Few firearms enjoy so much use as those chambered in the time-honored .22 LR. Inexpensive and fun shooting can be had, and every fundamental part of shooting can be applied and practiced save only perhaps recoil management.
The Ruger 10/22 is just such a firearm. Over many decades, it has become one of the bar-setting guns that others are measured against. The natural progression of design and advancement have created many different variants, and today’s subject is one that moves the 10/22 from the realm of rifles into that of compact pistols.
The 22 Charger Lite
The Ruger 22 Charger pistol is a 10/22 variant, some of which also incorporate Ruger’s takedown technology. The Charger was designed as a pistol, likely to take advantage of the pistol-brace craze. The pistol utilizes a polymer chassis, just like many of the rifle versions of the 10/22. The differences include using a Pic rail at the back for installing any kind of implement akin to – but without being – a buttstock. It also has a sling stud at the front for utilizing a bipod or other support device.
The model I tested was the 22 Charger Lite. I assume the weight was achieved with the lighter barrel contour and vented shroud. The muzzle of the 10-inch barrel is threaded at 1/2-28 TPI, which is an excellent thing to do nowadays. The overall length of the pistol is 19 inches, and it weighs in at 57 ounces. A Picatinny scope mount is also included with the Charger.
Upon opening the case of the Charger, I started thinking and evaluating just what such a gun would be used for. The takedown feature made it extremely easy to store in a backpack, which would make it an obvious choice for a camping gun. The threaded barrel made it a good choice for a suppressor host, which I intended to do just minutes after opening the box. So, I decided I would reserve my judgment until further experience with the Charger deemed it worthy of my praise.
The Charger came in a soft carrying case. It would be handy for heading to the range, but I avoid that place like a TSA checkpoint. After mounting a scope on top of the rifle, I disassembled the gun using the takedown feature. I was quite impressed with the simplicity of the mechanism. You simply lock the bolt back and use the thumb of one hand to depress the takedown release. Then twist the two halves of the gun apart. And, just as quickly, it went right back together. “Pretty slick,” I mumbled to myself as I finished prepping some other equipment for my shooting trip.
With a few boxes of ammo, I made my way into the mountains above my house to see what the Charger could do. I set to zeroing the scope with a full magazine, but it turned out to be a little tougher than I expected. This is likely due to using a riflescope on a pistol with no stock or brace to stabilize it, something that would show up again later.
Still, my initial impression of the gun was quite positive. It was easy to get on targets and functioned as good as one would expect with a 10/22. I installed my Yankee Hill Machine Phantom 22 suppressor, which is a must-have if you are a serious rimfire shooter. With the report of the little Charger now suppressed, it became even more fun. Once I figured out how to hold it steady, the Charger made for brilliant fun just plinking at targets all over the hillside.
It chewed through a very expensive pile of ammo, most of which seemed to work great. I did have a couple of malfunctions using some Federal ammunition, but I’m not entirely sure that was the ammunition’s fault. I believe it had more to do with the gun resting on the magazine while shooting. That seemed to create additional friction that reduced bolt inertia and caused it to stovepipe or something similar. Obviously, using a bipod or shorter magazines will eliminate this issue.
Why I Like It
The takedown feature is very handy when your main mode of transport is on foot. It allows you to easily stow the Charger in whatever space you may have available in your pack. It’s so quick to reassemble that you can even get the drop on a squirrel if needed.
The Charger was accurate enough for a rifle of this size, shooting small game and cans was predictable. I can only assume the trigger is a standard 10/22 trigger set. It's nothing fancy but very serviceable. Little things like the extended mag release and an included scope mount make this pistol a very user-friendly and range-ready option. That’s a common trait for the 10/22 family of firearms in general.
There are only a few things about the Charger I didn’t like, and they may or may not be of concern to you. First of all, I hate the ridiculous rules around SBRs. But we will have to deal with it until brighter minds are installed. That said, I find the Charger a little awkward to align and shoot without a rear support like a brace or buttstock.
It is very easy to misalign your shooting eye with a scope when you don’t have anything to keep your face centered behind it. So, as much as I don’t like the idea of an arm brace, I would recommend getting one as it will likely improve both your accuracy and shooting experience. Or, if you choose to be a victim of the ATF, go ahead and register this little fella as an SBR and mount a stock.
The other thing I didn’t like was the slight wobble between the front and rear pieces of the rifle when assembled. This is obviously a result of the takedown feature of the rifle. I have no idea how much this wiggle affected the accuracy capability of the Charger, but I must think it had some effect.
I believe both of these gripes had something to do with the overall accuracy of the pistol. For me, only accurate firearms are interesting. So, even though the Charger was only acceptable in my estimation, it may be more than accurate enough for your purposes.
It’s fair to say I enjoyed shooting the Ruger 22 Charger despite my few complaints. I found it to be a very fun little gun for plinking. If you like to backpack, camp, or anything else that dictates having a compact firearm that is easily taken down and stowed, this one is for you. The 22 Charger Lite gives legendary 10/22 function in a small pistol that the whole family can enjoy.