This week we’re going to invest in plastic surgery. No Kardashians will be involved, I promise.
While many might argue that I myself need it, I’m going to direct this decidedly non-medical procedure at a plain Ruger 10/22 Carbine. The Ruger 10/22 Carbine is the basic model with a wood stock that usually sells for a street price of less than $250.
I’m going to turn it into…the same rifle it was pre-surgery. It will function exactly the same, but with a few cosmetic and usability improvements. You know, the kind of changes that turn a rifle into an “assault weapon,” whatever that is. It will have the same operating system. It will have the same magazine capacity. It will have the same caliber. It will not fire grenades, but it will look exceptionally cool. It will be easier to handle. It will be adjustable to fit shooters of different sizes and statures. It will probably make Michael Bloomberg apoplectic for no good reason at all.
What is it?
I’m talking about the ATI Ruger 10/22 AR-22 Stock System with 8-Sided Forend. This complete stock replacement kit turns your vanilla Ruger 10/22 into a tactical beast, and retails for $189.99. Yeah, it’s really cool looking and incredibly fun to shoot.
Yes, some of the features are purely cosmetic, like the forward assist, safety lever, charging handle, and bolt release. That’s okay, because the way the system is designed, those functions (barring the forward assist) are all covered by the existing buttons and levers on the Ruger 10/22 receiver. The idea is to provide a look and feel similar to that of an AR-15, making your 10/22 great for practice and training at much lower cost to shoot.
What makes the ATI kit useful for your Ruger 10/22 are the functions that it adds. For example, the six-position stock. Like a real AR-type rifle, the stock is adjustable from short to long lengths of pull along a faux buffer tube made of aluminum. The stock has a nice (and soft) butt pad to absorb whatever recoil your .22 LR load of choice has. More importantly, the butt pad serves to provide solid placement on your shoulder so the rifle doesn’t move around when you’re emptying a 25-round magazine at a platoon of hostile hubbard squash. The warts on those things are creepy.
While we’re talking about the stock improvements, an even more important feature is the adjustable cheek rest. You can raise and lower this using a screwdriver. Got low scope rings? No problem. Got a high mount? No problem. Adjust away. Oh, and the cheek rest has a soft rubber pad on top to protect your jawbone from the earth-shattering recoil of the .22 LR.
The kit also adds a pistol grip, so if you want to use cheap rounds for practice, it will feel somewhat like your AR-type rifle. As a nice extra, the pistol grip has a textured rubber backstrap and feels great during extended shooting sessions.
Another feature in the improvement category is the forend grip. This is cool for a couple of reasons. First, it’s completely free-floated. It mounts to the receiver and doesn’t contact the barrel anywhere. This means you can mount whatever accessories you want without worry of impacting the performance of the barrel on your Ruger 10/22. Further, since it’s a free-floated arrangement, you can use the standard barrel or any aftermarket bull barrel. There’s plenty of room for either.
In addition, the forend of this kit offers a near-infinite combination of rail attachments. Using optional rail segments, you can add gear on the top, sides, or bottom to your heart’s content. Not enough for you? Then use the diagonal positions. As the name implies, you have eight sides to work with. If you choose not to add rail segments, the forend provides a comfortable, round support-hand surface.
The magazine well looks AR-like, but handles both 25-round and standard 10-round Ruger rotary magazines.
One more thing while we’re talking about additions to standard Ruger 10/22 functionality. You’ll get a full-length continuous rail from the back of the receiver to up near the muzzle. Overall, it measures about 20 inches long, so knock yourself out with scopes, red dots, backup iron sights, or whatever else floats your boat.
The included instructions are excellent, so I won’t bore you with the gory step-by-step details here. Instead, let’s take a quick look at the basic idea of how this goes together.
First, you remove the standard wood or polymer stock from your Ruger 10/22, leaving you with a barreled action. The core of the ATI conversion kit is comprised of a two-part receiver shroud that encases your existing receiver, but does not touch the barrel. The adjustable butt stock and pistol grip mount to the shroud.
The aluminum eight-sided forend mounts to the receiver and the receiver only. It’s an elegant and surprisingly solid solution. The full-length aluminum rail on top ties everything together.
The whole assembly is amazingly rigid, in a good way—there’s no movement, wobble, or shake anywhere. I have to admit that surprised me—it’s a clever bit of engineering.
What about accuracy?
While the ATI AR-22 stock kit is, to grossly oversimplify, a stock replacement, I had to wonder about potential impacts on accuracy for better or worse. So I decided to shoot some groups both before and after the conversion to see how things worked out.
For both parts of the accuracy test, I used the Redfield Battlezone .22 scope. I tried three different types of .22 ammunition: Federal Match Target, CCI Mini-Mag, and Eley practice rounds. I wanted to see which ammo shot the best and most-consistent groups before and after the stock kit’s installation.
With the 10/22 in its vanilla configuration, the Eley practice rounds were by far the most consistent of the rounds I tried, and grouped five shots into .635 inches at 50 yards. That was my accuracy benchmark.
After installing the ATI 10/22 conversion kit and re-zeroing the scope, I fired groups using the Eley practice rounds again under the exact same conditions. Same Redfield Battlezone scope, same BLACKHAWK! rests, same distance, same brutal humidity and yellow fly plague. The two best five-shot groups measured .710 and .585 inches. Without getting into statistics theory, I would say that there was no significant difference either way based on my testing. The accuracy of the rifle appears the same with or without the stock conversion.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the box and saw how the kit went together. I was nervous about the receiver shroud approach, but as you can see by the shooting tests, it was rock-solid. Accuracy was the same, or perhaps better after installing the kit. Functionality and was way, way better. This is a fun rifle to shoot!
Now that the AR-22 stock is installed, it’s imperative that I replace the standard barrel with a threaded bull barrel. A little more accuracy and a suppressor will make this the ultimate .22 plinker.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.
Note added 6-26-2014: This article has been updated to include the MSRP of the 10/22 stock kit.
Images by Tom McHale