Rugerís New .22 Charger Semi-Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

December 16th, 2007

 

 

 

Click for video!

The Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle has been with us for over forty years now, and Ruger has sold over five million of the handy little carbines. Chambered for the most popular cartridge in the world; the .22 Long Rifle, the 10/22 is one of those guns that everyone should own, and I recommend them often to those who are looking for a great, reliable, and accurate  twenty-two for plinking, hunting, or target shooting. The 10/22 was first introduced in 1964 as an understudy to the .44 Magnum Deerstalker carbine. It was about the same size and feel, and was indeed a great way to practice using ammunition that was much cheaper to shoot and easier on the shoulder. Using a unique rotary ten-shot detachable magazine and a very secure dovetail wedge block to rigidly attach the barrel to the die-cast aluminum receiver, the little 10/22 proved to be the most reliable twenty-two auto ever produced.  Today, they can be found everywhere, and are still available for a very reasonable price. There is almost a cult following for the little rimfire carbine, and the aftermarket is flush with accessories for customizing it. Whether left box-stock, or customized with aftermarket barrels, triggers, stocks and everything else, the little Ruger carbine is the mainstay of the twenty-two auto rifle world.

Now, after all this time and millions of rifles later, Ruger has taken the 10/22 and made it into a pistol! When I first heard of this back in mid November of this year, my first thought was "Why?", but upon opening the box at the hardware store, my next thought was "Cool!" The store owner started in with "Jeff, if you decide not to keep this oneÖ.." and I interrupted him with "Forget it Andy,. If this thing shoots, Iím keeping it!" This was about three weeks ago as I type this. I have been sworn to secrecy until now, and Ruger has done a good job of keeping this new pistol quiet. After shooting this new pistol, I found myself wondering why Ruger didnít do this years ago. It is an extremely fun little gun to shoot. Reliability, after running many different types of .22 Long Rifle ammo through the Charger, has proven to be as expected, a very Ruger-like perfect. Using the factory ten shot magazine and also an old Ramline twenty-five round mag, the gun functions just like the dozens of 10/22 rifles that I have known over the last three decades, which is one-hundred percent. Sometimes I have found a bad cartridge or two, but never have I had a 10/22 malfunction on me that was the fault of the rifle. So far, the .22 Charger is just as reliable. The extended magazine release works very well with both standard and high capacity magazines. I have shot a lot of ammo through the Charger, but have not cleaned it, even after firing a lot of imported relatively dirty ammo. The Charger keeps on working. To anyone who owns a 10/22 rifle, this will be no news to them. The Charger is basically a 10/22 rifle action with a ten inch barrel and a pistol silhouette style stock. The stock is made of laminated wood, and should prove to be very durable. The feel of the stock is very comfortable to hold, whether using the supplied bipod or not. The bipod is a Harris type. I am not sure if it is made by Harris or not, but if it is not, it is identical to the Harris, which has proven itself on rifles in the field for many years. The legs on the bipod deploy from their folded position quickly and lock into place under spring pressure. The legs are easily and quickly adjusted by pulling them out to their fully extended position, or by locking them at any point between by rotating the locking wheel. The bipod attaches to the Charger stock without tools. It is held in position by the swivel stud.  Shooting the Charger using the bipod proved to be a very steady position, and a lot of fun. The bipod would be ideal when hunting vermin or small game over an open field. The bipod can be quickly and easily removed for taking the Charger to the woods in pursuit of a few squirrels. Shooting groups for accuracy, I found the bipod to be nearly as steady as a bench rest.  The barrel, trigger guard, and receiver have a nice black matte finish, and looks good with the gray laminated stock.

The ten inch barrel on the Charger seems to be about the idea length for the pistol. The muzzle has a recessed crown, and the barrel is of a medium-heavy profile, measuring .920 inch at the receiver and tapering to .664 inch at the muzzle. Testing for velocity loss from the shorter barrel compared to a longer one, I fired over my PACT chronograph the same ammunition from both the Charger and a 10/22 with a sixteen inch Tactical Solutions lightweight bull barrel. As an example, high velocity Federal hollowpoint ammo averaged 1203 feet-per-second (fps) from the sixteen inch barrel, but still averaged 1163.9 fps from the ten inch Charger barrel. Not bad at all. Target grade standard velocity ammo lost even less velocity. The trigger pull on the test pistol measured just under four pounds.  The .22 Charger weighs in at 3 lbs., 9.6 ounces empty.  Adding the bipod and a Leupold scope brought the total weight up to 5 lbs., 1.3 ounces ready to go.

The Charger comes with a scope base already attached to the receiver. The scope base will accept both tip-off rimfire rings, or any ring that is compatible with a Weaver base. I used Leupold Rifleman rings to attach a Leupold 2.5 to 8 power VX-III pistol scope. In the video, I screwed up and stated that the scope is a 2 to 8.5 power, but it was awfully cold outside, and I didnít want to re-shoot the video. I get nervous on camera. Anyway, the power is adjustable infinitely between 2.5 and eight magnification. When I saw the new Ruger Charger, that variable Leupold was the only scope that I considered, as it offers a lot of versatility, using the lower power for woods hunting, and the higher settings for long range varmint work and plinking small targets. The optical clarity of the Leupold is excellent. For me, it was the only choice. It focuses perfectly at close range for plinking at small vermin, and offers the power needed to precisely place shots at 100 yards and beyond even on the smallest critters. I always sight in my .22 Long Rifle chambered rifles at fifty yards, and did the same with the new Charger pistol. Accuracy was very good at fifty yards, with groups measuring between seven-eighths of an inch and one and three-quarters of an inch.  At twenty-five yards, the shots are just a little high, and they are just a few inches low at one hundred yards using the fifty yard zero. Some might like to sight in at seventy-five or even one hundred yards, depending upon the terrain, but I like mine at fifty, as that is where I do most of my work with a .22 Long Rifle. If the distance goes much beyond one hundred, I reach for a .22 Magnum or a centerfire. Plinking small rocks and such at my one hundred yard berm was a lot of fun with the Charger, and hits were easy to make using the excellent bipod for support.

With most firearms that come in for review, I pass it around a bit to other shooters to get their opinions. However, promising to keep the Charger hidden until December 17th, I had to keep this one to myself. My wife did catch me playing with the pistol, and stated ; "Thatís the coolest thing Iíve ever seen!" That means a lot coming from her, as she is not really into guns, and has become pretty jaded over the past twenty-eight years, seeing a lot of firearms come through here.  In fact, for our tenth wedding anniversary, I gave her a brand new Ruger 10/22 rifle. It was our 10th, and we were married on the 22nd, so it seemed like a natural choice to me. She has never fired it. After watching me shoot the Charger, she liked it. She wants to shoot this one.

With the superb pedigree of the famous Ruger 10/22 rifle behind it, I think that the .22 Charger will find a lot of owners. It is a great little plinker, and would just be perfect for shooting the game of rimfire silhouette, or any other animated  target game. As a hunting pistol, it should prove to be very successful, as it handles like the good single shot and bolt action pistols on the market, but with the reliable ten-shot semi-auto action of the 10/22 rifle.

Like all Ruger firearms, the .22 Charger is American made, affordable, and backed by Rugerís famous Service Policy. Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER button at www.lipseys.com.

You can see the entire line of high quality Leupold optics online at www.leupold.com.

With the new Charger pistol, Ruger has taken a classic design, created a whole new animal. Like I told my friend Andy at the hardware store, if it shoots, IĎm keeping it. Well, it shoots, and IĎm keeping it.. I canít recommend any gun higher than that.  Come to think of it, my wife and I have our 29th anniversary next week, and I have to buy her something! Wonder if I could get another?

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Ruger's new .22 Charger semi-auto pistol.

 

 

The .22 Charger is nicely outfitted, and comes with soft case, bipod and padlock.

 

 

Extended magazine release.

 

 

Swivel stud for attaching bipod.

 

 

Crossbolt safety (top) and bolt hold-open latch (bottom).

 

 

Gray-laminated wood stock sports a very well-designed grip, comfortable for both right-handed and left-handed shooters.

 

 

Charger comes with scope base attached.

 

 

Recessed muzzle crown.

 

 

Harris-type bipod is easy to use and easy to adjust.

 

 

Bipod leaves plenty of clearance for extended magazines.

 

 

Like its 10/22 rifle sire, the .22 Charger's barrel attached is with two bolts in a secure and repeatable wedge-type arrangement.

 

 

For Jeff, there was only one choice for a telescopic sight - Leupold's VX-III 2.5-8x variable.

 

 

50-yard groups fired using the factory bipod show that the .22 Charger is a worthy and accurate addition to the 10/22 legacy.