Building the Perfect 22 Semi-Automatic Rifle

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 12th, 2012




Click pictures for a larger version.




Tactical Solutions X-Ring receiver.



Tactical Solutions SBX barrel and Cascade sound suppressor.



Attaching the SBX barrel to the X-Ring receiver.



Tactical Solutions magazine release lever.

The Ruger 10/22 rifle has been on the market for about forty-eight years now, and has proven to be an accurate, reliable, and affordable semi-automatic rimfire rifle. It is wildly popular, with millions of them having been produced already. I have been to the Ruger factory in New Hampshire and watched as the 10/22 is being assembled, and it is amazing to watch, seeing one new rifle come off the line about every minute. I have several 10/22 rifles, and they each work perfectly and shoot accurately. Still, like many shooters, I wanted a rifle that exactly suited my needs and wants, and set out to assemble my own.

The aftermarket has many parts and accessories that match the Ruger 10/22 platform. Accessory barrels have been around for many years, and I have a couple of the steel examples of those, but my favorites are the lightweight aluminum/chrome moly steel barrels from Tactical Solutions of Boise, Idaho.

Customized 10/22-style rifles are very popular with competitive shooters, as they have come to find the design to be the most dependable on the market. I don’t shoot competitively, but I did want to have the best of the best when it comes to a semi-auto 22 rifle, and for almost everything I needed, I found that Tactical Solutions makes the best receivers, barrels, stocks, and accessories that money can buy.

Starting with the Tactical Solutions X-Ring receiver, assembling a custom 10/22-style rifle is very simple, and can be easily done in little time by anyone who can turn a bolt. The TacSol X-Ring receiver is CNC machined from a solid billet of aluminum, and has an integral Picatinny scope rail. The bolt is CNC machined from stainless steel, and has dual recoil springs. The charging handle is large and easy to grasp, even while wearing gloves.

Next up was the barrel. I have a couple of the lightweight Tactical Solutions barrels, but for this perfect rifle, I wanted to use my Tactical Solutions Cascade suppressor. I love a suppressed rifle, and the cascade does an excellent job of muffling the sound from a rimfire rifle. To keep from ending up with a twenty-two inch long barrel, which I did not want, I went with the SBX barrel. The SBX is a very clever design. It is basically a 12.5 inch barrel with an integral shroud for the Cascade suppressor. This allows the use of a removable suppressor, without having to register the rifle as a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) with the federal government, await their approval, and pay the two hundred dollar government extortion fee. The suppressor rides within the barrel extension shroud, with just enough beyond the barrel to easily grasp.

I like using a suppressor, especially on a 22 rimfire rifle. The suppressor greatly attenuates the sound, making the rifle much better for hunting squirrels, rabbits, predators, and vermin. It is also handy for firing when needed, without alarming the neighbors. Where I live, my neighbors are not close, but still close enough to hear rifle fire. They know that I shoot all the time, and think nothing of it, but many folks live in more crowded areas, and using a suppressor is being a good neighbor. The Cascade suppressor is very effective, and very affordable.

With the barrel and receiver selected, next up was the selection of a stock. I looked at everything on the market, and once again turned to Tactical Solutions for the stock. Being left-handed, I had already on hand another thumbhole LH laminated stock that I had bought from Midway a few years ago, but it was heavier than I wanted. TacSol had just what I wanted with their laminated ambidextrous thumbhole Vantage RS stock. When I started this project, I did not intend for it to become a completely Tactical Solutions rifle, but it was shaping up that way. It seems that with every component selection, I kept coming back to TacSol, as I discovered their products to be superior to everything else that I found available. Anyway, I chose the Royal Forest (green laminated), as it matched my green receiver and barrel nicely. The best thing about the Vantage RS stock is the design. It is designed for comfort and stability when shooting. The cheek piece is high enough to get the shooter’s eye right behind the scope, without lifting his head off of the stock. The forearm is flat on the bottom for shooting from a rest, yet comfortably shaped for offhand shooting as well. The stock wears a set of sling swivel studs, as should any rifle stock intended for use as a hunting rifle. The synthetic rubber butt pad is non-slip, and comfortable as well. The stock has a metal through-bolt pillar to securely and rigidly fasten the stock to the receiver.

My next component needed was the trigger group. I looked at a few, and tried one aftermarket trigger group, but it failed to reset the trigger each time, so I settled upon the reliable and rugged Ruger 10/22 factory trigger group. This houses the trigger, hammer, ejector, and related parts, and works very well. I wanted a lighter trigger pull, as the Ruger trigger comes in at around five and one-half pounds of resistance, but until I can find a lighter trigger that is as reliable as the Ruger trigger, I will stick with this one. If I do find one that is suitable, I will update this review at that time. I do know of one that looks very promising, and is in development at this time, but I cannot release any information on it yet.

For magazines, there are many good choices on the market. If I was competing with this rifle, I would probably select a Black Dog magazine, but for my uses as a hunting rifle, I prefer the standard ten-shot rotary Ruger magazine to all others. It fits flat with the bottom of the receiver, and is as reliable as any mechanical device can be.

To release the magazine, the standard Ruger mag release work well, unless wearing gloves. When it is cold outside, I wear gloves, so for a magazine release, I again chose a Tactical Solutions product. The X-Ring magazine release is an ingenious yet simple design, and is machined from billet aluminum. The release is a lever which follows the contour of the trigger guard, and releases the magazine into the hand or drops it to the ground with a downward push on the lever. Perfect.

After assembling all the required components, the rifle bolted together in just a few minutes. The only part that took a little time was fitting the barrel shank to the receiver. The SBX barrel shank is left slightly oversize, so that it can be perfectly fitted to any 10/22 style receiver.

After putting the rifle together, it was time to choose a quality scope. I wanted enough magnification to accurately place a bullet into a squirrel’s head in the tallest hickory tree, yet to still make a close shot on a varmint, so a variable was the obvious choice. I selected a 3.5 to 10 power Leupold, with a lighted reticle. The reticle has a fine crosshair in the middle for precise work on small targets, but a rheostat controls the illumination of the inner section of crosshair, for use in low light conditions, or against a dark background, such as when hunting beaver in the creek at dusk. The Leupold has precise click adjustments, and very clear optics. I mounted the scope atop the integral Picatinny rail using lightweight Leupold Rifleman rings.

The rifle/scope package, complete with magazine and suppressor, weighs in at only six and one-quarter pounds, yet wears a .920 inch diameter bull barrel and a rigid stock. It handles beautifully, and holds as steadily as I can hold any rifle. It is as if the rifle was made to fit me perfectly, which I suppose it was. For shooting this rifle, I wanted to try a variety of ammunition. For game hunting duties, I will probably stick with nothing but Winchester DynaPoint ammunition, but still, I wanted to try other ammo as well, to check for accuracy, velocity, and reliability. Also, the PMC and Wolf target ammo is quieter than DynaPoint, and that could be an advantage in certain situations. On the other end of the 22 Long Rifle power spectrum, the hyper-velocity ammo, such as CCI Stinger and Remington Yellow Jackets might be useful for vermin control, so I wanted to shoot some of that as well.

I tested the custom 22 rifle with several brands of 22 Long Rifle ammunition for velocity and function. The results with each brand and type of ammunition are listed in the chart below. HP is a lead hollowpoint bullet. Solid is a lead roundnose bullet. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity in the eighty-five percent range. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS), and were recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the rimfire rifle, and were recorded with and without the Cascade can attached. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity (with can) Velocity (without can)
Federal Bulk HP 36 1183 1172
Winchester DynaPoint HP 40 1077 1070
PMC Match Solid 40 915 1002
Wolf Match Solid 40 1029 1021
CCI Mini-Mag HP 36 1208 1237
CCI Mini-Mag Solid 40 1215 1209
CCI Velocitor HP 40 1245 1224
Remington Yellow Jacket HP 33 1354 1362
Remington Hi-Speed Solid 40 1250 1259
American Eagle HP 36 1157 1184
PMC Zapper HP 38 1205 1205
Winchester XPert HP 36 1187 1169
Hansen Solid 40 1144 1089
Remington Bulk Solid 37 1128 1116

As suspected, shooting with or without the can attached made little difference in velocity, and no difference was noted in accuracy between the two. The X-Ring rifle performed flawlessly. My favorite ammunition for small game hunting, the Winchester DynaPoint, turned out to be extremely accurate in this rifle. It was also one of the quietest loads tested with the suppressor attached. That ammo from this rifle is just at the right speed to not break the supersonic threshold, resulting in superb accuracy and low sound signature. Perfect! Other ammunition tested for accuracy performed very well also, but that DynaPoint is ideal in this rifle.

There are many aftermarket parts available for building up a 10/22 style semi-auto, but I have found nothing else the equal to the Tactical Solutions components. When I set out on this project, which has been ongoing for a couple of years now, I did not intend to end up with only TacSol components, but seeking out the best for my needs, I kept coming back to them. Now, if I can find a better trigger, this rifle will then indeed be the perfect semi-auto rimfire rifle. Nothing wrong functionally with the Ruger trigger, except that the pull is heavier than I like for precise bullet placement. I prefer a trigger in the three-pound or slightly under range, and the Ruger trigger comes in about twice that weight. Until I find a trigger replacement, this X-Ring rifle suits me just fine, and would serve as a competition rifle, plinking rifle, hunting rifle, and is especially good when stealth is an advantage, whether muffling the sound to prevent scaring game, or for keeping noise from alerting neighbors.

Check out the extensive line of high quality Tactical Solutions products online at

To order quality rimfire ammunition online, go to

Jeff Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.




Tactical Solutions Vantage RS laminated stock.



Leupold 3.5 to 10 power illuminated scope.