When it comes to a recreational shooter, a plinker, there are several features most of us would like in a gun. First, it has to be reliable. It’s never any fun if you’re constantly clearing jams or if it consistently fails to fire.
Next, it has to be cheap to shoot. Very few of us can afford to go out and burn through 200 rounds or so of centerfire ammo that runs anywhere from 50 cents to several dollars a round.
It also helps to have a gun that’s distinct and attractive. And finally, it should be pleasant to shoot. Not many of us would enjoy an afternoon at the range cranking through a hundred rounds of .458!
The conversion of a Ruger 10/22 into an M1 Garand definitely hits all those bases and then some. It has the rugged reliability of the legendary 10/22 and the historic and romantic appeal of the Garand, it’s virtually recoil free, and it shoots the most inexpensive round you can generally obtain–the common .22 rimfire Long Rifle cartridge. And did I mention that it’s one of those guns that never fail to attract attention at the local range? The 10/22 Garand is definitely a rifle you’ll enjoy owning and shooting.
Last month I started the project and completed the attachment of the 10/22 receiver to a worn, shot-out Garand barrel that I obtained from Numrich Gun Parts. Numrich was selling these barrels for display guns, or nonshooters, and they’re ideal for this project. I also checked the fit of all the G.I. components, such as the handguards, on the barrel. The barrel was then drilled out, and a Brownells .22 rimfire liner was installed and epoxied in place.
Finishing The Barrel Work
The next part of the project was to cut off the excess liner, shorten and fit the shank of the barrel to the bolt, cut the chamber for the .22 rimfire, and make a relief cut for the extractor. When cutting the liner, I completely removed only the section at the breech end of the barrel. Over the years I have found it’s always best to leave a bit of the liner extending from the muzzle until after the chamber is cut and the headspace is checked. If you make a mistake in headspacing the rifle, you still have the option of heating the epoxy and driving the liner in a bit from the muzzle. On most rifles that’ll give you a second chance to correct your error. If you go ahead and cut it and crown the muzzle, your goose is cooked! Your only option with many rifles would then be to drill out the liner and start all over.
The shank of the barrel was turned back until it matched the length of the shank on my Ruger factory barrel, 0.744 inch. A Manson Precision .22 chamber reamer was used to cut the chamber in the newly installed liner. The chambering operation was done entirely by hand because it involved the removal of very little metal. The reamer was turned in until the cutting surface for the rim just barely touched the breechface of the barrel. I then used a taper reamer to carefully bevel the rear edge of the chamber. This tiny bevel was made to remove the sharp edge on the lip of the chamber, which will make it easier to insert a loaded round without damage to the bullet or the cartridge case.
The face of the barrel breech was then coated with machinist layout fluid, and the barrel was installed in the receiver. The breechblock, with the extractor in place, was inserted in the receiver and pressed forward against the breechface. The location of the extractor was scribed on the breechface. The barrel was subsequently removed, and the extractor slot was cut with a Dremel hand tool using abrasive cut-off wheels. Once that was done and checked, the barrel work was basically finished.
Keep in mind that the headspace on a Ruger 10/22 is controlled by the depth of the rim cut in the face of the breech bolt. The breech bolt should always fit flat against the rear face of the barrel. That’s why you don’t recess the rim of the .22 cartridge in the end of the barrel when cutting the chamber. If you need to adjust the headspace of a 10/22, it’s normally done by grinding down the face of the breech bolt.
With the chamber work completed and the bolt fitted, the liner at the muzzle was trimmed and the barrel was crowned. I used a Manson Precision barrel crowning tool for this step. It allowed me to do all the work by hand at my bench, yet it gave me the precision you would expect from work normally done on a lathe. By the way, this is the absolute best hand crowning tool available, period! If you’re serious about your gunsmithing work, contact Manson Precision and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Fitting The Stock
Perhaps the most challenging part of the project is fitting the Garand stock. The stock is too long for the short Ruger 10/22 receiver and must be shortened. Beginning at a point at the forward edge of the inlet for the Garand floorplate, I cut a 1.65-inch-length of wood from the stock. The stock was then glued back together with epoxy. Once the two parts of the stock were firmly secured with epoxy, I inlet several wooden dowels inside the stock across the joint for additional strength.
The receiver and barrel assembly were then used to pinpoint exactly where w
ood needed to be removed to complete the inletting of the receiver. The bottom of the receiver was coated with inletting black to do this. The barrel/receiver assembly was then pivoted against the stock ferrule, lowering the receiver on to the stock. The inletting black indicated exactly where I had contact and where wood needed to be removed to fully seat the receiver. This actually didn’t take long, and soon the receiver was fully seated. The best indicator for signaling when the inletting work was done was the rear handguard. When the underside of the left side of the rear handguard was parallel and level with the top of the stock, that phase was done. Don’t worry too much about having a perfect fit for the receiver because there is a bit more woodwork to do.
The receiver will be sitting too high above the stock, and the Ruger bolt stop pin is not secured and can easily drift out to either side. Normally the Ruger stock limits the movement of this pin. With our rifle we’ll need to add wood to the top of the stock to do this.
I cut a slab of walnut 14 inches long, 3/4 inch thick, and 2¼ inches wide to surround the receiver and to fill the gap in the G.I. stock for the op rod. To make the work faster and easier, I cut away most of the excess wood in the filler slab before gluing it to the stock. When it was glued, a piece of aluminum foil was used to cover the receiver and keep the epoxy from adhering to it. When the epoxy hardened, the slab was trimmed and fitted so the barrel assembly could once again pivot into position.
I also used a bit of Brownells Acraglas Gel to bed the rear face of the receiver and to reinforce and strengthen the filler where the op rod had been located.
The underside of the stock was then shaped. I had to remove a bit of wood to allow full access to the trigger and to permit functioning of the slide safety. The floorplate was also inlet at that time. That basically took care of the shaping and modification of the stock.
Next month I’ll install a rear sight, sand and finish the wood, and do just a bit of metal finishing. Some of the scrap G.I. Garand parts are pretty rough and need just a bit of work to look nice.
Until then, good luck and good gunsmithing!