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01 Oct

CHARGE(r)!

Posted by Mark Harris on

I like oddball stuff.

When I pull up to a 4-way stop, I don’t want to see three other cars like mine.  I drive a Swedish car – until recently, a Swedish station wagon.  I carry a fountain pen.  I had a Betamax VCR, I still have a LaserDisc player, I had a Commodore C64 and an Amiga 500. Somehow I picked Blu-Ray over HD-DVD, but I still have my MiniDisc player and I currently own Apple products.  And that’s why I own a Ruger Charger.  It's an oddball.

I spent a short time working at the largest firearms retailer in the state of Illinois before coming to Optics Planet, and one firearm I tried my best to sing the praises of to any customer that would listen, was the original Ruger Charger. It reminded me somewhat of the Remington XP-100, except in a caliber that wouldn’t bankrupt me, and in semiautomatic.  Here’s the Charger, courtesy of Wikipedia commons:

Here’s the XP-100, courtesy of Wikipedia commons, as well:

Not exactly the same, but I missed out on the XP-100 when it was in production.  Pretty racy stuff back in 1963, and was still holding it's own, style-wise when Remington pulled the plug on the original in 1998.  It was an oddball.

I just couldn’t understand how anyone could walk away from the Charger once I took it from the second shelf of the display case and placed it on the countertop.  Racy lines, all those 10/22 parts available… and – nothing.  Nobody wanted it, so I bought one.

For anyone reading who has been in a coma, abducted by aliens or has been in hiding with the Federal Witness Protection Program for the last few decades, the Ruger 10/22 rifle is the most popular semi-automatic .22LR rifle of all time.  It has been in continuous production since 1964, and Ruger has sold over 6 million of them in that period of time.  Countless companies offer parts for the 10/22.

In 2007, Ruger released a pistol based on the 10/22 receiver.  That pistol, the Charger, could accept nearly any accessory or part designed for a 10/22.   Although the government would take a dim view if you attached a rifle stock intended for a 10/22 to a Charger, because that would turn the Charger handgun into an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle).

People who live in Free States can fill out paperwork, pay fees and do that legally, but alas – here I am in Illinois, so the Charger was as close as I’m going to get to an SBR until I come to my senses and move out of this sorry state.  There were also aftermarket pistol stocks, like this Archangel that I gussied up with Magpul MBUS sights:

I’ve read up on the .22LR, and many believe that the Charger’s 10” barrel is the optimum length to achieve maximum velocity and accuracy in a handgun.  Maybe, maybe not.  What I do know is, that my Charger provides maximum fun.

Over the eight years I’ve owned my Charger, I’ve had a number of optics on it.  As it came from Ruger, there were no sights at all.  First up, I had a Burris FastFire II.  Then it sported an EOTech 512, then the 512 and a LaserMax Unimax laser.  Following that combination, I started looking at magnified optics, and the Weaver V-3 1-3×20 was a very nice match to the shooting I was doing.  Here’s the 512 and the UniMax, the V-3 having moved to Blue Boy, the 10/22 in the background:


In March of this year in anticipation of vacation, I decided to once again take advantage of my employee discount, and pretend I had a new gun by putting a new optic on an existing gun.

I spend most of my time with my Charger prone, using the bipod.  No sane person is going to want to hold a pistol at arm’s length that weighs 3 pounds, 9.6 ounces empty, and more than 5 pounds with a bipod and optic, so I have no need of a long eye relief scope.  If I’m not prone, I use a goofy-looking hold that lets me support the Charger in the crook of my arm, and keep my eye close enough to use a standard riflescope.  Hey, it works for me:

In the areas I shoot, I’m pretty lucky if I have a 100-yard shot at a target.  At 100 yards, my 40 grain projectile has dropped more than 7 inches, so I do most of my target shooting at 50 yards.  I don’t need a lot of magnification at that distance.  Armed (pardon the pun) with my requirements – rimfire scope, medium magnification, BDC reticle – I settled on the Bushnell AR-22 2-7×32 with the DropZone 22LR BDC reticle.  Specifically model AR92732.

Back in April, I took the Charger, a DNZ base/ring combination, my Wheeler Fat Wrench torque screwdriver and the Bushnell AR-22 to my ancestral farm in the Great State of Tennessee, mounted the scope and sighted in the optic.  It now looks like this:

Pardon the mess on my desk, I wasn't expecting company.

This is my only criticism of the AR-22, and it’s a pretty feeble complaint, since by the name of the product – AR-22 – it was designed to go on AR-styled 22LR rifles in extra-high rings to achieve the 1.5” optical center above the bore.  In extra-high rings, there’s a considerable amount of room between the bottom of the scope and the top of the receiver or mount.  I had hoped to use a low or medium DNZ mount, but the gizmo on the bottom of the scope – Drew at Bushnell tells me it is a fill point for the nitrogen – stuck out too far to use anything but a high DNZ base/ring combination.  Medium almost worked, and I considered filing the base, but I went with the high:

I’m no engineer, but it seems like the size or the location of that huge plug could have been changed to allow the AR-22 to be used on more types of rifles.  But, as I said, it was designed for an AR rimfire platform, so I really can’t complain much.

I zeroed at 50 yards, because back up north, the facilities that I use in Indiana are 50 yards, max.  After having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have fifty yards away form something, I decided to test out the BDC reticle.

If I set up targets in the southeast part of the cow pasture, and take a walk to the far northwest corner – stepping carefully to avoid the land mines left by the cattle – I have exactly 100 yards.

Through the magic of laser range finding, and the assistance of my wife (under duress) I set up six empty cans of Diet Coke up for execution – two cans at each of the three distances – 50, 75 and 100 yards.

Dead can walking…

Why those specific distances?  Because of the BDC reticle, and this chart in the owner's manual:

I set up shop on a tarp and spent a few minutes lying on my back, staring up at the clouds and thinking how damn lucky I was to be doing this – I was in Tennessee, outdoors, the weather was beautiful, birds were circling overhead.  I had managed not to step in a cow pile, rip my pants on the barbwire fence or shock myself on the electric fence again.  I had slept in, eaten a heart-plugging breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, and now I was participating in a wholesome hobby without having to defend it to anyone, and without shrill, condescending voices on television telling me that firearms ownership is immoral and should be illegal.

And cold Guinness was waiting for me back at the house.  I was on top of the world.

There’s just nothing like the report from a .22LR combined with that wonderful smell of burned powder.  I inserted my last 10-round magazine, pulled and released the bolt, and started with the center of the reticle, and the cans at 50 yards.  Using the second aiming point, I did the same at 75 yards.  Finally, two shots at 100 yards.

I put the Charger on safe, dropped the magazine, ejected the chambered shell and walked through the pasture, collecting the cans. At 50 yards, essentially dead center, but I've observed this phenomenon before – my first shot is most often my best, and I was shooring from a bipod.  At 75 yards, ever so slightly high and left holes in the bottom of the cans, maybe an eighth of an inch. At 100 yards, it was just to the right of center and lower than I would have liked – it wouldn’t have mattered a bit for minute-of-squirrel, and worked very well for minute-of-pop-can. 

In about three weeks, I’ll be in the same pasture with the Charger, and this time I’ll be using actual targets, and a spotting scope.  I'll be trying different brands and types of ammo to see what comes the closest to Bushnell's chart.

Fall in Tennessee, the sounds of .22 and the smell of gunsmoke.  If I’m not here for my November blog, you know where to start looking for me.  I'll be in the upper left-hand corner:

Mark H.

About

Mark, who feels uncomfortable referring to himself in the third person, was taught to shoot at age 5 by his father. Mark grew up, or at least increased in age, in east central Indiana. After realizing that he was not going to become an astronaut, he attended design school and spent 25 years in commercial printing before a trip to the emergency room convinced him to abandon this folly. The online purchase of a holster led Mark to OpticsPlanet where he is happier than any person has a right to be, except that his wife refuses to let him buy a dog or a motorcycle. She is, however, pretty darn cute, according to Mark.

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