Since about 1887, the .22 LR has became the official cartridge of fun range time plinking. There is no better or cheaper alternative currently on the market to shoot a lot of rounds and get reasonably good trigger time to hone your marksmanship skills. While there are many different companies and models of .22 LR in either bolt action or semi-auto, some models are less than ideal. Reliability issues are always a concern when buying a semi-auto.
Typically, most people would recommend the Ruger 10/22 as a great option for a reliable rimfire and for good reason. It has a pedigree and decades of reliable service. I can proudly recommend the T/C R22 as another option that people should look into compared to the Ruger. Out of the box, the Thompson Center T/C R22 is feature packed, accurate, and has little details that I appreciate over the Ruger 10/22. All of this, and it comes at only a slightly higher price point than the venerable Ruger 10/22. Capitalism at its finest!
I typically don’t like comparing a specific model to something else. Sometimes it can be like comparing apples to oranges. When it comes to the T/C R22, and the Ruger 10/22 though, there is a lot of similarities that jump right out. Specifically, the barrel and the magazine. The T/C R22 uses Ruger 10/22 magazines that have already been established on the market. The difference with the T/C R22 is that it comes with a magazine that offers you a feature of last round bolt hold open (LRBHO).
This is a specific design change to the T/C R22 that is not available with the Ruger 10/22. With T/C’s proprietary magazine and bolt catch design in the rifle, you can only have a LRBHO option in the T/C R22. Magazines from either company are backwards compatible. The LRBHO feature in the T/C R22 is a step-up in my opinion even though there is no bolt release to drop the bolt on an empty magazine. When the magazine runs empty, the bolt will lock to the rear. The only way to drop the bolt is to either pull out the empty magazine or replace it with a full magazine and slightly pull back on the bolt to release the mechanism that locks the bolt. This will allow the bolt to drop and go into battery.
The barrels are also the same and any aftermarket Ruger 10/22 barrel can be swapped into the T/C R22. Unless you are looking to build a competition rifle, honed for absolute accuracy, I wouldn’t change the barrel. I happened to love the 17”, 1:15 twist, button rifled barrel that came with the T/C R22. For general plinking it was excellent in the accuracy department. It also comes with a threaded muzzle so you can run any 1/2x28 TPI muzzle device or suppressors you would like. This is yet another small detail that puts the Thompson Center rimfire ahead of the pack with out of the box features compared to a standard Ruger 10/22.
The trigger assembly seems to be the same design as the Ruger 10/22 and for all intents and purposes the T/C R22 is a clone of the Ruger 10/22. The trigger breaks clean and allows accurate shooting. I ran the T/C R22 with just its irons sights because I appreciated the design that comes standard out of the box. The front sight is a green fiber optic front sight post while the rear is an elevation and windage adjustable properly sized peep sight. Shooting out to 25 yards with the irons show that this rifle is plenty accurate, and with a magnified optic the groups would have shrank considerably more if pushing out to 50 and 100 yards. Ammunition used was Federal American Eagle in 40 grain Round Nose Lead, and CCI Mini-Mags in a 36 grain Copper Plated HP.
But Wait… There’s More
The stock for the T/C R22 is fantastic. It is made by Magpul and I have used a few of their models in other rifles. Magpul has really made a name for themselves with full rifle stocks, in my opinion. Any model I have handled has great ergonomics and naturally fit me well. The T/C R22 is no exception. It is lightweight and gives a forward grip at a more reduced angle compared to traditional stocks. It also has MLOK slots at the front of the stock toward the muzzle. This allows a shooter to bolt on rail sections to attach popular accessories such as a bipod.
Another feature of the T/C R22 is the machined 6061 aluminum receiver which keeps the rifle light, and it also incorporates a built-in picatinny rail on top of the receiver. Whether attaching a red dot, or magnified optic you can easily mount your optic right after pulling the rimfire rifle right out of the box. While this is a small detail, and inexpensive rails can be found almost anywhere for the Ruger 10/22 or a clone, this is yet again a small detail that puts the T/C R22 at a higher value than the standard Ruger 10/22 Carbine.
The bolt seems to be great quality. It is a fully machined stainless-steel bolt that incorporates an enlarged side charging handle. Ergonomics of the bolt are great. It is not overly huge or cumbersome but is functionally easy to grab and operate. It is slightly textured with ribs cut around the handle. It provides some extra grip, although I would prefer more aggressive texturing. Being that it does not require much force to operate the bolt, it is more than adequate.
Thompson Center has produced a very solid rimfire rifle with the T/C R22. Practically any accessory for the Ruger 10/22 is compatible, but out of the box features for the T/C R22 make it so that you won’t really have to worry about it. For its price point, Thompson Center has packed a lot of great things into this clone of the trusty Ruger design. Something can be said about classics, and the Ruger 10/22 Carbine with a wooden stock is a beautiful rifle that has stood the test of time.
But, if you are looking for something a little more modern, or perhaps more ergonomic with enhanced features out of the box, you won’t go wrong with choosing the T/C R22. While testing it, I shot over 2k rounds through it, and not once did it fail to run or have a hiccup in feeding, loading, or extracting. For the price, I would highly recommend the T/C R22.
By the Numbers
Reliability - 5/5
Just like its parent design, the T/C R22 is purpose built to run and run. I didn’t have one issue with how the gun operated, and I had no worries that it would continue to run if properly maintained.
Ergonomics - 4.5/5
The Magpul stock is a great addition to the out of the box features of the T/C R22. Its ergonomics and grip angle are excellent. A bolt release control would have been awesome, but the LRBHO is still a big upgrade compared to the classic Ruger 10/22 design.
Accuracy - 5/5
While I only used the iron sights, I have no doubt that using match grade ammo and a magnified optic would produce even tighter groups even out to 100 yards. Thompson Center has a reputation for well made barrels that produce great accuracy.
Customization - 5/5
Being that the T/C R22 is a clone of the Ruger 10/22, there is a huge list of aftermarket parts for this rimfire rifle. Out of the box, it’s a step above most set ups for the price, but you can rest assured you can change out parts.
Price - 4.5/5
With an MSRP of $399, it is more expensive than the Ruger 10/22 Carbine, but because of the out of the box features, it is well worth the added price. Typical prices can be found online for around $299-$349.
Multiple options are available with different stocks and colors. Further specs can be found at: https://www.tcarms.com/firearms/semi-automatic/t-cr22#information