But the $1,136 Volquartsen Mossad model is still at the top of a four-gun STC field that includes Clark Custom and Briley.
The Chevy Truck Sportsmen’s Team Challenge has spawned the growth of numerous aftermarket companies which take the Ruger 10/22 autoloading action and gussy it up with heavy barrels, new triggers, extended magazine releases, and other accoutrements. By our count, more than two dozen companies manufacture accessories or replacement parts for the much-maligned, but ubiquitous, thin-barreled 10/22, and at least a dozen firms produce full-blown conversions of the gun, which range in price from $500 to more than $1,000. Somewhere along the line, Sturm, Ruger decided that it too could build a 10/22 suitable for target shooting, and the company created the 10/22T.
Like other guns in the STC class, the 10/22T, which was introduced this year, has a heavy barrel that is supposed to improve the gun’s accuracy and make it muzzle heavy. This out-front weight is an advantage in shooting from competition positions because it makes the gun settle on the target more consistently. However, companies like Briley Manufacturing of Houston, Texas, Clark Custom Guns of Princeton, Louisiana, and Volquartsen Custom of Carroll, Iowa, have made thousands of refitted 10/22s that not only feature better barrels, but which also incorporate slicked-up triggers, aftermarket fiberglass stocks, custom scope mounts, and other details.
We wanted to see how this new Ruger product matched up with established conversions these custom companies have been making for a decade now, so we acquired a Ruger 10/22T and three other guns (with different price points) from Volquartsen, Clark, and Briley. We wanted to see what the full range of prices nets the shooter who is interested in these STC-style guns. What we found: Volquartsen’s Model Mossad, at $1,136, gets the nod, but Clark’s $560 Model RDCM is a best buy. The $925 Briley Model STC was a full-featured gun that shot on par with the Clark, but for substantially more dollars. The Ruger 10/22T, which cost only $393, was a lot of gun for the money, but it lacked certain features that we think are important in an STC rifle.
Following are our more detailed gun-by-gun opinions:
Sturm, Ruger Model 10/22T:
A Good First Effort
Our $393 Ruger test gun came in at 38 inches in overall length and weighed 7.25 pounds. The straight, no-cheekpiece laminated stock had a length of pull of 13.75 inches. Drop at comb is 1.5 inches and 2.25 inches at heel. The forend is 2.1 inches thick. The stock needs some checkering or texture on the grip to allow for better control of the gun. Like the other wooden-stocked guns, the 10/22T had a satin finish. This gun has a hammer-forged round blued barrel (with spiral metalwork) to complement the satin black receiver and trigger guard. At the muzzle, the barrel diameter was 0.915 inches with a recessed crown. Wood-to-metal fit was even throughout the gun. The barrel channel had a 1-inch barrel support near the front of the rifle’s forend.
The crisp trigger pull on this factory gun measured 3.75 to 4 pounds, considerably more than the other guns. Ruger’s gun did not include a quick bolt release, extended magazine release, or an overtravel screw behind the trigger. In our view, these are must items on STC guns. However, products to upgrade the gun yourself are available from Brownells, except for the trigger. To shoot to its full potential, we think this gun needed a good trigger job performed by a competent gunsmith.
The Ruger gun came with a tip-off standard scope base the company has been using since production began. Gunsmiths and retail stores have boxes of these bases that they have replaced, just as we did. We used a Weaver TO-9 on this gun, and Ruger should consider making that base standard equipment. The barrel should be drilled and tapped to give the shooter an option of scope-mounting systems.
At the range, the Ruger’s final overall group average of 1.89 inches put it 0.67 inches behind the Volquartsen. But this gun posted a best group of 0.63 inches with Eley Tenex and a ten-group average of 0.91 inches with the same ammo, one of only three sub-MOA averages our test guns recorded.
Briley Manufacturing Model STC: Solid, But Pricey
Briley offers two STC conversions. A barreled action is available for $700 for those who want to pick from the wide selection of stock styles available. Our Briley test gun reflects that action price plus $225 for a Fajen laminated thumbhole stock with a custom cantilever barrel-mounted scope base, which is milled into and also attached to the receiver. This combination make for a very rigid action/barrel combination.
The firearm has an overall length of 37 inches and weighs 7.25 pounds with scope base and magazine. The stock’s length of pull is 14 inches with a 0.25-inch Pachmayr rubber butt pad. The 1996 STC rules allow no more than 3.5 inches from the top of the barrel in front of the chamber to the bottom of the forend. This test gun measured 2.5 inches at that spot. Drop at comb was 0.75 inch when measured to the top of the Monte Carlo–style cheekpiece. Drop at the heel was 3 inches. The barrel is a fluted Lothar Walther stainless-steel tube with a length of 18.5 inches. The barrel is 0.920 inches thick at the muzzle and has a recessed crown. Wood-to-metal fit was very good, with a barrel channel that nearly allows the barrel to free-float. There is a 1-inch barrel support located at the front of the forend.
The receiver and trigger guard are silver to match the barrel. Trigger pull was 2 to 2.25 pounds with a little creep. The overtravel screw was mounted on the trigger. We detected no movement of trigger or sear when the safety is on and the trigger is pulled. Our test gun featured a quick bolt release and extended magazine release.
The Briley’s stock has a good feel; it allows the shooter to get into proper position after a magazine change. The thumbhole in the stock allows shooters with long fingers to reach the trigger comfortably; however, someone with short fingers may have trouble reaching the trigger with this stock selection. Some type of texture or checkering on the forend would also be helpful.
Briley’s third-place overall group average was 1.34 inches, a virtual tie with the second-place Clark. All five ammunitions shot at least one subMOA best group. The Lapua ammo shot the best overall groups, averaging 1.16 inches. The worst groups were shot with RWS Special Match—3 inches on average.
Clark Custom Guns Model RDCM: A Best Buy
Our $560 Clark test gun came with a blued, round 18.5-inch chrome-moly Lothar Walther barrel. Available options not included on this test gun include fluting ($50) and a stainless-steel barrel ($50). The muzzle was 0.920 inch thick with a recessed crown. The firearm measures 36.25 inches in overall length and weighs 7.5 pounds. Barrel-to-forend depth was 2.1 inches, well below the 3.5-inch maximum. Drop at comb is 1.5 inches and 2 inches at the heel.
The stock was a straight walnut model in which the barrel channel had been cut out to accommodate the bull barrel. Overall, the wood-to-metal fit was very tight. The barrel was free floated, except for a 1-inch barrel support near the front of the forend. Length of pull is 13.75 inches. The stock is equipped with sling swivels. Clark advertises this model as a squirrel gun, which makes the installation of swivels sensible, but in our test we removed them, leaving an unsightly hole. Installing quick detachable studs would have been a better choice, we think, for those who want to use this gun in the field and in STC competition.
Trigger pull was a crisp 2 to 2.25 pounds with an overtravel screw mounted on the trigger. We detected no movement of the trigger or sear when the safety is on. This test gun has a quick bolt release, but it did not have an extended magazine release. In the fast game of STC this is a much needed option. Brownells offers several drop-ins that cost from $18 to $45.
A Weaver TO-9 receiver-mounted scope base came on this test gun, which worked very well with our scope and rings. A drilled and tapped barrel is available for those wanting a cantilever type base. The cantilever barrel scope base seems to hold a better zero for shooters who travel and subject their guns to a lot of vibration. The classic, straight conformation of the stock was easy to shoot, we thought, especially because the wood carried cut checkering at the wrist and forearm.
The Clark conversion shot near MOA with four of the five ammo brands in our test, combining for an overall average of 1.32 inches. Federal’s Gold Medal Match group average of 1.03 inches was the best, edging out Lapua at 1.05 inches and Eley Tenex at 1.06 inches. Best groups ran from Lapua’s 0.49 inch to RWS with a 0.90-inch best group.
Volquartsen Custom Model Mossad: Our Top Pick
This $1,136 package comes with a matte-black fiberglass thumbhole stock. It measures 39 inches in overall length and weighs 7.25 pounds. Quick detachable sling-swivel studs are included. A flat-bottomed forend worked well in our Ransom rest. Length of pull was 14 inches with a 0.25-inch rubber butt pad. Drop at comb is 1.25 inches and 2 inches at the heel. The forend is 2.2 inches thick. The spackled, textured finish gave us the best grip and feel of all the test guns, but it exhibits the same minor problem as the other thumbhole stocks: a limited trigger-finger reach for large and small hands.
The barrel was 18.75 inches long, but the standard Volquartsen muzzle brake made the tube measure out at 20.25 inches. A fluted stainless-steel free-floated barrel, accented with black-oxide coloring in the flute channels, gave this barrel a two tone appearance. The muzzle was 0.920 inches thick. Metal-to-stock fit was very good across the gun. There was a barrel support at the front of the forend. This gun has a custom cantilever scope base mounted on the barrel with a pressure-point screw over the rear of the base that just touches the top of the receiver. The trigger pull was crisp at 2 to 2.25 pounds. When the safety was on, we detected a slight trigger-sear movement. The overtravel screw is mounted on the back of the trigger guard. A quick bolt release and extended magazine release are standard equipment. Overall, this is a sharp-looking rifle that has a good feel in the offhand shooting position used by most STC competitors.
It also shot well. The Volquartsen’s total group average was 1.22 inches—the best in the test. It also shot two brands under MOA: the Eley Tenex (0.91-inch average group size) and the Federal Gold Medal Match (0.93-inch average group size). The worst groups (1.76 inches on average) were shot with RWS Special Match.
If money is no object and you want a ready-to-race gun right out of the box, pick the $1,136 Volquartsen Mossad. It’s a slick-shooting STC gun that’s accurate with many different brands of ammo.
If you have a limited budget, we think your best buy is the Clark Custom Guns Model RDCM. This “squirrel gun” is separated from the Volquartsen by only a tenth of an inch in overall accuracy and costs half the money of the black gun. It holds a similar price edge over the Briley Manufacturing Model STC, which has comparable accuracy for an extra $365.
What about the Ruger 10/22T? For $393, the gun showed us a lot. If you added $100 for drop-in parts, fine tuning, and a good trigger job, you would have a solid competition gun that would give the conversions a run for their money.
And don’t think the smaller companies don’t know it. One custom-gun company representative told us that the Ruger 10/22T could put them out of business. We don’t think Ruger is there quite yet, but the 10/22’s originator doesn’t have far to go.