Steps 3 and 4
This is the final article in a four-part series and finishes the do-it-yourself guide with installation of three additional upgrades for your Ruger 10/22, including an enhanced extractor, a much improved firing pin, and a larger bolt handle with a polished guide rod and spring. We wrap up this article with a complete list of all the videos and .pdf files referenced in all of the articles plus an annotated tool list and links to additional resources.
If you have followed us this far, you have learned that we think a .22 rifle is an excellent first gun for a prepper family and an important addition to any prepper battery. You learned that we especially recommend a stainless Ruger 10/22 Takedown for a number of reasons. You also read about the Appleseed Project and Rimfire Challenge, which we think are great experiences for beginners as well as experienced marksmen. In the third article, we made a case for doing all the gunsmithing yourself and provided detailed instructions for installing an automatic bolt release and an extended magazine release– two of the four must-have upgrades. This is the last piece.
Lock the bolt back on your newly installed automatic bolt release. Use your new extended mag release to drop out any magazine. Visually check the receiver to confirm there is nothing in the chamber. Remove all magazines and ammo from your work area.
Completely field strip your 10/22 and set aside the forearm, butt stock, and the trigger guard housing you worked on in the third article.
You really should complete Step Two before jumping into Step Three.
STEP THREE- Bolt Assembly
Pick up the bolt and examine it carefully. As you will see, it is an example of simple and elegant design. There are only two moving parts plus two springs, a plunger and a single pin. Wipe it down with your shop rag and assemble the components and your tools. The tools include your gunsmith hammer, a bench block, a 5/32” pin punch or better yet a 5/32” roll pin punch, an awl, and your choice of a 4” needle nose plier, a 4” needle nose vise grip, or the Joe Beary tool shown in Video #6.
We recommend the TandemKross Extractor and Extractor Spring ($9.99) to replace the stamped factory extractor with a machined and hardened tool steel part that has a more aggressive profile to provide a much tighter grip on the spent case. In a recreational setting, a “stove pipe” or a failure to eject (FTE) happens when the empty case is caught in the ejection port by the bolt moving forward before the case is fully ejected. In a competition setting, while hunting, or in a survival situation, that FTE is a potential disaster that can be easily avoided, and the fix will last for the lifetime of the rifle. The total time for the next two upgrades is less than 10 minutes plus the time to watch Video #6 (the second part of Video #2) or read through the TandemKross installation sheet at PDF #2.
Look at the front edge of the bolt and push on the small portion of the extractor that slides over the rim on the .22LR case when the bolt slams home. Push the little claw with your finger to get a sense of the range of movement and to understand how the extractor pivots in its slot so that it can slide over the rim of the case and into a small groove cut in the barrel just to the right of the chamber.
Use a small screwdriver or better yet an awl to reach into the extractor slot machined into the right side of the bolt to push the plunger on the end of the extractor spring back beyond the round opening in the extractor slot thereby releasing spring tension on the factory extractor. While holding the plunger/spring assembly under tension, the original extractor can sometimes be dropped out or easily pulled out with 4” needle nose pliers. Because some of the extractors are not smooth or are a little larger than spec, they can be quite difficult to remove. For just those cases, I keep a 4” needle nose Vise-Grip on my bench. This is almost like having that third hand. Note: Tolerances on the factory extractor vary a lot. If the extractor wants to stay in place, I clamp the very tip of the needle nose vise grip onto the claw so that I can use an awl in my left hand to push the plunger back into the slot while lifting up on the extractor/vise grip with my right hand. Some extractors are very tight; just be persistent. It may take several tries to get all of the spring pressure relieved while providing the correct up and out movement on the extractor.
Once the extractor is out, slowly release the tension on the plunger/spring combination. Bag the original extractor and spring to keep as a spare in your spare parts plastic baggie. Install the original plunger over the end of the new T-K spring. One end of the spring is usually tighter than the other; this end goes over the narrow end of the plunger. Slide the spring into the extractor slot, and compress the plunger/spring assembly with the awl or the new extractor until the base of the extractor drops into the slightly larger circular opening in the machined retaining slot. Sometimes with an overly strong spring or a slightly under-dimension slot, you will have to use the awl to provide enough extra room for the rear edge of the extractor to drop into place. Even though we have replaced a lot of extractors, a common mistake is to lose control of the spring tension and shoot the plunger off into our work room. A back-up extractor plunger is one of the several items you can buy from shopruger.com. (Item #60012 – $2.00) for your spare parts kit. Once seated and locked in place by the plunger, move the extractor tip back and forth and from side to side in the slot to make sure it is secure.
Although our shop is finally able to order a variety of brands of .22LR from different manufacturers, availability of certain types of CCI and Eley match grade brands is still spotty. One of the realities we have experienced first-hand is the increasing frequency of “failure to fire” (FTF) in all brands of .22 ammo and with many of the .22 rifles or pistols we work on and test. The case rims show a solid impact from the factory firing pin, but the round fails to go off. It’s no big deal when you are not under stress or time pressure. Count to 30, rack the bolt, eject the dud, and chamber another round. But, if you are hunting, in survival mode, or in a match, that FTF can be a really big deal.
A dud can be the result of either slack quality control in the ammo manufacturing process or a sub-optimal impact from the firing pin or both. We choose to eliminate the firing pin as a point of failure.
Since the bolt is already out of the 10/22 receiver to replace the extractor, we strongly recommend that you replace the factory firing pin with one from Volquartsen, Power, Tactical Innovations, or Kidd Innovative Design. ($23.95) Superior metal, proper hardness, precise EDM wire cutting, and precision grinding make for a much more consistent impact and positive ignition. This is one of the most important upgrades, even for the recreational shooter. According to Power Custom, the extractor and firing pin are the two most common upgrades they sell.
To remove the factory firing pin, place the bolt on a conventional gunsmith’s bench block or some other surface with a hole or edge to allow the roll pin room to move and use a 5/32 pin punch or roll pin punch and a gunsmith hammer with one brass head and one nylon head to push the roll pin holding the firing pin into the bolt body from left to right. Please do not use any punch smaller than 5/32”; you might damage the roll pin and not be able to re-use it. Of all the pins in a 10/22, this is the most difficult to remove, or in this case partially remove. Do not drive it completely out of the bolt. Once started with a punch and sufficient hammer force to get it moving, use a number of smaller taps to drive the roll pin only far enough to release the firing pin; it just needs to move slightly more than 60%. You can check by picking up the bolt and looking or by pulling back on the pin punch to see if the factory firing pin is loose in its slot. When the firing pin is free, pull it out of the bolt body. Turn the bolt body over and shake loose the firing pin rebound spring. This very small compression spring is another candidate for your spare parts kit from shopruger.com. (Item # 60038 – $2.00) Put the old factory rebound spring and firing pin into your spare parts bag.
To install the new firing pin and spring, drop the spring into the firing pin slot making sure that the larger end is toward the bolt face and the smaller, slightly conical end is toward the rear where it touches the firing pin. Move the new firing pin back and forth in the slot with your finger to make sure the spring is retained by the firing pin. While holding the firing pin pushed forward into its channel, turn the bolt on its side and use your gunsmith hammer to drive the roll pin back into place, seating it flush on both sides with the 5/32” pin punch. Check again with your finger to make certain the firing pin moves freely in its channel.
STEP FOUR- Receiver Assembly
Bolt Handle Plus Guide Rod and Spring
The final upgrade to consider before installing the bolt back in the receiver is the charging handle that allows you to move the bolt back and forth in the receiver. In our household, we have four different bolt handles from three different manufacturers, including the ones from Tactical Innovations that come in a variety of bling colors. I have the Kidd Bolt Handle ($20.00) in silver with ring cuts. It sticks out far enough that I no longer skin my knuckles on the receiver body. Even more important, the oversize handle is much easier for my big fingers to grasp in a hurry without getting pinched.
The benefit from upgrading the guide rod and spring comes from smoother and more consistent bolt operation since the new guide rod from Kidd is machined from hardened tool steel to very tight tolerances, polished, and then nitride treated for a very smooth and slick surface. This improves both feeding and ejecting as the bolt moves back and forth in the receiver without jerking. The Kidd Guide Rod and Spring Kit ($9.95) comes with a choice of three springs– standard as well as one with 10% more resistance for a steady diet of hyper velocity (1600 fps) and another with 10% less resistance for subsonic ammo.
We usually install the standard replacement spring for use because we expect most customers will use something like CCI MiniMag (1250 fps) for hunting/survival and either CCI Standard Velocity or Eley Match for competition (1050-1085 fps).
For the typical hunter or recreational shooter, the new bolt handle may not be so important. For Rimfire Challenge competitors where half a second makes a big difference or for guys with XXL hands, it is worth every penny. The total time to remove the bolt, remove the factory guide rod assembly, and install the new super smooth guide rod and spring plus the new bolt handle should be less than 10 minutes plus the time spent watching the videos. After all, the bolt and receiver assembly are ready to go.
The procedure for installing the new charging handle, guide rod, and spring is much more easily described than done, until you have done it 20 or 30 times. So that you can better understand how the pieces fit together and work inside the receiver, take the bolt and place it on your work surface so that the firing pin is up and the narrow tapered end of the firing pin is facing away from you. You will see a 3/8” wide channel milled across the top surface about ¼” back from the front face and a portion of the firing pin sticking up into that milled space. With the spring on the left and handle to the right, place the bolt handle assembly into that channel. The milled slot in the bolt handle allows the firing pin to move freely when the bolt handle is in place.
Holding everything together, turn the two pieces over. This is what you will see when you put the bolt down onto bolt handle inside the upside down receiver. Now take the receiver in your left hand and look for the ledge cast into the left receiver wall above the ejection port. Steady the upside down receiver with your left hand, and holding the bolt in your right hand, place it into the receiver parallel to the receiver and drop it into place. The parts need to be parallel, since you have less than 1/16” of an inch of clearance between the front of the bolt and the back of the ledge. Just for grins, reach in with your right forefinger and take the bolt out. You probably cannot do it until you turn the receiver over. That’s how tightly the parts fit together.
Now, let’s put everything together under spring tension. Put the spring (white tip or standard strength) on the guide rod which goes at an angle through the ejection port until the pointed end fits against the guide rod rest on the far side of the receiver near the bottom. Compress the spring on the rod until about an inch is clear and hold the compressed spring between your right thumb and forefinger. (Watch Video #3 starting at 1:55.) Making sure that the channel for the firing pin is facing up, use your left hand to slide the bolt handle onto the exposed end of the polished guide while continuing to hold the spring between your right thumb and forefinger resting firmly against the guide rod rest. Compress the new spring with your right index finger while pulling back on the bolt handle with your left hand, simultaneously pressing the guide rod into the right wall of the receiver and down against the bottom. The whole guide rod assembly has to be compressed straight back into the receiver to allow enough clearance for the bolt to drop back into place. Once fully compressed, put your left forefinger over the handle and left thumb around the bottom of the receiver and hold the guide rod tight against the right wall and down.
Drop the back of the bolt into the receiver so that the bolt is snug to the rear. Then, drop the front of the bolt over the bolt handle and just behind the ledge. It will not drop past the ledge until you push down on the front of the bolt with your thumb while making sure the guide rod is down and tight against the receiver wall. Release the bolt handle, and the whole assembly should slide forward in the receiver slamming against the front surface.
Practice this a time or two, and you will be much faster, though maybe not as quick as Tony Kidd in Video #3 or Joe Beary in Video #2. You might think a three-handed gunsmith would have a real advantage, but there is no room for that third hand.
The final upgrade for the receiver/bolt assembly is the bolt buffer. As you recall from Video #1 and Video #3, the stock Ruger part is a solid steel pin and serves two purposes. First, it prevents the bolt from hitting the back of the receiver frame casting when the action cycles by absorbing the impact from the bolt body slamming back on the steel pin. Second, the bolt is locked into place by the combination of the round cut in the back of the bolt and square cut ledge on the side of the receiver.
For most of our shop work we recommend the Kidd Bolt Buffer ($5.95) because of its two part construction. The outer sleeve is made of shock absorbing Viton rubber with an inner steel dowel pin. The combination almost completely eliminates bolt battering and dampens the vibrations from the action cycling. TandemKross also makes an excellent composite bolt buffer. (You can save a whole dollar.)
How important is this upgrade? There is a definite reduction in noise and felt vibration, but we have never been able to measure any change in accuracy or reliability. We have never done this replacement without also changing the guide rod and spring and bolt handle so there is no labor charge. We know that cracked receiver frames or cracked bolt bodies can theoretically happen from the bolt hammering the steel buffer pin, but we have yet to see it. The cost is low, there is no extra time, and it looks (and sounds) like a good idea.
The total cost so far is $105.87 for all five major upgrades plus your labor and some tools. If you also did the magazine latch and the bolt buffer, your component cost total comes to $118.32. The result is a smoother running rifle with everything done to remove failure points, improve functioning, and increase long-term reliability. As a by-product, you also started a spare parts kit. Whether you keep the gunsmithing tools in a small tool box or in your range bag, you will use all of these tools over and over. Most importantly, you have the satisfaction of knowing you can fix almost anything that goes wrong with your 10/22 and that you have the tools on hand to do the work.
Let me make a quick plug for your local gunsmith should you ever need him. The shop labor rate is only partially related to the estimated time to do a particular task. It also includes an allowance for all of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) paperwork, logging your rifle in and out of his A&D Bound Book (Acquisitions and Dispositions), the rent and overhead for his shop, and the hefty insurance bill just for being a gunsmith and working on customer guns. The labor rate also makes up for lost time or hazardous parts that need to be replaced but are discovered only after starting a project. I have seen posted rates for the upgrades described in this article and in the third article ranging from $90 to $150. That is roughly the amount you can save by doing the work yourself.
If you make it all the way through this project, reward yourself with an inexpensive but high quality shop apron listed at the bottom of the tool list. For the eternally optimistic, buy it when you get the other tools and wear it proudly from Day One.
OUR FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE
Get your 10/22 and make the upgrades before SHTF. It could happen any day.
www.kiddinnovativedesign.com [firing pin, bolt handle / guide rod plus more]
www.powercustom.com [full line of replacement parts]
www.tacticalinc.com [bolt handle / guide rod with bling and matching base and rings]
www.tacticalsol.com [extended magazine release]
www.tandemkross.com [extractor, automatic bolt release, and other parts]
www.volquartsen.com [full line of replacement parts]
Key Videos/PDF Files:
Video #1: Major Sub-Assemblies – A quick overview of field stripping and putting a Takedown back together.
Video #2: Bolt and Charging Handle – The first two minutes show how to remove and install the bolt and guide rod spring with and without Joe Beary’s 10/22 tool. (The second half of this video is Video #6.)
Video #3: Bolt Removal/Guide Rod Installation – Tony Kidd showing how to remove/install the bolt and the charging handle guide rod without the Joe Beary tool. He also describes the Kidd bolt buffer and its installation.
Video #4: Automatic Bolt Release/Extended Mag Release – These are not the parts we recommend, but the video is short and covers everything you need to see to visualize the entire process.
PDF #1: Includes Tandem Kross Installation Sheet – Scroll down to the 10/22 heading on this page and download the TandemKross Installation Sheet with some excellent photos and a slightly different description which assumes you are replacing only the bolt release.
Video #5: Tactical Solutions Employee Demonstration – Watch a Tactical Solutions employee install an extended mag release in less than two minutes, assuming you are not replacing the bolt release.
Video #6: Extractor (same as Video #2) – The second half of this 4-minute video shows Joe Beary demonstrating his tool to remove and install an extractor. You may never need to use it again, but for $12.95 this tool will save a lot of time. The following link is to Joe’s web site: gunsmithertools.com/gunsmither-1022-bolt-bar/index.html
PDF #2: Another Extrator Installation Approach – Yet another approach to installing the extractor is covered in a downloadable pdf of the Tandem-Kross Installation sheet for their extractor. It is not always this easy.
Video #7: Firing Pin: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw6KbM7CjFM Installation of a Volquartsen firing pin, but the same techniques apply to the Kidd firing pin.
The following list is just a starting point for you to do your own shopping. All of the links shown are to Amazon, but there are three other exceptional sources to consider:
www.graceusatools.com – the best traditional bench tools
www.midwayusa.com – very fast service and a broad selection
www.brownells.com – many gunsmith-only tools and parts
If you bought everything listed from Amazon, the total would be $146.07, assuming you substituted the Joe Beary bolt and extractor tool. Put another way, the tools cost more than the components. On the other hand, you now have all the tools you are likely to need to add a scope base, rings, and a scope as well as to install any upgrades to the trigger, sear, and hammer. And, they will prove useful on every other gunsmithing project you take on.
- Excellent gunsmith hammer ($23.99); Brownell’s also sells one with their name on it.
- The Real Avid bench block is what we carry in our range bag because it is much lighter than either the Brownell or Wheeler versions we use in the shop. ($14.99)
- Wheeler bench block. ($19.99) This or the Brownell’s block are used every day in our shop.
- Stanley steel punch set with the three sizes you need (3/16, 1/8, 5/32) and three superfluous. ($9.96) These are excellent tools with a variety of uses, but if you are thinking seriously about building an AR-15 or expanding your gunsmithing activities, you should consider a complete set of pin punches, roll pin punches (with a small knob on the tip to fit inside the roll pin), and roll pin holders (which hold the roll pin itself for the initial taps) whether from Grace, Brownell’s, or Wheeler for a cost of $100 or more.
- Bondhus ball driver 8-piece set of Allen wrenches for hex head screws in the three sizes you need (7/64, 1/8, 5/32) and five superfluous but handy ones. One great feature is that each driver is proportionately sized. You will instantly know which one you need to grab. ($15.77)
- Bondhus ball driver Allen wrench 3.5mm ($6.44); or you could buy an entire set but make sure the set has a 3.5mm size.
- Grace 8-piece hollow ground gunsmith screwdriver set with three you need (02, H2, H3) and five that will be useful on many other guns. ($33.99)
- Ullman 4-piece pick and hook set, all useful. ($9.99)
- Stanley 6-piece mini plier set including the 4” needle nose plier. ($12.99) You will probably find a use for all of these, just not on this project.
- Irwin 4” needle nose Vise Grip are more expensive than the Joe Beary tool, but it has many other uses. The only use on a 10/22 is to hold the extractor claw more securely than with your fingers. ($13.98)
- Shop rags are just a part of handling dirty, oily guns; these cost about $0.40 each. Run through the washer/dryer without anything else before you start to use them. Old t-shirts also work. ($9.99)
- And last, your very own gunsmith apron. P.S. Do not get the camo version. Wear with pride. You earned it. ($12.75)