Building A Custom 10/22 With Faxon Firearms

by Tommy Grant

Building a tack-driving 10/22 is easier than ever, especially with a little help from companies like Faxon Firearms.

In the era we currently live in, there are platforms that dominate, and one of the more interesting examples has occurred in the rimfire world, where one general family of products has become the flagship for the entire genre.

Ruger’s 10/22 is a worldwide classic and one of those ubiquitous firearms that almost everyone and their brother (and sister, dad, uncle, etc.) owns. Unlike literally hundreds of other rimfire rifle designs that have come and gone with each passing season, the 10/22 platform has hung on, in my opinion largely because of its extremely reliable magazines.

The design was not originally something that was “modular,” but in our day it has become the go-to platform for all things rimfire. You can build your own not-technically-a-Ruger “10/22” out of parts from many companies now; in a way, it has become to rimfire what the AR-15 did for centerfire.

But, before we get into the meat of what notable maker Faxon Firearms has done with it, we need to take a bit of a look at what got us to the place we are now at in rimfire modularity.

A Flexible Design

If you’ve read my words long enough on the pages of Gun Digest, you’ll know I like to keep things simple, and I don’t really go for the industry jargon unless I am made to, often begrudgingly. The thing with the 10/22 is that, while all these parts are compatible with one another, only Ruger guns can be called “10/22” in earnest.

Unlike the AR platform, where it’s all pretty much open source and you can call it what you like, that 10/22 designation belongs to Ruger. As a result, all other parts, while compatible, are “for 10/22,” “10/22 compatible” or otherwise designated. I do need to make note of that here because we are dealing with independent designs that are outside that Ruger copyright. What I am going to discuss here is what made the original Ruger 10/22 design suitable for becoming a platform—and not just the product of the company that originally made it.

The main basis for an expanded aftermarket, in any firearms category, is popularity: think AR, Remington 700, and every other design that lends a particular dimension in physical size to expanded options. The AR is obvious and needs little explanation. The Remington 700 “footprint” is a wide-reaching standard across the industry and the base standard for virtually all custom actions in terms of receiver length and shape, as well as screw spacing and magazine inlet.

Some platforms are designed literally as a launch point, such as the Sig P320 and P365. The company in this case wanted to foster an aftermarket and openly welcomed these independent innovators to the point of including their products on their website as custom options.

custom-10-22-grip

Modular By Default

The Ruger 10/22 was, as far as all research I’ve done on the topic, not intended to be a modular product. The ease of modularity comes from the construction of the gun, which is held together with just a few screws. The barrel isn’t even screwed into the receiver; instead, it’s held in with a V-block setup featuring two screws and a clamp that tensions to the barrel to the receiver. It takes all of a minute to install a barrel using this system.

The trigger assembly is a self-contained unit that includes the hammer, in a way similar to that of the M1 Garand or M14 rifles. The entire unit is held to the receiver by two pins. With the barrel and trigger group attached, the barreled action is simply lowered into the stock and secured by a single screw.

Some variants have a barrel band that encompasses the barrel and stock, though this is common to factory guns and is lacking from virtually all “custom” build options. A large reason here is that few aftermarket barrels follow the exact contour of Ruger factory barrels and, as a result, are incompatible.

The overall ease of changing parts on the factory 10/22 and its overwhelming popularity inevitably led to an aftermarket. This was initially slow and somewhat rigid as far as options. I remember when there were many types of cheap plastic kits you could use to “go tactical” with your 10/22, but there weren’t many options as far as actual new parts or triggers.

All that changed in the past decade, and there has been an explosion of high-end parts available for the platform, to the point where you can build a parts-compatible complete rifle or pistol without any OEM Ruger parts. The aftermarket for the 10/22 is massive now, and there are new options available nearly weekly as the current trends go.

Enter Faxon Firearms and their game-changing rimfire products.

Faxon Goes Rimfire

I’ll be up front about the fact that I’ve worked with Faxon Firearms on many of their AR parts for years. I have yet to find a bad one, to the point that I heartily recommend them at every chance I get. I put thousands of rounds through a single .224 Valkyrie Faxon barrel and featured it in many articles on these pages. It shot ½-MOA all day … in all bullet weights.

Likewise, my experience in .450 Bushmaster, 5.56 NATO, .308 Win. and .350 Legend were all incredible, not to mention that their parts, bolt carrier groups and handguards are all excellent. I hadn’t worked with their rimfire line until this article, and I’ll just spoil the end here by saying that these are some of the best barrels you can hope to find for your build. The rainbow heavy contour barrel featured on these pages is so accurate you’d think you were shooting a centerfire … at 400 yards.

Faxon got into rimfire because there was an obvious demand for it. Many AR builders find the classic semi-auto rimfire as an excellent build project situation for the kids or a long weekend in the workshop. I know that the build bug has a strong bite, and once you begin seeing your options, you really can’t stop at just ARs.

Faxon began making rimfire barrels in 2020, and soon other parts followed. The barrels started as the tapered standard option, and they sold extremely well. The idea was to make it an accessible rimfire line, and the emphasis was on maximum accuracy with the greatest appeal to the average builder—not just the match-grade elite.

The barrels have a sporter chamber, so they can accept virtually any and all .22 LR ammo (there is more than one .22 LR chamber profile, think .223 Rem., 5.56, Wylde, etc.). Faxon wanted people to be able to run Eley Match and Remington Bucket o’ Bullets … creating a chamber for all occasions, from long range to plinking, without sacrificing precision.

Receivers started rolling out shortly after barrels, and they offer drop-in compatibility with triggers and barrels. Other receivers are currently in development. I reached out to the company for some “cool” colors, because I do love my bold builds. These aren’t tactical guns, won’t be used for any mall ninja events and are really what I like to see when I think of having fun at any range. That’s not to say that rimfire rifles can’t be lethal, but the world is a rough place and sometimes just having fun is enough.

Barrel Roll

Faxon currently offers 17 options in rimfire barrels. Sizes vary from pistol length to full size. Presently, the company plans to stick with .22 LR for the foreseeable future, though other calibers might come in the future. I’m interested to see what these might be, though I’m pretty sure there’s a limited selection available in that category—unless the company plans to release their own cartridge design.

I went to two extremes in accomplishing the article builds: one a fast and light barrel in gold meant for speed, and the other a heavy, thick stationary build for precision at longer ranges. I paired the heavy barrel in the rainbow color to the blue receiver and built out a stellar rifle that has wowed me with its accuracy. The light contour gold barrel went to the red receiver. This was intentional, as I wanted to make it have all the matched fire-themed colors in red, gold, orange and black. It turned out nice.

The accuracy of Faxon barrels is hard to argue against. At 50 meters, both of these barrels shot to under an inch, with the lighter contour losing a bit of accuracy as it heated up. At 100 meters, the heavy contour barrel still printed an inch, which truly impressed me. I was achieving 2 MOA at 100 meters with the light barrel.

At 200 meters, the separation was obvious, with the heavy barrel producing centerfire accuracy of 2.5 inches using standard Remington Bucket o’ Bullets ammo. It held 2 MOA with Eley Match loads. I eventually took the heavy blue gun to 400 meters and could keep every shot on an IDPA silhouette at that range … if the wind cooperated.

Stock Options

When it comes to stocks and triggers, you’ll have to look to companies other than Faxon. My favorite trigger company for all things rimfire is Timney, and each of my feature rifles here is graced with one of their triggers. In fact, all of my rimfire rifles in my stable have Timney triggers. There are many, many variants you can pick from, and I color-matched my Timney models to the theme of each of my rifles.

These triggers are incredible and truly are the choice for your builds based on customization alone. You can get exactly the trigger you want without having to go through a custom shop, and the best part is that they drop in easily. There’s no additional effort other than inserting two pins.

Stocks are plentiful for this platform. I decided to use two different brands, KRG and Grey Birch Solutions, for these builds. KRG is a known player in the industry: I’ve worked with their incredible centerfire products for the better part of a decade and have never had a bad experience. I currently run their stocks on several builds and love them.

The KRG stock is simple, affordable and offers a good degree of customization. I found out a little too late that they offered a red-colored stock I could’ve used, but the black with red accents was no consolation. What’s nice is that these stocks are compatible with many of KRG’s accessories, making for a truly competitive edge. You can add weights, extra rails, extend the length-of-pull and more—just as you can with a centerfire stock.

Grey Birch Solutions makes some absolutely top-notch stocks. Not only are they modular on their own, but they also offer the builder a match-grade solution to their rimfire problems. The stocks they make are constructed in much of the same manner as the best centerfire chassis currently available: solid metal with all the right features at a weight savings.

The forend I went with has an integral ARCA rail, making it instantly accessible to my Two Vets tripod. The stock itself is a folder, akin to the mechanism used in many other high-end modern rifles. It’s minimalist, solid and helps deliver maximum accuracy. Ergonomics are a bit skeletal, but this is by design; nobody wants to be carrying a 19-pound rimfire rifle, and weight adds up drastically when working in any medium associated with metal. It’s not like riding in a Cadillac for comfort, but rather a sport bike.

Your Game Is On

Using Faxon Firearms receivers, barrels and bolts, you can craft some truly excellent rimfire builds based on the Ruger 10/22. I find this is such a fun thing to do that I have several, and I plan to build several more. I enjoy that Faxon makes these parts so affordable and at the same time accurate—your accessibility to all things rimfire is maximized in match shooting, field use and recreation.

We’re at the cusp of an explosion in the rimfire market as the AR situation reaches peak saturation, the dollars and ideas simply must flow in a different direction lest we lose our way entirely. I think that the middle half of the ’20s will be a golden age for rimfire rifles, especially the Ruger 10/22 and its growing aftermarket offerings.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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