Ruger 22 Charger Review

by Vern Evans
Ruger 22 Charger

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A logical extension of the Ruger 10/22 lineup, the 22 Charger is a reduced-size pistol variant, clearly looking to appeal especially to those interested in a braced version or a stocked SBR version.

Ruger 22 Charger

Ruger’s continuing success with the 10/22 isn’t very surprising. Since 1964 Ruger has positioned the platform as the go-to option. With a low price point and a robust aftermarket, the 10/22 and its many versions have sold millions.

In 2007, Ruger tried out the Charger lineup, a stockless pistol version with a short barrel often found with a bipod, but cancelled that line shorty after.  Around 2014 Ruger saw fit to try again, and has found surging success since then thanks to the rise in popularity of pistol braces.

Ruger offers a few different models of the 22 Charger. I’m not going to cover the minor cosmetic differences like the cheetah print option, but the major differences from the model I’m reviewing includes a Takedown model (quick detach barrel), a barrel shroud version and the choice between having a standard receiver or a rear-mounted 1913 Picatinny section for attaching a brace/stock.

Ruger 22 ChargerRuger 22 Charger
Rear picatinny mount for stocks and braces

I’ve had this gun for over two years now. The only changes I’ve made were adding a Palmetto State Armory triangle brace, an AAC Pilot 2 suppressor and a Vortex Crossfire red-dot optic. The optic is a no-brainer since the 22 Charger has no iron sights. The brace and the suppressor are logical additions, making the gun more stable to shoot and exceptionally quiet.

I’ve chewed through between 2,000 and 3,000 rounds of ammo with this gun from at least six different manufacturers.  My kids have shot nearly a 1,000 rounds as well, feeling like the 22 Charger is their entry into “modern” guns, unlike the hand-me-down bolt-action .22’s I learned on and passed to them.

The 22 Charger is a fun gun to shoot, as nearly every suppressed .22 LR gun is. The factory trigger is fine, neither too heavy nor too gritty. The gun is light, balanced and always enjoyable to shoot. Except when it doesn’t.

Ruger 22 ChargerRuger 22 Charger

When I first shot this gun two years ago it was my opinion the trigger would be the first part to get replaced if I started upgrading this gun. I still feel that way, only because I haven’t isolated the creeping reliability issues that started around 500 rounds, and have persisted despite deep cleaning, ammunition changes and magazine replacements.

If I was only getting one type of malfunction, it would be easy to diagnose. I’m getting failure-to-feed, failure-to-extract, stovepipes and occasional light strikes. This isn’t a high enough round count to justify the gun giving me issues on  less than 10% of the rounds fired.  I know .22 LR firearms, by their size and nature, especially being such a narrow, slender round, are known for being finnicky. Again, none of it has been enough to make me put the gun up or make any drastic changes to it. And to be fair, this is the only one I own and have shot, so it could be something unique to this one gun.

Ruger 22 ChargerRuger 22 Charger

Returning to all other aspects, the 22 Charger is still a good gun. Shooting from a rest will get groups around 1.5 MOA at 50 yards with CCI Mini-Mags. Shooting standing while leaning against a post makes it easy to drop rounds onto a 6-inch square at 100 yards, despite the 2 MOA red-dot taking up a third of the target. Even my kids (around 10 to 12 years old) have an easy time dropping rounds onto the 100-yard target. This isn’t “record-breaking” shooting nor accuracy, but from a roughly $300 gun, I’m very happy with it.

One upgrade I always did to older 10/22 rifles was dropping in a “paddle” style mag release lever, ditching the OEM button that plagued my gloved hands growing up in Alaska.

Ruger 22 ChargerRuger 22 Charger

Running basic drills transitioning from target to target (usually clay pigeons) is easy, as the 22 Charger is well balanced with the PSA triangle brace.  This specific brace folds to the left side, staying clear of the charging handle.

Of course the 22 Charger shines with subsonic ammo, given that I’ve suppressed it. This makes a wonderfully quiet platform, and the bolt noise of the 10/22 platform is pretty minimal. Dropping birds near the garden doesn’t bother a soul. People elsewhere on the homestead usually don’t even hear it, and nearby birds are hardly disturbed.

Summary

Boiling my experiences with the Ruger 22 down into a brief statement leaves me with: “bittersweet, but heavy on the sweet.” Reliability issues are always frustrating, even when they’re expected to a degree in .22 LR chambered guns. When it runs though, which is most of the time, the Ruger 22 Charger is one of the most enjoyable guns I’ve ever owned.

Specifications

  • Model: Ruger 22 Charger
  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Weight: 3.25 lbs.
  • Overall Length: 17 in.
  • Barrel Thread Pattern: 1/2×28 tpi
  • Barrel Twist:  1:16-in. Right Hand, 6-grooves
  • Barrel Length: 8 in.
  • Forward Sling Stud: for sling or bipod use
  • Grip:  AR-15 grip compatible
  • Optic Ready: Top mounted 1913 Picatinny rail
  • MSRP: $439 (street price comes in around $309 with other variations costing $299-$500)

 

Ratings (out of Five Stars)

Accuracy * * * *
This isn’t a match rifle, but its accuracy is good even before you factor the low price point.

Ergonomics * * * * *
Light weight, well balanced, AR grip compatible, and with a paddle mag release, the 22 Charger is a treat.  A factory brace option would be my last improvement suggestion.

Reliability * * 
I expect budget box .22 LR ammo to fail from time to time. When I’m running top quality ammo, I’d like to go a mag or two without a hang up.

Overall * * * *
The 22 Charger would be an absolute Grand Slam if it ran solid 100 percent of the time. As it is, this is still a fun, accurate gun that sees a lot of use around the homestead.  Squirrels and birds would come to fear the 22 Charger, if they ever heard it. My kids call it “the trainer,” and it is their gateway to the world of owning and operating full-size guns, malfunctions clearance drills included.

Read more articles and reviews by Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer or follow him on Instagram @Rexnanorum.

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