Working the T/CR22

Thompson-Center’s excellent 10/22 clone offers high value for the price and incorporates a number of unique and desirable features.

by Brian R Smith

The Ruger 10/22 made its debut almost 60 years ago and has gone on to be perhaps the most successful semi-automatic rimfire rifle of all time. Its rotary magazine was innovative in a rimfire rifle, making the 10/22 light, compact, quick-handling, and reliable. That the basic “carbine” model was value priced strongly drove its popularity and sales of nearly eight million units to date. Ruger introduced other models with sculpted stocks minus the infernal carbine band, laminated stocks that were more stable with temperature and humidity changes but heavy, and the graceful “International” model with its full-length Mannlicher-style stock in either walnut or laminated wood. Models were offered with black polymer stocks, stainless models were available, and special editions for different distributors. The list goes on.

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Because of the patented method of barrel attachment to the receiver that was of interest to Ruger for individual finishing of steel barrels and aluminum alloy receivers and which allowed quick assembly of those components, the aftermarket jumped in. Soon a number of heavy “bull” barrels for 22 Long Rifle competition and varminting appeared, as well as weight-reducing carbon-fiber jacketed barrels, aftermarket trigger groups and fire control parts, composite stocks, optics… the variety is all but endless.

Ruger held on to the 10/22 market, but as patent protection expired it was challenged briefly by AMT with its Lightning 25/22. More recently, Ruger successfully won a judgment against Armscorp/Rock Island Armory to block U.S. distribution and sale of a wood stocked 10/22 clone that was virtually identical in all ways except for a substantially lower MSRP. Other manufacturers have since introduced competitive 10/22 rifles, including the Bergara BXR, the Smith & Wesson/Thompson-Center T/CR22, higher-end offerings from Volquartsen, Magnum Research and Tactical Solutions, and the most recent entry being the Winchester Wildcat, which was covered in these pages by fellow contributor RK Campbell in the October 2021 issue. It was Mr. Campbell’s Wildcat piece that caused me to realize that the T/CR22 hadn’t been the subject of an American Gunsmith article, so I’m setting things right herewith.

When I first saw a T/CR22, the word that came to mind was …

Read more in the October 2022 issue.

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