September 24, 2010
By Stan Trzoniec
Among other things, he liked the rotary magazine concept, which I'm sure has helped the gun he designed reach its full potential over the years. With millions made, it is no doubt one of the most popular Ruger guns ever built.
In 2008 the 10/22 entered a new era--or at least a whole unplumbed field of uses. Ruger has taken its action, attached a short barrel and mounted the combination in a laminated pistol stock. The result is a great plinking gun with an overall footprint of only 8x20 inches.
The stock is a black/gray laminate with a high-tech profile. The fore-end is relieved of the barrel for a couple of inches. The underside of the fore-end is rounded off slightly and sports a sling swivel stud with a factory-mounted, quick-detachable bipod.
The bipod extends out to nine inches without click stops. The height of the bipod can be locked by a quarter-turn of the thumbscrews, and retraction is accomplished by pushing in the release above each screw.
The pistol grip is well-contoured for the average hand. There are memory grooves on top and bottom that allow your hand to be placed in the same position shot after shot for consistency. The grip flares out on the bottom to provide a good resting surface. There is no checkering.
The aluminum receiver is finished in a very coarse-textured deep black. The factory-installed Weaver base provides more than enough cross-slots for mounting any optic. I used Warne rings and a Leupold scope.As with the 10/22 rifle, pulling the bolt handle to the rear compresses the recoil spring and cocks the hammer. When released, the bolt moves forward, strips a cartridge from the magazine and chambers it. When the gun fires, the bolt is thrown to the rear to extract and eject the spent case and chambers another round upon its return to battery. There is no magazine disconnect.
The gun is fed by a standard 10-round rotary magazine. However, the Charger sports a new magazine release. A lever projects down from the rear of the magazine well, and pushing it forward releases the magazine--much easier than the standard mag release.
Trigger pull on my sample was four pounds with a minimal amount of slack.
The barrel is 10 inches long, finished in matte black, and is attached to the action via Ruger's patented V-block. I'm sure aftermarket barrel makers will soon come out with various barrel contours or lengths for folks who just have to change something.
At the bench, the bipod handily supported the pistol, and using it while testing allowed me to judge how the Charger would handle in the field.
At 50 yards--with common brands of .22 rimfire ammunition--the Ruger excelled. The best group of the day went to Remington's classic Standard Velocity Target ammunition, sending five rounds into a tight half-inch cluster. CCI came in second with .75-inch groups, and the Winchester ammo provided one-inch groups.
This is a perfect gun for those desiring to use a pistol on small game, and for woodchucks at close distances. While a far cry from the Winchester single-shot .22 I used as a kid hunting woodchucks, after the first cutting of hay it's going to be a great companion on the north forty.
The rig brings a whole new element to small game hunting, and I commend Ruger for its unique design features and for bringing the Charger out just in time for the early varmint season.