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Exercise Your Freedom | Tactical Solutions X-Ring

Exercise Your Freedom | Tactical Solutions X-Ring

Photo credit: Don Jones

To develop enduring skills with a rifle of any scale and caliber, generations of American shooters have demonstrated that a good .22 LR is hard to beat. If that rimfire happens to be from Tactical Solutions, “hard” may change to “impossible.”

This feature appears in the September ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

There is nothing secret about the American tendency to scale things up. Our cars, homes and business endeavors certainly bear witness to this, and from a host of other perspectives, a “bigger is better,” or at least a “more is better,” attitude is often plain. So the fact that this creeps into our pastimes should not be a surprise: We are a folk, after all, who occasionally shoot John Browning’s mighty .50 BMG out of transportable rifles. “Go big or go home,” defined, perhaps.

But if .22 Long Rifle ammunition sales are any indicator, those same Americans also know that less is more when repetition—and not, well, drama?—is the price of mastery. When craft is the name of the game, .22 rimfire will outperform nearly anything as a learning tool. And when that rimfire rifle comes from Tactical Solutions (TacSol) of Boise, Idaho, the odds of acquiring such craft will ratchet up in a hurry.

The takedown joint—as easy, repeatable and precise as it looks. And as it shoots. Photo by Don Jones

As our photos demonstrate, indecision bore a rare, desirable fruit: We dithered over a Takedown X-Ring versus the standard, and TacSol sent both. It is proving a clever trick: Just when we think some tiny superiority appears in one, an alternative advantage appears in the other.

The similarities may be an easier starting point. At the heart of both is TacSol’s X-Ring version of the famous Ruger 10/22 receiver and bolt, and each shares the same magazine choices. Machined from billet aluminum, the receivers also have some obvious and not-so-obvious enhancements, including through-the-back cleaning access to the barrel (reduced risk of damaging the crown of the bore), an integral scope rail (no risk of stripping threads attaching a separate plate/rail) and a dual recoil spring guide rod system. The heat-treated steel bolt also adds an extremely generous and robust charging handle.

Both actions also nestle snuggly into Magpul Hunter stocks, though on the Takedown this must naturally split just forward of the action. Into each is a nicely fit (and very nicely tuned to 2.75 pounds) Ruger BX trigger assembly and an extended magazine release. Both actions share the X-Ring fluted aluminum, chromoly steel-lined and suppressor-ready barrel that shaves 13 ounces from the original while improving accuracy.

Given the accuracy, soft recoil and tolerable report of both TacSol rifles, it was easy to get lost in our range time. Both shot well indeed, with the fixed barrel keeping almost any number of consecutive shots under a half-inch at 50 yards, and the Takedown hovering just under the one-inch mark. (Though see Nuts And Bolts—we weren’t satisfied we really located the best ammunition for either rifle.)

We posited .22 Long Rifle as a “learning tool,” and would certainly stick by either TacSol as a premier choice for that duty. The hazard there is to pigeonhole either rifle as only suitable for that. Certainly, any young person or new shooter can acquire safe, outstanding skills in mastering an X-Ring, but the true reward for such an investment is far more durable: We see no reason at all that a Tactical Solutions rimfire wouldn’t provide decades of enjoyment in a caliber-appropriate application for almost any shooter.

Nuts And Bolts:

Takedown Rifle Specifics

Only our called blunder at lower left kept this from being five shots in .197 at 50 yards (.444, otherwise) with CCI Mini-Mags. Accuracy questions, anybody? Photo by Don Jones

Ruger’s own takedown rifle appeared in 2012, and we were early adopters and remain fans. It’s a fine, fun rifle that brought surprising accuracy to the “takedown” ranks, and especially in terms of toolless repeatability. The locking systems are the same between the Ruger and TacSol guns—in fact, the barrels are interchangeable.

With either, however, it’s absolutely crucial to correctly use the locking mechanism according to the instructions, and not to assume that one “setting” of the adjustment knob/lock ring meets all needs. If you use only one barrel/action pair, the setting may never change—just set and forget. But if you were to put an aftermarket TacSol barrel on a Ruger you have now (to allow for suppression, say), that “pair” would need its own adjustment. Over a long life or in widely varied temperatures, some minor re-adjustment might also be required. But do so: We found as little as three “clicks” produced changes in accuracy.

Sighting

Thanks to the milled-in, Picatinny-style rail of the X-Ring receivers, adding an optic to either of the rifles had the ease of an afterthought. What made it clear it wasn’t an afterthought, however, was the precision of rail position relative to the bore line, and especially on the fixed barrel rifle: From “mechanical center,” our Leupold VX1 2-7x28 Rimfire required only two clicks up and one left to be in the 10-ring at 50 yards. Though we didn’t stop with the Leupold, we sure could have—it’s difficult to envision a better combination of weight, proportion and magnification for either rifle.

”Regular” or “extra quiet,” and hopefully with the paperwork burden easing soon. Photo by Don Jones

Choosing a sighting technology gets more help from the Magpul Hunter furniture (assuming reinforced polymer counts as “furniture”). With adjustability of both pull and comb/cheek riser (an optional kit), we fitted a wide range of optics—including red-dots and prismatics—but none were able to sabotage good head position within the adjustment range of the Hunter.

Don’t underestimate the installed iron sights on a Takedown sample either. Between the fiber front and a channel in the rail, the cuing of the aiming eye to the target is exceptional both in terms of speed and accuracy. Needless to say, these also add no complexity or cost.

Ammunition

An often-frustrating rimfire characteristic is variable accuracy. One batch of XYZ .22 Long Rifle may shoot incredibly well, and the next may not. Naturally, perhaps, this erratic performance lessens as you climb in cost. But given that the point of .22 is inexpensive practice, it’s nice to find something that lets your X-Ring—or other rimfire—perform well. We tried a dozen types, with results ranging from ho-hum to very good, but the runaways for us were RWS Subsonic, and particularly CCI Mini-Mags.

One thing to remember about rimfire: For slightly-beyond-our-scope reasons, rough physical handling will degrade rimfire rapidly in terms of both reliability and accuracy. Don’t expect a fine TacSol to shoot well with ammunition that’s bounced around in your trunk for a month.

Suppression

If pressed to pick a favorite feature, we have one common to both rifles—they are suppressor-ready. A simple screw-off thread protector terminates their barrels, and makes attachment of a “can” easy. While the scientifically inaccurate public knowledge of suppression is hotly contested at present, we hope some relief for law-abiding gun owners on this front is close. And by relief, we mean modification of 1930s laws making them artificially expensive and difficult to acquire.

We shot both rifles extensively with a nice Keystone Armory “Situator SS,” and the combinations proved an unalloyed delight. Especially if you plan on packing a Takedown into the backcountry, suppression is desirable: As “can” folks have long observed, the quieter (not silent!) shooting of suppression is “the polite thing to do,” as well as much safer for everyone’s hearing.

Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.