Ruger 10/22 Charging Handle Upgrades: Buying Guide & Reviews

Before getting to the list of the best Ruger 10/22 Charging Handle Upgrades, let's take a brief look at its formation.

Getting onto the near side of 60 years of continuous production, the Ruger 10/22 rifle system remains one of the most popular firearms in the US. While the popularity is doubtless fueled by the innumerable aftermarket mods and support (it is actually possible to build a custom 10/22 clone from mail order with the exception of the receiver, of course: which is also available from 3rd party sources via FFL transfer in the US). But there would be no reason for the support if the gun design was not one of the most reliable platforms available.

In fact aftermarket support is so pervasive the 10/22 rivals the AR15 and Glock pistols in regards to customization. However, while those other gun designs are chambered in service grade calibers, the .22RF will doubtless see more and extended use by the very nature of it being in the affordable .22 Long Rifle chamber. Consequently, the 10/22 sees longer and more intense use. Returning to a six decade production history with precious little altered in the standard model: the 10/22 is a workhorse that invites modification for personal use.

Why do you need to upgrade  charging handle for Ruger 10/22 

Of course, if the original platform works so well, why bother upgrading it at all? The first answer is because we can. The second is that while the base model does work admirably well, it is a “base” model that certainly can stand some adaptations to individual shooter needs and applications. Furniture, barrels and triggers are the obvious features that are focused on, but there is also the consideration on the charging handle.

While perfectly serviceable to small framed shooters or novices, the factory installed charging handle is a bit too demure. Larger sized enthusiasts, and especially those looking for a competition gun where speed is a necessity, or tactical shooters where economy of motion is desired understandably find the stock lever too easily missed or too hard to maintain positive force on it in rapid or stressful scenarios. Larger bolt handles become a must.

Things to consider when upgrade Ruger 10/22 charging handle

Several properties of a replacement charging handle should at least be considered before settling on a choice.

First should be considered is ergonomics – even an “enlarged” bolt handle may be insufficient to consumers with large hands. The small stock handle may be too close to the action causing skinned knuckles or even slippage.

While billed as ambidextrous, its small sized can be difficult for lefties to grasp and manipulate while maintaining control of the weapon. So, finding one large enough to be of use without being a menace is important.

Improved mechanics should also be a factor: the stock charger transfers energy to the bolt via a 1/16” pin which has been known to fail after long periods of vigorous use. Anything that replaces or upgrades that pin with something more substantial is a plus.

Style should come last… or at least close to last: but if the other three features are attended to, then there should be no room for complaint.

What follows is a small selection of popular and available models.

Ruger 10/22 Charging Handle Upgrades

Power Custom - Ruger 10/22 Extended Bolt Handle

Power Custom - Ruger 1022 Extended Bolt Handle

Power Custom offers a straightforward extended charging handle in three formats: blued, stainless and skeletonized. While not obviously glamorous, it promotes function over form: the handle comes out further for improved ergonomics in charging or clearing the action with either hand. It is offered with a hardened spring guide rod and a heavier spring is available with increased power for improved feeding.

Ergonomics: 4/5. A more prominent lever is what is being sought and this delivers. While it may not be a solid knob, the curved “trigger like” style offers a familiar feel.

Ambidexterity: 4/5. Coming out further gives the right hand of lefties a larger surface area to make contact with than the stock model: certainly a step in the right direction.

Improved Mechanics: 3/5. Still uses the same transfer pin of the original. At least it is a simple fix if necessary.

Style: Variable. As style is a personal determination, the overall look of this model is “traditional” with some variances in finish and the skeletonized version.

Power Custom Competition Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Assembly Ruger 10/22 Stainless Steel

Power Custom Competition Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Assembly Ruger 1022 Stainless Steel

Also from Power Custom is a Competition Extended bolt handle with improved recoil spring assembly included. The extended handle comes out further – approx. .25” than the stock model - for positive connection, and the style, a straight bolt or peg, ironically allows for better manipulation than the curved surface of the original: the energy is transferred into a straight back movement. As its name suggests, this is ideal for competitors.

Ergonomics: 4/5. The straight peg like design offers simplified mechanics whether the charging hand is coming straight back or at an angle.

Ambidexterity: 4/5. As with any extended version, coming out further gives the right hand of lefties a larger surface area to make contact with than the stock model: still a step in the right direction.

Improved Mechanics: 3/5. Models reviewed still use the same transfer pin of the original. At least it is a simple fix if necessary.

Style: Variable. As style is a personal determination, the overall look of this model is “simplified” with a straight lever that offers improved mechanics.

Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Assembly Ruger 10/22

Volquartsen Extended Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Assembly Ruger 10/22

Volquartsen is a prominent 10/22 custom shop offering both upgrades and completed rifles and is one of the more common sources of the 10/22 platform in alternative calibers including .22 WMR and .17 HMR. For the .22 LR their blued Extended Bolt Handle with Recoil Spring assembly offers a ¼” longer reach and a solid, straight bolt handle that is both simplified and securely comfortable. As with the Competition handle above, it is a straight rod ready to catch the energy of the charging hand with minimum loss of energy.

Ergonomics: 4/5. Again, a straight peg like design offers simplified mechanics whether the charging hand is coming straight back or at an angle.

Ambidexterity: 4/5. As with any extended version, coming out further gives the right hand of lefties a larger surface area to make contact with than the stock model: still a step in the right direction.

Improved Mechanics: 4/5. The recoil rod is polished and coated with titanium nitride which not only increases hardness but is also self lubricating. The spring is cryogenically treated for extended service life as well.

Style: Variable. As style continues to be a personal determination, the overall look of this model is “simplified.”

Force Production - Ruger 10/22 Extended Charging Handle

Force Production - Ruger 10/22 Extended Charging Handle

Force Productions offers an admittedly delightfully priced stainless steel competition model in stainless steel shares similar features of the aforementioned competition models including a straight handle, though with the addition of deep grooves for better grip. Additionally, with the hardened guide rod, this kit offers a hardened carbon steel guide pin, which is stronger than the stock pi and a common source of failure.

Ergonomics: 4.5/5. Again, a straight peg like design offers simplified mechanics whether the charging hand is coming straight back or at an angle. However, the deep grooves offer additional purchase of the hand.

Ambidexterity: 4/5. As with any extended version with a straight handle, coming out further gives the right hand of lefties a larger surface area to make contact with than the stock model.

Improved Mechanics: 4/5. The hardened steel guid rod and transfer pin answers a common source of mechanical failure concerning the charging handle assembly.

Style: Variable. As style continues to be a personal determination, the overall look of this model is “edgy”: the polished stainless steel and deep grooves declare upgrade and an impressive aesthetic.

Tandemkross - "Advantage" Charging Handle For Ruger 10/22

Tandemkross - "Advantage" Charging Handle For Ruger 10/22

Tandemkross offers an advantage to their Advantage Charging assembly. This add on allows for left or right-handed use. Fitting over the top of standard 10/22 receivers, the picatinny rail offers a spot for virtually any rimfire capable optic. It also offers a charging handle for lefties for their off hand. Note: this will not switch the ejection port (wear your safety glasses, southpaws), but it offers a 10/22 that will operate in a manner designed for them and a more natural method for clearing jams and chambering rounds.

Ergonomics: 4/5 FOR LEFTIES. The size of the charging handle is not much different than the stock model, all it does is offer a handle on the left side of the firearm. The standard charging handle actually remains on the right side.

Ambidexterity: 4/5 again FOR LEFTIES. It is a lefty conversion that offers the same benefits and drawbacks of a standard bolt carrier handle.
Improved Mechanics: 3/5. This is an option FOR LEFTIES. Long term field use remains to be done as far as the transfer assembly breaking down from extended use: to date, it is no worse than Ruger’s parent product. For left handed shooters tired of living in the world of righties, it offers what must be a welcomed respite. But it does not offer much that actually improves performance of the gun in and of itself.

Style: Variable. The rail offers a welcome addition for a red dot and an quick and ready utility to make the rifle more comfortable for right and left handed shooters. Aesthetically, it makes the receiver bulkier: that may be a good or bad look depending on the owner’s preferences.

Power Custom Extended Heavy Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Guide Ruger 10/22 17 Hornady Mach 2 (HM2) Tungsten

Power Custom Extended Heavy Bolt Handle and Recoil Spring Guide Ruger 10/22 17 Hornady Mach 2 (HM2) Tungsten

Power Custom also offers an extended heavy bolt handle and recoil spring for the .17 HM2 round. As the HM2 can be used in the same receiver, a barrel swap and bolt carrier assembly are all that is needed for use of the high velocity round. The heavy Tungsten handle adds mass to soak up the additional energy so the stock bolt can be used. This is a necessity for anyone looking to increase the diversity of calibers on their stock platform.

Ergonomics: 4/5. A larger straight bolt is employed to add mass and doubtless give a visual que as to which carrier is installed. The benefits of the straight handle have been discussed above.

Ambidexterity: 4/5. The larger bolt makes it somewhat difficult to miss.
Improved Mechanics: 4/5. For anyone installing a 17HM2 barrel, this is almost a necessity as using the stock bolt and spring will lead to abuse along with feeding and ejection issues.

Style: Variable. The darkened finish and stout bold handle indicate custom work as well as a quick indicator as to which caliber the rifle is set up for.

Conclusion

As indicated above, the 10/22 platform has been around for almost six decades, though it is only recently that the aftermarket craze has been embraced. While the base model, as well as most of the factory made variants, serve continue to serve exceptionally well as trainers, plinkers and competition rifles, it s only natural that such a tool will be used long and often. While regular wear and tear may invite an “upgrade”, many Ruger owners will buy the base model with the intention of swapping stock parts out almost immediately.

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