By J.M. Ramos
Introduced in 1964 as the Ruger 10?/22 carbine, this remarkable 54-year-old rimfire self-loader has achieved the feat of continuing to evolve unlike any other firearm in its class. Over 6 million units have been produced, without any apparent end in sight. What makes the ?? extra special among the others? The answer is quite simple—reliability, robust overall construction and adaptability to changing times. Perhaps it is the third element that truly counts, since there are other early models in this category that can also boast reliability and a robust overall construction, primarily those designed by John Browning in the early part of the post-war era and produced by well-known U.S. and European gun makers. However, as the decades passed by, most of these vintage classics lost their luster. They simply faded away and were forgotten, while the 10?/22 stood its ground better than ever.
Needless to say, as one of the millions of 10?/22 fans, it is difficult not to be lured in by this amazing little carbine and join in with the fun of creating the epitome of a modern-day tactical 10?/22. Many dress-up kits have hit the market in the past ten years, ranging from CNC-machined aluminum chassis to polymer clamshells. Among these entries, the Nordic Components (NC) AR22 (also used by Ruger on their SR-22 model) stands out for its aesthetics and acceptance of genuine furniture and accessories made for the AR-15 rifle. Its aluminum construction is very well made and finished; it is far superior in material and styling to any other chassis. The NC chassis is therefore the ideal candidate for this project, particularly when complemented by polymer furniture from Hera Arms and Magpul for the Ruger 10?/22, hence the term “NC HAMR” came to designate the ideal formula for constructing these project guns.
To create the perfect and long-lasting tactical firearm of truly unique design, you have to build it yourself using the right components and accessories. Many 10?/22 owners probably own more than one and have tried dress up kits to make their pet gun stand out from their shooting buddies’. This is what makes personal builds more desirable and exciting: the combination of parts and accessories made by various companies to create an extraordinary firearm concept, either to broaden an owner’s gun-building expertise or simply as a pastime. Whatever the reason, there is no denying that customizing the 10?/22 is quite addicting.
Each NC HAMR project can be made unique with Hera Arms CQR AR furniture. After completing an article on the “Futuristic AR” featuring Hera Arms CQR furniture (SAR V21 N8 issue), the attention of this article now shifts to the possibility of adapting this furniture to the NC chassis, which has been perfectly tailored to accept AR furniture. Nonetheless, prior to installing the CQR stock into the NC chassis, we should ascertain whether it will actually fit. The CQR stock comes with an integral pistol grip, and the possibility that the stock, grip and grip screw will not line up properly with the chassis is a major concern. I have both the first and second (current) versions of the NC chassis. The CQR stock fits almost perfectly to the first version, with just a tiny gap between the top of the grip and the chassis. The grip screw lines up properly once the stock is fully seated. The grip screw was tightened, and no major problems were noted.
The second version of the NC chassis, however, is a different story. For some unknown reason, Nordic made changes to the dimensions of the chassis in the web area. This section appears to be wider, and the bottom of the chassis—parallel to the grip—appears to have been raised by a few thousandths of an inch, leaving a larger gap between the chassis and grip. The good news is that the grip screw still lines up properly. The drawback created by this gap is that it will force the seam at the back of the grip to open up when the grip screw is tightened. To remedy this issue, some fitting at the internal radius of the beavertail (where the web of the chassis will rest) is necessary to allow the chassis to seat properly, thus minimizing the chance of the beavertail section opening up when the screw is tightened. In addition to this fitting procedure (if you are using the current NC chassis or the Ruger SR-22), a cross screw (6-32 x 1 inch) must also be added just below the beavertail to prevent the back of the grip from opening up when the grip screw is tightened. The screw head should be flush fitted to the grip. The opening at the back of the grip is the result of the gap between the chassis and the grip. When the screw is tightened, the grip is pulled up, closing the gap between the grip and chassis, which in turn causes the reduced section of the grip (just below the beavertail) to buckle up and a seam to open below it. The installation of the cross screw in this critical area is a must to eliminate this problem.
One of the best design features of the Nordic chassis is the incorporation of a “forearm adaptor.” The adaptor allows the use of a wide range of one-piece or two-piece forearms, metal or polymer. Switching to various weapon configurations is quickly and easily achieved by acquiring spare adaptors with pre-assembled forearms. Adaptor and grip filler for the NC chassis is available from Iron Eagle Tactical. This allows preferred accessories from different brands to be combined with ease, maximizing the potential for the NC HAMR formula to create the epitome of a modern-day tactical 10?/22. There are dedicated dress up kits (mostly two-piece polymers) that can transform the 10?/22 into the P90 format. The CQR stock system, however, is more distinctive and practical; it still allows the host weapon to be operated in the same way but with much improved ergonomics. For the 10?/22, CQR furniture offers this basic advantage plus compatibility with other polymer furniture, such as that from Magpul, something not possible with other P90-style kits with one basic setup.
The CQR stock/front grip set is used in combination with the classic YHM four-rail pistol forearm to create a “Compact Carbine” format utilizing the Dlask Arms custom 9 ¼-inch heavy barrel. The CC version meets the minimum legal overall length of 26 inches when used with a fixed stock like the CQR. The CC will take virtually any high-capacity magazine made for the 10?/22. However, for the mini PDW type, the front grip was positioned closer to the magazine chute to mimic the placement of the P90 front grip. Moving the grip in this manner will require fitting its top rear section to match the contour of the forearm adaptor. In addition, the back section of the grip must also be trimmed down and the bottom loop removed until most available banana-type magazines can be inserted and removed freely. Trimming this section of the grip will expose the hollowed-out section inside and therefore require filling with J-B Weld epoxy steel resin. Once dried, the epoxy-filled section can be sanded clean and painted with the same color as the grip or, in this case, a two-tone black/OD green accent.
Naturally, not everyone fancies short-barreled guns or metal handguards. In this case, let us substitute a Magpul MOE polymer handguard. To complement the two-tone CQR stock with the addition of the Magpul ¼-inch-high cheek riser, the MOE forearm is also made two-tone (OD green and black combination), and the overall contrast is quite stunning. The riser fits snuggly to the stock; it is a perfect fit. Installation of the cheek riser to the CQR stock will require drilling and tapping of the stock all the way to the top wall of the aluminum buffer tube for a 4-40 socket head screw. The two holes for the riser screws must be drilled precisely at the center of the cross rib on each end of the riser underside, which is a beefed up section of the part. The screw holes at the top of the riser will be counterbored to allow the screw head to sit flush. The vintage M60 LMG flash hider and Fabsports full-profile MACOV with newly introduced magazine coupler is a great touch up for this ultimate rimfire tactical package. The 10?/22 is truly a phenomenal design that can readily adapt to changing times. From classic to hi-tech, it is a hands-down winner. Note: Parts or accessories mentioned or shown in the article but not listed in the sources section below can be purchased directly from Brownells.
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|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N4 (April 2018)|