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others probably contributed to my hearing loss, but that’s beside the point. This is the story of me, Bob, and my son, Josh, and how we re-bonded over a 10/22 build.

The 10/22 is an iconic American rimfire rifle with a slick rotary magazine. Some 5 million have been manufactured since the model was introduced in 1964 and it was the rimfire rifle I used to teach my son how to shoot. It seemed like a natural for a build that didn’t start out as a build.

I had a Boyds stock collecting dust in my shop. A beautiful Rimfire Thumbhole wood laminate in a Pepper finish that showed layers of green, gray and black. In the hand it felt comfortable. You wanted to hold it and imagine it tricked out. I offered Josh the stock and told him he could "make a sweet rimfire" with it.

custom rifle components
These are the components of the BBRT layer out prior to the build. This helps you better understand the relationship between components.Robert Sadowski

Of course Josh accepted the stock and then became reflective.

"Why don’t we build a 10/22?" Josh asked. "You have tools and knowledge and I like idea that we’d be creating a cool memory. Remember in the fall how we used to shoot your cousin’s 10/22 with the heavy barrel at a big pumpkin we set up in the hay field? And the clay pigeons in the dirt bank? I liked shooting that rifle a lot and loved the look of the wood laminate stock."

brownells receiver picatinny rail machine
The Brownells receiver has a Picatinny rail machined into the top which allows easy mounting of an optic.Robert Sadowski

What Kind of 10/22?

It had been a long time since I thought of those late summer days in the field. Obviously Josh remembered them quite clearly.

I have plenty of other work to do, was my first thought, and my second thought was, yep the kid has a point. Then we began a lengthy discussion on the type of 10/22 to build. What would we use it for? Hunting? Plinking? Both? My head went directly to a woodchuck rifle which would be gopher rifle to some of you in other the parts of the country.

“A varmint will never quit—ever," I told him. "So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.”

"Ok Carl Spackler, you want a varmint gun. I get it," he said. "Let’s make something unique and something I can use to create little groups."

Choosing Parts

timney trigger
(Top) The Timney trigger offers a light two pound pull and extended magazine release making it more user friendly than the factory trigger. (Bottom) The Timney trigger slides into the bottom of the receiver and attaches via two pins.Robert Sadowski

The quest was on. The build didn’t happen over night. We swapped texts and calls over weeks. Josh would send images of tricked out target 10/22 rifles.

"Maybe we buy a used 10/22 and drop that into the stock?" I asked.

"Really? In a stock like this? You didn’t really say that," Josh said.

He was right. After copious amounts of research we ended up building what we call a BBRT which stands for Brownells, Boyds, Ruger and Timney.

I called my pals over at Brownells who just so happened to build an aftermarket 10/22 barreled action. Timing is everything, they say.

It comes with receiver, barrel, V-block, and screws as a package. What I liked about the receiver was it has a Picatinny rail machined in the top. The thumbhole stock is straight, similar to an AR15 stock, so an optic like a red dot with a mount for an AR15 would work.

factory ruger bolt assembly
We used a factory Ruger bolt assembly and charging handle to keep some Ruger parts in our build.Robert Sadowski

We opted for a Ruger bolt and the traditional charging handle. We did this as an homage to Ruger.

The trigger was a no-brainer. We used a Timney drop-in trigger assembly that has a pull weight of two pounds and an extended magazine release that can be operated by one finger. Josh and I agreed that the factory trigger was the one thing on the factory Ruger that had to go.

tri-mag bx1 magazine
The Tri-Mag attaches three BX-1 magazine together this makes it faster to swap magazines and increases the size of the magazine so it it easier to manipulate.Robert Sadowski

There were an assortment of receiver pins and takedown screw required for the build and the last piece to choose was the magazine.

"I prefer a flush mounted magazine, and the newer BX-1 magazine are fine by me," I offered.

"Brownells makes a Tri-Mag kit that attaches three magazines together. That’s the firepower you want, right Carl?" he said.

holosun red dot rail installment
The Holosun red dot easily attaches to the built in Picatinny rail.Robert Sadowski

I gave into him on the magazine choice, but the optic was all mine. The Holosun Micro Red Dot System can use on a pistol or rifle. This sight is made of aluminum and features a multi-reticle system: a 32 MOA circle with 2 MOA dot, a 2 MOA dot only, or a 32 MOA ring only.

Just push a button to choose the reticle. What I like about this sight is it uses a common CR2032 battery and solar back up. The unit can run up to 10 years on a single battery depending on the brightness setting and reticle setting.

The 10/22 Assembly

So with the parts purchased, Josh and I set a day and time to assemble the BBRT.

threaded brownells barrel
The Brownells barrel is threaded so it will take a compensator or a suppressor. It also comes with a thread protector.Robert Sadowski

"I have taken apart the 10/22 so many times I can do it in my sleep," I told him.

"So, Jedi 10/22 Master, teach me how," Josh said.

"Patience and the right tools will guide you though any build. 'Patience you must have, my young padawan.'"

I walked Josh through attaching the barrel to the receiver. Two bolts and V-Block done. You need a hex wrench since the bolts are close to barrel and a screwdriver type tool won’t work as easily.

Inserting the bolt and charging handle can be tricky but once you’ve done it, it becomes easier each time. The Timney trigger slides into the bottom of the receiver and attaches via two pins. Done.

barrel being attached to receiver
Attach the barrel to the receiver using two bolts and V-Block. You need a hex wrench since the bolts are close to barrel and a screwdriver type tool won’t work as easily.Robert Sadowski

Builds in my experience usually go as planned, but there is always a step in the build process that requires extra patience and skill. That is the polite way of saying it.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes minor fitting is required. Those are a couple other ways of saying it.

Fitting the stock to the barreled action took a bit of time.

I pointed out the contact points on the receiver and on the stock. Using a file we removed a small amount of wood and tried to fit the receiver in place. We did this numerous times until the barreled receiver fit snug.

barreled action rifle barrel
(Top) The barreled action with the bolt and charging handle installed. (Bottom) With the trigger assembly attached to the barreled action the next step is to fit the wood stock to the metal.Robert Sadowski

Finally we mounted the red dot using the Picatinny mount. The BBRT was complete. A squirt of oil slicked up the dry parts and a box of high velocity .22 LR rounds broke in the action. Josh was happy and I was, too.

The Results

bbrt fully built rifle
The BBRT took about 2 hours to build and created a life long memory.Robert Sadowksi

Don’t think you’ll be saving money by building your own 10/22. Ruger still makes them more affordable than you or I could every build. So think of it as an investment in spending time with the people in your life you care about and love. A build can be a bond.

bbrt custom rifle
Josh holds the finished BBRT.Robert Sadowski
completed custom rifle
Building a 10/22 is a simple task with no specific gunsmithing skills required, just patience.Robert Sadowski
custom rifle details
A shot of the finished rifle with the Holosun Red Dot mounted and the Brownells Tri-Mag kit (which joins three 10/22 rotary mags) installed.Robert Sadowski
custom rifle butt stock
A shot of the cheek rest on the beautiful Boyd's stock.Robert Sadowski
custom rifle buttstock
A good look at the stock's thumbhole.Robert Sadowski