So Linda has procured a fine pair of mouse-guns for my birthday (don’t worry, full report on each inbound!) and we were discussing this the other week. At one point she got a thoughtful look on her face and said, “I want to see you make the smallest gun you can.”
Regular readers are probably aware that I’ve made single-shot pistols before, so this was definitely in my wheelehouse. We negotiated the terms. I insisted it be in a real caliber- no 2.7mm pinfire or any of that nonsense- and it must be at least arguably useful. ‘Arguably Useful’ in this case meaning large enough to be easily operated, and to be at least potentially lethal.
The sensible thing to do would have been to draw up a plan, make some templates to cut out the parts, organize the materials I needed and make sure everything was five by five. Naturally I didn’t do that.
For reasons I have never been able to grasp people seem to be in the habit of buying a new Ruger 10/22 rifle and immediately replacing the perfectly good factory barrel. I don’t know why; maybe they think they can shoot better than the factory barrel, and maybe a tiny percentage of them can. I think it’s the Lego factor myself. It’s easy to change, and by changing it it’s personalized (better!) Whatever the reason it means there are a lot of stock 10/22 barrels on the aftermarket, and it’s pretty easy to pick them up cheap if you look around a little. This is a Good Thing.
This is a good thing because not only are these perfectly good barrels, they are seriously stout. I am about 99% sure you could re-chamber these for 5.56mm and it would be just fine. This means there is a lot of material to work with. I cut a short section of barrel (about 1-3/8″) and squared it off on the belt grinder, with the bore off-center towards the top. I had a vague plan to make this a swing-barrel (opening to the side) and wanted to leave room for the screw that would secure it to the frame. I used a .22 chamber reamer on one end, mounting it in a T-handle and carefully reaming by hand until the chamber would accept a .22 Short cartridge.
I need to apologize, and now is as good a time as any. Usually doing a build like this I take copious photographs and walk you through the process step by step. I didn’t this time. I was caught up in the challenge and it simply didn’t occur to me until it was too late. I started writing this as a tutorial anyway, but it’s just to complicated, long, and hard to understand without reference photos. Basically I followed the same steps as in the .22 magnum build, only without drawing up plans. You can read about that here if you like:
Without proper plans to work from I just built this by TLAR (That Looks About Right.) There was significant trial-and-error involved too; it was a trail, and mostly in error. But in the end, four hammers, two triggers and six springs later, it was done.
So, without further ado… the pictures!
While the gun is quite stout enough to handle .22 LR, I chose to make it a .22 Short. Tradition, I guess, since the original guns of this type fired this cartridge. Of course then it was just called .22 Rim Fire, because it was the only .22 there was.
I’m using CCI .22 CB Short Low Noise ammunition. This propels a 29gr. bullet at 710fps. from a rifle, so it pretty much duplicates the performance of the original black powder load. I’ll tell you this, though- it is very much not ‘low noise’ from a 1-3/8″ barrel!
I was actually quite surprised by this ammo’s performance. My first test-shot in my shop (where I discovered the whole ‘not quiet’ thing) was fired into a pressure treated 4×4 at a distance of about 5 feet. I didn’t expect much, but the base of the bullet was just over 1-1/2″ deep in the wood! If I’d had any thoughts that this was a toy they would have vanished right then.
Not that this is a good, or even adequate gun for self-defense. It might, under just the right (seriously unlikely) circumstances, prove useful in the role. Fortunately that’s not the point of this gun; the point was the challenge which, even Linda was quick to admit, was met.
So, I’ll iron out the wrinkles, and once I am happy that it’s all right and proper I’ll rust blue it, and maybe replace the ‘randomwood’ grips with something nice and make it a clever little wooden box to live in. But one thing is certain… I will be shooting it and trying to improve.
After all… I do like a challenge.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 13 June 2020
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