We set out to build a survivalist AR-15 that might serve as a...
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While prepping for when the “Fit Hits the Shan,” the conversation will inevitably turn to proper firearms for hunting and self-defense. But be careful where you elicit advice from. Gun shop “experts” will tell you how useless a shotgun is and how you need a .338 Lapua to take out threats from a mile away. Meanwhile, Internet commandos will espouse the need for a double-stack 10mm pistol to deal with grizzly bears in downtown Cleveland. And tactical mall ninjas will suggest affixing as many lights, lasers, blades, and Tasers to your AR-15 for when the zombie outbreak hits.
Most will dismiss what is probably one of the more useful firearms to have in a crisis situation: a reliable, lightweight semiautomatic rifle that can be suppressed. For these characteristics and a few more, we looked to Ruger’s 10/22 Takedown to see if it was the answer to our survival-firearm question.
For reliability, accuracy, and a plethora of aftermarket accessories, no other manufacturer can beat the 10/22 in the .22-caliber realm. With more than 5 million units sold, it’s a proven performer that takes its lines from the M1 Carbine and has the distinction of being the first modern rimfire rifle designed specifically for adults as opposed to being a youth training firearm. The Takedown models have been out for nearly three years, and while definitely not the only 10/22 in the safe, this one makes for the best we could find in a SHTF rimfire carbine.
Of course, this being an OFFGRID story, we didn’t just buy a 10/22 Takedown and leave it, well, alone. As our loyal readers know, it’s best to personalize all our survival tools and supplies based on you and your family’s needs, your home and general region, and the types of calamities you might encounter. So read on to find out how we made this .22 LR firearm SHTF ready.
There isn’t a whole lot to the 10/22’s synthetic factory stock, and this Takedown version is no exception, apart from where it is cut into two sections. The aftermarket options are a little sparse at the moment, but this should change in time.
We made two basic modifications besides ditching the flash suppressor: removal of the barrel band and the addition of a single-point sling.
Removing the barrel band is a holdover from the days of using non-takedown 10/22s. All they really added was more of the look of an M1 Carbine. There are versions now that allow the shooter to add a Picatinny rail or a laser, but as an old-school rifle shooter, this author came of age when you didn’t want anything touching your barrel that would affect harmonics and performance. It’s moot on the Takedown, as the fore-end itself is attached to the barrel, but if anything on a firearm serves no real purpose, we prefer to remove it.
The single-point sling was tricky, as the lightweight stock didn’t seem to be a good candidate for installing sling swivel studs; a two-point sling on a takedown rifle seemed impractical. We used the Single-Point Sling Adapter by BLACKHAWK! to give a mounting point for a DeSantis Outback Bungee Sling.
This is one of the better single-point slings we have come across and we chose this design because it is longer than most, and the extra material can be used to jury-rig a two-point sling by wrapping it around the barrel. It stays put and can be undone in a matter of seconds when used in this manner.
At this point we had a blued receiver, a bare metal scope mount, an aluminum ring, and a Realtree buttstock. It was effective, but not the classiest-looking setup. And the author’s forays into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the wilds of Alaska sparked doubts about whether a stainless version would have been a better choice to resist the elements.
We contacted Russ Bacon and Nevada Cerakote (a division of High Desert Guns in Gardnerville, Nevada) for a custom Cerakote job. We went with the tried-and-true “High Desert Web” pattern that incorporates the green, browns, and tans of our local and immediate bug-out area. This was a major improvement over the blued steel of the barrel and receiver, bare aluminum of the scope rail and barrel lock, and, of course, the Elmer Fudd-ish Realtree camo that the stock was originally colored in, by way of a hot dip.
If this platform has one shortcoming, it’s the sights. Iron sights are great, and by and large that is how this author performs 90 percent of his own shooting, including with a long-gun. However, for this particular rifle to work as we envisioned it, we wanted something more accurate than Ruger’s factory irons, and going with the Tactical Solutions barrel meant giving up the sights completely.
The dilemma with optics and takedown rifles is that it will cause a shift in zero every time the firearms are taken apart and reassembled. One solution would be a cantilever type of mount on the barrel, but until that becomes an option for the Takedown, we decided on a rugged red-dot sight mounted farther back on the scope mount. We chose the Lucid M7, a solid little workhorse.
We purchased the version you see in these pages not so much for the Realtree camouflage pattern, but for the threaded barrel. Unfortunately, the factory 16.25-inch barrel turns into a 22-incher with an attached suppressor. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but when being compact is the order of the day, we wanted something shorter.
Enter Tactical Solutions, one of the companies that’s reinvented the Ruger 10/22. The Idaho-based company supplied us with an SB-X barrel that is made specifically for the Ruger 10/22 Takedown. Tactical Solutions builds a lightweight 12.5-inch barrel with a permanently attached ventilated shroud that brings the barrel length back to 16.25 inches. The shroud allows the installation of most rimfire suppressors and can be used with the included dummy suppressor or fired without it. Some velocity is lost with this setup due to the shorter length, but it does make the rifle quieter with the suppressor.
Our only real complaint with the factory barrel was the inclusion of an AR-15-style flash suppressor that serves no purpose beyond looks. Like being on a bad date, we ditched it as soon as we could, replacing it with a Gemtech ½x28 thread protector. The only shortcoming to the Tactical Solutions SB-X barrel is that you’ll have to kiss goodbye to your iron sights. (We’ll get to the workaround later in this story.)
In the world of NFA (National Firearms Act, which defines various categories of firearms and devices, including suppressors), there are a number of choices for a .22-caliber rimfire can. We went with the Gemtech Outback IID. This rugged little suppressor is dependable, user-serviceable, and quiet enough for our purposes. The price is very competitive, and Gemtech is currently offering an upgrade to the older models that makes it easier to clean and maintain while having a mono core.
But it’s Still a .22?
We’re sure the thought has crossed your mind as you read this story: Isn’t a .22-caliber gun just a peashooter? True enough, the .22 LR is not a service-rifle caliber. The round is a laughable choice for a self-defense handgun and not at all recommended by tactical trainers. But, we’re not talking about handgun performance here. We’re looking specifically at a rifle. The following is a closer examination of why the 10/22 Takedown could very well be your go-to survival firearm.
One of the many myths about suppressors is that they slow down the speed of the bullet and therefore make ammunition less effective. This may be old “gun shop wisdom” parroted on the Internet forums. In all our years of shooting handguns and rifles with suppressors, we have never noticed it and can still ring steel and knock down bowling pins with the best of them.
We put this myth to the test by rolling out our F1 Chrony with the Ruger 10/22 Takedown at the range. Using Remington Subsonic 38-grain hollow points and the 16-inch barrel, we averaged between 909 and 962 feet per second (fps) without the can. Screwing on the Outback IID, we averaged between 905 and 953 fps. The same ammunition with the shorter Tactical Solutions barrel resulted in 819 to 834 fps without the suppressor and 810 to 825 with it. This actually means the shorter barrel makes the rifle quieter as those extra few inches taken away means that the rifling will not push the bullet toward supersonic levels.
When shot with Federal Premium Target loads with a 40-grain bullet, we averaged 1,053 to 1,072 fps on the factory barrel without the can, 1,050 to 1,060 with it, and 880 to 900 with the Tactical Solutions barrel and no suppressor. Adding the suppressor to the Tactical Solutions barrel with the Federal Premium gave us an average of 871 to 887 fps.
The velocity loss is somewhere between 5 and 15 fps when using the Outback IID. It’s certainly nothing we want to be shot with.
Yes, you read that correctly. Self-defense. The .22 LR may not be the round of choice for a defensive handgun, but when chambered in a reliable rifle like the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, it’s positively deadly against two-legged predators. Just reread the aforementioned ballistics stats. One reason is the increased velocity when fired from a longer barrel and the increased accuracy from using modern optics coupled with no recoil. Also, if called into action, the 10/22 Takedown is light enough to be shot accurately with one hand — a huge plus if you’re carrying your child, protecting your spouse, or hauling vital life-saving medicine or supplies.
Disasters often have secondary consequences. Earthquakes, gas leaks, fire, or floods that devastate or otherwise evacuate structures not only drive out people, but send the vermin looking for other shelter and food sources, too. Whether it’s a plague of rats, feral dogs, possums, or other nuisance wildlife, the .22 LR excels at reducing their numbers humanely and quietly. Plus, it lets you save your larger caliber — 9mm, 12-gauge, .308, etc. — for more dangerous creatures.
In most parts of the USA, hunting big game with a rimfire round is outlawed. This is partially based on the notion that the .22 LR lacks power to make a humane kill, but also because a “miss” is subject to over-travel and can easily hit and injure another person a great distance away.
The fact remains that the .22 LR is effective on large game when the shot is placed properly. Poachers have effectively used this round for decades, and most farmers take down their cows for butchering with a single .22 shot to the head. Unless you’re hand cycling .22 CB Caps or .22 Shorts, don’t underestimate the power of this little cartridge. In all reality, a true SHTF scenario could decimate the entire local deer population within a year. Stockpiled .223, .308, and other full-sized rifle calibers will be overkill for the smaller animals that are left, such as squirrels, raccoons, foxes, marmots, groundhogs, and muskrats, etc.
This is another benefit of the 10/22 Takedown model. In a true TEOTWAWKI situation when you may find yourself having to elude a larger armed group, this smaller rifle will give you that ability to escape and evade. Always remember legendary lawman Wyatt Earp’s famous answer with regard to surviving a gunfight: “Don’t show up for it.” That little rifle broken down in its compact pack will be much less obvious from a distance than a black rifle slung over your shoulder or inside a long gun case. Furthermore, because the .22 LR is so much smaller than, say, 5.56mm, you can pack and carry a lot more rounds than you would if you were running with an AR-15.
While a basic AR-15 rifle can easily cost you more than a grand, a stock 10/22 Takedown can be found for less than a handgun. The MSRP is $409, but street prices are much cheaper. And unlike .50 BMG or .338 Lapua rounds, the Takedown’s .22 LR ammo is quite affordable and generally more readily available. Yes, we’re well aware of the current ammo shortfalls in some areas of the country, but this, too, shall pass. When a disaster strikes, it’ll be reassuring to know that your chosen caliber will be commonplace to purchase or scavenge.
When preparing for worst-case scenarios, realism is the name of the game. Forget the fanboy fantasies of zombies, cannibals, jack-booted thugs in blue helmets, or a Sharknado-like phenomenon. The reality is that a well-made .22-caliber rifle such as the Ruger 10/22 Takedown model will cover many of the real-world situations that a prepper might come up against in either a SHTF incident or simply living off the grid for an extended period of time. Be armed with both the tool and the knowledge to survive and thrive.
Overall Length: 34.5 inches (20 inches broken down)
Magazine Capacity: 10 or 25 rounds
Weight (Unloaded): 4.75 pounds
Barrel: Tactical Solutions SB-X $295 – www.tacticalsol.com
Suppressor: Gemtech Outback IID $325 – www.gem-tech.com
Optic: Lucid M7 $229 – www.mylucidgear.com
Sling Adapter: BLACKHAWK! Single-Point Sling Adapter $7 – www.blackhawk.com
Sling: DeSantis Outback Bungee Sling $56 – www.desantisholster.com
Coating: “High Desert Web” Cerakote $350 –www.nevadacerakote.com