Like the occasional sore throat or stubbed toe, factory 10/22 triggers are just a fact of life we live with. They crunch and grind along through their take-up. Then they hit a wall until the pressure on the trigger shoe dents the finger pad. The kra-chunk of the release is less of glass breaking, and more of opening a can of beer. We lowered our expectations due to the reliability and durability of the 10/22 trigger, but never gave up hope. Ruger heard our cries for help and released the aftermarket BX trigger upgrade. Ruger’s drop-in trigger module swapped out completely the entire factory trigger unit. For those of us who drank the BX Kool-Aid, we were impressed. Not necessarily how good the BX replacement is, but more of how bad the factory trigger really was. And compared to other trigger upgrades in our ARs for example, we knew it could be even better.
Enter the Ultimate 10/22 Trigger Upgrade from TandemKross. An exquisitely machined and presented trigger parts group that literally turns the 10/22 into an entirely new gun. From the aggressively textured wide flat shoe, to the polished tool-steel sear and hammer, to the precision spring, the entire Ultimate Trigger Kit is everything a top-shelf trigger must be. And the older your 10/22, the bigger the difference in upgrade experience.
By any standard, the aftermarket components for the Ruger 10/22 is deep. So much so that its easily possible to replace every single piece of a Ruger 10/22 with non-Ruger parts. Kind of like my favorite axe. It’s always been the best axe I’ve ever owned even though I’ve replaced the handle three times and the head twice. In fact, on one of my 10/22 builds, I’m just a few parts shy of a non-Ruger Ruger 10/22. And even if I swap out those final few parts, the non-Ruger will still be my favorite Ruger.
One part in particular has always defined the 10/22 and that is its exceptionally consistent trigger. No, not that the trigger consistently delivers, but that it consistently disappoints. The crunchy 10/22 factory triggers were just something we put up with, likely leveraging the low 10/22 price point to defend our low trigger standards. Even Ruger seemed not to care. It was as if a poor trigger was just another part of the 10/22 Rite-of-Passage that nearly every gun owner passed through. The Ruger 10/22 snuggled in nicely between the Schwinn Varsity and the high mileage F150. You know, somewhere between grade school and your first real job. Iron sights and minute-of-tin-can accuracy were plenty for those days, but now that we know that precision and accuracy should be givens, not dreams. The dated philosophy behind the archaic 10/22 trigger has come to an end.
By using electrical discharge machining (EDM) for the finer points on the hammer and sear, TandemKross in collaboration with Brimstone Gunsmithing has brought the mid-20th century 10/22 fully into the 21st century. Brimstone Gunsmithing, located on the opposite end of country from TandemKross (in Washington while TK is in New Hampshire), has tremendous experience with triggers of the 10/22 variety among others. Compared to many aftermarket triggers, the starting price of $135 for the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger hardly induces sticker shock. Many triggers at twice that price are common.
Learn your Gun
The installation of the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger is straightforward with just a few places where choice matters. There is an excellent video on Youtube that walks you through the process. For those gun shy about the inner workings of your guns, I suggest two things: First, do work on your gun but start with the outside stuff and work your way to the inside stuff as you gain skill, confidence and tools. Second, anyone worth their prepper salt should have at least passing knowledge of how a bolt group and trigger system works in common guns like the 10/22 and AR 15. And the easiest way to learn them is by doing an upgrade.
The video for the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger walks you slowly through the disassembly and reassembly of the 10/22 trigger group. The only hiccup I noticed is the orientation of the hammer spring. On the video, the spring is blocked in view so it takes a moment of sleuthing to make sure it’s oriented correctly. It’s one of those things that makes perfect sense after you know how to align it.
The first time I installed a TandemKross Ultimate Trigger it took me about 25 minutes, partially to do it right, but mostly to savor the wonderful experience of upgrading a gun with my own hands. The second time I did it, again in no hurry, took about 15 minutes. The video does the main trigger work in about 12 minutes of the 19 minute video. And for those new to 10/22 disassembly, the trigger group/receiver assembly may not fit back into the stock unless the safety selector button is halfway between on and off. Forgetting that is a common point of frustration.
Upgrade and Up-Upgrade
Two version of the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger are available, each in two different colors, red and black. The standard TandemKross Ultimate Trigger is for the factory 10/22 trigger group. The other offering is a TandemKross Ultimate Trigger with an extra part for upgrading the Ruger BX Trigger group. Which of course begs the question of why upgrade and upgrade? Easy answer. Because it truly is an upgrade to the upgrade. The entire feel and operation of the trigger is improved including the aggressive and colorful flat-faced shoe. Sadly, the $89 BX trigger that Ruger sells within its own aftermarket catalog should really be the standard trigger that every 10/22 comes with. It’s a good starting point with still plenty of room for improvement.
The days of substandard out-of-the-box performance should be over. But alas, Ruger, like many gun manufacturers, still sleeps well at night knowing that many of it’s guns could be so much better with just a little elbow grease and a few drops of polishing compound. As evidence of this Ruger has no shame in comparing its stock 10/22 trigger with its own BX trigger in a graph that highlights just how bad their own original trigger really is. In fact firearms seem to be one of the last strongholds where our tolerance for low manufacturing standards are still alive and well. Imagine if your truck or phone or hiking boots had disappointing flaws from the get-go. And worse, there is an entire segment of the economy devoted to fixing your just-purchased gun problem.
Anyway, at least in our current 10/22 reality, that’s how it is. Or perhaps not? During my upgrading of two different 10/22 rifles with TandemKross Ultimate Triggers, I noticed that my most recently purchased 10/22 was considerably more polished and smooth in finish work that the other one that was from the 1990s. In fact the earlier one was shockingly crude inside compared to the more current one. So that means that the older your 10/22, the bigger the perceived upgrade.
According to TandemKross, “The design of the factory spring and plunger requires a heavier spring in order to have consistent, positive resets. The “Ultimate” Trigger Kit does away with this design, replacing the spring and plunger with a single coil of music wire spring that flexes and rebounds with zero friction, binding or other trigger “noise.” This is absolutely true. In fact, so wonderful is the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger that it makes your 10/22 perform like an entirely new gun.
In my scientific trigger pull tests, the TandemKross Ultimate Triggers constantly broke at 3.2 pounds with very limited take-up and almost no overtravel. Comparing the TandemKross Ultimate Triggers to the stock trigger was more Venus and Mars than night and day or apples and oranges. The factory Ruger 10/22 trigger broke weakly at almost twice the poundage, and three times the travel. And the ride was pretty bumpy along the way. In my force vs. displacement tests, the stock trigger broke at just under six pounds, and 0.15 inches of travel. The 3.2 pound snap of the TandemKross Ultimate Triggers happened at around 0.10 inches of travel (I forgot to zero the displacement sensor so the travel is from -.05 to +.05).
Further, my graphs clearly show a distinct difference in break. The TandemKross Ultimate Triggers is instantaneous while the factory Ruger trigger seemed to need some time to think about breaking as indicated by the slope of the line rather than a vertical drop. While the factory trigger may sound to your ear like it’s obviously made up its mind when it’s time to break, the graph shows some hesitation. Compared to the redesigned sear, hammer and spring of the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger, the Ruger trigger takes its sweet time to punch the firing pin while the Ultimate Trigger shows no detectable hesitation.
Furthering the TandemKross Ultimate Trigger experience is the glorious aluminum shoe. By increasing the face area as well as flattening it, the index finger has a solid and predictable resting position that can pull evenly with little risk of slippage or rolloff. The textured surface provides a solid purchase whether skin or glove, and ensures a defined trigger shoe edge to work with. The shoe is similar to other TandemKross offerings including the Victory Trigger for both Ruger Mark and 22/45 pistols and the Smith & Wesson Victory .22 pistol.
So put a TandemKross Ultimate Trigger into your Ruger and fall in love with your 10/22 all over again. It really is that good.