The 10/22’s bolt, as delivered with a new rifle, usually works ok. It’s designed for reliability with a wide range of ammunition, under harsh conditions, and with neglectful maintenance. It is also designed for low manufacturing cost. It’s one of the features that makes the 10/22 “a pretty good rifle, and darned good for the money.”
Suppose you want better…such as better accuracy, and better reliability? If you’re not an experienced gunsmith with access to a machine shop, you have two choices: buy an aftermarket bolt (available from JWH Custom, Kidd, Power Custom, and Volquartsen) at prices of $99 – $235, or have your Ruger bolt reworked by a specialist 10/22 gunsmith. The best-known companies that do bolt improvement are Connecticut Precision Chambering (http://ct-precision.com) and Que’s Bolt and Barrel Rework (https://sites.google.com/site/quesplace/). I have two 10/22s with “Qued” bolts (and barrels which were done at the same time), and the improvement in both has been remarkable. I plan to have CPC do my next 10/22 and will write about that when it is done.
What does a bolt rework involve? The specific improvements are:
- Bolt face is cut to set the headspace (determined by the depth of the headspace pocket) to .0425”, the same as in match-grade bolt actions. This cut also squares up the bolt face so it sits perfectly flat against the breech face of the barrel. This is good for both accuracy and reliability, as the case head is held securely against the bolt, and the tighter headspace allows deeper firing pin impact for good ignition of the primer. The firing pin is still stopped about .005” short of the bolt face, so dry firing remains safe.
- A radius (curve) is ground on the lower rear edge of the bolt, to allow the bolt to glide smoothly over the hammer when cocking. The OEM bolt has a squared edge, which hits the hammer directly. The radius acts as a ramp to smooth and lighten the force involved in cocking the hammer. This is good for reliability. Anything that reduces resistance to the bolt’s cycling will help prevent failures to eject.
- The firing pin tip is narrowed for more forceful impact on the primer.
- A cross pin installed above the firing pin prevents the firing pin from “jumping”, ensuring consistent impact on the primer.
- The extractor is modified for more positive engagement on the case and the hook is sharpened.
- The slot for the bolt handle is chamfered on both top edges. This makes it much easier for the bolt to fall into the bolt handle when re-assembling the action.
- All contact areas of the bolt (sides, top and bottom) are polished.
All this from Que at the reasonable cost of $35 including return shipping. A similar job by CPC including machining a jeweled finish on the outside of the bolt is $50 including return shipping. Que’s service including jeweling is listed at $55. Both companies have perfect reputations among the experts in the online 10/22 community.
(I have no connection with either Que or CPC other than being a happy customer.)
Here is a video comparison of the Qued bolt and an unmodified OEM bolt: