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There is no need to discuss the popularity of the AR-15 in its various versions. Anyone who has tried to purchase one in recent months has been confronted with this fact. High prices and limited availability have made the popularity of the weapon system obvious to all. Adding to this frustration is the short supply of ammo available in calibers 5.56 NATO and .223, the primary calibers the AR is chambered for. Rumors abound as to why there is a shortage; the military is buying it all, ammo plants in Europe have closed requiring NATO to buy here, people are hoarding ammo and components making it hard for manufactures to get supplies, concerns over weapon banning have driven a run on guns and ammo, etc… I don’t know why the state of gun and ammo supply is what it is…it’s probably a combination of many things, but I do know that it is reality and all of us who like to shoot will have to deal with it. Also, those whom require firearms because they go in harm’s way need to practice as trigger pulling is the best way to keep combative skills sharp, which says nothing about police agencies who just can’t get ammo.

ruger-backgdIf guns and ammo remain hard to obtain for the foreseeable future and if the cost of ammo continues to rise, how can the prepared police officer or armed citizen stay well prepared? One way is to utilize a clone of your carry gun chambered in .22 caliber. No, the felt recoil will not be the same and the reach will not be as far, but it is certainly better than no shooting at all. In recent months I have purchased a .22 conversion kit for my Glock 19 and was quite happy with the result. Yes, the cost of .22 has risen along with other calibers, but even at $30 for a brick of 500 rounds of .22, the cost is far less than 500 rounds of 9mm, if I can find 500 rounds of 9mm. While my Glock is my primary carry gun, I keep a Ruger SR-556 handy because a handgun is never a good as a carbine to bring to a fight. I’ve tried to stay sharp with the Ruger, but ammo has been scarce and expensive so I have used a lot of dry fire. Fortunately, Ruger has just introduced a new gun that will be an excellent companion for my SR-556. It is basically a clone of that excellent gun, but loaded in .22 LR, making it much easier and less expensive to train with.

Gun Details
The Ruger SR-22 rifle is an auto-loading, rimfire carbine that combines the reliability of the Ruger 10/22 with the ergonomics and configuration of the new AR-style Ruger SR-556. Additionally, the shooter enjoys the durability and reliability that many have come to appreciate from Ruger. Because it utilizes their unique rotary magazine supplied with the Ruger 10/22, the SR-22 rifle offers the same high standard of reliability in an autoloading rimfire rifle.

After looking the gun over, I see aftermarket magazines similar to those of the AR-15 being introduced by several accessory companies. If you are concerned that the 10/22 magazine will limit your ability to “mirror” AR training, don’t be. Like the 10/22, the AR-style SR-22 rifle also has an extensive array of accessories already available, allowing shooters to select a custom configuration that best suits their tastes and needs to mirror their larger gun.

The SR-22 rifle uses a standard 10/22 action inside a top-quality, all-aluminum chassis designed intentionally to replicate the AR-platform dimensions between the sighting plane, buttstock height, and grip. Like most quality AR-15 rifles and carbines, the SR-22 provides a Picatinny rail optic mount and includes a 6-position, telescoping M4-style buttstock on a Mil-Spec diameter tube. While the stock on the SR-22 is certainly functional, I prefer the Magpul CTR with its rubber buttpad and locking lever. The Mil-Spec stock tube will fit the Magpul CTR just fine. A Hogue Monogrip pistol grip is also supplied and is a nice addition. Like the grips used on Ruger’s wildly popular LCR snubby, the rubber Monogrip on the SR-22 offers superior grip capability.

The SR-22 rifle also features a round, mid-length handguard mounted on a standard-thread AR-style barrel nut. Picatinny rails, specifically designed for use on this handguard, are available from Ruger allowing the end user to configure it to accept any number of rail-mounted sights or accessories. A word of caution here — be sensible about accessories. Whether equipping your duty AR or a training gun like this SR-22, select aftermarket accessories with care. Take a moment to think, “Does this addition solve a real problem for me or am I just placing it on the gun because it looks cool?” Cool points do not win the fight.

A barrel support block is installed in the handguard to ensure greater accuracy and allowing the standard 10/22 V-block barrel attachment systems to be utilized. The SR-22 rifle is equipped with a precision-rifled, cold hammer forged alloy steel barrel. The 16.12-inch barrel is capped with an SR-556/Mini-14 flash suppressor. The Mini-14 flash hider is also used on the SR-556 and gives the gun a uniquely Ruger look.

Optics
If the SR-22 is intended to be a supplemental training aid, then it is important to equip it with similar accessories as found on your fighting gun. This should include a white light, a sling and some type of optic. There has been much debate over whether iron sights should be used in lieu of optics, but I have certainly come out on the side of optics. I have taken several carbine courses with irons only and have found them to perform much better when using some type of red dot scope. The ability to super-impose the dot on target, eliminating the “eye sprint” of front sight-target is huge. Dot optics allow the shooter to watch their opponent while placing the dot on them simplifying the process of sighting. They also allow the shooter to use “off-set” sighting while staying behind cover. What I mean by this is that I can remove myself from the rear of the gun and hold it off my shoulder, point it around cover, and as long as I can get my dot where I want it, the shot will be accurate. Do not be concerned with parallax as any optic with a tube of any length will have some degree of parallax. A quality scope will allow you to “shoot through” parallax because what you are seeing is just an image of the side of the tube due to misalignment. The red dot will still be in alignment with the target.

I have been working with the compact red dot optic from ITAC Defense for several months now and must admit that I am impressed. This compact optic is similar to the popular mini Aimpoint red dot but at a lower price. It is made in Israel and imported into the US by Sig Sauer. This red dot sight is a versatile and lightweight sighting solution for all types of firearms. A parallax free, 1x red dot with a 4-MOA reticle, coated glass lenses, and anodized aluminum construction ensures optimal performance in the most extreme conditions. It features a 12-position rotary switch that increases dot brightness, has windage and elevation adjustments protected by screw-on caps, a built-in Mil-Std-1913/Weaver rail mount and powered by a long-life CR2032 Lithium battery that offers a typical life of over 6000 hours.

The supplied mount will not permit the ITAC sight to line up with the tall sights that are standard on all AR-15 platforms, so some type of mount or riser is needed. I happened to have an ARMS throw lever mount that I drafted into service, which works quite well. Some will turn their nose up at this sight and say to me “Would you take that sight into Afghanistan or Iraq?” and my answer would be no. But then, I am not going to either place and neither are most of you. If I were, I would probably be using whatever kit I was issued, but since I am not issued anything for my personal gun, I shop around for those accessories that will serve me well here…and so should you. Base your gear decisions on the real world, not on some situation you will never face. In the case of the ITAC red dot, I would gladly place this on my patrol rifle or any other personal long gun and use it with confidence.

Range Time
Lets be honest, the .22 will not have the reach of a .223, so trying to shoot groups at extended ranges will not be a satisfying experience. I see the SR-22 as a reasonably priced training supplement, not a replacement for one’s battle rifle. This being the case, I decided to test it’s accuracy at 50 feet instead of the traditional 100 yards, though I also decided that it would be interesting to see how well it would group at 25 yards. I tested accuracy of the SR-22 by benchresting the gun on one of the new Giles AccuBags from The Wilderness.

The 50-foot accuracy test ended up being anti-climactic, because regardless of the ammo (Remington, CCI and Winchester) used, the SR-22 punched an inch (or less) sized hole in the center of the target. Interestingly, the SR-22 gave a good accounting at 25 yards, holding all of its rounds in the center of an 8-inch Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird bulls-eye target. I guess I under-estimated this slick little carbine. As .22 LR ammo is still inexpensive compared to other calibers I shot in excess of 500 rounds through the gun without a single malfunction. Like its older brother, the 10/22, the SR-22 turned out to be a very reliable performer.

Final Notes
Will the SR-22 be a good choice for low cost, supplemental AR-15 training? The gun has the look and feel of the AR-15 so the act of shooting will certainly be the same. Where the gun is different is in its controls. The SR-22 is a variant of the famed 10/22, Ruger’s best selling product for many years. In this regard, the gun is time tested and proven so it will run reliably for many years to come. However, the box style 10-shot magazine is nothing like an AR and neither is the release mechanism, so practicing reloading will not be the same. The crossbolt safety is more like a shotgun than an AR, and the bolt handle is on the right side like that of a .22 rifle. Again, I am sure than there will be aftermarket magazines that will better replicate the AR as the SR-22 grows in popularity. In addition, using the 10/22 system has allowed Ruger to hold the cost down keeping it affordable for many who would not otherwise be able to buy at AR-15 training supplement.

In the end, it is usually trigger control that needs the most work while reloads, malfunction clearances, ready positions and other related skills could be dry-practiced to near perfection. This being the case, the Ruger SR-22 will give a great deal of “AR-15-like” trigger time at a very reduced cost.

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