Like many of us, I had a Ruger 10/22 sitting in my safe gathering dust. And lately, like everyone else on the shooting planet, I have seen ammo prices drastically cut into my available training budget. After seeing the TAPCO Fusion stock, an idea slowly formed. One call to Midway USA, one action screw, and about $90 later, I had a rimfire trainer for my Noveske N4 and work carbines.
TAPCO/Ruger with Simmons 1.5-5X shotgun scope makes ¾ weight trainer for N4 Recce with Meopta MEOSTAR 1-4X.
WHY NOT A CONVERSION UNIT FOR THE AR?
There are several reasons. I have had largely negative experiences with a number of M16 conversions that were used by a unit I was assigned to. I have heard that some of the new arrivals to the market solve the longstanding conversion kit issues of accuracy and reliability, but the ones getting consistently great reviews also seem to hover between $500 and $600 and have not been readily available. That is a lot of cash right now for an item that may (or may not) prove to be the cat’s meow.
The 10/22 has a well-established, known standard for accuracy and reliability. I had specific things I wanted to use a rimfire trainer for, and the Ruger would be able to accomplish them.
Fifty-yard, one-inch groups were the norm with several common Long Rifle loads—plenty accurate for training, plinking, or small game.
The barreled action dropped into the stock, well, like it was made for it. There simply were no issues. The package included two “extension tube”-like pieces of synthetic. One had considerable drop for using the standard open sights, and the second looked like a garden-variety six-position, M4 tube with standard M4-style buttstock. The stock-to-tube fit was adequate, but had just enough rattle (like many of the real ones) that I put a wrap of painter’s tape around the extension just forward of my desired setting and collapsed the stock over it. It now locks up solidly and is still adjustable either way.
The pistol grip is a special SAW style with a trap door storage compartment. The mounting arrangement appears to preclude the use of other AR pistol grips. The trigger reach of the included grip measured identically on the 10/22 to that of a Magpul MIAD with medium insert on a Colt AR-15.
The system includes 1913-style rails molded into the forearm with a rail cover. The rails seemed just a bit undersize to me, as I had to tighten the locking lever on a LaRue FUG vertical foregrip slightly to achieve the same fit as on milspec rails. A reversible hook-style sling loop threads through the front of the stock.
TAPCO Fusion stock system for Ruger 10/22 can turn a forgotten boy’s rifle into a serious carbine training tool.
The top handguard mounts using six supplied screws and has another 1913-style rail. The stock is channeled specifically to the standard 10/22 barrel and will not accept wider barrels. The magazine remains fully accessible, as do all of the Ruger’s controls.
Once fully assembled, the new AR-style Ruger weighed in at around six pounds with optic on a non-USDA approved scale and had a superb neutral balance similar to my Noveske carbine. I was concerned that the stock would simply look “cool,” but at the range the trainer shot very well. Three different loads clustered into an inch at 50 yards. One of these was the Winchester 333 round (36-grain, plated HP bulk pack) that is available for about three cents a round. What more could one ask for?
Shooting with and again without the top handguard showed zero change in group size or point of impact, leaving the option to the shooter as to which one he prefers.
To feed the Ruger, I used 25-round magazines from Tactical Innovations.
WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
There have been several articles in these pages explaining the basic benefits of a rimfire trainer, but this one is better at some things than others.
The manipulations are different than with a true conversion, so I avoid drills that require any manipulation. I make a point to swipe my thumb where the safety would be on the AR and do not use the Ruger’s crossbar while shooting drills. I have used it primarily to practice mechanics. I have worked support side shooting hard with this trainer, taking advantage of the reduced cost to put many hundreds of rounds downrange and considerably improving my accuracy, speed and confidence on what was the “weak” side.
After reading Kyle Lamb’s book, Green Eyes And Black Rifles, I have been trying to incorporate some new positions into my personal training, and the TAPCO/Ruger is a perfect way to exercise acquiring these positions and get maximum rounds downrange. Using the Ruger has also allowed me to practice timed stages of various qual courses that require transitioning from standing to kneeling, and kneeling to prone.
The TAPCO carbine is lighter than the real deal, so I use that to my advantage, incorporating the trainer into my shooting days late in the session, when the weight of my AR begins to degrade accuracy on demanding offhand shots. Rather than call it a day for fear of wasting ammo, I now break out the Ruger. The roughly two-pound reduction makes all the difference in the world, and I can easily train hard for another hour or two. Training shooting on the move is another area that the Ruger works superbly for.
I have also used the .22 for lowlight practice inside my house using Aguila Colibri ammo and a stack of old magazines (not S.W.A.T., of course). A SureFire G2 mounted in a Viking Tactics mount to the top handguard very closely replicates the placement of the same light system at the nine o’clock position on the rail of an AR, and getting to shoot with the white light in the garage is better than nothing, since I have no local venue to work that skill. The quiet Colibri rounds at across-the-room distances exhibit the typical mechanical offset of an AR and also help to reinforce the habit of compensating for offset at close range.
Finally there is the somewhat intangible benefit of using the trainer on a public range. The blast of the 5.56 can be a dead giveaway when trying to shoot rapidly or train awkward positions such as rollover/SBU prone. This can frighten the sheep or bring a crotchety rangemaster down upon you to invent rules as he goes along, because it doesn’t look “safe” (i.e., traditional Camp Perry style). I have found that conducting the exact same drills with the rimfire goes nearly unnoticed. Your results may vary, but I suspect that they won’t greatly.
Since installing the stock, the Ruger has been transformed from a safe queen into a useful stablemate to my hard-use carbines. In my last range session, I fired the 5.56mm equivalent of its cost and then some, while actually spending only about $7 in .22 Long Rifle. More importantly, despite its differences from a full-size AR, I am getting noticeable skills transfer back onto my work guns. Those with a 10/22 sitting unused should check out the TAPCO Fusion stock.
(TAPCO Fusion stock, Aguila Colibri .22 ammo)
5875 West Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203-9274
(Viking Tactics light mount, SureFire G2, LaRue FUG)
SKD Tactical, LLC
P.O. Box 25
Pacific, MO 63069
(Tactical Innovations 10/22 25-round magazine)
Tactical Innovations Inc.
HCR 85, Box 8024
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(Green Eyes and Black Rifles)
Viking Tactics, Inc.
3725 Heatherbrooke Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28306