By Miguel C. Gil Photos by Iris G. Gil
It is said that “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” If such is indeed the case, then the folks at Sturm, Ruger & Co. should be feeling very much flattered, and probably a little bit peeved, by the recent introduction of the Armscor M22 semi-automatic carbine.
The growing popularity of fast-paced “mini rifle” events among Filipino shooters, which ignited a renewed interest in the .22LR semi auto, is reportedly what pushed the Philippine’s dominant arms maker to produce Ruger 10/22 clones. For decades, Armscor has enjoyed a lion’s share of the local market for .22 rimfire carbines with its military-styled semi autos—the M-1600 and the MAK-22. Both rifles were billed as tactical “trainers” and not as mere “plinkers” or recreational guns.
But it was clear from the beginning that the American-made Ruger 10/22 was the preferred implement for today’s mini rifle events… perhaps because of sheer availability of upgrades and other after-market accessories.
Armscor’s catalogue states that the M22 has an overall length of 37.48 inches (952mm), a barrel length of 18.5” (470mm) and weighs in at 6.98 pounds (3.17kgs). It is worth mentioning, however, that our sample gun felt much lighter! It is possible that the stocks on earlier production guns were made of denser wood.
The action of the M22 is an exact copy of the 10/22’s, according to Armscor staffer Nelson Aquino. Anyone who is familiar with the 10/22 will be completely at home with its Philippine-made twin.
But there are subtle differences with the rest of the gun. For instance, the M22’s front sight post is mounted on a ramp in the manner found in hunting rifles… while the front sight of the Ruger is held in place by a circular band similar to those found in old military rifles. The M22’s front sight comes standard with fiber optic inserts while the original 10/22 comes with a gold bead.
The rear sight set up on the M22 is somewhat more elaborate than the simple and utilitarian rear sight found on the 10/22. Both will work equally well for recreational shooting chores… although the trend nowadays is to affix some sort of optic on such carbines.
The M22 comes standard with an accessory rail bolted atop its receiver to accept various scopes and optics. Picatinny rails can also be had as an option, instead of the more basic rails found in initial production guns. We are told that the Picatinny rail format may be made standard in future guns, because of its popularity and compatibility with most of today’s optical devices.
The wooden stock that comes standard with the M22 while plain is business-like, in this writer’s opinion. While we were unable to measure its length-of-pull, we estimate that it will probably suit most average-sized shooters. The forearm on our sample M22 was noticeably thicker than those found in out-of-the-box Rugers, which enabled us to get a fuller grip on the front of the carbine.
Buyers of the M22 will be happy to see that it comes with a 10-shot magazine from Butler Creek. These transparent magazines are of the single-column type that protrudes from the bottom of the stock… which is the preferred look nowadays. Original Ruger 10/22 10-shot magazines fit flush in the stock and so they completely disappear when inserted in place.
Of course, the M22 will accept higher-capacity magazines as well as other accessories intended for the 10/22.
Armscor COO George Chua recently gave us the opportunity to test fire a pair of M22’s at the company’s ballistics testing range located in company’s production facility in Marikina City (suburb of Manila).
Our first sample gun came spanking new from the box. It came as no surprise that the action was a little bit stiff the first time we tried to chamber a round. After a second or two of coaxing the bolt, the first round chambered and we were all set to go!
While our evaluation methods stopped short of being scientific, Team HDJ did manage to empty a few boxes of Armscor’s 40-grain high velocity .22LR rounds at paper targets as well as empty water bottles and even some overripe Santol fruits! We began breaking in the new M22 using only the factory supplied iron sights. Hitting the targets at 15 meters or so was no problem as the carbine pointed naturally and recoil was virtually non-existent!
That sweet shooting carbine gulped down box after box of the generic ammunition without a hint of wanting to stop! As we put more rounds downrange, pulling back the bolt on our test gun was noticeably becoming much smoother. It didn’t take much to break-in the M22.
PLAY: Team HDJ seen here testing a brand new M22 just as it came out of the box. We all agreed that this handy carbine performed admirably. (Video by IGG)
Our second sample M22 belonged to George himself. His gun was stamped Rock Island Armory—the name under which Armscor products are marketed in the United States. This particular gun was fitted with the more desirable Picatinny rail… on which George had installed some sort of compact Reflex-type sights. His rifle came well-dressed with the Harris bipod and was fed though an original Ruger 25-shot magazine.
There were no nasty surprises on his gun either… just plenty of accurate shooting enjoyment!
We have always believed that the semi auto .22 LR carbine can serve as a viable home defense long arm for the household that is not under any sort of heavy threat. Self-styled “gun gurus” may feel otherwise, but we can sleep soundly with an M22 carbine and a large-caliber sidearm by the bedside.
Two points that we would want to emphasize, though. First, make sure that your particular carbine is completely reliable, within realistic limits, of course. Second, use modern hyper-velocity ammunition, such as the CCI Stinger or the Remington Yellow Jacket, on your carbine. Adding up those two points—what you need is a carbine that reliably feeds high-performance .22LR ammo.
It wouldn’t hurt to add red dot optics, a gun light and high-capacity magazines on your home defense M22. Thankfully, there is an abundance of such accessories available for the Ruger 10/22… and by extension, for the Armscor M22!
SRP of Armscor M22: Php13,600.00 (gun only w/ one 10-shot magazine)