You know, it’s a pretty ballsy thing to take a beloved firearm that has attained world-over “hallowed” status and say, “You know what? I absolutely can make this thing way better.” It takes even MORE chutzpah to take that same sacred gun or guns and build a successful business around making said good guns better – and not better in just one characteristic. Yet, that’s just what TANDEMKROSS has done with the Ruger 10/22 platform – the rifle that has single handedly become the darling of the vast majority of the survivalist community, especially in its Takedown iteration.
While TANDEMKROSS’ roots drive deep into the soil of competitive shooting, many of the products they offer dovetail nicely into the survival firearms world. The mechanical qualities survivalists and preppers look for in the firearms world – accuracy, reliability, aftermarket support for upgrades, etc – are also the same needs that must be met in the competitive shooting world to build a winning match gun. As a happy result for the trigger-squeezing end user, resulting high-quality match-grade parts can substantially upgrade the reliability and accuracy of your beloved SHTF gun – as long as careful consideration is taken by the manufacturer to ensure tolerance and fitting requirements aren’t so tight as to hamper the reliability aspect of our firearms, or to limit functionality to specific ammunition makes or projectile profiles.
To that end, our mission for this article? Substantially increase the reliability and ease of accessibility for a new or worn-out 10/22 platform rifle using parts sourced from a quality manufacturer – TANDEMKROSS – for less than a Benjamin, shipping included. Game on.
Many, many manufacturers boast extensive lines of 10/22-enhancing upgrades – I’ve used Clark and Volquartsen parts in the past and they’ve always been very good. However, after reading several of Doc Montana’s TANDEMKROSS reviews here in the annals of Survival Cache and SHTFblog, the company and their offerings were certainly on my radar. When it came time to put some work into my 10/22 Takedown after finding some stripped scope mount screw holes in the receiver, I decided to upgrade some of the guts of the rifle – and so straight I went to TANDEMKROSS. While perusing their website, I noticed that TK was located practically right next door to me – in a sleepy little town called Weare, NH. After some text message coordination with Doc Montana (who had met the TK folks at SHOT), he arranged for me to stop by the TANDEMKROSS offices to meet the brains of the operation, and get a tour of the facilities.
I showed up to the facility and buzzed the doorbell, and was instantly greeted by Danielle, the lovely marketing manager for TK. She expertly walked me through what TK was all about, showed me a wall of TK’s product offerings for Ruger, Browning, Glock, and other gun manufacturers, then took me to chat with Bryan and Jake, the founders of and brains behind TANDEMKROSS. I was shown some new product offerings they were unveiling at SHOT 2019, and we discussed the company philosophy, what drives their development of new products, and how manufacturing was sourced. Afterwards, Danielle took me on a tour of their spotless facility, and let me handle and try several R&D guns that they’d been working on. Truly really amazing stuff – and I can safely tell you that the TANDEMKROSS team is easily among the most genuine, truly really nice cadre of gun people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Aside from the personal aspect of TK, the product offerings across the board – no matter the platform – are all extremely well thought out (sometimes even embracing the unorthodox to arrive at a solution to a problem) and produced with quality, USA-sourced materials. Simply put: TANDEMKROSS is eminently knowledgeable about the firearms platforms they address, passionate about the solutions achieved….and they are very, very good at what they do. All TANDEMKROSS products are proudly made in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee.
Customer Service Par Excellence
While we’re here talking about TANDEMKROSS as a company, I’d like to tell you about an experience I had with their customer service department. I had ordered up a “Twister” titanium takedown screw from TK, and when it arrived, I was stunned to open the package and find that the screw had gotten past the QC department and did not have any threads. Even though I had a direct line to Bryan Haaker, one of the owners of TANDEMKROSS, I wanted to sample the TK Customer Service experience and dropped them an email with a picture. That same day, I had a confirmation email in my inbox noting that the replacement part was on its way – no questions asked, no fuss.
When I was in the area again a few weeks later, I stopped by the TANDEMKROSS offices uninvited, and once again the team was very enthusiastic and welcomed me right in. When they asked why I stopped by, I dropped the unthreaded Twister screw specimen in Bryan’s hand, and his jaw dropped in disbelief that the part had made it out the door unfinished. I asked Bryan how he wanted to handle this, since I had purchased the part for a review, and he unequivocally said to make sure I mentioned the issue in this article; he wanted our readers to know that TANDEMKROSS stands behind all their products 100% and wants the ultimate in customer satisfaction. He was ecstatic that I had a great interaction with his Customer Service team and that the part had already been replaced.
Without hyperbole or media drama, I will say you can utterly depend on TANDEMKROSS and their parts. If it ain’t right, they’ll make it right. On with the gun stuff!
Competition Parts in a Survival Rifle
As mentioned before, the products TANDEMKROSS offer are geared forwards competition use – a quick perusal of their website will confirm this. However, with our subject rifle – a plain jane, almost bone stock 10/22 Takedown (the sights have been upgraded with a Williams “Ace In The Hole” rail/aperture sight system) – we will be taking advantage of the modern technology and materials available to enhance the reliability of a gun we want to work anytime, anywhere. We want utter, absolute reliability, whether we’re plinking at empty beer cans in a sandpit on a sunny afternoon or trying to bag a fleeing snowshoe hare to feed yourself in the dead cold of a New England day in January.
Along with a desired 100% bang-and-cycle-to-cartridge ratio, we also need to include a couple of changes that improve the end use, operations, and/or internal accessibility of the 10/22. Ruger achieved brilliance with the 10/22 in 1964; in fact, the design has been mostly unchanged since then. Today, in 2018, however, we have available to us products and designs that address and rectify a couple annoying-though-functional features of the 10/22 – to just make life a tad easier on us. Let’s dig in to discuss the parts I replaced.
Making a Good Gun Work Better
Extractor – The first place we’re going to start is what could be considered the Achilles Heel of many .22s: The extractor. A worn extractor or weakened extractor spring significantly reduces the capability of the firearm to get the fired case out of the gun. A couple sure ways to tell if your 10/22 may need an extractor upgrade? The obvious fired case stuck in the chamber (possibly with another round trying to feed from the magazine into the fired case), and the classic “stovepipe” jam are dead giveaways – however, if you notice your 10/22 doesn’t seem to be really kicking the empty casings out a long ways from your gun – perhaps with the empties falling pitifully at your feet – you’re absolutely in need of a new extractor and spring.
My chosen upgrade was TANDEMKROSS’ “Eagle’s Talon” hardened tool steel and extra-power spring kit. A paltry $9.99 through their website, the Eagle’s Talon is easily the most cost-effective reliability modification one can perform on a 10/22. My personal stock 10/22 was having no issues with extraction, but I was more than comfortable replacing the original for the upgraded TK offering.
Also Read: The USA – Ultimate Survival Arm
Performing the surgery to extract a wayward 10/22 extractor is not terribly difficult, but it’s not terribly easy either. As always, spring tension on the extractor can make your life interesting; moreso with the installation of the upgraded power spring that comes with the Eagle’s Talon kit. I’m happy to report that the new extractor dropped in with zero need for fitting and even less need for initiating a launched spring Search-and-Rescue – your mileage may vary. It’s highly recommended to watch a couple YouTube videos on extractor extraction before attempting the process yourself – especially if you’ve never really tried playing Operation on the guts of a semi-auto .22.
Bolt Stop Pin – The easiest internal part to replace on a 10/22 is probably the bolt stop pin. A large-diameter crosswise-mounted pin located near the rear of the receiver, the bolt stop is aptly named since it does indeed stop the rearward travel of the cycling bolt through its physical presence. Basically, when the gun fires, the bolt moves backward to extract the fired case and pick up a new round from the magazine. The backwards movement of the bolt is abruptly interrupted by impacting the bolt stop pin’s steel surface; the bolt then moves forward under spring pressure.
As one may indeed imagine, the high-velocity metal-to-metal impact can be strenuous on parts over time…so a logical resolution to this impact shock is to soften one of the materials. TANDEMKROSS has solved the issue handily by providing the “Shock Block” bolt buffer, which, for $4.99, replaces the original Ruger part’s all-steel construction with an oil-resistant polymer material that eliminates metal-to-metal high-velocity collision. This in turn reduces strain on the barrel and the receiver – in theory keeping these parts in fighting trim for longer and helping to eliminate stress fractures. I’m told these are good things.
My original bolt stop pin – like many of the 10/22’s parts – practically flew out of the receiver when I put pressure on it. However, you’ll find that the TANDEMKROSS Shock Block may need a little re-profiling help when installing. A trick sourced from compatriot Doc Montana is to put the Shock Block in the chuck of a drill, and use sandpaper on one end of the Shock Block as it’s spinning in the drill. Just a couple seconds with 180-grit worked for me and gave the end of the pin just enough taper to slide in without fuss.
Related: Survival Gear Review: Magpul X-22 Stock and TANDEMKROSS Upgrades
Bolt Release Plate – Ask any 10/22 owner what their biggest beef is with their rifle – and I can almost guarantee they’ll reply, “the bolt release!” So, like so many other companies, TANDEMKROSS has responded to anguished cries for help from 10/22 owners and brought out a $9.99 replacement “Guardian” Bolt Release Plate that makes your 10/22 operate, you know – like every other .22 semi-auto out there. Replacing the part is a tad trickier than the Bolt Stop Pin, but pay attention to TANDEMKROSS’ excellent installation instructions (as with all of TK’s products, available to download in .pdf format from their website) and you should be able to get through the process without too much hassle. Of course, your local gunsmith needs to pay his bills, too – so don’t be afraid to take the gun to them to get your parts installed, either.
Takedown Screw – the 10/22 in its many forms, including my Takedown model – have always used screws to retain the receiver and barrel in place in the stock. This is all well and good, but for both competition shooters and survivalists, the need to occasionally get inside your rifle to root around in its innards is frequently present, whether you’re cleaning, performing maintenance, upgrading parts, or clearing malfunctions. This is zero problem if you have tools; mine requires an allen wrench; I believe earlier 10/22s used standard slotted screws.
Oh, you’re in the middle of a bugout and forgot your allen key set? Oops.
The solution to the in-field or on-range 10/22 disassembly is the second most expensive part on this list, the $24.99 TANDEMKROSS “Twister” titanium oversized takedown screw. Basically a lightweight yet very strong threaded screw with an oversized knurled and slotted head, the Twister lets you use a coin, knife blade, or even your fingers to unscrew the works and pull your rifle apart. The Twister, like most simple, well-executed designs, works phenomenally well and is a Godsend when you need to pull your rifle apart with a minimum of fuss, no matter if you’re in front of a workbench filled with tools, or on a mountaintop in Colorado. The Twister is a direct replacement for the factory disassembly screw and should be the very first part you but from TANDEMKROSS for your 10/22.
Firing Pin – A weak link for rimfire firearms the world over – no matter the manufacturer – the firing pin can make or literally break a .22. If you didn’t know that you should never dry-fire a rimfire gun, here’s why: The firing pin on rimfires like the.22 LR impact on the outer edge of the cartridge case, where the priming compound resides. If the case is not there to cushion the impact, one of two things will happen: the firing pin will break, or the firing pin will impact the chamber of a .22 sufficiently to crater the recess where the rim of the cartridge resides. This result is a situation approximating no bueno, because if that crater is too deep, the rim of the cartridge will just dent and your .22 won’t go off when you pull the trigger. Not good for a survival rifle.
TANDEMKROSS’ “Fire Starter” Firing Pin – $26.99 through the website – offers an extremely durable, lightweight solution to your 10/22 ignition issues. Being manufactured out of titanium instead of steel means that the firing pin has increased lock times as well as increased speed to help ensure reliable ignition of your cartridge. While not a sure-fire fix for a badly cratered chamber, a higher-velocity firing pin may help ensure your rounds will go off when needed even if your chamber is damaged.
Obviously, the Fire Starter Titanium Firing Pin is also a stellar upgrade over the stock part or badly worn firing pin to help combat .22 ammo pickiness and keep your gun sending lead downrange even in the most adverse conditions. Replacing the firing in on a 10/22 requires some moderately specialized tools, so it might be a good candidate for the gunsmith to install as well.
Receiver Cross Pins – If you’ve ever had your 10/22 out of the stock, chances are you promptly had the two receiver cross pins fall out of the chassis and onto the floor. Scenario: you are hypothetically depending on your spiffy 10/22 in a survival scenario and you have to pull your 10/22 apart to operate for whatever reason. You unscrew the “Twister” Takedown Knob from the bottom of the stock to separate the receiver from the stock to access the innards. The cross pins promptly make a run for it and jump to the debris-scattered forest floor, never to be found again without a magnet or metal detector. Unless you’re a metallurgic MacGuyver, your 10/22 is probably out of business just when you need it to perform.
Just think – if you’d had the forethought to replace the stock smooth Ruger cross pins with TANDEMKROSS’ ingenious new “Krosspins” that utilize a ball-bearing detent to ensure pin retainage in the receiver – you’d still have a functional rifle. For a mere $9.99, it’s about the cheapest peace of mind you can buy for a survival rifle. The pins require a touch of physical force to push out past the detents, so you’re guaranteed to keep the pins where you want them for re-installation later. They’re great. Buy them. For Real. Ten bucks!
All of the above small parts were installed with a minimum of fuss by me right in my basement workshop, and the resulting 10/22 Takedown is, in opinion, as absolutely good as a takedown survival gun can get.
As Great As The Sum of its Parts
The 10/22 platform is outstanding in its field – surely the standard against which all other previous or following .22 rifles can be judged; the Alpha and the Omega of rimfires. It’s a damned good gun right out of the box, but if you open up your wallet and fork out a quintet of papers with Andrew Jackson’s face, your resulting survival-geared 10/22 assembly will boast outstanding enhancements in the accessibility and reliability departments, courtesy of TANDEMKROSS. Of course, if you’re feeling flush, TK will gladly provide parts to turn your Ruger 10/22 into a full-on race gun, or a survival rig without peer. TANDEMKROSS is the epitome of enthusiasm, technological capability, and attention to detail that will make me an absolute return customer, and you should take a long hard look at their products or drop them a line when considering upgrading your 10/22. When a hundred bucks will make the gun you rely upon to survive when the chips are down as reliable as can be dreamed, it’s a stellar investment indeed.
All photos by author except where noted