Gun Tests Magazine tested the $380 Ruger Charger CHR22-10, a 22LR semiautomatic with 10-inch barrel, and with an action based on Ruger’s aluminum 10/22 rifle action. The gun plants the action inside a laminate stock with an extended grip that is flared at the butt to stabilize contact with the ground or shooting bench. It arrived with sights, but they were fitted with a Weaver scope mount. The gun fed from a 10–round rotary magazine made by Ruger.
Here’s what they found:
In formulating this test, we encountered a drawback. We had to modify our specifications chart to include characteristics of both rifle and pistol. We specified Action instead of Slide, substituted Receiver for Frame, and added Stock just below the word Grip, to better describe the gun’s profile and construction.
To test the gun, we fired five-shot groups from a sandbag rest at a public range. This led to interruptions by onlookers who agreed with us that just looking at this fancy gun was a treat. We sighted in quickly from the 50-yard benches and ultimately decided to test from this distance as well. We considered collecting data from the 100-yard benches, but feared that absent of perfect shooting conditions (shifting crosswinds were trying to bring in rain), results might tell us more about the shooter than it would about the gun. For optics we chose a HiLux ES1X30 Tactical scope by Leatherwood. This scope featured a 3-MOA red dot inside a short 30mm tube with 1X magnification. We could have mounted a long-relief pistol scope or even a higher-powered rifle scope. Given the chambering there was no danger of recoil pushing the scope back into our faces, but we decided against using optics with magnification because the 1X sight picture was quicker to read and easier to stabilize. This was a consideration because the gun was not designed to be shouldered. In addition, only a very strong person would be able to shoot this gun offhand in the manner of a true pistol, with both hands surrounding the grip.
A variety of ammunition was run through the gun and the gun had one single malfunction over several hundred rounds, and the culprit was soft-shooting target ammunition not driving the bolt to fully eject the spent case. Since these guns were probably meant for hunting squirrels, rabbits, or prairie dogs, or knocking down steel silhouettes, we’d probably load them with the hottest rounds we could find, anyway. That’s not to say we limited our tests to shooting exotic ammunition. Shots of record were fired using typical “big box” fare. Test rounds included Remington’s Golden Bullet, a 36-grain brass-plated hollowpoint, and two choices of CCI Mini-Mag. They were the 40-grain copper-plated round nose and the 36-grain hollowpoint rounds. The devil is always in the details, so, let’s see how these two similar guns performed.
Our Ruger Charger CHR22-10 22LR, ($380) was shipped in a handsome tan zippered carrying case with red logo. Alongside the Charger we found a high-quality Harris-style 6- to 9-inch bipod to be attached via the Charger’s sling stud. We doubt Ruger had sling carry in mind, but it did offer abundant solutions for additional support in the field. The supplied short bipod favored the prone position. For shooting from the seated position we applied a long-legged Versa Pod model 3 ($81 from versapod.com). We added a cuff-style rifle sling reaching from the bicep of the support arm to the swivel stud on the Versa Pod connector and from that point on we felt in total command of aiming our Charger.
The Charger design is striking enough in profile, but the black laminate stock offered additional appeal. The receiver was coated with a matching finish that appeared to be an epoxy base. It was matte in texture. Barrel twist was 1:16 inch and showed a Sporter profile, tapering from the receiver to the mildly recessed crown at the muzzle. The action utilized a crossbolt safety, and the standard 10/22 bolt handle was in place.
One upgrade to the action was an extended magazine release. Normally removing a 10/22 magazine requires sort of a pinching movement. The thumb reaches in and depresses the hinged plate to the rear of the magazine while the index finger plucks the front of the magazine from the well. Sometimes pushing forward on the Charger’s extended release let the magazine drop, and other times one needed to tickle the front of the magazine to coax it free. We found that pulling back the slide, not necessarily holding it back, but releasing the bolt from its adhesion to the chamber for a moment, helped free the magazine.
The gun arrived with a single 10-round rotary magazine. The boxy outer shape of the rotary magazine may make it clumsier to handle than a vertical stack magazine, but many feel that the rotary design is more reliable. That is because as the vertical magazine empties, the amount of energy available to push the next round upward can diminish. The rotary magazines on our test guns worked flawlessly.
Initially, we had difficulty locking back and releasing the bolt. The bolt-release lever located just forward of the trigger guard was, according to the manual, meant to be pressed back to lock the bolt open and pressed upward to release the bolt. We found that the release needed to be moved upward and with a bit of a counter clockwise arc as well. Key to locking the bolt open or letting it forward is the ability to first move the bolt fully to the rear. The left-handed shooter may have an advantage here because the right-handed shooter must abandon his grip to operate the bolt.
Until we learned the following regimen we were blaming the bolt release/lock for being balky. The left hand gripped the forward portion of the stock. We braced the rear of the gun against the body. Pulling the bolt back with the right hand, the right-hand thumb was then braced behind the rear scope ring. Holding the gun between the bolt handle and the rear scope ring, the left hand was free to set or release the bolt.
Once we learned that a loaded magazine could be inserted with or without the bolt locked back, we simplified handling by charging the guns beginning with the bolt closed. Another reason we chose this method was that neither gun was designed to lock open when the magazine was empty. But we often ended up dry-firing when the magazine was empty. We’re not sure at what point pulling the trigger on an empty chamber will damage the firing mechanism, but we think this could be a problem at some point.
Firing the Charger from the bench with the bipod in place gave us a solid hold. But on recoil the gun bounced around. It did not necessarily affect point of impact, but we had to reset the gun after each shot. Firing prone with the bipod in contact with soft ground negated this problem. We found that using a bipod in the field was a real advantage, but for bench work we preferred supporting each gun with simple sand-filled pillow-style bags. Our initial firing session was interrupted when we suddenly found our point of impact changing. The problem was quickly diagnosed as a loose scope mount. The mount itself was a lightweight alloy that was also treated to the same matte finish as the receiver. This coating was rubbed off easily by the crossbolts of our scope rings. But we tightened the mount and suffered no further problems.
From the bench we found it easy to get into a groove of finding our point of aim and squeezing the trigger. Trigger pull weight was about 4.5 pounds, and there were some hints of grit from time to time, but we liked the way we could break a shot and reset. The red dot let us find the target quickly, and we could imagine multiple targets, be they small game or tin cans, becoming great sport.
In terms of accuracy, the Charger liked the CCI Mini Mag hollowpoints best. We managed a best single group measuring about 0.8 inch across. Average groups measured about 1.2 inches overall. The Ruger Charger lent itself to firing from a number of positions, making it a lot of fun to shoot.
Our Team Said: This is a fun, inexpensive firearm that can be easily upgraded. It can be shot prone, seated, standing, or from a bench. The availability of a lone sling stud allowed us to add any style bipod and/or sling and fire from a number of suitable positions. Finding the one we liked best doubled our fun. The Charger can be fit with any manner of scope.