The KIDD Strikes Again:
Testing a New 10/22 Match Barrel!
by John Feamster
To aficionados of the accurized Ruger 10/22 – of whom there are many, Tony Kidd is an icon. He put the little rifle squarely on the map as a national-class contender in smallbore silhouette with his ground-breaking Kidd Innovative Design (KID) 2-stage trigger, which made its commercial debut about 5 years ago and has never looked back. A U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit veteran, Troy Lawton, used a KID prototype 10/22 trigger to defeat former Olympic gold medallist, World Champion and fellow USAMU veteran, Lones Wigger, in the smallbore silhouette nationals back in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history. Tony proceeded with his ground-breaking design and eventually brought the trigger to market. I conducted a full writeup and durability test of the production KID trigger for Precision Shooting (Oct. 2001) and was delighted with it then, as I am to this day. So are a whole bunch of silhouette shooters, varmint hunters, informal benchresters and high-tech plinkers, among others… the KID trigger has become very popular indeed!! Tony, however, has not been content to rest on his laurels, and has developed a new match grade barrel for the 10/22. Knowing the high quality of his products, I decided this was worth a closer look, and set about investigating what accuracy I might obtain with it from one of my worked-over 10/22's!
Checking further, I found Tony stocks 20" match grade barrels made to his specifications using blanks from the highly respected German firm of Lothar Walther. Available in stainless steel only, they feature the standard 10/22 heavy barrel contour of 0.920" diameter, an 11 degree target crown, and a 1:16" twist. Further, Tony specified the use of a convex extractor slot to provide greater rim contact. This is intended to facilitate extraction, which can be a bit of an issue with tighter match chambers in the 10/22, which features only 1 extractor, vs. the dual extractors popular in better .22 bolt guns. The barrel extension is specified at 0.750" diameter, and barrel weight is 3.5 lbs. Cost is $179.95, which struck me as quite reasonable for a barrel of this quality, if it performed as expected... I could hardly wait!
The test rifle chosen was an older, match-conditioned 10/22 action set into a Ruger factory walnut, deluxe sporter stock that had the barrel channel opened for the ubiquitous 0.920" diameter heavy barrel. The bolt bearing surfaces have been polished smooth to facilitate operation with standard velocity match ammo. Further, the bolt headspace has been shortened from 0.048" to 0.44", and firing pin protrusion was optimized after adjusting bolt headspace as well. The action sports a 0.250" hole in the rear wall to allow cleaning from the chamber once the bolt has been removed, and the scope mount is glass-bedded to the action to prevent any chance of ill fit or movement. Ordinarily, I would have liked to use my KID trigger for best accuracy testing, but I did not want to disturb the 10/22 silhouette rifle in which it resides. Instead, I used a nicely-tuned standard factory trigger group set at 1.5 lbs weight with a very smooth release. While certainly not optimal for offhand shooting, it was entirely acceptable for bench testing at 50 yards.The new KID barrel arrived, and it was indeed a beauty! First things first: the machining of the crown was absolutely razor sharp, and precise enough to make a German engineer weep with joy! The chamber end was no different; the various extractor cuts, bevels, etc. were very nicely executed, and the exterior finish and muzzle chamfer looked excellent as well. The "crowning touch," as it were, was a small, neatly engraved KID logo at the top center of the barrel, just behind the muzzle, surrounded by two engraved rings encircling the barrel. These combined to make the KID's muzzle end both very distinctive and readily identifiable at a glance. COOL! Attention to detail points? Definitely! I then clamped the barrel into a padded vise for cleaning to remove any possible debris left over from manufacture before installation, and while patching it out, I found the bore to be utterly smooth from end to end. NICE! I then carefully cleaned the receiver, applied a thin film of grease to prevent galling, and lined up the barrel shank so that the extractor cut would match the extractor closely. Installation proceeded with some slight effort, as tolerances were close, allowing no play whatsoever. All went well, however, and after moderately tightening the barrel retaining bolts and reinstalling the action into the stock, I mounted a Leupold 6.5-20X Target scope, adjusted it parallax-free at 50 yards, and set to work.
After initial zeroing, my main task was to watch my 3 wind flags and await dead calm conditions… which, depending on the individual day, could take quite a while. Each day I set up my gear about 90 minutes before sundown, as usually the wind dies in the last hour of daylight on our range. There were some days in which I might test 1 or 2 brands of ammo, and some days when I set up all my gear and didn't test any, as the weather just didn't cooperate. However, it was far better to generate no data, than invalid data!! My procedure was to condition the bore by firing 10-15 rounds of each ammo type before firing for record. I have experienced widely varying results with individual .22 rimfire barrels over the years, regarding accuracy and cleaning. Some didn't seem to care if they were cleaned within thousands of rounds. One demon-possessed Kimber Super America barrel would lose accuracy noticeably if it weren't cleaned every 200-300 rounds. With others, it seems best to stay on the safe side, and clean every 1000-1500 rounds. (These are not highly scientifically determined figures, but merely "gut" estimates, by the way, except in the case of the Kimber, where results were easy to determine.)
However, one thing I definitely prefer to do, if at all possible, is to keep cleaning to a minimum, to reduce the risk of possible bore damage. I also have an impression (possibly inaccurate) that it may well take numerous rounds after cleaning for a rimfire barrel to settle down and begin delivering its usual level of accuracy. So, in light of that history, I did not clean the barrel between brands of ammo, but rather, simply re-fouled it with each new type I was testing. I took care to plan the tests to avoid changing brands capriciously – that is, when testing Eley, I tested all Eley match ammo together (Tenex followed Standard, etc.) so that the fouling stayed consistent through that part of the test. Accuracy results are summarized in the table nearby, and as can be seen, the KID barrel offered excellent accuracy with ammunition it liked. Moreover, it had a tendency to frequently group 4 out of 5 shots in a small hole with one flier, which is not reflected in the overall group sizes on the chart. That sort of accuracy would, however, be very evident much of the time in the hands of a field shooter! Functioning overall was excellent, with minor exceptions; the KID barrel does NOT use the ubiquitous Bentz semi-auto match chamber that has become virtually an industry standard in aftermarket 10/22 match barrels. Instead, KID employs a slightly tighter reamer, and a couple of brands of ammunition were hesitant to function in this chamber. However, I did not consider this to be a significant handicap as they were not brands noted for accuracy.
Overall, I found the KID barrel to offer accuracy results on part with match barrels I have tested which cost much more than its retail price of $179.95. One general caution I would share with the readers, however, is that in my experience, obtaining top quality accuracy from a 10/22 is not always as simple as just screwing on a good barrel and hogging out the stock to accept it. I went through major torment during one of my early accurized 10/22 buildups, as the rifle gave problems with persistent vertical fliers even with top quality ammunition such as Eley Tenex, in a match barrel from a world-class manufacturer. The problem was eventually tracked down and isolated to a chipped firing pin face and a weak hammer spring that combined to cause ignition problems. Once these issues were addressed, the flier problem vanished, and groups became much more consistent, with a corresponding improvement in group averages. (This account is related in my original KID trigger article, PS: 10/01, for readers inclined to pursue it further.) Thus, if purchasing a KID or any other good 10/22 barrel doesn't yield tiny groups after all the normal avenues have been exhausted: top quality match ammo of more than one type, top quality scope that is parallax free and properly mounted, good rest, benchrest technique and trigger job, wind flags and calm weather, then I would start looking for a mechanical problem with the rifle before I became confident that I had a bad barrel.
Studying the adjacent accuracy test chart, plus others available in my past rimfire accuracy test articles (and those of other authors) can give some broad hints at ammunition types that are likely to work well, and others that consistently seem to perform poorly. Moreover, some surprises seem to emerge from time to time, such as this barrel's outstanding performance with SK-Jagd high velocity hollow point hunting ammo. This shows the benefits of keeping an open mind whenever working with rifles of any sort, and rimfires in particular! However, this is not the first time I have had excellent results from the German SK-Jagd high velocity HP ammunition. I have also tested a Winchester 52B Sporter repro extensively, and this was its preferred recipe as well. SK-Jagd appears to be very well made stuff, especially given its moderate price!
Our readers who are either already 10/22 accuracy buffs or planning their dive into such projects will likely be interested in several specialty products offered by KID, in addition to the match barrels tested herein. The KID match trigger has been updated from its first format, which originally required users to specify a particular trigger pull weight range they intended to use, somewhat limiting the options regarding adjustability. The older models were characterized as either Super Match, Match or Sportsman, depending on their adjustment range and intended use, but current models are adjustable from ~12 ounces total pull weight (with a six-ounce second stage) to 3 lbs (total weight of pull). Naturally, being 2-stage triggers, the total pull weight is divided between the 2 stages, allowing the shooter to become used to holding the weight of the first stage, and having the feeling of only exerting the fraction of total pull weight needed to fire the second stage. This gives the effect of squeezing a much lighter trigger than if the same pressure were applied to a single stage trigger. For example, in a 2-stage trigger adjusted to 3 lbs total weight of pull, if 1.75 lbs is on the first stage, that leaves 1.25 lbs on the second stage. After taking up the first stage, when executing the additional squeeze, the shooter has the feeling of shooting a 1.25 lb trigger, but with the safety of shooting a 3 lb trigger – always a benefit when working with semi-auto mechanisms. Current models are fully adjustable across the entire pull weight range: from 6 ounces (second stage) to 3 lbs (total pull weight). The KID 2-stage match trigger, which currently retails for $279.95, also adjusts for length of pull, cant and over-travel, and has an extended magazine release and automatic bolt release included at no extra charge. Moreover, the hammer weight is 50% lighter than standard, to improve lock time. It is a self-contained unit that fits both .22LR and .22 Magnum 10/22's. It's a true drop-in, installing easily -- no gunsmithing required! A modified version is available for the Volquartsen .17 HMR at $291.95.
Another highly useful accessory is a match-conditioned 10/22 bolt that offers all the modifications my gunsmith painstakingly performed for me (with attendant delays), in one easy package. The KID match bolt's breech face is machined to correct headspace (0.044"), and firing pin protrusion is also corrected (0.040"). Further, the bolt's rear is radiused for easier cocking, which improves functioning with match or subsonic ammo. In addition, a Power's titanium extractor claw is installed and tuned to improve extraction, and the firing pin is beveled for more positive operation. Retail price of the KID match-conditioned 10/22 bolt is $74.95. One area that many users of 10/22's find annoying is somewhat sloppy fit of the pins holding the trigger group to the receiver. These generally are ok as they come from the factory, but tend to become looser over time as the rifle is fired, due to the aluminum receiver construction. KID has developed a solution in the form of a special receiver/trigger pin set that securely locks the trigger group to the upper receiver, preventing wobble that can cause inconsistency in trigger/bolt interface. The set is available with a countersink drill bit at $29.95 for initial installations. If additional 10/22's will be fitted with the match-grade pins, pin sets are available without the countersink for $21.95. Additionally, KID offers a rubber-covered buffer pin to replace the solid steel unit that stops the bolt at the end of its travel; this softens the impact of the bolt during cycling, smooths operation and can help reduce battering of the bolt against the aluminum receiver over time. Accuracy-minded fans of the Ruger 10/22 will no doubt find Kidd Innovative Design a very worthwhile resource when planning their custom rifle projects - I know I have!
Kidd Innovative Design (KID) 10/22 SS Match Barrel
Accuracy Test Results
Test of KID-barreled Ruger 10/22, using Ruger factory "Deluxe" 10/22 walnut, checkered stock with barrel channel opened for 0.920" diameter heavy barrel. Ruger bolt was polished to promote smooth functioning with standard velocity target ammunition; bolt headspace was set to 0.044" and firing pin protrusion was optimized for corrected headspace. Scope was Leupold 6.5-20X Target set parallax-free at 50 yards; 3 wind flags were used, and every effort was made to shoot in calm conditions. All groups consisted of 5 shots, fired from a Hart rest with adjustable top and rear bag.
||# of Groups
|SK Jagd High Vel. HP
|Lapua Dominator "L"
|SK Jagd Subsonic HP
|Western Super Match MIII
|Aguila SE Standard Vel.
|Eley Standard (older lot)
|RWS R-50 Match
|Wolf Match Target
|Winchester Super-X HV
|CCI Mini-Mag HV
|CCI Standard Velocity
|Fiocchi Super Match 320
|Win. Super Silhouette
Kidd Innovative Design
#8 Conisburgh Ct.
Columbus, GA. 31907