By J.M. Ramos
Part two of the custom SOCOM 10/22 features a combat-inspired mini-carbine weapon system. It’s a modern evolution of a vintage, exotic style 10/22 of the 1980s. For decades, the configuration of this gun has been virtually unchanged. Its original features are still a formidable close-quarter arm by today’s standard. However, with the availability of better parts and accessories, its evolutionary stage goes on to suit contemporary sensibilities without compromising its timeless classic military beauty. The previously covered SOCOM I 10/22 build is geared towards creating a multi-purpose, compact rifle system complete with a dummy suppressor to lend an air of authenticity and good looks. On the other hand, the mod-2 design is tailored towards defensive capability in a formidable package offering maximum firepower (with various high-capacity magazines available), optics, railed iron sight, and shorter match barrels for accuracy. This rimfire battle gun comes complete with fixed and folding stock to suit specific needs and is bipod adaptable.
This build is an alternative to full bore battle rifles for those who are unable to control the recoil or can’t stand the concussion of a centerfire cartridge. Another advantage of rimfire is its cost-effective ammunition compared to centerfire cartridges. The extra savings amount to regular combat shooting practice and more time in simulated scenarios. There has never been more choice in .22 LR ammo than ever before; from target practice and hunting to pure defensive loads. In today’s economy, the value of .22 rimfire ammo is unbeatable. The market is flooded with all sorts of rimfire guns today – some good, some bad, and some in between, but a well-built vintage Ruger 10/22 rifle remains my top pick. The quality of this rifle (along with all the included companies’ product lines) is unsurpassed among its competitors when Bill Ruger still has total control of the manufacturing operations.
For example, 10/22’s that are manufactured during his time have displayed better quality inside and out. The anodized receiver feels smoother when you cycle the action compared to the new paint finishes. You only have to compare the parts made today with vintage guns and you can see the difference in overall quality, fit, finish, and workmanship. The majority of the investment-cast parts of the older models are beautifully machine-finished and rarely need additional work. Rarely, do any other parts of this gun break or need replacing except the firing pin, extractor, and their springs, when they wear out.
The SOCOM II retains the vintage Choate Zytel folding stock in a rare camo accent. The old-style metal folding stock assembly has been replaced with a more sophisticated combination of ACE folding stock mechanism and AR-style buttstocks. This new arrangement raised the position of the buttstock allowing the use of optics and receiver-mounted railed iron sights such as the versatile Nodak Spud NDS-22 sight set. The ACE folding stock mounting hardware is installed directly to the original cutout at the rear of the Zytel stock by two 12×1.5 pan socket-head tapping screws. The screw heads will require minor trimming to fit the ACE assembly slot. A one-inch-thick black polymer spacer (laminated wood can be used as a substitute) was added as a filler to the back to make the mounting space more proportionate. The mounting screws secure both the folding stock mechanism and spacer to the back of the stock. For best result, apply adhesive to the spacer before mounting it to the stock. Pre-drill the location for the mounting screw (use a drill bit that’s half the diameter of the screw) after positioning the ACE hardware in the right spot.
The front end of the stock needs to be shortened and the barrel channel widened toward its front section to accommodate the diameter of the heavy barrel. The front hollow section of the forearm after cutting was filled with J-B Weld then re-contoured after drying and spray painted with automotive crinkle-type finish to match the ventilated handguard. The handguard was fabricated from 1.5-inch aluminum tubing split in half. Skateboard tape was wrapped around the forearm for a non-slip gripping surface as a finishing touch. An optional side rail was added just below the ejection port for mounting extra accessories. A Magpul bipod mount is positioned at the front of the forearm for a Harris bipod attachment. A sling mount for an Uncle Mike’s sling swivel is positioned at the front-left side of the forearm to match the ACE folding stock mechanism sling mount.
The fixed stock version uses a standard Ruger polymer stock that is shortened on both ends for a more compact format. A rubberized material is used to plug the open end of the buttstock and is glued in place. Hardwood can be used as a substitute. The CAA adjustable cheekpiece (discontinued, but still available from Iron Eagle Tactical) is added for high-rise optics. After shortening, the open front-end section of the stock is also J-B Weld-filled and re-contoured once hardened. A Magpul 11-slot polymer rail is mounted to the bottom and right side of the forearm for tactical accessories such as a vertical grip, light, or laser. To accommodate a Harris bipod, an Uncle Mike’s sling swivel base is mounted over the bottom rail of the forearm.
Chosen for this setup was the Fabsports 10.5-inch threaded heavy barrel. This barrel was part of a batch of half-a-dozen barrels fabricated by the company from commercial barrel blanks as part of their Thompson 10/22 kit. This kit was to be marketed with a choice of the finned or semi-tapered barrel. After the Thompson kit prototypes were completed, it was followed by the FS-556 kit (only 50 of which were produced) and the full profile magazine cover (MACOV) for Butler Creek high capacity magazines a year later. Sadly, after a brief advertising effort by the company, the Thompson .22 kits did not attract enough interest to warrant the tooling cost while the FS-556 and MACOV barely sold all the units that were made. This eventually led to the closure of the small Montreal company years ago, unable to compete with more sophisticated U.S.-made kits for the 10/22. I acquired the last of the unmodified barrels from Fabsports just before the company closed its doors. This heavy barrel proved to be quite accurate and capable of 2- to 2.5-inch groups with 40-grain CCI Mini-Mags and Browning BPR ammo. The length of the shortened buttstock has been precisely measured and combined with the rifle’s barrel length so the gun’s overall length surpasses the 26-inch length needed to avoid a tax stamp without a muzzle device.
Overall, this highly upgraded 10/22 proved its value in every bit it was designed for. It has all the much-desired accouterments and ergonomics for a practical, highly effective little bore battle carbine that is worth keeping for many more years to come.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V26N6 (JUNE/JULY 2022)|