How to Build a Steel Challenge Rimfire Open Gun for Under $700

Caleb Giddings of Gun Nuts Media and Top Shot fame wrote up a nice take on one of the gun industry’s most popular competition sports, if not the most popular, the Steel Challenge.  With purses in the several hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Steel Challenge is a no-holds-barred high-octane gun race for high stakes winnings.

Caleb Giddings

There are eight courses of fire with multiple targets, each course featuring a final target called the “stop plate” which stops the course timer.  The person with the overall lowest time wins.  The courses are fixed; everything’s the same every year, which is part of what makes it so popular.

steel challenge competitors

It incorporates the rules of various other games, IDPA, USPSA, SASS, ICORE; whoever’s hosting the event.  There are also two rimfire divisions, Open and Iron Sights.  And rimfire’s great.  It lets people join in these games and really test their skills, much less their equipment, in a big game with really skilled players.

iron sights rimfire pistol

What you need to play in an Iron Sights match is a rimfire pistol.  That’s it.  No expensively-tuned mods.  But as Caleb points out, you can play in the Open with the other big names for relatively very little money.  First you need a gun.  That one up there is easy to recommend, the Ruger 22/45 Threaded Barrel.  Out of the box it’s ready to accept the rest of the Open-class hardware.

burris fastfire scopebushnell trophy red dot scope

The base gun will set you back less than $350.  After that come the sights.  Caleb’s pick, on the left, is the Burris Fastfire II.  With a Picatinny mount, it will probably run about $200.  We’re going to part ways, here.  On the right is a Bushnell Trophy Red Dot.  Under a benjamin.  While it’s not as rugged as the Fastfire, you’re mounting it on a .22.  The amount you save can get you a sweeet trigger job, which should run about $100, a little more if you have to ship it to a gunsmith.

silencer threaded barrel

The threaded barrel you’ll use, not for a silencer, but a compensator.  Caleb’s pick: 2211 Compensator by Tactical Solutions, for fifty-ish bucks.  Ours: 10/22 Compensator, also by Tactical Solutions, for thirty-ish bucks.  Again, what you save goes to trigger improvement, or barring that, scads of Long Rifle for practicing with.  You’ll also need extra magazines .

4 magazines for rimfire

All said and done: Gun: $350, 4 extra magazines, $65, optics, $80-200, compensator, $35-55.  Total for Caleb: $670.  Total for’s very similar, but even cheaper build, $530.  $650 on the outside with a trigger job.  Either way, you’re looking at a cheap way to get into an excellent sport that won’t destroy your wallet in case you wanted to practice between competitions.  And if you don’t already own a .22, what are you waiting for?  (We will accept waiting for Browning’s 1911-22.)

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