You know those times when you are out plinking or small game hunting and you find yourself wanting a more accurate little 22handgun than what you have. If only they made a pistol version of the 10/22 rifle then the whole world would be different right. Well, about that...
The SBR problem
In 2007, Ruger came out with a legal short-barreled rifle that anyone could own without a tax stamp. They took their tried and true 10/22 rifle design, and then produced it in a pistol-only receiver without a buttstock. This avoided the dreaded \'Short Barreled Rifle\' label that was cooked up by the 1934 National Firearms Act. To keep future crooks like the Prohibition-era Bonnie and Clyde from getting their hands on chopped down rifles, the government set an impossibly high (for 1934) $200 tax on these guns. Well the tax is still somewhat high today, not to mention the regulation and drama associated with Class III weapons, thus killing off their popularity.
However, since Ruger built the new gun from the ground up as a pistol and it never had a buttstock attached to it; it was still a pistol that could be sold to anyone who could legally own one without any $200 ball and chain.
Called the Charger, the pistol had a 10-inch long heavy bull barrel attached to a 10/22 style receiver. Since the receiver design was borrowed from that gun, all 10/22 mags and internal parts will work on the Charger. Since most users would shoot this oversized pistol from a bench rest position, it was equipped with a nice factory laminated stock complete with a rear pistol grip and extended forward frame that held a sling swivel stud. Attached to the stud was a Harris-style detachable, folding, and adjustable bipod. Overall length was 20-inches, weight was 3.5-pounds. While not the biggest pistol ever made, it certainly had some heft to it.
Picture courtesy of Sherwin Shooting Sports
These guns have proved popular in the past few years with varmint hunters. You can prone out on the edge of a prairie dog complex with your Charger on its bipod and still zip off shots out to 200 yards with your .22LR pistol-- surely an almost impossible task for most other rimfire handguns.
As a compact squirrel or rabbit gun, it is invaluable. A good friend of mine in the Southeast carries one in his boat dry box for bull shark and (during the season) alligator.
Besides all that, its a heck of a fun range gun if fitted with a BX-25 banana magazine, sling, and a red dot sight. Tin cans tremble when a Charger gets uncased at the neighborhood shooting gallery (aka the \'dump).
Tricking them out
Many users love to swap out their OEM Ruger parts for aftermarket parts. Among the most popular of these are Volquartsen recoil buffers, extractors, target hammer (to smooth out the trigger), and automatic bolt release. Different length Kidd barrels are very popular, with some Charger owners going longer for more accuracy while others go shorter to make the gun more compact. The basic laminated stock on the Charger is nice but heavy and many quickly trade it out for shorter aftermarket Knoxx nylon polymer jobs. Houge and pachymar slip-on pistol grips also make a nice addition.
(Charger with Archangel mod)
You can delete the bipod and stock altogether, add an Archangel kit, and have something that looks like the Navy Seals would use to storm a terrorist hide out. Just remember, the only thing you cannot do with it is add a buttstock. If you do, you have just made an illegal short-barreled rifle (SBR) and the ATF has a pretty dim general view of that.
Getting your own
Sadly, Ruger killed off the Charger in 2013 so you soon will not be able to find a new one. Academy Sports still had a few locally for $299 just a week ago but I am sure within a year most of the \'old, new stock\' Chargers will have moved through the pipeline and the gun will become scarce on shelves.
Used guns are running about $275, which is about right when you consider that they all shipped from Ruger with a laminated stock and bipod. Nicely equipped guns with lots of Archangel and/or Volquartsen accessories run up to twice that amount if you are willing to pay for it.
Still, if you come across one in good shape for a good price, pick it up and hold on to it. With the number on the market a finite amount, the little Charger could become very collectable.