It was not long ago that the major complaint regarding .22 rimfire repeating rifles was they had a tendency to stop repeating.
Often these rifles had tubular magazines using little-stamped sheet metal parts powered by tiny wire springs to move cartridges out of the tube and into the chamber. Lots of use wore these parts out, and hard usage without cleaning caused them to bend.
Today the tubular magazine is pretty much gone, replaced by the ubiquitous detachable box magazine that many folks call a “clip.” Almost without exception, they are stamped, soft, sheet metal or plastic creations. Not only do they wear, but if dropped the feed lips or body will be dented. Reliable feeding can be a thing of the past.
When Ruger’s 10/22 came on the scene in 1965, everything changed. The Ruger detachable box contains a rotor similar to the centerfire Mannlicher-Schönauer and Savage M99. Made of a proprietary General Electric Corp. product called Celcon that is tough as grizzly bear toenails, and featuring a cast steel throat, the magazine is nearly indestructible. It’s also dead reliable. There are, however, two problems often noted by hunters.
The first is the rifle’s failure to lock the bolt open after the last round is fired. Making this happen would require modifications to both magazine and rifle. Doing so would add cost, so it won’t happen. The second item is the subject of this column: Being able to know at a glance how many rounds are in the magazine.
Old five-shot metal magazines had to be refilled each time the rifle was fired at game to prevent running out of ammunition at the next opportunity. Doing so requires laying the rifle down on the ground or leaning it against a tree, removing gloves and picking a couple of the tiny cartridges out of those annoying plastic boxes. It is a noisy two-hand operation that is undesirable if targets are scurrying about. Ruger’s 10-round magazine greatly reduces the frequency of such fun, but if one cartridge remains in the magazine there is no way to know how many more (if any) remain.
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January - February 2019