When Ruger introduced the Charger, a pistol based on the proven 10-22 action, I knew that they had a hit on their hands. I also knew that the Charger had a lot of potential, given the existing accessories for the 10-22. So, I set out to make an extreme version that I dubbed the Charger Stealth Sniper.
The Charger is a pistol based on the 10-22 receiver and shares all of the operating features of the rifle. As a pistol, it comes with a 10-inch barrel that has a 1-in-16-inch twist. The action is mounted in a futuristic laminate stock that exhibits smooth lines and is ergonomically designed. The overall length is 19.25 inches and weight is 3.5 pounds. Ruger includes a scope base and a folding bipod that enables the shooter to get the maximum accuracy from the Charger. The entire package is shipped with a zippered nylon case that is embossed with the Ruger logo.
The buildup started with a review of my current Brownells catalog. Brownells is truly a one-stop-shop for most anything shooter related. Perhaps the most objectionable item on the Charger, or any other factory firearm, is the trigger. The stock trigger was relatively clean but broke at 4.75 pounds. That wasn’t bad, but if I wanted to get the most out of the Charger at ranges past 50 yards, I would need to have a better trigger. Most shooters know that the name in triggers for the 10-22 is Volquartsen. While several kits are available that replace specific parts, I chose to order the Volquartsen Triggerguard 2000 unit. The 2000 is a complete CNC machined trigger housing that contains all new internal parts. The EDM trigger and other parts have been hand fitted, and the sear and hammer have been hardened to reduce wear. The springs have been specially tuned to provide both reliability and a light, crisp trigger. Carefully fitted parts and adjustable overtravel stop enables the 2000 to provide the best trigger available for the 10-22. The result was the 2000 trigger pack gave me a perfect 2-pound break with zero overtravel. The profile of the triggerguard and trigger are uniquely Volquartsen and are easily recognized.
The next order of business was find a barrel, or barrels, that were deserving of the Volquartsen trigger pack. After a quick search I decided to call Tactical Solutions. In only five short years, Tactical Solutions has become a respected name in the industry. Their innovative products have become the choice of both champions and recreational shooters alike. After discussing the project with owner, Chet Alvord, we decided to test two of the new XRP barrels that Tactical Solutions makes for the Charger. Tactical Solutions provided two XRP barrels in 5.5-inch and 12.25-inch lengths. A nice feature is that the XPR barrels come from Tactical Solutions threaded for a muzzle brake or a suppressor. The match grade barrel features an aircraft aluminum sleeve that is fluted to reduce weight. As a disclaimer for both Tactical Solutions and myself, I should note that installing either of these barrels on a rifle is illegal without registering the rifle and having an approved ATF tax stamp.
Replacing the trigger group and barrel on the Charger, or any 10-22, is relatively simple. The action is removed from the stock and the trigger group is removed by drifting out the two retaining pins. To remove the barrel, the two hex screws that secure the V-block are removed and the V-block is then removed. The barrel is then pulled out of the receiver. In the case of my Charger, the barrel fit was extremely tight and I had to place the barrel in a vice and use a nylon hammer to loosen it from the receiver. The new barrel is placed in the receiver and the V-block is secured by two screws. The Tactical Solutions barrels are match grade and the instructions state that some fitting may be required. I found that the 12.25-inch tube went right in but the 5.5-inch barrel needed to be polished with 220-grit sandpaper to properly fit in the receiver.
One other Tactical Solutions product I selected was the extended magazine release. The standard magazine release on 10-22’s is relatively small and some might find it difficult to operate under match conditions. The Tactical Solutions magazine release is precision milled from a solid, aircraft grade aluminum billet. The unit is an extended lever that follows the contour of the triggerguard. When installed, it looks very similar to the action lever on a Ruger Number 1 rifle. It is a great addition and improves the functioning as well as appearance of the Charger.
Next I had to select a proper optic. Since I wanted to maximize the accuracy potential of the Charger and the Tactical Solutions barrels, I chose Leupold’s excellent VX-III handgun scope in the 2.5-8x32mm unit. The VX-III is an extended eye relief scope that features a duplex reticle and variable magnification from 2.5- to 8-power. The 1-inch tube, combined with the 32mm objective lens, provides exceptional brightness and clarity that has come to be the mark of Leupold glass. The scope had ¼-MOA finger adjustable clicks for windage and elevation. The VX-III is the pinnacle of handgun scopes and proved its worth on the range.
Advanced Armament Corporation manufactures an extensive line of suppressors. AAC suppressors can be found in use by some of the most elite military and law enforcement units in the country, if not the world. Their Aviator model was the perfect match for the project. The Aviator is an exceptionally efficient suppressor that offers a 44-decibel reduction in sound from a unit that is only 6.5 inches in length and 1-inch in diameter and weighs only 4 ounces. The Aviator can be mounted to the host using a standard 1.5×28 thread or a fast attach adaptor. After enduring the obligatory wait for ATF to process my Form 4, I found that the Aviator renewed my enthusiasm in shooting .22’s.
One item I found at the last minute was a replacement bolt stop pin from Volquartsen. The standard bolt stop pin is made from steel and acts as a stop every time the bolt cycles to the rear. Contact between the steel pin and steel bolt equals noise. Volquartsen makes a polyurethane bolt stop pin that reduces both noise and vibrations. A quick call to Brownells solved that issue. This one add-on made a significant difference in shooting the Charger with the Aviator suppressor.
There was one final part of the project that was needed to bring it to full fruition. While the factory stock was reasonably attractive, the Stealth Sniper needed to have a unique look. I am fortunate that Immersion Graphics is located a short drive from my front door. Immersion Graphics is the world leader in applying digital patterns in a unique process called Final Finish. Their product is in use by Benelli, Beretta, Artic Cat, Remington, Leupold, as well as General Motors, Honda and others. Since my theme was Stealth Sniper, I selected to have the stock dipped in the ACU (Army Combat Uniform) digital camo. As to be expected with a dip process, the coverage was perfect and the ACU patter really sets the Charger off.
After assembling all of the accessories, getting the stock dipped, and collecting a representative sampling of .22 ammo, the only thing left to do was head to the range. All groups were fired from a table, using the bipod with the targets placed at 50 yards. The first thing we noticed was that some of the ammo that I had purchased in the “value packs” tended to be inconsistent. After 100 rounds or so to break everything in, we broke out the good stuff to zero the Leupold glass and shoot some groups.
We started with CCI Green Tag .22LR match grade ammo. Green Tag shoots a 40-grain lead round-nose bullet and is rated at 1050 feet per second (fps). From the short XPR barrel, we were able to shoot a group that measured just over 1-inch with a called flyer. When we changed barrels and installed the 12.25-inch barrel, our first group measured 0.75 of an inch with four rounds touching and a single flyer. The next test was to see if installing the Aviator would shift the point of impact. The next group with the suppressor measured an inch and impacted approximately an inch to the left of the non-suppressor group. Remington’s Club Xtra, which is manufactured by Eley, and Aquilia SuperExtra loads printed similar groups.
The sound reduction when using the Aviator was very impressive. Using the short barrel ensured that most of the loads tested stayed subsonic. The quietest load we tested was Remington’s Subsonic. This load is a 38-grain hollow point that is factory rated at 1050 fps. CCI’s 40-grain subsonic hollow point was almost as quiet as the Remington load and is also factory rated at 1050 fps. The advantage we found with the CCI load is that it tended to be cleaner burning than the Remington load. Interestingly, the CCI standard velocity target load is a 40-grain round nose bullet that is only rated at 1070 fps. However, the ammunition we shot the most of was a Federal 550 round Value Pack that we purchased from a local discount store. The 550 Value Pack is loaded with a 38-grain hollow point bullet that is copper plated. This greatly reduced the lead fouling and, even though it is rated at 1260 fps, it remained reasonably quiet with the Aviator.
Finally, I needed something to pack all of the gear in. Hardigg Storm Cases are some of the best hard cases available. Their injection-molded cases are used in commercial, industrial, and military applications. All Storm Cases feature their unique “Press & Pull” latch, which makes opening and closing the case easy enough for a child. They also have a Vortex valve that automatically adjusts air pressure inside the case without letting water or dust in. There is a Storm Case for just about every application from a single camera case to custom-made cases that hold an M2 .50 caliber machinegun, six M4 rifles or 24 M9 Beretta pistols. I ordered a M2700 that is 22x17x8 and is ideal for the Stealth Sniper and all the accessories.
Okay, so the Charger Stealth Sniper may be a little over the top and some of the accessories exceed the cost of the original pistol. I will admit that many will be perfectly happy with the stock Charger with the factory barrel and trigger and an economical scope. I could have been happy with a stock 10-22 once upon a time. However, the Charger project has resulted in my ordering a Hogue stock and TacSol 16.5-inch fluted and threaded barrel for a bone stock 10-22 that has been sitting in the back of the safe for several years. It would seem that this 10-22 stuff is rather addictive. But then with the price of centerfire ammunition these days, one can buy the accessories and several thousand rounds of .22 ammo and have a lot more fun on a regular basis. Just remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. With a little time, and resources, you could build your own version and come up with a cool name.
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