Rabbit Assault Rifle

Posted: January 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Meet the RAR.

Awhile back, I got it into my head somehow that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about this “rifle” thing. Being as I already had something of a base of experience in acquiring handgun shooting skills through the guaranteed three-step approach of…

  1. Buy a thing that is made by Ruger and the number of the caliber shall be .22
  2. Acquire many many bricks (~500-round boxes) of .22
  3. Convert full bricks into empty bricks. If circumstances permit, do this at a rate of ~1 brick/week.

… I already had an idea of what the first step of the process would be; I got myself to the Tanner Gun Show and acquired this:

Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic .22 rifle with original wood stock

(excluding the sights, which I added later)

The Ruger 10/22 is something of the Barbie doll of rimfire rifles — aftermarket add-ons have become sufficiently ubiquitous that one can actually assemble a complete rifle from 100% aftermarket parts. Or buy a standard Ruger rifle and upgrade it with an eye to eventually upgrading all of the parts and thereby achieving rifle reproduction, which was my plan. My initial goals were to put together a rifle that would meet the recommendations given by the Appleseed projects for one of their weekend marksmanship courses — that being where I aim to go to learn a good set of basics (the importance of same being another thing that has been drilled into my head) — and also add a few extra conveniences according to my preferences.

First step was to acquire an aftermarket stock and some improved iron sights. Especially because I’m a cross-dominant shooter (right-handed but left-eyed, hence advised to shoot left-handed) and my firing hand is therefore not my dominant hand, I figured that an ambidextrous pistol grip or thumbhole stock would be a good addition. Since it’s ambidextrous, I can easily choose to shoot off of either side or lend the rifle to a person who shoots right-handed. The pistol grip provides greater stability for the firing hand which also helps me to cheat a bit and manipulate the bolt (which is still right-handed) with my right hand (which is still my dominant hand). It is also evil, which I consider to be a plus. Apparently the only reason why one would want to have a secure grip on one’s .22 rifle is the better to kill people with.

So I got the stock and the sights — a set of aftermarket aperture sights recommended by Appleseed — and sent them off to my friendly gunsmith to install the sights and a set of sling swivel studs. Result:

Ruger 10/22 with aftermarket stock

By and large, I got the ergonomic result I was expecting. There was one wrinkle, though — that pretty-looking swoopy cheek rest, while quite comfortable, was a touch low for me to have the proper head position on the rifle with the original sights. The new sights raised the sight plane by about 1/4 inch, meaning that when I put my head in the right position I ended up looking at the bottom of the sight. Not so good.

The two most immediate solutions to this problem would be to cheat a bit on the head position (which is a source of inconsistency, and in general the goal of marksmanship is to pare down on such sources) or create some sort of improvised stock piece out of duct tape and cardboard (and I am not about to put duct tape and cardboard on a $95 laminated stock in my school colors, thank you very much). So, after a few false starts involving paracord (turns out that wrapping the stock in paracord takes two hours and a fair bit of swearing and causes it to become unusably wide before reaching the desired height), I settled on the classy redneck version of duct tape and cardboard, namely some tooling leather I had conveniently lying around.

Pieces of leather used to make cheek pad


Tooling leather is relatively stiff and doesn’t stretch much, so if I just laced on a leather cover it would end up standing off from the stock in the middle of the curve. This would be a bit squishy, and would probably shift around as the leather wore in — result inconsistency, previously identified as undesirable. Hence, the curve needed to be filled in by some sort of shim material — which would also be used to adjust the height of the cover, since I could expect the necessary added height to be larger than the thickness of a single piece of leather. I cut out some scrap pieces, glued them together, and arranged them on the top of the stock:

Stock with leather shims in place


Then laced on the cover piece:

complete rifle


With a little shifting around and exchanging of shim pieces, I successfully got the stock to the right height, and so far it seems pretty stable. And also fairly good looking, for a piece of leather cut out with a box cutter, punched with holes by eye, and finished with floor wax. If I break out my hipsterness a bit, I kind of like how the olde schoole look of the laced leather and the cotton sling contrast with the flavor of high tech added by the stock and gives the thing an air of something that is adapted for actual use (despite the fact that it is, er, not at the moment actually being used).

At this point, the traditional picture would be of a piece of paper with a ragged hole in the middle of it, but unfortunately I lack this at the moment. My next project for this rifle is to build some sort of bag or pouch (possibly going in the hollow lower area) to hold the tool I need for adjusting the sights so that I don’t lose it. As I was considering options for such a thing… I lost the tool and had to order another one off the Internet. Hence the sights couldn’t be adjusted, which would make it rather pointless to go out to the epically expensive indoor rifle range with completely unadjusted sights. Alas.

Next steps… Well, obviously, the tool container. I’ve now got the replacement tools and now a spare set, which I’ll put in my range bag or gun cabinet depending on how positive I’m feeling about my ability to not lose little but critical parts, but I’d rather have a set attached directly to the rifle as well. Aside from that, the Rabbit Rifle Reproduction Project is in observational mode, both so that I can actually shoot the thing (being as the most shiny object is not of much good unless actually used) and, unfortunately, so that I can see how the current political (and related market) situation plays out before I go spending more money on parts that might become legally complicated to keep.

At any rate, it looks like the clicking on things on the Internet and waiting for the nice UPS man part of this project is done and now commenceth the fun — possibly as soon as tomorrow, if my degree of organization holds out.




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