The .22 LR is the most popular cartridge in the world. More of them are manufactured, sold and fired each year than any another non-military cartridge. And the reasons for the popularity of the .22 LR are simple to understand.
First of all, .22 ammo is inexpensive. You, and hopefully your children, can enjoy an afternoon of plinking without putting a dent in the weekly budget or upsetting your bank manager. Then there is the fact that .22s don’t make a lot of noise, so they can be fired in areas where letting a round off from a more powerful firearm would cause consternation among the local residents. All .22 firearms produce almost non-existent recoil levels, making them a perfect choice for teaching new shooters and enabling experienced shooters to practice more often at the range.
Also, the .22 LR is very accurate, which is why it is a favorite among target and silhouette shooters, and it also produces sufficient power for taking small game and, within limitations, larger vermin such as fox.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off—I’m a .22 fan. I cut my handgunning teeth on a .22 revolver, my gun safe contains a number of .22 handguns and there is always a good supply of .22 LR ammo in my storage cabinet. My first .22 pistol was a Ruger 22/45 that over the decades has accounted for innumerable empty drink cans, squirrels, rabbits and various vermin, in addition to helping me introduce a number of persons, young and old, male and female, to the fun of handgun shooting.
The first Ruger firearm was a .22 pistol, the Standard model, which hit the American market in 1949 and set the standard for high-quality, but affordable, .22 autoloaders. It proved popular for serious target shooting, small-game hunting and the most important role of any .22 firearm, plinking. Shortly after the “plastic revolution” hit, Ruger introduced its 22/45 pistol, which utilized a Mark III receiver and barrel mated to a Zytel polymer frame with removable grip panels that simulated the shape and feel of a 1911 pistol.
In 2007, Ruger introduced a slightly “different” .22 pistol—the 22 Charger. I say different because while it was indeed a pistol, it used the same receiver used with the company’s immensely popular 10/22 rifle. Being the 10/22’s alloy receiver was compact and light in weight, adapting it to a pistol platform was relatively easy.
The Charger featured a 10-inch, precision-rifled barrel mounted in an ergonomically designed, warp-proof, laminated stock. As the Charger was intended to be a multi-tasker adaptable to hunting, target shooting, competition and plinking, instead of iron sights it came standard with a Weaver rail mounted on top of the receiver, allowing the shooter to mount telescopic or electronic sights. Each pistol came with an adjustable bipod for added control and stability on the range or in the field, while an extended magazine release allowed easy removal of the 10/22 ten-shot rotary magazine.
Four years later, Ruger reengineered the Charger with a threaded barrel with a 1/2-28 thread pattern to accept most popular muzzle accessories, such as suppressors and muzzle brakes. Shooters also had the choice of a redesigned, brown laminated or polymer stock with A2-style pistol grips and extended, 15-round BX-15 magazines. It’s worth noting that pistols sold in states or municipalities with magazine-capacity bans come with a standard 10/22 ten-round magazine.
With the popularity of its 10/22 Takedown, it came as no surprise to me when Ruger adapted its take-down system to the Charger pistol. This version came with a distinctive dual-tone, laminated wood stock and forearm.
Stow & Go
In 2015, Ruger announced that its polymer-framed Charger pistol would be available in a Takedown model, a sample of which Ruger kindly supplied me with to T&E for our readers.
During the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, almost all long-distance land travel was by train or horse-drawn wagon and sportsmen demanded the convenience of carrying their firearms in short, easily stored cases. Thus it was that manufacturers offered take-down versions of their rifles and shotguns.
With changing methods of personal transportation (a.k.a. the automobile) take-down firearms lost some of their appeal but not their practicality. The ability to store a rifle in a small area is still attractive to RV owners, campers, hunters, hikers, fishermen, boaters and pilots. And Ruger’s Takedown system provides them with .22 rifles and pistols that are reliable, accurate, compact and easily stored just about anywhere. Quality of materials, fit and assembly on the Charger I received were above reproach, as I would expect of a Ruger.
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To install the barrel assembly, first remove the magazine, lock the bolt open and verify the pistol is unloaded by visually inspecting the chamber. Loosen the adjustment collar by turning it clockwise as far as possible with finger -pressure. Next, install the barrel assembly, inserting it into the receiver and rotating it clockwise until it locks into place. The final step is to tighten the adjustment knob by turning it counterclockwise as far as possible with finger pressure. Also note that the friction-fit lockup of the assembly joint is simple to adjust but will rarely need re-adjustment after the first assembly. The lockup is secure and repeatable, ensuring an accurate return to zero even when optics are used.
To remove the barrel assembly, remove the magazine and lock the bolt open and verify the rifle is unloaded by visually inspecting the chamber. Push the locking lever towards the muzzle, then rotate the barrel assembly counterclockwise and pull it out of the receiver. Next, tighten the adjustment collar by rotating it counterclockwise one or two or more clicks. You should feel some resistance when turning the barrel assembly, but it should not be difficult. You can adjust the knob as needed.
Not being a fan of telescopic sights on handguns, I decided to equip the Ruger with a Leupold DeltaPoint red-dot sight. My wife, Becky, commented that thus equipped, and with the BX-15 magazine inserted, the Charger looked like something out of a Star Wars movie.
The supplied bipod provided an extremely comfortable and stable shooting position. After zeroing in the Leupold dot sight at 25 yards, we began shooting for score with four different brands of .22 LR ammo and produced some very nice groups, several of which were in the 1-inch range.
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Moving over to the next berm, where the club had steel plate racks set out at 25, 40 and 50 yards, we proceeded to use up the remainder of our rimfire ammunition. We experienced a few failures to feed with the first round out of the fully loaded BX-15 magazine, but the problem seemed to resolve itself after we had fired 50 or so rounds, letting us proceed to ring plates at a steady cadence for the next 45 minutes.
Being that the Charger is a rather long and heavy pistol, I doubt you’ll do much (if any at all) one-handed shooting from a standing position with it. But for serious small-game hunting, it would be just the ticket, while it would be a natural for Rimfire Metallic Silhouette competition. Or if your idea of fun is rapid-fire plinking at moderate distances, Ruger’s Charger is going to fill the bill nicely. And when you’re done shooting, it fits into a compact carrying case for easy storage.
For more information, visit http://www.ruger.com.