Ruger 22 Charger Review [2021]: Is It Worth It?

by Jens Hammer

January 10, 2021

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4.5
(25)

A unique offering from the very popular Ruger 10/22 line of semi-auto 22’s is the Ruger Charger 22. We took this little guy out to the range to test how well it performs and let you know what we think about it in this Ruger Charger 22 review.

A unique pistol extension of the classic Ruger 10/22 rifle platform.

Sold at Guns.comBrownellsPalmetto State Armory

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Ruger 22 Charger Background

Ruger 22 Charger Specs

  • Caliber 22lr
  • Action Semi-Auto
  • Magazine Detachable
  • Overall Length 17 inches
  • Weight 3.25 pounds
  • Thread Pattern 1/2″-28
  • Barrel Length 8″ Cold Hammer Forged
  • Barrel Twist 1:16″ RH (6-Grooves)

The Ruger 10/22 platform is the most popular semi-auto 22 rifle platform in America for good reason: it’s a solid design, a great value, and it lends itself well to upgrades and modifications.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. (Ruger) is continuing its constant evolution of the 10/22 platform, which was introduced in 1964.  The Charger line was brought out in 2007, then discontinued.  In 2014 it was re-released, and in light of recent technological developments the venerable rimfire deserves a fresh review. 

The Charger line was initially designed as a pistol version of the 10/22 line.  This allowed for a compact yet accurate pistol that was compatible with all the usual 10/22 aftermarket upgrades, such as triggers, bolt handles et cetera

Envisioned as a lightweight backpacking gun, the historical Charger was often also used as a benchrest target gun with the include bipod.  Two of the most recent revisions now include a 1913 picatinny rail section vertically affixed to the rear of the receiver, allowing for a brace or buttstock to be affixed, further blurring the lines between the Charger pistol or Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR) and the traditional 10/22 rifle.

Ruger 22 Charger Features

ruger-22-charger-features
1 Standard Ar-style Grip

Compatible with nearly every AR-15 grip

2 Threaded Barrel

Factory threaded for suppressor use

3 Picatinny Rail

Rail on the receiver ready for optics mounting

4 Sling and Brace Ready

Rear of the receiver includes a QD sling cup attaching point for sling use and a picatinny rail section for pistol braces.

5 Bipod Ready

Sling stud on the front of the receiver for sling or bipod use

Other Ruger 22 Charger Models

Ruger 22 Charger

Sleeved Takedown Barrel

22 Charger Takedown

No Brace/Stock Mounting Point

22 Charger Standard

Non-Takedown, No Brace/Stock Mounting Point

22 Charger Talo Exclusive

Camouflage Version of 22 Charger Standard Exclusive to the Distributor Talo

Ruger 22 Charger Review – Our Take

At its heart the Ruger 22 Charger is just a stock-less variation on the famous Ruger 10/22. 

Shooting without a stock or brace is more challenging, as you’re lacking the primary point of stability.  Knowing I want to use this in the future as an instruction firearm for my sons, I strapped on a triangle brace from Palmetto State Armory.  Unless you really like shooting without a stock or brace, I’d consider adding one a necessity on the Ruger 22 Charger.   

Shooting off a bipod at 25 yards with a red dot, the 22 Charger sent 4 different types of ammo downrange into groups ranging from .4” to 1”, without flyers.  

Usually my first range day with a gun is less about measuring accuracy (before it’s broken-in) and more about finding which type of ammo the gun prefers.  Based on these initial results, Remington’s Golden Bullet and CCI’s Mini Mag fared predictably better than Federal’s bulk pack and Reminton’s Subsonic rounds.   

I’m fine with a bone stock, mass-produced, budget-priced .22lr gun that shoots ~1.5 MOA under the above circumstances.  Switching to a 4x prismatic, shooting from a bench or simply retesting after another 300 rounds (and a good cleaning) will no doubt improve the results of my informal accuracy testing, showing that the 22 Charger has more than adequate chops when it comes to dropping rounds right next to each other.

In the circles I travel, it’s been a nearly universally expressed sentiment that a good .22lr gun makes for a fantastic “first timer’s” gun.  It’s easy to see why: little to no recoil, mild report (or less, see attached AAC Pilot 2) and inexpensive ammunition. 

The 22 Charger by Ruger is an eminently “shootable” gun, even in its factory configuration.  The trigger is fine, not too heavy and lacking in creep, though I’d still consider that the starting point for any Ruger 100//2 variant owner looking at aftermarket improvements. 

If you have a .22lr suppressor, the Ruger 22 Charger becomes even more fun, and that’s where the Remington Subsonic rounds really got to show off.  While they didn’t line up great during group shooting, when it came to picking apart tiny shards of clay pigeons they not only shot really well through the 22 Charger, they were delightfully quiet.  None of the rounds broke the sound barrier through the 8” barrel (as they’ll sometimes do out of a 16” barrel). 

This gun is fun to shoot! 

Reliability has historically been a bumpy patch with the Ruger 10/22 series, which I think has more to do with the inherent nature of the cartridge than any firearm design failures.  There’s been all sorts of home-smith remedies and aftermarket offerings designed to improve the reliability of the 10/22 and nearly every .22lr gun out there. 

Wide pressure differentials, inconsistent inexpensive loadings and lead gunk building up can bring any gun to a standstill, but some do handle it better than others.  So far the 22 Charger has shown itself remarkably impervious to some of the operational pitfalls so common to the .22lr chambering. 

I expected to walk my son through stoppage drills a few times as he dropped a couple hundred rounds after my “work” range day was finished, but he had no such troubles.  In the month or so I’ve had the Ruger 22 Charger, I’ve had exactly one malfunction: a stovepipe ejection failure with the subsonic ammo.  Weighing that against my many years with .22lr guns from nearly every manufacturer, I’m a happy shooter.

While the 22 Charger is essentially a variant of the Ruger 10/22, a few refinements have been made since the last time I put my hands onto a new 10/22.  The magazine release specifically is the main improvement, resembling the aftermarket extended version that was so ubiquitously added in the ’90’s.  This makes mag changes more of an “Mp5 paddle release” style, and less of a “where the hell’s that button?” style.  Otherwise, the gun remains largely the same.  The safety and bolt handle are exactly as you’ll remember them, and that’s just fine.  While there’s not much change here, not much was needed. 

Regarding the 1913 picatinny rail used to attach the brace, I was happy that there’s three usable slots there, giving me some flexibility as to how high the brace rode.  Since I was using a red dot with no riser, dropping the brace down one 1913 slot gave both my son and I a comfortable sight picture. 

The pistol grip on the 22 Charger is a standard A2 style, but can be swapped out for nearly any AR15 compatible grip out there, giving you myriad options when it comes to options affecting the comfort of your trigger hand.

While the 22 Charger has an MSRP of $375, the street price on this specific model is within a couple dollars of $300 at a handful of online vendors.  While I consider a brace to be a necessary purchase with the 22 Charger, I’m glad that Ruger opted to not include one, allowing me to choose which to spend my money on rather than bundling the gun with one I might not like.  A factory option would be nice though.  If I were to do it again, I may have opted for the Takedown version of the 22 Charger, though the price increase of ~$100 warned me off last time. 

The inclusion of a bipod from UTG is a nice touch, as it’s great to have when shooting braced/stocked and a near necessity when shooting in brace/stock -less “Charger” style. 

The 22 Charger has already earned a nickname in my household (ripped from the1994 flick The Professional), “The Trainer”.   The 22 Charger is showing itself adept at the roles the venerable Ruger 10/22 has excelled in for decades: aiding in the instruction of the inexperienced, varmint hunting, and having an awesome time shooting without draining the bank.

Ruger 22 Charger Pros and Cons

  • Inexpensive
  • Accurate
  • Compact
  • Reliable
  • Robust Aftermarket
  • No factory brace option

Report Card

Reliability

Has worked extremely well with a variety of ammo. Subsonic rounds put an end to a perfect run.

A-
Accuracy

While I can imagine ways that should improve this gun’s group sizes without modifying any OEM parts, that has to be proven on paper before I can count it. I’ll update if needs be. As is, this gun shoots well and if you aren’t an Olympic competitor, you’ll likely be satisfied.

A-
Shootability

The 22 Charger maximizes everything I love about plinking with a .22. This gun is a great time for shooters of all ages and experience levels, especially when suppressed.

A+
Ergonomics

What has worked well for decades continues to work well now. An updated mag release and AR-compatible pistol grip shows an appreciation for improving the status quo. Why not look to common aftermarket purchases so see what else could be improved?

A-
Value

While the street price of ~$300 isn’t bad, Ruger is always on the higher end of the cost spectrum compared to competitors. Including the upgraded BX trigger or a low-cost factory brace option could push them over the edge into a perfect rating.

B+

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Jens Hammer

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Before we get into some of the aftermarket accessories, let’s dig into some basics. You’re going to need ammo and magazines. Here’s our top picks to get you started:

  • Ammo: The gold standard of .22LR ammo has long been the CCI Standard velocity 40gr.
  • Magazines: While you get one BX-15 magazine with this gun, you’ll want some bigger BX-25’s to pair with it.

Best Braces for the Ruger 22 Charger

If you don’t mind adding a little length to your gun to gain a whole lot of shootability and accuracy, adding a brace (or buttstock if you feel like navigating the ATF’s process for SBRs) is the easiest way to transform your 22 Charger.

This 3-position brace comes shipped completely ready for install. Veteran designed and ATF compliant, this brace will provide maximum stability and control when shooting your Ruger 22 Charger. CHECK PRICE

SB Tactical has been the forerunner of firearms Braces since the get-go. Their SBM4 is a top-flight brace, with options in black or flat dark earth. However, you will need an AR15 adapter kit such as the one below.

Check Price

The Farrow Tech adaptor turns the back of your 10/22 Charger into a faux AR15 receiver, allowing you to use an AR15 buffer tube and nearly any of the myriad AR-based stocks and braces.

Check Price

Best Optics for the Ruger 22 Charger

As this 22 Charger doesn’t come with iron sights, you’ll need to add on an optic. 

My favorite red dot for such an application is the reliable and inexpensive Bushnell TRS-26.  Its predecessor the TRS-25 was a legend among bargain hunters, and the TRS-26 improves in every category. CHECK PRICE

For a little more magnification, consider the excellent Classic Series 6×32 magnification optic from Primary Arms.  Simple, lightweight and reliable.

Check Price

If variable magnification is what you prefer, the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 is both designed for the job, and priced very competitively.

Check Amazon Price

How to Care for Your Ruger 22 Charger

If you’re looking for more information on how to care for, take down, and customize your Ruger 22 Charger, take a look at this video by The Sportman’s Shop. It’s a super informative video that anyone considering buying a Charger should watch.

Important Links And Manuals For Your Ruger 22 Charger

Looking more info regarding the Ruger 22 Charger? Check out the following resources:

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About Jens Hammer

Life is an adventure for Alaskan expat Jens Hammer-a.k.a. Rex Nanorum. He’s a combat veteran with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt and has completed 5 tours between Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Rex is a certified helicopter pilot instructor, salvage diver, commercial fisherman, and personal trainer. And Gun University contributor.

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