I got over worrying about owning a clone gun a few decades ago when I purchased my first Springfield 1911. I learned that some clones or copies are improvements over the original. The Thompson/Center .22 automatic is quite similar to the Ruger 10/22—no denying that. The 10/22 is a famously reliable rifle, and the T/C R22… Well, that is what we are here to discuss.
There are two ways manufacturers go about producing a clone gun. They will cut corners somewhere and make the firearm cheaper. Many will buy the firearm because it is cheap. Another course is to improve the firearm and offer it at a fair price. Interested shooters will purchase the firearm. T/C has taken the latter course.
Ruger is a giant maker. A competitor earning a fraction of their market share can make a good living at it. The T/C rifle has many good features, and while it resembles the 10/22 closely, there are certain features that are welcome to a serious shooter.
It only made sense to make the T/C rifle compatible with Ruger 10/22 magazines. There are millions in circulation. Just the same, T/C manufactured an improved magazine that is supplied with every rifle. The T/C R22 rifle features a last-shot hold-open feature the Ruger does not. I like this. And while the rifle will function fine with Ruger magazines including the 10-, 15-, and 25-round magazines, the rifle does not hold open on the last shot with Ruger magazines.
The T/C R22 rifle magazine features a lever on the magazine that operates as a hold-open device. It works just fine and never failed to hold the bolt open on the last shot. A neat feature is that the lever on the magazine is pressed to load the magazine. This is an improvement in ease of loading.
The T/C magazine is reliable and functions well without complaint. With the hold-open on the last shot, you have to have a bolt release. This is located forward of the triggerguard. The magazine release is the same in appearance as the modern extended magazine found on recent Ruger 10/22 rifles. On that subject, the R22 accepts Ruger stocks and aftermarket parts including trigger assemblies. The barrel is threaded for a suppressor or muzzlebrake.
The rifle differs from most Ruger products in certain details. The stock is a Magpul design. I like the stock a lot; it took a bit of getting used to, but the design is an excellent one for use with this light and accurate rifle. Length of pull and cheekweld are ideal. The stock features M-LOK technology for mounting combat lights or lasers. There is a Picatinny rail on the receiver for mounting red dot sights or a rifle scope.
The sights are excellent. The front post is a green fiber optic. The rear sight is an aperture. The aperture sight allows excellent accuracy and real speed in sight acquisition. I like to get close to the aperture sight, and the location of the sight mount makes for ideal shooting. When firing, the aperture sight tends to make the eye center the front post in the ring.
The sight radius is generous for a light rifle, really a carbine. When operating the rifle, the grooved bolt handle is an advantage. While the Ruger isn’t a problem, the T/C R22 charging handle is easier to use well and more positive in operation. Advantages over the Ruger 10/22 include the modified charging handle, excellent sights, Picatinny rail, and Magpul custom stock. If you like these features, it is less expensive to purchase the T/C R22 than add them to another rifle after purchase. The stock is fine for most adults but works well with youths as well.
None of these advantages would matter if the rifle isn’t reliable and accurate. To date, I am approaching nearly 1,500 cartridges without any type of hiccup. This is a good standard for any .22LR firearm. I have cleaned the rifle about every 300 to 400 cartridges and added a squirt of oil toward the end of 200 cartridges.
Accuracy is good to very good with this rifle. The primary load has been the CCI Mini Mag, with a few CCI Stinger rounds thrown in. I have also fired the interesting Federal Hunter MATCH, a newly introduced load specifically designed for hunting.
I have not mounted an optic on this rifle, so accuracy in practical terms is good while absolute accuracy has not been tested. One-inch groups at 25 yards are rather easy to come by. If you scope this rifle out, you will have a first-class hunting rifle for small game to 50 yards.
During the firing test, I placed a magazine of CCI Mini Mags into the k-zone at 50 yards. Then I aimed for the cranio-ocular portion of the target. While I do not recommend a .22 for personal defense, the .22 rifle has proven far more effective than the .22 handgun, and my shots went into the cranio area every time at a long 50 yards.
I have several incidents in my files in which a good .22 rifle served homeowners well. It’s just a thought, and a tribute to the overall utility of this rifle.
Specifications T/C R22
- Manufacturer: Thompson/Center
- Model: TCR-22
- Caliber: .22LR
- Barrel Length: 17 inches
- Overall Length: 35 inches
- Twist Rate: 1:15 inches
- Stock: Magpul Lightweight
- Sights: Peep aperture
- Weight: 4.4 lbs.
- Length of Pull: 13.75 inches
- Magazine Capacity: 10